Sunday, July 31, 2005

Trade Deadline
Kyle Farnsworth goes from the Tigers to the Braves, while Matt Lawton moves from Pittsburgh to the Cubs and Randy Winn goes from Seattle to San Francisco.
Sadly, Casey Blake wasn't traded to New York, and the Indians stood their ground.
Kevin Millwood remains in Cleveland for the rest of the year, and realistically, this was a surprise. The Indians aren't going anywhere this year, not with the A's, Yankees and Twins ahead of them. But then again, if the Yankees were the only option, I'd rather have the Indians stand still. People have been wondering why the Yankees didn't do anything dramatic, but the fact is that even they have their limits. They also have erased the farm system in recent years to get veterans.
The results haven't been pretty.
Well, actually, by most standards they have, but the Yankees are not satisfied to be the second or third best team in the league.
So why would I want the Indians to trade Blake to the Yankees and not Millwood? Honestly, I'd have given Blake away.
(No sooner do I write those words than Blake smacks a homer down the left field line. I guess I ticked him off).
Poor Jody Gerut. It turns out that he was the other end of the Pirates-Cubs trade. When the Indians sent him to Chicago, you could at least say he was going to play for his hometown team and in the greatest ballpark in history.
Now he's going to Pittsburgh, a team that hasn't contended since Dan Quayle was vice president.
At least he'll be playing in a beautiful new ballpark.
How strange is it though that Gerut was traded to Chicago by the Indians, then sent to the Pirates for Matt Lawton, an Indian a year ago?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Great moments in work conversation
Zach: You know, I think I have movie star looks.

Darrell: Yes Zach, but most of your peers aren't old enough to remember Don Adams.

Indians All-Deadline Team
C Tyler Houston-1999
1B David Segui-2000
2B Jeff Kent-1996
SS Jose Vizciano-1996
3B Kevin Seitzer-1996
LF Coco Crisp- 2002
CF Grady Sizemore- 2002
RF Mark Carreon- 1996
P Ken Hill-1995
DH Harold Baines-1999
-All of these deals were made in either late June, or July. In some senses, the Bartolo for Sizemore deal happened pre-deadline, but it was a "white flag" trade for the Indians, so it qualifies.

The Aviator
This film proves Martin Scorsese to be the greatest living director in America today. Leonardo DiCaprio nailed Howard Hughes, and Cate Blanchett is perhaps best actress of the last ten years. I was never a DiCaprio fan, and while I loved Gangs of New York, I thought that had to do with Jim Broadbent and Daniel Day Lewis. I can't say that the supporting cast was the reason I enjoyed this film. Leo was terrific, Scorsese did what he does, and The Aviator was fantastic. ****

Friday, July 29, 2005

Cease Fire?
Hillary Clinton might think she can heal the rift between centrist Democrats and the far, far left like Michael Moore and the like. Others aren't so sure.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Indians clubhouse
In a Thursday night win over the Mariners, Indians fans were able to see what's right, what's wrong and what's in question with the Indians.
What's right
- The bullpen remains the strength of the team. Scott Sauerbeck gave up a 3-run homer tonight that tied the contest in the seventh, but the pen responded to the setback with two scoreless innings.
- Suddenly, Eric Wedge is using his bench. Brandon Phillips pinch runs in the seventh, and Jose Hernandez pinch hits and drives in a run with two down. The Indians manufactured the winning run with sound strategy after a misplayed double.
-Starting pitching (save C.C Sabathia) is doing what they need to do. Like the 1990 Reds, they can pitch into the seventh, leave with a lead, and rest assured the pen will take care of it. Most of the time.

What's Wrong
- Jhonny Peralta has been compared to Derek Jeter. Hitting-wise, that's true. But defensively, he's still not there. The popup that ended up costing Cliff Lee a victory should never happen at that level. The softball team that I play on would have been ashamed of such an error. Peralta and Ronnie Belliard did the unthinkable: they allowed someone else to go after the ball, rather than take charge. Sadly, they BOTH came to this conclusion.
Jhonny then threw a ball high to first in the ninth, giving the Mariners another chance to comeback.
I still think Peralta will eventually be shifted to third, a traditionally easier position.
-Casey Blake's continued presence in the lineup is becoming a running joke. He came up in the eighth with Phillips on third and one out, and struck out on three pitches. It's getting to the point where one has to think his presence in the clubhouse is so positive that pulling him from the lineup would lead to a mass revolt from the players.

What's in question
Jose Hernandez has been hitting better than a third of the Indians lineup, but still does not see playing time every day. I know he was brought in as a bench player, but can he really do worse than Blake or Dubois?
-Why is Brandon Phillips on the roster? Yes, Wedge deserves marks for inserting him as a pinch runner, but this much is clear:
A) He's not going to get many at-bats.
B) He looks totally unprepared at the major league level. He batted in the ninth, saw three pitches, swung at all of them and retreated to the dugout.

Today I went for a walk as the sun was rising. The temperature was under 60 degrees, amazing when you consider how hot it was all week. Walking past the fields that surround my dwelling, there was something amazing.
There was was fog, almost rising from the fields, with the sun coming up behind. In the background, a train was rushing to its next destination.
In the summer, I have times to notice these things. To notice just how beautiful the world can be.

