Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Maddux gets 3000th K

Greg Maddux recorded his 3000th strikeout last night in a loss to the Giants. All the news stories say that he is the 13th to do that, and the 9th to combine that stat with 300 wins, but none mention the most incredible part of his accomplishment. He's only the second pitcher to get to 3000 strikeouts with fewer than 1000 walks. He doesn't even have 900 career walks, so he's not likely to get to 1000 either. In fact, the other 11 guys on the list (including Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson, who are still active) have at least 1300 walks.

Pop quiz: Who is the other 3000 strikeout pitcher with fewer than 1000 walks?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Valpo football coach resigns

Valparaiso University's football coach, Tom Horne, resigned yesterday after 16 years at the school. He said "the time was right" and that he wanted to spend more time with his family. I think there has to be something more to it than that. It's nearly time for practice to begin for the season, so the time to quit could hardly be more wrong. He's leaving his former employer and more importantly, his kids, in quite a bind.

Perhaps the plan behind the timing was to make sure one of his assistants got promoted.

Here's the Times story on this.

The Road From Bristol

The folks at bravesbeat have set up a mock NCAA basketball-style tournament where you can vote for the ESPN personality you despise the most. It's already in the second round, so join in! Some of the comments are pretty funny.

Unfortunately for me, I haven't heard of some of these people because I watch so little of ESPN anymore (except for actual games). Apparently, I fell out of the desired ESPN demographic years ago.


  • I see that the Cubs have fallen into third place in the division, a game behind Houston, which is really more a function of the Astros getting hot than the Cubs playing bad. Kerry Wood is back on the DL with shoulder problems. Surgery is being put off for now, and if he comes back this year, he's going to the bullpen to minimize potential problems.

    Corey Patterson is at Iowa and at last report, barely hitting his own weight. I think the Cubs are trying to trade him, but he might be too damaged to unload right now.

  • It’s taken a while, but it looks like White Sox fans finally believe in their team. Or maybe it’s just the good weather. Either way, the Sox have drawn over 30,000 for ten straight games. They’ve had crowds that big 22 times this year, compared with 23 all of last year.

  • FIA decided not to punish any of the teams involved in the Indy fiasco after they threatened to pull out of F1 and start their own race circuit. Michelin is still going to refund tickets for this year's race.

  • I've been working on getting my college football site ready for the season. I did my bowl projections this week and am working on a preview. That probably won't be finished until after the Big Ten media days next week.

  • Since I cover college football, I sometimes receive promotional items about players from schools that are pumping them up for various awards. I've gotten mouse pads, pads of paper, magnetic schedules, etc for different players in the past, but last week, I received an unusual item. The University of Memphis sent me a toy NASCAR race car painted with its colors and with pictures of RB DeAngelo Williams. The car had his uniform number (of course), is about six inches long and is pretty heavy. This wasn't cheap.

    It isn't promoting him for any specific award, but things like the Heisman are out for him. About the best award he could receive would be conference player of the year. This seems like overkill by the school, but on the other hand, I just wrote about it, didn't I?
  • Thursday, July 21, 2005

    It's a niece!

    Finally, a girl is born to the family. Between my and my wife's parents, it's been all sons (4) and grandsons (6), except, of course, for my wife. But Tuesday, my brother and his wife had a baby girl. Mom and baby are fine, and my mother is very excited because she can finally buy girl stuff.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    Trail gets closer to Daley

    There was another set of indictments in Chicago the other day as the Feds continue to attack the city's hiring practices. This time, they got the guy who is in charge of the Mayor's Patronage Hiring Department (which has some other name that escapes me).

    Apparently, people are coming out of the woodwork to cooperate with authorities in the hopes of leniency. Among the incidents cited in the indictment was a case of a dead guy getting a job that he interviewed for after he was technically deceased. Nobody complained that he was "late" for his interview (editor: insert rim shot here).

    Another job went to a soldier who was deployed in Iraq at the time of his supposed interview.

    A third went to a guy who showed up drunk for the interview. When the personnel manager appealed to the head of the PHD about the applicant, he said to just do the best he could with him.

