September 30, 2005 - Expired Inspection ... Again!
   The Worst Story I've Ever Read: Before I begin another long, boring discussion about sports, let me make one thing clear. If at any point in your life, your sports-watching experience becomes even remotely like this, I want you to tell me so I can go to your house and beat you into a coma.

Last time, in the 2002 season opener, I stormed out of her house at the end of the 3rd quarter, telling her that her Annual Christmas Party sucked, telling my other sister in law that her Annual Halloween Party sucked, and that I would not be back (....wondering where the guys were -- so was I!!).

Kids wanted to go, so I went. I cheered wildly when Harrison was carted off ... moreso when Light was carted off. When Ben was lying on the turf, they cheered. I got pissed. I cheered wildly when the Steelers scored. They chaired, not so wildly, when the Pats scored. I got pissed. My brother-in-law tried to lighten things up, said that this was all in fun, help up his hand to high-five me. Fuck that!!! I was having none of it. He reminds me that I’m an upstanding citizen, that I should watch my behavior ... .and my language. "Fuck you, Clay ... just watch the game," I reply. Vinatieri's kick sailed through, I grabbed my brother-in-law's Styrofoam cup, hurled it at the screen (....at least it was soft), told the kids to meet me at the car, and immediately stormed out.

The next day, Alison calls me to check on my well-being....she tells me I have to do something about my emotionality during Steeler games. I have. This is why, I explain, I generally watch Steeler football alone, and sometimes, rarely, with another local Steeler fan. I tell her that it took every bit of restraint I could muster not to have physically attacked one of them yesterday. Later some good news breaks....Harrison might have a career-ending injury!! I call Alison, sing "Goodbye, Rodney".. I hang up. A few minutes later, my cell phone rings. It's the wife on the line from PEI. "What the hell are you doing, " she says. "Alison just called me....said you need psychiatric help." "Dave, when is this going to stop?’ "It's not," I say. "I thought you would get better, you're only getting worse." I tell her that she should expect me to continue to get worse. It's an aging thing ... the biological clock is ticking. I'm 50 ....how many more seasons will there be for another super bowl.

   I'm not sure I can be clear enough about this. After four days of reading this and wondering what I should do with it, I still have the exact same feeling, and it has nothing to do with being a fan of anything. I want to find this man, I want to take his kids away, I want to encourage his wife to divorce him and I want all family and friends to cut off contact with him completely.

   In short, I want him to be his valuable alone for the rest of his miserable life. That way, we can ensure the bloodline dies with him.

   There's a line, but I have a feeling this guy was born over it. Of all the articles not to have any commenting available ...

   How Do You Mess Up Straw?: Today, I received quite possibly the worst haircut I've ever had. My "stylist," speedy as she was, managed to maintain all the worst qualities of my hair while cutting it short, meaning it will somehow grow to an even more unholy disaster area sometime around the ALCS.

   Of course, after spending the night in the company of sportswriters, I didn't care anymore. Nor, for whatever reason, was I all that bothered to have watched the evening's festivities just like you did -- on a television.

   Though maybe not just like you did, as it was a big screen. And I was surrounded by New Yorkers.

What Could Have Been For Ortiz, A-Rod
-- I have to figure this is the worst notebook I've ever written. I actually hope it is, because I pretty much completely washed my hands of it the second it was done. I'm glad what's there is right more than everything else.


Different View For Embree
-- Story of the day, but not as good as it could have been because I couldn't get Mark Bellhorn. Stupid Yankees not opening the clubhouse at a usable time.


Confident Sox Brush Off Pressure, Yanks
-- Um, somewhere in the middle. Written for the front page, it feels like a definite jack of all trades, master of none. But it's better than if I slammed my head into the wall 14 times ... now that's a sale!

   And why the hard sell? Tonight supposedly starts a tentative story-sharing agreement with our sister paper, The Cape Cod Times. Course, I just wrote three stories in eight hours, so everything tentative.

   Everthing except the gas pedal.


   • Because discovering three of my tires have no caps on their air valves just can't carry the day, it's Baseball Blowout! - Day 3.

   Allow me first to bitch out my friends in Los Angeles, who screwed up the most awesome thing ever by allowing San Diego their 81st win. Just like when the 1973 Mets finished on a tear so they wouldn't make the playoffs as a sub-.500 team, so apparently are the Padres. Jerks. I'm glad their jerseys had stupid piping on them that made me not want one.

   But since I'd at least like to fake maturity, let's bring out the box again. With Cleveland unable to beat a half-scrub Chicago team and the Angels taking care of things in Texas, here's where we stand entering Saturday.

AMERICAN LEAGUE STANDINGS
Chicago White Sox: 97-63
New York Yankees: 94-66
Boston Red Sox: 94-66
Los Anaheim Angels: 93-67
Cleveland Indians: 93-67

   And our unwieldy box of 16 scenarios is now an unwieldy box of nine since Boston and Chicago can't be swept.

BOS 3-0 NYY
CLE 2-1 CWS
BOS 3-0 NYY
CLE 1-2 CWS
BOS 3-0 NYY
CLE 0-3 CWS
Cent: CWS (97)
East: BOS (96)
Wild: CLE (95)
Out: NYY (94)
Cent: CWS (98)
East: BOS (96)
Wild PLAYOFF
NYY@CLE
Cent: CWS (99)
East: BOS (96)
Wild: NYY (94)
Out: CLE (93)
BOS 2-1 NYY
CLE 2-1 CWS
BOS 2-1 NYY
CLE 1-2 CWS
BOS 2-1 NYY
CLE 0-3 CWS
Cent: CWS (97)
East PLAYOFF
BOS@NYY
Wild PLAYOFF
BOS/NYY/CLE
Cent: CWS (98)
East: NYY (95)
Wild: BOS (95)
Out: CLE (94)
Cent: CWS (99)
East: NYY (95)
Wild: BOS (95)
Out: CLE (93)
BOS 1-2 NYY
CLE 2-1 CWS
BOS 1-2 NYY
CLE 1-2 CWS
BOS 1-2 NYY
CLE 0-3 CWS
Cent: CWS (97)
East: NYY (96)
Wild: CLE (95)
Out: BOS (94)
Cent: CWS (98)
East: NYY (96)
Wild PLAYOFF
CLE@BOS
Cent: CWS (99)
East: NYY (96)
Wild: BOS (94)
Out: CLE (93)

   The good news? One of the two Bronx-centric playoff scenarios is now gone, even if it is the Doomsday Scenario and it comes via a very possible outcome -- Boston splits the weekend and Cleveland pulls their head out of their ass. The Sox have assured themselves of at least a one-game playoff barring the Indians sweeping the weekend, with the possibility of sealing a playoff berth by winning tomorrow while Cleveland loses.

   The Indians could then still win Sunday, but miss the show if the Sox didn't bail them out by beating the Yankees and forcing a one-game playoff at Jacobs Field. Fortunately for them, I have a feeling Boston would be all for fighting for the division title, and thus not roll over.

   Course, that leads to the bad news (beyond losses for the Sox and Indians clinching another division title for the Yankees). For Sunday's update, given there will only be four scenarios left, I feel confident enough about my math skills to calculate seedings and matchups based on where Los Anaheim finishes. Then, we can see how unlikely it is I'll get to travel to California, since the only way it happens is if there are day games prominently involved.

   Well, honestly, I could do it now too. I just don't know how to design the box so Julie doesn't start crying again trying to figure out what it means.


September 29, 2005 - Sliderule Mania
   Moving Pictures: If you're on the fence about buying the City of Champions DVD, let me assure you that it's worth every single penny. And I'm only sort of saying that because BU's 1995 national championship gets exponentially more play than BC's Whenever The Fuck They Won national championship.

   Course, Harvard's 1989 national championship gets more than both of them combined, with Northeastern's mercy victory in the 1980 Beanpot in there too. And we're talking seconds in all cases, but that's what's nice about this ... when they say they include everything, they mean everything. Stuff you had forgotten you thought was awesome, like Rick Pitino's immortal "All the negativity in this town sucks" and "Larry Bird is not walking through that door." And plus there's a "Famous Players Who Left" montage. And Theo Epstein says "bullshit."

   Anyway, get it. And be with me on opening night when we go make Two For The Money tops at the box office. I mean seriously, sports gambling and Jeremy Piven, whose role in PCU changed my life because I will never be "That Guy."

   For The Physicsally Inclined: So I'm driving behind a school bus today. Looking up, I note that a girl is running toward the back of the bus ... it's a red light, and I lack focus anyway. She jumps up and lands on the next to last seat.

   At the same moment, and the light has just turned green, the entire back of the bus moves. Compresses down, if you will, as though a large weight has landed near the shocks.

   Now, is the fact that I thought about this for long enough to write it bad, is one girl able to move an entire bus with her ass, both or neither?

   In reading that, it has nothing to do with physics. It has more to do with fat people. But sometimes, those things happen.

   Baseball Blowout! - Day 2: When I come to realize that this season has pushed baseball back to being my favorite sport, it's because of nights like this.

Sox-Yankees: That Has To Be The Plan
-- The classic two-column night. I'd just sent my "Sox lose" version and was on the phone with my boss when Ortiz tied the game. Fortunately, it was a relatively quick rework ... I just hope it doesn't read like one.

   Now, I could lie to all of you and say I'm not emotionally involved. I'd like to think the people that read me know I can be emotionally involved and still be objective, in much the same way I'd take a $100,000 gift from someone and then still write they suck the next day -- I mean honestly, if they're stupid enough to be bribing me, far be it for me to turn down a free meal. Or several free meals.

   Speaking of meals, I'd like to thank the Red Sox for serving jalapeno poppers tonight, given every game at Fenway for the rest of the season will rival a Tokyo subway station. And that's not an ethnic slur ... I just remember the exhibit somewhere with the subway car and the footprints painted on the floor to show how crowded the cars get at rush hour.

   Anyway, because I'm emotionally invested a little bit, don't let yourself think I'm not in a panic about the likelihood of a one-game playoff at Yankee Stadium. Understand I would rather eat okra than make a day trip to The Bronx, especially since I have no doubt I'd be stationed in the basement of the God-forsaken building to watch the game on a television. Though I've been thinking about it, and I'm pretty sure I could walk out to Monument Park and stand in there, right? Can any Gothamites back me up on this?

   Anyway, everybody won everywhere except for the Astros, who see their magic number holding at two to freeze out the Phillies. San Diego won in 11 innings just to tick me off, putting them at 80-79 with the Dodgers likely to suck and ensure the Friars finish above .500 like every other division winner that there's ever been.

   All I want is the mother of all statistical anomalies. And no playoff game at Yankee Stadium. Is that too much to ask?


   • Sort of continuing from above, here's what we know.

AMERICAN LEAGUE STANDINGS
Chicago White Sox: 96-63
New York Yankees: 94-65
Boston Red Sox: 93-66
Cleveland Indians: 93-66
Los Anaheim Angels: 92-67

   First off, we know the Angels are in as AL West champions and the White Sox are in as AL Central champions. We'll ignore the Angels for the rest of the discussion because, well, I'm a moron and four teams playing each other is going to be hard enough.

   So, what are the odds my ass is trucking to New York on Monday? Knowing New York is playing Boston and Chicago is playing Cleveland, watch as I attempt to do something intelligent.

   By my math, there are 16 possible outcomes to these two series.

