Friday, March 31, 2006

From the Hysteria File

posted by BH

Chico State has cancelled its softball season in the wake of a 17 year-old recruit going to the hospital with alcohol poisoning. According to the school, 12 of the team's 18 participants were at the party at which the recruit became sick. headlined the story.

Okay, so Duke's lacrosse team has riled up the pious across the nation. ESPN, being the king of Pietyland, says joins the fray, reporting anything remotely similar about college athletes behaving badly. The Chico St. administrators, noticing that Duke got absurdly tough with its lacrosse team, overreacted and called off the season becasue a) the don't want to be sued, and b) it's the punishment du jour. I feel bad for those students at both Chico and Duke who had nothing to do with either party, yet now have suffered punishment.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Rockies Review

by SonDog

While visiting the Colorado Rockies camp, two things became clear: 1) They suck. 2) Again.

Over the last five years in Colorado I've learned that Denver is a fantastic sports town. I've been to plenty of games for all 3.5 major sports teams (the NHL only counts for 1/2 these days) in Denver and the fans are as passionate as any around the country. The Pepsi Center, Invesco Field and Coors Field are all great venues.

In my opinion, Coors Field is one of the best parks in the country to watch a game. All the Rockies have to do is put a competitive team on the field and the fans will show up. Problem is, they haven't done that for about seven years, and the fans can't take anymore. How can you root for a team when you know going into the season that they are going to be horrible? As Kings fans, there was a time when we were able to answer that question.

Coors Field: Beautiful park, hideous team

Apparently, solving the mystery of pitching at altitude is harder than dissecting the intricacies of quantum physics. Pitching will once again be the Rockies' downfall. I had the pleasure of watching Colorado's 1 and 2 starters (Jason Jennings and Jeff Francis) get absolutely rocked in Arizona.

Everytime I drive by Coors Field, I want to pull a Jack Kevorkian on the park to put the girl out of her misery. At this point, I've even contemplated (like George Louis Costanza in an early Seinfeld episode) about sending my resume in to Rockies' management for General Manager. The team has some young players that may produce but, other than Todd Helton, there is absolutely nobody on that roster that scares you (unless you count Jose Mesa's ugly mug).

The Rockies could be... you know what?... Whatever.

Thank God for David Stern

by SonDog

The NBA wants to get rid of the disease known as "man tights."

The most troubling aspect of this NBA season is the blatant middle finger that the players are sending to David Stern on a daily basis by wearing tights during games. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. I mean, tights?! C'mon guys... Tights?!?!

I once believed that it was a conspiracy concocted by the players union in response to the pre-game dress code that was implemented before the season. Then again, once Andrew Bogut was spotted wearing tights, that theory was shot to hell.

The "my legs hurt, so tights are the only solution" plague started with Kobe, spread to LeBron, was passed to D-Wade, reached a sponsorship level with Nike and ultimately reached its sorry pinnacle by claiming... wait for it... wait for it... Toni Kukoc. Um, Toni, if MJ and Scottie were there right now, they would bludgeon you to death with your own championship rings. I'm suprised Steve Kerr hasn't already done so during an NBAThursday Night TNT telecast of a Bucks game.

I think Mike Bibby wore a one-legged tight the other night, but I'm not positive. It could have been an extra-long knee brace. I know that I've seen Bonzi Wells sport the Capri-pant tight look from time to time. (Christ, my wife can get away with Capri pants at a push, but I really don't need to see Wells in such attire.) At this point, I'm waiting for Ron Artest to sport some arm-tights during a game, just to prove he's different.

Bonzi Wells sported Capri-man-tights for a while, which was quite possibly the stupidest thing I have ever seen.

The most unbelievable pro-tight argument came from Milwaukee Buck forward Joe Smith who said, "It's something to keep you warm. It keeps my knee from swelling up, keeps some tightness around it so it won't blow up on me when I'm out there. It's meant a lot to me."

Smith added, "If my tights were a woman, I would treat them to dinner every night and show them the love that only a man on solid-knees can provide. Again, it's meant a lot to me. I would like to thank the good lord for man-tights. In no way do I feel like a complete and utter tool while wearing them."

Joe Smith wears tights so he doesn't blow up his knees. Without them, he may be forced to retire. Then again, most of the league thought he already did, so it's kind of irrelevant

Okay, so I made the last quote up. My point is, Joe, your career blew up after your first season with the Warriors when you were a flop as the #1 pick in the draft (KG was #5 that year). You don't need the tights buddy. I think Wilt Chamberlain, Karl Malone and Hakeem did just fine without the tights. (Then again, maybe the tights could have prolonged the career of Bill Walton and his rickety knees. The sight of the "Big Hyperbole" in tights would have been downright hysterical. NBA TV needs to jump on this opportunity before the leg wear is gone forever.)

Anyways, the NBA is seeking to ban such ballerina leg-wear and I have to say that I couldn't be happier. So long man-tights, we hardly knew ye.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mind of Kings Fans VII

by SonDog

The following is another email exchange between OZ and I, two die-hard Sacramento Kings fans. The team just lost to Washington at home and panic is beginning to set in with their record slipping to 35-36, currently the 8 seed in the Western Conference. They play Portland tonight with the hopes of getting back to their winning ways.