    The Chicago Tribune, in an editorial yesterday, called these revelations "jaw-dropping." You would think an entity that had been around as long as the Tribune would know better. The only thing that would be jaw-dropping about Chicago's hiring practices is if they were clean.

    Mayor Daley better watch his seat. The Feds may be getting ready to set fire to it.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    College FB resource

    I'm not sure who runs it, but someone has set up a nice college football resource blog. In fact, that's what they call it. There's a link on the right side of the page.

    What was second prize?

    Did you hear about the guy who won twelve pairs of round trip coach tickets on American Airlines to anywhere they fly? AA valued the prize at the maximum possible amount, meaning that the taxes the winner would have to pay would have been about $19,000, or about $790 per ticket. The guy ended up declining the prize, figuring he could buy the tickets a lot cheaper.

    Back home

    We came back from my mother-in-law's yesterday and I'm finally able to do a bit of writing. It seems like forever since the last time I wrote.

    -> Last week, my kids attended Camp Invention in Anderson. Camp Invention is put on by the National Inventors Hall of Fame at schools around the country and is designed to help kids problem solve and think creatively. For part of the camp, they actually go through the invention process. They figure out what problem they want to solve, come up with a way to solve it, and build a model of their invention. My oldest was in the camp last year and had a great time. This time, #2 son joined him. It's open to kids entering first grade through sixth grade. It's probably too late for this year, but if you have kids who might like this kind of thing, keep it in mind for next year.

    -> The All-Star game was Tuesday night and I missed it completely. Didn't see one pitch. I kind of forgot about it. Part of the problem was that I was at my mother-in-law's, and I'm a bit out of my environment there, but also, that was during the camp, so evenings were spent doing other things. Still, I don't feel like I missed anything. Not that long ago, the all-star game was blocked out on my calendar and I scheduled around it, but since the tie, I just haven't cared that much. I'm sure I would have watched if it had occurred to me, but it didn't, and to me, that says something.

    The hometown guys did OK. Mark Bueherle got the win and Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez had hits. I didn't see if Jon Garland pitched.

    -> The NHL finally ended its lockout. It remains to be seen if anyone is left to care.

    -> The Tour de Lance rolls into its final week. Barring a crash or some other misfortune, it looks like Lance Armstrong will win for the seventh straight time, which is an incredible accomplishment. After that, he retires, and America can go back to not caring about cycling.

    -> Tiger Woods won another major, making it ten before he turned 30. It's funny to see how the other golfers can't seem to catch him. Guys chasing him tend to play worse rather than better. Colin Montgomerie in particular seems to have trouble with Woods. They've been in the same tournament now 66 times, and the only time Montgomerie finished ahead of Woods was in a tournament shortened to 36 holes by rain.

    -> I got and read the Harry Potter book. More on that later. Also, there has been some college football news, which I address on

    Saturday, July 16, 2005

    Getting to the horcrux of the problem

    “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” seems to me to be more about Severus Snape, Albus Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy and Tom Riddle/Voldemort than it is about Harry. That was fine with me, because it was fascinating stuff.

    There is a lot of information in this book, some of which is back story. There are also as many questions as there are answers. I won’t go into what was answered so much because if you got to this point, you have probably already read the book. Instead, I want to ponder the questions and invite you to do the same.

    1. Whose side is Snape on?

    He’s on Voldemort’s side, whether that was his intention or not. I don’t think he makes that Unbreakable Vow unless he’s fine with killing Dumbledore himself. Snape’s slimy enough to have gotten out of doing that if he didn’t want to.

    There will be a contingency of people who think Dumbledore ordered Snape to kill him and that he’s still working with the Order. If so, he’s got them all fooled. I don’t think anyone in the Order would trust Snape now, even if Dumbledore told them to.

    It’s probably not relevant to Harry whose side Snape is on. At this point, I think if Harry encounters Snape, he’ll shoot first and ask questions later.

