Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Train Now Arriving
Ivy Chat has been granted the appropriate L stop on the Chicago Blog Map. Thanks to Paul for getting this Ivy on the Map.
New Year's Resolutions
- Sammy Sosa resolves to hit the cutoff man.
- Kerry Wood resolves to not lose his cool when a pitch 3 inches outside is called ball four.
- Alex Gonzalez resolves to CATCH THE FRICKIN' BALL.
- People with front row seats at Wrigley resolve NOT TO CATCH THE FRICKIN' BALL.
- Derek Lee resolves to be much happier to be a Cub than the last power hitting first baseman the Cubs acquired from a Florida MLB team.
- Dusty Baker resolves to pitch starters as relievers in playoff games.
- Jim Hendry resolves to make a big big BIG move.
- Korey Patterson resolves to watch tapes of Shawon Duntson batting.
- Matt Clement resolves not to go to Ford's Theater.
- Mark Grudzielanek resolves to play shortstop.
- Joe Borowski resolves to go on a diet exclusively of Due's Pizza.
- Moises Alou resolves to wait until November to apply for his AARP card.
- Dick Pole resolves to get a walk on spot on Family Business.
- And Chuck resolves to continue rambling about the ivy and take his 16 month old kid to Wrigley before he turns 2.
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Happy Next Year Is Here
The best New Year's toast to everyone:
May your best day of last year be your worst day of next year.
Is Taxation The Reason We Have No MadduxPudgeation?
I've had this idea for a while, but lunch with the Sloth makes me go public. Why wait until January 1 to sign more players? It could be the tax laws. The current tax cuts phase in a little more each year. Perhaps there's a tax advantage to the players and/or the teams to sign a player after the 2004 tax rules kick in. There is a slight increase in the tax brackects for 2004 for individuals. This lowers total tax paid. I can't seem to find the corporate marginal rates for 2004. Bottom line: For players, you want to get paid in 2004. That means that signing bonuses should be paid after January 1. Maybe this is the real reason for the delay.
I get nervous skimming irs.gov. I think they're snooping on me and I'll get audited!
Pro-Porn, Not Pro-Pushing
The Sloth, obviously a fan of this regular diatribe signifying nothing (does a Shakespeare reference now give me class?) worries that he may be pushing porn on the Cubs' massive blog fan base.
Not in the slightest. Just that he's the only member of the Army that seems to have a link to a site that hosts the Internet's Oldest Most Consistent Profitabilty Profession.
That would make one openly pro-porn in this pundit's eyes.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
My guess is that the Bears hire Jim Fassel. Why? $$$.
The Bears owe Jauron $2.4 million for 2004. Now, if Dick gets another job in the NFL next year, the hiring team only has to pay the net difference between the new contract and Dick's old contract. That means, if Dick gets an assistant job for say, $300,000, the Bears only have to pay Dick $2.1 million.
Well, Fassel is owed $2.7 million by the Giants. The Bears could sign Fassel to a deal with a salary for 2004 under $2.7 million and have the Giants absorb some of the cost. With the Bears tied to Jauron for another year, this is the move a franchise on the cheap makes.
Monday, December 29, 2003
Jerry Rigged at Halas Hall
Angelo scores huge today. He gets a contract through 2008! A HUGE HUGE HUGE vote of confidence and transfer of power. Good boy Jerry. Now prove that the 2003 draft wasn't a fluke. And signing an effective free agent might be nice.
But the Bears have a GM. No McCaskey interference in football maters. That's tremendous. This is something that's been needed since 1987 - since Jerry Vainisi was fired. I think we are seeing the unwinding of the Mike McCaskey mess that started with the firing of Vainisi and culminated in the ill-timed hiring of Angelo (post 2001 draft making Angelo's first year almost meaningless).
This was further evidenced at the press conference by the fact that there was no sign of Mike McCaskey. He was all over the Wanny/Hatley/McGinnis/Jauron fiascos.
One more question:
Which assistant wanted to have a chair held out for him?
Lake Forest Bris
It's official. Dick Jauron has been whacked. Press conference at 1:00 CST. This comes thee years after the GM was hired. That means this firing is three years too late.
