Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Joe Theismann has called Ricky Williams a "disgrace to the game." It's so refreshing to see someone finally say something of substance. Marajuana is not the biggest threat to society today, but it is illegal. With so many people afraid to say anything in sports, Joe just says what he thinks. I appreciate the candor.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Some thoughts on Bonds' 715th homer
Sitting in my apartment in Ohio, I was lucky enough to watch history.Very few people got to see Babe Ruth's 714th home run. But due to the miracle of cable television, I was able to watch Barry Bonds pass the Babe, with homer 715.
The first thing that was noticeable was how subdued the reaction was, especially compared to April 8, 1974, the last time someone passed Ruth.Henry Aaron's 715th homer was hit into left field. He was congratulated by a screaming Atlanta crowd, and mobbed at home plate by his teammates. He was also surrounded by media from all over the world.
Bonds' homer got a loud reaction from San Francisco, and some teammates came out to congratulate him. He was not, however, chased by a two hippies while rounding the bases. Nor did the Giants' dugout completely empty.
Bonds' homer was a solo shot, and made the score 6-2 Rockies. Maybe Barry's teammates did not feel like celebrating when down four runs.
People say baseball does not celebrate second place, and they're right. But statistically, Bonds is now the second-best power hitter in Major League Baseball history. That's an amazing feat, and one which, under different circumstances, would be lauded by the sport as a milestone of celebration. But the story is far too complicated to celebrate.
We all know why.
Only time will tell how Barry Bonds will be remembered. But it will be remembered. What I just watched on TV, what millions just watched on TV, will be shown for years to come.What context it is shown in is still up for debate.
Even though it doesn't look like Bonds will pass the 755 homers hit by Aaron, it is still a possibility. I can't help but wonder what the reaction will be if the Giants outfielder hits 756.
Will baseball congratulate him? Or will it add a sentence to its mantra?
Baseball doesn't celebrate second place.
Does it celebrate suspected cheaters?
If only it was 1998.
This article can also be read on www.blogcritics.org

Memorial Day
Thanks to those who served, and continue to serve, so the rest of us can enjoy freedom. We are forever in debt because of your sacrifices.

Song quote of the day
I am the eagle,
I live in high country
In rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky
I am the hawk and there's blood on my feathers
But time is still turning they soon will be dry
And all those who see me and all who believe in me
Share in the freedom I feel when I fly-- John Denver

Sunday, May 28, 2006

May 28
Happy Birthday Mom.

Baseball Roundup
The Reds and Indians each salvaged a game in their respective three-game sets. The Reds appear to be fading, just in time for June. It is, in fact, all about perspective. After the bottom of the seventh against the Diamondbacks, Cincinnati trailed 4-1. This was after being shut out in consecutive games.
Still, Javier Valentin homered to right in the ninth to give the Reds a 5-4 win. The Reds sit at 28-22, far better than anyone could have expected coming into the season.
The Indians ended the Tigers winning streak by slamming past Detroit 9-0. My patience with my hometown team is waning. It amazed me how much of a spark Tim Laker brought to the club yesterday. He not only knocked in two runs with a double, but also picked a runner off first. If I were at all optimistic about the season, I would hope Sunday's game was some sort of turning point.
The Indians need to get past .500 before anything like that can be thought about.

I finally caught the rest of the season finale. Whereas last year's ending left me cold, Monday's finale was a reminder why this is the best show on TV.
It was good to see President Logan get caught, rather than killed. Logan has been played so brilliantly by Gregory Itzin that it would be a shame to see him gone from the series for good.
My other favorite parts:
*Bill Buchanan (played by the outstanding James Morrison) asking Karen Hayes for a date as the day winds down.
*Christopher Henderson (Peter Weller) was one of the more interesting characters in the series' history, but he had to go. While not quite Dennis Hopper being shot multiple times and falling into the ocean, Henderson's line of "that's the way it works," made him a legendary character.
Overall, I'm looking forward to season six almost as much as I was to season two. Season one will always be my favorite, because that show's attention to detail (Jack's reaction to being up so long is never touched on these days. Doesn't anyone ever get tired?) was so great. But this season was the second-best. Maybe a cameo by Xander Berkeley could have put it over the top. Sadly, George Mason, despite it's trip to the Final Four, cannot return to the show.