    2. Who is R.A.B?

    The prevailing theory is Regulus Black, Sirius’ brother. He’s the only character mentioned so far with the initials R.B. (although Mr. Borgin’s first name is unknown). He’s the one Sirius said got in over his head with Voldemort and tried to back out. Voldemort had him killed. Another item in support of this theory is that there was a locket nobody could open in Black’s house. That could be the real Slytherin locket.

    3. What is the fourth horcrux?

    I suspect it hasn’t come up yet. If Dumbledore’s right about the others, which is likely the case, then the three we know about are the locket, Helga Hufflepuff’s cup and Nagini, the snake. Dumbledore and Harry are guessing that the fourth is something that belonged to either Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. Both the Sorting hat and a sword were items of Gryffindor’s, however, it’s not likely Voldemort has access to these in order to make a horcrux. My guess is that it is something of Ravenclaw’s that we have either not seen or have seen, but weren’t told it was hers.

    I’ve seen theories that the fourth horcrux is Harry himself, but Voldemort was going to try to create a horcrux when he killed Harry. Dumbledore said that he thinks he later created one in Nagini to replace that failed attempt. That means the other horcruxes were created before he tried to kill Harry, so he’s not one of them.

    4. Where are the horcruxes?

    My guess is that Mundungus Fletcher has the locket, which he nicked from 12 Grimmauld Place, and Harry will have to track him down for it. I’m also guessing that he took Sirius’ mirror and that Harry will use the mirror Sirius gave him to contact and track down Fletcher.

    Nagini is with Voldemort, so he can keep an eye on him.

    I’m guessing (it’s just a hunch) that one of the others is in Godric’s Hollow. No idea yet on the fourth one.

    5. Will Hogwarts open?

    I think so, but enrollment will be way down.

    6. Will Harry go there?

    He said he won’t, and I don’t think he’ll change his mind. He’s got too much work to do to be a student as well. He will probably visit, though.

    7. How about Ron and Hermione?

    It’s more likely that they go to Hogwarts, but only if Harry can talk them out of shadowing him around.

    8. Malfoy?

    Undoubtedly expelled and running for his life. Maybe Snape is protecting him – if he can.

    9. Have we heard the last of Dumbledore?

    That portrait in the headmaster’s office can communicate, and he might have others. We’ll hear from him again. We’ll also hear a lot from and/or about his brother Aberforth, who is the bartender at the Hog’s Head.

    10. What will become of the Order of the Phoenix?

    I think McGonnigal is the new leader and they go about their business as best they can. Harry will work outside of the group though. He’s not going to be working with the Ministry either. He’s done taking orders from others.

    If you have other theories, or just think I'm nuts, go ahead and share them!

    Friday, July 08, 2005

    Cubs, Queen and London

    Let’s start this update with a quiz. What do the Cubs and a hurricane have in common?

    Yes, they both blow, but that’s not the answer I had in mind. The answer is they are both hitting Miami at the same time.

    Dennis isn’t likely to make a direct hit on Miami, but south Florida should still be impacted, and the possibility exists that, for the second year in a row, the entire Cubs-Marlins series could be rained out.

    That might actually be good for the Cubs, which have imploded in an eight-game losing streak. They were outscored by the Braves 24-5 in a four game sweep. Yesterday, the bullpen blew the lead late, but that’s an improvement because that was the first lead the Cubs had in the entire streak.

    Things have gotten so bad for Corey Patterson in particular that he was sent to Iowa yesterday, along with OF Jason Dubois, who has lost out on playing time to Todd Hollandsworth. Patterson’s fall from grace is dramatic for a former #1 pick and a player with the talent, but obviously not the mental ability, to be an all-star.

    Here’s another quiz. Which act has had albums spend the most weeks on the British Billboard charts all-time? The Beatles? The Rolling Stones? Elvis?

    All good guesses, but all wrong. Queen is #1 all-time, according to the Guinness folks. I’m a big Queen fan, but I would have never guessed that.