SonDog -- So, I can tell from the articles in the Bee that panic is once again setting in at Arco. Here's my favorite quote from Artest this morning, "It's good when the offense is initiated through me, not to put anybody else down," said Artest, who shot 4 of 18 for 12 points and is 10 for 50 from the field in his last three games. "But it's good when it's initiated because I get everybody involved. I'm able to free people up, create those double and triple teams. And even if I take a bad shot, I look at myself as if a Kobe (Bryant) or a Tim Duncan or a Michael Jordan taking a bad shot. You live with it."

I'm reminded of what Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said, to paraphrase, "Ron is fine when the team is winning. When the team is losing, that's a different story."

OZ -- I'm trying to figure out a way that could have been taken out of context.........nope. Can't think of one.

But other than vastly overestimating his place in basketball history (MJ?! Really?!), he's not completely wrong. He does get everybody involved and he does create match-up difficulties for the other team. At this point, he could say, "I think I should throw it up like Kobe after a sexual assault trial" and I think I'd still be driving the Artest bandwagon.

SonDog -- I'm not blaming Artest at all, but it has become clear that this team is only as good as he plays. (But MJ and Duncan? Are you serious? Really? You're not going to say, "Just kidding," after that?) The other complimentary players are just that. Complimentary. After watching last night, they need Martin back. Wells is better off the bench. Right now it's like a mosh-pit in the paint with Wells, Shareef and Artest. Does Miller play for the Kings any more? Where the hell has he gone?

When Adelman put Jason Fart into the game in the second quarter last night, I said to LeseDog, "Well, that's it for this game. No way they win when he plays."

OZ -- Oh, well that makes perfect sense. The 4:57 that Hart played had a disastrous effect on the outcome of the game. You're an idiot.

Miller is a major liability right now. With the added defensive presence that Artest and subsequently Garcia and Martin are bringing to the perimeter, it makes the black hole of defense in the middle painfully obvious. KT can only do so much at 6'10" (on his tip toes and in high heels). Miller is the quintessential Adelman player. He creates worlds of problems on the offensive end for the other team, and let's just not bother worrying about the defensive end. But replacing him with a better player is next to impossible.

SonDog -- When Adelman has to go to Jason Hart, the game is over for all intents and purposes. I don't care it it's at the 10 minute mark in the first quarter. Why do you argue this? Do you think he is a "game altering presence?" If you were a man, I would punch you right in the nose.

I can't listen to Grant Napear and Old-Fart Reynolds anymore (that's two fart jokes, if you're scoring at home). I realize that I've said this 300 times, but they irritate the hell out of me. I want an announcer like Chick Hearn who just calls the game and doesn't feel like he has to add his two-cents to every single thing that happens. For example, after KT's second technical foul, Grant said, "That's just inexcusable right there (thanks, Coach Wooden). You know, I was watching that whole thing transpire (good for you, Jack) and as a player, you just can't do what Thomas did right there." What does "as a player" mean, Grant? Hey, I got an idea, why don't you shut the hell up. We all know KT screwed up, so shut your yapper.

OZ -- The Kings should be able to win in Arco against any non-championship contender any day of the week with one of the royal court dancers in the game for 5 minutes, let alone an actual player.

The Kings flagship station was giving away signed Reynolds Remembers books for a little while. I think they stopped after winners kept saying, "No thanks, you keep it. I'm all stocked up on toilet paper."

SonDog -- All that said, I think I want them to get the 8 seed. After watching the Suns flat-out destroy Denver the other night in Phoenix, I don't want any part of that team. San Antonio, on the other hand, has some issues (so says the guy whose team employs both Wells and Artest). Somebody needs to step on Duncan's foot so he sits for a couple of games, and then that series becomes winnable (so says the guy whose team loses back-to-back home games to Golden State and Washington - sans Arenas).

OZ -- I want them to get the 6 seed. 7th and 8th are death. Phoenix destroys you sans anybody but Nash and SA beats you bloody with or without the best player in the NBA. So, to quote the most quotable movie of all time, "We're screwed either way."

I'll be elated if they make the playoffs. I would call this year a success if they make the playoffs and get swept.

SonDog -- Well, they're not getting to 6, so why don't you just stop watching. At this point, I will be happy if they make the playoffs as well. But, if Artest keeps comparing himself to MJ and Kobe, I may have to take back my original promise of buying a #93 jersey if he takes them to the post-season. He lives on his own planet.

Denver can make a run this year. They'll match up with Phoenix in the second round, and they can beat the Suns if Amare isn't playing and Camby is healthy. Wait... Camby is never healthy... It'll be the Spurs and Suns again in the Western Finals.

OZ -- Wow. Don't go too far out on that limb there Knievel.

You need a #93 jersey. If for no other reason than to play into the persona of toughness that you so desperately desire. I'd think twice about messing with a guy if he was wearing an Artest jersey.

Ron-land is in Loomis, which is hilarious as the population of Loomis is LESS than 10k. He bought a 7000 sq.ft. house (modest considering his financial resources) on a 7-acre plot. He said that he's got to have the space.

I want this guy to be the face of the Kings for years. He contradicts himself almost as well as he plays basketball.

SonDog -- If I get an Artest jersey to go along with my shaved head, I may snap into an Artest persona just to scare the living hell out of my neighbors.

