[ Only seeing the commentary? Click here to view the rest of the site. ]

August 31, 2008 - We Hardly Miss Ye
   • It's hard to believe it's been a month, whether I say it as a writer or a guy who paid money to see him play.

Manny's Catch in the Bronx
-- This wasn't a month ago. This was four years ago, and still great.

   It's even harder to believe how quickly it feels like no one cares to remember.
August 30, 2008 - Double Threat
   • My life, as I suspect is true with most people lives, is a lot of down time interspersed with bursts of excitement. I like the interplay. Based on what I do and how I do it, just when I'm starting to drag a little bit, something like the All-Star Game or a guy who sews up his own alligator wounds or a trip to watch police cars burn in Montreal comes up.

Driving Map - Aug. 30, 2008
-- Today was one of those.

   When David Pauley was supposed to pitch for the Red Sox while I was covering the local PGA Tour stop on Saturday, this wasn't even a thought. David Pauley is not a "wake up at 5 a.m. and write three stories" kind of guy. Michael Bowden, however, Michael Bowden is a three stories kind of guy.

Players Against Instant Replay Should Be Reviewed
-- Inside Baseball.


Deutsche Bank Last Chance To Impress Ryder Captain
-- Golf in Norton.


Sox Finding Right Mix
-- Baseball in Boston.

   Of course, no one may feel this way except me. Even my boss, a notorious overachiever, never suggested it. When I brought it up on Saturday night, tepid approval would be the best characterization. ("Well, we can't really pay you any overtime.") Some might think this is because he immediately thought of what I didn't until that speeding highway drive: He might just be getting three stories as opposed to two great ones.

   I maintain it's because he knows I'm just stupid enough to kill myself in the process.

   5:15 a.m.: I wake up and start writing the Sunday baseball column. Amazingly, it falls together rather quickly.

   8-ish a.m.: Second round play begins in Norton.

   8:45 a.m.: I save what I've done on the Sunday column and get ready to leave for golf.

   9:30 a.m.: Leave for Norton, about 35 miles to the north.

   10:45 a.m.: Get to the course media center and get settled.

   It's almost all off-site parking at the event, which means a shuttle ride with whomever arrives at the same time as you. In my case, it was a group of about six other media guys who all knew each other, and who immediately on our departure started talking about all the whores they'd banged in foreign lands.

   Seriously. We couldn't have been in the shuttle more than two minutes, but they hit a whole pile of high points. Language barriers, preferences, broken marriages because of said banging, floppy disks of smut with so many holes ... it was like a hidden camera show.

   The golf beat is an interesting beat, only made better when the apparent ringleader took me to task for kicking a carpet that had apparently been under the seat in front of me out of the van when I was getting out. I'll give him credit. Most people need more of a run-up to get to such condescending prick levels, but he hammered it right out of the gates.

   Really wish I'd seen if he had a name badge or something. This could have been the gift that keeps on giving, much like syphilis.


   11:15 a.m.: With it the break between the morning and afternoon tee times, I figure out D.J. Trahan is the best guy out on the course to meet up with, given Ryder Cup status, history at the event, etc. The 18th right next to the media center, so I watch him play it, head to the scoring trailer and interview him after his round with two reporters who clearly know him personally.

   Of course, their stories have little to do with mine, but it all works out for everybody in the end.

   12:30-5:15 p.m.: In hindsight, a lot of wasted time. About 2 p.m., I do finally finish the Sunday column, but it's mixed with sitting in on a few press conferences I didn't need to, transcribing all the Trahan interview even though I only need like half of it and thinking I'll have time to meet up with a couple more players post-round before realizing I should probably not assume there'll be no traffic on a Saturday afternoon.

   5:30 p.m.: Back in the car and onto I-95 for the "Jesus, I hope it really is a" 45-minute drive to Boston.

   6 p.m.: Get a text from Julie, who is back in the wilds at the UMass football opener, but largely just to see the marching band. I know this not solely because she's my wife, but because her text is a picture of the band perfoming at halftime, accompanied by the caption, "Band!"

   6:20 p.m.: Incredibly, even for a Saturday, there's minimal traffic coming into the city. Even more incredibly, I find free parking 40 minutes before first pitch. (Have I mentioned it's move-in weekend at BU, half the streets are closed and the other half are double- and triple-parked?)

   6:30 p.m.: I get to my seat in the press box and Ron Chimelis, having heard me the previous night crafting this plan, gives me a one-man standing ovation. I sadly inform him I haven't actually written the golf story yet.

   8:45 p.m.: I file the golf story. I then refile it three more times in the next half-hour due to stuff I decide needs to be rewritten, the capper being when I slash the length of the whole thing by 15 percent because I re-read and decide it's horribly bloated.

   Most people would have done all that before they sent it the first time. Most people, however, probably wouldn't have gotten four hours sleep before trying this in the first place.

   9:45 p.m.: Sox game ends. My screen isn't blank, but it's not exactly overflowing.

   10:30 p.m.: Back upstairs after a full cull of the clubhouse.

   11:20 p.m.: I file the Sox story "a couple minutes late," given the non-lethal nature of our deadlines.

   12:45 a.m. Sunday: Arrive at the human-free apartment and greet the cat, who is overjoyed to see me in a way dogs usually are for their owners. An odd phenomenon, but definitely real.