Candidates that I would like to see:
Kirk Ferentz (would be a loss to my alma mater)
All these guys have both NFL coaching experience and head coaching experience at some level.
Candidates that I could live with:
Candidates that I could loathe:
I reserve the right to edit this list as I remember more names!
Eating with Prongs
The writer over at Forklift has something about his pole and Jenna Jameson.
And I thought the Sloth was the only Cubs' blogger that was openly pro-porn?
I just completed my third consecutive Bear season without watching a single game the whole way through. I used to be a huge Bear fan. That was destroyed by Dave Wannstedt who systematically tore fan passion to the ground. I remember what I wrote way back when Wanny was canned. A lot of that holds true today, if the Bears go ahead and fire Jauron.
Now, not having watched 60%+ of Jauron's tenure, perhaps I'm not qualified to comment on his job status. Then again, I'm not creating an insane opinion in an effort to drive up my Arbitron ratings like the guy on WSCR in the afternoons. Anyway, here it goes:
Dick must be cut. The team needs to play better, smarter, and earlier in the season. A hot finish doesn't excuse a 1-5 start. Someone better able to handle a young QB must come in. And the GM must be allowed to be a GM. In any smart organization, the boss must hire the underlings. Billy Beane has it right. In what business does a production line manager (i.e. coach) have input on the executive level? With the Bears, the GM didn't hire the coach. It's time to correct that.
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Best Mad Cow Joke
So this cow says to another cow: "I'm really freaked out about this whole mad cow disease." "I'm not worried in the slightest," says the other cow. "But it's breaking out all over and they're slaughtering hundreds and thousands in Europe. How can you not be worried?" the first cow protests. "Well, it's not going to affect me." says the second cow. "I'm a duck."
Now this is how you teach kids about Hannukah in Tennessee.
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Another Sneaky Shot
Today's Washington Post has a profile of Paul Wolfowitz. Buried within is this quote:
"Wolfowitz doesn't know much about the business he's in," says retired Marine Gen. Joseph Hoar, a former chief of the Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the region. "He knows very little about war fighting. And he knows very little about the Middle East, aside from maybe Israel."
What 99.99999% of the world doesn't know is that Hoar is now on Howard Dean's list of foreign policy advisors.
And given Dean's statement that Hamas terrorists are "soldiers," and Wolfy's ethnicity, how do you interpret the line about "maybe Israel"?
Dean's working awfully hard to make me vote for Busch. And all the Jews in Florida, too.
Masters of the Commentary Track Domain
I've been waiting for these DVDs to come out. Now it seems they won't be as intersting as they could be.
Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards have refused to be interviewed for the DVD home-video release of Seinfeld after being offered only a small recording fee and being denied a percentage of the DVD's sales, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. A representative for one of the performers, who refused to be identified, told the newspaper: "They all said, 'Why should we make other people richer?'" A spokesman for Jerry Seinfeld said that he hoped to talk to the three after the New Year "and persuade them to change their minds."
Castle Rock is planning to release the first season of Seinfeld on DVD next December.
Pay them sum bux. Yeah, they've already made millions. That's what the DVD distributors are trying to do as well. Share the wealth. It's them we want to see/hear, not the distributor.
The hot idea now is to give Maddux and Pudge two year deals with the bulk of the money paid in 2005 after Alou and A Gonz are gone. Not a bad idea. But not too good, either. There are a number of free agents in 2005 that could be signed that would be unavailable if $20 million was tied up in two older players. Vidro comes out as does Beltran and Koskie. All three of those are upgrades over the current 2B, CF, and 3B.
Harry Caray's restaurant has setup a website to take your recommendations about what to do with the Bartman ball. I don't think they'll take my suggestion. The ones already submitted and listed on the site are all lame. Cast it in Mount Doom. Launch it into space. Put it in spaghetti sauce and let the patrons eat it.
Gotta be something better that's not obscene.
Monday, December 22, 2003
A Whole new Me
New E-mail address for Ivychat. firstname.lastname@example.org Use it. No spam, I promise.