BOS 3-0 NYY
CLE 3-0 CWS
BOS 3-0 NYY
CLE 2-1 CWS
BOS 3-0 NYY
CLE 1-2 CWS
BOS 3-0 NYY
CLE 0-3 CWS
East: BOS (96)
Cent: CWS (96)
Wild: CLE (96)
Out: NYY (94)
Cent: CWS (97)
East: BOS (96)
Wild: CLE (95)
Out: NYY (94)
Cent: CWS (98)
East: BOS (96)
Wild PLAYOFF
NYY@CLE
Cent: CWS (99)
East: BOS (96)
Wild: NYY (94)
Out: CLE (93)
BOS 2-1 NYY
CLE 3-0 CWS
BOS 2-1 NYY
CLE 2-1 CWS
BOS 2-1 NYY
CLE 1-2 CWS
BOS 2-1 NYY
CLE 0-3 CWS
Cent: CWS (96)
East PLAYOFF
BOS@NYY

Wild: CLE (96)
Cent: CWS (97)
East PLAYOFF
BOS@NYY
Wild PLAYOFF
BOS/NYY/CLE
Cent: CWS (98)
East: NYY (95)
Wild: BOS (95)
Out: CLE (94)
Cent: CWS (99)
East: NYY (95)
Wild: BOS (95)
Out: CLE (93)
BOS 1-2 NYY
CLE 3-0 CWS
BOS 1-2 NYY
CLE 2-1 CWS
BOS 1-2 NYY
CLE 1-2 CWS
BOS 1-2 NYY
CLE 0-3 CWS
Cent: CWS (96)
East: NYY (96)
Wild: CLE (96)
Out: BOS (94)
Cent: CWS (97)
East: NYY (96)
Wild: CLE (95)
Out: BOS (94)
Cent: CWS (98)
East: NYY (96)
Wild PLAYOFF
CLE@BOS
Cent: CWS (99)
East: NYY (96)
Wild: BOS (94)
Out: CLE (93)
BOS 0-3 NYY
CLE 3-0 CWS
BOS 0-3 NYY
CLE 2-1 CWS
BOS 0-3 NYY
CLE 1-2 CWS
BOS 0-3 NYY
CLE 0-3 CWS
East: NYY (97)
Cent: CWS (96)
Wild: CLE (96)
Out: BOS (93)
Cent: CWS (97)
East: NYY (97)
Wild: CLE (95)
Out: BOS (93)
Cent: CWS (98)
East: NYY (97)
Wild: CLE (95)
Out: BOS (93)
Cent: CWS (99)
East: NYY (97)
Wild PLAYOFF
CLE@BOS

   A few notes if you're still reading:

   • Off the top, there are seven scenarios where Boston gets in straightaway, four where they need to win a playoff and five where they have no shot. Unfortunately, losing Friday knocks the seven to three immediately no matter what Cleveland does.

   • In the scenarios where New York and Boston tie at 95-67, but Cleveland is eliminated with a lower win total, the Yankees are awarded the division title because they would win the season series 10-9. In such cases where both teams qualify for the playoffs, MLB skips the playoff game and divvies up the berths this way.

   I presume this would be how seedings would be determined, but it doesn't matter since Cleveland can't play Chicago and New York can't play Boston in the Division Series due to their being in the same division. It all works itself out.

   • As you can see, five scenarios conclude in a playoff game ... roughly a third of the permutations. Only two of the 16 send me and the Saturn to the Bronx on Monday, but the most likely of all 16 creates what all involved must consider "The Doomsday Scenario."

   Should the host Sox take two of three from New York and the host Indians take two of three for Chicago -- pretty likely -- all three teams tie at that magical 95-67 mark. Prior to 2003, Cleveland would automatically get the Wild Card solely for being the odd team, with Boston and New York playing a winner-take-all game for the AL East. Now, however, Boston travels to New York for a one-game AL East playoff. The winner advances, but the loser then plays Cleveland in a one-game Wild Card playoff.

   Essentially, the new system doesn't give a team a free playoff spot, but instead rewards a team that tied for a division title with two chances to make the postseason. As for that second game, New York would travel to Cleveland, while Boston would host the Indians.

   That's all coin-flip decided.

   • The only way Boston can make Sunday's game relatively irrelevant is by winning the first two, and having Cleveland lost the first two, or vice versa. Otherwise, we're in it until Game No. 162. If not Game No. 164.


   What the hell does it all mean? Perhaps I'm not as screwed as I thought.

   And you have no idea how proud of myself I am right now.


September 28, 2005 - Forget Seedings
   Baseball Blowout! - Day 1: Since I'm more or less finally tied to the Red Sox for every day until there are no more days, I'm feeling the need to fold all of my baseball chatter into one simple, skippable space.

   Though I was there tonight, it was solely collection information for other things ... a nice thing to get to do, since I can spend time after the game in the clubhouse.

   The Yankee win was largely cushioned -- or at least it should be -- by Cleveland's strange 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay, which leaves Boston in a tie for the Wild Card lead and all sorts of playoff scenarios up for grabs now.

   The goal, without getting too statistically dorky, is to have Boston and New York either tied or separated by two games going into Friday's final series. That would lock out the possibility of the worst possible outcome -- a one-game playoff Monday in what's colorfully called "The Toilet." I suppose in reality that's not the worst possible outcome since a Red Sox-White Sox playoff game would happen in Chicago, but I haven't been there recently enough to dread it like contracting an STD from a bus station urinal.

POSSIBLE ONE-GAME PLAYOFFS (FOR REFERENCE)
Red Sox at Yankees
Indians at Red Sox
Red Sox at White Sox

   Besides, Chicago's three-game lead after winning in Detroit all but seals them as AL Central champions, and saves the world from the worst collapse in baseball history. In Thursday's update, I will attempt to calculate all the possible scenarios of how I could spend my Monday and exactly which ones will cause me to have a manly cry.

   And because they still exist too, the National League is all but over with San Diego's mighty 79-79 mark locking up the West and Houston's magic number to lock out the Phillies down to two. Basically, there's six teams left for four spots ... someone's not going to be happy come Monday.

   I can only hope it's not me.


   • In a heartwarming story that truly shows the human ability to persevere, the power is back on New Orleans' French Quarter, allowing small businesses in the area to start the long process of rebuilding, healing and nurturing the area the way they always have.

Barely Legal? Little Darlings?

Firefighters take a peak at the ads on a strip club as they tour the French Quarter district in New Orleans on Tuesday. Power was restored to the French Quarter Monday and some businesses took the opportunity to open again for business. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

   I just hope all those little people they're talking about got to higher ground in time.


September 27, 2005 - Shea's Sonic Seven
   Players Club: In one afternoon, I went from never having more than 80-ish MP3s at any one time to having roughly 560. Course, given my desktop didn't exactly have 20 gigabytes available, I'm likely to blow the thing up if I attempt to showhorn much more stuff on it.

   But, if I'm going to spend a couple hundred dollars on a player -- and, at least in theory at this second, I'd like to not get an iPod for no real tangible reason -- I may as well pile on the car player, the in-home radio ... all the extras. In the poker projects consistent pattern of good month, bad month, I'm due for a strong October.

   Plus the Sox are at least trying to ensure I have every meal reimbursed for the entire month along with continuing my "overtime in every pay period" streak into at least December.

   Casting Stones: Now, I've made it public knowledge that this "fan site" is among my least favorite places on the Internet due to it lacking any intelligent thought or attempts at reason, and often wraps itself in the guise of actual reporting. Were I to see the operator at Fenway Park, there's a chance that -- were he to slip on some ice cream spilled on the dining room carpet or trip on a cord in the press box -- I would laugh at him.

   But this photo:

Pope Curt I
-- Story context right here.

   is hilarious. Perhaps because if it were real, I would know Schilling would be wearing a witty T-shirt beneath the Papal robes. Probably "I can see your lips moving, but all I hear is blah blah blah ..."

   And the best part? It allowed Johnny "Butterarm" Damon to respons to questions about his contract with almost no backlash. The only question now is how strange will the man look in pinstripes and without any of the hair that helped make him anything more than "Anonymous Center Fielder With Knack For Spray Hitting And Treating His Body Like A Bumper Car."

   That really rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? But on the plus side, at least he's not Ryan Church, who may have proven himself the emptiest head in a field of hundreds of airballs.

The Washington Nationals suspended a volunteer chaplain and distributed an apology from outfielder Ryan Church yesterday, two days after Church was quoted in a front-page Post article as suggesting that Jews are headed for eternal damnation.

...

An article in Sunday's paper about Baseball Chapel quoted Church as saying that he had turned to Moeller for advice about his former girlfriend, who was Jewish. "I said, like, Jewish people, they don't believe in Jesus. Does that mean they're doomed? Jon nodded, like, that's what it meant. My ex-girlfriend! I was like, man, if they only knew. Other religions don't know any better. It's up to us to spread the word," Church said.

In a written statement yesterday distributed by the team, Church said: "Those who know me on a personal level understand that I am not the type of person who would call into question the religious beliefs of others. I sincerely regret if the quote attributed to me in Sunday's Washington Post article offended anyone."

A spokeswoman for the team, Chartese Burnett, said Church would not have any additional comment.

   While his concern about his ex-girlfriend is both something admirable and that I can appreciate, let's not paint the man an anti-Semite. He used "like" three times and "man" once on the front page of the Washington Post and is looking to play baseball for a living.

   And really, any sort of final line I could come up with would somehow be horribly offensive. I've got at least three, but I'm not exactly looking to make this ironic. Let's just move on.

Non-Trades Worked Out Just Fine
-- I'd like to thank A.J. Burnett, for without his blow-up happening, I wouldn't have had such a nice hook to run with. Even if I then tripped over the Jason Schmidt next start stuff.

   • For the past couple years, Granite City Electric has billed itself with the tagline, "We do the lights for the Red Sox." Given they're an electrical supply store, I take this to mean they supply the hardware in exchange for getting to run around telling people they have something to do with the World Champions ... it's a perk, much like me bloating on $9 media meals of jalapeno poppers, pizza, clam chowder and ice cream.

   I can't wait to hear the first person complain, should Boston make it as far as the ALCS, about the decreased buffet at Fenway Park due to the former Interview Room/Dining Area becoming Game On!, which come to think of it I was supposed to do a story on for our Living section weeks ago.

   Eh.


   Anyway, Granite City has long run a commercial featuring various clips and semi-canned crowd cheers of home runs rocketing toward and off the light tower in left field. Interspersed are a few text-overs:

We never thought we'd say this

but we will anyway.

Go ahead, Boys.
Break Some Lights!

   Inference being they normally wouldn't want anyone to smash their fixtures with baseballs, but hey, because it's the Red Sox ... screw the bottom line, and go home team!

   Except (and this did take me at least a dozen viewings over the years), wouldn't they want the team to smash the lights? Logic being if they break them, the Sox have to buy new ones, thus helping GCE become something more than a company with a warehouse on the road in Whale City next to the cemetery that serves as final approach for the airport?

   These are the things I think about. And these are the things I enjoy:

National League Standings, Sept. 27

   After Sept. 27, with five games to go in the regular season, the Arizona Diamondbacks are still eligible for the postseason. At 73-84.

   And the best part of all? Whomever wins the West gets to avoid St. Louis in the first round due to the Wild Card automatically being awarded the lowest seed. At least I think that's how it works ... much as I'd love to say Google helped me, I can't find the full wording of MLB Rule 33 to figure this out.

   Though I do now have a copy of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Which, let me tell you, will totally get me dates.


September 26, 2005 - Fanfare For 442
   Virtual Rationalization: Because America (and the world, really) are far too seedy and far too dark, the Interweb gives you HappyNews.com, where you can stick your proverbial fingers in your ears and pretend everything is OK.

   It reminds me a T-shirt I'm seeing for sale on some Boston-centric Web sites:

Oh, hooray!

   Yes. If everyone believes the Red Sox can will, dag gum, THEY WILL!!!!1 So apparently, their near nine-decade run of failure is due to you not caring enough, jerk.

   Which brings me to my next thesis, "How You Touching Yourself Caused The Dinosaurs To Die."


   • I'm in the opening stages of finding ways to waste my millions, so let's see if we can't start a genuine product discussion for lack of anything better.