   This is by no means the greatest journalistic double ever pulled, even just among The Standard-Times sports staff. My golfing buddy Ed covered a girls basketball tournament game in Boston one afternoon, then drove three-plus hours to watch the D3 college hockey team get knocked out of the NCAAs. And really, when I look at how I spent the afternoon, things could have been about five times easier if I'd just settled for that Trahan interview and a couple press conferences.

   Still, nothing like working two shifts, getting paid for one and not caring in the least.
August 29, 2008 - At Least Gas is Cheaper
   • I've concocted what could be a very stupid idea for tomorrow.

Good News on Beckett Just What Sox Need
-- Semi-related.

   Very stupid, but rather memorable. I think that's a winning mix, and really, that's all that matters.

   Details to come, regardless of whether it happens or not. Until then:

Thousands of young Chinese women applicants for the 200 jobs to lead each country's athletes into the National Stadium for last week's opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games had to be at least 1.66 metres tall, have a pretty face -- and strip naked for the job recruiters.

. . .

In an interview with one of the girls who competed for the high profile job, the 20-year-old college student Zhang Fan told (The Beijing News) that the girls were put in a room and teachers measured them with a ruler. No specifics were given but the measurements were called "bone measurements" which typically include measuring the width of shoulders and waists, length of waists and height.

-- Savor the memories.

August 28, 2008 - Going-Away Party
   Extra-Added Pre-Story Backstory: If it's possible to hate a sportswriter whom you don't read with much regularity, I hate Jay Mariotti.

   He is an incredible combination of things I despise. He is not funny, and unaware of said fact. He is thin-skinned to the point of nearly coming to blows with co-workers when he doesn't get his way. He hates bloggers as a whole, as though the medium can be easily dismissed in one fell swoop. He refuses to go into clubhouses and locker rooms (which, ironically, basically makes him a blogger), yet is given prime real estate to espouse opinions of no more intelligence than my own.

   If you've never heard of him, you should consider yourself lucky. But it struck me after rifling out what follows that if you don't know that he resigned his job on Tuesday for reasons involving newspapers being a dying medium and the Internet being the future -- you know, shit that happened over the weekend, and completely mutually exclusive -- the whole thing might make no sense.

   It might not anyway, but at least I'm trying. And ... SCENE!


   • The Jay Mariotti departure from the Chicago Sun-Times is getting surreal. And not because his "newspapers are dead, the Internet is the future" defense is semi-bullshit, since his real reason for leaving is a story not being posted quickly and not getting to write about Barack Obama on a given day.

   Think about this for a moment, though. Let's say I called it quits, and the newspaper decided to address it in print. There'd probably be a small story inside with people making nice, crediting me for being good at my job or a nice guy or whatever. It wouldn't even have to be true ... that's just what happens when people leave.

Chicago Sun-Times - Aug. 28, 2008
-- Front page. Real as real can get.
And that's not all ... the steaming dump continues inside!


Not once in the last eight years can I recall seeing Mariotti in the Cubs' or Sox' clubhouse. With a press credential that allowed him access to every major sporting event and every major figure, he hasn't broken a single story in that time. He says Chicago is a weak market, the competitive edge gone. He has only himself to blame.

. . .

In spinning his story to the Chicago Tribune, Mariotti depicted the Sun-Times as the Titanic, and it was clear the self-proclaimed tough guy was knocking over the old women and children to be the first to jump ship.

. . .

Sun-Times editor Michael Cooke said it best. ''We wish Jay well and will miss him -- not personally, of course -- but in the sense of noticing he is no longer here, at least for a few days,'' Cooke said. ''A paper, like a sports franchise, is something that moves into the future. Stars come and stars go, but the Sun-Times sports section was, is and will continue to be the best in the city.''

Today, it's a little better.

   That's his former employer. The enmployer that just signed him to stick around for three more years at some ungodly number of millions. (And that's not an exaggeration. MILLIONS.) And that might not even be the best stuff ... the whole piece is break-out quote after break-out quote.

   Given I could not possibly imagine disliking a writer I rarely read more, that entire story is point after point of "Yeah. YEAH. YEAH!"

   But why the hell did they just reup him for three years if he was so terrible to deal with? Are they hoping no one will notice their eviscerating burial is the very definition of "making the best of a bad situation"?

   Of course, no one will. Likewise, Mariotti will land on his feet with another multi-million dollar contract to produce copy that may be of no greater quality than mine.

   That would depress me if I had feelings left, and hadn't just interviewed "bowl of dicks" guy. Talking to people can be fun in short bursts.

August 27, 2008 - Run No. 1
   • There are plenty of months where I don't spend two hours talking to people who aren't either family or co-workers. There are plenty of years where I don't spend two hours at the beach.

   Yet both those totals were shot to hell in an afternoon by this guy, whose run in the Ironman triathlon this October will be nothing compared to my withering storm of journalistic crapulence.

Bedard estimates he has staged "thousands" of alligator shows at Florida tourist attractions, tapping alligators on the nose, prying their jaws open and sticking his head in their mouths.

There have been a few accidents, like the time an alligator named Lunge demonstrated how he got the moniker, darting at Bedard. Bedard caught his foot on a stump and couldn't get away quick enough before the gator took a chunk out of his forearm. More than once Bedard has broken out needle and thread, repairing his wounds.

