That Pinot Clashes With The Drapes: On Art And Wine

November 30, 2011

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Art and wine have a lot in common. And not just because the art scene is notoriously wine-soaked. As someone who has worked at a lot of museums and more than one wine shop, I can attest to the fact that, although most art and wine lovers are fantastic people, there is a small but vocal subsection of patrons that, when they begin to espouse their opinion (and they will), make you want to smash a bottle of whatever is at hand and go at them Patrick-Swayze-in-Roadhouse style. These are the people who make you feel like a fool for confusing the air conditioning vent for a piece of Minimalist sculpture or not being able to list the number of grapes legally allowed in Chateauneuf-du-Pape (thirteen, for those keeping score at home). These people are what I like to call ruiners. It’s not enough to loudly proclaim their knowledge (such as it is) for all to hear – they have to make you feel bad for your lack of expertise or question what information you thought you had on a topic. When I rule the world, ruiners will be dealt with severely.

Art and wine are very similar, and not just because of their attraction to ruiners. Both are, in my opinion, largely subjective subjects. While I was a wine shop girl, I developed three categories for the wine in the store: wine that you love and tell people that you love, wine you love that you’re ashamed of, and wine that you “should” love that you hate. Art can be divided into these same basic categories.

I absolutely adore the works of Marc Chagall, Johannes Vermeer, and Rembrandt van Rijn. If it was financially feasible, I would cover the walls of my studio apartment in their art (of course, since it’s my fantasy I could probably have a larger apartment). I am slavishly impressed by their masterful technical abilities while simultaneously committing the ultimate art historical sin of referring to their works as “gorgeous.” Art historians are supposed to have better words to describe paintings. But to me, these works are gorgeous. I appreciate them for the technical prowess, for the accumulated weight of art history that lead the artist to this exact point, and because they are damned pretty. Works like these constitute the first category – no ruiner would dispute that all of these artists are masters of their craft. It is completely acceptable to vocally enjoy all of these artists.

I confess, people who work in wine stores totally talk about your purchases after you leave. If you come to the register with a cart full of White Zinfandel and sweet Riesling you are a) probably a white woman and b) judged behind your back. These wines are uncomplicated, easy to drink, and generally fairly sweet. They find their artistic equivalents in the work of Currier & Ives, Thomas Kincaid, Bob Ross, and many of the Impressionists. These works are generally aesthetically pleasing; using complementary, bright colors, balanced compositions, and either obvious narratives or no discernable narrative at all – only a beautiful contemplative scene. They are widely reproduced (how many Monets have you seen in dentist office waiting rooms?) and don’t require any artistic knowledge to appreciate. And, like sweet Riesling, if you list any of the aforementioned as your favorite artist in the presence of an “art expert” (self-appointed or otherwise), you will be judged.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of their art. Although the first two examples given employed large workshops to produce their works, there is still technical virtuosity present. Their work is pretty and popular. These artists, like the alcoholic parallels, have mass appeal and are harshly judged because of it.

The only thing to do with art or wine in this second category is to own your taste. If you love Sutter Home White Zin and Monet’s Haystacks, then shout it from the rooftops. Your tastes may change as you learn more about wine and art, but maybe they won’t. And when you proudly state that you love such “embarrassing” things, you generally find a lot of people sheepishly agreeing with you. I have a MA in art history and there were several Monet prints strewn about my apartment because his work matched my couch and throw pillows. It looked pretty, dammit.

The final category is often the most guilt-inducing. You may impress your friends by serving an Italian Barbera d’Alba that was cellared for ten years with your Thanksgiving dinner, but it probably won’t complement the food as well as an easy-drinking Zinfandel and crisp Sauvignon Blanc. I absolutely understand that Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol, and Francis Bacon are modern masters whose work is essential to the understanding of modern art history, but I still hate them. Hate them. I have been forced to spend large amounts of time on all three of them at different times, and it has only enforced my negative opinion of them. I know dozens of people whose opinion I highly respect that not only enjoy but adore those artists. And that’s okay. Because art, like wine, is incredibly subjective.

And this is the main point I’m trying to make. Whatever your tastes in art and wine, own them. There’s no right or wrong, only what speaks to you (and pairs well with chocolate).




Liar! Liar! Urban Meyer

November 29, 2011

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It all started in the Rocky Mountains with the phrase. “I have no plans to leave Utah”

But somehow this honest man forgot that statement that was made and ended up moving to Gainesville Florida where he coached the Florida Tebow’s to a National Title.