Pudge Stands Alone
ESPN is reporting that, "Javy Lopez agreed to a three-year deal with Baltimore on Monday ... The deal for the All-Star catcher was worth about $23 million and is contingent on the free agent passing a team physical."
$7.7 million per year? Give Pudge 2 years for $18 million or 3 years at $26 million and be done with it.
Return of the Decent Movie
Saw Return of the King on Friday evening. Good seats in a lousy theater (small screen, poor sound). What’s the verdict?
Go see it.
But don’t be in a big hurry. It’s good. Better than new-Star Wars good. Better than Return of the Jedi good.
But it’s not be-all, end-all good.
The movie is, at times, DREADFULLY slow. The opening 30 minutes is so drawn out. As is the final 30 minutes. Saruman isn’t in it. Fine. But there’s this stupid scene where they say, “He’s alive and in that tower. And there he must stay!” And then they ignore him. Why not just say, “Saruman has been defeated,” and allow our imaginations to think that he’s dead. There’s some terrible dialogue that needs to be edited out. The Battle of Pellanor Fields is spectacular. And is not done was well as Helm’s Deep, and feels like a "been there, done that" kind of thing. Suaron remains a disembodied eye that is not scary in the slightest. And the Ring fails to be a character as it was in the first movie. And when the Grey Havens scene arrives, a lot is shot in slow motion. *Sigh* Just end it already.
But it’s still a damn fine movie. Eowyn finally gets some good screen time. Gandalf is a character again and matters (unlike Two Towers). Gollum has another great schizoid scene. Aragorn becomes the king. I mean he *BECOMES* a king. This was hinted at in Towers, but here he takes the mantle. It’s cool when it happens.
All the professional reviewers hit the main highlights. So many of them are ignoring the negatives I wanted to voice them. It’s a phenomenal accomplishment that these movies were so entertaining. Are they the best movie trilogy of all time? Nah. Original three Star Wars were better because there was more emotion, especially in Empire. But Peter Jackson brought a world to life. And for that he deserves a big kudos.
Miller for Barrett seems to be a decent deal on the face. Younger and cheaper. Okayfine. But the real kicker is buried in this story in today's Trib:
"Hendry declined to rule the Cubs out of the picture for catcher Javy Lopez but said no offer had been made to Lopez or Ivan Rodriguez."
A non-denial-denial (line from one of the greatest movies of all time). If they could still swing one of these guys, the move becomes even better as Barrett can backup 3 positions. Bako becomes your third string catcher and your last man on the bench.
The real problem here, though, is that the Cubs have failed to upgrade at 4 positions, and are likely worse at two of those.
Patterson-Goodwin is a huge downgrade from Lofton-Patterson
A Gonz is a push with A Gonz. And he sucks.
Grudz is a push with Grudz, but probably a downgrade as Grudz played over his head last year.
Miller-Bako is a push with Barrett-Bako.
This team is incredibly weak up the middle.
And good SS and 2B on the non-tendered lists?
Friday, December 19, 2003
Could the City of New York come up with anythin uglier that what they've designed for the WTC site? Glass, wire and windmills? It looks like a ghost. Simply ghastly.
Don't architects ever look at buildings like the John Hancock and see the awesome power and majesty? Is everything touch-feely today? Frank Gehry may be brilliant (I love his design for the Guggenheim in Bilbao), but all his designs seem to be swooping, curvy things. So effeminate. NYC needs somthing bold and strong. Not this glassy, whispy thing.
I've updated the list of other Cubs' blogs with new ones and dumped a couple that seem to be inactive. Ah! Friday clean up. And it's Hannukah tonight. Guess I'm getting what I get for Hannukah every year.
The Visa bill.
So Haray Caray's restaurant ownership purchased the Steve Bartman ball for $106,000 (!). They plan on destroying it on February 26 at the 6th annual Toast to Harry. They are taking suggestions for the best way to destroy it.
Best idea so far: Shove it up A Gonz's ass along with his glove.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
The Move that Wins a Title
I'd forgotten about this guy in the off season, but he bring's a title to Wrigley. He fills so many holes. He could hit leadoff. He's fabulous defensively. He hits for power. He walks. His OPS is so high it's sickening.