Bedard, who has never been married - "But I've got a woman sitting next to me who'd love to be" - also handles rattlesnakes, bears and panthers. A rattler bit him on the finger once, necessitating, he says, 45 viles of anti-venom.

-- Obviously, we have a ton in common.

   He's 40 years old and looks barely 30, has spent two decades lifeguarding, does this when he's not patrolling the beach, sews up his own alligator wounds ... to say I admire his willpower and dedication and balls does not even begin to explain it. That, however, is not why he's relevant to this venue.

   While I was transcribing the interviews with J.D. Drew at the All-Star Game, I noticed Drew constantly starts thoughts with "I think it's one of those situations that." Probably happens with everyone. Go-to phrase. Same way some people say "uh" a lot and some don't.

   Well, today's interview subject had one: "Bowl of dicks."

   That's as in "eat a bowl of dicks," "suck a bowl of dicks," "tell him to suck a bowl of dicks" ... that general genre.

   I just note it for the humor, is all. Lord knows I wasn't offended by it.

   If anything, imagining J.D. Drew saying "bowl of dicks" will make 45 minutes of tape transcription just fly by.
August 26, 2008 - But How Did He Do It?
   • Oh, hey. Look.

Cyanide and Happiness

   It's my life as a poorly-drawn, deeply acidic cartoon. From both perspectives, no less.

   I'd have had me pinned as easily summarized as a Popsicle stick joke, myself.
August 25, 2008 - My Dorky Pursuit, Ruined!
   The Universe Corrected Itself: Due to only 12 entries with the event a week and a half away, they've cancelled the annual mini-golf tournament across the harbor. (Which, actually, was cancelled once already because it wasn't actually making the course any money.)

Trophy
-- I'll just have to continue filling my desk
with toy guns. Truly, the end of an era.

   And just when I'd pared my "best score on every hole" total this summer to a 30. Yes, I was training for a mini-golf tournament. I have a problem, and the sooner we accept it, the better.


   • This seems like an awesome idea.

Especially the device at the heart of the Stop & Shop system, the Scan It personal scanner. Shaped like a bar of soap with a pistol grip, the Scan It has been deployed in about 90 Stop & Shops, the first large-scale deployment of the system anywhere in the world.

. . .

The new version, introduced last year, keeps things simple. You activate it by scanning a Stop & Shop "loyalty card," the kind you may already use to get discounts on various items. Now just walk the aisles. When you pick an item, aim the Scan It at the barcode and press a button. The device tracks each selection and the total price of your purchases.

   Right up until you almost accidentially buy three five-packs of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (The Cheesiest, Muthaf*cka!), just trying to delete one five-pack of Kraft Etc. Then, it seems horribly, horribly dangerous.

   As I look back on it, the problem seems to be the "bagging while you shop." It saves time, but makes the whole experience less exciting than what I'd dream it'd be: lazer tag around displays of Juicy Juice.

   Also, the fact that we were probably the only people in the store using it. Old people looking funny at young people whose cart keeps making "cha-CHING!" noises is less humorous when you've just found out they cancelled your annual mini-golf tournament.

[ Insert hammer noises and animated construction .GIF here.]

August 21, 2008 - Largely Unbiased
   • From the Boston Sports Media Watch, posted without further comment*:

BSMW for Cooch!
-- Full post here.

   * -- I have never posted something without further comment when I say "posted without further comment." Why break the streak now?
August 20, 2008 - Red Sox 19, Rangers 17
   • What? It was eight days ago? Those Expos links were a far more pressing idea.

Somebody's Photo
-- Stolen from somewhere. They took it down before I could go snap a picture.

Looking For Spark From Explosion
-- It was pretty good. Especially considering it was mangled to unreadability in the dead-tree edition. Guy screws up a text wrap, and suddenly eight paragraphs are missing.

   I've said this multiple times when asked why I rarely read the paper on days when I write. All it's going to do is piss me off, whether at myself or someone else. Despite sports radio's success here, not everyone in New England spends their days doing things that enfuriate them.

   It seems a little early to make the list -- even considering I'm writing about something that happened eight days ago -- but a 19-17 game has a way of demanding a cull of 2008 baseball history seen live.

-- Bill Buckner's triumphant return.
-- Chien-Ming Wang two-hitter (and neither were ringing).
-- Justin Masterson's debut.
-- Lester-Papelbon two-hitter in 2:18.
-- Jon Lester's no-hitter.
-- The longest All-Star Game (time) in MLB history.
-- John Lackey's 8 1/3 no-hit innings.
-- Manny Ramirez's Red Sox farewell.

   I don't particularly think 19-17 is going to stand out much in the days and years to come, but it is only the second time I can remember sort of mentally losing it during a game. (The other: Game 5, 2004, when I began screaming at Johnny Damon on the final play.) When Kevin Youkilis hit his home run into the Monster seats to cap the scoring, I just kind of looked at the field and started laughing.

   Apparently, my brain can only count to 32.
August 19, 2008 - Meat On Sword!
   • During the long layoff, I missed one of SouthCoast's finest jewels: the annual Madeiran Super Bowl, the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament.