John Denver covers The Weight
Hearing John Denver cover The Band is enough reason to pick up his Definitive Greatest Hits. Yet, the album has just about every hit on it. I'd consider it a must for every fan.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Rocking from the right
The top 50 conservative rock songs of all time. Naturally, Taxman finds its way on the list.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lay, Skilling found guilty
Congratulations guys. Can't wait to see what you've won. We do know what you have caused.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

One day, someone will need to explain to me how in a time of war, flu's, famines and immigration reform, the Dixie Chicks are on the cover of Time Magazine.
* C.C Sabathia pitched a complete game shutout against the Twins today. He is finally looking like a true ace. I expect him to be traded to the Nationals for three prospects by the end of June.
* The Cavs' season is over. Now LeBron needs to be signed. I have faith that things will work out ... oh, who am I kidding? It's Cleveland. He'll probably be playing for the Nets by 2009.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

From Belle to Bonds
Two of the most prominent sluggers of the 1990s had big events happen this week.
Barry Bonds, who hit at least 30 homers in all but one year in the decade, tied Babe Ruth this week.
Albert Belle, who hit 50 homers in 1995 and was the driving force of the Indians offense in the '90s, was arrested for stalking.
The two men who were two of the top sluggers in baseball just a few years ago are now in very different places. Bonds is chasing one of the sport's greatest records, and remains, even at 41, one of the most feared hitters in the game. Albert Belle is out of the game, and has been since 2000, when a degenerative hip condition forced him to retire.
In truth, the two men had as much in common off the field as on. Even today, the similarities are striking.
Bonds is heckled almost everywhere he goes, unless he's playing in San Francisco, where he is loved.
People may not remember this, due to the way the partnership ended, but Belle was the exact same way in Cleveland. He was jeered everywhere he went. Fans in Boston chanted "Corky" at him, in reference to his corked-bat suspension in 1994. He was booed everywhere. Bob Costas, self-appointed moral-authority on everything, launched into an anti-Belle speech at the 1996 All-Star game, encouraged the star to seek help.
Growing up in Cleveland at the time (and being a baseball-obsessed teenager), I was a constant Belle apologist. He was the only player whose jersey I owned, and I supported him despite some somewhat horrifying incidents. I had an answer for everything.
• Belle threw a ball at a heckling fan. Well, he shouldn't have been on him so bad. Belle did what anyone would have done.
• Belle chased some kids who egged his house. Hey, lousy kids got what they deserved.
• Belle corked his bat, then the Indians stole it when it was confiscated by umpires. Um, the White Sox probably set him up.
• Belle took then-Brewers second baseman Fernando Vina out with an elbow when Vina tried to tag him going to second in 1996. See, Vina shouldn't have been there in the first place. He could have underhanded it to the shortstop.
The more Belle did, the more fans in Cleveland went nuts for him. He was the best player not only on the team, but in the city.
Of course, when Belle left Cleveland for the White Sox, Cleveland became just like the rest of the country - only it booed louder.
Belle finished his career with Baltimore 2000 with a career-total of 381 homers and 1,239 runs batted in. In his final season, he drove in 103 runs.
Belle was arrested Wednesday for the second time on stalking charges. He was charged with stalking in February after he allegedly installed a GPS device on his ex-girlfriend's car and threatened her.
When looking back on Belle's career, I think of two men. The first was one of the best hitters I have ever seen. If I had to pick one batter from my lifetime to bat in a clutch situation, Belle would be it.
Now I look at Belle's off-the-field antics differently. In truth, Costas was right about Belle. He needed help. He appears to still need help.
Indians fans knew over a decade ago that Belle had issues. But he was a great player, and more importantly he was our great player. But a decade later, the realization is we defended him not because we wanted to downplay the incidents, but because he was a great player.
I wonder, in light of the steroid allegations that make Bonds' guilt evident to almost everyone outside of San Francisco, how the Giants' outfielder will be regarded in a few years there.
The Giants fans may not want to face Bonds' issues now. But what about when he's no longer wearing a Giants uniform?
Also can be read on www.blogcritics.org