He indicated there were health issues. He indicated he was leaving coaching for good to take care of his health and spend time with his family.

“I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program, I haven’t even thought about anything after that, other than I’m a Gator and I’ll always be a Gator.”

Yep, always a Gator, huh??? I wonder what the Buckeye fans think of that comment.

And then from just weeks ago…November 11th of this year…. “I am very happy with my role at ESPN. I have no plans to return to coaching at this time.”

Yeah Urb, we get you loud and clear. No plans to return to coaching. Evidently you found four million reasons to change your mind in the next 3 weeks.

Like many other coaches in the game today, Meyer is smooth, he is polished, but he is a big fat liar.

You can name a host of others in the seats right next to him. Mack Brown – of the infamous, our own network does not give us a recruiting edge fame. Nick Saban who was never leaving LSU and then never leaving the Miami Dolphins. Bobby Petrino could fill up a book on stories he has told. Goodness knows what we might find out about Joe Paterno in the next few months in what he knew and possible covered up. Urb’s predecessor even got shown the door since he could not tell the truth at Ohio State.

Why do we, the fans and the general public, not hold these sports figures accountable for their blatant out and out lies to the media and fan bases? What the heck are these coaches telling potential recruits and the parents and families of these recruits when they are in their homes wooing them to come to the colleges that they represent. I mean it is a proven commodity that they openly lie all the time in the public forum. Do you think they instantly become honest behind the closed doors of that 4 or 5 star recruits home?

The fact is cheating is rampant in sports. There is too much money on the line. Too much fame, too many television deals and too many fans who simply don’t care about the cheating and lying as long as it helps their team win.

As for me, give me the controversial coach Bo Pelini of my beloved Huskers. He too often gets in hot water from the local and national media for being too honest – for speaking his mind too freely – for being too animated on the sidelines and he needs to be more calm, more cool, more in control. Or…do these same folks who constantly criticize him mean he just needs to lie to them more?

Wonder how long Mr Meyer will be at thuh ohio state. According to him it is one of his three dream jobs.

We will see how long it takes for that story to change.

Until Next time, stay classy Stillwater, Oklahoma!

My Thanksgiving

November 28, 2011

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Since Kosmo went with fiction, and Angry covered politics, I am going to write about Thanksgiving. I am supposed to be writing about writing, this is National Novel Writing Month after all, but I do not have much to report as I have done poorly for the effort this year.

What does Thanksgiving mean to you? Many would say to Football, others would point to family, and others would concentrate on overindulgence with food. This year, the news was filled with reports that the President’s Thanksgiving address ignored God and referenced being thankful for out luck, what ever that means. I did not personally listen to that address and do not believe I have ever listed to a Presidential Thanksgiving address, so it has no importance to me.

Thanksgiving means more than all of that to me. As the son of a veteran, I call to mind all of those who have served and are currently serving to protect our lives, our liberties and our bounty. I cannot express it any better than the original proclamation by Abraham Lincoln, so I will copy it below.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln


Whom Should I Vote For In the Republican Primary?

November 25, 2011

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2012 Republican Presidential Candidates

2012 Republican Presidential Candidates (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! This Thanksgiving I was most thankful for my family and our move to our new job that we are about to embark on. Why I am not thrilled with the packing and process of actually moving there part, I am really excited about moving to middle Tennessee from east central Kansas.

The interesting part of the process is that the Angry Squirrel will now be a Republican Presidential Primary voter. Yes you read that right, REPUBLICAN primary voter. Now don’t laugh to hard, or start to think I have had some sort of epiphany that led me to change my entire political thinking the past month. The move itself has allowed this to happen.

I will be registering to vote as soon as I can in Tennessee, and as a registered independent in the open primary state I will be able to cast my ballot in the Republican primary if I choose to do so, and as there really is not a Democratic primary to vote in this cycle, I say why not. I have been following the candidates closer than the average Republican primary voter has even. So I feel I am well-informed to cast my vote for I feel most expresses what I think the Republican Party stands for.

It should be interesting to see how things develop as February 5th rolls around, which is the date of the Tennessee Primary. We should have a pretty narrowing field of who actually are the frontrunners by that point. We will likely have Mitt stagnating at the same percentage he has had all along, give or take a few. After that will Newt and his new-found compassion for immigrants and his payoffs from lobbying for the devil keep him in frontrunner status? Will Michelle Bachmann’s strong performances in the past couple roundtable/debates show a rise once again in her numbers? Will Rick Perry stop being a douche and just exit the primary process? Will Herman Cain continue to stay at the front of things? ONly time will tell.

