Friday, October 29, 2010

In Tim McCarver's Words: Game Two

The biblical tale of Cain and Abel held true Thursday night in San Francisco as Matt Cain was able.  Very able.  That is, able to get the Texas Rangers out.  One man who won't soon become a member of the Church of Cain, Josh Hamilton, used the bible to overcome substance abuse.

The early theme Thursday was zeroes.  As in no runs scored.  Cain and Rangers starter CJ Wilson were up to the challenge of world series pressure.  Like rice-a-roni, Thursday was a San Francisco treat.

The game nearly saw its first run when Ian Kinsler hit an 0-2 fastball deep to centerfield.  Tracking the ball far over his head, I was reminded of the Say Hey Kid, but it was Andres Torres, not Willie Mays.  Kinsler's ball hit the top of the fence and came back into the field!  A let.  As in, a tennis serve that strikes the top of the net.  Kinsler was playing doubles.  As in, his homerun turned into a double.

If baseball is a game of consistency, then the Rangers are indeed consistent but for the wrong reasons.  For the second straight night, the Rangers gave up a big inning, allowing the Giants to score a giant amount of runs in the eighth inning.  Baseball is a numbers game, and the Giants scored seven runs, in the eighth inning, for nine total runs.  Seven plus eight plus nine equals a Giants win.

There's an old baseball adage: the team that wins....scores more runs....than their opponent....who scored fewer runs....but they tried hard.  Indeed the Giants have the keys to success.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

In Tim McCarver's Words: Game One

Due to Tim McCarver's unique ability to unintelligibly deliver useless information about baseball he was hired by Fox as a sportscaster in 1996 to cover marquee baseball games, the playoffs and the World Series.  In a tribute to Tim's ability, the Homers will be recapping each game of the 2010 World Series in Tim McCarver's words. 

The game began with Elvis.  The reason I say that is because Elvis was the lead off batter for the Texas Rangers.  The Rangers were the visiting team so they bat first.  Interestingly, this was the first Elvis to ever play in the World Series, but it wasn't Elvis Aaron, it was Elvis Agosto, not from Tupelo but from Maracay--Venezuela.  The game ended with Brian Wilson, but it wasn't a beach boy it was a pirate with a gnarled, intimidating black beard.

The game figured to be a classic pitching duel between Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum.  The reason I say that is because Cliff Lee is a very, very good pitcher who chews up bats with his slider--like Mariano Rivera, one of the great bat breakers in the history of the game.  Also, Tim Lincecum is also a very, very good pitcher who is known for his unusual, uncomfortable looking pitching style.  Though he is known for his fastball, he also has a great change up, though change ups are much better for Lincecum when they go down.  So you can see why most people would have thought this was going to be a low scoring game dominated by pitching.

However, it was not.  This game was more about hitting and very alert at bats.  The Giants offense exploded for 11 runs--7 of them coming off the previously undefeatable Cliff Lee.  Freddy Sanchez led the way with 4 hits and 3 doubles, which interestingly, was exactly 3 times as many doubles as Cliff Lee had in the game.  I was reminded of the great Puerto Rican, Roberto Clemente.  The reason I say that is because Roberto Clemente wore the number 21 and so does Freddy Sanchez.  But unlike Roberto Clemente, Freddy Sanchez's number is retired at Burbank High School.  If you ask Freddy, which I have, he is very proud of that because of all the movie stars that went to Burbank High.

If you asked the Rangers if they thought seven runs would be enough to get a victory behind Cliff Lee, I think they probably would have said yes.  But tonight they needed more great ABs by Josh, the great power hitter from Texas who has a 10 point buck mounted over his locker. Or maybe the Rangers needed more big hits by Vladimir, whose very long, strong arms allow him to be one of the great bad ball contact hitters of all time.  
In the end, the Giants prevailed because they scored more runs than the Rangers.  Luckily for the Rangers the World Series is not about cumulative runs and they will have a clean slate tonight when they face Matt Cain--the big boy from Alabama with the rocket arm and dancing slider.    

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hijacked by the Economy

I think everyone can agree on is this: the most common word in usage during the past year is "economy."  Try to recount a conversation you had that didn't begin, end or get interrupted by "economy"?  Economy is always there, like that sensitive friend you need to coddle along so she won't get upset and ruin the night for everyone else; no matter what you do, it's always about her.