Friday, May 19, 2006

Game 6
As all of Cleveland holds its collective breath for tonight's game, I'm reminded of the last time the Cavs had a chance like this.
Oh wait, that's never happened.
Perhaps the Cavs' win over Washington in 1975-76 could be considered an upset, but it certainly would not be on this scale. I knew of no one who thought Cleveland would be in this position, let alone beat the Pistons.
So here we are.
Maybe the Pistons will rebound and destroy the Cavaliers in the next two games, and maybe we'll be crying the "OIC" blues once more.
But maybe not.
Go LeBron. Go Cavaliers.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Despite the Cavaliers' back-to-back wins in Cleveland, I still expect Detroit to win the series, mainly because Cleveland has yet to prove to me it can win in Detroit.
That said, it's a good feeling to know the first two games of the series have been totally wiped out.
Forget the first four games. Forget Rasheed Wallace and his guarantees. It's no longer a best of seven, it's a best of three. If the Cavaliers can somehow win game five, the the doubters will be silenced. Then, Detroit has to do what it has not been able to do so far: win in Cleveland.
Yes, I am biased, and yes, I was at a Cavs game a few weeks ago. But having watched a number of playoff games, I don't think there has been a crowd as alive as the one at the Q.
It's a marketing slogan, but I really believe the city is buying into the idea that it is a witness to greatness. Cleveland is 4-1 in the playoffs at home.
The Cavaliers also beat the best team in the league without Larry Hughes. LeBron James was not even at his best last night, but Eric Snow, Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall and Anderson Varejo did what was needed.
Sadly, Zydrunas Ilgauskas has yet to be at his best. Z is nowhere to be found in the last few minutes of games. Varejo is who Mike Brown wants out there, and it's impossible to blame him.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Barry Bonds, beat poets and a fall
All I can say is thank goodness for this regular column.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Office and Earl
It's been a while since I've written about the magic box. The only show I watched, up until a couple of months ago, was 24.
That changed in February, when I got hooked on The Office and My Name is Earl.
The Office was a rather obvious viewing choice. Steve Carell starred in my favorite movie of the past five years (The 40 Year Old Virgin), and in addition, the show takes on a Christopher Guest-like direction, with characters doing interviews and explaining their actions.
Last night was the season finale, and while it wasn't as funny as some prior episodes, it was still pretty good.
There was a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, but what impressed me the most is how bit characters are given a chance to shine. Take last night's episode, where Creed (Creed Bratton) goes out of his way to steal everyone's chips at "Casino Night." Because of his persistance, he wins the refridgerator.
According to www.imdb.com, Creed was a member of the Grass Roots. Hmmm.
I enjoyed last night's episode, but will miss the show for four months.
Earl has some solid acting from Jason Lee, and some terrific performances from Jaime Pressly as his ex-wife. Even as someone who doesn't really believ in karma, I think the show has a good message hidden in its at times low-brow humor. There's a character who has messed up and is trying to make it right. Last night's show was one of the best, where Earl gives all of his money to a man he stole $10 from.
Pressly continues to steal the show. First she uses Earl for practice in body piercing, then (in a flashback scene) she steals Barbershop Two out of a video return box, exclaiming "I just saved us $3!"
The show has a happy ending, but any fans hoping the beautiful Catalina to become romantically-linked with dim bulb and oaf Randy will be disappointed.
So now, it's time to focus on 24, the Cavaliers, Reds and Indians.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Elite Company: Bonds won't stand with Aaron and Ruth
As Barry Bonds approaches 715 homers, there seems to be a bit of restraint:restraint from the fans, restraint from the media, and restraint from Major League Baseball.
I won't play dumb here and pretend to wonder why. In fact, I'll make my opinions known: I believe Barry Bonds used steroids. I believe the media in general is all but certain of it. And even though the MLB will play the whole "We don't celebrate second place" game, it's probably something more than that. More likely, the sport feels Bonds cheated and wants to stay as far away from him as possible.
Still, baseball's fearless leader, Bud Selig, has given no indication Bonds' records will be ignored by the books. So, unless something changes, Bonds will sit, very soon, ahead of Babe Ruth in home runs.
Bonds will likely be in elite company someday, though it may not be what he expects. It may not be fair to single out Bonds as the biggest cheater in the steroid era. There's little doubt there were countless others who cheated as well. But Bonds appears to be the biggest benefactor of the era.
Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris' single-season homer record in 1998, certainly with the help of andro. If you saw his disgraceful performance in front of congress 14 months ago, you're likely to believe he had more to hide. Still, his record, in normal times, would not be quite as impressive as Bonds.
Of course, it's apples and oranges.
What is clear is Bonds has become the most maligned player in baseball since Pete Rose and the gambling scandal that broke some 17 years ago.
Bonds is destined to end up in very elite company. If he cheated (and anyone who reads Game of Shadows will find it difficult to believe otherwise), he won't be remembered with Babe Ruth, a man who saved baseball from itself in the 1920s, or Hank Aaron, who is remembered not only for his clout but also for his class.
No, Bonds will be remembered with Rose, and Joe Jackson. Rose played the game like no one before or since. He was on three teams that won the World Series, won the World Series MVP, and oh yes, banged out 4,256 hits, a record that will not soon be approached.
But you can't have a conversation about Rose without gambling coming up. He's not in the Hall of Fame. Rose is never discussed in terms of "greatest hitter ever." Instead, the arguments focus on whether he should be in Cooperstown, in light of the damage he did.
Jackson has been romanticized by the films Field of Dreams, and immortalized in Eight Men Out. What is lost is Jackson was one of the best hitters ever.
Five times in his career, Jackson had more than 200 hits. He finished his career with a lifetime batting average of .356. It was also rumored Babe Ruth copied his swing. Yet Jackson is synonymous with 1919, with the eight players who sold their souls, and with gambling. He's not in the Hall of Fame either.
Unlike those two, Bonds will probably never be banned from the game for life. It's also difficult to imagine him not being enshrined in Cooperstown. But mention Bonds' name, and steroids will come up. It will follow him wherever he goes. No one will be able to talk about his career without a mental asterisk. Bonds will pass Ruth, and may one day pass Aaron. However, he will never pass the unending controversy of drugs, scandal and cheating.
Also can be read at www.blogcritics.org