Song quote of the day
Another day
Another night
I long to hold you tight
Cause I'm so lonely
Baby I need your lovin'
Got to have all your lovin'-- The Four Tops

Interesting column
On U.S.-Muslim relations.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"That pitch is up high ... or, in the dirt, excuse me."-- Indians Broadcaster Matt Underwood.

Bush is Brilliant
So says Dick Morris, on the John Roberts selection. Morris says that Bush has completely foiled the Democrats, and more specifically, Hillary Clinton. Morris has a very interesting past with the Clintons. More than that, everyone knows who Hillary Clinton is. Yet, Dick still puts (D-NY) next to her name. Weird.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

An entire day passes, and I forget to wish a happy birthday to the best Rock and Roll front man ever, to the best Rock and Roll band ever.
Mick Jaggar turned 62 today, and he is still living the life of a rock star. That's not really criticism, because I think Mick stands as a sort of symbol to the times, proof that you can be in rock and not die young and leave a beautiful corpse.
That's not to say that Mick has had a clean living existance. But he has survived, and continues to rule.

Song quote of the day
When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain
when you're strange
No one remembers your name
when you're strange --The Doors

Monday, July 25, 2005

Gone most of the day, but
13-4? Are the Indians that inferior to the A's?
Hey, wha happen?*

Hat tip, Fred Willard.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The events of the past few years have allowed many of us to re-evaluate what the term "hero" means. It is no longer a term that can just be tossed around.
The firefighters and police officers that performed with such bravery on 9-11 showed the world what the term means. The men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq also have shown what it means.
I have always said my parents were my heroes. I still believe that.
The reason I write about this is to point out that athletes are not heroes -- at least not for what they do in competition.
I love sports; it's a big part of what I do for a living. But the athletes I cover are not heroes, and the athletes on the national stage are not heroes.
But there are exceptions.
Here's one.

Four Divisions
Ah, Sussman and his insane attention to detail. Suss breaks down what it would be like if baseball existed in a pre-1994 world, with today's teams.
Interestingly enough, the Indians' chances wouldn't change much. They'd actually be closer, much closer, to a division title. Also, Chicago wouldn't be running away with the title in the West.
Oh, for the days.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Song quote of the day
We're caught in a trap
I can't walk out
because I love you too much baby --Elvis

Reds deal Randa ... to Padres
The Indians appear less and less like a buyer, but Joe Randa was a guy who actually fit what Indians GM Shapiro was looking for -- a middle of the order right handed bat. In addition, ESPN reports the Padres have sent Phil Nevin to Baltimore for Sidney Ponson. That deal has to be approved by Nevin, and it's far from a sure thing.
Back in 2002, the Reds had Ken Griffey dealt straight up for Nevin, only to have him veto the deal.
As for Cincinnati, their season is over, mostly due to an atrocious road record. At present, the Reds have the few road wins in baseball (11). What's amazing is their home record is better than many so-called "contenders" (30-24).
The Reds built a team for the Great American Small Park. Sadly, the team isn't built for anywhere else.
I would be surprised if the Reds are done unloading.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Casey at the Bleh
He's 0 for 5 today, striking out with the tying and winning runs on base to and the game. I'd like any of the readers out there (you know, family members and the occasional "next blog" clicker, and of course Erik, Aaron, Sussman, the Vasavada clan) to give me one, ONE positive Casey Blake stat. And no, his 11 homers don't count. Not after hitting 28 last season and fooling everyone (well not everyone, really just the Indians brass) into thinking he was a Major League player.

Bush Doctorine Jeffersonian?
Hitchens examines.

Song Quote of the day
I guess I'll never know
the reason why
you love me as you do
that's the wonder
the wonder of you-- Elvis

-Long live the King.

Last evening, my friend Vivek and I made the two and a half hour trip to Pittsburgh to see the Pirates play the Rockies.
The trip had little to do with the teams involved. The Rockies haven't contended since 1995 and the Pirates since three years before that.
No, the trip had more to do with PNC park, which had been called the best of the new ballparks by many.
I have been to Jacobs Field (obviously), The Great American Ballpark, and Comerica, but I have to say this Stadium is the nicest. It's location is near perfect, the park itself is charming, and the food is ridiculously overpriced.
Wait, that's not a good thing.
The Pirates won 8-3, thanks to a strong pitching effort by Zach Duke. The group of fans behind us (we were seated in the left field bleachers) said they didn't want him to get too good. Then, they feared, the Pirates would deal him.
Ah, reality.
Casey Blake stat of the day
The Indians outfielder is 2 for 30 with runners in scoring position and two outs. Bill Livingston of the Plain Dealer pointed that out in an article this morning, saving me from near insanity.
Blake has been awful all season, but no one seemed to be talking about it, focusing instead on Aaron Boone.
I felt like Will Ferrell in Zoolander, who said, "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!"

