Saturday Stew

July 25, 2009

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In 2006, three young men in Wisconsin attempted to dig up a recently diseased young woman so that one of them could have sex with her body.  One of the men had become infatuated with her after seeing her photo in the obituary column.  (Maybe it’s just me, but that’s not the first place I expect people to look for dates).  After a stop at a local Wal-Mart to buy condoms, the men arrived at the cemetery and proceeded to dug all the way down to the concrete vault before police, who had been notified of suspicious activity, arrived at the scene.  One of the men quickly cracked and blurted out the entire scheme.

Authorities in Wisconsin soon realized that the state did not have any necrophilia laws on the books.

The prosecutors wished to try them on sexual assault charges, but it was unclear if the state’s sexual assault laws applied to dead people.  The state supreme court decided that the laws did indeed apply, as a corpse is unable to give consent.  This logic threw me for a bit of a loop, as I had never stopped to wonder if someone had human rights after they were dead.

This week, the mastermind of the crime was found guilty of attempted sexual assault and was sentence to two years in jail.


Pittsburgh  Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was named as a defendant in civil lawsuit this week.  The lawsuit alleges that Roethlisberger raped her last July at the Tahoe resort where she worked.  The lawsuit seeks $480,000 in compensation.

Is it possible that the allegations are true?  Of course.  Is it likely?  No.  The woman has not contacted police to file any criminal charges … just the civil lawsuit.  This really seems like a ploy to squeeze money out of Big Ben.  After all, if she was traumatized to the extent of $480,000, wouldn’t she consider this to be criminal activity that should be reported to the authorities?  Show me a criminal complaint, and I’ll take notice.

Erin Andrews

ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was videotaped nude by a voyeur, apparently through a peephole in her hotel room.  The video quickly made its way onto the internet.  Interestingly, many of the links the purport to be the Andrews video are actually attempts to trick people into downloading a virus – so those of you who are trying to find this video should be aware of the distinct possibility that you may instead give your computer a nasty virus.  And if the thought crosses your mind to look for this video, stop for a minute and realize that this video was made without any knowledge by Andrews – give her some respect and stay away from the video.

The story got even worse, as some news networks used pieces of the video or photos (captured from the video) as part of their coverage of the story (with parts of Erin’s body obscured).  This crosses a line of journalistic ethics.  ESPN lashed back at one of the papers – The New York Post – by banning any of its reporters from appearing on ESPN shows.  Good call, ESPN.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin racked up a sizeable legal bill fending off multiple ethics complaints against her.  Most were dismissed, although she did have to pay back taxes on roughly $17,000 that the state reimbursed her for per diem expenses (on nights she spent away from the the governor’s mansion in Juneau – staying instead at her home in Wasilla) and had to reimburse the state for travel expenses for her family.

Palin created a fund so that her supporters could contribute toward her legal expenses.  Ironically, these donations may be a violation of state ethics laws.

Do yourself a favor, Republicans – find a better candidate in 2012.  If you want to have a woman on the ticket, take a look around.  Is Sarah Palin the best woman for the job?

Matt Holliday

On Friday, Matt Holliday was traded from the A’s to the Cardinals for three prospects, including 3B Brett Wallace.  The presence of Holliday will add another strong bat to join Albert Pujols in the Cardinals lineup.  There will be a cage match fight to determine who gets to keep the number 5 on their jersey.

Holliday’s numbers have slid from his numbers with the Rockies.  While many of his critics say that this shows he is a product of Coors Field, other factors are at play.  Not only did he move to a less hitter-friendly park (indeed, to a very hitter unfriendly park in Oakland), but he also changed leagues, rendering years of studying National League pitchers mostly useless, and forcing him to learn the tendencies of a hundred new pitchers.  This takes some time.  While Holliday had a dreadful April, he has a .905 OPS since May 5 (before Friday’s game).  And while Oakland is a terrible hitter’s park, Holliday’s home OPS is actually 89 points higher than his road OPS – compared to a standard MLB home/road split of +30.  Sure, it’s a small sample, but perhaps he’s the type of player who is simply more comfortable in his home surroundings, regardless of what those surroundings are.  When he was with the Rockies, his split differential far exceeded that of any other Rockies player – casting some doubt on the assertion that he was merely a production of Coors (since a rising tide should lift all boats).

How did Holliday do in his first game with the Cardinals, on Friday night?  4-5, with a double, a stolen base, a run, and an RBI.

Holliday has typically fared very well in the summer months, and the playoff race may energize him and boost his performance.  Enjoy the view, St. Louis.

Rockies update

Todd Helton of the Rockies recorded his 500th career double on Wednesday, becoming the 50th player in the history of Major League Baseball to reach that mark.  Helton’s once prodigious power numbers have been sapped by back ailments and a humidor in Coors Field, and his contract is considered by many to be a financial albatross, but Helton is universally revered by Rockies fans as the first truly great player that was drafted and developed by the Rockies.

