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October 31, 2006 - Lots and Lots of Pirates
   Nailing The Halloween Spirit: Tonight, just after leaving the building to begin my walk home, I helped two pirate hookers find the bar they were looking for. Even if they did keep calling me, "Sir."

   I credit the shorter one for half-heartedly trying to get me to "lead us there," just as I credit the tall one for actually spitting out the name of the bar, which made the whole process a lot easier on all of us.

   Also, they did an excellent job recreating the smell of pirate hookers ... or at least what I'd envision one would smell like after a day of drinking nothing but grog.

Finally, Pats are 'Red' Hot
-- This definitely falls in the 'making lemonade' category, since it capitalizes on my complete inability to pick football games properly in 2006. Well, it doesn't really, but I need to start feeling better about that.

   Item You Can Do With What You Wish: David Eckstein's is a 5-foot-2 woman named Ashley Drane. She's snagged a couple roles on Disney Channel shows, which somehow feels right given her choice of husband.

   But not as right as, if this is to be believed, the fact she's a former contestant on Nickelodeon's GUTS, an episode of which transfixed me for a half-hour not too long ago.

   Now that, that just feels like it ties up all the loose ends.

   • So today, as you would expect, Julie's elementary school had a costume parade. Everyone was asked to dress up as a literary character -- they could make their own books, stuff like "Tom Brady is Awesome" and "I Always Wanted To Be A Princess" -- then at 1 p.m., they got to walk around the building and assemble in the gym for a costume contest.

   Julie told me it would be a good chance to meet her kids, so I went, attempted to look like I somehow belonged with the swarm of parents taking pictures. Fortunately, as I've outlined here previously, no one knows who I am, so it was pretty easy.

   What I didn't expect is that I would actually end up staying the rest of the afternoon, or help a girl named Erin play on the playground for a half-hour, or end up getting pushed on a swing.

   We were playing "Pirates" when that happened. I don't know exactly how you play "Pirates," which apparently is the same reaction everyone else has when you play "Pirates." If only I'd known I'd be assisting pirate hookers some 10 hours later.

   After my first recess in approximately 15 years, I went inside and watched the children paint jack o-lantern faces on their papier mache candy holders, then do some coloring worksheets, then assemble for story time, then head home.

   I genuinely spent the whole time in near-complete amazement. It's not as though I don't understand what Julie and her co-workers do, or that I've ever thought it was anything other than God's work. Even just the little glimpse for an afternoon, though ... it lifted my spirits for the entire evening.

   Their three students are all in completely different places -- I'm sure there are more clinical words, but Julie's girl Emily is non-verbal, Dennis knows some words and Erin, for lack of the actual terms, is a "normal kid" except when she's not. Julie works with the least developed girl, mainly. For the coloring exercise, Erin would largely do it as the paper would describe -- "draw a yellow moon on the black sky." Julie would take out two markers, and ask Emily to choose the yellow one. When she did, they'd draw a moon together, with Julie doing most of it.

   I found myself sitting there watching this, willing her to pick the right markers, which she did all but the first time through. Then, at the end, when she sort of wrote her first name on her own ... like I said, I never really felt like I needed help understanding why Julie loves doing what she's doing, but I'm certainly sure now.

   If only I could have conveyed it to the pirate hookers. Even given all the things they've seen and straddled, they'd feel it to.

October 30, 2006 - I Have No Point
   Embracing Old Springfield: I wasn't alive for this, but it's nice to assemble the picture in my mind of a downtown Springfield that wasn't best known for being one of the 20 most dangerous cities in America.

   Course, even that's not true anymore ... it dropped out of the top 25 for 2007. Damn bankrupt hole just can't keep anything going anymore.

   • Have you ever taken the time to notice the amount of borderline useless crap they sell at CVS now? Electric knives, goofy clocks, touch-screen phones, odd spice racks ... pretty much every product you could find on TV, and a few others that probably didn't make the cut.

   We, of course, were in CVS to buy something which may have an actual application -- a coffee cup with its own plug-in heater. I, of course, spent no time looking at that, instead trying to see what happens when you stop that LED clock with the rapidly swinging arm.

   You just can't take me anywhere.

   And yet, they don't sell Cocaine, which I've been trying to find ever since 7-11 yanked it. Let's lie and say I'm not trying to find it strictly so I can drink it, then write about it on here.

   Let's say I'm just jonesing to have my heart explode with the taste of cherry Jolly Rancher in my mouth.

   If that doesn't make the year-end quote roundup, I don't know what will.

October 29, 2006 - Yakyu?
   Football: There's something freeing about, after going 4-9 and claiming that's the worst week you've ever had picking football games, going 3-10 the next week.

   When I started in the S-T sports section, it reached the point where our columnist was doing so poorly picking against the spread, he actually started flipping a coin, picking based on what mascot would win an actual fight, etc. I never understood how he got there.

   I'm closing in.

   Electronics Discussion: If you happen to own the LG VX8300 cell phone, and have some obvious reason that I shouldn't own it, feel free to speak up. It meets my cell phone requirements, expanded from needing a clock on the outside.

   Now, it's a clock and a better than average camera.

   • For reasons I don't fully understand, I've spent the last couple days reading and watching as much as I easily can about the Japanese Baseball League. Starting with the clip of the Nippon Series' final out, and the famed Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters winning their first title since 1962.

   Edit: Of course, the video has been yanked from YouTube for violating copyright. Man, this new Internet with rules and regulations is starting to suck.

   Though that did lead me to find out Hokkaido won the LCS on a groundout and great baserunning. Not a bad way to end 44 years of suckitude.

   The whole idea that the teams are mostly named after corporations, that teams can actually merge and move with some regularity ... the whole thing is begging to be televised, and yet, I'm reasonably certain I wouldn't watch much of it. I just find it hard to believe that ESPN wouldn't see this as something they could at least pursue, even if the expense over, say, Trick Shot Magic from ESPNZone in Baltimore is absurdly higher.

   This shop, by the way, is going to cause me a problem in the next few weeks. Though this does seem less troublesome (and easiesr to navigate) than the time I bought the Slovenian national soccer jersey that arrived about three sizes smaller than it would need to be for me to wear it in public.

   Perhaps my favorite revelation of the past two days? That the Fighters were long the Clippers of the NPBL.

They are perennial doormats in Japan's major league. They have been awful for decades on end, with exceedingly rare exceptions, and -- as if to highlight their ineptitude -- they play in the same city and stadium as the legendary Yomiuri Giants. While the Giants draw 50,000 passionate fans to the Tokyo Dome for each game, the Fighters are lucky to get 10,000. One Japanese sports executive says the team's image is so dismal that the team ''could actually devalue the ham brand.''

. . .

SMJ's first step was to conduct a survey. It found that Japanese baseball fans regard the Fighters as a bunch of losers, and Fighters fans as a bigger bunch of losers. ... As one executive on the design team puts it: ''Brand strategy flushed out early the fact that ham didn't offer us anything in terms of communicating fighting spirit.''

   Also, the Hanshin Tigers are cursed because following their 1985 championship, fans threw a Colonel Sanders statue in a river as a means of saluting Randy Bass. The statue was never recovered, and they haven't won a title since.

   It's Babe Ruth's piano all over again!

October 28, 2006 - It Was The New Dance Team
   Red: Not a Celtics fan. Doesn't make it any less sad.

   And I didn't even have to remake the sports cover I'd just diligently finished way ahead of time.

   • Just going to ruminate on that for a while. It's been a long day, and I didn't even do anything.

   I did watch one slug eat another slug on some nature show. Also, the entirety of Charlie's Angels. After that furniture porn pictorial of a few days ago, a movie based almost entirely on a plot of "let's put hot actresses in lots of costumes" sits in a whole new perspective.

October 27, 2006 - Scrappers!
   Parody's Fun: Some three hours after I'd decided this was the funniest fake baseball piece I'd ever read:

So when David Eckstein -- 2-foot-1 in bare feet, topping the scales at barely 40 pounds soaking wet, and appearing in the game only thanks to an MLB Outreach Program to give malnourished young mole people a chance to fulfill a dream of playing in the big leagues -- stands in against 8-foot-11 Joel Zumaya, who can throw a weighted leather exercise ball 200 MPH with his penis, you might think Zumaya has the advantage.

But he didnít count on the heart, or the determinittyness, or the sheer heartitude, or the gnatosity, or the dirtheart, or the toughgrit, or the dirtdirtdirt, of an 11-inch tall, 2-pound foetus named Dirtid Gritstein.

   David Eckstein won the World Series MVP award.

   Like two hours after that, The Matrix aired on TNT.

   Hopefully, everything else falls together just that easily.

   • My employer's illegitimate sisters on the Cape ran a contest where they allowed fans to "fix" the Red Sox as general manager. The link is their winner's plan.

   Absolutely no prize to the first person who finds the massive flaw, which I felt good about finding immediately upon reading it. Not because I think fans are stupid, but because theoretically, I should be able to outthink then some of the time.