And he could be had for the right price.
Now, KC thinks that they can win the AL Central. And they are right. They also stand to lose Carlos at the end of the year. So make them a deal that allows them to still contend. How about Korey Patterson and his over-rated hype for Carlos? Throw in Jae-kuk "Osprey Boy" Ryu. Or maybe Andy Sisco. Do they want Alou? I'd pay enough of Alou's salary to make it revenue neutral for KC (i.e. Carlos' money=Korey+Alou's money).
Probably not enough to do the deal, and Hendry doesn't have the stones to do it. But were Carlos in center there'd be blue W's on white flags over Waveland and Sheffield through October.
Jail Time Doesn't Bring Dead Kids Back
Ex-Illinois Guv George Ryan was indicted yesterday on being a major political crook. Good. This schmuck, who I voted for in 1998, deserves to be locked up. But what I didn;t know in 1998 needs to be remebered now. John Kass does a nice summary in the Trib today:
Nov. 8, 1994, was Election Day. Scott and Janet Willis voted for George Ryan for a second term as Illinois secretary of state. Then the Willis family got in their van and drove toward Milwaukee.
A truck was on the highway in front of them. The driver, Ricardo Guzman, had paid bribes to Ryan's office for his commercial truck driver's license.
Guzman couldn't understand the warnings of other truckers that a large chunk of metal--the taillight assembly--was about to fall off his truck.
If Guzman hadn't paid the bribe, he wouldn't have been there on the road, in front of the Willis family, with the dangling taillight assembly.
It fell on the highway. The Willis van ran over it, and its gas tank ruptured. The Willis children were burned to death. Scott and Janet survived.
Later, Ryan insisted that Guzman never paid a bribe. But federal prosecutors alleged that Ryan participated in the cover-up inside his office by approving the transfer of secretary of state inspectors investigating the kinky Ryan political fundraising in what would later be known as the licenses-for-bribes scandal.
With the help of the combine, and the billions of dollars' worth of deals he promised, Ryan was elected governor on a lie in 1998.
This corruption comes with a body count.
And you could measure it by the angels hanging on Scott and Janet's Christmas tree.
"After the accident, so many people sent sets of six angels to us," Janet said. "And so we put six on the tree for the children. And there are other ornaments, too, you know, that the children made."
There were paper chains, angels, a tiny paper airplane. And there was a tiny wise man, one of those who followed the star to Bethlehem. The tiny wise man had a red robe, and a crown, and small features painted by a child's hand.
She reached toward it and touched it once with her finger. It swayed slightly.
"This is Ben's king," Janet said. "Ben made this king."
Ben was 13. Joe was 11. Sam was 9. Hank was 7. Elizabeth was 3, and Peter was 6 weeks old.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
It looks like Nomar will be coming to Chicago after all. And it's only a layover. The White Sox are set to acquire Nomar from the Red Sox for Maglioooo-Ooooo-oooo. One assumes that he will re-board his plane and continue on to LA. It's nice to see Kenny Williams using Comiskey's proximity to O'Hare to assist players on they're way from one city to another. Too bad Hendry can't get in on this and stop Nomar from re-boarding.
The Cubs need a SS!
Catcher A Go Go
So the Cubs trade for an arbitration-elligible catcher 4 days prior to the tender deadline. This is a guy, Michael Barrett, who can't even hit as well as the existing platoon of Miller/Bako. I have no idea where Hendry is going with this one. Ideally, you'd love to see Barrett, who can also play 1st and 3rd, sign for about $3.0mm over 2 years. Miller goes to the A's and Bako gets non-tendered. Hendry then goes out and gets Pudge or Roid Boy Lopez to be the main man.
Even MORE ideally, you'd like to see Miller and Barrett as your two guys at backstop and STOP ALL THIS CATCHER FUTZING! Get in on the A Rod deal. Once A Rod goes to Boston, send A Gonz to Texas and take back Nomar. Miller/Nomar vs. A Gonz/Pudge-or-Javy? No contest with Pudge at 35 and Javy all THG'd.
