Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Time for a change ...

This current BoSox team is in need of an enema.

I'm not even sure I can express in words how frustrating this team is to watch.

Nomar still hacking away at the first pitch, even though it's obvious he's not the same hitter he was before the injury. So, inevitably, a smart pitcher throws him something shoulder level that he pops up.

Our manager is still managing like he's trying to be a "stats" guy, but he doesn't understand how to use stats. He puts in pinch hitters based on 3 ABs, when they're obviously not the best option on the bench.

The team comes out flat every single day.

This Red Sox team is a testament to the fact that intangibles and "team chemistry" are complete horseshit. This is the same team as last year, minus Todd Walker and John Burkett - who've been replaced by Mark Bellhorn and Curt Schilling. It's the same Kevin Millar/David Ortiz bunch who "Cowboy'd Up" last season.

Yet they're completely unmotivated this year.

What's the difference?

Last year's team was winning.

Winning breeds confidence and "chemistry." Team chemistry is a complete load of crap. And this team proves that.

It's time for a shakeup. Whether it's benching Nomar for not adjusting his style or moving somebody (maybe time to get that Nomar to the Pale Hose for Magglio rumor going again?), this team needs a kick in the ass. And it doesn't seem like Tito .. err, Terry is the guy to do it.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The 2004 NBA Crapshoot

The 2004 NBA Draft happened this past Thursday. As a pretty huge Celtics fan who's been upset with the direction of this team since Danny Ainge took over, it was a pretty important day. This draft was a chance for Ainge to show what his plans are for the team - how to get better, and how quickly he's going to do it.

Going into the draft, there were a few scenarios I thought might play out for the C's:

-We might keep all 3 picks and draft high schoolers (or maybe a couple of high schoolers and a Euro), hoping to catch lightning in a bottle and have one or two turn into legitimate NBA players.

-The C's might move some or all of the picks to move up in the draft and take a "sure" thing. This would be hard to do, considering mid-to-late picks in the draft are near-worthless these days.

-The C's might make a big deal, moving Paul Pierce and picks for a player (Jamal Crawford, Eddy Curry?) and a high pick.

As the draft approached, I heard rumors of the Mavs and Bulls both interested in swapping players and picks with us, giving us a chance to move up in the First Round. Putting it all together, I thought there might be a chance for the C's to make a huge move, reshaping the team and franchise in one night, and maybe getting better *today* and better for the future.

Those deals would have been moving two of our three picks, cap fodder (let's say Michael Stewart and Jumaine Jones) for Jerry Stackhouse and the number 5 pick in the draft. The C's could have then moved Paul Pierce and the remaining pick to the Bulls for the #3 or #7 pick (let's assume #7), getting back enough to offset Pierce's salary - Tyson Chandler and Scottie Pippen.

Presumably, the C's would then have drafted Ben Gordon or Andre Iguodala with one of the picks, and maybe grabbed Livingston, Deng, or Devin Harris with the other pick. In this case, let's assume they go with Devin Harris.

That series of moves would have done a number of things for the C's. The team would get young, but experience players (Stack and Chandler), while also bolstering the size and skill of the team. They'd also be a whole lot closer to having some cap room, with Pippen's contract being an expiring deal.

At some point in the offseason, you have to dump Chucky Atkins, who no longer fits here, and wasn't particularly happy about being exposed in the expansion draft.

Next year, you'd have a team that looked like this:

PG: Banks, Harris
SG/SF: Stackhouse, Iguodala, Davis, Welsch
PF: Chandler, LaFrentz, McCarty
C: LaFrentz, Perkins

Add another post guy with the MLE, and you've got a young, athletic, incredibly skilled team. It's also a team that's amazingly solid defensively, though LaFrentz/Chandler will have trouble with bigger post players.

It seemed like all of the pieces were falling into place for the Celtics.

Then the Celtics drafted Al Jefferson, Deonte West, and Tony Allen.

My initial reaction, influenced by my thinking on the potential to completely overhaul the team, was that this was a horrific draft.