Two Years Ago Tonight.
-- Two years ago tonight in St. Louis. Had to look this up ... my life, in fact, has not changed, even if I did think the St. Louis celebration (and Joe Buck call) was pretty lame.

October 26, 2006 - Short, And To The Late
   Today's Delightful Time Waster: Courtesy of the Sports Guy, it's the Baby Name Wizard, which has absolutely nothing to do with sports.

   With this, I learned that both Jonathan and Matthew were at their popularity heights in the 1980s, meaning my parents aren't simply not creative, they may just be pawns of the machine.

   Also, Lonnie is a more common boys name than girls name. I always knew my Lonnie was special, but here I thought it was because she's both a cheerleader and a rocket scientist.

   • I happened to be in the car today for what passes as a special day in some odd universe ... WEEI, New England's sports radio juggernaut, was celebrating their first day being simulcast on a station in lovely Springfield.

   In their classy, intelligent way, they celebrated this by making veiled references to everyone in Springfield (and, by extension, much of the region) either a car thief or a flannel-wearing hick.

   It was a nice way to drive across the state, especially since they're FM Springfield station sounded like it was being broadcast from the bottom of a fish tank.

   Thanksgiving is typically the time when people list the things they're thankful for, but now's a good time for me to remember how thankful I am I don't have to listen to sports radio for entertainment and for information. I find it's much more useful to get your emotions up right before, say, a suicide bombing.

October 25, 2006 - Children Tolerate Me
   Apparently, People Love Vintage Baseball: And, at least by extension for the moment, me.

Subject: Vintage Baseball
Date: Wed 25 Oct 2006
From: [____@taboracademy.org]
To: Work

   Dear Jon:

   Today's article on the old Massachusetts game has prompted this email. I am a faculty member at Tabor Academy in Marion and I spend most of my time teaching mathematics, calculus to be specific. During the second semester, however, I offer an English elective course called "Baseball in American Society." I will attach a small syllabus. In a portion of the course, we discuss the origins of the game and the ultimate adoption of the New York rules. A couple of times, we try our skill at the game as played by the Massachusetts rules. The kids enjoy the softer ball, the old bat and the prospect of "soaking" the runner. My intent is to invite visiting speakers as you will gather by reading the syllabus.

   I would like to invite you to become one of the outside speakers in the Spring and I would also like to contact Mr. DiCicco-Carey and perhaps, attend his informational meeting on Saturday. Your columns on baseball are welcome reading and I look forward to hearing from you.

   Finally, a nice quote to put on top of the mythical resume I built for everyone who's called me a retard. To say nothing of the invite to Tabor, which (if Wikipedia's right) offers 21 AP courses, classes on lighting design and owns its own 98-foot schooner.

   Suffice to say, if Agawam High School had offered a class on baseball, I would have taken it three times and worn my Red Sox hat to school every day for six months. How times have changed ... today, I would wear a rotation cycle of baseball jerseys.

   Also, the article marks the second time I've been linked on the Baseball Primer Newsblog, the first of which where I didn't know the person who sent them the link. Hilarious, given I look at that site more or less every day, and that Wednesday was not on of those days.

   We're rapidly approaching the need to upgrade me to G-List Celebrity, aren't we?

   • Speaking of the Newsblog, that's where I found this:

The Baseball Writers' Association of America moved Wednesday to request that Major League Baseball withhold awarding the 2009 All-Star Game to the Cardinals until significant improvements are made to a press facility the organization considers unacceptable to host a special event. Commissioner Bud Selig described the matter as "a real and valid" issue Wednesday and acknowledged being made aware of the writers' concerns.

. . .

The Busch Stadium press facility has been criticized by media since the park opened this April. During construction of the stadium, Cardinals officials waived architect HOK's standard design, opting for a less costly, exposed press box offering neither air conditioning nor heat.

. . .

The BBWAA added its complaints about the facility to its agenda Wednesday after a number of its members were shocked by conditions encountered during the postseason. MLB officials who were unimpressed on opening day remain so despite minor adjustments that included removal of exposed insulation.

   In the past few days, I've learned/remembered that Selig is actually a huge fan of the writers ... he's a newspaper junkie. That makes me happy. Not enough to forget the picture of him after the tied All-Star Game with his pants wrinkled, but close.

   Also, Transformer porn. It's not quite furniture porn, but then again, what really could be?

   I've checked the site stats to see exactly how bad this gets. Quite frankly, I'm excited at the prospects.

October 24, 2006 - Gervin For Supreme Court
   Local Flavor: Never would have figured I'd write two stories about vintage base ball within five months of each other.

History Buff Wants To Bring Old-Time Base Ball Back
-- He wants to start a vintage team, complete with unis and no gloves. He probably won't be happy I pointed out the "broken fingers" part.

   Labor Peace in Our Time: Hooray.

   • Tonight, I had a dream that my newspaper was completely redesigned in an incredibly futuristic way ... complete shift from where we are now. I can't pin it down, but it looked an awful lot like the European papers that seem more concerned with design than content -- course, they have the staffs to pull both off. It also seemed similiar to what the Kansas City Star now looks like.

   Aside from being a little distressed at the absurd number of inserts in the paper, I was furious that no one had told me about the redesign. The actual design was cool ... I just felt left out, given in real life I've pretty much redesigned half the sports section in the past year.

   Somehow, five years ago, I'm pretty sure these weren't the kind of dreams I was having.

   The dream also somehow involved me thinking the paper was sending me to St. Louis to cover a Red Sox game, but I forgot/put off buying a plane ticket until the actual day I was going, then couldn't find any flights that hadn't already left. I then found a flight on Southwest, but it was $1,170.

   Then, I found out no one actually wanted me to go to St. Louis.

   Then, I started cruising around the country in some virtual reality glider.

   The lesson, as always, is never eat turkey kielbasa and never have Edy's vanilla ice cream before bed. Even if both do taste good, they both clearly contain psychotropic drugs of some kind.

October 23, 2006 - Awesome, Until Tiki Retires
   Make That FOUR High School Stories Ever: I think. And sort of.

Oldham Leads ORR Through Golf Sectionals
-- On the desk, I took it upon myself to cull all the day's high school golf results ... I figured having played high school golf, I had a better grip on it than everyone else. Plus, I didn't really want to take up the offer to go home early anyway.

   If nothing else, writing about high school golf refreshes some of my most painful high school memories. On an outstanding Agawam High School golf team that was favored to win the program's first-ever Western Mass. championship, I snuck into the No. 6 spot of six players ... and shot a 96 at Hampden Country Club.

   Not that I was ever an outstanding player for a length of time, but at that point, me shooting a 96 was akin to Manny Ramirez hitting 12 home runs and batting .245 for the 2007 season.

   When my other five teammates joined me in relative suckitude, we finished one shot behind our Colts-like rival South Hadley, then missed qualifying for the state tournament when Holyoke won a tiebreaker against us. I've never felt lower athletically.

   Course, I've never been in a position to feel any lower athletically, but knowing just shooting five shots better on a day where I sort of mentally checked out after zero pars in the first 14 holes bugged me for a long time.

   PlayStation Sale Update: It's been nearly two weeks since I advertised my PS2, plus 15 games and all the accessories, for sale on the Cape Cod Craig's List.

   I have received exactly zero legitimate sale queries.

   I have, however, received two near identical scam attempts to purchase the setup for more than I advertised it for, provided I accept some odd type of money order and ship it on some other person's shipping account.

   Other than that, things are going swimmingly.

   • I'm a Giants fan. You all know that, so it's no surprise I enjoyed tonight immensely.

A Giant win and everything.

Giants running back Brandon Jacobs celebrates his touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys by standing on the star in the end zone in the third quarter Monday in Irving, Texas. New York won 36-22. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

   You can't tell me, however, that no one else enjoyed Drew Bledsoe's benching for young savior Tony Romo starting with Romo throwing an interception and ending with him throwing a third interception that was returned 96 yards for a touchdown.

   They kept showing Bledsoe on the sidelines. It's a shame the 'Blind Date' phenomenon hasn't expanded to other shows, since a voice bubble popping up to say, "Geez. I could have done that!" might have been one of the 10 greatest pieces of television footage in the past 10 years.

   It's been a relatively weak 10 years, but it still would get some votes in most any era, right? I mean, Bledsoe was sacked for a safety a few hours earlier, crumpling like a Yugo in an auto accident.

Some sort of Yugo groupie?
-- This confuses me on several levels. You, probably more.

   We were talking about football. Man, does that feel like an hour ago all of a sudden.

   This was the best Yugo picture a cursory Web search had to offer. I shudder to think what lies in the forgotten desk drawers of Belgrade.

October 22, 2006 - 60, But Not Like McGwire
   Special Moments: I've been picking football games in various contests every year since I was eight. While it's the sort of thing it would be hard to track or deduce, I dare say that there's no other thing in my life (that's not an essential bodily function) that I've been doing as long as picking football games, both with the spread and without.