Loomis? I helped open a brand-new Raley's in Loomis during summer break after my freshman year of college. It makes sense that he would buy out there, if only because it makes no sense at all.

I'm telling you, Denver can take Phoenix. Sure, they man-handled the Nugs the other night in Phoenix, but Denver is tough to beat at home too. It will be a 7-game thriller... if Camby is healthy.

OZ -- How does it feel to live in a world completely void of fact and common sense? Denver has about as much chance against the Suns as the Vista Vikings 7th grade girls team, with Camby. The only way Nash loses to the Thuggets is if he doesn't play.

That being said, did you see the pair of goose eggs they laid the other night?

SonDog -- Yup. Phoenix is beatable. Amare should sit out the rest of the year. I hate to say I predicted he wouldn't be healthy, but I predicted it. At this point, they're going to have to start having guys freebase on cocaine before making a decision to have microfracture surgery.

Denver can win. When Ruben Patterson is your starting shooting guard, anything is possible. Like abusing your babysitter. Or telling the world that you can shut down Kobe. Wait...

Go Fuck Yourself Jeff Kent

posted by BH

"I'm willing to dedicate myself for another couple of years,'' Kent said. "It's safe to say I'm proud to be able to retire a Dodger. I'm 99.9 percent sure this is the last contract of my career.''

Yeah, because this team's been good to me and I've been good to it, what with getting rid of Milton Bradley and going from first to fourth in the division.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Guess Who's back... Back again...

by SonDog

Spending a week's vacation in Scottsdale and other Cactus League sites has become an annual ritual for me. It's very much a religious experience that perennially refreshes and soothes my soul. I would compare it to the Muslim hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, but that would do an absolute disservice to my trip while not awarding my Scottsdale experience any justice.

Quite simply, there is nothing quite like the Arizona Spring Training experience. Florida's version, the Grapefruit League, can't hold the Cactus League's jock (and yes, I made that statement with absolutely no knowledge or reason to believe it to be true, as I have never been to Florida. As Steve Mariucci once said of Terrell Owens, it is void of any logical thought.).

This year's trip included trips to Tucson to visit the Chicago White Sox and Colorado Rockies camps, as well as the San Francisco Giants' camp in Scottsdale. With that in mind, I thought I would share with you today my unscientific thoughts on the White Sox and some of their key personnel.

Chicago White Sox Camp:
-- Hey, did you hear that the Chicago White Sox won the World Series last year? In case you forgot, they remind you everywhere you go in and around Tucson and Tucson Electric Park. Maybe I simply have a case of fan envy, but it seriously started to piss me off after about the 317th time I had to see something that said, "2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox!" Um, guys, we all get it. You won. Congratulations. Now, if you could go back to sucking again for the next 88 years, that would be great.

Chicago likes reminding fans about this fact every chance they can

-- I have reached the point where I can't read anything Ozzie Guillen has to say without wanting to gouge my eyes out with chop sticks. I fully understand that Ozzie did a solid job last year in keeping a loose clubhouse and diverting any criticism away from the players and towards himself. That being said, you would think the guy received a Nobel Peace Prize or something. (In case you couldn't tell by this point, I'm not a big fan of the Southsiders from Chicago.) Guillen is on my short-list of guys who don't know when to shut their yappers.

-- Not to sound like Peter Gammons, but remember this name: Ryan Sweeney. I watched him on two separate batting practice sessions in a group with Jermaine Dye and Rob Mackowiak. Sweeney was hitting absolute bombs in Tucson, then again in Scottsdale. The ball jumped off his bat with authority and it was very clear that the kid has power. Now, he could become another Pedro Cerrano for all I know, but I have to believe that Sweeney will get a shot at some point in the near future. Granted, he is only 21, but you can see the power potential already.

-- I have decided that I hate A.J. Pierzynski. This revelation came a couple of days before my trip when I read an article on about the air-head catcher who likes to piss people off for pleasure. While he was with the Giants, I was actually a supporter of Pierzynski. Part of this was due to my undying hatred for Bret Tomko (anonymous source who labeled Pierzynski a "clubhouse cancer" in an Oakland Tribune article only three weeks into the 2004 season, thereby killing clubhouse chemistry and I believe their season). However, the aforementioned ESPN article quotes Pierzynski as saying of the San Francisco clubhouse, "When you walked in there, everybody was on pins and needles," Pierzynski said. "No matter what you said or what you did, everybody was always looking to, not talk about someone, but whisper, 'Can you believe he did this? Can you believe he did that?' There wasn't a lot of joking around, there wasn't a lot of camaraderie. Felipe doesn't say a word, then Barry does his own thing. It works its way down. Everybody is so afraid to be themselves. It's just a different atmosphere. The best thing that ever happened was me getting out of there."

Anyways, here's why this is relevant. I went to the Rockies/White Sox game in Tucson decked out in all my Giants gear. I was wearing my Giants hat and 2004 Giants Spring Training shirt, while LeseDog was wearing a pink Giants hat just for good measure. During the seventh inning, I had the good fortune of catching the first foul ball of my life, off the bat of Jim Thome.

(Side Note: When I say "catch," what I really mean is, "power-shoving four old geezer ballpark volunteers out of the way on the concourse while diving head-long onto the steaming-hot asphalt in order to grab the ball before some five-year-old snot-nosed punk." But why bore you in the minutia of semantics, right?)