Geek Boy Day
On the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight, geeks from 10 to 50 finally get to visuallize Gollum chomping Frodo's finger and doing a Christopher Lloyd into a pool of lava. Now, I am looking forward to seeing the movie, probably next week. But these movies have been in the "very good" category for me and not the "oh my gawd!" area. There's just so little emotional ressonance to the films. Fellowship had a few moments (the end of the Moria sequence was very emotional), but there were very few in Towers. Other than the Schitzo Gollum scene, the movie was almost devoid of any real tension. Cool to look at, but no one ever felt in danger. The horror of the Eye and the closeup shots of it from Fellowship have been replaced by wide shots of the eye on top of a tower in the second film. Not scary. The weight of the Wraiths and the size and filth of their horses is replaced by wide shots of the wraiths on black CGI dragons in the second film. Also not scary.
Moreover, LOTR has one tremendous flaw. The survival of the good guys turns on the destruction of the Ring. If the Ring survives, Evil wins. It's that simple. Therefore, all the battles are MEANINGLESS! If the good guys win the battles, but Sauron gets the ring, they lose anyway. And if the good guys lose the battles, but Frodo succeeds in destrying the ring, game over! I always hated that about the stories since I realized that back in junior high.
Still, I am looking forward to seeing it. But at 200 minutes and no intermission, no Cokes before or during!
Monday, December 15, 2003
Maybe he was hiding on Vulcan
Saddam or that gawd awful bad guy from Star Trek 5?
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
That's not a comment on any player, rather a comment on my respiratory system. Yes, Chuck has the flu that's been going around. That was the end of the trip and I'll get back to writing about that when my fever abates.
As to the Pudge talk.... This sounds like Scott Boras trying to create a false market. This is the man that got a team to double its offer on A Rod with no other competitive bid in sight.
Nesides, upgrades at SS and 2B are more important than Catcher.
Monday, December 08, 2003
Hell's get nothing on Jersey
Ever see the Seinfeld ep where they lose the car in the parking garage? That’s nothing compared to this weekend’s jaunt to Jersey for a family event. Anyone see what happened weather wise out there?
The wife, 2 kids and I get on the 11 AM flight from O’Hare to LaGuardia this past Friday. The in-laws do the same on American. 1 hour into the flight, the captain comes on. She says that LaGuardia is closed and we’re gonna circle a while.
30 minutes later she comes on and tells us were going to re-route to Kennedy. After another 20 minutes she comes on again and says that Kennedy is plowing the runway and we’re gonna circle a while. After *another* 20 minutes she returns and tells us that Kennedy is closed and we’re re-routing to Providence, Rhode Island.
We land in Providence. Flip the cell phone on. The in-laws? Never took off (no jokes please about, “How is this a problem?”). May not get out at all.
OK, let’s get a rental car and drive the 3 hours to Jersey. It’s not even snowing here yet so we can get a good start. Mini-van? Check. Price? $100 per day extra because of a drop off charge. Note to Avis: Why does it matter how many days I have the car if I drop it in NYC? Does it cost more to get the car back to Rhode Island if I have the car 3 days instead of 2? Whatever. Let’s get the luggage and go see the family.
It seems that seven of us from the flight have no luggage. Ah! The 22-year old at the information desk! Can you please page someone to baggage? “No, sir. I can’t. Go upstairs and talk to United.” OK. At this point, I’ve hooked up with a guy named Abe (my 4 year old got his name for me as we were waiting for the bags) and we run up to the United counter.
200 people are in line. I cut the line and ask a rep if they can page someone to luggage. “Sir, I’m sorry but you have to wait in line!” Abe and I go back downstairs.
We now see a group of people talking to someone in a United uniform. She tells everyone that there is a bus to New York that’s been charted. Abe gets on the bus. I ask her about the luggage. It turns out she’s the captain of our flight. We’re informed that our luggage was placed on a different flight because we got to the airport so early. Where’s that flight? Hartford Connecticut. She gives us a phone number for baggage claims and leaves.
Armed with no luggage, two car seats and a cell phone with no charger (it’s in the luggage, along with the charger for my wife’s cochlear implant batteries without which she can’t hear a thing – AGAIN, no jokes about, “How is this a problem?”), we get our van and head out on the 160 miles to Jersey. We’ve been in the airport about an hour or so.