Some come for religion, to see old friends, or for food they can't get elsewhere - rabbit stew, marinated goat, spiced codfish. Others come for this morning's road race or for the beauty queens, brass bands, and classic cars that will roll down Acushnet Avenue in tomorrow's parade. Many come just to mill about, elbow-to-elbow, on a few acres of fenced-in pavement in New Bedford's North End, drinking beer and Madeiran wine as music plays from three stages.

Thousands, though, would come even if the feast offered nothing but the carne de espeto, or meat on a spit - for the taste and the experience of skewering and roasting their own meal.

   The twist in this story is a personal one ... it's written by a guy who not only used to work in Whale City, but was the reporter with whom I crashed for my first month down here while my apartment was being readied.

   He's also the first guy in Whale City whom the Web site pissed off (July 12, among others). Looking back, I could have handled things better, but I wasn't the only one.

   I don't know the path that got him to the Boston Globe, but I know it involes the Concord Monitor, where he went from here for the express purpose of covering the 2004 presidential primaries.

   During which, this happened:


-- Pertinent to this conversation at the three-minute mark.

   Four years later, I still don't know for sure that he got the joke. Finding out he burned his hand trying to roast meat over the Feast fire pit?

   Doesn't help his case.
August 18, 2008 - Learn What A Yurt Is
   • The Western Mass. crew used to go on the odd camping trip in the past, with one of the running subplots from year to year that I spent the entire trips miserable. Given my prissy reputation, the fact that I took to just sleeping outside without a tent in the later years did nothing to erase the year I dared suggest we get a hotel.

   Finally, however, I've found my spiritual kin.

Roasting marshmallows? Now that she can appreciate. So McKeon found a way to enjoy the experience of camping without actually camping. She spent last week with her husband and two kids in a luxury yurt at an upscale campground here called Normandy Farms, where amenities include a concierge, a fitness center, four swimming pools, and a stocked fishing pond. The yurt - a round tentlike structure akin to those used by Mongolian nomads - is equipped with a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. It also has a kitchen, bathroom, deck, and a firepit for those marshmallows.

   If only I could afford to hang with them.

   I love nature. I just don't love being sweaty and dirty. Is that so wrong?

   Feel free to leave that a rhetorical question, thanks.

August 17, 2008 - Foreigners
   • BU, doing what BU does best. Attracting the rich offspring of foreign lands.

College life along the 14-block strip on Commonwealth Avenue has been transformed in recent years by the thousands of overseas students enrolled at Boston University.

This fall, the campus - recognized as home to one of the largest international student populations in the nation - will become even more diverse.

An unprecedented number of foreign freshmen - 444 - will begin classes at BU next month, a 39 percent jump from last year, the largest increase the university has ever seen and surpassing its long-term goal for incoming students. It's a boon BU officials say they hope to sustain as they prepare for a projected dip in the number of American high school graduates in coming years.

   If only more of them were good at ice hockey. (Ba-ZING!)

   I grew up in Agawam, Mass., a town of about 30,000 where the continued presence of an Indian restaurant seems as shocking as finding out someone I went to high school with landed on the moon. (That hasn't happened. Best I can do is NHL defenseman who wasn't good enough for a full ride from BU. Just good enough to play for Maine and win a national title. But I'm rambling.)

   Despite the Agawam tie, I have a story that involves being on a class project with a Saudi international and a German guy who didn't do crap. I mean he was useless, to the point that might be overselling it. He did nothing and said he would do something. Fortunately, the Saudi guy was really good at whatever international relations crap I was BSing through to meet a requirement.

A Bangladeshi student, Shadab Mahmud, was responsible for bringing Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus to campus last year. Every month Mahmud, as founder of BU's Bangladeshi Students Association, wrote letters to Yunus until the pioneer of microfinance, who comes from the same village as Mahmud, agreed to visit. His talk drew more than 2,500 students.

   Kind of makes being in the quizbowl wiki less significant, but not by much.

   In a different time, I'd have been the know-nothing schlub who covered that lecture for the campus paper. I specialized in the crap no one else wanted to do. Cue the Pequot pow-wow that may date as the last story I ever wrote.

   [Edit: I checked ... third-to-last. The last was arguably even worse. Though as I read it, it occurs to me why I took it ... the impetus for the meeting was a student suicide, and the student was one of our College Bowl members. (Jan. 14)

   I often look back on those four years wondering if it was actually me who lived them. Never more than thinking back about stuff like this.]

August 16, 2008 - Them! Show THEM!
   • If Fox News has an "eBay Auction Item of the Day," I've got to figure this was at least in the nomination pool.

Press 1 for English, or you hate America.

Show your support for English as the #1 language in the USA. Show them you always Press '1' For English!

"PRESS 1 (ONE) FOR ENGLISH" IS A US TRADEMARK

   I suppose it could have been better.

   "Language" could have been spelled wrong.
August 15, 2008 - Dumb City. Wanting Their Money.
   • I'd finally beaten a system. Not a very significant system, but one that I could at least enjoy some pride in beating.

Fenway Parking Map

   That's BU's South Campus, where I lived in 2001-02 and have been parking for Red Sox games ever since. The green areas are totally free parking, with Fenway barely a walk away -- it's the gray in the bottom right. The blue areas to the left were my 2008 discovery: three-hour parking meters that shut off at 6 o'clock. Because I have to get to the park before 4:00 on game nights, all the meters in the area are of no use ... they cap at two hours, and it's not really feasible for me to run back outside to reload.