   This week, Week 7 of the 2006 NFL season, I am 3-9. Three wins out of 12 games played, with no point spread. That theoretically should make it easier.

   Again hard to track, but I'm reasonably certain I have never had a worse week in my entire life.

   Last week was bad, with exactly every last-second finish going against me, but for it to happen two weeks in a row, the way it's happening, is ridiculous enough to be funny.

   For example, last week, Cincinnati lost to Tampa Bay on a late score, their own final drive ending when they attempted a comical 62-yard field goal. No one makes 62-yard field goals to win games ... well, except for Tom Dempsey.

   And the equally legendary Matt Bryant, as Tampa Bay this week beat Philadelphia with a last-second ... 62-yard field goal.

   Never mind the fact Philly outgained Tampa 506-196, then pissed it away with four tournovers ... theoretically, that helps the Giants, who will hopefully make me very proud on Monday night in Dallas.

   As a wise man once said, "I'm over it." Except that I'm not, because I've yet to receive the "So ... 3-9" phone call from my 4-8 brother.

   Don't ask. Family matter.

   • Speaking of family matters, Sunday is a huge one. My father's 60th birthday.

Parents, Nov. 2004
-- This picture is two years ago, but sadly, as recent as I have.
Also, Mom hates having her picture taken. So don't look at her.

   As you might expect, given my proclivities, my father and I have had a very close relationship for a very long time. In a world where kids usually list toward one parent or the other, he definitely drew me. I look more like him, I played sports mostly on in-town and Little League teams he coached, and I'm rapidly approaching the amount of BS he's spewed over the years to get where he is.

   Bear in mind, he spread it over 60 years. By 60, I might be shooting passers-by on the street just for my own entertainment. It'll be an interesting spiral. I'd advise you stay tuned.

   As people who are alike often do, we yell at each other a lot. But really, my father is a yeller. He's also, in his later years, become a fan of being mad at things. Mostly inanimate things, but he doesn't skimp on the ire for people. For example, in today's birthday phone call, he got mad at some tools. We're trying to simultaneously clean the garage and lower cellar as to be able to store non-crap things in them -- I say "we" because I kind of sparked the garage cleaning with an inspirational half-day session last time I was home -- and he needs his new chain saw to work to cut firewood.

   The chain saw broke right before my last trip home.

   He finally got the chain back on it, only to discover the chain's too dull to cut anything.

   Rage-worthy, yes, but added to the way he's taken to muttering curses at screwdrivers and the liberal media and anything else that irritates him, it makes for a fun blend.

   The main difference between my father and I, outside of his ability to do almost every construction and contracting skill you can think of -- woodwork, plumbing, electronics, etc. -- is he actually says the things I only mutter under my breath or say in conversations with myself that I imagine I'm saying to other people. His blow-ups at customer service people are both legendary and a little embarassing ... God forbid you're a telemarketer calling the house.

   That said, he has always been there for me, going above and beyond to the point that I sometimes wonder if other sons are half as lucky as me. The one memory that always comes to mind when I think of him isn't the days making me mow the lawn when I didn't want to.

   It isn't when I was 13 and he gave me beer with the family Chinese food meal.

   It isn't the day in my late teens when, because I didn't have a girlfriend, he asked me if I was gay.

   It isn't giving him tickets to a Giants-Vikings game the day after Christmas, and driving four hours to see Randy Moss throw a touchdown pass and all but end New York's season.

   It isn't even staying up with him to watch Super Bowl 25.

   It's the night of Game 3 of the 2004 World Series. Before the game, I wandered out into the streets around Old Busch Stadium just to take in the scene, relishing where I was and what I was seeing. I sat down on the concrete steps in the park across the street, watched the dyed-red fountain spurt upward like a man had been murdered in it, gazed at the ballpark lights reflecting off the buildings and called home.

   I taked to Mom first. She was surely excited to hear from me, and wanted to know what was going on, but I can't really remember what was said. When my father picked up, though, we started talking about the whole scene. I more or less painted the 360-degree picture, telling him everything I saw, everything I heard, everything I could muster.

   When I was finished, and starting to head back over toward the ballpark, he was at the hint of choked up. Just that sort of catch in his voice, because his son was covering the Red Sox, on the cusp on winning their first World Series since right around when his father was born. He said, "Enjoy it. Take it all in. Not a lot of people get to see what you're seeing." He knew he didn't have to, but I'm glad he did.

   I just remember thinking how hopeful I was that he knew he was the reason, down at the core, that I was seeing it.

   That's the sort of thing that makes it OK he now curses at the weathermen on television.

   Happy Birthday, Dad.

October 21, 2006 - Silence
   Those Who Fail To Learn From Mistakes ...: DD, fowarding the Northeastern ideal that we really are better than everybody else.

From its first store in Quincy, Mass., Dunkin' Donuts has become the quintessential Northeastern doughnut shop, with working-class credentials and obsessive customers.

But now the Canton, Mass.-based chain plans to expand south and west across the country, and that begs the question: Will Southerners, with their long-standing love of Krispy Kreme's sugar-glaze, find room for another doughnut?

Rando is in charge of 12 Nashville-area stores that will serve as a prototype for the company's expansion, testing everything from new products to store appearance.

   Krispy Kreme came here and failed, overexpanding and completely defeating the purpose of what they were trying to do. Now, as we've known for months, Dunky's -- which I've never actually called it -- is going down there trying to sell itself as a pesudo coffee shop.

   Much like yesterday's naked Web cam assertion, if there aren't commercials made mocking Northerners, I'll be shocked and disappointed. This is, after all, a region I'm pretty certain tried to sell $10 Nashville Predators tickets with a shirtless, nipple-pierced Alexander Hamilton.

   Or maybe I was delusional.

   • Jim Gaffigan is really funny.

   He, however, didn't almost make tonight's paper late. Jack Bauer did that.

October 20, 2006 - Truly, I've Never Felt Dumber
   Only Here, And Maybe California: The nice thing about this being I've just returned from a visit to campus.

It's an old-style college contest updated for the Internet age: Two-student teams at eight campuses, including Boston University, will camp out in Chevrolet Aveo subcompact sedans for five days, allowed to leave only for classes and bathroom breaks. All their activities, showing how much can be done inside the subcompact, will be shown live on the Web, and they'll be vying for online votes.

. . .

Chevy is aiming for the college market with the "Aveo Livin' Large Challenge," but advocates of the homeless in Boston said yesterday that it's a publicity ploy that makes light of a serious problem. Some people, they said, have no choice but to live in their cars.

The Homeless Empowerment Project says it plans to add a dose of real life by sending homeless people to talk to the students living in the BU car.

   Yes, because Boston University (and college) students in general have such a problem ignoring the homeless people they're confronted with every single day.

   We name them, for Christ sake. I remember the "BU Bum," who used to sit in front of the bookstore with his Yankees hat on and walkman/MP3 player plugged in his ear.

   Given there's sixteen college students competing for a prize, you can't tell me this contest isn't ending with someone naked on a Web cam. If it does, I've clearly been misinformed about the Internet.

Sox Tab Magadan As Next Hitting Coach
-- Hockey Homecoming got a late start tonight, thanks to the Red Sox making their latest move just early enough that I couldn't pretend I was already on the road. Well, I probably could have, but I would have felt a little guilty about it.

   • In the end, it all worked out ... sort of, but we'll get to that.

The Last One!

Remember when I used to do these all the time? Ah, memories.

@ Agganis - 10/20/06
0 (8)
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3 (31)

BU Press Release      --      USCHO Game Story

   Missing the pre-game banner raisings, along with the nightly "let's turn off all the lights and show every why we're awesome" video presentation, would have been bad enough. Coming in 3.5 minutes late and BU already trailing 1-0 was that much worse, and really drove home the point I've been making about Homecoming all along -- I'll see two favorite teams who I don't really expect to do much of anything this season.

Good Seats
-- Sec. 112, Row A comes highly recommended. Also, I believe I now have enough journalistic ammo to start writing hate columns about Theo Epstein, since he made me late.

   Sitting on top of the ice really makes you appreciate the speed of the game that much more. Size makes more sense. You can see faces and reactions and misplays and everything ... at least at your end, but I'm nitpicking. It was the classic case of an awful team letting a far better team hang around simply because they're not good enough to put them away.

   Fortunately for the alma mater, they pulled it together in time, which seems to be a developing trend given the tie with RPI. It actually worked out great -- their third goal felt like a game-winner, given it was also the 10,000th goal in program history, then the fourth actually was the game-winner after Northeastern tied it.

   Even given what surrounded it, BU games are far superior to Bruins games solely because of the atmosphere. The building is filled, the building is loud and the nature of college hockey is simply that the people who are there have a better grasp on what they're looking at. For example, the Bruins don't get enough groups of 10-year-olds celebrating their birthday with red-and-white-painted faces.

   Ten-year-olds who then take their shirts off and wave them over their heads at every stoppage in the third period.