On Monday, the Rockies took over the lead in the National League wild card race.  The Rockies had gotten off to a horrible start under former manager Clint Hurdle before rebounding with a 31-10 record from June 4 through Monday – good enough to push them past division rival San Francisco for the catbird seat in the wild card race.

On Wednesday night, Rockies top prospect Jhoulys Chacin was pulled from his start with AA Tulsa after 9 pitches.  The reason given was that the move was made in anticipation of possible future organizational move.  Speculation quickly came to a head, with fans wondering in Chacin would be traded (perhaps in a deal for Jays pitcher Roy Halladay), or would he skip AAA Colorado Springs for a promotion to the big club?  Well, it turns out that JC will be tossed into the shaky Rockies bullpen.  On Thursday, the Rockies acquired Rafael Betancourt from Cleveland to further bolster the pen.  Don’t be surprised if Garrett Atkins is traded before the deadline.

Rockies Update

June 23, 2009

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My favorite baseball team, the Colorado Rockies, have been on tear lately.  The Rockies have won 17 of 18 games, dating back to June 4 against Houston.  Their only loss in this stretch was a June 16th game against the Tampa Bay Devils.  That game followed an off day, which is another great reason not to have any off days during the season.  The Rockies are 19-5 under interim manager Jim Tracy after starting the season 18-28 under fired manager Clint Hurdle.

Much maligned shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has played in 16 of those 18 games and has hits in 14 of the 16 games in which he played – good for a .400 batting average during that span.  Tulo has also smacked 5 of his 10 homers during the streak.  For those of you keeping track at home, his OPS (On-base-plus slugging) is nearly identical to the numbers he put up in 2007, when he was putting up numbers deserving of the Rookie of the Year award.  This fact is hidden a bit because injuries have cost him some at bats this year, and because his batting average is lower than it was in 2007.  However, his on base percentage is actually higher than it was in 2007, because of a marked uptick in the number of walks Tulo has drawn.  Keep in mind that the kid is still just 24 years old.

What other players are having good years for the Rockies?

  • Todd Helton finally had back surgery after a sub-par and injury filled 2008 season.  The Toddfather might have a legitimate shot at 30 homers for the season, and he already has 49 RBI.  There is one small area of concern – Helton’s walk rate is the lowest it has been since 1999.  Helton’s walk rate is on the upswing, though, as he already has more walks in June than he did in all of May.  Helton surpassed 2000 career hits earlier in the season, to the surprise of many observers who were under the impression that he had already reached the mark years ago – but Helton’s relatively late start in his career (coming through the college ranks) as well as his propensity for taking walks, has served to limit his at bats a bit.
  • Right fielder Brad Hawpe continues to be the best player that nobody has ever heard of, putting up a .335 batting average and an OPS above 1.000.  Hawpe has been a beast at home this year, with a .400+ batting average at Coors Field.  Over the course of his career, Hawpe has not been a “product of Coors Field”, however.  His career OPS differential is +45 points, compared to a typical hitter who enjoys a 30 point advantage at home.  Hawpe clearly gets some additional benefit from Coors, but not the typical Coors Field boost.
  • 24 year old rookie Ian “Stewie” Stewart has displaced Garrett “I can’t hit no more” Atkins as the starting third baseman.  Stewart’s batting average is still hovering around .225, but he has 13 homers in just 180 at bats in the season, including 6 in 70 June at bats.  Stewart appears to be bouncing back from a dreadful May that saw him post a horrendous .595 OPS, largely as the result of an absurdly low .128 BABIP (batting average on balls in play, a number which is typically around  .300).  Oddly, Stewart has a “reverse split” this year, posting significantly better numbers away from Coors Field.
  • Catcher Chris Iannetta has fought some injuries, but still has 10 homers in just 132 at bats this year, building upon the power he displayed last year (18 homers in 333 at bats, as he shared time with Yorvit Torrealba behind the plate).
  • Off season acquisition Jason Marquis (9-4, 3.71 ERA, 97 innings pitched) leads the Rockies in all three of those categories.
  • Aaron Cook had a horrendous April, posting a 7.11 ERA.  This was attributed to a mechanical problem with his delivery, and Cook has been money in the bank since that point, putting up an ERA below 3.00 since the beginning of May.  With a win last night, Cook became the all time franchise laeder in wins, with 59.  (Note that the Rockies have only been around since 1993 and haven’t had many pitcher hang around very long). 
  • Closer Huston Street  posted a 6+ ERA in April before enjoying a dominant May (0.82 ERA) and a strong June (2.79) as has established himself firmly ahead of Manny Corpas in the closer slot.