Anyways, I decided that I would go over to the White Sox dugout during the ninth inning to try to catch Thome after the last out. Naturally, I wanted him to sign the ball. Lo and behold, the first guy out of the dugout after the final out was none other than A.J. Pierzynski. With my perfect positioning on the railing next to the dugout, A.J. was a mere four feet from me. With a straight face (which is tough after four 20oz Corona bombers), I got his attention by saying, "Hey, A.J.! We miss you in San Francisco buddy... well, not really, but whatever." The look I received was one of pure disdain and hatred towards the orange and black I was wearing, not to mention my smart-ass smug look. I could truly see him resisting the urge to pull an Artest on me. He squinted his eyes, shook his head, mumbled something along the lines of "screw off," and headed down the tunnel behind home plate. It was the second greatest Spring Training experience of my life.

Pierzynski, right before kicking the Rockies' catcher in the balls and head-butting the umpire

So, this got me thinking a bit about Pierzynski. Here's my theory: I think Chicago caught lightning in a bottle last year with this guy, so to speak. He was in the right place at the right time (see Game 1, ninth-inning, ALCS) and kept his mouth shut just enough to keep the negativity away from him. There's no way this lasts. No way. Mark my words, if Chicago's season goes in the tank for any reason, there will be fingers pointed at Pierzynski for a variety of issues. I'm telling you, it is just too easy to get under that guy's skin and when you're that much of a hot-head, there is no middle-ground for fans between love and hate. The love-affair won't last. It might not end this year, but like Jeff Kent and every team he's every played with, it will one-day end.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

My tourney pool has turned into a flaming pile of dog crap

posted by BH

Going into the Sweet Sixteen, I still had all four of my Final Four teams alive and kicking. Now, only two remain after Duke failed to show up against LSU and Gonzaga shit all over themselves in the final minutes of their matchup with UCLA. Villanova and UConn, my other two teams, are still alive, barely. Both of those teams gave me a scare though, and I was looking at an Elite Eight without any of my teams still in the tourney. Alas, The Huskies and Wildcats gave me a stay of execution, so I live to watch from my couch another day.

I'm convinced Billy Packer doesn't know what's going on on a basketball court anymore. When listening to him, I get the feeling he doesn't actually do any research into any teams other than the ones actually playing the game he's broadcasting. When brackets were announced two weekends ago, despite admitting the he hadn't seen any MVC games and didn't know anything about those teams, he proclaimed that they did not deserve as many teams as they got being in the tournament. That sounds like a guy who either a) takes for granted his position as CBS's #1 color guy, and/or b) believes he has been around long enough that what he says should stand on his merits alone and be taken as gospel. Last night during the 'Nova/BC game, I had to turn the sound down because I got sick of hearing the verbal ball washing he was giving Wildcat guard Kyle Lowry. At two seperate points, Packer sang Lowry's praises following Lowry committing dirty acts. One involved him trying to trip another player who had screened him, and another involved Lowry lowering his shoulder and plowing into a BC player long after the whistle had been blown. Packer's on the sideline cleaning up the mess he just made because he thinks Lowry's a tough player. No, he's a dirty player.

I don't know what's going on with the officiating in this tournament. It seriously looks more like it's being called by NBA officials than college guys. It feels as though teams are committing fouls in waves. Or at least that they're being called that way. From what I've been able to see, consistency is more of a suggestion than an standard. It's crazy how a guy can lower his shoulder, plow into a guy, and not get called, while on the other side of the court, a touch of the elbow earns a player a whistle.

Trying it out

posted by BH

I've had a beard for a while. I started growing it when I was working at Sierra Pacific in October. It has, over that time, become a trusted companion. I've actually grown a beard each of the past three winters, but this is the first year in which I've kept it until March. I don'tknow why I feel better about this year's version. I think I've become a more capable beard grower, in that I seem to be able to grow more hair than when I was younger, and I am better at taking care of it. All that being said, my wife's been dropping hints for the past few weeks that it may be time to come clean. I know what she's saying. I get a lot less smooching action as a bearded guy. I don't think I'd get a lot more being clean shaven, but she thinks I look better with no hair on my face.

This year I decided that, having grown attached to my facial hair and having never sported one, I'd give a mustache a try. I've thought about it from many angles, and on the positive side:

a) I don't have to go through the actual process of growing one, which has to be a difficult thing for any guy to go through.
b) Other guys will think I'm cool
c) I'll look like Earl Hickey

On the negative side:

a) Girls won't look twice at me. I know I'm married and all, but it's nice to know I'm being noticed.

b) Looks dirty?
c) I'll still have the kissing issue with my wife.
d)I'll look like Earl Hickey
e) To quote something from Phil, "You can't say shit if you have a mustache. If you go to the PG&E office to dispute a bill, they'll just say "Dude, you have a mustache" and you'll have to pay the full amount. If you write a letter to the editor, it will be rejected. Your kid will ask you not to sleep with his mother. You can't get free super-saver shipping at Amazon."

I shaved the rest of my beard off Friday afternoon, and made my first public appearance last night. My wife likes it. When I went out last night, at least five guys said something to me about it. Some said it was cool, others said things like "Hey...look at that."