   So, instead of the 2004-07 plan of mostly parking for free and getting $25 expired meter tickets from time to time, 2008 was 24 games of glory: free or $2 about 90 percent of the time. Throwing out a couple weekend games, I'd spent maybe $20 in three-plus months.

   Until today, my first day in Boston since the city figured it out, and made Mountfort Street all two-hour resident parking until 6 p.m. Which means it's end-to-end red -- $40 ticket, which is more than the lots around the park* and thus invalidates the one argument I had with my bosses when I'd hand them a fistful of parking tickets on an expense report.

   * - Media parking, before someone asks, is not free in Boston. Because there's almost no parking around the stadium, the stuff they own they give to high rollers and rent for everybody else. And because they rent, media people have to buy 81 passes at the start of the year regardless of whether they'll all be used.

   The fishwrap, million-dollar enterprise that it is, doesn't have $2,500 to throw around, especially when half of it's going in the toilet. Nor would I ever let them, given my system beating and pride from beating said system.


   The move makes things a clusterfuck again: the cars that were basically stashed in most of the free spots are now in the remaining free spots, and filling the three-hour meters I'd all but had my pick on a daily basis. So now, I have to either get lucky and find a spot, swallow a $25 ticket and hope no one in the office says anything, or play the always fun game of "Will 2.5 hours in a two-hour spot doesn't cost me $40 today?"

   It didn't today, which was nice since I saw no game and walked back to my car in driving rain.

   Do you care? Probably not, at least after you printed out my cheat sheet and will proceed to use it against me. But just remember this when I'm at another Game 7 or flitting around the country for a third World Series.

   I've got it horribly, horribly tough after all.
August 14, 2008 - For Ten Points, What's Her Name?
   • I don't have any real significant memories of watching women's gymnastics in Olympics past, but I know I have. I'm generally a pro-Olympics guy, all the way back to recalling sadness about the end of the winter games in Calgary.

   Obviously, things evolve over the course of two decades. Society evolves. We're not in some idyllic wonderland, with Keith Jackson talking to me in a red blazer, inside some faux log cabin in Alberta. Bob Costas -- whom people apparently hate a hell of a lot more than I ever realized -- is grilling the President on foreign policy while half of America is doing impressions of the whole thing from home.

   But I'd like to think I'm not the only one getting significantly creeped out. Not so much from the "Hey, don't those Chinese gymnasts look like they're nine years old?" Not the whole "Isn't it weird how quickly female gymnasts mature after they stop doing whatever it is they do?" Not even the way Agawam's own Tim Daggett casually chided how the Romanian gymnasts now have the nerve to smile every so often while competing.

Romania!
-- Um ... doesn't a show like this usually involve trenchcoats and dollar bills?

Romania's gymnast Steliana Nistor performs on the uneven bars during the womens' gymnastics individual all-around finals at the Beijing 2008 Olympics on Friday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

   It's not even that watching this bothers me. It's thinking about the other people watching this who ... yeah.

That girl whose name you already forgot.
-- But hey. On the plus side, America's newest Mike Eruzione has been born.

Eruzione retired from competition after the Olympics, despite contract offers from the New York Rangers, stating that he'd reached the pinnacle of achievement already.

...

On January 19, 2007, Eruzione appeared on the new version of the game show I've Got a Secret. His secret was that he was the captain of the 1980 U.S. Men's Olympic hockey team.

   God bless him. The guilt might have gotten some people about 15 years in.
August 13, 2008 - Mmm. Tattoos On The Elderly.
   • It's very rare that Julie out and out requests I post something, so when she does, she usually gets her way.

   Therefore:

   Don't blame me. I'm voting for Kodos.
August 12, 2008 - Never Have Gotten That Jersey
   • Clip Reel, via ESPN.



Fourteen years ago today, Major League Baseball's eighth work stoppage began; it would last for 232 days and see the first cancellation of a World Series since 1904. Saddest thing about the '94 season: when the strike arrived, the Montreal Expos were 74-40 and poised to make a run for all the marbles. It was arguably their best chance and since the Nats don't seem to be climbing the NL East power chart anytime soon, we're going to honor the anniversary of a dark day with a positive spin: the glory of the Expos.

   As I peruse those links, it occurs to me that I never followed through on driving to Montreal for the final home game. I never seriously considered the passing idea I had to go to Philadelphia for the end of Veterans Stadium.

   I don't know how the hell I'm going to get to Shea Stadium before it closes, especially if they don't make the World Series against the Red Sox. I probably ought to find a way, though, just so I can hate it like almost everyone else.

   Also, Bill Lee? He never fails to deliver.
August 11, 2008 - Initiative!
   • I'm sorry. I find this hilarious.

When the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII, the loss kept the Patriots from finishing the season a perfect 19-0. With the game's outcome in question until the final play, the NFL had both Giants and Patriots Super Bowl champions apparel ready on the field for the victorious team's players, leaving nothing to chance when cameras captured the first celebratory shots. Reebok and the NFL added an extra touch to the Patriots' championship shirts, a testament to the team's storied place in history. A "19-0 Perfect Season" patch was sewn onto the hats, and the T-shirts carried the same message.

