Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kennedy column II
Punk rocker Henry Rollins asks the question I find myself asking over and over again the in wake of the Kennedy coverage by most.

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Ted Kennedy
Anyone who knows me knows how I felt about Ted Kennedy. It would be stupid to even attempt to write too much nice about him now that he's gone. I'm sorry he had to go through so much pain at the end of his life, and sorry for his family.

My friend Vince Guirrieri wrote a strong column which I think is worth reading no matter what you thought of the senator. It's easy to forget sometimes how complicated human beings are; that there is always more to people than we prefer to believe.

Rest in peace.


Monday, August 24, 2009

6 Browns Observations, after Lions game
1. There are three players on the Browns I wouldn't consider dealing: Josh Cribbs, Joe Thomas, Shaun Rogers.

2. The Lions don't seem to have anything going for them. The Browns may have actually found a team they really are better than. Might not be the case when they meet in the regular season.

3. Derek Anderson is what he is. Red hot, then cold, and prone to crucial mistakes. I want Brady Quinn to start at quarterback, and can't forsee anything that would change my mind.

4. When he's good, Anderson is probably better than Quinn could be. But when he's bad, look out. Quinn can probably be more consistent, and I think that's what the Browns need more than anything.

5. I still don't miss Shaun Smith.

6. Phil Dawson probably will have another strong season, but no one outside of Ohio will notice.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

10 quick Browns observations
1. No matter what happens in the weeks before the regular season opener against Minnesota, coach Eric Mangini should just make Brady Quinn the starting quarterback.

2. If Derek Anderson is made the starter, fans will be ready to pounce on each mistake he makes and chant for Brady at the home games. Boy, that will be fun. I'm not saying that Mangini should cater to the fans. What I am saying is we've seen Derek Anderson, and know he can be inconsistent. If Quinn doesn't at least get a chance in Cleveland, Mangini runs the risk of having him blossom somewhere else, and the paying customers may never forgive him.

3. I don't think anyone will miss Shaun Smith.

4. No question, Braylon Edwards' attitude has been fantastic so far in camp. The last time he was like this, he had a wonderful season. I'm hopeful.

5. I worry about how much Jamal Lewis has left. There just aren't many running backs in NFL history who shine past 30. Lewis ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2008, but I wouldn't even classify it a good season for him.

6. This has almost got to be a breakout season for Eric Wright. If it isn't, it looks like a wasted gamble by the previous regime.

7. Do the Browns have an actual general manager, or did Eric Mangini just make him up? Rob Kokinis is Kaiser Soze, with less power. That's the feeling I get.

8. Mangini's just messing with us with the brown pants, right?

9. Shaun Rogers should continue to be a stud.

10. Not really missing Kellen Winslow yet. That may change.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

The question is no longer how stupid baseball players think we are.

The question is how stupid we think they are.

David Ortiz was the latest to talk about how "careless" he was about what he put into his body.

This season alone, we've heard from Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Ortiz. All have, essentially, the same story. The story is that they were too stupid to fully investigate was performance enhancing (and potentially dangerous) supplements they were putting in their body.

OK, with Manny I can kind of buy it, though I'm beginning to wonder if his aloofness is nothing more than a ruse to protect someone who has cheated most of his career.

All three of the names listed above were -- at one time -- the most feared hitter in baseball.

Should Rodriguez and Ortiz's names have been released? Probably not, though I have little sympathy for them.

For me, the stories just aren't believable. Almost everyone acknowledges that baseball had a steroid problem in the 1990s and early 2000s. Yet with few exceptions, the stars who have been caught have used the same type of excuse -- either they didn't know, weren't smart enough to care, or fell into a syringe.

OK, strike the last one. But you get my point.

My perception right now is that nothing I see on the field can be really appreciated. If the Indians or Reds win, great. But I have trouble watching a great hitter or pitcher and suspending my belief long enough to think that what I'm watching is legit.

The steroid clouds are supposed to be clearing, but Ortiz, Rodriguez and Ramirez have changed that forcast.


Friday, August 07, 2009

It's hard to know what is more disturbing: That The Dayton Daily News is no longer going to send reporters to Reds games or that Hal McCoy won't be writing the stories anymore.

I think it's the latter, but I'm not sure.