Having a mustache kind of feels like walking around town with my zipper down and one of my nuts hanging out. People look at me and I can't really tell whay they're thinking. There are certainly those admiring the sac I've got, while others can't believe I'd go out like that. I don't know. I've kind of always wanted to be Magnum, P.I., and while I will never be able to sport a Selleck-esque piece, I can do my best Earl imitation.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Afternoon Thoughts

by C-lo

Text messages from Sondog to rub it in my face that he's somewhere warm and fun and I'm stuck in this hell hole of an office:
"I just caught a foul ball!" This one left me picturing Sondog jumping over the row in front of him and knocking some kid out of the way to catch a baseball hit by some no name 5th outfielder. In this picture, Sondog's head is the color of the stitches on that baseball.
"I just talked to Matheny and got his autograph." Not cool...not cool. I bet he was all hot and sweaty. Yeah baby!

Adam Morrison is a big baby. Not only does he have the world's worst child pornographer mustache, but I had to watch it quiver as he cried like a baby in last night's game against UCLA before the game was even over!! Dude, you still have a chance to win...quit crying. And then to just throw himself on the floor in some temper tantrum because they lost...he lost all respect from me at that moment. Weak, weak, weak.

Niner's Sign Larry Allen: Warn the Burger Joints and Coke Dealers
One of my favorite moments from working for the Cowboys was watching Larry Allen (6' 3", 325lbs and even heavier when this took place) attempt to get into his "custom-fit" Ferrari. You could tell he had a system worked out. Right foot in, right knee in, right hip in, right shoulder, duck the head, and squeeze the left side in. OR, get a bigger ride. Mercy. Enjoy him though. Maybe now Alex Smith can stay upright for enough plays to get some touchdowns. Quote from Mike Nolan: "Though we've got basic young toughness in our group, it's good to have a guy who says it's OK to be nasty and do what you need to do." Get nasty brother.

Random thoughts:
-I would hate for my last name to be Pittsnogle (by the way, what a game?!)
-I bought an external hard drive for my computer at work for storing all of my personal stuff. I now have a most impressive collection of music at my fingertips all day long. It's beautiful. I must say that I have everything from Ella Fitzgerald, to Willie Nelson, to Ludacris, to Pearl Jam. Amazing!
-How many people plan on watching the George Mason vs. Witchita State game tonight? Good, that makes one of you. (I'm just bitter because my bracket stinks)

Sondog, come back!!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Monday Morning Thoughts

posted by BH

If you watched any of the Bradley/Pittsburgh game yesterday, you might have noticed CBS's running clock and score at the bottom had the word "BRAD" placed over the word "PITT."

Speaking of the tournament, picks that looked promising at one time now look a bit sketchy. In the first round I was 24-8, but in the second round I was 10-6. At best I can go 6-2 in the next round. All my Final Four teams are still in, though they've all looked beatable. UConn, the team I've got winning it all, has been lucky to get to the Sweet Sixteen.

I thought the Giants looked ready two weeks ago. Now I'm not so sure. Matt Morris gave up four runs in six innings and threw 93 pitches in a loss to the Brewers yesterday. Felipe Alou was saying all the usual spring training stuff after the game, like "It's his first time here, and [it's tougher] for a breaking-ball guy." 6.00 ERA tougher? I know it's spring, and I know the altitude in Arizona is an issue for finesse-ish guys, but it's still a little troublesome.

Pedro Feliz has become a cautionary tale for teams letting their players compete in the World Baseball Classic. He had six at-bats for the Dominican Republican over a period in which he would have had closer to fifty with the Giants. The idea of him being ready for opening day seems a stretch. Guh.

I've noticed that Ovaltine seems to be hitting the marketing pretty hard lately, but I'm having a hard time figuring out who they think their target market might be. The ads are really bad, usually with kids outside saying something like, "Mom's making rich chacolatey Ovaltine," then cutting to the Mom talking to her friend about full of vitamins Ovaltine is. The ads are sandwiched between spots for "The Scooter Store" and internet health care companies. So it seems that the company's goal is to attract cheesy kids, stupid Moms, and old people. I have to admit, it's ambitious. In the immortal words of Kenny Bania, "Why don't they call it 'Roundtine?'"

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Falling Behind

posted by BH

As Joel got out of the car, he scanned his surroundings. It was an intimidating sight. Row after row of high tech bikes, brand new and boyant wetsuits, and light as a feather running shoes, all sitting in the transistion area of the San Jose International Triathlon. It was the first time Joel had entered such an event, and while he had believed that he was going to be free from the butterflies and worry that had surrounded his past competitive experiences, he now understood that he could not. As Joel looked around, spying athlete after athlete in greater physical condition than he, the uneasiness grew more intense.

Joel knew the deal. His brother had been on the triathlon team at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Joel had been to a couple of races. He knew these were top athletes, a group he had little to no business feeling he could compete with. But the competitive juices in Joel had him wanting to know. Could he keep up with them if he wanted? Joel devoted his summer to preparing for this triathlon. He swam, biked and ran day after day for the weeks and months leading up to the event. Having been a pretty good athlete his whole life, Joel began to wonder, "Is it possible I could win this thing?" After all, he had been an All-American in swimming in his college days. His brother reminded him that some of the triathletes against whom he'd be competing had been doing this their whole lives, and there was no chance Joel could win.