   Portable music players ... go.


September 25, 2005 - Big Smile Blowout
   Leftovers: In the pantheon of making something out of nothing, this is politics at its very best. This is exciting airline fuel talk, yet shows why some companies are smarter than others.

   The following is further proof stupidity is universal.

Giants fans' sick Kat-calls
BY TRACY CONNOR
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Shame on you, Giants fans.

Some boorish Big Blue die-hards pelted New Orleans Saints fans with tasteless taunts about deadly Hurricane Katrina during Monday night's game at Giants Stadium, several fans said.

"Where's your swimmies? I hope you have your swimmies!" one ignoramus asked Diane Dias, 46, who splits her time between homes in New Orleans and New Milford, Conn.

"You deserve what you got," another said. "New Orleans people are stupid."

...

But Dias' experience was not an isolated incident. On several Web sites, Saints fans recounted a torrent of abuse.

"After I reported an obnoxious fan for exposing himself to me, my friend and I were kicked out the stadium, apparently for having the nerve to complain," read a Nola.com posting.

"One guy even said he was glad our city was under water. ... I have had to sit here for FOUR YEARS and listen to all the New Yorkers complain and expect sympathy from the world [because] of 9/11 and this is what we get in return?"

   Clearly, the snowball incident has taught them a lot.

   And that trip to The Big E?

New Activities For '05
-- They're always adding new activities.

Butter Cow Goes Badass
-- This year, the Butter Cow went badass.

Synergy
-- Corporate synergy at its best.

   Sadly, no pictures were taken of us playing carnival games to win stuffed Family Guy characters. Or when that massive lump of car keys came flying off the flipping, spinning ride with the strobe lights and came within feet of becoming a part of someone's skull. Or the half-a-pig sandwich.

   I can only imagine if we'd been there the same night as Charo.


   • Some things have a happy ending.

   I just hope, 50 years from now, the thing's not selling for $2,000. Though if PressPins.com is to be believed, I'm in the clear until I'm at least 60, at which point I'll have forgotten everything I did prior to being 30.

   Like the day I was satisfied with a 45-23 loss because it proved I wasn't crazy, and the time a 23-20 win may have been a three-time champion's most improbable win of all.

   Of course, the season might have been lost at the same time. But, you know, that's off in the future. For now, let the gloating continue. Meanwhile, I'll be apologizing to the imaginary Eli Manning I have conversations with every week and no longer doubt.


September 24, 2005 - Ducked
   The Big E: There will be photos on Sunday, but one can never underestimate the fun of going to the same fair you've always gone to, even if it's not with the same friends you've exactly gone with and seeing some of the same things you always have. Like the cow made out of butter. Or the giant slide that is always just a little bit faster than you remember it being from the year before ... or in my case, two years before.

   On top of that, if you then go to one of three true townie bars and see like a dozen people you went to high school with -- and who appear to be all dressed up from having attended the wedding of someone else you went ot school with -- the only way it could be more awesome is if one of them came over and said hello. But most of the time, they don't ... just how it is.

   And if you saw the differences between my senior picture and now, you'd sort of see why I have an excuse.

September All About Getting To October
-- This story would have been so much better if I had ever gotten through to Dom DiMaggio for comment, since then it would be more than me showing that I'm able to pore through numbers and assemble them into coherent thoughts. I hope he was doing something important.

   No matter. Poring through numbers is more fun, anyway.


   • I'm not going to list all the picks, since each year I do kinda dwindle off with them at this point, but rest assured that I'm picking against the Giants (+6) again. And I have a beer bet with our managing editor where I've got the Steelers (-3).

   And to think, I'm missing Collective Soul at the fair just to assemble the newspaper. Kind of makes me wish it really is a night worthy of a frost like they're saying.


September 23, 2005 - The Little Professor
   Augusta Pretends To Be Relieved: Perhaps the best part of the story regarding Masters aficianado Martha Burk protesting the new NHL ad campaign? Not that she entirely misses the point, or not that I already can't get the thing to load, which leads me to think the servers have blown up.

"That's a major stretch," she said. "The woman is a sexual ornament, in my view. "It's appealing to adult men while trying to masquerade as something for kids. That's deeply offensive to me. As a mother of two sons, they see enough sex and violence anyway. Why put it in warrior terms? That's offensive, let alone the sexism."

A Toronto Star reporter brought the ad to Burk's attention, and reported her objections in Friday's edition.

   A reporter created the whole thing so he'd have something to write about! He (presuming this is said Toronto Star story) watched the ad, thought "Wow. I wonder what Martha Burk would think of this," and ran with it.

"The woman is dressed provocatively and when she asks the player if he's ready, it's a double-entendre in my view," Burk said in an interview. "She's in the ad as a groomer, a sex object.

"The commercial is clearly selling sex and violence and the last image in that commercial is a young boy watching this, so he's clearly the customer they're after, or it's a misguided attempt to draw in families," Burk said. "The ad is just gratuitous."

   OK, so where were the letters when The Last Samurai came out? Because there was totally a chick all feeling up Tom Cruise's chest. HIS NAKED CHEST!

   I guess maybe they were out of it at her local Blockbuster that week, and she was left to watch "Because of Winn-Dixie" or whatever else her pals loaned her between pivotal press releases like NCWO Supports Iraqi Women's Protest of New Draft Constitution.

   I'm sure they're all aflutter about it. Just like Hootie Johnson.

   Although Gary Bettman is stupid enough to respond by ... well, I'm not giving him any ideas.

   • Everyone has their crutch.

   I'm making the official declaration that these are my crutch. And they're available for some reason at my local grocer.

   Absolutely no good can come of this.


September 22, 2005 - Queue Up
   The Bill Simmons Book Tour: Making local stops ... so long as you don't live in like 85 percent of the country. I'll twice be within mere feet of it, but as you'd probably expect, I won't be stopping in.

   Now, the only review I've read of this has been positive, and ignored the fact it's the stupidest book cover since ... if I read books, I would have an end to this analogy. I just think it's better for me to steer clear, however, since no good can come out of it.

   If the book is bad, obviously, the book is bad. But if the book is good, I'll wonder how all these old columns could have been so great while the writer has spent the last year attacking the Red Sox for, you know, giving Dave Roberts the trade to San Diego that he wanted so he could play every day and be closer to his family. Yeah ... total dick move on their part.

   Regardless, in a fact that seems to go best here, the other day I thought I was cracking wise when I bought Degree because of their support of ESPN's World Series of Poker coverage. Then I opened the package and removed the clear cap on the stick, revealing the words it had carved into the solid.

GO ALL IN

   As a product of the poker boom myself, that moment is officially when the poker bubble burst.

Sox Set To Wait Until Next Year
-- The headline better not be terrible ... I laid out the cover tonight, and thus wrote it. Though at least it may be as terrible as the rest of the piece, which has the distinct feel of waiting a little too long to get to the point until editing got involved.

   • For the record, there's a new champion in the "World's Greatest Web Site" category -- On The DL, which is a catalog of little more than stories of the infidelities of Major League Baseball players.

Think of "On The DL" as Page 6... but all about baseball. Read juicy blind items and let your mind ponder over which dirty major leaguer it might be. Send us your guesses and gossip! We love the baseball dirt!

   And there are pictures! Lots of pictures.More than you can possibly imagine.

   Not really more than you can imagine. More like two dozen. But when Al Leiter is shooting around the BC campus the night before the Red Sox lit him up, they're the gift that keeps on giving.

   And as I have approximately 14 stories to write tomorrow so I can actually have a real day off on Saturday, a short list which will be elborated on further.

THE LEADERS IN THE CLUBHOUSE
1) Oasis -- 16 CDs (7 Albums, 9 Singles)
2) Barenaked Ladies -- 9 (8, 1)
3) Blur -- 7 (6, 1)
T4) Ash -- 4 (3, 1)
T4) Green Day -- 4
T4) Our Lady Peace -- 4
T4) Stone Temple Pilots -- 4
T8) Garbage -- 3
T8) Better Than Ezra -- 3

   Like I could ever possibly leave it at that.


September 21, 2005 - Fat Lip
   Statement on Secondary Education: In so much as NCAA Football 2006 is an excellent game, the fact that your girlfriend continually gets more attractive as you improve your character is beyond merely being priceless.

   As a freshman, you start with the high school sweetheart who I swear is a guy in drag. Then, a plump chick in glasses. Then one in a low-cut top with Satan eyes. As my sophomore season started as a returning Frosh All-American, I actually had someone one might call a 'looker.'

   As I now have to return the game, I'll never know whether it keeps it current pace, and I end up dating strippers as a junior and Mrs. Kutcher as a senior. Or whether it advances past the point of the girlfriend merely being a photo in your dorm room, moving on to the logical conclusion of people waiting around outside the locker room.

   E! Lowers Your Self-Esteem, with Tara Reid: Having previously been praised by others as like watching a train wreck from multiple angles on film, I stumbled across Taradise tonight while eating the first meal I've prepared since approximately 2001 -- going to the grocery store once every Harvest Moon will do that.

   If we're comparing it to Britney's Home Movies, it's clearly better because Britney Spears isn't in it making fart noises. In fact, I will tentatively say the show features no fart noises of any kind, nor does anyone pick their nose. What it does feature is not what you'd consider Tara Reid playing up to the camera, because you really get the sense that ... nothing good can come from the start of that sentence.

   The entire episode I saw was in Sardinia. There as an Italian model who took off his pants, then there was a photo shoot, then they were on a Mexican designer's obscene yacht, then she was making pizzas and in the middle there was windsurfing and cigarettes and parties. The whole thing was like riding that spinning thing on the playground ... you know, the item designed to make children vomit. Ride that, but instead of just getting off it and falling down, imagine being put in a car, then thrown out of it at 75 miles per hour.

   The show is so disorienting, when you suddenly discover Tara Reid looks better in a sweatshirt than she does with her breasts falling out of any of at least a half dozen outfits, it seems entirely normal. When you realize they tuck all the credits in the beginning and in commercial buffers, so the show just stops being on at some point, you wonder if it's actually ever over.

   I might still be watching it now. And here I thought it was a complication of being on Novocaine.

   Oh Yeah, There Were Needles In My Gums Today: When I went to the dentist last week and they told I had to come back to have some bonding done, I was under the impression it was a preventative measure. Kinda putting a clear coat of something on a tooth so it wouldn't decay.

   Yeah, the dentist looked at me reeeeeal stupid when I asked that question. Though in his defense, I am an idiot. Plus he was nice enough to say the decay wasn't my fault, but due to the enamel on "No. 18" not "coalescing properly."

   See, I'm a reporter. I used quotes.

   In short, I got shot up in the back of the mouth twice and still felt him drilling in my mouth. Then, after it was over, I spent a half-hour biting down on what I thought was an excess lump of the bonding agent, only to find out hours later it was my tongue.

   Very smart.


   • I had hoped to sell the 27 CDs previously mentioned for $3 a pop, which would have netted out $81 in real math, $65 in reporter's addition. With the task finally done, I can report I came close -- $72, with both Weezer's "Green Album" and Filter's "Title of Record" apparently no longer being bought back.

   Of course, I then immediately spent $24 of that money on Supergrass is 10 and a used copy of this old new album. The purchase vaults Our Lady Peace from joint seventh to joint fourth in the CD collection, in a list I will elaborate on tomorrow.

   Why tomorrow, other than I don't want to write that much today? Because the NHL has come up with its new advertising campaign, the campaign that will vault it back to the dizzying heights of the third most popular sports league in America.

My NHL
-- It's My NHL!

The NHL's branding and creative efforts have been focused on providing hockey fans with the sense that their passion and loyalty to the game is the life force that sustains hockey. As such, the campaign depicts hockey players as "Warriors" preparing to do battle on the ice in order to receive the adulation of their passionate fans.