I will be surprised if by that point there is not some sort of movement going to cast votes a particular way in these open primary states. That is not my motive, as I am just mainly doing it for the novelty of the process since I am not used to open primaries and I figure since there is no need to do so on the Democratic side this time around why not cast my ballot for who I feel most expresses the sentiment of the current Republican party. Like I said though, I would be surprised if there was not some sort of shenanigans going on to vote one way or the other in these open primaries by the time they roll around.

So who am I going to vote for? That is a good question, and the simple answer is who knows. While in the General Election I wouldn’t vote for any of them if you forced me to. That is not the issue here. I do know it won’t be for Mitt, but other than that I really don’t know which viable contender at that point I would lend my “support” to with my vote. It’s likely going to be a toss-up between Bachmann or Cain, but you all can feel free to make your point for whom the Angry Squirrel should vote for.

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Friends For Thanksgiving

November 24, 2011

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[Editor’s note: this story originally ran in 2009 as a two part story.  This year, it’s a rerun, but I’m giving it to you all at once.  A few very minor changes were made.  This story is part of a trio of holiday stories  – you may also like What’s In The Chili (Halloween) and Mrs. Claus and the Christmas Mistress.]


“Oh, Kate, you didn’t have to bring anything,” said Erin, as she gave her friend a kiss on the cheek.

“Oh, it’s just a pumpkin pie. You and Kevin prepared the rest of the food – this is just a token of our appreciation.”

“Well, we definitely appreciate it,” chimed in Kevin. “Pumpkin pie is my favorite. Let me grab your coats. Dinner is ready to be served.”

Kevin hung up the coats while Kate and Tom followed Erin to the kitchen. The smell of turkey, stuffing, corn, and potatoes wafted through the air.

“Everything smells so good. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. What’s not to like about a national eating holiday?” laughed Tom.

Their hostess grabbed the carving knife. “What part of the turkey do you like, Tom?” she asked.

“I’m a leg man.” Tom held his plate out, and Erin slid a juicy drumstick onto it.

The four friends took their places around the table and began passing around bowls of food. Kevin took a large portion of mashed potatoes, topped the mound with stuffing and corn, and poured a river of gravy over the top. Tom grabbed two slices of Erin’s famous corn bread, and Kate served herself an extra large portion of the delicious cranberries. Erin herself appeared to play no favorite – she took equal portions of each dish.

The foursome began their feast, and a pleasant silence enveloped the room, punctuated only by the sounds of chewing and an occasional burp. During the second helping, the eating began to slow a bit, and conversation resumed.

“Stetson’s going to light up the Sharks,” proclaimed Tom, in between bites of turkey.

Kevin smiled politely. This was not the time to stoke an argument about the relative strengths of the Sharks and Cougars. Tom was a complete moron for believing that the Cougars were on the same level with the Sharks. In the grand scheme of things, it really didn’t matter very much, though.

“He definitely had a good week against Cleveland. We’ll see if he can maintain that sort of momentum. Rookie quarterbacks can hit some bumps in the road.”

“This isn’t just any rookie,” exclaimed his friend. “This is Frankie effing Stetson, number one draft pick in the whole world.”

Erin interrupted Tom’s idol worship. “Does anyone have room for a slice of Kate’s pie?”

In spite of the large meal, everyone seemed to have just enough room for one slice of pumpkin pie. Tom loosened his belt a notch while Erin popped up from her chair. She returned to the table with the pumpkin pie, as well as a container of Cool Whip.

“Awesome,” said Tom. “There’s nothing better than pumpkin pie with Cool Whip.”

After everyone had finished their pie, Erin began to collect the dishes. Kate stood up the help her while the guys headed to the living room to watch football.

“It’s under control, Kate. I’ll handle the dishes. You can go watch the game.”

Kate put up a feeble protest before joined the men in front of the big screen TV. By the time that Kate had finished the dishes, all three were sound asleep, thanks to the turkey and wine.

Erin gently shook Kevin to wake him.

“Kevin! It’s time to get started.”

Kevin hopped up from his easy chair and walked to the closet. He returned with ropes. He bound Tom’s hands and feet together while Erin secured Kate in a similar fashion.

