Memorial Day Musings

I left the BBQ behind for a a few moments Sunday night to watch the lead segment on 60 Minutes about the heroic story of Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Sal Giunta. At one point, he calls himself a “mediocre soldier” and Lara Logan reminds him that the Medal of Honor is quite an honor for just a “mediocre soldier”. His response: “think how good the great soldiers are”.

His story, and that of his squadron in Afghanistan, provided an entirely deeper context to the meaning of teamwork, courage, humility, and sacrifice. We use these words everyday to describe the accomplishments of our sports stars but in light of this Memorial Day weekend, it’s important for all of us to recognize and honor our true American heroes.

A Quick Trip Around the Bases

1B “Finkle is Einhorn. Einhorn is Finkle. Finkle is a man!”

Apparently Jon Heyman has had his fill of Ace Ventura references but come on, sometimes life just tees one up for you. So now the former Miami Dolphins kicker owns a 30% stake in the Mets and immediately skeptics wondered if this was a good investment. My feeling is that you don’t make billions betting against the likes of Wall Street badies Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns without having some sort of financial acumen. Einhorn must be in line for a majority stake, that is unless he too is eventually linked to a Madoff type ponzi scheme. “Laces out!!!”

2B – Time for a little game I like to call “Dead, Alive, or current Diamondback”. First contestant: Luis Gonzalez. Incorrect! Luis Gonzalez is not a current Diamondback. Next: Curt Shilling. No soup for you! Shilling is not dead and is in fact currently working for ESPN. Last one: Melvin Mora. I’m sorry, wrong again!!! Mora is both alive and a member of the 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks.

Maybe it’s time we all started to get to know a few of the folks who currently reside in Phoenix. Heading into Monday night the Diamond Dogs had won 6 in a row, 9 of 10, propelling them to a half game lead in the NL West. Not bad for a bunch of guys not named Shilling, Gonzalez, Johnson, Grace, or Williams.

3B – Yes Mr Francesa I understand one of the the only reasons we care is because Buster Posey is a “bonafide staaa” but even still, why can’t home plate be like every other base? Slide to avoid. It’s how all ballplayers are taught to play nowadays. The NFL has outlawed helmet to helmet collisions why can’t MLB and the players association agree on a rule change to protect catchers? Relax, old school/part of the game people, the sanctity of the game will survive.

HR – The Boston Red Sox keep on winning in part because Carl Crawford finally decided it time to earn some of that money. Too Good to Fail, that’s what I’m going to start calling this 2011 Boston team. Speaking of Wall Street, finally sat down to watch the documentary Inside Job about the financial collapse of 2008. Interesting stuff, assigns blame to every entity imaginable. Bankers? Greedy. Regulators? Stooges. Government? Well since they use to be the bankers and the regulators they’re greedy stooges. Bottom line: filmmaker may have had a small political agenda but there is enough evidence presented to make even the most bipartisan American angry, skeptical of our financial system today.

view from Minute Maid Park courtesy of @mr_randerson

 

Monday Morning Musings

So much for the Rapture. 6pm Saturday night came and went without the Devil and Jesus shaking hands.  I guess it’s time to start paying my bills again.

In all sincerity, I was truly amazed by how many people were discussing the End of Days. I mean, wasn’t it just one guy spreading his message across the billboards of America? If it was truly the creation of a single man or small “flock” then I have to contact this group to do some advertising for VMS because they sure know how to create a buzz.

When 6pm passed without major incident, people in the bar where I was watching the Preakness began hugging and toasting one another as if Dick Clark just ushered in a New Year. Did they really think the world was going to end Saturday night or were they just looking for any excuse whatsoever to drink champagne?

For me, when I think “The Rapture” I don’t think End of Days but rather A) the latest summer blockbuster starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman as a married couple awaiting the return of their son who is on leave from the war in Afghanistan or B) the name of a professional wrestler or C) Mozart’s long lost final concerto. Also, any single one of these scenarios seemed like a much more likely outcome Saturday night.

A Quick Trip Around the Bases

1B – When I think interleague play I think Toronto Blue Jays vs. Houston Astros. But seriously, the only commonality between these two is that both teams come from oil rich lands. (Fun fact: Canada provides 20% of all US oil imports. Just a matter of time before President Obama declares war on our friends to the North.) Matchups like the Jays/Stros are bound to happen in the 14th year of interleague play. So for all the Red Sox/Cubs and Rangers/Phillies you have Twins/Dbacks and Mariners/Padres.

2B – It’s possible, I repeat possible, that if Erik Bedard continues to pitch well the Seattle Mariners will contend for the AL West crown. Any team that sports a rotation of Felix Hernandez, rookie phenom Michael Pineda, and a rejuvenated Bedard has a chance to make it to the postseason, even with its putrid offense. As an Oriole fan, my feelings on the former Baltimore pitcher Bedard are quite mixed. He had some great seasons for a few very bad Oriole teams but the fans were still never able to totally embrace him, probably because he was perceived as distant, detached, and moody. Well that and he’s Canadian.)

3B – Don’t look now St. Louis Cardinals fans, but here come the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers, winners of 8 of their last 10 games. I had a good feeling about the Brew Crew heading into the season, which is why I selected Prince Fielder in the first round of my fantasy baseball draft. Add pitchers Shaun Marcum and Zach Greinke added to the mix and Brewers fans should expect their team to contend for the NL Central.

HR – News out of LA Sunday morning was that the police there were able to arrest at least on of the perpetrators involved in the beating of the SF Giants fan on opening day at Dodger Stadium. Here’s hoping for some swift justice and a full recovery for Bryan Stow.

view from the Rogers Centre courtesy of @ClaireGeorgia

View from Spring Training: 2011 Houston Astros

2011 Houston Astros

NFL Equivalent – Seattle Seahawks: Always a bridesmaid, but never quite a bride. The Seahawks reached the Super Bowl in 2006, only to fall to the Steelers, while the Astros lost to the White Sox in the World Series the year before.  Both teams were constantly in the mix throughout this past decade, while both now seem miles away from championship hopes.  Both the ‘Hawks and the ‘Stros have recently sent the faces of their respective franchises packing, and are relying on much younger, more anonymous casts going forward.  So the question remains, is there a “Beast Mode” moment waiting for these Astros in October?

Google Search: Drayton McLain, as he has been known to do in the past—like a true Texas gambler—is choosing to play the hand that he was dealt.  The Astros have brought in 2B Bill Hall and SS Clint Barmes, but will choose to fill out their roster with a couple of aging prospects in C J.R. Towles and 1B Brett Wallace.  It might be the end of the line for these two in Houston, if their Spring numbers are any indication. All this and presumptive 2011 team MVP outfielder Hunter Pence is considered to be the worst team MVP in MLB by Baseball Prospectus. Talk about a backhanded compliment.

Famous Movie Quote: Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker – Mike McDermott from Rounders

Here’s some feedback, Mr. McLain: fold, then run.  The Killer B’s are not walking through that door, and after having FINALLY moved INF/OF Lance Berkman and P Roy Oswalt last season, the last vestiges of the Astros’ heyday have faded into that big Texas sky alongside Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, and J.R. Ewing.  Houston has a productive starting outfield with the powerful Carlos Lee, the speedy Michael Bourne, and the gutty Hunter Pence, but they’ll only go as far as their starting pitching staff will take them. Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, and J.A. Happ will all have to have career years just to keep the Astros relevant at the All-Star break. 2011 record: 71 – 91; 5th Place NL Central

view from Space Coast Stadium courtesy of @actionsports360