    Queen is touring Europe again, sort of. Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor have teamed up with former Free singer Paul Rogers to tour as “Queen with Paul Rogers.” Rogers isn’t Freddie, but who is? At least he isn’t trying to be.

    I haven’t seen any reviews. There are some who would think Queen died when Freddie did and won’t like this no matter what. Certainly the prospect of anything new died with Freddie, but I have no problems with the remaining guys going out and keeping the songs out there and maybe even putting their own stamp on them. The tour is supposed to come to America next year. You’ll find me at the closest show to Chicago.

    I spent most of yesterday with an eye on CNN following the London terrorism story. The one thing that stands out to me about that attack is that if it can happen there, nobody is really safe. London is probably the most experienced and prepared city for such a thing, and yet, three trains and a bus get blown up during rush hour. It’s one more example that if someone is determined and resourceful enough to cause mayhem, it’s pretty hard to stop them.

    Queen and REM were among the acts that have postponed concerts schedule for London this week, though sporting events will go on.

    Sorry to end on such a downer and sorry for the paucity of updates lately. The next week or so may be like that. I’m at my mother-in-law’s and it’s a difficult environment for me to work in. Next week, my kids will be attending Camp Invention and I’ll be volunteering, so I don’t know how much writing I’ll get done.

    Monday, July 04, 2005

    All-Star selections

    The All-Star rosters were announced yesterday, as well as the five candidates for the final spot, which the fans can vote on this week.

    AL Fans did a good job picking their lineup. In fact, they voted on eight of the nine guys I suggested a week ago. For Boston Red Sox players made it, which is fine because all are having pretty good years. My ballot would have had Gary Sheffield ahead of Manny Ramirez, but we're splitting hairs. Sheffield made the team as a reserve.

    The AL roster (starter listed first, except for pitcher, which is announced later).
    + - team's only representative.

    C - Jason Varitek, BOS; Ivan Rodriguez, DET
    1B - Mark Teixeira, TEX; Shea Hillenbrand TOR (also plays 3B); Paul Konerko, CWS; +Mike Sweeney, KC;
    2B - Brian Roberts, BAL; Alfonso Soriano, TEX
    SS - Miguel Tejada, BAL; Michael Young, TEX
    3B - Alex Rodriguez, NYY; Melvin Mora, BAL
    OF - Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, BOS; Vladimir Guerrero, Garrett Anderson, ANG; Gary Sheffield, NYY; +Ichiro Suzuki, SEA;
    DH - David Ortiz, BOS;
    SP - Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, CWS; Bartolo Colon, ANG; Roy Halladay, TOR; Kenny Rogers, TEX; Johan Santana, MIN
    RP - +Danys Baez, TAM; +Justin Duchscherer, OAK; Joe Nathan, MIN; Mariano Rivera, NYY; BJ Ryan, BAL; +Bob Wickman, CLE

    As for the reserves, it's pretty tough to make a case for Konerko. I'm a Chicago guy and I like Paulie, but guys who can't hit .270 don't belong on the all star team. Konerko's hitting .246, which is brutal.

    Which brings me to the NL. Idiot Met fans (I apologize for the redundancy) voted on Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran, who are hitting .264 and .262 respectively with nine home runs each. I admit that the pickings are slim at catcher in the NL, but certainly Paul LoDuca is a more deserving starter and Ramon Hernandez of SD should also be on the team ahead of Piazza. Beltran's selection is even worse. He should be no better than 20th on the list of NL outfield candidates, but he's taking up a roster spot that someone like Jose Guillen or Brady Clark should have. Or better still, fellow Met Cliff Floyd. None of those guys can even get in on the fans' final choice ballot, which is all pitchers for the NL.

    Scott Rolen has no business being here either after an injury plagued first half that has him hitting .250 with five homers.