Now, the snow is starting.
I-95 is a nice stretch of highway. I’ve driven it a few times before. Goes past New Haven (Yale), Groton (U.S. Sub Base), Mystic (aquarium), and the coolest casino I’ve ever seen, Foxwoods (craps).
Except when there’s a six car pileup and the highway is closed.
Se we get off the road and follow something called “Highway 3” for about 20 miles. We end up in someplace called “Hopkinton” which consists of 1 street light and an ad for a Robert Frost poem. We call the cousins in Jersey and say, “See you tomorrow, but we will call in a few hours for more directions once we get to New York.”
The kids fall asleep and we manage to get to Mystic. The 4 year old wakes and starts pinning for McDonalds. I find a Ground Round and we stop. After a 1 hour break for chicken nuggets, wraps, spaghetti and a few cokes (god, wouldn’t a beer or two be good here? But no, too much driving to do), we head to the car.
Now covered by 2 inches of snow.
We get back in and drive again. 40 MPH is the max we hit the rest of the way. We finally get to the hotel at 11:30 PM. Get to the room. Ready to crash.
No crib for the 1 year old, no cot for the 4 year old. No pajamas for anyone.
All this and we’re only 12 hours into a 48 hour trip!
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Oh, no. No Vidro?
The Yanks are reported to have obtained Javier Vasquez from the Expos for a slew of younger talent. That means, unless Vlad stays in MontrealSanJuanWashingtonDC, it's higly likely that the Expos will be able to keep Vidro through his 2004 (he's a free agent at the end of the year).
Maybe the best bet is to give Grudz a 1 year deal. It's not to give him, OR Vina, a multi year deal. Todd Walker? Only on the cheap. Maybe Eckstein if he's non-tendered. I dunno. Vidro and Castilla were the best two. Looks like both are gone.
Chuck the Stats
The Chicago Tribune reports that they have hired Chuck Wasserstrom as the team's baseball information manager focusing on players' statistics and salaries.
Chuck is the team's media relations person. Why this guy is qualified to be a stats guru is beyond me. But at least they filled a position that should have been filled in 1990.
Don't you like to visit museums? See their holiday season stuff focusing on the wonderful diversity of religions in the world? Well, the new Alexandria Library in Egypt is doing just this with a section on Judaism. It seems that they have several texts on display, inlcuding a torah right next to a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Well, if you haven't heard of the Protocols, you should. It's about a Jewish conclave convened in the last years of the nineteenth century and details on how Jews are plotting to take over the world.
It's also a forgery.
I wonder what would be the reaction to a museum display showing a Qu'ran next to a box cutter?
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Hendry Strikes Again!
ESPN 1000 in Chicago is reporting that the Cubs have signed LaTroy Hawkins.
Terms of the deal are reported to be 2 years with a 3rd year vesting option. $3.8 million per year average.
Now get Vidro.
HDTV's Killer App?
Playboy has announced that it will launch a high defintion porn channel - Spice HD.
Will this be the channel that causes millions of men to go out and purchase HDTVs? Are women all that much more appealing when you can see their pores and follicles? And what about the natural airbrushing that 800-line TV has always
Methinks Jenna Jameson just got a lot uglier.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
With Castillo deciding that Flaaridah (as my yiddish grandma used to say) is where he wants to be, the Cubs must set their sights on the remaining second sackers out there. That includes Fernando Vina and Todd Walker. One name that is sure to rise is Mark Grudzelanek. A big NO THANK YOU there.
The real prize is Jose Vidro. It's looking more and more likely that Vlad the Impaler is sticking with MontralSanJuanWashington. That means that the Expos would need to dump some salary.
Looking at the Arizon-Sexson deal, one sees that Milwaukee got 1 good prospect and a bunch of salary. The modern trade math is: The more salary I take from you, the less I give you in prospects. Hence Choi for Lee straight up. Cruz and Wellmeyer for Vidro? How about Cruz and Osprey Boy? For that deal, maybe they take A Gonz too?
Work the phones, Hendry.
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