   Now, some people would think during a war, the image of pampered professional athletes parading around like anything they're doing actually matters would be something to shy away from. Thankfully, the NHL is smarter than that.

   My NHL? I'm going to guess what the league in my mind features won't be in their ad campaign.

HAR, MIN, QBC, WPG


September 20, 2005 - A Site Is Worth 1,000 Comments
   From 10/03/02 To Today: On this, the 1,000 comment-enabled entry at this awful, awful site, let us never forget the one that started it all.

Please wash your car window. -- Chris Couture (8:19 a.m., Oct. 4, 2002)

   Yeah, it was from my mother, addressing the fact someone had put gum on my driver's side window. Course, it also featured me bolding the sentence "You're a fucking janitor. You work maybe three hours a day," but the majority of the day's other five comments were regarding ... the fact that my site finally had comments.

   Yeah, we'd been up a whole 17 months then. Now, I'm that much closer to my dream of posting on my death bed.

   Monarchs 62, Sun 59: A small part of feels disappointed that the Connecticut Sun, who play out of Mohegan Sun Arena, have now lost the last two WNBA Finals as champions of the Eastern Conference.

   And then I remember that I can't name more than two players on their team, I don't really like professional basketball and make fun of the WNBA in so much as I ever talk about it.

   Their logo is at least remotely interesting.

Connecticut Sun
-- Even if I would rather watch another Clay Aiken show
in their arena before I watch one of their games.

   Smartest Sports Fans In The Country: After tonight's bludgeoning, this is even funnier.

   Though I find things like "Edgar Renteria leads the majors with a career-high 30 errors" funny, so take that with a grain of salt.


   • And now, without further ado, a deeper delving into my music collection.

   The following are bands for which I own multiple CDs. In some cases -- Dave Matthews, Blur (Think Tank sucked, which made me ultra glad I bought the more expensive copy with the DVD and hardcover liner notes) and others -- I've sold off part of a collection but kept the albums that likely led me to buy the offending album in the first place. In the case of The Cranberries, "To The Faithful Departed" was so bad, I instituted a rule that I would only buy albums where I had heard two songs. Previously, I could hear something like "Salvation" and assume the rest was good.

   Not a friggin chance.

DOUBLE SHOTS -- TWO ALBUMS OWNED
Jimmy Eat World -- "Jimmy Eat World" and "Futures"
Phantom Planet -- "The Guest" and "Phantom Planet"
Radiohead -- "The Bends" and "OK Computer"
Billy Joel -- "Storm Front" and "River of Dreams"
Dave Matthews Band -- "Under The Table and Dreaming" and "Crash"
Soundgarden -- "Soundgarden" and "Down On The Upside"
U2 -- "Pop" and "All That You Can't Leave Behind"
Pulp -- "Different Class" and "This Is Hardcore"
Verve Pipe -- "Villains" and "Underneath"
Foo Fighters -- "Foo Fighters" and "There Is Nothing Left To Lose"

   And because everything's better if I keep explaining it, the notes.

   Jimmy Eat World is the only one of these bands I've seen in concert, and has the highest upside of any of them. I'll buy their next record solely on reputation. Phantom Planet is close to that, even if hearing "California (The OC Theme)" makes me a little more wistful than I probably should admit.

   Radiohead got a little too weird for me, even if "OK Computer" is one of most solid start-to-finish albums in my catalogue. I have not really seen Billy Joel in concert, but I did see some muscular guys do ballet to his stuff. On the strength of "We Didn't Start The Fire," "Storm Front" was the first tape I ever owned (courtesy of my uncle).

   Dave Matthews Band ... I remember when.

   Soundgarden's eponymous album would have been the first CD I ever bought, but I got it for Christmas, meaning Oasis's "Definitely Maybe" was the first CD I ever bought. Yeah, I didn't buy or own a CD until 1994. Sue me. U2, much like Curt Schilling, should shut up more. However, in the case of the band, shutting up would probably ruin some of what they are. Not so with Bottled Blondie.

   Pulp has undoubtedly progressed through three musical genres since I last heard them, but that doesn't change that "Common People" is one of my 10 favorite songs of all time. Perhaps top five. Verve Pipe should only get half credit because I stole their second album out of the Daily Free Press review bin -- I may even have asked someone first. They are rare, however, in that I hate "The Freshmen," which is likely the only song of theirs you know.

   And as for Foo Fighters, they easily could have been my Green Day and I'd own like six of their albums had I not stopped buying CDs out of apathy.

   That leaves nine bands for which I own more than two CDs. In a perfect world, these would have been a Top 10. So I guess just think of Jimmy Eat World as No. 10 and I'll fill in the rest tomorrow.

   Yes, I'm going to draw it out longer. If I play my cards right, I can milk this into October, when I'm either posting from the hotel bar at a suburban Cleveland Days Inn or too poor to get out of bed.


September 19, 2005 - Five Tasks
   Collector's Edition: In 48 hours, the Cardinals press pin has 10 bids, 13 watchers and has reached the big money stage.

   If the last five days could be as active as the first two, I could actually stop being a member of the press.

   Tess Smith: While I will second The Bruce's comments from yesterday on the hopes Miss Local L.A. Actress enjoys her voyage back to Whore Island, apparently she's done this before.

I Wish I Was Hot

What do three gold napkins, acres of bare skin and yesterday's Emmy award ceremony have in common? No, not Paris Hilton, but the relative unknown Los Angeles local Tess Smith.

Smith stole the red carpet limelight from the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Jessica Parker -- who won the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series -- and Sharon Stone with a daring outfit that saw the voluptuous interloper sporting little more than her birthday suit.

   I don't know about you, but when I read "acres of bare skin," I think of fat people. The sort who make it into Fark Photoshop contests, not 6s on a scale of 1-10.

   And six is being polite after reading this.

   Giants 27, Saints 10: Well, I got to watch the boys in Big Blue Red move to 2-0, and to put it lightly, I remain thoroughly unconvinced. They did play well, I won't deny that, but New Orleans shot themselves in the foot every time they put something together in the second half.

   Really unconvinced. And it's completely not because I think picking against them makes them win. That said, I'll be picking against them again next week in San Diego.

   And this time, I'll be right. Maybe.

   There is nothing weirder than wanting to be angry because your favorite team is winning. Especially when your picks are only in a bragging rights contest that has a mythical free dinner attached.


   • Tomorrow's entry will mark the 1,000th for which comments have been enabled. I should probably have something special planned, like counting all the comments in the site's history and seeing who has the most, but that would require poring through 1,000 pages of comments.

   And I do have to work tomorrow evening.

   And Sly would win anyway.

   Sly is awesome.

   The Red Sox? Not so awesome, and looking to be on their way to denying me a month's worth of overtime and nation-trotting.

   Though I'd hardly be crying if I didn't have to go to Yankee Stadium again. Even if those cheap earbud headphones I bought Opening Night still do work.


September 18, 2005 - Hail Mary
   The End Of The Press Pin Saga: Upon seeing the sixth auctioned 2004 Red Sox World Series Press Pin I've seen soar to the $60 range on eBay -- bear in mind, this thing is the size of a dime -- I've decided to do the only logical thing I can in response.

   I'm selling my Cardinals pin.

   Now, a small piece of me feels bad about seeing it go, and a little guilty about selling something I received for free. Seriously. But when you come right down to it, this pin has literally sat unmoved on my end table since I took it out of my backpack upon returning from Missouri.

   And considering there have been seven bids on the thing in the first 24 hours it has been for sale, I think this is for the best. Especially since there's a pretty good chance I can use the money to actually get the Red Sox I've been after all along, and that I should have received for free in the first place.

   If only I hadn't gone to the bathroom, I'd have two pins the size of a dime that I have nothing to do with. Pooping really is a sign of evil.

   Losers, Every One: In watching the Patriots get waxed, I missed the Red Sox get waxed even harder.Are we not approaching the point where some columnist quietly breaches the prospect of Matt Clement going from No. 1 starter to the guy who receives the Derek Lowe Memorial "Whack From The Playoff Rotation"?

   And considering I got to watch the Patriots at a waterfront cottage in Fairhaven that is absolutely too beautiful for words, I'm not ashamed to say I didn't think about the Red Sox even for a second. By the time I figured out that they'd even played, the pizza grease had set into stain territory on my shirt.

   Course, America had also played 13 other football games and I was busily flipping between The Breakfast Club and Judge Dredd after deadline.

   As someone who had only truly enjoyed "Breakfast Club" in passing, it struck me that there's a lot of damn crying in that movie. A lot of crying. Very "Wah!" worthy, as we say around Elm Street.


   • And because tonight was the Emmys -- which I know had each of you on the edge of your seats, and 'Lost' geeks around the country making that noise the Coneheads did when they were excited -- here's Tess Smith.

Tess Smtih

Actress Tess Smith arrives for the 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

   I have no idea what she's actually been in before Sunday, but after it, she's picked up roles in at least 13,000 masturbatory fantasies around the world.

   Which very clearly leads me back to the music discussion. Now, because I haven't made my attempt to sell CDs yet, we'll focus on the small group which I'd originally planned to sell, but will be keeping on a second listen.

   I suppose you could call them "The Survivors," especially since it fits in with the whole OH-MI-GOD-LOST-WON-AN-EMMY-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE thing.

   I've seen about 10 minutes of the show ever. I have no doubt it's probably extremely entertaining ... I know when I finally saw part of an episode of House, I was blown away by how good it was. Perhaps there is hope for my TiVo in 2012 when they're all in reruns.

THE SURVIVORS -- 4 CDs

Quarashi - Jinx
What AMG Says: With cutting-edge artists such as Sigur Ros and Bjork coming out of Iceland, the last thing you'd expect from the remote country is a rap-rock band. Quarashi is straight from the Rage Against the Machine/Beastie Boys school of thought, though there is enough diversity on Jinx to keep things unpredictable. The quartet leans more towards three MCs and one DJ than a hard rock band with rappers and flogging guitars, while beats alternate between drum machine and live percussion. Only occasionally does the band embark into big metal riffs, like on the wild "Copycat." Elsewhere there are hints of reggae ("Weirdo") and even traces of the band's origin in Iceland ("Tarfur" is the only song with Icelandic vocals). For a band who programs most of its music, Jinx comes across sounding energetically organic. Definitely the kind of testosterone-fueled rock to which kids will want to wreck things.

What I Say: I heard the first single, Stick 'Em Up, in a commercial somewhere. Or maybe it was a video game. Regardless, the CD was under $10 and succeeds in making a lot of noise, which often times is enough to trick me into it being good. In keeping it, I'm giving it another chance to convince me it is awesome again, because it was there for a while.


Pulp - This Is Hardcore
What AMG Says: "This is the sound of someone losing the plot/you're gonna like it, but not a lot." So says Jarvis Cocker on "The Fear," the opening track on This Is Hardcore, the ambitious follow-up to Pulp's breakthrough Different Class, thereby providing his own review for the album. Cocker doesn't quite lose the plot on This Is Hardcore, but the ominous, claustrophobic "The Fear" makes it clear that this is a different band, one that no longer has anthems like "Common People" in mind. The shift in direction shouldn't come as a surprise -- Pulp was always an arty band -- but even the catchiest numbers are shrouded in darkness. This Is Hardcore is haunted by disappointments and fear -- by the realization that what you dreamed of may not be what you really wanted. Nowhere is this better heard than on "This Is Hardcore," where drum loops, lounge piano, cinematic strings, and a sharp lyric create a frightening monument to weary decadence. It's the centerpiece of the album, and the best moments follow its tone.

What I Say: Bought as the classic case of "Why isn't this album goofier and poplike like the last one was?" Kept because, unlike Oasis, Pulp is good enough to do this without completely sucking. I know this is good, even if it isn't my complete cup of tea. And thus, I enjoy it because I feel like it's making me smarter and better rounded.