Now Economy has completely hijacked the government and the entire political discourse, and she's holding us all hostage until we deal with her needs.  To be fair, Economy does have some needs that need dealing, but that doesn't mean we need to set aside all our ideals, plans or legislation until Economy is happy.

Nowhere is the economy's hijacking more evident than in the text of California's Proposition 23.  Prop 23 goes by the name: "California Job's Initiative."  The goal of the California's Job Initiative is to suspend Assembly Bill 32, known as California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.  Basically, AB 32 requires California to lower its overall greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.   So, you ask, why would a jobs initiative attack a global warming solution act?

As the argument goes, when the bill was passed times were better and unemployment was down, so we could afford the luxury of addressing global warming and air pollution.  Now times are tough and unemployment is up so we can no longer afford that luxury.  Therefore, we need to suspend AB 32 until unemployment goes back down and we can afford the luxury again.

Any debate about jobs versus clean air aside, Prop 23 is a sad, deceptive attempt by oil companies to use the down economy to serve their own interest.  Prop 23 is primarily funded by Valero and Tesoro Texas oil companies which each have large refineries in California (Charles Koch has also chipped in some scratch).  Obviously California's ambitious clean air legislation affects oil companies' bottom line and they have a monetary interest in suspending it.  However, they're deceptively hijacking the down economy to promote their monetary interests.

No one should be inundated with messages that ask them whether they value clean air or jobs more because the two issues are not mutually exclusive.  To begin, that proposition relies on the assumption that strong clean air legislation does not create growth in emerging clean technologies and more jobs in the long term.  Moreover, the proposition assumes that money saved from ease of air pollution would be reinvested in more California jobs.  Either way the tactics behind Prop 23's promotion illustrate a tiresome message as we head into midterm elections:

Every issue not named economy must go to the back of the line, and any action not directly creating jobs necessarily takes them away.

I'm not about to say the economy does not need fixing.  In fact the economy demands fixing, and I think it demands government action.  However, instead of providing constructive solutions or ideas; people, groups, corporations, and government officials prey on fears about the economy to promote their own interests.  As a result, any prudent idea, plan, or legislation is easily hijacked and held hostage by accusations that it is bad for the economy.

After all, you can't have clean air without killing jobs too... right?

For more information on Prop 23 you might follow some of these links:

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Monday Roast: Mara Frisch

  1. You may love Challah, but you were never Hala.
  2. LULU: 44.21  UA: 47.25  NKE: 82.31
  3. What percentage of your clientele go home and realize, "Wait, I probably shouldn't own form fitting pants?"
  4. And your peer group.
  5. No matter how hard you try, you're going to be a Jewish mother.
Boom, roasted.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Giant Fight Finally Broke Out

For half of a season I've been observing the San Francisco Giants.  A team built around pitching and little else, I could not bring myself to become a fan.

I watched games in which their right fielder missed the cut-off man.  Three times.  I watched their self-serving closer with his ridiculous beard and moronic quotes somehow get the job done but never without some angst.  Seriously, who throws a 3-0 slider with a lead in the 9th?  I watched as the Panda went AB after AB without having a clue: he's hitting lefty with a runner on second and nobody out, watches a fastball in for a strike, waves at a breaking ball, then pops up.  Have a clue.  I watched as Andres Torres, the team's leadoff hitter, take the sombrero (4 strikeouts) ALL on fastballs out of the strike zone.  And by ALL I mean he swung and missed at eight (5 consecutive) fastballs up and out of the zone.  The same damn pitch.

For a team needing to scratch and claw for every run, they sure seemed content playing station-to-station and waiting for the three run homerun that no one could hit.  They relied on pitching and then the pitching relied on itself and in August, that just didn't work.

Giants baseball just wasn't a good watch.

Then the playoffs happened and the sexiest thing for a baseball fan in the playoffs is big time pitching performances.  How does opening the playoffs with 29 IP, 3 ER, 5 BB, 36 K out of your starting staff sound?  Sexy.  But I still wasn't a fan.