   Ten-year-olds who I feel a little odd taking a picture of, so the picture doesn't come out.

   Regardless, HH was an unbridled success not because both games ended on wins, but because both were the kind of hockey that you could actually sell non-hockey people with. So much so, I'm not going to add to the historical file of my own stupidity by relaying what happened after the game. I know my friends well enough to know they'll do it for me.

   All I'll say is I drove roughly 45 minutes in a rage, then made the critical realization that spawned the whole story, then punched my dashboard, then drove the last 20 minutes feeling so stupid, I wanted to cry.

   Now that's saying something. As do these, given the "picture is worth 1,000 words" formula.

Final Handshake

BU vs. NU - 10.20.06
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October 19, 2006 - Orr's Better Than His Sandwich
   A Personal Question: Would it thrill you to get "the perfect mattress at the perfect price"? Is there a threshhold for thrill that's lower for some people, where successful business transactions -- even ones that involve a box full of springs you'll be drooling on at some point your life -- can cause what could be construed as a thrill.

   If so, Sleepy's would like to talk to you. The hot people in black who jump on their mattresses barefoot in the commercials, though, would not. Though that would be thrilling, they're busy, and probably a little disgusted at the idea at the number of people who see them and crack to their friends, "Eh. I hope she comes with the mattress!"

   The money probably makes it better. Still, always good to think about disgusting people lusting for things.

   Bye Bye, Tiki: The problem with having worldy and smart football players on your favorite team is, something, they do worldly and smart things.

New York Giants all-time leading rusher Tiki Barber said Thursday that he is firm in his decision to retire after the season.

"I've been talking about retirement for years now, and it has nothing to do with being physical or money or Hall of Fame," Barber said. "It's all about my desires, and for me to change them would compromise my integrity and would compromise who I am as a person and what I've always stood for."

"I'm a diverse person," added Barber, who leads the league in rushing with 533 yards this season. "I have a lot of interests, and at some point it's time to execute a plan that's been in place for me for about seven and a half, eight years."

Still, Barber wouldn't commit to saying his retirement was 100 percent certain. However, he also said there was "nothing" that would change his mind.

Now in his 10th season, the 31-year-old Barber said that he has been banged up more this season than in any previous one and that his passion for the game has waned.

Barber, who has spoken about retiring a couple times in the past year, has a myriad interests off the field. He has worked in television and has discussed possible jobs in finance and philanthropy.

   Bless him. At least until next year, when Brandon Jacobs has to do more than run inside the five and fall into the end zone.

   Cardinals 3, Mets 1: I did get to see the game's three defining moments -- Endy Chavez's catch, Yadier Molina's homer and Adam Wainwright's absurd breaking balls.

   This is not newsworthy. That it was in the same bar as Dan Shaughnessy, who I believe watched the end with his hands clasped on his head in some sort of agony.

   Lot harder to drum up smack with no New Yorkers in the World Series, methinks. And I'm not even Nick, whose eyes nearly fell out of his skull upon seeing Big Red and Bruins writer Kevin Paul Dupont walk into the room.

   He does not like them. I'll let him elaborate on that, should he so desire.

   • Well, Hockey Homecoming started well.

-- Not the best picture to show a 3-2 win over Calgary.
However, it's more tasteful than this one:

Stephane Yelle and His Stretcher

Fans applaud as Calgary's Stephane Yelle is removed from the ice on a stretcher during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

   We thought his leg was broken. Apparently, it's just his ankle. Technically, that is better.

   The nice thing about attending home openers is they give you lots of free stuff -- big signs with the schedule on the back, magnet calendars and T-shirts.

   The sad thing is they have to, as watching the pre-game production made me realize just why the game wasn't a sellout:

   -- The Bruins haven't even sniffed a Stanley Cup since 1992.
   -- The Bruins haven't won a playoff series since 1998.
   -- The only good thing to happen to the franchise in the 21st century happened in Colorado.

   Combine that with how they mangled said pre-game production, with the video playing twice and the players coming out well after their names were called, and I was not optimistic. Weeks of waiting had succumbed to minutes of worrying, and wondering just how the hell I became a hockey fan in the first place.

   Unrelated to any of this, in showing the "eight generations" of hockey in New England, men's college had Jack Parker and Jerry York standing together on the ice.

   I know it's not the case, but I want to believe the BU coach and BC coach hate each other. I want to believe they're constantly playing pranks on each other -- eye black on the binoculars, paint on desk chairs, easy stuff.

   Julie, meanwhile, wanted Harvard and Northeastern better represented. Maybe it's better she's not going to Agganis on Friday night. She'll be available to bail me out of jail after I scream PUCK!!! and the security guards err on the side of caution.

   Well, the long sidebar kills the writer's momentum, but the Bruins scored 18 seconds into the game. They lost the opening faceoff, ended up with the puck anyway and converted on a give-and-go.

   They then scored again on their third shot, leading 2-0 despite being at least slightly outplayed.

   And that was before the second period, when I looked up after 13 minutes and slowly realized they didn't have a shot yet.

   In short, despite their win, I'm now unable to lie to myself and say they're anything but scroungers for a crummy playoff seed. Clearly, they're moving in the right direction -- it's going to be a lot of fun to watch top pick Phil Kessel improve, because he kind of sucks right now -- and it is nice to even occasionally hear the crowd get into it.

   But BU's my only hope for anything this year. Given their track record, the only question is exactly who I'll be swearing at on Friday night ... from the front row.

   I have connections, but Matty comes through in the clutch. I'll see if I can avoid forgetting my camera again.

October 18, 2006 - Throwing Nickels At Old People
   On AOL: As pointed out in yesterday's comments, AOL has been my savior on two poorly booked, baseball-related road trips -- Playoffs 2005 and Spring 2006. It works because it's usually stuffed on every mass-produced computer known to man, which is a critical element when you're done trying to run around northern Chicago with your laptop trying to leech wireless.

   In my mind, that's as far as it goes, given cost and general computer oppressiveness. Course, I also thought the term "cold turkey" meant you ate cold turkey to stop smoking. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

   Especially should you be a member of Julie's family who actually likes me. Not that I know of portions that don't, but really, I'd also rather not have any.

   Everybody cool? Great. How could you not be when I'm busy wasting bandwidth on lists of influential fake people?

1. The Marlboro Man
2. Big Brother
11. Uncle Tom
13. Jim Crow
28. Rosie the Riveter
31. The Little Engine That Could
44. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
65. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

   Note No. 65 is two people shoved into one slot. This, I can only figure, is because Southerners don't actually count as people.

   Now, I don't believe that to be true. I just want to find out if I've got any readers in the Georgia vicinity.

   • Give Massachusetts this ... it's always exciting.

   A few weeks ago, the talk that had my former half of the state in a kerfluffle was the addition of tolls everywhere. Tolls back on our portion of the MassPike, tolls on the highways into Springfield, tolls, tolls, tolls.

   Today? Apparently, we need, like, no tolls anywhere. Whack everything west of the Boston loop by next June, almost everything else by next New Year's Eve.

   How does this happen?

Eliminating the tolls -- which does not require legislative approval -- would cost the authority $114 million in annual revenue. Romney administration officials said the loss would be partly offset by saving nearly $40 million by laying off about half of the Turnpike Authority's 400 toll collectors.

On some late-night shifts at toll plazas in Western Massachusetts, it costs more to collect the tolls than the amount brought in, officials said.

The cost of running and maintaining the western portion of the turnpike -- all but 15 miles of the heavily traveled 138-mile highway -- would be assumed by the state Highway Department.

The proposal was recommended by Eric Kriss, Romney's former finance chief, whom the governor appointed to review Turnpike Authority finances after Romney took control of the agency from Matthew J. Amorello following the fatal ceiling collapse July 10 in the Interstate 90 connector tunnel.

   One of the greatest jobs in the world, relative to exertion and pay, gone YEARS after someone should have noticed!

   Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for stockpiling my change for some greater purpose than sitting in my car's cup holder and being given back to the state $1.60 at a time. But wouldn't embracing technology make far more sense?

   Issue every licensed driver in the state a Fast Lane transponder. Fire nearly every money-grubbing toll collector, only in their job because "they know somebody." Collect the tolls electronically. You can't tell me the cost of producing the transponders and educating people on how to use them would cost more than the never-ending wage costs.

   Plus, you get the money so the Taxachusetts Spendocrats can make sure every salamander from Stockbridge to Salisbury has the chance to go to UMass Boston on someone's dime.

   Whatever. I have more important things to worry about.

Hockey Homecoming

   Rationalizing about the Bruins is going to be so much harder once I see how awful they are in person!

October 17, 2006 - One-Fourth Might Be Low

Fans Get Cheated By A Case of Dry Mouth
-- I honestly have no idea what this means. It's about how it's easier for announcers to try to be funny than intelligent.

   Seriously, if you get it, please tell me. I'm not mad about it, just genuinely curious, since it's not below to completely miss the obvious.