Days later, I've tempered my reaction. I really like Al Jefferson, but there's all sorts of issues with drafting high schoolers on a team that's not going to have the cap room under the luxury threshold to resign him to a huge deal in 3 years.

I really like Tony Allen, but he would have been around in the 2nd round, when you don't need to give him a guaranteed deal.

I like Deonte West, but not when you're going to turn him into a PG. Who was the last 2-guard to successfully transition to the point? Dwayne Wade did it this past season, but he handled a lot of the PG duties at Marquette, and wasn't playing next to the premier PG in college basketball. And Wade wasn't asked to solely handle the PG duties in Miami, as they've got a nice point-forward by the name of Lamar Odom.

They reached on the last two guys, taking players who, while not being projects, are not worth guaranteed deals. They're also at a position the Celtics are loaded with players.

But all in all, it's not a disaster draft. It's just a questionable one. It's a firm C.

Of course, then Ainge had to go and piss away all of the goodwill by saying the following on WEEI:

"I believe in West and Allen we got the 10th and 11th best players in the draft... tell me this, who do you want West or Devin Harris... I take West every time."

I understand the idea behind wanting good PR and to talk up your draft, but you've simply got to stay within the realm of sanity. Ainge, of course, followed that up by ripping Atkins, ensuring that we won't get anywhere near fair market value for him (which wouldn't have been much anyway). Eerily reminiscent of the Antoine Walker situation when we had the "pleasure" of trading for an injured, overpaid, soft PF/C.

Fahrenheit 9/11

I saw Michael Moore's new movie yesterday afternoon. It was definitely a cool experience. I headed down to Harvard Sq. around 2pm to catch the movie. I figured that if I'm going to see the movie, I might as well see it in a neighborhood that was going to be super receptive.

Most of the showings were sold out, but I had Fandango'd my ticket, so I was in good shape. The theater was packed, with a pretty diverse group of folks - young, old, male, female, variety of races.

The movie itself was pretty powerful. The first hour or so is typical Michael Moore satire. Think Roger & Me or the lighter parts of Bowling for Columbine. This is the portion talking about the, let's say, suspicious links between the Saudi royals and the Bush family (and friends). Lot's of easy jokes poking fun at members of the Bush administration, juxtaposing contradictory and hypocritical comments, etc. This is the part of the movie that will be the most divisive. If you agree with Moore, you'll love it. If you disagree with Moore, you'll hate it. He does take some shots at the Democrats, and rightfully so, as the weak-kneed assclowns rolled over for the Bush Administration post 9/11.

The most damning bit of evidence in the first hour is the now well-hyped 7 minutes that President Bush spends chatting with a classroom of children after the first two planes had been crashed into the World Trade Center. Now, I'm a pretty dyed in the wool liberal, and prior to now, even I had a hard time questioning the President's behavior in those first few minutes.

But seeing it happen ... well, it's hard not to question whether or not he was the right man for the job. He just sits there looking confused, his handlers not sure what to do. It's a pretty amazing sequence, and one of the most powerful of the first hour. The way Moore handles the actual tragedy of 9/11 is also masterful and quite tasteful.

The second hour of the movie is handled with very few appearances by Moore. It's predominantly footage of our troops in Iraq along with footage from Iraqis. It's alternately stirring, inspirational, depressing, tragic, and comic. You see the good and bad of our troops. You see the good and bad of the Iraqis. And you see the absolute tragedies of war (juxtaposed with some choice quotes from the Administration).

This portion of the movie also includes a mom from Flint, MI. whose son is in Iraq. You follow her from pride to worry to sorrow. It feels exploitative, but the message is a powerful one, and one that few people (thankfully) ever experience first hand.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is a pretty great op-ed, pretty great piece of propaganda, and incredibly well-timed movie. Selfishly, I hope that millions of folks see the movie and it helps them to make up their minds which way to vote come November.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Stupid Yahoo or Stupid Comcast or Stupid Akamai

Tons of people in the northeast who use Comcast can't get to Yahoo Mail/Fantasy Sports.