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Song quote of the day
Sooner or later
love is gonna get ya
sooner or later
love is gonna win --The Grass Roots

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"Jose Lima is having a horrible year,"-- Tom Hamilton, prior to tonight's 5-3 loss to Lima and the Royals.
It wouldn't be fair or correct for me to assume the Indians' effort during the current stretch (11 losses in 13 games) is any less than it was a few weeks ago. But I do wonder, why.
Why have the Indians been held to three runs or less in all but two of the games since the break?

Why has C.C Sabathia been pitching the worst baseball of his career?

Why are the Indians still counting on Casey Blake,who has not been good at all this season? At least Aaron Boone is coming back from injury. Blake got two hits tonight, but hit into a double play with the bases loaded, and struck out with two in scoring position late. He just continues to frustrate.

I like Aaron Boone, but ... ah, why join the pack?

Why did the Indians deal the only solid left hand bat on their bench for a guy who looks exactly like Blake and Boone at the plate?

Why is Brandon Phillips looking so lost at the plate? What exactly has happened to Phillips since he was all but promised stardom by people like Peter Gammons?
The Indians are four games back in the wild card. If history is any indication, the Tribe will likely run off 10 straight wins, take over the wild card, then watch the bats go silent again as the team finishes at .500.

Personally, I think the Indians ought to go into seller mode. Yes, they are four games back, but they're in sixth place in the standings for the spot. And one of the teams ahead of them is New York, who will likely do something in the next eleven days.
There are two schools of thought on the Indians. You're either satisfied with the progress or bitterly disappointed.
Being that I predicted the Indians to win the World Series this season, count me in the latter group.
But don't blame fans for the high expectations. They are just following what Dolan and company told them when they parted with Robbie, Bartolo and Jim Thome.
"Wait till 2005," they said.
"Trust us."
It was foolish, in retrospect, and I can't blame Shapiro, who likely got his orders from above. The Indians payroll is at 42 million this season. The payroll might field a contender if the players are reaching the high levels of their potential, but many aren't there yet.
One year from now, we could be discussing playoff tickets. The whole plan is by no means a failure.
But this season is beginning to look like a repeat of last year. Better, but not there.
Not yet.

Rosenhaus a hero
Does this mean I have to stop disliking him? Damn.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Find the cost of freedom
True repression is found here. There is, of course, two sentences in this story that are striking:
Last week, a separate letter from 33 Iranian intellectuals urged the U.N. secretary-general, Kofi Annan, to intervene personally. When asked about Mr. Ganji on Wednesday by the Sun, the secretary-general said he did not know enough about the dissident's case to take a stand.
Kind of sums up the man, I think.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Gerut traded
A smart and good man was shown the door today as the Indians made their second trade of the season.
I was always skeptical about Jody Gerut. I liked his effort and enthusiasm, but wondered if his first season was a fluke. Jody led the Indians in 2003 with 22 homers and 75 runs batted in, but I had to ask if he was more than a bench player who had a great first year before pitchers adjusted to him.
My negativity about the Indians at that time was pretty strong -- I referred to Gerut as "Listache" to friends, thinking him little more than a one-year wonder.
His power numbers dropped last season,as the lefty managed 11 homers.
Towards the end of last season, he suffered a major injury and missed the first several weeks of 2005.
He leaves the team hitting .275, but has played only occasionally and has not hit for any power (one homer). While originally critical of Gerut, I recently became one of his biggest supporters. This happened when I realized the alternative to Gerut was Casey Blake.
Good luck with the Cubs, Jody.
Gerut's replacement is Jason Dubois, who is hitting .239 with seven homers. Like Blake, he is a right handed hitter. He has driven in 22 runs, just seven fewer than the Indians starter, but in far fewer games.
Indians GM Mark Shapiro is said to be high on Dubois because of his strong run production in the minor leagues.
The deal means that the Indians bench consists of right handed utility man Jose Hernandez, switch-hitting infielder Brandon Phillips, catcher and switch-hitter Josh Bard, and Dubois.
Of course, Dubois could come in and start in right, but that would mean Blake or Boone to the bench, which is something the Indians have refused to accept so far.
Can someone explain to me how Laz Diaz, who's the home plate umpire, has a better view of a play at first than the first base umpire, Dana DeMuth? Lou Pinella's outburst was hilarious, but completely justified.

Song quote of the day
One step ahead of the shoe shine
Two steps away from the county line
I just try to keep my customer satisfied -- Simon and Garfunkel

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Tiger wins the British Open. I had TIVO'd the Sports Reporters today, but as soon as John Saunders started talking about how "tough" Tiger Woods was, I turned it off.
Stop with the hype already. Tiger is the best golfer of his generation, but he's not tough.
Lance Armstrong is tough.
Eric Davis was tough.
John Kruk (much as I dislike him as an on-air talent) was tough.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Finishing up
As I write this, the Indians trail the White Sox 6-0.
Erik wrote, and I had hoped, that the Indians would respond from a poor series and the all-star break by coming out of it with solid play.
It hasn't happened.
Through 22 innings against the White Sox, the tribe has been held to one run. If nothing else, I think this proves Eddie Murray was not at fault for the team's offensive struggles.
But it's more than that. Let's look at the Indians outfield.
Report Card
Casey Blake
.223 10 29
Whatever the Indians see in this guy, it's lost on me. I know Blake hit 28 homers a year ago, and I am just as certain he's a great guy.
But like Aaron Boone, he's just not producing.
He has decent enough power numbers, but he;s only driven in 29 runs. He's not all that good defensively.
Basically, I don't get it. He was a career minor leaguer before 2002, and has been at best, average.
What irritates me most is that Blake is always usually playing, despite rarely getting his average above .230.
I had a theory that Blake might have compromising photos of someone in the Indians front office. That's the only reason I understand why he has gotten so many at-bats while Jody Gerut remains in reserve.
Grade: D