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Song quote of the day
Those were the days my friend
we thought they'd never end
we'd sing and dance
forever and a day -- Nancy Hopkins

A tribute to my dog; a tribute to my friend
From the moment my parents brought her home in 1991, Heidi was a close friend.
She was there when I won student council president in fifth grade.
She was there when I was pushed around in middle school because I was so small. Very few of my friends stuck with me the whole time, but Heidi was one of them. She was a great listener.
Heidi was always there. I walked her, talked to her and played with her for 15 years.
Today was a day I knew was coming, but didn't want to think about. Still, after a decade and a half of loyalty, friendship and companionship, it's hard to be upset. I'm thankful she was there for my family for so long.
I love you, and I'll miss you.
Heidi (1991-2006).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sports Break
It may have been too much to ask of the NBA that the Cavaliers get more than two days to celebrate the team's first playoff win in 13 years.
Certainly, I am still enjoying the win against Washington, probably because I find it very difficult to believe the Cavs can beat the Pistons.
The Pistons are the best team in the NBA. The Cavs are not at that level just yet. If Cleveland is lucky, it can take two games. But the season is still a success, and something to build on.
- The Indians are looking like a nice little .500 team right now. Perhaps losing three of their last four against the Royals is a way of keeping things interesting until they break out in August. Still, the White Sox are streaking, and there is no reason to believe they will slow down.

Quote of the year
"To me, it was kind of embarrassing. Even Cleveland players were shaking their heads. You don't boo a class act." -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, on Indians fans' booing Jim Thome.

This coming from a man who made a choking signal to Cleveland fans during the last series of the year. Pehaps Guillen was imploring fans to boo him instead.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cavs Uniform Decision
The Cavs are back in the playoffs. It's the first time the Cavaliers have been in the playoffs since 1998. Because of uniform changes, this is the first time the "wine and gold" have seen the postseason since 1977. Yet the Cavaliers have chosen to go with the dark blue tops in the first two road games of this series. Why? Here's my theory.

Before Game Three
Mike Brown: OK guys, I think we should wear the wine tonight, in honor of Austin Carr, Campy Russell, Jim Chones and even Nick Mileti. We should honor the Cavaliers' history, the Cavaliers fans, and the new legacy we are trying to create with a nod to the past.

LeBron James: I like the blue ones coach.

Mike Brown: OK. Blue it is.

I think the Cavs will go with wine tonight though, to change their luck, or something.