Erin returned to the kitchen and pushed aside a fake wall, exposing two large hidden compartments. She pushed open the two large doors before joining Kevin back in the living room. Kevin had sliced off Tom’s clothing, leaving the man as naked as when he entered the world. As Kevin hefted Tom’s body and took the first few halting steps toward the kitchen, Erin grabbed the knife and cut Kate’s clothing so that it could also be easily removed. A minute later, Kevin returned, grabbed Kate’s still-slumbering form, and made another trip to the kitchen.

Kevin slid Kate onto the grate and closed the door, locking it into place. He hit the button to activate the wash cycle. Tom and Kate were bathed with pulses of water, cleansing their skin perfectly. Kevin hit the button to activate the next cycle.

Tom began to regain his consciousness a bit. He was certain that he was smelling a very strong scent of butter. Butter? Where was that smell coming from? Three seconds later, Tom felt his body be assaulted with streams of hot, liquid butter. What the hell? The wine was having a very strong effect on Tom, but he was slowly coming to the realization that something was very wrong. He realized that he was flat on his back, with his hands and feet tied together. He was trussed up like a pig! There was something in his mouth. He couldn’t place the flavor at first, but soon realized that it was an apple. He felt the room slowly start to heat up and came to the realization that he was being cooked alive!

Tom tried to scream, but was unable to dislodge the apple. He struggled against his bonds, but could make no progress. He was wedged tightly into the oven and had limited mobility. Before long, Tom had been overcome by the heat.

“Go watch the game,” said Erin, giving Kevin a kiss. “Things are under control in here. It will be several hours before supper is ready.”

Kevin plopped down in front of the TV just as the second half was beginning. The Sharks had fallen behind 21-0 in the first half, but this was not to be a good day for Tom’s golden boy, Frank Stetson. Stetson threw four interceptions in the second half, lost a fumble, and was sacked four times. Kevin laughed at the meltdown of the rookie quarterback. Tom really didn’t know shit about football.

After the Sharks had won the first game of the day and the Miners had steamrolled to a win in the second game of the day, it was time for supper.

When Kevin got to the kitchen, Erin had his plate ready for him. A big helping of potatoes, corn, stuffing, and gravy, along with a big chunk of drumstick a la Tom. On her own plate, Erin had a smaller bit of Tom’s leg, as well as a bit of white meat from Kate.

“I always did think turkey was a bit overrated.”

Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement

November 23, 2011

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The baseball owners and players have reached a collective bargaining agreement, meaning that there will labor peace for a span of at least 21 years.  As a fan who still has nightmares of the 1994 season, I’m ecstatic that there is a deal in place.  I’m anxiously awaiting for the CBA to be publicly available, so that I can print out a copy to read at my leisure.  (No, I’m not kidding).  Maybe MLB can throw baseball junkies a bone and put out a Kindle version …

The new CBA will result in some changes to the game I love.  Some of the changes are great; some aren’t.  Here are my thoughts.

Blood testing for HGH (human growth hormone) – I’m in favor of any rule that makes it more difficult to cheat.  I’d have even gone a step further and allow this to be expanded to include any drugs which are banned by MLB, including ones that are not currently banned.  Banning a substance without testing for it is pointless.

Revamping of free agent compensation – I have railed against the existing system for many years, and I’m glad that people finally listened to me.  Instead of the old Elias statistical rating system – which used seemingly arbitrary stats – teams will be forced to make a qualifying offer to pending free agents in order to be compensated if the player is signed by another team.  The qualifying offer must be the average of the top 125 salaries – currently, this would be about $12 million.  This makes sense to me – if you’re willing to sign a guy to a $12 million deal, he clearly has value to you.  In the past, there have been some odd situations where the Elias system put unreasonable values on players.  This ended up hurting the players – including my friend’s brother one year – because no team was willing to pay the compensation, which in turn limited the number of bidders for their talents.

Penalties for exceeding recommended bonuses for draft picks – Team can now lose future draft picks if they exceed MLB’s recommended bonus for that spot in the draft.  Every year, some guys fall down in the draft because of signability concerns.  Teams high in the draft don’t want to pay big bucks, so they drop down to a team willing to pony up the cash.  Penalizing these teams is a Rube Goldberg solution to the problem.  The most logical thing to do is simply allow teams to trade draft picks.  Currently, baseball teams can’t trade picks, nor can they trade draftees until one year after they signed a contract.  I guess this is to protect GMs from making dumb trades … but if you need that sort of protection, perhaps you shouldn’t be a GM.