Chef Aid: The South Park Album
What AMG Says: This tie-in album to TV's South Park gang of potty-mouthed cartoon cutups comes from an episode chronicling a benefit concert for resident school cook Chef (voiced by Isaac Hayes). Calling in such pals as Ozzy Osbourne, Wyclef Jean, and Elton John, Chef Aid: The South Park Album is little more than a soundtrack featuring chart-toppers du jour. But most of the guest artists are peripheral to the surroundings (although Master P's "Kenny's Dead" is a clever goof incorporating both a running gag of the series and Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead"). The real treats come from the animated characters themselves: Chef gets all funky paying tribute to his "Chocolate Salty Balls," and several of his lascivious tunes -- which originated on the show and are naturally soaked in double entendres -- are spread throughout the album. The highlight, however, is resident fatty Eric Cartman's skewering cover of Styx's "Come Sail Away." It not only inflates the original's bloated pretensions, it also mocks an entire faceless, and creatively infertile, period in music in the process.

What I Say: They don't even mention the best inclusion on the album: for no apparent reason, Mousse T's forgettable Eurocrap "Horny." You've forgotten it, but you would know it if you heard it -- "I'm horny! Horny! Horny! Horny! Horny!" ad infinitum.


Filter - The Amalgamut
What AMG Says: Although Filter's Title of Record was a creative step forward, Richard Patrick described the album's recording process as an exigent one, where everyone constantly butted heads. To the band's surprise, when they began working on The Amalgamut two years later, they encountered the exact opposite. The band, along with longtime producer Ben Grosse, felt the most open and creative they had in years. With two successful releases and two years of solid touring behind them, Filter allowed themselves the freedom to write and record new material at their own pace. After embarking on a cross-country road trip with his acoustic guitar and witnessing the September 11th terrorist attacks and Columbine High School shootings on television with the rest of America, Richard Patrick poured his inspiration into some of his most sincere and revealing material to date. Lyrically, Patrick is honest and unembarrassed throughout the album. Whether he's shaming the two teenage assailants responsible for the Columbine massacre on "Columind," pondering how commonplace school violence has become on "American Cliché," or coming to a religious crossroads while confronting the 9/11 attacks on "The Missing," Patrick never compensates his views for popular acceptance or political correctness. Musically, the band delivers hook after hook on a bed of strong songwriting.

What I Say: Bought on reputation, it succeeds despite not having any one song that leaps out as my favorite. They're just all about B+, but that's the thing -- they're all B-plus. Which is way more than most of the crap I own.

   And as for Sly's question the other day about whether I had ever taken to Supergrass, sort of. They were just really breaking when I was over in Wales back in 1996, and though I enjoyed their stuff, I never bought any of it. Every so often I would hear one of those initial songs in a commercial, and I'd wonder "What ever happened to them?"

   And then they released a 10-year Greatest Hits that I'll probably buy when I go sell stuff. Funny how things work out.


September 17, 2005 - Stupid High School Football
   Musically Speaking, Part Two: Taking a day off from writing for an hour, but come Monday, it's likely you'll learn just how many Oasis CDs I really do have.

   I'm just so sick of looking at research on the Internet, the computer is my Kryptonite. And not in a "the song Kryptonite" kind of way.

Sox Not Terrible Against First-Time Pitchers
-- This week's Inside Baseball involved me digging through career splits and yearly numbers for something like three hours. I wish I had ideas this good every week, because it was fun in the way that a really, really hard workout is fun.

   Not that I would know anything about working out anymore. I did eat Chinese food tonight.

   Florida State 28, Boston College 17: For a night, I was a BC fan again. I'm pretty sure it wasn't to guarantee they would lose, but one never knows how the subconscious works.

   They probably should have won this game, given they choked on it during the two points when it mattered most -- out of the gate and in the end. I wish I could claim to be happy about this, but cheering for Florida State is even worse than cheering for the Yankees. You have the feeling that, if presented with the chance to start an all-felon lineup that would contend for a championship, New York might actually not do it.

   Bobby Bowden would be asking if these players had brothers.


   • After going 9-7 last week:

Bengals (-3) vs. Vikings
Falcons (+1) at Seahawks
Ravens (-3.5) at Titans, 100 units
Raiders (+1) vs. Chiefs
Buccaneers (-2.5) vs. Bills
Bears (+1) vs. Lions
Jaguars (+9) at Colts
Patriots (-3.5) at Panthers
Steelers (-6) at Texans
49ers (+13) at Eagles
Cardinals (-1) vs. Rams
Browns (+6.5) at Packers
Jets (-6) vs. Dolphins
Chargers (+3) at Broncos
Saints (+3) 'vs.' Giants
Cowboys (-6) vs. Redskins

   you still shouldn't be running to Vegas with these.

   Not that you should ever be running to Vegas. Unless you like the idea of having your sweat dried off you by a warm breeze that simply cakes it in place.

   In eating my 100th meal at Subway in the last 21 days, I somehow convinced a women in a Rascal that spicy mustard was sucha good idea, she should have the clerk unwrap her made sandwich and add it in.

   I didn't have the heart to tell her it probably wouldn't be as good mixed with all the mayonnaise that was in there. But you live, you learn.


September 16, 2005 - Musically Speaking
   How They Did It: The consensus among some national people is that the Red Sox somehow keep finding a way to win late, even if it seems increasingly impossible that it keeps happening.

   Guess this does nothing to disprove that.

10-Inning Win A Hit For Manny
-- It used to be you'd be impressed if I said I'd called David Ortiz's home run to right on the pitch he hit it. Now, the whole damned ballpark is calling these things. Though it is more believeable.


Kapler Leaves For Surgery, Promises Playoff Return
-- Notebook written well before game. Yawn. The postseason ticket lottery was broken out, so it's not here.

   As of this moment, the final number of regular season Red Sox games for your favorite pseudo-journalist with a self-congratulatory Web site looks to be 43. Tonight was No. 40, with the schedule having me on desk until the final three-game set with the Yankees, during which I may have to eat members of the Japanese press and ESPN.com to get a view of the field. It's not even close -- I'm more disappointed with a close race likely making that last series matter, not because it means the Sox might miss the playoffs, but because the full contingent of Gotham scribes and etc. will be in full froth.

   Though it is nice in that it's essentially a guaranteed three-game playoff series.


   • In the coming days, I will do something that is at least moderately interesting -- saying something, considering everything here lately.

   The Music Collection Makeover. Although really, it's more like simple liposuction because I'm not adding everything, just selling off a bunch of the crap that has meant I have no room in my CD rack, and thus CDs in piles all over the apartment.

   And because I have mental problems, "all over the apartment" means in three neat stacks in the bedroom and/or living room.

   The first step will be culling through the 140 or so discs and deciding what's worthy for sale ... or unworthy of keeping. Now, given how often I crack open a CD and listen to it, this could easily be 80 percent of my stuff if I wanted it to be. However, I'm loosening the rules, keeping things that don't suck and selling off stuff that there's absolutely no way I would ever play again.

   There's still plenty, a whole lot of which I pulled out and said, "Jesus. I paid $15 for that?!"

SALE PILE -- 27 CDs
Big Losers (Multiple Discs)
Travis -- "The Man Who" and "The Invisible Band"

Those who have been here for a while know my affinity for Brit Pop, and thus when a good friend told me how enfatuated he was with the band, I bit at least a little before I should have. Twice.

Though their singles were very good, I just never really got into them the way I did Oasis, Pulp, Blur, Ash and other acts you probably wouldn't know. These feelings about them are the same reason I refused to buy the Keane CD despite liking their radio hit, because I knew we'd be here again in 2008 or so.


Alice In Chains -- "Jar of Flies" and "Alice In Chains"
This does not qualify as kicking a dead man when he's down. I'm sorry.

I bought the first CD at least a decade ago, and it had a very short rotational life beyond "I Stay Away" and "No Excuses" -- the whole disc makes me think of a now-defunct mall in Springfield, where I saw an ad for it at Strawberries and may have even bought it. Unfortunately, I was vocal enough in my period of liking it that I got the second disc as a Christmas gift from an older cousin during a brief period where we bonded. I dare say she's the closest to me in age among my cousins, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm selling both CDs she bought that year.

Sorry, Amy.


The Goo Goo Dolls -- "A Boy Named Goo" and "Dizzy Up The Girl"
The first of these was the other CD, which should explain to you that I actually bought the second one. I really see no need to discuss this any further, given I'm embarrassed enough as it is.

The Wallflowers -- "Bringing Down The Horse" and "Breach"
To this day, I'm bothered by the fact that, to find the track listing for "Horse," you have to get out the CD booklet and dig through it. It's not on the case or the disc anywhere.

And you just know Jacob Dylan did that consciously because he thought it was cooler to have stupid gold stars all over the damned thing. There may even have been a good song on the second disc, because I obviously bought it for something, but I'm not looking to rip it just on principle -- and no, I didn't rip any tracks off the Goo Goo Dolls garbage.


Bush -- "Sixteen Stone" and "Razorblade Suitcase"
The only thing surprising about this is apparently the last time I sold CDs in Boston, they wouldn't take "Sixteen Stone." I could have sworn I either sold it or threw it out my car window on the highway.

If you rip tracks using Real Player, you get the little album notes in the top conrner that are occasionally interesting. For Bush, it said that, as a band, they were "long on earnestness and short on subtlety." Apparently, that's what overrated goes for in the 21st century.


Weezer -- "Pinkerton" and "Green Album"
Easily the biggest surprise of the sell off, if only based on just how many tracks I ripped to PC before throwing them in the pile. Part of this may be backlash for "Beverly Hills," which has gone from one of those songs I'd freeze the radio on in excitement to something so overplayed I can barely make it to the chorus.

I don't know what it is ... I just don't feel them as much anymore. Great as "Pinkerton" was, the songs I didn't like on it were ones I really didn't like. As for "Green," the dropoff after the best songs was too much for me, a kid who doesn't have a CD player in his car -- car listening is basically my barometer for everything musical.


The Rest
Limp Bizkit -- "Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water"
Jeff Foxworthy -- "Games Rednecks Play"
Matchbox 20 -- "Yourself Or Someone Like You"

The less we can say about these, the better.

Evanescence -- "Fallen"
Coldplay -- "A Rush Of Blood To The Head"
Dave Matthews Band -- "Before These Crowded Streets"
Black Eyed Peas -- "Elephunk"
Presidents of the USA -- "Presidents of the USA"
South Park -- "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut"
Chumbawamba -- "Tubthumper"
Filter -- "Title of Record"
Just stuff that I've outgrown, perhaps most notably "Before These Crowded Streets." I can remember driving into West Springfield on my lunch break one day at school -- the joys of National Honor Society -- and getting it the day it came out.

Yellowcard -- "Yellowcard"
Santana -- "Supernatural"
Ben Folds Five -- "Whatever And Ever Amen"
Something Corporate -- "North"
Mainly things I never took to, either because I got caught up in buying them or, in the case of the last one, the band has forever been ruined by outside circumstances. Expired outside circumstances, but lingering enough that they accentuate the fact they're in a sophomore slump.

   Well, that was longer than I thought. In the coming days, we discuss what's left and you all make fun of me. Also, what the clerks at Newbury Comics mutter under their breath when they see me walk in with this cavalcade of near-crap and crap.


September 15, 2005 - Is It The Indians?
   One, Two, Three Marlenas: Not bad for a night where it didn't even look like they would play baseball.

A-Rod Brings Total Package To The Field
-- My half of a point-counterpoint, saying Alex Rodriguez is the MVP of the American League. I will now duck, as to allow your thrown stapler to fly harmlessly over my head.


Sox Lead Cut By A Game
-- A game story from this wondrous gem, which would have had quotes had the rain not pushed things back 43 minutes. And, probably, had the Sox just officially laid down after the second inning.