Jody Gerut
.273 1 11
Coming off an injury, Jody is hitting for average, but little else. Still, he's a great defensive player and has just 128 at-bats. I think he'd produce better than Blake, if given more at-bats.
Grade: C

Grady Sizemore
.282 9 40
Gray had been on fire and looked unstoppable a couple of weeks ago, before going into a slump. Still, it's hard to judge the 22-year old too harshly, considering he has produced way above expectations and will likely be an all-star for years to come. He's a five tool player, and it won't be long before he's slapping the ball around again.

Coco Crisp
.292 8 33
He's been outstanding this season in just about every instance. He hits, runs and plays good defense. At one time, I believed he was a fourth outfielder.
Offensively, Crisp reminds me of Barry Larkin, who hits, has speed but also has the ability to go deep.
Coco deserves credit for his ability to do all that has been asked.
Grade: B-

Juan Gonzalez, Ryan Ludwick
Grade: INC.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

That's Chicago's record against the AL Central this season. It's why they have dominated the division to this point, and why they will continue to dominate.

Country free agency
I thought the idea of a world classic for baseball was stupid, though I wasn't sure why I felt that way.
Now I know why.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A few posts ago someone close to me asked for my thoughts on Karl Rove and the latest situation surrounding him.
If Rove did, in fact, leak the name, then I would hope and expect that the President follow up on his pledge to fire the culprit.
At the same time, I am not going to jump on this train quite yet. Andrew Sullivan, who is quite hard (but mostly fair) to the administration at times, posted this on his blog:
I'd say it would be prudent for all journalists to be very careful in speculating about the Rove-Plame thingy. We don't know enough to know anything for sure.
That's pretty much how I feel. If more comes out, I will comment further.
Still, Rove is not a "Golden Boy" for the GOP. No chief of staff has ever reached that status.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

All-star game
Suss has done the unthinkable, blogging the entire game on Blogcritics. I couldn't have done such a selfless act. I found when I watched the game that I just got more and more irritated at certain things.
Kenny Rogers
The game took a rather strange tone when Mr. Rogers came into the neighborhood. Watching the announcers give Rogers credit for "standing up" and "taking responsibility made me want to throw a brick through the screen.
Rogers assaulted someone for no reason. For no reason. At least Ron Artest was provoked before getting violent.
Then, Rogers waited nearly a week before giving a rather strange apology, all the while going without a suspension. Which brings another point: if he really felt that bad about what he had done, why appeal it? Does he really think he has reason to get the suspension reduced?
Then he selfishly goes to the All-Star Game. Never mind that he was a distraction, pretending like he "owed" his presence to the players that voted him in. He put a man in the hospital, and he served no punishment.
Move on, the announcers are saying. I refuse.
I won't stop writing about this until Rogers actually SERVES a suspension. He shouldn't be given credit because he was an (kids turn away) asshole, when five seconds of forethought would have prevented the whole thing.
Ron Artest was gone after what he did, but in some ways, what he did wasn't as bad.
That may strike some as extreme, given the mayhem Artest helped to cause.
And make no mistake, Artest acted like a thug, and a dangerous one.
But Artest was provoked. Rogers just went after someone because he could.
Bob Wickman
It's nice to see the pressure of the game didn't affect Bob Wickman. He came in with a four-run lead, threw five pitches and eventually was charged with a run.
Bud Selig
"It's a pleasure ... to give the MVP, named after the greatest hitter whoever lived, and presented by Chevrolet ..."
I don't know how Bud Selig gets around so much, considering his spine has been missing since 1994.
In Memory
Like Suss, I thought it was a nice gesture to play the British National Anthem at the beginning of the game. Baseball is so minor in comparison.
Did Vince McMahon produce the intros or something? What was with the pyro and coming out from behind a curtain? We don't need a ramp. We have a dugout.

Erik on Rogers.

Many will likely jump on Gary Sheffield for his latest bit of ... well, whatever.
Still, if nothing else, Sheffield deserves credit for his honesty. There is no way he's the only one who won't play in the world cup that baseball has made up. I also venture to say he's not the only one who thinks about giving less than 100 percent on the field when they're unhappy.
Sheffied just says it. No one else does.
I wouldn't want Sheffield on my team, but give him points for honesty.

Kelly Copowski gets married ... CNN had round the clock coverage
In other news, Dustin Diamond got a traffic ticket and Dennis Haskins was arrested for impersonating a principal.
Seriously, THIS is on the front page? Wow. Next week they'll be following the social exploits of Michael Cade from "California Dreams."