My laptop is one of the affected machines.

My desktop isn't.

Thank god. I've got a ton of fantasy deals that are pending, as I completely rework my team.

Anyway, the point of this is that this is one of the big reasons moving to internet services vs. fat clients is a bad idea. Someone flips a switch somewhere and all of a sudden you can't access X.

In this case, for me, it's a pretty minor thing. I really don't use Yahoo Mail for anything major. Fantasy sports are pretty much the only thing I care about on Yahoo. But for those folks who use Yahoo Mail as their primary mail account, this could be costing them business. Granted, they deserve it for using Yahoo Mail as their primary account, but still.

I will always choose to use a fat client over a web service. At least internet ISPs (and corporations running servers) figure out what they're doing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

As always, the moral is: I'm a dumbass.

Played softball with the company at a little outing today. Did pretty well for not swinging a bat in the past year or so.

Alas, didn't use any sunscreen on my arms or legs. So half of each arm and the tops of both my legs are radish-red.

Someday I'll remember that I'm Irish.

Yes, that's what we said. But it's not what we meant. Look over there, it's a bear.

Per Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo we have the morning White House press gaggle.

It's amazing. On the one hand, you've got the VP still saying that Iraq/Hussein and Bin Laden were working together. Scott McClellan (the Press Secretary) basically confirms this.

On the other hand, you've got the President who said that there was no link between Iraq/Hussein and Bin Laden. McClellan attemps to redirect this question into whether or not Iraq supported Palestinian terrorism, because you know, all Arabs are the same to this administration.

Oh, and the President has taken on an attorney to advise him in the matter of the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA work.

If only the Democrats had some sack, they'd be hauling his ass before Congress.

Wait - they tried that with the criminal Attorney General, who decided that the law didn't apply to him.

You seriously couldn't make up an administration this inept and corrupt. People would accuse you of going over the top. No one would believe it.

Hell, we're living it and I don't believe it.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Digging through the attic ...

Well, not so much digging through the attic as digging through the nooks and crannies of my computer.

I'm a packrat, both in the real world and digitally. For whatever reason, I decided to peruse some of the directories on my machine this evening. I started out looking for some pictures I had saved a few years back, but pretty quickly I got sucked into looking at obscurely named text files and trying to figure out what they are and why I saved them. It's amazing the memories that stream back as you're looking at a 7 or 8 year old email you saved.

I don't tend to save meaningless stuff. A lot of the stuff was web articles written about VT during our peak years in 96-99. A batch more were emails that were legitimately funny, as opposed to some of the ones that people claim are funny (like the lameass one with the Yankees and Red Sox jerseys - if you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about). Stuff like this is funny (I think I found this on a mailing list in 98):

The Top 16 Rejected Motel 6 Slogans

16. We're working on that smell thing, too.
15. Because you deserve better than the backseat of some car.
14. As seen on "COPS"
13. If We'd Known You Were Staying All Night, We'd Have Changed the Sheets
12. Not just for nooners anymore.
11. We left off the 9, but you know it's there.
10. You rented the room, now buy the video.
9. Sure, you could stay someplace nicer, but then you wouldn't have money left over for a hooker.
8. We'll leave the Lysol for ya!
7. Hey, we're not the Ritz, but just try banging your secretary there on *your* salary, pal!
6. We don't make the adultery. We make the adultery *better*
5. It's Hookerriffic!
4. Official Lodging of the 1998 Florida Marlins
3. Blurring the line between stains and avant garde sheet art since 1962!
2. Cheap and Easy -- Just Like Your Mother
and the Number 1 Rejected Motel 6 Slogan...
1. We put the "Ho" in "Motel"

Anyway, it was a fun jaunt down memory lane. And a welcome respite from trying to explain to folks why torture is bad and how it is perpetually amazing to me that the current administration still has a large portion of the American people fooled. But that's something for another day.