Saturday, October 29, 2005
I'VE BEEN TAGGED!
Okay, I know it was a week ago! But it was one of those really busy weeks, plus the World Series was on. So blogging has taken a back seat to fall cleaning and baseball and canoeing.
Speaking of canoeing, we had a beautiful trip Friday. Lots of fall color, and beautiful sun. We paddled on the St. Joe from Colon MI to Mendon MI. Couldn't have asked for better weather or company!
As I eluded to above, I was tagged by Laura about a week ago. The subject: Quirky Habits and Strange Hang Ups.
This was a really tough one for me to figure out! Truth is, I am a remarkably normal guy. I don't have a lot of superstitions or hang-ups. Even my daughter couldn't think of anything. But here goes:
1. I talk to myself. A lot. When people say something about it, I tell them I am just trying to have an intelligent conversation. The ones I have with myself are generally the most intelligent ones I have all week.
2. I always eat my meals one course at a time. And in a particular order. For example, if I get breakfast at the local diner, I eat my meal in this order: First, 1 slice of toast with grape jelly (always grape!). Second, 1 slice toast dipped in egg yolks. Then the eggs. Then the sausage patties (always patties, never links). Last, but not least, the potatoes.
3. I am the world's worst procrastinator. I will put off almost any unpleasant task until it verges on catastrophe. Sometimes beyond!
4. As you can guess from #3, I almost never get anyplace until the last minute (except for concerts and sporting events, for which I am always ridiculously early!)
5. I get sneezing spells. When I do they often last for 20 minutes. Imagine sneezing four or five times a minute for twenty minutes. My mom always said it was my body trying to get rid of demons. And people wonder why I have demons!
6. I have what my daughter-in-law calls "the famous Spurrier patience level.... NONE!" This, of course, only applies to the insignificant irritations of life. I carry on a constant stream of chatter directed at the drivers surrounding me. I mutter constantly. Misplacing an item will drive me into an immediate hissy fit. Amazingly, in a real crisis, I am remarkably, almost eerily, calm and composed. Go figure!
7. I have a history of obsessive behavior. I will find an interest or hobby and throw myself into it full throttle for three or four years. When I am done, I'm done. Weightlifting (for several years I spent 20 -25 hours a week in the gym), photography, fishing, English Marks darts, all were obsessions that lasted four or 5 years, then were virtually abandoned. The only hobbies I have had that have been life long pursuits are camping and canoeing. And of course, the Red Wings and Tigers! Oh yeah, my current obsession? Blogging.
8. I am extremely intolerant of intolerant people! Sounds like a contradiction, I know!
9. I never stick with one brand of beer. I have definite preferences, often depending on the activity. Canoeing or camping, I prefer Old Milwaukee when it's hot, Molson's Canadian Lager in the cooler evening hours and at night. Warm summer night and baseball, gotta be LaBatt's Blue. Watchin the hockey game on TV? Leinenkugel! BBQ? Killians or Murphy's (both Reds). Steak? Gotta be a Heineken.
10. I hate tomatoes, but love Catsup, tomato sauce, marinara sauce, etc.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
HOW TO BUILD A PERFECT BASEBALL TEAM
The Chicago White Sox became only the 5th team in baseball history to lead the league wire to wire and win the World Series, and only the third in the last 50 years. And the thing is, these teams are all amazingly similar in the way they were built. Great starting pitching, dominant bull pen, defensively very strong up the middle, offense built around a triple threat #3 hitter and power hitting #4, surrounded by a bunch of guys who get timely hits, can move the base runners, run the bases well, and play smart baseball. In fact, if you compare the 2005 White Sox to the 1984 Detroit Tigers, the similarities are uncanny!
The managers: Sparky Anderson and Ozzie Guillen. Ozzie is truly Sparky with a Latin accent! Both are likable with the gift of gab. Always great for a quote. Earn both the affection and respect of their players. Great students of the game, who not only understand how it is supposed to be played, but have great baseball instincts. Not afraid to be unconventional in right spot.
Starting Pitchers: You can't have a great team without great starting pitching! And both thee teams had it!
Jack Morris 19 -11 3.60
Dan Petry 18 - 8 3.24
Milt Wilcox 17 - 8 4.00
Juan Berriinger 11 - 10 3.48
2005 White Sox
Jon Garland 18 - 10 3.50
Mark Buerhle 16 - 8 3.12
Jose Contreras 15- 7 3.61
Freddie Garcia 14 - 8 3.87
Bull Pen: You can't go wire to wire without a dominating bull pen! Both these teams had it. The Sox played more bullpen by committee, with Hermanson, Cotts, Pettite, Visciano, and Jenks.