Three Cheers for Vince Vaughn
I didn't catch his appearance on David Letterman, but it looks like Vaughn handled himself well:
Wedding Crashers star Vince Vaughn was put on the spot when he taped an appearance on American chat show The Late Show yesterday - host David Letterman grilled him about his relationship with Jennifer Aniston. Vaughn and Aniston have been frequently photographed together, but have never officially confirmed they are dating. Letterman started the interview by saying, "Hey, nice going on that Jennifer Aniston thing." The couple star in upcoming film The Break-Up and Letterman added that he thought they made a nice couple. An embarrassed and amused Vaughn responded, "It's very nice of you to say that, Dave, thank you. Yeah, it's been kind of interesting for me, and I just choose not to talk about my private life that much publicly." At one point during the interview, the 36-year-old star addressed the studio audience directly saying, "Do you like the way he just kind of takes the approach that it's fact?" When Letterman then asked him to clarify the nature of the relationship, Vaughn remained firm: "I'm not saying we are or aren't a couple. I think she's great, but I just don't discuss whether we are."
I appreciate this so much after the Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise national story.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Draft Bust wins primary
All I have to say is it's a good thing for Schuler Washington D.C doesn't get to vote. His NFL career will certainly give his opponent plenty of easy (if pointless) shots.
* Ken Blackwell won the primary for Ohio's governor race. The truth is his victory upset me. I am not necessarily a fan of Jim Petro, but Petro seemed a bit more socially moderate.
Blackwell's position on abortion (wrong in all cases) and his support of the ridiculous gay marriage ban in 2004 make me think he's not the man I want heading the state. I don't doubt his fiscal conservatism, but a man that uses homosexuals and barn animals in the same sentence should be reason for concern.
There's a difference between believing marrage is between a man and a woman (as many good people believe) and downright homophobia. I think Blackwell crossed that line.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How Howe Became Baseball's Symbol Of Weakness
Perhaps it's sadly ironic that as Major League Baseball finally gets around to dealing with its steroid problem, we were all reminded of the last drug problem the sport had.
Steve Howe's death in a truck accident last week brought back memories for most baseball fans. Perhaps even more so than Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, Howe was the poster boy for baseball's drug problem of the 1980s and '90s.
Steve Howe was a very good pitcher for the Dodgers and Yankees. But hear the name and there's a joke that follows it.
"This is your last chance," Leslie Nielsen said to Anna Nicole Smith in the 1994 movie Naked Gun 33 1/3. "And I'm not talking about one of those Major League Baseball Steve Howe kind of last chances."
Howe was suspended seven times by Major League Baseball, and became the first player in history to earn a lifetime ban for drugs (an arbitrator later had the suspension thrown out).
Howe was given chance after chance. He became the card to pull out when discussing the Pete Rose Hall of Fame case.
"How can Pete Rose not be in the Hall of Fame," I'd ask, "If Steve Howe keeps getting chances?"
Howe will remain an important figure in baseball as long as drug use is an issue. So maybe, he'll be important as long as the game is. Some have said to me that Howe's death reminded them of "when baseball knew how to get it right."
But what Howe's case shows is just how weak Major League Baseball is at punishing players. If Darryl Strawberry or Dwight Gooden were capable of helping teams right now, they probably have jobs. What remains is the idea that you will always get a second chance - if you have talent. It isn't known yet if Howe's death was drug or alcohol related. What is known is that his name will forever be synonymous with drug use in sports. If he's a symbol of the past, what will be the symbol of the future?
I could throw out some names, but you've heard them all before. Steve Howe's greatest contribution may be to come. Baseball players may not want to hear about health risks associated with steroid use.
They may not care about the message the use sends to youth. They may not care about records or the game's integrity. But I imagine none of them want the first line of their obituary to mention their drug addiction.
Sadly for Howe, that's how his began.
Also can be read on www.blogcritics.org

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Song quote of the day
May you stay
Forever young-- Bob Dylan

Election Day
I'll be keeping a close eye on Petro-Blackwell. No predictions, but I'll have a few things to say tomorrow about the Ohio Governor's race.

From March 13, 2004:
Someone at work yesterday asked me if I was 26. I almost started crying. Do I look that old? I still want to be able to gawk at college girls on Spring Break, and if people think I'm 26, it switches from "Good, immature fun" to "weird."For the record, I will be 26 on May 2nd ... 2006. And not a minute before.--Me