Joel got his transition area set up, put on his wetsuit, and made his way toward the water. His plan was to find his way to the edge of the pack during the opening swim, fall in behind a fellow swimmer, and draft his way through the first leg of the race. As the race began, Joel's plan was working perfectly. He stayed away from the churning arms and whitewater near the middle of the pack, finding a quick swimmer to fall directly behind. As the swim went on though, Joel decided to pick up his pace. He found a quicker swimmer to follow. Then finding that one too slow, he found another. Soon, Joel realized he was in the front of the pack. He was leading the swim in his first triathlon. Joel's brother didn't know what the hell he was talking about. At the end of the swim leg, Joel had a thirteen second lead on the next competitor.

Joel made a quick transistion from the swim to the bike leg, heading out toward the course. With a comfortable lead, Joel thought he had enough time to get his legs moving and used to the change from swim to bike. While thinking this though, Joel made a wrong turn, exiting the course. Realizing his mistake Joel turned around and made it back, though now in second place. Suddenly, the good feelings Joel once had about the race were gone. Joel's advantage was gone. Now, he was screwed. His advantage had been the swim, and now he had blown it. As Joel struggled to recapture his position, he began to realize that his brother had known exactly what he was talking about. Joel was screwed. Bike after bike passed him, until at the end of that leg of the race, Joel found himself in 17th place.

The run was worse. Joel's legs had never worked this hard for this long. Now he knew what his brother was talking about. The men he was competing against had been training their whole lives. Their legs were still moving well. Joel had taken up training the spring before. His legs were moving like a pair of Gumbys made of shit. Joel watched as competitor after competitor passed him, losing a little bit of hope after each one. At the end of the race, Joel was in pain. He was upset with himself for having been so cavalier about his chances, especially since he hadn't prepared to the extent others had.

I'll give you a hint. This is a metaphor. JOEL IS ME!! THE RACE IS THE TOURNAMENT! I felt good after Thursday's games. I was leading after the swim. NOW IT'S THE BIKE LEG AND I FEEL LIKE SHIT! I'M SCREWED!

Friday, March 17, 2006


by C-lo
This is the email I sent to Sondog first thing Tuesday morning. He's been bugging me to post it so I thought I better before he blows an aneurism or something.

"So I went to see “Failure to Launch” on Sunday with all my girlfriends…it was one of those chick flick days and this was our only option. My thought was, “hell, I’ll pay $6.50 just to look at Matthew McConaughey for 2 hours, so why not?” Let me tell you why not, and shame on every movie critic for not giving me fair warning about this. I go into the movie a bit skeptical because Terry Bradshaw is playing his father. I’m thinking, “my God, why is he in this movie?” Anyway, movie starts, it’s going along fine, Bradshaw is doing a ½ decent job at acting (ok, not really, but I’ll give him some credit), and then…hold on, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit…and then…ok, get me a bucket…I have to see Terry Bradshaw…oh, there’s the McDonalds I had for breakfast…NAKED! “OH LORD SAVE ME FROM THIS HELL I AM IN!!” It was horrible. I am forever scarred. The image is burned onto my retinas. I could have gone my whole life w/o seeing that. I have spent some quality time out at the deer camp with ole TB but never, ever, ever did I want to see that. Muh!
Anyway, I had to share that with you as no one else in the theater could understand my disgust."

I paid $6.50 to see this man naked. I will never be the same.

--In other news, it is rumored that the Dallas Cowboys (yes, get used to it...I'm a Cowboys fan) are picking up Terrell Owens. I would assume that I am not the only fan who thinks this is a travesty, a sham, a mockery...a traveshamockery! The man should not even be allowed in Texas Stadium. I am in total shock.

Reilly and Bonds

posted by BH

This is long, and Jimmy crack corn.

Rick Reilly was on the Dan Patrick show yesterday. If you've got ESPN Insider, you can go on to Dan Patrick's page and download the segment. Before he got to Bonds, he these things to say about Adam Morrison:

I think he's the most exciting player in the country, I think he's going to be a great pro. He's so interesting, he's like, a Marxist. He drives an '87, like I don't know, crappy car. He's uh, he's got diabetes. There's just a million things right about that guy.

There are about a million things wrong with that statement. But clearly, this demonstrates that Reilly has an open mind. Right? Okay, on to Bonds:

Reilly: (Referring to his column in the current SI) This week, I've got um, I got all the, um entries because he only talks really to his website, uh for the whole year, for the whole 2006 I've already got what he's going to say.

Patrick: Well give us a sampling.

Reilly: Well it pisses him off when people hang signs in left field saying 'No grazing out here Barry' you know because of the cattle steroids, and things like that.

Funny, funny stuff. Of course, Bonds doesn't really get pissed about stuff like that, and I'm certain Reilly knows this. I get the feeling the column paints Barry as kind of a baby or whiner.

Patrick: Are you going to write a book on Bonds? Everybody else is.

Reilly: (Laughs) No. It's like becoming a diet industry.

Patrick: Woodward and Bernstein I think just came out with a book on Barry Bonds.

Dude, this is dumb. "Ha ha, look how I know about these other guys who broke a story about conspiracy?" Yeah, two books have been written. That certainly constitutes a huge industry, including two guys who broke a story about conspiracy in the White House. It's that huge! Hide your kids!!

Reilly: I know, it's unbelievable. You've got to admit, 'Game of Shadows,' what I've read of it, is really good. And Jeff Pearlman, from what I've read, he just sent it too me, is really good too, so, I don't know. Those two are good.