Houston moves to the American League – Houston will move to the AL to create six divisions of five teams each.  This really sucks for Astros fans, who get stuck in the bad league.  Why not send the Brewers back to the AL?  Oh, right.  Because Bud Selig acts in the best interests of the Brewers, the team he formerly owned.

Expanded playoffs – One thing I love about baseball is the fact that it’s hard to get into the playoffs.  Only eight of the thirty teams make it.  In the future, this will get expanded to ten teams.  The two wild card teams will face off in a one game playoff – already being called the “coin flip round” in some circles because of the silliness of a one game playoff series.  This could create a situation where a weaker team is at a significant advantage in the one game playoff.  Imagine that the Red Sox nip the Yankees for the AL East title – 105 wins for Boston and 104 for the Yankees.  Both teams used their best pitchers in the final days of the season, due to a strong desire to stay out of the coin flip round.  The second wild cards goes to Tampa, which wins 91 games, 4 more than the next closest team.  Tampa spends the last week of the season getting its rotation in order for the playoffs.  The result?  The 91 win Tampa team sends its ace to the mound against the #4 starter for the Yankees.

Will Tiger Woods Bounce Back in 2012?

November 22, 2011

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It might be turning around for Eldrick Tont Woods.

He got blasted 7 & 6 in his first round match while being partnered with Steve Stricker.

He clinched the President’s Cup for the American side, giving Fred Couples the opportunity to do his best Muhammad Ali impersonation of shadow boxing in the beginning of the victory celebration.

Tiger Woods appears to have turned the corner. In difficult conditions at Royal Melbourne Golf Club he rarely missed fairways, showed improved bunker play, and found his putting stroke in the singles matches. This all on the heels of a 3rd place finish in another tournament down under just a week before.

Fred Couples called him the best player ever and stated there was no way you could leave that type of guy off of a team assembling the finest golfers on the PGA tour. No matter that Tiger had slipped to 50th in the World Rankings.

Tiger make Fred look wise enough with the selection. Having Tiger involved in the President’s Cup matches obviously made the television audience greater than it otherwise would have been. More importantly I saw a more balanced swing out of Eldrick, he looked in control of his shots in horrible wind condition. I think it could be a decent bounce back year for him in 2012. He seems to have his focus and now more importantly his swing appears to be back as well.

Wow what a week in college football!

Oklahoma State loses on the road in Ames to a lowly Iowa State team. Those pesky Cyclones always seem to beat someone. RG III puts one hand on the Heisman with a big upset of Oklahoma. It appears that Texas Tech loss was no fluke. The Sooners cannot defend the pass whatsoever. Speaking of not defending, the Huskers get housed at the Big House losing by an “N” barrasing 28 points to Michigan.

Meanwhile back in the SEC, the teams have claimed the top 3 spots in the BCS rankings. The real question is does anyone north of the Mason Dixon line or west of the Mississippi river even care about the SEC?

J-E-T-S – Lose! Lose! Lose! Lose!

See what happens when you rag about how a guy can’t throw the football at all, talk about how bored you are going to be watching the other team run the football.

Well…that bum from the Florida Gators moved his team 95 yards and scored the go ahead touchdown to beat your sorry green butts.

Tebow Time in Denver! Amazingly all sports fans are correct about Tim Tebow. He is a lousy NFL passing quarterback, he can’t throw a lick. He is a winner, all he does is wins games. I can’t remember such a divided sports figure as Tebow in my lifetime where the pro’s and con’s are technically both correct in their arguments, but yet still stand firmly behind their side and won’t agree with the other side of the argument.

Discount Double Check!

Overheard by me at the Detroit airport when a sports bar was showing highlights of the Packers Game on Sunday. As soon as they show Aaron Rodgers the table of Viking fans behind me dropped the “discount double check” belt move from State Farm Commercials….Classic!

Until Next time….

Stay classy Gas City, Indiana

Should Pitchers Be Eligible For The MVP?

November 21, 2011

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By claiming a trophy on Monday, Detroit’s Justin Verlander threw another can of gasoline into the age-old debate: should pitchers be eligible for the MVP award?

Detractors who say pitchers – in particular, starting pitchers – should not be eligible generally give the same reason.  A starting pitcher plays in only one in every five games.  In 80% of games, he has absolutely no impact on the game. 