   • For reasons that go no further than my own laziness -- and a lingering belief, after months of laziness, that I could need it again on some mythical postseason trip -- I cancelled an AOL account this week that I started in Fort Myers. Travelocity, as I may have mentioned here, said that my hotel choice had wireless Internet, which is rather important considering my reason for being there, length of stay and general nerdiness.

   The front desk didn't have a computer. Suffice to say, I didn't need to ask if the wireless was down.

   In my digging to find out the easiest way to cancel an AOL account, I was led to believe there weren't any. Seriously. Do a Google search for "Cancel AOL," or just read one of the better ones, with stranger-than-fiction comments. People have seven different phone numbers, "secret" phone numbers, ways to get a manager, stories where bank accounts need to be closed ...

   I sent them a fax three days ago, with all the information pertinent to the discussion.

   Today, I got a letter. Account closed.

   Of course, they give you the abridged beg session in the letter, with the added advantage that you don't have to listen to it.

It is not too late to reconsider your membership. AOL has the most comprehensive set of automatic Safety and Security tools available on the market! While most Internet users think they are safe online, a recent study* finds that 81% of home computers lack key protections against viruses, spyware and hackers. That's why AOL provides all three critical safeguards to protect its members: Anti-virus software, phishing protection and spyware protection. Today alone, we've blocked over one million spam e-mails, and prevented untold numbers of hackers.

   Imagine people you know who still use AOL. I now have no trouble understanding why people still use it. The Internet, of course, is out to get us, as proven by the study AOL both cites and backed.

   Of course, laziness also keeps them in business. You, however, have surely noted the irony. If this is, in fact, irony.

October 16, 2006 - Buzzsaws and Bloated Cable
   Bears 24, Cardinals 23: I can't think of another football game I've enjoyed more that wasn't playoff-related. The Bears gave the ball away six times, didn't score an offensive touchdown, were down 23-3 with 30 seconds left in the third quarter ... and oh my God.

   I hope you watched it. I hope you find a way to watch it. I hope you pillage YouTube to watch it. It's that good.

   Black and White ... Like His Heart: It's hard to tell because it's a little jarring, but this might be the most offensive thing I've ever seen.

Cory Lidle Cartoon
-- That it ran in the New York Post, well, is kind of expected.

   I mean, he didn't even work in the obvious "traded to the Angels" joke. I thought that's what we had decided was the acceptable tasteless joke, the same as JFK Jr.'s being "Why didn't JFK Jr. take a shower before he left New Jersey?"

   I'm not answering it. You know where we're going.

Welcome to Hell.

   The Best Thing on the Internet, Ever: I don't talk much about SportsJournalists.com, which probably is the best-known meeting place for sportswriters on the Internet. You can frequently find any number of things there -- thin-skinned people bitching at each other, talk about design, cogent analysis, invaluable opinions.

   Or, as the headline promises, The Best Thing on the Internet. Ever.

The other night when I was covering a high school football game, I brought eight pens with me. I don't think anyone could accuse me of being under-prepared. But sure enough, it was a little on the cold side and three plays into the game every single pen I had, all eight of them, was bone-dry. What are the odds of that?

I ended up borrowing a pencil from a trainer and was able to get through the game OK.

Obviously, the moral of the story is to use pencils, not pens, but I don't remember having these kinds of problems before with pens. Are pens just not as well-made as they were in the past? Are there any kinds of pens that are more likely to work in cold weather? These were Bic ballpoints, the cheap kind.

   A three-page discussion thread that really is, honest to goodness, just about pens.

I always used mechanical pencils when it was cold. I'd have prefered a pen (easier to read), but at least I always had a working writing utensil.

Bics SUCK. I wouldn't use a Bic with a gun to my head. ... I have been an ardent fan of PaperMate for as long as I can remember.

Doesn't hurt to have a Flair or two loaded in your pen stash. They write through anything.

And no pens with caps for me. Clicks or twists. I always end up losing the caps and making a mess.

Pentel Liquid EnerGel Ink 0.7 mm ballpoint. Locked and loaded.

   Sadly, it's an entirely relevant discussion, the same way accountants could talk for days about which accounting calculator they prefer.

   And like one of the posters, I also thought everybody just used the hotel pens they pick up along the way. Hell, I barely go anywhere and I've got enough notepads at my computer to last me until I'm evicted.

Sox Bring in Farrell As Pitching Coach
-- Being a baseball writer sometimes means news stories. Wordy, 'why can't I cut this stupid thing shorter' news stories.

   • I'm not so much a fan of marketing, but I at least give it some respect.

   Since I moved to Whale City, I've had the same cable package ... most easily explained as as high as you can go without getting digital cable. It was $45 when I moved in, and has incrementally crept up to $56 in four years ... to the point I was disappointed when my landlord told me I couldn't put a satellite dish on the building, since I'm convinced I could do cheaper with one.

   Comcast, one of the few companies that has my house phone, has been trying to reach me for months about replacing the old, red-clocked Scientific Atlanta box -- you know, the ones most people stopped using five years ago -- with a digital box. They, understandably, want to roll out the new technology to everyone they can, and wait for the rest to die off.

   I, because I hate telemarketers, would not take their call, or would offer my classic "he's not here right now, can I take a message?" when they'd call looking for me. It worked, because the call center people were never smart enough to explain exactly what they wanted. I just assumed they wanted to upsell me cable internet, which would be nice, but not $20 more nice.

   Apparently, someone sent out a memo, or they got sick of the game. The woman that called me over the weekend explained "the free service" they were offering, that they "needed" to replace my "outdated technology."

   It's not as if I hadn't noticed how awful the picture had become in recent weeks. And of course, I'm not the only one watching TV here anymore. So, I relented. Next time they called, I set up the appointment for the cable guy to come, trying to be blissfully unaware the interaction would be exactly what I thought it was.

   He came this afternoon, early (in a Whale City special) because some of his earlier appointments only spoke Portuguese. Everybody's getting digital boxes now. Great. Here's your new bill. Awesome.

   For a day, you'll have every channel we offer, free. For a month, you'll get this digital tier, free. I can give you free HBO if you want. Have I shown you the on-demand stuff? What kind of music do you like?

   And on and on and on.

   Now, he doesn't know I've seen everything he's showing me .... not only do I have a general understanding of technology, my parents had digital cable a few years ago, more or less duped by a cable guy into believing the extra stuff would cost exactly the same as the old stuff they used to have.

   It, like many business transactions involving my father, ending with someone at a call center being needlessly berated and yelled at. I'd feel worse, if they didn't work at a call center.

   I don't watch anywhere near enough TV to warrant me paying more than $60 a month for in excess of 150 channels. That's why I got the package I got ... at $45 for Expanded Basic, it was probably still too much, but as close as I was going to get.

   I know I don't need anything more.

   But there's the NFL Network.

   And BBC America.

   And the History International Channel.

   And the Discovery Times Channel.

   And the TiVo probably doesn't work as well with this as their DVR would ...

   And really, is $11 a month that much more ...

   Well played, Cable Guy. You jerk.

October 15, 2006 - Night Of Too Much Italics
   PlayStation Sale Update: This afternoon, I received an inquiry about purchasing my PS2, which made me excited.

   Right up until it failed nearly every scam test they offer caution about -- out-of-country shipping, money orders, person offering more than the sale price.

   Is the Cape Cod Craig's List really that fertile a ground for scamming people? Though I suppose only getting one to work makes it fertile enough, but still.

   Giants 27, Falcons 14: Two weeks ago, New York had all of two sacks on the season. Today, they sacked Michael F'ing Vick seven times, not to mention got the first two-touchdown day of Jeremy Shockey's career.

Somehow, he scores.

New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey (80) scores in the second half ahead of Atlanta Falcons linebacker Ike Reese (98) at the Georgia Dome on Sunday. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)

   Think about that. All the press he gets, how he's nearly always snapped up in TE-featuring fantasy football drafts ... and only today did he score two touchdowns. As a Giants fan well aware of his failings, I was taken aback by it.

   Somehow, it's not his fault ... he's never really been a huge chunk of the offense. And somehow, that is his fault.

   Kind of like the mix that has me having incorrectly picked five games this week ... all of which were decided by less than three points, and nearly all of which were decided in the waning seconds.

   At least this time, the fates are giving me a clear message on whether I should start sports betting again.

   • So, I have to admit. The idea the Masons are recruiting intrigued me for a good half-hour today, if only because I have absolutely no knowledge of what they do.

   After all that, plus the askafreemason.org pointing out there's four lodges down here and another in Agawam -- ?? -- I'm wondering if it's anything like the Elks, which is where my father often goes to drink on Friday nights.

   His friends, though they have some knocks against them, never once got it confused that I went to Boston College, not Boston University. Plus, they're the ones who continued to allow my abomination of a golfing career to exist, as when I was seven, they let me tag along with Dad on league night.