So when the 18-1 Patriots failed to live up to Reebok's prophecy, World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, arranged to ship the memorabilia to people in need in nearly inaccessible places, ensuring that these treasured items would not see the light of day back in the States.

But with a trip to Panama and Costa Rica already in the offing, Ilan, my roommate at Boston University, and I, both lifelong Giants fans, decided that dipping into Nicaragua for a few days to try and get our hands on the rare collectors' items was a necessary addition to our itinerary. And a way for us to stick it one last time to our friends in Boston who were still crying over the Super Bowl.

   As has been pointed out elsewhere, you don't have to go to Central America. (Search around. The official stuff's probably in there.) Though I do appreciate the power of a good story.

   What I can't figure out is how the human pinnacle of douchebaggery -- the comment section at Deadspin.com -- has decided this is the story that's too much for them to get behind. The only logical reason?

   The biggest suckholes are all Boston fans, which makes it both better and worse at the same time.
August 10, 2008 - Great Moments ...
   • ... in previous Matty Cooch birthdays.

   2007: Tonight was Matty Cooch's 23rd birthday, and to celebrate, he rented out a private room at the local Boston Billiards. I couldn't go because I had to work, but I did get home while he was still awake ... playing drunken Nintendo Wii.

   I think I watched him for an hour prancing about playing Mario Party 8, and I assure that's the word I'm looking for. Apparently there's a method of spinning the controller that makes your character heckle other characters, and Matt kept doing it with the panache of someone conducting the London Philharmonic. ... Twice, he almost fell over furniture.

   2005: On his 21st birthday, the case my brother had to hear as a member of a jury was an "open and gross lewdness" case regarding a man who was naked but for a pair of socks in the dressing room of a Springfield Goodwill store. As Matt put it to me, it'll be a long time before the memory of the words "flaccid penis" are rinsed from his memory banks.

   2002:

-- Rare Cliff Floyd T-shirt.

   I don't know what he did on Sunday, but if history is any indication, it probably sucked a little bit.
August 9, 2008 - They Also Played More Oasis
   • I look forward to two weeks of this.

NBC, which owns the exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympics in the United States, spent most of Friday trying to keep it that way.

NBC's decision to delay broadcasting the opening ceremonies by 12 hours sent people across the country to their computers to poke holes in NBC's technological wall -- by finding newsfeeds on foreign broadcasters' Web sites and by watching clips of the ceremonies on YouTube and other sites.

In response, NBC sent frantic requests to Web sites, asking them to take down the illicit clips and restrict authorized video to host countries. As the four-hour ceremony progressed, a game of digital whack-a-mole took place. Network executives tried to regulate leaks on the Web and shut down unauthorized video, while viewers deftly traded new links on blogs and on the Twitter site, redirecting one another to coverage from, say, Germany, or a site with a grainy Spanish-language video stream.

As the first Summer Games of the broadband age commenced in China, old network habits have never seemed so archaic -- or so irrelevant.

   Yeah, because they didn't seem equally archaic as far back as 2000, when the Internet spilled all the results to events that happened half a day ago. It's never seemed as dumb as it did in Salt Lake City, when NBC STILL DIDN'T SHOW MUCH STUFF LIVE when the Games were in the Mountain friggin' Time Zone.

   As I've noted before, during the only Olympics that were actually held in my time zone, I went to Great Britain. Never knew the Brits had such a thing for field hockey.
August 8, 2008 - On A Cat
   • So, there's a story to yesterday's photo.

Newton, June 2008

   Newton occasionally has problems riding in the car. Gastrointestinal problems, that are almost always heralded by a troubling cry that sounds nothing like any other noise he makes. Kind of the cat equal to when a drunken kid, sitting on the ground in front of the toilet, wails at the sky before puking lunch all over the wall.

   Well, I'm on the Turnpike when the cry happens, so there's nothing that can really be done. He gets sick and, for whatever reason, gets it all over himself. (The reason is it's runny. I was going to leave it out. Just writing about it shows I have no tact.) So, I have to pull over, get Newton out of the crate, clean him up, take the crate out, clean it up, then reassemble it all before I get going again.

   It would have made a heck of a video. Especially when Newton crawled up next to the pedals and wouldn't come out, since he hates his crate at every time other than after he gets shots at the vet.

   The end.
August 7, 2008 - Cat People After All
   • Newton is one, in a manner of speaking.

Newton, August 2007
-- August 2007

Newton, June 2008
-- June 2008

   Though Whale City years do tend to pile up a little quicker, I'd assume.
August 5-6, 2008
   • Julie's grandfather died over the weekend.

Warren J. Flanders

   That photo is from the wedding, which he got to see despite my legendary procrastinating efforts. In 94 years, he got to see plenty. Two kids. Five grandkids. A great granddaughter. Weddings. Who knows what else.

   I'm sure meeting me was someone in there toward the bottom. We did, after all, have a bond in the relatively short period of time we knew each other.

   Professional wrestling, of all things.

   From time to time, I slide back into my youthful fascination with wrestling. Most of the time, it's for the unintentional comedy of it. Other times, it's genuine interest, whatever it happens to entail at that given time. Not having the TiVo anymore has made it all but impossible for me to watch, but that wasn't the case about a year ago.