Kapler Will Remain A Sox Leader
-- Game notebook, where I consciously opted not to talk to Jay Payton regarding his return to Boston. Course, he was then booed rather voraciously, which might be a word I just made up.

   On the plus side, however, the A's prepped for the game by watching "Miracle," which has to be the one movie I've seen more than any other. I mean, we're pushing double digits.

   Approved Shorts: I try not to just rip links from other places here, but when someone posts the Hooters employee manual, you make an exception.

I hereby acknowledge and affirm that (1) my job duties require I wear the designated Hooters Girl uniform; (2) my job duties require that I interact with and entertain the customers; and (3) the Hooters concept is based on female sex appeal and the work environment is one in which joking and innuendo based on female sex appeal is commonplace.

   It's actually too bad that they include this after six pages on grooming and appearance. That could make for one of the most fun lawsuits I've ever seen.


   • Today, I received a 3,447-word spam e-mail telling me of my "appointment with destiny" and encouraging me to read the Bible.

   And it came in before I wrote the Alex Rodriguez column.


September 14, 2005 - Entrusted By Oneonta
   A Worthy Voice: While I'm still years away from gaining the ability to vote on baseball MVP's, Cy Young Awards and even the Hall of Fame, Futbal de Primera magazine feels I'm fit enough to vote on the Honda Player of the Year, awarded to the finest player on the United States National Team in this calendar year.

   No joke. They've asked me twice.

The Honda Player of the Year recognizes the best player on the U.S. National Team as chosen by the national sports media. The Honda Player of the Year award is considered the most important award an American soccer player can receive.

The winner of the Honda Player of the Year award receives a new Honda Accord EX. Additionally, American Honda donates $5,000 in the name of the winner to the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO).

The winner is announced during a ceremony attended by previous winners, players on the U.S. National Team and other national and international coaches, executives and dignitaries. The annual award ceremony, celebrated at The Beverly Hilton Hotel, receives extensive coverage by the national and international media.

   So, time to cruise the message boards. I am nothing if not the messenger for the people who watch such things.

   Even if my choosing is as least as weird as finding out I had a seat reserved for me at the Patriots' season opener. Never asked for one ... maybe they just like my non-threatening demeanor and light abuse of the all-you-can-eat dessert table.

   Political Observation: Is it bad that I'm more abreast of the goings-on in the New York City mayoral race than I am of the one in Whale City? And if it's bad, what would have to happen for me to care for even a couple of seconds?

It's finally happening. September is here. The primary elections are nearing. Face First, our youth based mayoral debate at the Whaling Museum, is right around the corner, and that means it's decision time. Your grace period for apathy is over friends. If you haven't been following the top notch coverage we have been laying down for you, now's the time to saddle up and ride.
-- SouthCoast247.com, which doesn't want you to know is affiliated with my newspaper, but did give us some leftover pizza during the shift tonight

   Informing me my grace period is over? "Saddle up and ride"? Is this really how people talk? Is this really how people read?

   I'm being genuine here. After so many years of talking over people's heads, you get confused as to where the ground actually is. Course, then I give the above page an actual proofing, and I find a misplaced "quit" and "where" in the first four sentences.

    Credibility. All laid out.


   • In what could become a new game for a new generation, today I was excited to find gasoline had dropped below $3/gallon -- $2.95 in Feeding Hills Center.

   Who knew scarcity of natural resources could be this much fun?


September 13, 2005 - Counter Play
   We'll Keep It Simple: After more than three years as Whale City's Favorite Tuesday Sports Columnist -- which I never did get put on a nameplate -- my weekly column has been moved to Wednesdays. To me, this is the equivelant of moving from the high-profile strip mall in town to the one with the abandoned furniture store, a Media Play -- not a Best Buy, but a store I once saw selling Empire Records for $25 and the superior Mr. Baseball for like $4 -- and the local bagel shop.

   It's a solid bagel shop and breakfast stop. They even have a drive-up. But you're not getting the steak sandwich or the stuffed panini or the magical, magical fruit Coolatta.

   Speaking of ...

   Queer Eye For The Red Sox: Months after the fact, I finally saw this tonight. Oddly enough, not on the DVD copy I've had via work, but on TV like the normal schmos watch.

   In Boston, there were a handful of people who got really up in arms about this whole thing. Having seen it, my suspicions have been confirmed.

   Those people are at best homophobic, and at worst worthy of a beating.

   Now, if I looked at the Sox only through fan eyes, I would be proud to be cheering for a team who has players self-deprecating enough to do something like this. Yeah, the part where one of the Fab 5 put Doug Mirabelli's cup on his face was the most vile thing I've seen since being a regular watcher of Fear Factor. But there's a little more to an hour show than a three-second piece.

   I mean, it's not like he bent him over and simulated anything.

   Artful talk. Very artful.


   • It's good to know my friends understand me and understand the things I enjoy. At 2:07 a.m., I received the following text message from fellow S-Ter Mike:

Slap shot 2 ch 35

   If only I hadn't been in the Wild Wild West, you could have had a full review. These things happen sometimes.

   Sort of like the Curse of the Superdome, which has a definite "Only in New Orleans" overtone to it.


September 12, 2005 - Sweet, Like A Cupcake
   We'll Keep It Simple: In a lot of ways, that's all I understand.

Good Luck Figuring Out This Race
-- You have no idea how hard it is to just randomly find something that cost $30 million. If you don't know one off the top of your head, even Google fights to find a proper solution.

   And just so everyone who cares knows, it's unlikely I would travel to California for a Division Series should things get there because, with the games starting at 10 p.m. local time, there wouldn't be much point. So sayeth the bosses.

   And also so everyone knows, the Minnesota Twins don't accept playoff credential requests by fax machine. Apparently, they either fear the technology or owner Carl Pohlad doesn't allow phones in the Metrodome lest his employees find out about the outside world.


   • Exactly one month after the NHL season resumes, I'll be watching Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux at the TD Banknorth Garden, marking the first time I've bought tickets to a professional hockey game in what might just be several years.

   I only write this as a means to encourage the rest of you to do so as well. I mean, after all ... there might be a shoot-out!

   Plus Red Sox season will be over, meaning you can invite me and I'll go because I get to have days off again. On that note, if you know anyone in San Diego, tell their baseball team to stop sucking so hard and win the NL pennant so I can be shamed by the fittest city in America.


September 11, 2005 - Apparently They Didn't
   Four Years Ago Today ...: I wrote an entry from Boston on Sept. 11, 2001. It's interesting to read it now.

   Yankees 1, Red Sox 0: While it's not exactly as improbable as Curt Schilling's Saturday:

IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
HR
Johnson, R.
7
1
0
0
2
8
0

   it's pretty damn close.

   Not that Tim Wakefield throwing a three-hit, 12-strikeout complete game is anything worth ignoring, but it's simply becoming expected. Which is frightening, since he has the historical ability to disappear at any time ... not trying to be mean, but this is a guy who went 14-1 in 1995 before finishing the year 2-7. Finger finger of fate sort of thing.

   Giants 42, Cardinals 19: Speaking of, it's good to see I still have that oil and water effect on teams via my football picks.

It was the kind of performance that could make a general manager smile. The prize free-agent receiver Plaxico Burress caught a touchdown pass and set up anothTTTer. The rookie running back Brandon Jacobs scored a touchdown. The free-agent punt returner Chad Morton, signed just a week ago, returned a punt for a touchdown. The Giants had not produced this many points since Dec. 22, 2002, when they scored 44 against Indianapolis.

Coach Tom Coughlin, whose son Tim escaped from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, said the Giants were motivated to win on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Pregame ceremonies included family members of victims of the attacks, and Coughlin wore an "FDNY" cap throughout the game. He told his players during the week and at halftime, when the Giants trailed by 13-7, that they could not lose on this day.

"There was no way we were going to lose at home, on this date, for this great city, for these great people," Coughlin said.

   So that's good. When it's not replicated in future weeks -- especially next Monday in the Emotion Bowl with the Saints -- the excuse is there. At least until then, though, I'll be coming around every 15 minutes with a shuttle bus to the bandwagon ... Meadowlands has some big parking lots, and you don't want to walk the swamps with that smell.

Plenty of seats ...

   On the plus side, it won't be real cramped once you get inside. But I'll say this now -- if I see anyone in the red third jerseys, I'm not picking you up. I don't care if they're authentic ... they don't call them Big BLUE so you can start playing with your Pantone wheel.

   I don't even really know what that means.


   • And now, because there are at least some of you who don't enjoy sports -- and no, that's not a veiled shot at Andre Agassi's fourth set -- I give you Spamusement!: Poorly Drawn Cartoons Inspired By Actual Spam Subject Lines.

   Enjoy "She cant possibly be enjoying this!" Fear "REAL ESTATE GONE WILD. Get a little disappointed about "slay them all."

   Or just go watch the "Family Guy" episode you downloaded off of BitTorrent like some kind of criminal. Or beg me to give you an illegal copy because, after all, I have one. I always have one. That and a whole bunch of Oasis CD singles of the songs where they didn't suck. Or didn't suck as hard, depending on your perspective.

   Pardon the randomness. As a new Bank of America checking account customer, I'm having trouble dealing with the microchip probe they put right under your palm. Makes it hard to think without staring out the window at the office in downtown and thinking, "I so need a car loan right now."


September 10, 2005 - Big Blue Needs You
   Red Sox 9, Yankees 2: Sure.

IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
HR
Schilling, C.
8
5
2
2
2
6
1

   I'll take "The Unlikeliest Of Outcomes" for $600, Alex.

Wins Will Cost Clemens The Prize
-- In the final act of last week's Inside Baseball, it actually did run, contrary to what the editor who was running the desk thought. Thus this being so short, since it had the old column tacked onto the end rather nicely. Whatever.

   You'll just have to find out on your own about the 1994 Texas Rangers and why they're special. It's not real hard to figure out.


   • In past years, I have lauded the coming of the football season and a magical day. I've brought chips to work, feted the events, everything. And while I have made my picks:

Colts (-3) at Ravens
Cardinals (+3) vs. Giants
Chargers (-4.5) vs. Cowboys
Bills (-5.5) vs. Texans
Bengals (-3.5) at Browns
Jets (+3) at Chiefs
Dolphins (+4.5) vs. Broncos
Buccaneers (+6) at Vikings
Titans (+7) at Steelers
Redskins (-5.5) vs. Bears
Panthers (-7) vs. Saints
Jaguars (-3) vs. Seahawks
Lions (-3) vs. Packers
Rams (-6) at 49ers
Falcons (+1.5) vs. Eagles

Last Season: 129-119 vs. Spread

   I will inevitably watch the 1:27 affair that Federer-Agassi will end up being.

   And this is why I was pissed at James Blake for losing.

In Eli I Trust
-- In Eli I Trust

   Have I mentioned lately that I miss Kerry Collins?


September 9, 2005 - Fat And Furry
   FARK: Steve Guttenberg Has Work!: Apparently, Police Academy 8 is coming.

An eighth Police Academy movie is on the cards -- and all the original stars are being invited back. Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith and Leslie Easterbrook are among the actors being asked to make cameos in the film.

The film makers feel the time is right for the original castmates to return and pass the truncheon to a group of new recruits.

Leslie, who played LT Debbie Callahan in all but one of the six sequels, has already agreed to reprise her role.

   So wait. We're supposed to think the producers of the "Police Academy" series of films had enough foresight to wait for a certain period before deciding to make another film? Not that they one day decided they'd like to not be eating Cheerios for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so they'd make another movie and pocket a couple hundred thousand dollars?

   Sure.


   • It's good to know at least three of the Police Academy series are in IMDb's Bottom 100.

   It's also good to know I can be entirely useless for an entire day.