In response to Erik's comments below, I like the signing of Hughes in the sense that the Cavaliers needed to improve ... period, and Hughes will make them better. At the same time, I think the deal was in some way an attempt to do something -- anything -- in the offseason.
But as Erik said, Hughes is no Kevin Ollie. I like Hughes' numbers, but the Cavs have pretty much never nailed a big free agent signing, so there's a big reason to be cynical.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Z to stay with Cavs
This is an interesting move, albeit an expected one. Danny Ferry and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are tight. But I still think the team would have been better off allocating their resources elsewhere.

Top five reasons you can't blame ...
Me for not watching the show. In truth, there are two reasons for avoiding ESPN's latest "list" show. I think we've reached a point in society where we no longer exist in the present. We just talk in the present about the existence of the past.
Well, at least in sports. And pop culture. And CNN. And on this site.
Look, I will avoid any show that asks me to sympathize with Art Modell. I don't hate the man, but I just can't see his perspective.
That's the first reason I don't watch it.
The second is pure english.
I can't blame someone? Uh, I can blame anyone for anything.
I can blame my hearing the song "You Light Up My Life" on my belief that there is, in fact a hell.
I just choose not to. I think.
The show should be called "You shouldn't Blame ..."
A least that would make sense

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Indians Report Card: Shortstop
Jhonny Peralta
.297 11 33
I bet you thought I had forgotten, or perhaps, stopped caring.
Jhonny Peralta had perhaps the most daunting task in recent Cleveland sports history: He had to replace Omar Vizquel.
Sure, the fair-minded pointed out that Jhonny couldn't replace Omar, and while they were right, they forget the greater point: Jhonny Peralta was Omar's replacement. Every time Peralta made an error, the fan, whether said or not, thinks, perhaps without intention: Omar'd have made that.
Such realities are regrettable. It's why the Doors didn't replace Jim Morrison.
But Peralta has done better than anyone could have hoped offensively. He is better at the plate now than Omar was in his final years.
Defensively, there is of course, no comparison. Unlike in Cincinnati, where the Reds brought up shortstop in waiting Felipe Lopez to replace Barry Larkin, there is some question whether Peralta is a shortstop at all.
With Brandon Phillips now in Cleveland, there might be reason to believe he will soon be at short. Jhonny may be playing third by this time next year.
Grade B+

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Ron Reagan v. Christopher Hitchens
Note to Ron Reagan. If you are going to have Christopher Hitchens on your show,and want to debate him, you better be ready.
Though I am not sure you can call this a debate:
From radio blogger
RR: Christopher, I'm not sure that I buy the idea that these attacks are a sign that we're actually winning the war on terror. I mean, how many more victories like this do we really want to endure?

CH: Well, it depends on how you think it started, sir. I mean, these movements had taken over Afghanistan, had very nearly taken over Algeria, in a extremely bloody war which actually was eventually won by Algerian society. They had sent death squads to try and kill my friend Salman Rushdie, for the offense of writing a novel in England. They had sent death squads to Austria and Germany, the Iranians had, for example, to try and kill Kurdish Muslim leaders there. If you make the mistake that I thought I heard you making just before we came on the air, of attributing rationality or a motive to this, and to say that it's about anything but itself, you make a great mistake, and you end up where you ended up, saying that the cause of terrorism is fighting against it, the root cause, I mean. Now, you even said, extraordinarily to me, that there was no terrorist problem in Iraq before 2003. Do you know nothing about the subject at all? Do you wonder how Mr. Zarqawi got there under the rule of Saddam Hussein? Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal?

RR: Well, I'm following the lead of the 9/11 Commission, which...

CH: Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal, the most wanted man in the world, who was sheltered in Baghdad? The man who pushed Leon Klinghoffer off the boat, was sheltered by Saddam Hussein. The man who blew up the World Trade Center in 1993 was sheltered by Saddam Hussein, and you have the nerve to say that terrorism is caused by resisting it? And by deposing governments that endorse it?

RR: No, actually, I didn't say that, Christopher.

CH: At this stage, after what happened in London yesterday?

RR: What I did say, though, was that Iraq was not a center of terrorism before we went in there, but it might be now.

CH: How can you know so little about...

RR: You can make the claim that you just made about any other country in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.

CH: Absolutely nonsense.

RR: So do you think we ought to invade Saudi Arabia, where most of the hijackers from 9/11 came from, following your logic, Christopher?

CH: Uh, no. Excuse me. The hijackers may have been Saudi and Yemeni, but they were not envoys of the Saudi Arabian government, even when you said the worst...

RR: Zarqawi is not an envoy of Saddam Hussein, either.

CH: Excuse me. When I went to interview Abu Nidal, then the most wanted terrorist in the world, in Baghdad, he was operating out of an Iraqi government office. He was an arm of the Iraqi State, while being the most wanted man in the world. The same is true of the shelter and safe house offered by the Iraqi government, to the murderers of Leon Klinghoffer, and to Mr. Yassin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. How can you know so little about this, and be occupying a chair at the time that you do?

RR: I guess because I listen to the 9/11 Commission, and read their report, and they said that Saddam Hussein was not exporting terror. I suppose that's how, Christopher.

CH: Well, then they were wrong, weren't they?