I became a fan - not just an observer but a fist pumping, jump-up-and-down-alone-in-your-living-room fan - when Pat Burrell, the now one-tool talent (power), went first to third on a flare down the left field line off the bat of uber-enfuego Cody Ross.  Standard Torture (the name given to the Giants' offense by the local paper) would call for Burrell to pull up at second.  Station-to-station.  Not that night.  Off the bat he was going to third.

Had I really just seen the Giants work to improve their own chance to score?  Indeed I had.  I was impressed and on board.

I'm not a Giants hater but I do need for my team to give the impression that they are gonna fight and when they punched back at the Phillies Wednesday night I saw something I hadn't seen before.  I saw a team not trying to belong but a team trying to win. 

The Giants followed with a double from struggling third baseman, Panda McChubby, and it was clear to me that this team had arrived. 

I don't necessarily need a winner but I need to see a fighter and, for the first and most important time this season, the Giants are fighting.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Roast: Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg

1.  You wouldn't storm out of your own house because your guest offended you at a dinner party.

2.  Bill O'Reilly might yell louder than both of you combined, but he would never walk out of the No Spin Zone.

3.  You're like the kids that threw rocks at the tiger and were surprised when he lept up at you.

4.  So much for your signed copy of "Pinheads and Patriots."

5.  If I order a hooker to my room, and she gets naked, would I storm out?

Booom, roasted.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

AB Gettin' Older

On the 26th anniversary of the birth of AB, here are 26 things you might want to know about him:

1.  In fifth grade, AB weighed the same as he does now (roughly).

2.  AB's father did not weigh 100 pounds until he was in college.

3.  The first time AB was inebriated he turned to BH and said, "[BH], I am intoxicated."

4.  AB was an accomplice to a severe assault on AB's younger brother's nipples.

5.  AB was once a Falcon stripper.

6.  AB spent an entire fall driving to Phoenix on Sundays before the sun came up.

7.  AB almost struck and killed a Cayolina.

8.  AB heard someone say, "I don't know where my pants are," and it didn't involve a sexual encounter.

9.  AB was inebriated before Hood to Coast.

10.  AB crushed Hood to Coast.

12.  In the company of the same man--on the same day--AB worked out; got smoothies; went to the Humane Society; made salsa, fish tacos and sangria; cleaned the pool shirtless; took a nap on the couch; and is happily straight.

13.  AB once called out his high school teammates on a high school baseball message board.

14.  AB spends every new years with a man who makes a living selling bugs.

15.  AB is desperately searching for a platonic male relationship in San Francisco.

16.  Shaun White once offered to pee on AB.

17.  AB knows "a Carroll."

18.  AB is a ferociously enthusiastic Karaoke singer.

19.  AB ran home in his boxers one time.

20.  AB played tennis for a year in high school because he was scared of the baseball coach.

21.  AB once arose at 3:15 in the morning, got fully dressed, put on sunscreen and then discovered the clock was wrong.

22.  AB deals in umbilical cords.

23.  AB owned a stick shift car before he knew how to drive stick.

24.  AB always has girl problems even when he doesn't.

25.  AB is a 6'4" blond hair, blue eyed Jewish male.

26.  AB is a cool dude.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

If I Were Mike Stoops.... (Oregon State Edition)

Tell you what, the Kool Aid tasted pretty good didn't it?  Ninth in the country, second best defense in FBS, ESPN filmin', Sports Illustrated writin', all of it.  Hell, the number nine national ranking.  The Kool Aid tasted great.

And I'm guilty.  I'm guilty of letting us all sip from that fat boy's jug.  Two weeks to prepare for a struggling offense and we let them march to the drum of 486 yards and 10/15 third down conversions.  That's not what the ninth best team in the country does.  That's not what championship teams do.

I'm going to wear this one boys.  I'm going to tell you that I let you down.  The staff and myself are going to wear this one and we're going to be the hardest working staff in football because that's what we're here to do and that's what you deserve.  Will you return that favor?

We recognize that we've got a special group here that can do special things.

We got punched in the mouth.  Yes, the proverbial punch in the mouth has left us a little shell shocked.  What now?  Welp, let's see what kinda character we've got.  Let's see what it means to us to have A-R-I-Z-O-N-A across our chest - or visor.

No one ever said it was going to be easy.  We're still going to play good football teams in tough places.  And we're going to have to stop people on third and louder-than-hell and we're going to have to score when the clock reads "impossible."