The 84 Tigers had two lights out closers, Aureliio Lopez and Willie Hernandez, set up by Doug Bair. Lopez and Hernandez combined for 19 wins, 44 saves, and a remarkable 278 innings pitched.
Defense up the middle: Both these teams were very strong up the middle.
Catchers: Lance Parrish (Det), AJ Pierzinski (Chi) Excellent arms, kept ball in front of them, block plate well
Double Play combo: Detroit's Alan Trammel and Lou Whitaker were baseballs best for a decade. The Sox Juan Uribe and Tadahito Iguchi remind me a great deal of them, especially Iguchi, who also has offensive skills very much like Whitaker.
Center field: Chet Lemon (Det) and Aaron Rowand. Lemon was the premier defensive center fielder of his day. Got a great jump on the ball, and had a strong arm. Rowan is speedier, runs down a lot of balls, not quite the arm of Lemon, but more than adequate.
Offense: Both teams had lead off hitters (Whittaker and Scott Posednik) with excellent on base percentages, who could run the bases well (although Whittaker had much more power). Number two hitters (Trammel and Iguchi) who hit for good average, could hit behind the runner, and run the bases well. Both offenses were built around the remarkably similar #3 hitters, Kirk Gibson (Det) and Jermaine Dye. Both Right Fielders. Both hit for average (around .280), hit with power (27 homers and 91 rbi's for Gibson, 31 and 86 for Dye), and could run the bases (29 steals for Gibson, 11 for Dye). These guys set the table for clean up hitters Lance Parish ( 33 hr and 98 rbi) and Chicago's Paul Konerko (40 hr and 100 rbi's).
There are other similarities also. Veteran DH's Darrell Evans and Carl Everett. Slick fielding third basemen with the knack of hitting timely home runs (Howard Johnson and Joe Crede).
So there you have it! The recipe for building a great baseball team!
1 smart Manager
4 great Starting pitchers
throw in a few strong arms in the bull pen
great defense up the middle
offense built around a triple threat #3 hitter
strong clean up hitter
That, my friends, is the recipe for a World Series winner!
Monday, October 24, 2005
OKAY, SO WE KNOW BILL FRIST LIED....
Okay, so now we know, Bill Frist
I expected it to be a bad year for my favorite hockey teams, the Detroit Red Wings and the Michigan Wolverines. The Red Wings lost stars Derian Hatcher, Ray Whitney, Curtis Joseph, Darren McCarty, and Mathieu Dandenault to free agency or forced buyout under the salary cap system. Then they lost their #3 defenseman, rookie Nicklas Kronwall, until February or March with torn knee ligaments. It was looking grim in Hockeytown. And not much better down the road in Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines lost several of their best players to graduation, then had their goalie and best scorer both jump to the NHL.
So almost a month into the season, and how is it shaking out? The Red Wings have the best record in the NHL, and my Michigan Wolverines are ranked #1 in every poll in the country. So how is this possible?
In the case of the Red Wings, it is due to the fact that they simply have the best scouting system in hockey. In particular, nobody scouts Europe like the Wings "Super Scout" Hakken Andersson. There is a reason the Wings are starting to resemble the Swedish National team (with a few Russians and a Czech thrown in). Anderson scouts Europe like nobody else, has a tremendous knack for spotting talent where others overlook it, and makes sure young Wing prospects play in places where they can develop into NHL talent. The Red Wings current roster includes 5 Swedes, 2 Russians, and a Czech. And they have a number of NHL ready players playing either in Europe or the AHL. Next year will almost certainly see Russians Jiri Hudler and Igor Grigorenko, and Finn Valterri Filpulla wearing the Winged Wheel. So the future looks bright for North America's most hockey crazed town. Now if I could only learn to pronounce that O with the two dots over it, which Garrison Keilor says means "Americans can't say this"!
Perhaps the case of my Wolverines is even more amazing. Playing with 11 freshman, they are almost a consensus as #1 in all the polls. Led by Junior scoring sensation T.J. Hensick, hometown freshman defenseman Jack Johnson, and 17 yr old goaltending sensation Billy Sauer, Michigan is 4-0-1 in it's first five games! Can't wait to get up to Yost Arena to watch them play (although I'll probably see them here against Notre Dame first!).