   That said, I'm a tiny bit disappointed that a group a few days ago I was hearing had hidden messages in everything from playing cards to the Seal of the United States is battling for commercial time with Tommy Lasorda. It's kind of like finding out how relatively out of shape most baseball players are.

   I'm sorry. I hope I didn't just ruin your Christmas, but the only Red Sox I can think of with a six-pack is Lenny DiNardo. So really, it's not a requirement.

October 14, 2006 - Where Hindenburg Looks Beautiful
   It's Work-Related Snark: I've warmed to Fire Joe Morgan in recent weeks, though I'm really the last among a group of S-Ters who religiously read The Onion. That group is mainly Nick, but there's more than just him.

   And the best part? It's not even really about firing Joe Morgan!

Coaching Moves Kick Off Offseason Makeover
-- Inside Baseball returns to its regular form, somehow not treading on the blog.

   • I'm not sure I can stress to you enough how well done the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at McCoy Stadium is. It might have actually been more fun than the first PawSox game I ever went to, since I spent more of that day doing stupid things that weren't:

   -- screaming at Jack Cust, or
   -- taking people's pictures in the kiddie area, or
   -- getting food poisioning from a bratwurst

   I'm not just saying this because I got to lo-five Paws on the way into the thing, but because you haven't really wished you had a camera phone more than when you see Sonic The Hedgehog or Inspector Gadget on pumpkins.

   I'm pretty sure that's why the product was invented.

   The night was already a winner, considering I both wasn't working and had ruined a high school girl's night just prior to getting to McCoy. Not exactly generic stuff, but I bumped this girl's car at a stop light after getting off 95. Person was behind me moving quickly, I rolled up instinctively because I though I was going to get hit, and bumped the car in front of me going ... oh, let's say 2 mph.

   Girl driver proceeds to make her also high school boyfriend get out of the car and inspect it, and then after he reports next to no damage -- it appeared the bolts holding on my license plate smudged pre-existing dirt on their bumper -- she needs to get out to look.

   I'm now feeling laughter starting to brew in my gut, so I roll down my window and shout "Everything alright?" Playing out exactly as I'd hoped, girl mutters something snarky, gets back in her car and speeds away, of course forgetting to turn off her flashers.

   I'm an awful person, so I of course delight in the fact that we're following her. Sadly, they were not also going to McCoy, as she eventually turned left as we made the final turn right, but not after sitting at the green light for several seconds while some wild gesticulations went on in the vehicle.

   And did I mention I saw a possum near the bullpen?

October 13, 2006 - Ducking The Lightning Bolts
   • Alan Schwarz's column about Cory Lidle doesn't really make up for the copious jokes made in the last 48 hours, but it at least shows the Internet has some sort of conscience.

   Kind of like how not eating an entire pizza one day doesn't really make up for eating an entire pizza the previous day, but in the grand scheme of things, makes everyone feel better.

   Also, if you are the Tigers fan on my baseball blog, tell Brandon Inge I said hello. Always seemed like an alright guy.

October 12, 2006 - Hockey Closes; The Bruins Can't
   Fun With Readers: Seeing this post made me think of the woman who called the paper the other day. I was the only one in the department, so I answered the phone and was greeted with the worst possible opening: "Can you please explain to me ..."

   It's the classic "Why didn't you cover our field hockey game" open, but it went a whole other way. The woman wanted to know why baseball put both LCS games on at the same time on different networks, saying something akin to it sucking, but far more polite.

   After explaining that Fox and FX were affiliated and that they could thus get two batches of prime-time commercial money, she was unhappy, but understood.

   Which is more than I can say of ... well, just read the latest Sox blog post. Completely unnecessary, but it made me feel really good to write.

   • With Hockey Homecoming less than a week away, I was intrigued when I saw this on ESPN.com.

Hockey Trips

   A man who knows offers his top 10 hockey experiences in North America, excluding venue-shifting tournaments and other such technicalities. I struggle a little bit to see the Beanpot as just such an event, given I'm a little jaded because of proximity, but really ... the list has a Hurricanes game in North Carolina on it.

Yes, really. This is here because of the unique pre-game tailgating in the parking lot the RBC Center shares with the North Carolina State University football stadium, and also because it represents all the NHL markets that have fans that have come to love the sport, or have been raised on it in other markets.

   Don't care. That's blasphemy. Almost as much blasphemy as the City of Hartford refusing to allow the Whalers logo in hockey video games, which makes living the dream that much harder.

   And especially since they were thinking of dumping that logo for the stupid "whale jumping through ice" thing.

   Also, noting the Rangers game at Madison Square Garden, I wasn't all that impressed. Though I must say I was very excited to hear the horn when the Rangers score.

   So, for four seconds, I was thrilled. I'd still rather go see a game in Edmonton and Calgary.

October 11, 2006 - Somehow, This Is A-Rod's Fault
   So, Want A PS2?: Real quick, I'm trying to sell my system. If you or anyone you know are interested, I'm very flexible on price.

   Not like, "I'll give you $100" flexible, but you get the idea.

   The Facts Stand For Themselves: Hours after comparing my father to the man who gave the world Davidstuff, which learned all it needed to know about Islam on Sept. 11, my father sent me the classic "It's time to begin the reckoning! isolationist speech.

I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France, Germany, and Russia. Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bon chance, mesamis.

   I don't think he was trying to be ironic. I just think it was the sort of magical convergence that wasn't around the first time he sent me this speech several months ago.

   Speaking of Fox and Friends: Hard to believe, but the Boston affiliate's late news report on the Cory Lidle plane crash spent most of it expressing relief that it wasn't terrorism, and talking about how based on what it was, that's exactly where everyone's mind went first.

   Now, I'm the wrong person to really assess this, given my mind's own workings and that I first learned about it from a news report that clearly showed we were dealing with a very small plane. However, it remains good to know the whole network family all checked their e-mail before going on the air.

   • So, yeah. I ran the gamut with the Lidle story today, learning about the crash soon after I got out of work. First, there was the thought it would be Page One, and that sports really wouldn't even get a piece of the story. Then, by the end of the night with the paper in my hand, I wondered exactly how it would have been played had the pilot not been somebody famous ... in so much as Cory Lidle is famous.

   In between, however, was the sort of gallow humor that makes me wonder just how black my heart really is. Just being in a newsroom would have been enough, but then there were the Fark forums, which may have in fact shattered the tastelessness scale as we know it.

   Then, the realization that eBay was abuzz within hours, HOURS, of the crash.

   Look at the bid numbers on those things. $91 for a autograph?! These 'tribute' shirts, chastising me for even thinking about how wrong an idea it is? He's still the same mediocre pitcher! Sometimes, I'm glad I don't understand the sports collectibles market.

   I have to wonder if today might have been the day I truly realize the world needs to calm down a little bit about the Yankees. For the past few years, my job has taught me that they're really no different than any other team, except that a large chunk of people who support them are New Yorkers with absolutely no sense that the world doesn't revolve around them.

   If Erik Bedard died in a plance crash today, I don't think the world is still screaming the same way, even if he died exactly the same way.

   And there's something about that, not reading "Cory Lidle just signed with a new team" over an Angels logo, that makes me cringe.

October 10, 2006 - The Globe's Nowhere Near This Cool
   Bumper Sticker of the Day: Seen on a beat-up truck being driven by a man in flannel:

If you object to logging
try using plastic toilet paper

   Sadly, I can't find any pictures of it, though I suppose it's for the best. The beat-up nature of the truck was reflected on the bumper sticker, making for a "Wheel of Fortune"-like game of replacing the missing letters.

   Also, the Google search alone brought me to this page, which appears to solely exist as a testament to what it might look like if my father's IQ dropped 25 points and he built a Web site.

   To say nothing of the humor:

Based on my experience, I would recommend not using army men. They lack the smooth texture that I have come to expect from traditional toilet paper, and it appears one of them got stuck.

   That's a difference site from the one mentioned above. Humor there is more along the lines of "I will keep the graphics limited so the page will load fast" when the whole thing's covered with animated GIFs of various national flags.

Let's Not Make Too Much of Managers
-- My Wednesday column is back, though in saying that, I was the one that stopped writing the thing all along. Regardless, I missed it.

   • Young Matty Cooch refused my efforts to pose him prone in front of the toilet, with green plastic lei in his left hand, reenacting how he was found drunk in the early hours of the morning. He also, not surprisingly, did not wish to relay his story of debauchery in this place.

   He did, however, take it rather well when, upon asking who I'd told about his nap on the bathroom floor, I responded with, "The Internet."

   From what I can gather, he went bowling with people from work after his shift, and as I've said here before, bowling is the perfect nighttime activity, as it involves both physical exertion and easy blending with alcohol. He took that to heart, assured people he was OK to drive, made said drive, then took a nap.

   The paper's managing editor Dan, on the other hand, was not really all that intoxicated when he came back to the paper late tonight, but calling him "Drunk Dan" is more fun. Especially when he started shouting about how stupid people were for getting married.