   Julie had told me that her grandfather watched Raw every Monday night, the final connection to something her grandparents used to go out and watch live at some point in the past. Well, I'm at home breaking down an old computer desk, and I find an old pocket book, "Wrestling Superstars" or some such. Late '80s. Mix of WWF and WCW guys ... I remember when I got it, I didn't think much of it because I'd never heard of some of the people.

   Brought it to Julie's 90-something grandfather. He loved it. Julie loved that he loved it. He got to talking about wrestling, which I thought was funny because he seemed to keep alternating from getting it's kinda fake to buying into it completely.

   I can't do him justice. I just hope I get the opportunity to try.
August 4, 2008 - Sympathy For A Fellow Man
   • Someone, somewhere, has this certificate printed out on a wall as a source of pride.

eBay Blue Star!

   We should go try to find them, because I'm guessing they really need a hug.
August 3, 2008 - The Soccer Hall of Fame
National Soccer Hall of Fame
   • I haven't talked much about the Baseball Hall of Fame here because I wrote a column about it. A shockingly average place, hurt by its being placed atop the highest pedestal after years and years of hearing how wonderful it is. Did we stay for something like five hours? Yes. Did I, an hour in, check my watch as I looked at another case full of cleats? You bet.

   My brother's a Marlins fan. They've won two World Series, and been a franchise -- albeit, not a great one -- for going on 15 years. Is it too much to expect I should be able to find a souvenir for him somewhere in the gift shop? I believe my options were a generic cap and beer steins commemorating each title.

   If you knew nothing about baseball and went to Cooperstown, you might think the league still had 12 teams: Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Phillies, Cubs, etc.

   Just strikes me as a little strange.


   I'd like to think the crux of my piece was that you don't really connect to the sport at the Hall of Fame. You don't touch a bat. You can't throw a ball. Everything's under glass. There's a depressing lack of video and audio.

   It all reeks of baseball's fascination with its own history. Contrast that with the National Soccer Hall of Fame, just 20 miles down the road.

    Look at the bottom of that receipt ... "Thank You For Choosing National Soccer Hall of Fame." Isn't that the same thing you'd expect to see on the receipt at your local Ruby Tuesday's?

Who is this guy?
-- There's a quiet charm in this.

   I understand soccer is not big here, especially as someone who's probably less an actual fan and more fascinated by the sport in short bursts. I understand the meager parking lot had maybe 18 cars in it -- employees included -- not just because we went on a Wednesday. But when we walk across the empty lobby to the desk, ask for two tickets and get an almost over-eager, "So, how did you hear about us?"

   Um, you're the soccer Hall of Fame. You just kind of sit in the psyche, as you have since I saw a patch on a fellow player's back when I actually played soccer poorly 20 years ago. Yeah, we're not talking about the White House, but people ought to know you exist.

Soccer Ball Attacks!     Soccer Ball Attacks!
-- I mean, hell. You're exploding with soccer action!

   Regardless of how you feel about soccer, I really feel like they put together what a Hall of Fame should be. There's all sorts of stuff under glass.

SouthCoast!
-- Some of which with the always popular "local flavor."

   Old trophies, jerseys, shoes. The story of the game in America. Whole bunch of stuff on the World Cup, including a suit from favorite mascot of my youth, Striker. Whole display on the current lineup of MLS.

Headers!
-- But then, headers! (With sideways video!)

Speed Kick!
-- Speed Kick! (Not pictured: Me, trying to be cool, managing to kick the ball off the exhibit framework and back down to the first level of the building.)

   Then, the foosball tables. (I still, apparently, suck at foosball.) An enclosed indoor soccer arena. (Julie, apparently, sucks more than I do.) To say nothing of the complete lack of pretense implied by foosball tables and video games and a Lego display.

   It was while trying to take a picture of said Lego display through its sort-of dirty case that a nice older man emerged from a back room and started talking to me. He told me it was part of what used to be a traveling exhibit that went around to MLS games, then starting asking where we were from and how I got away with wearing a Blue Jays hat in Boston. A genuine nice conversation, which is saying something given my feelings about smalltalk.

   Turns out, he was the museum director.

   I just can not recommend this place enough. I left sweaty, but we left happy.


-- Even if I still suck. (I did drill a 49-mph blast later, not that you believe me.)

August 2, 2008 - 94.
   The Mystery of Chain Restaurants: How is that Bennigan's has needed to file for bankruptcy, yet the crap shack that is Applebee's continues to soldier on in its crapulence?

   Admittedly, I've not been to a Bennigan's in a while, but it was a staple of family college visits. Matty Cooch frequently ordered what I figured was their ace in the hole: "The Wheelhouse," a burger with a topping list centered around a fried cheese wheel.

   This is America ... how can a fried cheese wheel be topped by riblets, onion straws and a '4-out-of-10' consistency no matter where you are?

   (The other restaurant that's got this going on? Friendly's, which I've said for years offers slightly above average food, deplorable service and reasonable prices no matter the locale.)

Friendly's: The Beacon of Western Mass.
-- I haven't been wrong yet. May they welcome us to Western Mass.
on the Massachusetts Turnpike for years to come.

   • I just hope that the loss doesn't date:

The Butters Show
-- too much.

   Edit: Upon actually reading the story -- a novel idea when trying to sound informed -- all Bennigan's are not closing, just the company-owned ones. Apparently, the one of local relevance is closed.