Best of all, my son Sean has a 52" HDTV on which I can watch my favorites play! Hopefully, my daughter in law won't get sick of seeing me on hockey night!
Now cooking at THE CHURCH POTLUCK: Tarte Au Sucre Jaune (Brown Sugar Pie)
Monday, October 17, 2005
Ninevah and Diyalla, Iraq's Answer to Florida and Ohio
It appears we are REALLY teaching the Iraqis to hold American style elections. Apparently, there are more votes cast than voters! And the BBC reported yesterday that in two provinces with Sunni majorities, many poling places in Sunni areas were never opened for "security reasons", while bus loads of Kurds were brought in from other provinces to vote. The Sunni's needed three provinces to vote no by two thirds to reject the constitution, they got two. But they are already screaming foul, claiming that there were massive voting irregularities in two provinces, Ninevah and Diyalla, both with Sunni majorities.
Just wondering out loud, but do you think we should tell them how this is gonna end, or let them find out for themselves?
From the why fans should never be allowed to manage sports teams department:
A few years back, I was ecstatic when the Detroit Lions used the 4th pick in the draft to grab Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington. The pick was made by the Lions owners William Clay Ford, and his son Bill Jr. (yeah THOSE Fords) , over the objections of team President Matt Millen and Coach Marty Morningweg, who wanted to draft Texas defensive back Roy Williams. Harrington has been a colossal bust, and Williams has turned into one of the best defensive backs in the NFL. The Ford's have refused to give up on Harrington, forcing the Lions coach to play him, because they have so much money invested in him. Meanwhile, the Lions offense is horrible, and Harrington's confidence is so badly shaken he'll probably never recover. Certainly not in Detroit.
Yesterday, the Lions defense scored 14 points. Unfortunately, their offense only scored 6. The Lions lost 21-20.
All I can say is.... THANK GOD HOCKEY IS BACK! Speaking of which...
My RED WINGS are now 5 and 1, after just beating the San Jose Sharks, the team most experts have picked to win the Western Conference. They are getting great play from their young players, and all 4 lines are scoring. Manny Legace has been strong in goal, and Pavel Datsyuk has shown why he was one of the best three or four players in Europe last year. The Wings other young star, Henrik Zetterberg, has been brilliant, as has newcomer Michael Samuelson, who has 5 goals in 6 games. Young Jiri Fisher has become the star we knew he had the potential to be, and has been the Wings best defenseman. Which is saying an awful lot, considering he is playing on a team who has 3 time Norris trophy winner Nick Lidstrom, 2 time winner Chris Chelios and Matheau Schneider.
Thank the Force for the Wings and Pistons! With all the problems in southeast Michigan right now, some relief is badly needed. And we sure as hell know it ain't comin' from FORD FIELD ! Or Ford Motors!
Now cooking at THE CHURCH POTLUCK: Chocolate Lover's Pizza, French Bread
Friday, October 14, 2005
REPLY TO SADIE LOU
"Of all the words written about Harriet Miers, none are more disturbing than the ones she wrote herself. In the early 90's, while she was president of the Texas bar association, Miers wrote a column called "President's Opinion" for The Texas Bar Journal. It is the largest body of public writing we have from her, and sad to say, the quality of thought and writing doesn't even rise to the level of pedestrian. Conservative columnist David Brooks in NYT
THE FOLLOWING IS MY REPLY TO YESTERDAYS COMMENT BY THE LOVELY SADIE LOU, WHO SAID:
Papa Bear asked:What does her faith have to do with being a judge?
Well, to people like me, who trust that God is REALLY the one appointing leaders, it makes a lot of sense. Of course to agnostics, atheists or whatever--it doesn't make any sense. Bush is obviously surrounding himself with people who are "like minded" (enter the cruel jokes from the left)
"Bush is surrounding himself with people who are like minded"
I would feel remiss If I didn't point out that in order to appoint like minded people, you would have to have a mind. (you invited cruel left wing jokes!)
More seriously, the problem is this. The Founding Fathers deliberately separated religion from government for several very rational reasons.
They witnessed, and were victimized by, the undue influence of the predominant churches in in Europe. The Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Lutheran church all had long histories of state sanctioned persecution, imprisonment, torture, and general deprivation of the basic freedoms of any who did not follow their narrow theology. The first wave of European immigrants to this continent were people fleeing just that persecution. My family, for example, were French Huguenots fleeing persecution and torture at the hands of the Catholic Church.