   Drunk Dan, for the public record, has taken to calling me "Mr. Flanders" -- you fill in all the necessary blanks. Sober Dan, however, was the one who demanded I participate in a $5 bet with him regarding whether we would get the sports section out by our midnight deadline. He didn't seem to think much of my point that it wasn't really gambling if I was being forced to participate, but then again, no one seemed to care that I showed up to work 45 minutes late for reasons I'm still not entirely clear about.

   I've said it before and I'll say it again ... I've stayed here four-plus years for a reason.

October 9, 2006 - Like Brother Like Brother
   Deconstructing: Yesterday's "All I Did Today" headline was merely an excuse for a short entry. Sly, however, questioned whether it was a reference to Bad Brains, whom I'd never heard of until that moment.

   So I dug a little, and learned. What struck me most, however, was their albums at CBGB's. The venerable club that's finally closing, having lost their lease.

   Course, Bad Brains are playing there Tuesday and Wednesday. Somehow, that does tie it all together. Though I still think OMFUG should mean not "Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers," but "Oh My Fu*&^#$ God."

   Just a better vibe.

   • In the pantheon of unexpected events, my mother found young Matty Cooch sleeping in front of the downstairs toilet at 3:30 a.m., completely drunk and disoriented.

   I didn't know he had it in him. I guess the Broncos beating the Ravens, costing him a 14-0 week in our picks pool and the weekly first prize, was just too much to bear.

   Don't worry. I'll give him his chance to weigh in. Drunk stories are fun stories!

October 8, 2006 - All I Did Today
   • All things considered, the golf went well. I drove the ball well, hit my irons well, chipped the ball outstanding and didn't make a single putt all afternoon. Had I actually been playing, I'm sure I could have broken 90, which these days is about as good as I could expect.

   Course, I probably also wouldn't have been hitting as many drivers off the deck as I did. Plus, playing a coupld of those drives out of the woods wouldn't have been a whole lot of fun.

October 7, 2006 - With A Quickness
   It's (Apparently) Not Easy Being Me: The Denver Post, helping the kids learn.

It's 70 minutes until deadline in the bowels of Invesco Field at Mile High and a rookie sports reporter desperately needs to interview Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer.

After a few moments of searching - and sidestepping wadded training tape shed by players in the cavernous home locker room - he spots Plummer at a corner locker. "What luck," he says to himself, "Plummer's all alone."

Upon closer examination, though, there appears to be one problem.

Plummer isn't wearing pants.

   The whole story's a bit goofy, but I do enjoy that the first photo attached to it violates that locker room rule I've never had to deal with -- don't walk on the logo that's on the carpet.

   Plus, how can you not enjoy another story that talks to Dan Shaughnessy, Media Liaison and Historian?

"Now every team has a handler who is there to limit everything we do," says Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who began covering professional baseball in the 1970s. "It's a stupid game we have to play. Every day, our access is shrinking. ... It's preposterous. The self-importance today is off the charts."

   And if there's one man who knows about self-importance ...

   • On Sunday, I will play my first 18-hole golf round of the year, sort of ... a scramble with my father, playing in a scholarship tournament that's in its 20th and final year.

   In past years, I've been the team's ringer, though winning is pretty far down the list of reasons anybody plays.

   Still, I can only hope expectations are even lower than normal. Lord knows mine are.

October 6, 2006 - Electronics Don't Like Me
   Now This, This Is Smart: We've all had our gambling-related foibles. Lord knows, me probably more than most.

   Now, I've been lucky ... I've never lost a reported $10,000 in a casino. If I did, though, I'm reasonably certain I wouldn't compound that by driving my new truck through the front doors in rage.

   Why just read the story when you can watch the near-worthless video? Because Larry Coker does a hurricane shutter commercial before it begins, that's why.

Witnesses say they heard 39-year-old Leonardo Marrero ranting in the casino about losing $10 thousand and how he was going to drive his truck through the casino. Moments later he had driven his pick-up truck through one of the casino's entrances.

. . .

Marrero stated to police, "that's what they get, they got what they deserved. I've been here all week and got robbed by Miccosukee."

The crash caused over $20,000 worth of damage.

   Why is it all I want to know is what he was playing?

   Today's Quote Taken Completely Out of Context: I'm not going to quote it at length, because really, there's no one part that's that much better than any other. If you read Bill Simmons, and I'm reasonably certain you do, you may know he's allowing his wife to make football picks and write a small, unedited chunk in each of his weekly football pick columns.

   Thrown on top of the one goofy-ass thing he's usually good for per piece -- this week's involves Peter King ... you'll find it -- the Sports Gal opens the window into their lives a little further than it needs to be.

Bill and his friend Hench own a fake baseball team together. I call it the League of Dorks. It's hard to say how much time they spend on it, but I'd guess five hours a week, maybe more.

Hench is one of Bill's nicest friends, but he's even nuttier about this stuff than Bill. One time, I peeked over Bill's shoulder as he was reading a bullet-pointed e-mail from Hench about their fake team. It was like a legal document, I couldn't believe it.

Hench used to leave messages and not identify himself, you'd just hear, "message No. 1" and then Hench complaining about something that happened with their fake team. He wouldn't even say, "Hey, guys, this is Hench" first. So I made Bill get a second phone line just for Hench's calls -- they call it the "Bat Phone." I can't believe I married someone who needed a second phone line to talk about a fake baseball team.

   Bear in mind, this is Hench ... he writes for FOXSports.com. Simmons is Simmons, and the two of them have their own phone line which they use to bitch solely about fantasy sports.

Bestest Buddies

   Know what? I take it all back. Everything I've ever said bad about him. Bless him. Best of luck in future endeavors.

   I don't even want to imagine what their lives are like, he and Hench and the Sports Gal and the rest of them. Reality need not apply, because if it did, it would shoot itself in the face after several minutes. I'd rather drink water from New Bedford Harbor.

   See? I told you there was something nice about not being big time.

   • And while we're at best of luck to the folks at FireDoug.com too. You want to talk about sad realities ... traveling the country, stalking the umpire who made the incorrect call on A.J. Pierzynski's strike out in the 2005 ALCS is right next to the top.

   The deeper you dig, the sadder it is. And the more likely it really isn't a parody of anything.

October 5, 2006 - Free Gift? Fodder!
   Viewer Mail: Just cleaning out the chest, as it were.

Subject: Nixon leaving the Sox?
Date: Sun 1 Oct 2006
From: ______@gmail.com
To: Work

   You are shooting the gun way too early my friend. He's a mediocre player everywhere except hussle and fielding. Not to mention that he has been injured a lot the last few seasons. I don't even know if anyone else will want him. Willy Mo is more likely than not going to be playing right next year with the way his bat has been exploding at the end of the season. I think Trot will be on the bench next year as our utility outfielder, since no one else will want him. Wouldn't that make more sence then him leaving to minor leagues? Willy Mo will be taken out in late innings when we have the lead for Nixon as a defensive replacement. I just realy can't see anyone wanting an old guy that has a slumping bat as of late and an injury record to come over to their team. He's an outfielder without power numbers at the plate. I guess someone may be wanting a questionable #7 hitter but so far I haven't really seen people jumping all over opportunities like that, though he does have the experience and veteran leadership. It just doesn't make sence, I think he will be a bench red sox player next season, maybe the marlins i guess, or his time is up and I tip my cap and say farewell to baseball, it has been great, show your ring with pride

   Mike B.

Subject: Red Sox
Date: Tue 3 Oct 2006
From: ______@gmail.com
To: Work

   Nice column. First person to acknowledge that the Sox are closer to the Os than the Jays. From the all-star break on, Cora, Gonzo, Trot all hit under .200. Youk lost his power(.381, slg + .258 BA). So many holes and very few options. Theo will earn his salery over this winter.

   Jim ____

   It's always incredible to me that the stories I think come out well get little mail, and the ones I don't like much always get something. It probably means nothing on a grander scale, but with no reasearch having been done, let's presume it's a telling truth to the journalism profession today.

   Things I Wish I'd Known: The World Cup was in Boston on Wednesday. Course, I knew it was going to be in Chelsea and Framingham on Thursday, and did absolutely nothing with such knowledge.

Peter Nielsen, a 34-year-old stay-at-home father from Brighton (via Denmark), came with his 14-month-old daughter, Allison. He wore a jacket and tie.

"It's been in the hands of Beckenbauer, Maradona, and Zidane," he said, naming some soccer greats, "so you have to show it some respect."

   Yes, sir. Maradona is a man all about respect.

   • So the other day as I'm walking to work, I notice a flyer tucked under my windshield wiper: "Eternal Life is a Free Gift."

   Inside, with Bible scripture to back up each point, I learned the following:

   -- Doing good works cannot save you.

   -- You cannot take your chances.

   -- You cannot save yourself.

   -- Salvation is free to all.

   -- If you do not get saved ... basically, according to the passage, there's eternal burning!