   Julie just typed this: j. I have nothing else to add, other than that my brother may soon be deciding to take the civil service exam.

   And I don't even have anything to add to that.


September 8, 2005 - The Hoitiest And The Toitiest
   In Defense Of Tito: Now, I didn't get to see tonight's game because I was buys watching David Nalbandian bend over against Roger Federer, but I'm told it was the cause of some consternation. As good pal Justin points out, Terry Francona pinch-hit Roberto Petagine with the bases loaded of a 3-0 game. The same Petagine who hadn't played in like 10 days and who had never faced Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez.

   Were I watching the game, I'd probably have been shocked, but it at least would have made sense.

   Earlier this week, Francona had been asked about his rotating first basemen, and what a great week Kevin Millar and John Olerud had been having. He agreed, but lamented that Petagine wasn't getting the sort of at-bats he deserved based on how good a hitter he is. He can't justify playing him when the other two are playing so well.

   Fast forward to the ninth, when Francona's reasonable pinch-hit options for second baseman Joey Cora -- given he had replaced Tony Graffanino, who had been pinched for Manny Ramirez in what was bases loaded an inning earlier -- were tility callup Alejandro Machado, Kevin Youkilis (who has played a spot of second) or Petagine (who has no knees). I suppose you could also throw Gabe Kapler's name into the mix, but he's got a strikeout in his only career AB against K-Rod.

   None of them are a real great, so why not give a shot to the guy you want to keep sharp and know has been underused? Arguably, so has Youkilis, but that's far more widespread than what's happened with Petagine. So he struck out ... looking at the options presented, most of them probably were.

   And really, you had Ortiz up with bases loaded in the previous inning, and didn't score. It's not like the Sox didn't have their chances.

   And that's how you be an apologist.

   Patriots 30, Raiders 20: Thanks to Federer's aforementioned rollover, I heard the fourth quarter of this on the West Cross Parkway and associated highways in Connecticut. It was apparently their dominant quarter, so my image of things might be a little rosier than those who watched from gun to gun.

   This looks to have gone pretty much exactly as drawn up -- Moss got his long touchdown, Collins had some numbers but when it counted, Oakland never had a chance to win. The next three are when the fun starts, with New England going to Carolina and Pitttsburgh before hosting San Diego in "Flutie Bowl 2005." Of course, though, I don't really care.

   Giants and Cardinals, Sunday at the Stadium. Now, it's not a game where a loss is the end of the universe, because Arizona could be better than usual. That said, they can roll provided Eli's O.K. So, look into doing that, Big Blue. I'd love to crack out the "NY" wool cap on Monday morning.

   Well, I probably will anyway. But I'd like to do it while smiling.


   • Matt Boggie once said, in his sort of farewell e-mail after graduating from BU, that I would be presented with the most incredible opportunities one could ever imagine, and that I would complain about all of them. This seems apropos after today's trip to the U.S. Open.

   Where I sat in a luxury box.

   And then sat courtside, but became bored and went back to the luxury box.

   And he had his picture taken with Chris Evert, who I'd like to think I don't have to link to.

   Now, I'm hestiant to say the day couldn't have worked out any better, but I'm really struggling to find statements that would make that not true. I overslept, but still got down to Flushing without missing much of substance. The box was a luxury box, with the food and the drinks and the "I'm feeling significant buzz at 1 p.m. on a Thursday." Lleyton Hewitt's quarterfinal went five sets, we saw the mixed doubles champion crowned, saw Donald "I'm The Future Of American Tennis" Young, saw a girls' junior match where a Canadian named Sharon Fichman made a lot of noise and tried like hell to come back from 4-6, 0-5 ...

   And Martina Navratilova played too, cheered on by a black guy who honest to God jumped up to egg on the crowd and started doing the Serena Wave -- bouncing up and down to increase breast floppage while giving parade queen hand turns. This was the same guy who was cheering on Conchita Martinez in the other women's doubles semifinal earlier with some Spanish term that sounded an awful lot like "Bailamos."

   This is no way an organized writeup of the day's events, but I am on three hours of sleep and have been in the sun for most of the period between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Slack shall be cut, you bastards.

   On top of it being marvelous to again see Vito, who really is as big of a jerk to stupid people as I am, it was my finest trip to New York ever. Arriving on the Metro-North train from Stamford, I walked up into Grand Central Station and boarded the No. 7 subway to Shea Stadium/Willets Point. After a day at the tournament, I boarded the subway again, entered Grand Central, found my Metro-North train and departed.

   Total time on the streets of Manhattan? Zero hours, zero minutes, zero seconds.

   In tennis, they'd call that a triple bagel. But since it's New York avoidance, I guess it can be a rotten apple. Or something like that that's wittier ... like I said, the sun, the tennis, the dealing with the early-20s couple in the box who had not even a rudimentary grasp on how tennis is scored.

   Though on the plus side, they did have matching Lacoste headbands that they had bought for some absurd price on the grounds. I spent much of the day session trying to decide if the female half was attractive, with the final consensus being a tentative no. There was potential there given mannerisms and looks, but she lost points for her Lisa Loeb glasses and overuse of mascara.

   And the being dumb as an empty gym bag.

   And as for the actual tennis, Federer won in an hour, forty minutes in a combination of his talent and Nalbandian's apparent feeling that the world No. 1 needed more free points -- 11-0 Federer on aces, 6-0 Nalbandian on double faults. Hewitt will give him a far better game, even though he dropped two sets to Jarkko Nieminen, who was very game.

   Agassi will still not be beating Federer. Though neither will Robbie Ginepri, who will now undoubtedly beat Agassi and set up the most unwatchable final in a long, long time.

   And I'll stop now, since most of you have no idea who the hell I'm talking about.


September 7, 2005 - Thanks, Accurate Storyline
   • Things like "two-and-a-half hours sleep" just have no history of working, so I leave you with little more than the words of Krusty The Clown.

   "I'm off to Wimbledon!"


September 6, 2005 - Just When I Think I'm Out ...
   Red Sox 3, Angels 2: It's official ... as I felt this game slipping away after the Sox couldn't score via two leadoff singles, I had that twinge of, "Damn. They really could use this one." It only took until Sept. 6.

   Yeah, I still care. Though it could just be because I want to visit the International Bowling Museum and make off with a Busch Stadium seat before they tear it down.

Ortiz Clutch As They Come
-- There's a good chance my waiting on quotes caused the whole paper to blow deadline, but to be honest, it really felt like one of those times when it's warranted. That doesn't make it right, but it did allow me to fall asleep on my couch watching poker.


Help Coming From Pawtucket
-- The notebook no one knew was coming ... I made two rather egregious professional errors in one night, but somehow, tomorrow is still payday.

   Remind me next time I'm at Fenway to count how many rows up that ball hit.


   • In the grand pantheon of things that confirm both that I'm a Giants fan first and will do anything once, I'll be eschewing watching the Patriots' opener on Thursday to attend the U.S. Open.

   The tennis one. Not the golf one, which apparently got to GoDaddy first and booked the dot com however many years ago it was.

   Coming via the generosity of Vito, I will now attempt to piece together the remnants of the draw so I can appear to know what I'm talking about. Off the top of my head, I know seven of the eight remaining men and seven of the eight remaining women, many of which I would actually recognize if we were riding on the same subway car.

   Of course, I wouldn't speak to them, though. You don't talk to strangers on the subway.


September 5, 2005 - Big Willie Style
   For Once, I Was Right: Olin Browne wins the Deutsche Bank Championship.

   As a sponsor's exemption who I know best as a former GHO winner -- in 1998, I was bummed he beat out Larry Mize and David Duval on the last day -- I'd actually forgotten he led this year's U.S. Open through three rounds before shooting an 80 to fall way out of it. To the point where I saw it in the Reuters story, audibly said "That's not true!" to no one in particular and went off to verify the fact.

   After having miraculously made it through the whole Sox game without anyone ruining my TiVo recording of the final round on ABC, Andrade was out of it by the time they went on the air. And I was so pleased the "Shh! Don't tell me!" plan actually worked for once.

   Course, that's why it worked, but that's beside the point. Bully for Browne, as it were, given this tourney was one of those, "Oh yeah. I guess I do like my job sometimes" moments.

Progress, But Still Work To Do
-- A story that really came together. Once I ditched the "I'm gonna drive to Norton!" idea, I had the option of waiting until the end and actually writing around the quotes. That's a real nice luxury to have.

   Great Moments In Stupidity: Speaking of the Sox game, I offer so much flak to others that it's only fair I go equal opportunity.

   Fenway was plenty closed up by the time I left yesterday's game, with the aluminum door in front of the usual press exit already closed. As such, I walked to the chain-link gate they have for loading on Yawkey Way, lifted the latch and was surprised that it wouldn't give more than six inches when I pushed it.

   Given it was about 5:30 p.m., there wasn't the slight panic there was when I was 'apparently' locked in Gillette Stadium and had to jump a 12-foot practice field fence to get back to my car. The confusion, however, was there as I pushed this gate twice, three times, four times with no luck. "There must be some lock attached to it," I thought and I was already reasoning mentally how I would slide through the small opening with my backpack on.

   It was at that point when a guard stuck his head out of the booth some 20 feet behind me -- where he clearly could have seen this entire escapade -- and calmly said, "You have to pull it."

   And here I was worried people on the outside were watching this. One of the few times I'm glad I'm not Bob Ryan, because you know that story would be getting retold at the Sox' Christmas party.


   • This guy's got it all figured out.

Rug Looting

A hand-painted sign outside a New Orleans business warns away looters in the wake of Hurricane Katrina on Thursday, Sept. 1. Ethicists and social psychologists said in interviews that rules of human behavior -- including respect for others' property and for social order itself -- dissolve quickly in desperate circumstances like the storm's aftermath. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

   No one with the sense to loot for non-food concerns is going to waste their time with a stupid Oriental rug.


September 4, 2005 - Just Dead It
   Inside Baseball, Part Two: Apparently, the thing just never got read in the hectic animal that is Saturday night at the Whale City Herald Tribune. Probably for the best given the rush job that it was, since I can reuse most of the pieces, even if the Padres do go on a 17-game winning streak.

   And really, rage isn't an emotion that belongs in the Media Center at a golf tournament.

Early Risers Sink Putts
-- After I was done, the tournament-produced notes had a stat that "players who teed off before noon were a combined 35 under par. The later starters were a combined 41 over par." The AP ended up using it, so I'm glad I didn't.


Labor Day Weekend Presents Possibilities For Future
-- The second note is actually what used to be the end of the sidebar, replacing some BS public relations piece I threw in because I felt like I should. I have to say the new boss impressed me with that one.

   Is it wrong that I'm resenting having to cover a Red Sox-White Sox game on Monday, which is supposed to be a beautiful day, rather than see the conclusion of the first PGA tournament to have a third-round, five-way tie in 22 years? I didn't think it was either, which is why I'll be debating going to both at least until I wake up in the morning.


   • Now, I don't cover golf like most people cover golf. Because the idea of sitting in the media tent all day makes me ill and seems terribly, terribly wrong, I walk the course. Because I don't get credentials to go inside the ropes, I fight the crowds. I stay away from Tiger Woods because, well, those crowds are stronger than me. I spend notime writing during play because for most of it, I'm out with notebook in hand watching somebody.

   The problem with this is, because the Tour is so good at getting quotes and information and everything out, the people who sit on their asses drinking Diet Coke in the tent all day get most of the same stuff I do. Maybe not the note about Billy Andrade chastising the crowd for not throwing his ball back in the fairway, but the interview quotes with Kent Jones, who to be completely honest finished his round well before most of their lazy asses were at the course yet.

   This makes me mad. Is it jealousy? A little bit. But part of it I'd really like people to know how hard I work even if I know that no one cares. It's like that nagging feeling a lot of people have about trying to please their fathers ... if I had such a feeling, it basically went away last October. Talking to him before Game 3 of the World Series while sitting in the park next to Busch Stadium, he started to get choked up because his son was covering the World Series.