I’m firmly in the camp that believes that pitchers should be included in the MVP voting.  I think that some people overestimate the involvement of the other position players.

Within a typical game, there are around somewhere around 250-300 plays.  In general, the critical piece of the play is a pitch (125 – 150 per team per game).  Sometimes the pitch is hit for a homer, sometimes the pitch is a 99 mph heater for strike 3, sometimes the pitch is high and outside for ball 2.  Regardless of the result, the play involves the pitcher putting forth effort.

Let’s use the low estimates of 125 pitches per team per game, or 250 total pitches.  If the pitcher goes 7 innings, he’ll participate in roughy 7/9 of those 125 pitcher, or 97 pitches.  That’s 38.8% of the plays.  Of course, the pitcher only plays in 20% of those games, so we divide that number by 5.  Thus a starting pitching should be actively involved in 7.76% of plays over the course of a season.

That sounds pretty low, huh?

Designated hitters are eligible for MVP consideration.  I’ll pick on the DH because I hate it and wish for it to be abolished.  The DH will typically account for about 11% (1/9) of his team’s at bats.  However, he plays 0% of the time on defense, so he’s involved in 5.5% of plays.  Should we remove DHs from MVP consideration.  (Better yet, abolish it altogether?)

The DH isn’t the best example, of course.  Let’s look at a shortstop.  In the course of the game, the shortstop might be record a “chance” (baseball term for a putout, assist, or errror) on six plays and glove the ball twice more on plays that go for hits.  That’s active involvement in 8 of 125 defensive plays, or 6.4%.  Average that with the 11% (1/9) of offensive plays, and the shortstop’s involvement is 8.7%.  More than the pitcher, but not appreciably so.

True fans might be jumping ahead of me here.  The catcher, of course, is involved in probably 75% of defensive plays (exceptions being balls hits into play and foul balls) as well as 11% of offensive plays – a staggering 43% of all plays!  While that’s true, in the vast majority of those case, the catcher is the tertiary actor.  I’d argue that it’s harder for the pitcher to throw a pinpoint strike, and harder for the hitter to hit the ball, than it is for the catcher to catch the ball and throw in back to the catcher.

What’s my point?

My point is that a starting pitcher might only play in 20% of a team’s game, he has huge influence in those games.  Verlander giving up no runs and two hits over eight innings has more impact than Albert Pujols going 1-4 with a single.  Look through the game log of any hitter – there are tons of games where a good hitter does very little to help him team.  Perhaps as high as 80% 🙂

I Got A Smartphone

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I’m pretty sure I just heard Evan‘s head explode with surprise.

I’ve long been a proponent of dumb phones, putting battery life above features.  If they made a rotary dial cell phone that would last for a month on a battery charge, I’d probably own one.

This has been a year of change, though.  A year ago, I firmly resisted eBooks.  Now, I’ve completely gone over to the dark side.  Not only do I own a Kindle (a gently used third-hand model), but even reviewed the Kindle Fire and other new models.

Have I done a complete 180, ditching my dumb phone for an iPhone 4?


While most people use both aspects of a smart phone – the “smart” part and the “phone” part.  In my dual traditions of frugality and non-conformity, I am not.  What I purchased, in reality, it a portable WiFi device.

What did I get?

I got a used Palm Pre.  Lazy Man thinks they are the bee‘s knees, the banana’s pyjamas, and the best thing since sliced bread.  Aside from irresponsible behavior when it comes to baseball – following a team in the inferior American League – we actually see eye to eye on quite a few things.

Earlier, Lazy Man had me convinced to jump on the Touchpad clearance sales, but I was late to the frenzy and came up short.  The Pre is much smaller (cell sized), but also runs the WebOS.  Since I’m a tech guy, I enjoy learning new OSes.

But why?

I’ll be able to check sports scores anywhere I can get a WiFi connection.  Yes, that’s the main reason.  Should come in handy when doing yard work – or even sitting on the couch – or at a location where WiFi is available.

In addition to being a net device, I can also use the Pre as a reader.  I haven’t found a way to load actual Kindle books on it yet, but I can load ePub books.  Not surprisingly, the first book I loaded was Jules Verne’s classic Journey to the Center of the Earth.  Perhaps a bit surprisingly, this was also the second book I loaded.  When I noticed that the first version was the Hardwigg version, I immediately sought out a Lidenbrock version.  This is one of my very favorite books, and I find it very jarring to not have the Lidenbrocks in the book.