Let me get this straight. From what Reilly's read, Dan patrick has to admit that the two books are good? Reilly is and always has been an open Bonds hater, writing countless pieces about Bonds' being a bad guy. I 'm pretty sure anything that portrays Bonds in a negative light is going to get a huge thumbs up from Reilly. There is absolutely no objectivity in this guy. It would be like a die-hard liberal panning a Michael Moore book.

Patrick: Okay, what do you do if your the commissioner right now?

Get ready. Here it comes.

Reilly: I absolutely suspend him, I sick John Dowd on the whole thing. There's no way I let my sport be besmirched by a guy we kn...we're 99.999% sure is a cheat. I want this, I don't want this to be a horrible black eyed moment in baseball. He absolutely deserves to be suspended. Isn't it funny though? You know what's funny? If you told me a guy, a superstar guy was caught, he'd been having a relationship with a woman who wasn't his wife, that he was taking baseball card money and giving it to her under the table, that alone would cause a guy to get suspended. But no, that's just the tip of the iceberg with Barry. And yet, Bud Selig, the man who isn't there, the man born somehow without a spine, is just going to sit there and let us all, and have us all watch this.

This is a long set of statements, but I felt it needed to be written in it's entirety.
1. Are we supposed to suspend every guy in baseball who has cheated on his wife? Dude, you just talked about how a guy is cool because among other things he's a Marxist! You can't play moralist and relativist in the same conversation.
2. Are we going to suspend each guy who has ever taken baseball card money and, under the table, given it to someone else? That's probably a lot of players. That he gave it to his mistress is irrelevant, but is meant to make the case look more damning.
3. Let's remember, Bud Selig in the commissioner of baseball, and his powers extend to baseball related activities.
4. Who the hell is the magical John Dowd? Yeah, I know his deal. But what's he going to investigate? Steroids? Sure. Tax evasion? Not really a baseball issue. Adultery? Again, not really in the realm of baseball's authority. What's he going to find? More importantly, what's he going to do once he finds anything out?
5. Finally, Reilly doesn't want the sport to be besmirched by this one guy? What? Wasn't there this little thing last year when a bunch of ballplayers were called in front of congress? Steroids is not only a Bonds issue, and that Reilly acts as though it is, is disingenuous, misleading, and a huge fucking insult to anyone with the ability to use 1/75 of his or her brain.

Patrick: But if you're the commissioner, how can you, I mean, what are you suspending him on? You're suspending him on circumstantial evidence, but you're not suspending him on a failed drug test. If you're the players association, you're going to fight that, till, you know, the cows come home.

Not only is the MLBPA going to fight it. It's going to go to an arbitrator, who never in a million years would hold up a suspension in which no positive drug test was taken.

Reilly: I'm gonna fight with the players association, but I have to do something in the best interest of the game.

Yeah, there was this steroid policy thing announced a little while ago, but go on...

Reilly: That's what I suspend him for. It's in the commissioner's power to suspend a guy if it's in the best interest of the game. Everybody's like, 'Oh you can't know...steroids weren't illegal when he was ta...' Yes they were!

No, they weren't in baseball. Despite what you say next.

Reilly: Fay Vincent went around to every clubhouse in '92 and said, 'We, you are not allowed to take performance enhancing drugs,' to say nothing of federal law! This guy's taking federal law by taking other people's prescriptions for Winstrol and whatever else he may have took. We know in a grand jury statement he, he admits he took it but unwittingly. So we (groan), so he says, so there's a million reasons to suspend this guy.

A million is probably 999,999 too many. I mean, maybe steroids, but not really. When Selig suspends Bonds at this point, with no failed drug test and a bunch of information from two books, a huge, huge can of worms is opened up. First, what if we, ten years from now, find out it's wrong? Second, what if an ex-teammate of Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, or Albert Pujols comes out with information about their drug use and womanizing? Do we suspend them too. If Selig suspends Bonds, at this point based on what he's got, he has to suspend every single player ever suspected of performance enhancing drug use of any kind.

Patrick: I think the commissioner is probably fighting, you know, the back and forth that this is supposed to be a great season, a monumental season with Bonds, what kind of fight is one your hands? Is it a public relations nightmare? Is it the kind of thing where five years down the road we fully appreciate him going after Bonds, or do we look at it as a futile attempt to try to make things good for things that have transpired a long long time ago?

Clearly, Patrick is pointing out what we already know. Steroids were not against the rules in baseball over the period we're talking about. Does Selig want to make a poster child for all the mistakes baseball made in not having a steroid policy? Is it right to crucify one man for the indiscretions of an entire league?

Reilley: The average fan knows that...CNN did a poll that said 60% of fans said he shouldn't be allowed to continue to play. More than, more than 48% said he shouldn't be allowed in the Hall of Fame. This is not a public relations nightmare. This is the right thing to do. The guy cheated! We have been conned since '98 by this guy, and, and I think McGwire ad I think Sosa, and Palmiero, conned by em all, and somebody's got to step up and do the right thing and say 'Stop. You're not going to break these records that, that were set legally.