The Founding Fathers understood that in a nation where there were so many varied religions and philosophies at play, the nation could only survive, live peacefully, and meet it's ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, if it guaranteed the freedoms of all, and took no sides in spiritual issues. Remember, the Constitution (specifically the Bill Of Rights) not only guarantees ALL citizens equal rights, but specifically protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority. This assures that I can't force my religious beliefs and practices on you, nor you on me!
This country was founded as a secular, pluralistic society for ALL of our benefit. That Bush has so blatantly injected Miers' religion as a qualification for the Supreme Court, even as most prominent conservatives are essentially calling her grossly unqualified and a second rate legal mind, is an insult to the Founding Fathers, to the ideals this country was founded on, and indeed, American's themselves.
It deeply saddens me that the leader of this country has absolutely no clue as to the principles and history of the country he is supposed to be leading!
Can there be a more clueless owner in professional sports than the THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS' Bill Wirtz? First, he hires the radio and tv color man (Wirtz is one of the few owners so cheap as to not have separate radio and tv crews), Dale Tallon, as the teams General Manager. Tallon's qualifications: career mediocre player with the Blackhawks, a true "homer" as a broadcaster (the 'hawks never committed a penalty,or got a break from an official), and was Harry Carey's heir apparent as mayor of Rush Street. Worse yet, knowing that with salary cap in place, Tallon couldn't spend more than $39 million of his money, Wirtz handed him the check book.
Tallon wasted no time in screwing things up. Within a couple of hours of being on the job, he fired the Blackhawks excellent head coach, Brian Suter, and replaced him with a former mediocre Hawk's player with no coaching experience, Trent Yawney. He then paid about twice the market value to sign his first free agent, Martin LaPointe, because he needed a "character" player.* He then got in a bidding war with the Red Wings, Flyers, and Penguins over goalie Nikolai Khabibullin. The Wings and Flyers backed off (knowing a fool and his money are soon parted). The Blackhawks got a goalie, and Khabibullen gets $35 million (the league maximum) over the next 5 years.
So how's it all working our for Billionare Bill? The Blackhawks are in last place in their division, and their $35 mil goalie is next to last in the league in save percentage. As a Wings fan, I can only say "attaboy, Bill"!
*note: this is not a knock on LaPointe, who is a former Red Wing and indeed brings a lot of intangibles to the table, It's just sad that the only way Tallon could get him was to pay twice what anyone else would!
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
HEY! THE GOVERNMENT IS FINALLY GETTING IT!
Hooray! the government is finally getting it! They announced today that instead of concentrating on rapid economic growth, they are going to concentrate on closing the gap between the wealthy and the poor. They are dedicated to lifting people out of poverty! Oh... wait a minute... that's the CHINESE government! WTF? How come these relative newcomers to capitalism can get it, and our government doesn't. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line has risen 7% since the Republicans took power. !8% of Americans live in poverty. When Reagan was elected, 11% of Americans lived below the poverty line. Worse, over one in 5 children under the age of 15 in this country lives in poverty! Meanwhile, the wealthiest 1% of the population now controls 40% of it's assets. Like I said... WHAT THE FUCK?
Meanwhile, the economic news is not good. Housing sales down. Stock market down. Gold prices up sharply. The latter should be of particular concern. People generally purchase gold for one or two reasons. First, as a hedge against inflation. Second, if they think the value of the dollar is going to fall significantly! Either way, or both, this is not at all a good sign for the economy!
THE DUBYA/DOBSON SHOW
Geo and Jim need to get together and get their stories straight! About the same time Dobson was on the air denying that he had discussed Harriet Miers with anyone in the administration, Dubya was saying yes, he had spoken with conservative Christian leaders, including Dobson, about Miers. He said he told them of how well he knew Miers, and of her deep Christian faith. He said it was all just part of the process of people getting to know Miers. The remarks brought a new firestorm of criticism from both the left and the right. Both sides asking the same questions. What does Mier's faith have to do with her judicial temperament and skill? What does it have to do with her ability as a judge? And why do religious leaders get special considerations the rest of us, including Congress, don't?
Remember a few months ago, I wrote an article about the power of Dobson, and his fellow domnionists? A number of people accused me of greatly exaggerating Dobson's power. Anybody think I'm exaggerating now? Which leads us to the:
JOKE OF THE DAY!
Question: What is long and dangles between James Dobson's legs?
Answer: George Bush's necktie!
Sunday, October 09, 2005
SUFFERING FROM SLEAZE OVERLOAD!