    Here's the NL roster:
    C - Mike Piazza, NYM; Paul LoDuca, FLA
    1B - Derrek Lee, CHC; Albert Pujols, STL
    2B - Jeff Kent, LA; Luis Castillo, FLA
    SS - David Eckstein, STL; Cesar Izturis, LA; +Felipe Lopez, CIN
    3B - Scott Rolen, STL; Aramis Ramirez, CHC
    OF - Carlos Beltran, NYM; Jim Edmonds, STL; +Bobby Abreu, PHL; +Moises Alou, SF; +Jason Bay, PIT; Miguel Cabrera, FLA; +Luis Gonzalez, AZ; Andruw Jones, ATL; +Carlos Lee, MIL
    SP - Chris Carpenter, STL; Livan Hernandez, WAS; Roger Clemens, HOU; Pedro Martinez, NYM; +Jake Peavy, SD; John Smoltz, ATL; Dontrelle Willis, FLA
    RP - Chad Cordero, WAS; +Brian Fuentes, COL; Jason Isringhausen, STL; Brad Lidge, HOU

    Half the National League's sixteen teams are represented by only one player. Tony LaRussa couldn't even find room for one of his own guys, Matt Morris, who is 9-1. The idiots who voted in three undeserving players, plus the high number of worthy starting pitchers really made LaRussa's job tough.

    The AL has been beating up the NL in recent years, and the NL looks like it's behind the 8-ball already again this year.

    Saturday, July 02, 2005

    Our strange school

    I've been meaning to write about the strange goings on at the school we sent our kids to this year, but I just don't often get about 12 uninterrupted hours to put anything together.

    Fortunately, another parent has blogged her experiences at the school, which will give you an idea about what we were up against. Her story is similar to ours in some ways and different in others, as you might expect, but dealing with the person she calls "Nutjob" and her son's teacher were among the similar ones.

    She talks about people she is supposedly responsible for leaving the school, which is what Nutjob is telling other people, but that's a lie, of course. We are among those that she says were driven off by this other parent, but we are leaving for our own reasons.

    We're now homeschooling. The public schools around here are fine for kids within two standard deviations of "normal," but my kids aren't in that group. We've been to three different private schools (a Christian school, a Montessori school and this last one, which was secular), and none have been able to work with our kids at their academic levels. So, we've decided we're going to having to do it ourselves.

    I'm sure it'll be fun. The kids are looking forward to it. We're not really organized as far as acquiring a curriculum or anything like that, but we've already started anyway. For now, life is school. They're doing some reading, some math books, and they've created and are caring for a garden. We'll do something more formal in a couple of months.

    Friday, July 01, 2005

    Dyer is da bomb!

    Any day now, I expect to see the most spectacular fireworks show of all time, which will be what happens when the town of Dyer explodes. I get this feeling every year, but it hasn't happened yet.

    Dyer is a little town just on the Indiana side of the state line with Illinois, and because of taxes and the most idiotic law in all of America, 95% of the Dyer economy is based on the sale of gasoline, cigarettes and fireworks. The first mile and a half of US 30 from the state line into Indiana, which is the Dyer business area, you see a school, a couple of churches, five gas stations (three of which are Speedways), about a dozen places to buy cigarettes and another dozen to buy fireworks. Fortunately, there is also a hospital.

    Lower taxes fuel the cigarette and gas sales from our neighbors in Illinois. The fireworks sales are seasonal (spring, summer and fall) and are due to a law which says you can buy any fireworks you want in Indiana as long as you promise to not blow them up here.

    You'll be shocked to learn that law is not strictly enforced. If you had a cop on every corner, they still wouldn't be able to keep up. The only thing more surprising than that is that the fireworks industry contributes megatons of money to Indiana politicians so this stupidity can continue.

    As a result of the spinelessness of our legislature, you can get anything from little firecrackers to thermonuclear devices in Dyer.

    As you can probably tell, I'm not a big fan of the fireworks. The vast majority of the major explosives end up in the hands of kids who have no idea how to handle them. But, I'm just as offended by the wink-wink-nudge-nudge nature of the law. If we're going to let people buy the fireworks, we should let them shoot them off. If we're not going to let people shoot them off, then we shouldn't sell them.

    I think they should be banned, even at the significant risk of turning Dyer into a ghost town, but either way, the Indiana legislature should make up its damn mind.