RR: No, maybe they just needed to listen to you, Christopher.

CH; Well, I'm not sure that they actually did say that. What they did say was they didn't know of any actual operational connection...

RR: That's right. No substantive operational connection.

CH: ...which was the Iraqi Baath Party and...excuse me...and Al Qaeda. A direct operational connection. Now, that's because they don't know. They don't say there isn't one. They say they couldn't find one. But I just gave you the number, I would have thought, rather suggestive examples.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Baseball gives and it takes away. The Indians' loss to New York last night was perhaps the most frustrating of the year. Suddenly, the team that could do no wrong a week ago can't get anything right.
Get two on, and the grounder heads to second. Need to hold a lead, there's a leadoff walk.
In the last two games, Cleveland has looked overmatched by New York. You had to think manager Eric Wedge believed the situation was hopeless -- trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth he brought in Bob Wickman. Part of Wedge must have been relieved when the Indians left the tying run at third in the ninth.
You have to believe that part of the reason Cleveland fans are slow to buy into this club, is because it can tease you.
After getting within a game of Minnesota last year by winning six straight, the Indians freefall out of the race.
This season, the Tribe wins nine straight, only to get swept by Boston. They then win 10 of 12 on the road and two straight vs. Detroit, then drop four straight.
After scoring 13 runs in two games against the Tigers, Cleveland has failed to put up more than four in each of the last four games.
The struggles intensify because it's the Yankees, who are the only team less predictable than Cleveland.
Losing to the Yankees, at least for me, is double the irritation. No matter what the Indians do, you can always take some joy in a New York loss.
Games like this make it impossible to enjoy the MLB.

Sullivan's site has this nugget:
The BBC's original references to "terrorist" bomb attacks seem to have now been removed from the news service's material.

It would seem that using the term "militants" or even "insurgants" is inappropriate for those behind the acts in London, Iraq, Spain or New York. Some believe using a term like "terrorism" passes judgement, which may somehow place a bias on the reporting.
But it would also seem that describing what occurred in London cannot be done without using the "T" word.
The terrorists put in a plan specifically to kill innocents. Their hope was to disrupt the British way of life through fear.
That's terrorism.
Of course, terrorism also occurs daily to those just trying to live their lives in Iraq.
It's one of the few words for it.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Hitchens on 7-7
Here and here.

Indians Report Card: Third Base
Aaron Boone
.198 9 29
This is where writing a midterm report card gets hard.
Like my algebra teachers in high school who liked me as a person but had no choice but to fail me for substandard performance, I bring to the reader the case of Aaron Boone.
Aaron Boone, coming into this season, had never hit .300, never hit more than 26 homers in a season, and never drove in more than 96 runs. He has been an average player; rarely an all-star level performer.
Off the field, Boone IS an all-star. He is by all accounts a wonderful human being who has character and is a leader in the clubhouse. He did us all a favor by telling Hal McCoy not to retire, and it was a sad day in Cincinnati when he was traded.
Because of this, I have not wanted to be too critical of him. You had to hope his slow start was just that. But as April turned to May and May became June, the reasons to be patient began to wear thin.
Boone would have three-day spurts where it looked like he was coming out of it, then be right back where he started.
The funny thing is, Boone's power numbers are about what you'd expect. He has hit nine, and is on pace to drill 17. But he will also only drive in 55 runs, a number small for a corner position.
Boone has not been too high above .200 this year, and unless he can find something at the plate, expect Casey Blake to take over at third more often. Great.
Boone, of course, did have his second reconstructive knee surgery, and with that in mind, I can't fail him.
Here's hoping for a better second half Aaron, you certainly deserve it.
Grade: D

Indians Report Card: Second base
Ronnie Belliard
284 8 34
Somewhat surprisingly, the Indians brought back Belliard, instead of surrendering the territory to Brandon Phillips. So far, that decision cannot be criticized. Belliard has batted everywhere from leadoff to fifth in the order, and has played solid defense.
The potential exists, of course, for another second half dropoff. Belliard wasn't quite as sharp in the second half last season, and is a .271 lifetime hitter.
To this point, however, Belliard has been what he was last season. The Indians front office has to be pleased with that.
Grade: B+

This is the part where I would have graded Alex Cora, but Cleveland shipped him to Boston today, without a middle infielder (on the big league roster) to replace him.

July 7
"It's important ... that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people and a desire to impose extremism on the world," a clearly shaken Blair told the world.

"Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilizations in the world."
-- Tony Blair
Thoughts and prayers go out to those who are suffering in this difficult time. The world stands with you.
God Bless Great Britain.
Andrew Sullivan is keeping tabs. The British continue to amaze.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

My Tribe report card: 1B
Not to steal Erik's thunder; long-time readers may remember I did this last year. This time I will break it up by position.
First Base
Ben Broussard : .258; 9; 36.
Broussard reminds me of Hal Morris of the Reds some 10 years ago. He was servicable, somewhat consistent, but not an all-star. He is a strak hitter, so his stats will always average out, but also likely reflect what he did in the last week and a half of the season. He could finish a .280 or .250 hitter; neither is a stretch.
Grade: B-

Jose Hernandez: .236; 3; 16.
I actually believe Hernandez could be a major asset down the stretch. The key is playing time. If he could get more, he could be effective. At the moment, he hasn't been able to stay loose. It's also important to note that the only way he gets playing time is if the Indians give up on Aaron Boone.
Grade: C.