The next time I’m stuck in a long line at the grocery story, I’ll just pull out the Pre and read.

I’l searching for a decent Blackjack game I can load via PreWare.  The one I currently have has pretty weak graphics and treats the Ace as always being worth 11 (instead of 11 or 1).  That’s a pretty big flaw in a blackjack game.

Early thoughts

It was more difficult to get past the activation screen than it should have been.  It would have been nice to see something like “activate later”, but I had to flash the rom, run some Java tools, and reboot into developer mode just to get the Pre to a state where I could actually get to the main screen and load software.  Luckily, the Pre community has a lot of helpful documentation, but it was still a pain in the rear.

I also haven’t yet found a way to deactivate the “phone” portion of the Pre, since I will never need to use it.  For the moment, I have at least taken the phone app off the dock and have the Pre set to be on Airplane Mode.

It would also be nice if there was a decent way to get access to the App Catalog without activating the phone.  It seems that there’s a way to do this by jumping through some additional hoops, but I just wanted to get online fast, so I took the route with fewer hoops.

Other than using my wife’s iPhone on occasion, this is my first experience with a touchscreen phone.  The LCD seems to pick up finger prints really easily.


I’d give it a B- so far.  The grade would probably be an A- if not for the extra steps to get the Pre working.  I know very little about WebOS, but seem to be figuring out things are I go.  I keep having to remind myself of the gesture area at the bottom of the screen (touching in this area triggers a variety of actions).

The One Night Stand

November 18, 2011

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The hotel’s restaurant was nearly deserted on a Tuesday night – just a handful of loners stuck in this God-forsaken place on business trips.  Ah, the places people go for money, thought Charlie, as he pulled open the door and entered the establishment.

He loosened his tie and took a seat.  A few seconds later, the sole waitress came over and handed him a menu.  As she leaned over to fill his water glass, her low-cut blouse afforded Charlie a pleasant view.  After a moment, he re-directed his eyes to the menu.

“What’s good here?” he asked.

You are, he thought to himself.  He noticed the name on her name tag.  Cheri.  Perhaps you could be mon chéri, oui?  Charlie absent-mindedly fingered the gold band on his finger as he entertained fantasies of the lovely waitress.

” – and the ribeye is very popular, of course.”

Charlie realized this his daydreams has distracted him from Cheri’s description of the specials.  He pulled himself back to reality and enjoyed the real-world vision of his dream girl.

“Yes, I’ll go with the ribeye,” he said, recovering his composure.  His eyes followed her across the room as she gave his order to the chef.  When she glanced back toward him, he turned his eyes to the television, appearing to be engrossed in the news.

Did she just give him a wink – or was it just his imagination?


The ribeye wasn’t bad, considering the locale.  As Charlie finished the last of his bourbon, the waitress brought out his check.  He gave her a generous 30% tip, and charged the bill to his room.  He hated to part company, but perhaps he would bump into Cheri again.


At first glance, it appeared to be a credit card – but Cheri noticed that it was a room card.  It would be easy to just take the card out to the front desk … but Cheri could also provide some personal service and return the card personally.  The gentleman had charged the meal to his room – room 319.

She had caught him giving her long glances – or had she?  Had fifteen years of marriage given her an active imagination for such things?  Cheri tossed the card into her apron – she could make a decision at the end of her shift.


Cheri spent more time than usual counting her tips.  She held the stranger’s card in her hand.  Should she go up to the room?  Her husband wouldn’t be home tonight.

The elevator chimed as the doors opened.  Cheri turned left and walked a few steps.  She stood nervously in front of room 319.  Then she made her decision.  The card slid into the door and the small light flashed green.  Cheri quietly opened the door and entered the dark room. 

The room’s occupant was asleep in the bed.  He hadn’t waited up for her.  Was this all a misunderstanding?

In for a penny, in for a pound, Cheri thought.  She kicked off her shoes and began to unbutton her blouse.

A moment later, Cheri slid her nude body into bed next to the stranger.  She reached down to awaken him.

Charlie awoke with a start.  When a momentary fog cleared, he was looking into the eyes of the beautiful waitress.  Sometimes dreams do come true, he thought, and moved to embrace her.


Cheri left the room as the sun was beginning to peek above the horizon.  If she hurried, she would still be home before her husband.


Charlie checked out of the hotel around nine.

“Hey Charlie,” said the woman behind the counter.  “Did you and your wife enjoy your date night?”

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