   At the bottom are the instructions for how to earn my free gift: "The Bible calls for 'repentance toward God,' (Acts 20:21b). Repentance is a change of heart which causes you to turn toward God and away from your present way of life. Accept the Bible facts that you are guilty as a sinner before Him, and you are unable to deliver yourself from the punishment of hell, which is due you because of your sin."

   It goes on, but really, seeing it enunciated like that makes me glad my parents decided we'd had our fill of organized religion before I ever got to hate it.

   What a great premise for living, AND they want probably 10 percent of your salary!

   I'll just hang out over here wasting my life being nice to people, thanks. Well, at least as nice as "writing about stupidity on the Internet" allows.

October 4, 2006 - History!
   Today's Quote Taken Completely Out of Context:

"Can't he afford a fucking comb?"
-- My boss, after seeing Eric Byrnes appearing on 'Baseball Tonight'

   Byrnes, best known as the mop head who played a critical role in the 2003 Red Sox coming back on the A's, would in the course of the night:

   -- discuss his "man love" for Derek Jeter;
   -- cite Carl Emanski;
   -- and get away with ESPN not showing his home-plate gaffe even after this:

Dodgers Go Double!
-- Associated Press on the photos, and my pain.

   Someone want to tell me how Grady Little was involved in this happening? He had to be, yes? Things like "the first time in playoff history two men were out at home on the same play" don't just happen when he's that close, right?

   I already wrote a post on the baseball blog about this. I'd really rather not talk about it anymore, given I'm actually cheering for the Dodgers like a normal fan.

   Fucking Grady. I make my peace with him, and this is how he thanks me. By being nearby when this happens.

   I knew I should have tripped him.

   • Tonight I played online poker almost solely because it's going to be more difficult to do so in a couple of weeks. This, if you're scoring at home, is not a good way to guarantee success.

   Though on the plus side, at least he's not limiting his signatures on stupid laws to things that piss me off.

US President George W Bush has signed a controversial bill into law that will pay for a 700-mile fence (1,125km) fence along the border with Mexico.

The barrier, equipped with hi-tech surveillance equipment, will be built in areas where many illegal immigrants cross over into the United States.

   Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the U.S. border with Mexico roughly 2,000 miles? Isn't this kind of like, on a far larger scale, building a one-walled fence to keep your dog in the yard?

   Don't mind me. I watched a good chunk of MTV's "My Super Sweet Sixteen" marathon tonight because I wanted to see how long it would take for me to go to bed angry.

   The answer, should it ever come up in bar trivia, was two and a half episodes. Sadly, I will remember this.

October 3, 2006 - Wild-Assed Guessing!
   College Does Not Bring Smarts: So apparently last year, BU held their hockey Midnight Mania ... in the middle of the afternoon.

The Terriers started the season as they normally do, with an hour-long practice that consisted of one-on-one breakaways, shooting and skating skills competitions and a four-on-four scrimmage. And the rabid fans who filled the complex, donning the scarlet and white, started the year the same way they left off-swearing.

The new ban on profanity at BU sporting events had no noticeable effect on fans during its first real test. Within the first half hour of Midnight Mania, members of Section 8 belted out chants of 'The Song' amid an uneasy feeling from other sections.

"We were trying to chant 'Rough 'Em Up,'" said Section 8 resident Tim Walsh, "but I'm sure there were a lot of kids chanting the old version. Our recent meeting with Dean [Kenneth] Elmore should take care of the issue once the season starts."

College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Brendan Mahoney said he appreciated the unity the event brought back to the event, especially since it returned to Walter Brown Arena.

"I do think it will tone down once the regular season starts," Mahoney said, "but swearing at games is part of college sports."

   Now seems as good a time as any to announce, thanks to the attentiveness of young Matty Cooch, I will be in attendance when that very regular season starts. On consecutive nights, I'll be in the seats for both the Bruins home opener against Calgary and BU's home opener against Northeastern.

Hockey Homecoming

   The common thread is, of course, that none of the teams pictured will win squat this year, but it should a fun middle-of-the-week weekend regardless.

   • In the past few weeks, I've become quite the fan of CBS Sportsline's Trivia Tower games. One-on-one, five-question trivia matchups, with the ultimate winner getting cash.

   Of course, I haven't actually won anything in them, never advancing beyond the Final Four I did today in their lone "Baseball Postseason" event. Also, it would be nice if they did more of them.

   Still, good times. The sort of thing that could be done at work by you, whom I suspect knows even more sports trivia than me.

   So get on that.

October 2, 2006 - Work-Related Non-Nonsense
   Penny Pinching: I'd love to be the person working at the front desk when this phone call comes in.

Save $0.13!
-- From a hotel copy of, duh, The Providence Journal

   I can't think of one scenario where this would happen. Maybe if you taped a football game back at home and don't want to know the result until you return.

   Or are an idiot.

   Wipe My Bottom For Me Update: I wouldn't be surprised if I'm behind the curve on political news, but this weekend, Congress tried to ban online poker.

Shares of publicly traded Internet gaming operators plummeted on the London Stock Exchange after the measure was attached as a rider to a bill designed to enhance U.S. port security and passed late Friday.

The House passed a similar bill this year, and the legislation is expected to be signed by President Bush. It prohibits banks and credit card companies from making payments to online gaming websites that appear on a list to be drafted within nine months by the Justice Department and the Federal Reserve.

Online websites also would be prohibited from accepting U.S. payments, but because most are based overseas, the ability of U.S. authorities to prosecute them is uncertain.

   I've already made my swear-filled emotions felt, so I'll save them to a point when everyone actually figures out what's going on. Besides, with the amount of time so many others have spent ripping the Bush administration, my attempts would look feeble and amateur.

Heads Already Rolling At Fenway
-- Not exactly my finest effort, for reasons I'm unclear about.

   • Speaking of the Red Sox, it's with great something that I announce:

Better Red Than Dead

   It's my new baseball blog, which is exactly like my baseball blog from Fort Myers, except the Red Sox season is over and I'm not in Florida anymore.

   As you would expect from a Jon Couture Web Production, it will be updated daily, which probably won't be the easiest thing in the world given the season is over, and some days will be better than others.

   I'd appreciate you at least telling your friends about it once ... as with everything we do, promotion is going to be a key to success. The fact that I can see exactly how many people have read of my posts is only valuable if those are high numbers.

   And now, I'm off to write on it. What could it possibly be? Well, there won't be any Photoshopped scimitars.

   Or will there?

October 1, 2006 - Photoshopping Is Fun
   Now I Remember!: The other day, when I'd been driving home and realized there was something I'd wanted to get in print, it was that an unexpected exposure to "My Humps" had made me decide I wanted to beat Fergie to death with a bat.

   She either actually has no redeeming qualities or has decided the best way for her to make a career is to fit into that "act like you have no redeeming qualities, and just like to blow things" niche. The first is much worse, but it's not like the second is forgivable. If you're out there killing babies because you think that's what the public is after, that doesn't exactly grant you leniency in a court of law.

   It should be exactly the same in the court of hyperbole, shouldn't it?

Genie aims to please.
-- As always, Genie aims to please.
(All racist images remain the property of their copyright owners.)

   • So today, I sat at Fenway Park for 10 hours and have absolutely nothing to show for it. No story, because I didn't write due to space and other issues. No real exclusive information, since the postgame Theo & Tito Red Sox Autopsy (Sponsored by Finagle A Bagel) was televised.

   Though I did finally, after nearly 150 career Major League games, see A NO-HITTER!!!!

   I'll hardly be the only one to say not even getting that quite right feels the perfect way to summarize the 2006 Edition.

Games Attended: 43
Venues: 1 (Fenway Park)
Record: 26-17
Team Results Breakdown: 15 Teams Faced
vs. NYY: 9 Games, 2-7
vs. BAL: 5, 5-0
vs. TOR: 5, 3-2
vs. TBY: 5, 3-2
vs. SEA: 3, 3-0
vs. CLE: 3, 1-2
vs. KC: 2, 2-0
vs. NYM: 2, 2-0
vs. LAA: 2, 1-1
vs. TEX: 2, 1-1
vs. MIN: 0-1
vs. CWS: 1-0
vs. DET: 0-1
vs. OAK: 1-0
vs. WAS: 1-0

Longest: 4:45 -- Aug. 18 vs. Yankees (L, 14-11)
Shortest, Cheating: 1:37 -- Oct. 1 vs. Orioles (W, 9-0 in 5 inns.)
Shortest, Really: 2:13 Sept. 5 vs. White Sox (W, 1-0)
Bloodiest: 11-0 Loss -- Sept. 27 vs. Tampa Bay

Absurd Rain Delays:
4:47 -- June 10 vs. Texas, wiping out half of a doubleheader.
3:23 -- Prior to start of Oct. 1 finale.
2:02 -- Sept. 28 vs. Los Anaheim.

Parking: Charged at equivalent of 13 of 43 games,
saving employers $750 I will never see.

   And in respectable fashion, let us never speak of it again.

2006: [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2005: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2004: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2003: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2002: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2001: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05]