Saddam the Author
From Christopher Hitchens' latest:
Saddam Hussein was so deluded and deranged during the final days of his despotism that he spent time writing, or dictating, another of his pulp novels. Titled Get Out Damned One—hardly a polite way of suggesting a date for withdrawal—the adventure story invokes a mythic Arab hero who "invades the land of the enemy and topples one of their monumental towers." More wish-thinking, I dare say.

Nothing to add to this.

Erik's Tribe Report Card
Check it out.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Zach the Slugger
An interesting thing about being a sportswriter: You write about other people doing things. One thing I always practiced as a professional writer was not to be too critical of athletes.
The blog is another story, but ...
Anyway, here's why that is.
I play on my company's softball team. I had not played with any regularity for over 10 years. Normally, I just show up, bat, occasionally catch, and that's it.
Oh yeah, I have not been able to hit.
At all.
Coming into today, I had five at-bats, and I had made five outs. In fact, I had yet to hit the ball past the pitcher.
Today I played again. I was the designated hitter, batting 11th out of 11 batters.
In my first at-bat, I popped up to the pitcher.
In the second at-bat, tried something different -- batting right handed, something I hadn't done since I was 11. My swing on the first pitch was so god awful I immediately switched back to left.
Then, it happened.
I slapped at the ball and pulled it to second.
Off to the races.
I hustled my way to first, and reached when the second baseman (bless his heart) bobbled the ball. My teammates, perhaps out of shock, cheered me on.
Then I stood at first and realized that I hadn't been able to the run bases in a long while. I looked out at second base and wondered if I could reach it. I moved to second on a grounder, which was the second out.
Scoring position.
The next batter got a base hit, and I bumbled to third.
See, here's the thing.
You need to slow up when approaching third. You can't run through it unless you're expecting to score. The third base coach tells you to stop, and you slow up so you can stop. Even the most rudimentary baserunner knows his. It's natural.
This is what entered my mind as I hit the bag and kept on chugging.
As the spirits of Jackie Robinson, Vada Pinson and Joe Jackson covered their eyes in disgust, I stopped, and tried to slide back into third.
But I hadn't slid since Clinton was president -- in the first term.
Forgetting the basic principle of a slide, I forced myself to fall, then move towards the bag.
It was a version of the slide -- in the way that Pat Boone is considered by some a version of rock 'n' roll.
Most of the team at this point wanted to make sure I hadn't pulled something.
OK. Two outs, I'm on third.
The next batter shot a base hit and I took off for home. As I approached the plate, I envisioned myself scoring the run and enjoying the moment.
As I approached home, a teammate of mine said "You're in easy."
For some reason, I was distracted by this, scored, then tripped and fell -- again.
My knee was now officially scraped and I was bleeding.
Every time I decide to criticize a player, I hope this event pops into my head.
Luckily, I will always have this post as a reminder.

Song quote of the day
Let's stay together
loving you whether
times are good or bad
happy or sad-- Al Green

Tribe Thoughts
The Indians drew 33,000 to yesterday's second game against the Tigers, perhaps because hot dogs were a dollar. It made me wonder why hot dogs can't be one dollar all the time. Why does it cost $4 for those things anyway? Is the hot dog industry in crisis?
Watching yesterday's game was enjoyable, particularly in the bottom of the eighth. Coco Crisp's inside-the-park homer reaffirmed my belief that such a play is the most exciting in baseball. Then Travis Hafner, apparently angry at not being taken to the all-star game, slammed his third homer of the day deep into the right field seats.
Also, one must mention the fact that yesterday's game was shown without commercials. Instead, the breaks were filled with thank you's and well-wishes to the troops overseas.
The thought that hit me was that regardless of how one feels about the war in Iraq, the reality is this: We have a volunteer army in this country. If so many wonderful people didn't make such a great sacrifice, we couldn't and wouldn't be free.
We owe so much to the troops overseas and at home.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Live 8
Great moments in family TV:

The BBC has apologized to outraged viewers after stars including Madonna and Snoop Dogg peppered their performances with swear words at Saturday's UK Live 8 gig. The British broadcaster was bombarded with complaints when the "Ray Of Light" singer bellowed, "Are you f**king ready, London?" to a stunned family crowd in London's Hyde Park. Meanwhile, rap star Snoop Dogg made no attempt to clean up his expletive-riddled lyrics. A BBC spokesperson says, "We have received a number of complaints regarding offensive language. Unfortunately it is a live broadcast, passions are running high and many celebrities are emotional. We apologize to anyone who is offended."

Hey, loving parents, when you see Madonna, the author of songs such as Like a Virgin and Snoop Dogg on the bill, just assume it's not a kids show.
Sure, Madonna and Snoop Dogg could have and should have shown better judgement, but the offended should have as well.