   There've been two times in family history when we've been forced to abort a vacation, and the second tangentially involves Bennigan's. We were in Boston in my pre-high school days, and ate there before retiring to our high-rise hotel across the street.

   In the heart of the Theater District on a Saturday night, even closing the windows couldn't keep the commotion of shows letting out in the wee hours out of the room. My mother was having none of it, threw a fit and away we went.

   (The other bad trip? Gloucester, in the '80s. Matty Cooch was very young, and for whatever reason would not stop crying when we tried to go to sleep. That must have a been a fun drive back across the state in the pitch black ... I don't remember it because I fell asleep in the car, thus meaning little brother did too.

   Course, the forgotten part of the story is things started to go awry at dinner, when my parents unwittingly wandered into a dry town to eat. No idea which it was, as it appears any dry towns up there have given in over the last 20 years, but it made for a slightly uncomfortable meal.)


   But seriously, there's almost 2,000 Applebee's?! While my stomach gently weeps.
August 1, 2008 - It's Old. It's Gray.
   Now This? This is Balls: From the month away, Bill Rhoden writes about the epic Federer-Nadal Wimbledon final ... from the perspective of not watching it.

No one expected a day-night match for the ages.

Who thought that in a stretch of 24 hours, Venus Williams's great accomplishment -- a fifth women's singles championship -- would be dwarfed by a tennis marathon?

Who thought? Not us. So we watched as Nadal took a commanding two-set lead, concluded that this was Nadal's day and decided to take in a movie, "Hancock."

   That's his angle. In London, at Wimbledon, about to see the five-time champion finally be usurped, HE LEAVES TO GO WATCH A WILL SMITH MOVIE.

   And then WRITES A FUCKING COLUMN ABOUT IT.

There was a certain unproven-ness about Nadal. Was he a warrior? Even if he had simply run away with the match, as he threatened to do early on, Nadal may not have won pub respect, rugby respect, as a rough-and-tumble fighter.

He was the muscled young prince.

By the time we reached Fulham Road, Federer had battled back and Nadal was in for the match of his life -- and so were we. I ducked into the Goat and Boots, with my wife and daughter. An overwhelmingly pro-Federer crowd cheered lustily as the champion began to close in.

Finally at 6:57 p.m., another deadline called -- the movie. Nadal seemed to have things somewhat in hand. So we left, walking slowly, looking back.

   I'm not the kind of guy who leaps up, pointing "this is the problem with newspapers." It's pretty clear he was not there on assignment, and wrote this either on his own accord -- something I'd do, albeit at an event far less significant than Wimbledon -- or at the request of an editor who knew he was there.

   But there's somebody here who needs his damned face slapped. Whether it's Bill "Race Card" Rhoden or his editor isn't terribly important.

We reached the Hereford Arms, saw the large crowds, heard the whooping, and realized that these were not highlights. This match had become an epic. Nadal was near exhaustion but fighting with a determined verve that had long since won over even the most skeptical fan. A classic. The crowd cheered lustily, and by this point rooting interests had given way to deep respect for two champions. All that remained was to crown a champion, not determine the better man.

In the three minutes required to walk from the Hereford Arms to our hotel, Federer had slapped a forehand into the net on Nadalís fourth match point. There was a roar behind and a roar ahead. The classic was over.

   I damn well hoped someone delivered it.


   • I swear to God. That makes less sense now than it did when I first read it. The New York Times ... I wouldn't run that, clearly proving why I'll never make it in this business.

   Anyway, in a different head-shaking category, I do not pretend to understand the level of preparation needed on the female side of the wedding. Aside from having had as little to do with it in my own wedding, I took the run-up to the nuptuials to get in the worst shape of my life.

   But even had I not, I (nor Julie) would not have asked the bridal party to go get cosmetic surgery.

And let's not forget the pictures of college roommates-turned-bridesmaids quickly posted to Facebook. It is no longer sufficient to hire a hairstylist and makeup artist to be on hand the day of. Instead, bridal parties are indulging in dermal fillers and tooth-whitening months before the Big Day.

Some brides pick up the tab for their attendants, replacing the pillbox inscribed with the wedding date with a well-earned squirt between the eyes. In other cases, bridesmaids -- who may quietly seethe about unflattering dresses -- are surprisingly willing to pay for cosmetic enhancements.

   Man, would I love to read something from those brides who don't pick up the tab. Fortunately, the nation's newspaper has the resources to semi-deliver.

A bride's request that you whiten your grayish teeth can strain a relationship. Samantha Goldberg, a wedding planner in Chester, N.J., recalled a bride who asked her attendants to get professionally spray-tanned for a Hawaiian-theme reception.

Alas, two women were claustrophobic and couldn't bear standing in a tanning capsule. "They asked the bride if they could use regular tanning cream from a salon," Ms. Goldberg said. The bride refused; she wanted everyone to be the same shade. The women ultimately declined to be bridesmaids.

"Friendships of 20-plus years gone over a spray tan?" Ms. Goldberg said. "Sad!"

   It's only made better by her not only being from New Jersey, but her dream reception involving tiki torches.

   They're out there among us. If only we could hit them all with our cars.
2008: [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2007: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2006: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2005: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [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]