   That felt really, really good.

   The point of all this? There isn't one, other than Bud Selig is conspiring from allowing me to see Billy Andrade not win the Deutsche Bank. Look, it's too perfect. It simply can't happen, because it would be too awesome.

   On the plus side, however, staying at the course until 10 p.m. allowed me to see the fireworks display the bank put on for their volunteer party. We're talking at least 25 minutes of big-ass fireworks ... by far the best display I've ever seen. As someone who doesn't get all frenzied about them, there was no way I was getting on that parking lot shuttle until it was over. It must be nice to be a multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation.

   Give it a try sometime.


September 3, 2005 - Never On Holiday
   Inside Baseball: I wrote it, but it just seems no one in my office noticed. Given this is a discovery I just made at this very second, I'm going to refrain from saying anything more about it.

   Mainly because I blew a large chunk of my afternoon writing it, and a whole lot of swearination would ensue.

   Ryan Seacrest ... for Starburst: It was no Mya Angelou (David Alan Grier) for Butterfinger, but it did have the bonus of being entirely real.

   Basically, Ryan Seacrest doesn't get to vacation a lot because of his "American Top 40" radio gig -- which I'm sure takes upwards of an hour to tape -- and "American Idol," where he rose to stardom by saying things like "Seacrest ... OUT!" and "Not tonight, Simon. I'm tired." Because of this, he'd like to thank Starburst for creating their Baja California flavors, because they allow him to have a little piece of his favorite place whenever he wants.

   Flavors like "Limon," which in case you were unaware, is Spanish for "a dolphin's uvula." Fruit chews that really capture Mexico's rich culture of no-prescription-necessary pharmacies, cock fights and unemployment ... I mean, if you're going to claim that a nation rich in heritage can be captured in a fucking mass-produced candy, why not go the whole nine yards and just start calling them all wetbacks?

   Hey, I was a little amped up. This came after I showed my general disdain for society by listening to mashed-up songs involving rap stars with white people in the car. Totally didn't care that I was making overtures for a rain of gunfire to eliminate our white persons on Route One in Foxboro.

   No matter how hard I try, these things always write so much more serious than they're actually written.


   • Arena rock is a strange animal.

Green Day
-- Green Day's setup through the high-resolution
technology of cell phone cameras.

   Barring anomalies, you're in a large venue which a whole bunch of people who really want to be there. The opening acts, even if you like them, seem inferior because they're on someone else's stage, playing for someone else's crowd. The main act comes out, and all of a sudden beer's raining down on your head. Fireworks go off 15 minutes into the show. The lead singer shouts "New England" about 35 times, and everyone goes nuts because ... "HEY! WE LIVE THERE!"

   Then he shouts that this one is "for all the fucking politicians" and everyone goes crazy because ... "HEY! I FUCKIN' HATE POLITICIANS TOO!"

   Then he puts on a Sox hat ... you get the idea. As someone put it to me in a manner far more tasteful than it probably appears here, if Hitler had pyrotechnics and a bitchin' band, I shudder to think how much more damage he could have done.

   But when you think about it, that's kind of the point of arena rock. If you're a music connoisseur, you're going into an arena rock show preparing to be underwhelmed because it's not a club. It's not intimate. It's not personal. It's 60,000 people jumping all over each other, thousands upon thousands of That Guy's wearing the shirt of the band they're going to see, with the chance to buy $4 Red Bulls and debate whether you really could sell that pot the guy dropped on the ground for $20.

   I'm not one of those people. Sure, I like steak every now and again, but that sizzle! It's all smoky and loud, and on fire! THERE WAS FIRE! AND LIGHTS! AND CLAPPING AND JUMPING!

   The last time I attended an event at Gillette Stadium, it was the 2002 MLS Cup. New England was hosting the game anyway, then just so happened to make it and played Los Angeles. There was a groundswell of popularity unlike anything soccer's seen here since the 1994 World Cup, and suddenly everyone had to go to this game. Each day, they kept opening up more sections, more seats, and they all sold. Next thing you know, they're playing the league championship game in front of 61,316 people, most of whom want nothing more for the Revolution to score a goal.

   They never did. In what was actually a pretty bad soccer game, L.A. won 1-0 in overtime. The one saving grace from a bandwagon fan's perspective didn't even come through, as the Galaxy scored seven minutes before it would have gone to penalty kicks.

   My point is that day, there was never that payoff. At the Green Day show tonight, there was that payoff about 15 times. The irony aside of a good number of late '80s and early '90s births rocking out to a band whose been around 16 1/2 years aside, they have a catalogue that can easily go two hours. In all honesty, they could go three without straining. You mix that with getting to tailgate in the parking lot, the tried-and-true "let's bring people on stage and let them play instruments" gimmick, the flames, the lights ... you're got yourself a good time.

   A formulaic good time? A little bit.

   A good time where people boo George W. Bush on cue? Sure.

   A good time where I went home soaked in the aforementioned beer and ate chicken off the ground? Absolutely, and that doesn't even count putting pepperonis on the little chocolate donuts.

   But none of that matters. Was it a good time?

   I'm not really how it couldn't have been.

   And now to do exactly what you do after you watch a rock band that wants you to think they're punk despite the Verizon bus in the parking lot. The PGA Tour.


September 2, 2005 - And I Say That As A Pasty Guy
   Sk8er Boi: At first note, I was ready to openly admit that I enjoy this song. And then, it suddenly struck me exactly what it was saying.

   That you should not fuck with every kid in your high school who thinks he's going to be a rock star because, well, he will be. And he'll totally diss you then.

   Because you'll be all fat and unhappy with kids at, like, 26.

   And he'll be all up in Avril Lavigne's pants. Or skorts. Or whatever punkish children wear at the point following your diss.

   $3.47: For regular. For Cumberland Farms regular ... the stuff that keeps you going, my ass.

   Makes paying $3.30 before driving across the state so that Saturday, I can drive across the state again, seem a lot less disgusting.

   Add Me To The List: While I'm not exactly calling for impeachment proceedings, you would think that if Houston was flooded tomorrow, the nation would kind of send any and all available and necessary resources to help it.

   Because that's what happens, right? When something goes wrong in your country, and especially when you've been sending crap around the world when something goes wrong in other countries, you send crap to fix things going wrong in your country.

   I'm sure this has something to do with me not voting, but damned if I know what it is.


   • I'm going to be blunt about this, and I'm not simply saying it because I was fed salmon. Though the salmon didn't hurt.

   There's a reason no one goes to the GHO ... if one can extrapolate the differences in press stuff to a wider view of things, one's the World Series compared to covering an American Legion baseball game where all the kids make their own calls because the umpires are stuck in traffic.

   And the scoreboard's broken, and the kid with the book can't add.

All Of A Sudden, Andrade Finds It
-- Really happy guy. Which I suppose I'd be too if I'd just shot a 66 at anywhere other than a par-3 course.


Mass. Native Petrovic Can't Sustain Hot Start
-- The notebook, which doesn't include the 'New England Roundup' I put together and got broken out. Because I'm actually in good spirits, I'll simply smile and include it here.


NEW ENGLAND ROUNDUP

Billy Andrade - Bristol, R.I. - T2 at 5-under-66
Bogey-free round highlighted by hole-out eagle on No. 12, birdies on all three par-fives.

Tim Petrovic - Florida via Northampton, Mass. - T15 at 3-under-68
Day's best front nine (30) hampered by fluffed chip, double bogey on No. 15.

J.J. Henry -- Fairfield, Conn. - T62 at Even-par-71
Approach to five feet on final hole marks strong day with irons, weak on chipping.

Bradley Hughes -- Vernon, Conn., via Australia - T62 at Even-par-71
With a caddie who smokes, Aussie hot with the irons, hitting 14 greens in regulation.

John Hickson -- Bethel, Maine - T106 at 2-over-73
Sectional qualifier bogeys two of his first three, but levels off by hitting 13 of 15 greens.

Geoffrey Sisk -- Marshfield, Mass. - T106 at 2-over-73
Former Tour player earns berth through Monday qualifier, recovers from opening double.

Brett Quigley - Barrington, R.I. / Devens, Mass. - T106 at 2-over-73
Three birdies on first four holes erased by balky back-nine putter.

John Elliott - Florida via Bristol, Conn. - T106 at 2-over-73
Hits just five of 14 fairways, erasing four birdies with doubles on No. 4, par-three 11th.

Patrick Sheehan - Warwick, R.I. - T123 at 3-over-74
Thirty-three putts and missing the final four fairways leads to five-bogey round.

Brad Faxon -- Barrington, R.I. - T123 at 3-over-74
Hartford champ over par all day after bogeying four of first five holes and seven overall.

Troy Pare - Sutton, Mass. / West Warwick, R.I. - T135 at 4-over-75
New England PGA champion opens with a birdie, but follows with two bogeys, six total.

Terry Hatch -- Biddeford, Maine - T152 at 7-over-78
PGA sectional qualifier starts with bogey on No. 10, then shoots 42 on front side.

The projected cut following the first round is even par, with 85 players there or better.

   It was just a long, busy day, but the good kind of busy where I actually felt like I was accomplishing something. As much as I do complain, I'me very lucky to be at a newspaper who wants to cover events like this ... given our size compared to the other outlets there, it's a real rarity.

   And really, when there's about 15 spectators on the golf course, you don't really need 'Inside The Ropes' access.

   Because I had no idea where I was going, I ended up getting on the general public shuttle. It was clearly posted as allowing NO bags, NO cameras and NO cell phones.

   Yeah, I had two of the three. Yeah, no one said anything. Except for the guy who told me to go to the wrong shuttle and the guy who told me to go get my bag checked and sent me to a place who clearly had no interest in looking in the bag because it was where people were supposed to leave their bags.

   Not that they stopped me from bringing anything in either. Though I suppose I did pay by walking all the way across the Tweeter Center parking lot for nothing.


   That story seemed a lot more fun when I started telling it. In the end, the story of Noted Real Southerner Bo Van Pelt's caddy saying to me, "I bet there's a lot of deer in those woods come winter" in a full-out Southern drawl was probably way better.

   I just wish I could figure out why this now NESN personality was slumming with a big, pasty white guy. I'm sure there's a reason, but asking no one in particular here seems about right.


September 1, 2005 - Yet More Pumped In
   For The Record: I bought no gas today. Though I did buy a lot of flops just to get shots at trips and flushes ... most of which didn't work.

   And if you can follow that ... bully for you.

Olerud's Bat Buoys Red Sox
-- A gamer by request. Not much else to say, though they won.


Foulke Back In The Game
-- A cute little notebook, which you or anyone else may or may not read.

   I'd also like to thank the entire student population of Boston, moving in today. Yeah, today was a nice day to get out of the apartment a half hour later than normal.


   • I kinda feel like the gas game is officially over, and not because I've now seen numbers in the $3.50s with my own eyes.

Oh my goodness ...
-- Because I've seen a man throw the gauntlet for the win.

An unidentified gas customer returns to her car after checking prices on the pump at a BP station in Stockbridge, Ga., on Wednesday. She did not buy the gas priced from $5.87 to $6.07 per gallon. (AP Photo/Gene Blythe)

   I'm not sure whether this guy is a genius or a goon, but I do love how the woman how to get out of her car, make sure that price was actually correct, then get back in her car at the sheer shock of what she's witnessed.

   If only the station had had this kind of comic relief outside to calm the moment:

First Born

A sign reflected the jump in gas prices at Fred's Mini Mart in Shadeland, Ind., on Wednesday. Store owner Greg Boesch said most motorists find the sign humorous, but he wondered how long they would enjoy the joke. (AP Photo)

   Must be an Indiana thing.


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