Now cooking at THE CHURCH POTLUCK:THREE HEARTY FALL SOUPS FOR CHEDDAR LOVERS
Wow! Can't believe it's been a week since I last posted! Just been REALLY busy! Plus, I am suffering from sleazy politician burnout! But more about that later. First:
This is my favorite time of year! ML Baseball playoffs, the start of the hockey season, and canoe trips featuring mild temperatures and fall foliage! And how about those WHITE SOX! First playoff series win since 1917! And playing exciting baseball (man, that suicide squeeze the other night was ballsy)! While I am still sticking with my original picks of the Angels and Astros in the World Series, don't count out the Pale Hose. Man, it would be so cool if Chicago's first baseball world championship in 88 years came to the South Side, rather than to those obnoxious North side fans, whose treatment of Steve Bartman should earn them another 100 years with out a World Series win! Go Billygoat!
You can excuse the NHL for stealing that famous Mark Twain line "rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated!" The NHL set a record for opening night attendance with 98.1% of available seats sold, and all but four arenas sold out. Local TV ratings were also up by 2 percentage points over the previous opening night. And the fans saw REALLY exciting hockey! If the league sticks to it's guns and enforces the new strict obstruction rules, along with the changed offside and offside pass rules, we should see hockey like we saw back in the heyday of the Oilers and Islanders! As a side note, I should mention that I also saw my first hockey game in HDTV this week. AMAZING! I could be spending a lot of time at my grandchildren's house this winter! My Red Wings looked very good in their first two games, so there is hope for my winter!
My friend Bob Owens, my stepson Daniel Chmielewski, and I canoed the St. Joseph River from Union City to Colon in south central Michigan Saturday. The trees are just starting to turn, and it was a very nice trip. It was breezy most of the day, but fortunately, about the time we had to cross Sturgeon Lake to reach our take out, the wind died and the sun came out!
I discovered that Mute Swans can REALLY swim fast. I chased one for about 500 yds trying to get him to take off and fly. They sound and look so spectacular when they take off. By the time I caught up with him, the poor thing was too tired even to hiss at me. He just sat there puffing up his wings and looking at me. It was then I discovered that someone had clipped his wings and he couldn't fly. I felt really bad after that! And I didn't even have any snacks I could use as a peace offering. I'm sure he'll flee in terror of every canoe that launches on that lake from now on!
As I alluded to in the post title, I am suffering from severe political sleaze burnout. I have been avoiding politics for my sanity's sake. However, one cannot avoid the news completely (and trust me, I tried).
Subway Bomb Alert: New York? No, London! No, New York! WTF? Schmootzie has the Clown's eye view HERE
Sunken Ships: What the hell is going on in the office of the Vice President? First, we find that Chaney's Chief of Staff, "Scooter", leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent. Now we find that a spy has operated out of the VP's office for years! WTF? As keeper of the guillotine, I hereby decree that "the Dick" shall hereby be known as Vice President Loose Lips. He shall be moved to the head of the line when the revolution comes.
Adam's Apple Ann and George Willful: I suddenly feel like the Cowardly Lion in THE WIZARD OF OZ! "I do believe in the rapture, I do, I do , I do!" The end is near! The signs are everywhere! The latest:
George Will and Ann Coulter both wrote columns this week calling the Pres everything but a white guy from Texas, er, Connecticut! Both are demanding the Senate use their powers of advise and consent to block the President's Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers. There is a delicious irony to this, since in the past both have argued vehemently that the President has the right to appoint whomever he wishes to the Supremes (I prefer Mary Wells to Diana Ross, t.y.)!
According to Will:
The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons. He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.
In other words, the president is too lazy and stupid to understand the intricacies of judicial nomination and must have this privilege revoked immediately.
Coulter not only lashes out at the President, but at her fellow conservatives as well. According to Ann:
Unfortunately for Bush, he could nominate his Scottish terrier Barney, and some conservatives would rush to defend him, claiming to be in possession of secret information convincing them that the pooch is a true conservative and listing Barney's many virtues: loyalty, courage, never jumps on the furniture ...
One can almost hear her singing "you knew damn well I was a snake, before you brought me in, hiss"
Read the entire Ann Coulter column HERE
Read the entire George Will column HERE
NUT JOB WACKO FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE wants to be governor! Remember Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. His refusal to obey a US court order to remove a Ten Commandments statue got him (and his statue) removed from office. Well, he's back, and running for governor of Alabama. Since the current governor is hugely popular, this seems to be a long shot. But.... it is, after all Alabama.
FINALLY: If you want a really good laugh, check out THIS