So let's get back to work, gentlemen, cause I'll be damned if a beaver's gonna ruin my season.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Monday Roast: Inappropriate Playing Surface Rushing

  1. Yay!  We beat the team we were supposed to beat.  Boom, roasted.
    • Ranked ASU and Stanford storm court/field as the only ranked team playing that day.
  2. ESPN's here.  Quick, let's be that school.  Boom, roasted.
  3. We're up by one touchdown with the other team in scoring position--let's rush the field.  Wait, did we just lose?  Boom, roasted.
  4. Can you name another situation when you would publicly admit you expected to fail when everyone else expected you to succeed?  Boom, roasted.
  5.  Let's go band!  We did it!  We won the gam...  Boom, roasted.

Friday, October 8, 2010

It's AB's Turn to Age

I will be celebrating my annual aging event with a karaoke party and I need some help.  As a Jewish male I am inherently a non-decision maker (see: Woody Allen films) and need the guidance of a trusted source.

That's where you come in.  Help me decide how to serenade the karaoke crowd.  Below are 5 options to be voted upon, the vote ticker is on the upper right corner of this page.  Vote and the winning song will be sung on Friday, October 15, at Festa Karaoke bar in Japantown, SF, CA, USA by me.  Maybe someone will record it and we'll post it here the following week.

The options:
  1. "Love Story" by Taylor Swift
    • A romantic classic, Swift captures the attention of love birds and tweens alike.  Her very real and impassioned lyrics (Romeo save me I've been feeling so alone/ I keep waiting for you but you never come) will have you crying, smiling, laughing, and crying again all in the course of a single song.  Ballad-ed by a gangly 6'5" guy will only heighten this emotional event.
  2. "I Belive in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness
    • High notes, Sea World clapping, and an eighties vibe: why wouldn't this song be an option?  This power ballad is always an audience favorite as it involves them.  Call and response is a guarantee for karaoke success and a surefire way to bring down the Japanese house.  
  3. "Escape (Escapar)" by Enrique Iglesias
    • A song that can only be sung from a place of pure love, Enrique captures the essence of what Mark Zuckerberg was going for with The Book: You can run you can hide but you can't escape my love.  Combined with expert interpretive dance, this is a song fit for a white guy to bring out his inner latino.
  4. "Mack the Knife" by Bobby Darin
    • A classic song that builds to a stunning crescendo likely to keep Japantown reeling for weeks.  Epitomizing cool and oozing with suave, this is for the performer's performer.  Bobby Darin would be proud to be on this list but never let you know it.
  5. Other
    • This is to be selected by you, the voter.  Submit your "Song's to Be Sung by Adam" in the comments below and, should your selection pick up enough steam, your song could be sung on Friday, 10/15 at the karaoke bar.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

America's Pastime Shines in Autumn

America has it's flaws.  We have a makeshift economy, divisive political lines, crumbling health, and failing education.  We buy things we can't afford and eat things we don't need.  America is great, but it ain't perfect.

Our pastime, baseball, sure ain't perfect either.  There's steroids and too many games and a diluted talent pool.  Baseball just isn't as compelling as it once was.

But then the leaves change and the air grows crisp.  We widdle the league down to eight teams and four weeks.  October baseball is where fifth starters become legends and Mendoza hitting shortstops create stories we'll tell our grandchildren.

I could sit here and try my best to write something dripping with beauty and romanticism to try and capture the magnitude and excitement of playoff baseball, but I couldn't do it justice.  Instead, I'll give you the best baseball prose I have ever read.  It was written by Jeff MacGregor.  Enjoy.

Here's the link:

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Monday Roast: Cyclists' Excuses

1.  You sleep in a hyperbaric chamber and train in a wind tunnel but you "accidentally ingested an illegal substance?"  Boom, roasted.

2.  Everyone assumes you're on drugs anyway, so quit wasting our time.  Boom, roasted.

3.  Now you all will be synonymous with Floyd "The creepiest effing excuse maker ever" Landis.  Boom, roasted.

4.  Unless there is a one-nut American battling back from cancer and backed by a ubiquitous Nike marketing campaign, you're irrelevant.  Boom, roasted.

5.  There's more money in baseball and the powers-that-be care far less.  Boom, roasted.