Hal McCoy is in the Hall of Fame. Despite being legally blind, he has continued to work and produce stories of a team that hasn't had a winning season since 2000.

It's tempting to go off on the DDN or the industry, but McCoy didn't, and I won't.

I work in the newspaper industry, and no one has to tell me these are tough times. I have friends, former co-workers and classmates who have lost their jobs at newspapers. Everyone I know in the industry has a few stories of someone who worked like crazy only to get bounced.

So many want to blame the people doing the firing. Let me tell you, no one feels worse than they do. You think the bosses at the DDN wanted to fire a legend? You think they don't know they'll get hundreds of emails today telling them they're heartless and they'll lose customers?

The truth is, what is happening is not the fault of a greedy publisher or a vengeful boss. If it was, McCoy's firing would be an isolated incident, and it isn't.

I'll miss Hal's writing next year. But even more so, I miss the days of my aunt sending me DDN columns and Reds stories. I miss the days of knowing guys like McCoy would always be able to share their insight, and the days of feeling people like him would last forever.

It was never the truth. But it sure felt good.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Shuffling the (newer) Ipod
Five songs at random. And .... go.

Walking on Broken Glass (Annie Lennox)
Why I downloaded it: It's bouncy and catchy, if a little inconsequential.
What I like about it: The video with a somewhat giddy Hugh Laurie, before he was House. A takeoff of Dangerous Liasons, the video also features John Malkovich. The funniest part of the video is Laurie trying to convince party guests than Lennox is plastered. But I still watch Chuck instead of House on Mondays.

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters (Elton John)
Why I downloaded it: To me, it's simply the best song Sir Elton has ever done.
What I like about it: It's a deeply personal song for me, a song that seems to strike at loneliness, which was a theme of mine when I bought the Honky Chateau CD in 2004. I was driving through unfamiliar towns and meeting unfamiliar people, and missing Bowling Green. The song has plenty of urban references within its beautiful melody, but it still connected with a 23-year old college kid trying to make it in rural America.

Summer in the City (The Lovin' Spoonful)
Why I downloaded it: It's a classic recording, a rare case where odd sound effects enhance the track.
Why I like it: Add the crucial piano track and the intensity brought out in the recording, and it's a must-have. In my mind, best used in Ken Burns' Baseball, used as the backing music for a section on Carl Yastrzemski and the 1967 Red Sox. That was before I hated the Red Sox.

Africa (Toto)
Why I downloaded it: When I was five, when I was 15, when I was 28, still one of my favorite tracks.
Why I like it: The drum beats were great, but I think this is a song I can't compare to anything else on the radio at the time. I never knew much outside radio as a young kid, but this song always made me stop and listen. Don't care one way or the other about other Toto tracks, but this is one I needed.

Classical Gas (Mason Williams)
Why I downloaded it: Almost any task can seem doable with this in the background.
Why I like it: Who doesn't like this? It's too catchy to hate.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

10 things I'd like to see from the Browns this season
1. Beat Pittsburgh once, somehow. Do that and the season is somehow a success.

2. Make Brady Quinn the starting quarterback and END the discussion.

3. Trade Derek Anderson. If the Browns play the season with two quarterbacks, they have no quarterback.

4. More pressure from the defense on the quarterback.

5. More Jerome Harrison.

6. Better protection for Josh Cribbs. I love his play on kickoffs and punts, but if he'll play receiver, it's not worth the risk of getting him hurt.

7. No less than seven wins.

8. No brown pants.

9. How about a win in week one?

10. More football. Less Randy Lerner.


Saturday, August 01, 2009

10 things I'd change about Major League Baseball
What I'd do:

1. Impose a $90 million salary cap. Also, payrolls couldn't be less than $70 million.

2. Contract two teams: Marlins, A's are my suggestions.

3. Elimiate the Designated hitter.

4. Eliminate Interleague Play.

5. Make a rule that any player caught using performance enhancing drugs is ineligible for the Hall of Fame. Any retired player facing evidence of use is able to attend a series of hearings with the commissioner.

6. Fire Bud Selig as commissioner.

7. Return to balanced schedules within the leagues.

8. Get rid of the homefield advantage rule in the All-Star Game.

9. Allow teams to trade draft picks.

10. Fire Indians manager Eric Wedge.

Hey, as long as I have the power...