Song quote of the day
God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.-- Irving Berlin

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Congratulations to the Indians' lone all-star. The Reds also had one selection, Felipe Lopez, whose season is amazing when you consider who he replaced.
When the Indians re-signed Wickman, I thought it was a borderline ridiculous signing. His first outing in Chicago was justification to me of my position. He blew a three run lead without recording an out, then lost.
But since then, Bob has been perhaps the best closer in the American League. It proves, once again, that I am wrong a lot. It also proves that Mark Shapiro is a very smart general manager, and he deserves a lot of credit.
Not just for Wickman, but for Peralta and Sizemore, who have each been crucial in the turnaround.
Bret Boone was designated for assignment today by the Mariners. It has not been a good year for the Boone brothers on the field. While Aaron is still below .200, Brett is having perhaps the worst season of his career. He has hit seven homers, but is hitting just .231. Compared to Aaron, that's good, but the Mariners decided they could no longer keep him on the roster.
They wanted to rid themselves of him so badly they will eat some eight million dollars, the amount left on his contract.
Someone will no doubt pick him up, but at 36, one has to wonder what remains in the veteran that began his career in Seattle some 11 years ago.

Bush killing Indians' Business
According to ESPN's Peter Gammons:
What's sad about Cleveland's emergence as a wild-card threat is that the Indians are 28th in the majors in attendance despite a terrific young team. The boom of the '90s was, in many ways, the Perfect Storm -- no football team, bad Cavs, an exciting home run team with stars and a good economy. Now the Browns are back, LeBron James is in town and the economy is in the tank, as the state lost more than 280,000 jobs in the first four years of the Bush Administration.

Yeah, it's BUSH'S fault. If John Kerry were elected, the Indians would be packing them in. In fact, I don't think Bill Clinton has gotten enough credit for the 455 consecutive sellouts in the 1990s. Forget Bob Feller, let's build a statue of CLINTON at Jacobs Field.

All-Star Predictions
The Indians are far better right now than a year ago, but unlike last season, I don't see many Clevelanders on the squad.
Looking at last year's selections, Matt Lawton is in Pittsburgh, C.C Sabathia has been average at best, Jake Westbrook has a poor win-loss record, Ronnie Belliard has been very good, but not quite as good, and Victor Martinez -- despite a 14-game hitting streak, is hitting only .242.
So let's break it down:

Bob Wickman: Somehow lost in the reality that you never feel safe when he pitches, is the fact that Wickman hasn't given up many runs. He has a 2.61 ERA, and an AL-leading 22 saves.

Arthur Rhodes: Take out Boston, and Arthur's ERA is below one. He, along with Wickman, is the reason for the Indians turnaround in the pen. In 31 innings, Rhodes has allowed six earned runs. And he can't close? Ah well, the Indians don't need a closer now.

Cliff Lee: He's 8-3, and has a six-run lead in the second today. This means nothing in the band box that is Camden Yards. Plus, Lee has had some very bad starts this year. Closer to a long shot, I think, despite an all-star worthy record.

Grady Sizemore: He hits .298, has eight homers, can run, can field and has been one of the Indians MVPs. But in a high profile position, the quasi rookie may struggle in getting the attention of his peers at this point in his career.

Long Shots
Travis Hafner: If he played any other position(or perhaps, ANY position) he'd be a lock. But DH is a tough place to be selected, especially when one considers David Ortiz plays DH and plays in Bahston, one of the two cities where the national media still acknowledges that big league baseball is played.

Coco Crisp: Pretty much the same argument made for Sizemore can be made for Crisp, a hitter who reminds me of Barry Larkin. Originally, I thought Crisp was a solid fourth outfielder. Boy was I wrong. Thanks St. Louis.

Ronnie Belliard: Another great season, but behind Brian Roberts and others, has little chance of being a two-time all-star.

Aaron Boone: Kidding.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Song quote of the day
Move it on over
move it on over
move over little dog
cause the big dog's movin' in -- Hank Williams

Friday, July 01, 2005

Magnificent 7: Best Baseball Teams as of 7-1
1. Chicago White Sox: The question now is not whether the White Sox will have a down period at some point this season. The question is that when the down period comes, will it matter?

2. St. Louis Cardinals: Anyone who thinks they can be caught in the NL Central is out of their minds. Chris Carpenter is 12-4, and it's questionable if he's even the ace of the staff.

3. Washington Nationals: If Jim Bowden isn't retained by the new Nationals ownership (whoever it is), the Reds may be best served to re-hire him. Of course, they'll compete with 20 other teams.

4. Los Angeles Angels: After two consecutive losses to Texas, Los Angeles looks to regain its momentum by facing Kansas City. Thank you schedule-makers.

5. Boston Red Sox: With Baltimore in a free fall and the Yankees proving to be no better than a .500 team, the East looks like Boston's for the taking. Still, their bullpen won't make things easy.

6. Cleveland Indians: They probably won't catch Chicago, so the Indians look like a wild card contender for the rest of the year, if the offense holds up. After Cleveland's win over Baltimore, Cleveland improved to 10-2 in their past 12 road games.

7.Atlanta Braves: Atlanta will be there to make sure Washington doesn't run away with it. If the season ended today, Andruw Jones is my NL MVP.