60% of fans interviewed in a CNN poll don't know shit. I would estimate the figures were similar regarding letting Pete Rose into the Hall prior to his book coming out. The public is fickle, and exceedingly dumb. At least 60% of people either are shortsighted, don't understand baseball, have let their ill-conceived ideas of Bonds' personality affect their view of his stature in baseball, or quite simply, didn't know what the hell the poll was about. Reilly says that "more than" 48% of people said he shouldn't be allowed in the Hall? How much more? What about the other 52%?

It will be a PR nightmare, because eventually right thinking has to win. Enough people now, and it's the minority, understand what's going on. There are many, many questions regarding Bonds and steroids that aren't being asked by the media; questions they don't want to ask. ESPN and other sports media either choose not to ask them because they require deeper thought and greater understanding, aspects not attractive in today's headline news society, or they are comfortable shaping the views of the sports watching nation by presenting biased information.

After Day 1

posted by BH

I'm 13-3. The three I bombed on were Nevada going down to Montana, Pacific to BC, and Indiana beating SDSU. The Nevada and Pacific games were particularly painful, since I had them matched against each other in round two. I'm going to gloat a little on the Texas A&M, 'Bama, and Wisconsin-Milwuakee outcomes, although I had nothing to to with their respective wins and will probably go 3-13 today, thereby erasing all good feelings I have at this moment.

Today I've got some 9's over 8's, but nothing like yesterday. The most frightening game is #12 Kent State against #5 Pittsburgh. I took Pitt, but I'm now feeling a little uneasy about that one. #4 Kansas/#13 Bradley is a little freaky too. Basically, I'm quite a bit less confident about today.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pearlman and Griffey

posted by BH

The follwing comes from a Jeff Pearlman peice from 1999 when he was writing for Sports Illustrated:

"Junior's finest trait, everyone remarks, is memory. Griffey has a splendid memory, not just for baseball, but society. He holds people accountable for their actions. Not long ago he asked a writer to refrain from printing something. The writer printed it. Griffey scolded him -- immediately. He can be your worst friend or your best enemy. Your best friend or your worst enemy. He can pop a remark that will make you feel so small, then pat you on the back like a brother."

It was reported yesterday that Griffey said he remembered nothing of Barry Bonds talking about steroids while at Griffey's house. Hmmm. How can the guy, who apparently many people believe has an amazing memory, not remember such a huge conversation? Either it didn't happen, it was a joke and treated as such by Griffey and Bonds, or Griffey's lying. I'm inclined to think Griffey's not lying.

I guess one more thing's been bothering me about this whole deal. Where were the sources of this quote following Bonds saying it? Obviously, if it's to be believed, Bonds and Griffey took for granted that McGwire and Sosa were on the juice. Why didn't the source come out then?

(SI article link)

Okay, so it's tourney time.

posted by BH

Usually, I get more into NCAA basketball long before championship week, but this year has been a little different. I don't know what my problem has been. But now, we're getting down to business. I have included my "upset" picks for the first round, with probably a little explanation by each one. I will say that the only pick I'm regretting not making is Winthrop over Tennesee. Winthrop is bigger, and probably a little better.

Atlanta bracket:

#12 Tex A&M over #5 Syracuse: It just seems like the Orange are going to have a letdown after their run through the Big East tourney. Other than that, I have no real basis for this pick.

#9 Bucknell over #8 Arkansas: Although Bucknell seems to make the tournament each year, they sort of have the Gonzaga syndrome from the late 90's and early 00's. Good tourney team that shows up during the regular season but seemingly gets little respect from the tourney committee. I expect Bucknell to roll.

Oakland bracket:

#11 San Diego State over #6 Indiana: I can't believe Indiana made the tourney. And as a six seed. It's baffling actually.

#10 Alabama over #7 Marquette: This is a total leap. Marquette's better than a 7 seed and 'Bama's suspect, but each year there are those games that can't be explained by reason. I think this is one of those games.

Washington, D.C. bracket:

#9 UAB over #8 Kentucky: Eh. Why not?

Minneapolis bracket:

#13 Pacific over #4 Boston College: A lot of people are picking BC to go to the Final Four. They're good, but I think that's a bit much. Especially since I think they're going to lose this game. My heart goes with the West Coast team over an East Coaster, and I think Pacific has been undervalued at a #13.

#11 Wisconsin-Milwuakee over #6 Oklahoma: UWM seems to to something each year. I don't know if they do or not, but it just seems that way. Oklahoma had a big win over Texas this year, which probably did something to raise them to a six seed. OK's probably more of an 8.

There you go. I might go 0-7 with these picks relying on little more than gut feelings, but whatever. If I go 5-2 I look like a genius, while going winless makes me just another goob trying to get an edge by picking bad games. Eh.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What I'm thinking

by SonDog

Ron Artest played better defense on Kobe Bryant on Tuesday night than any player I've ever seen. If this guy keeps his head screwed on straight, he's one of the 7-8 best players in the NBA. I'm not exadurating. And I'm not an NBA scout. That being said, if I were a betting man (which I am), I would put money on Artest (which I have) not making it 18 months without a serious incident that warrants suspension from both the Kings and the NBA. Remember, this is the honeymoon period where Ron-Ron can do no wrong (see Owens, Terrell and Philadelphia).

For Northern California sports fans: Who was/is the most hated and most scrutinized player (by way of the media) in A) MLB B) NBA and C) NFL in 2005/2006? If you answered A) Barry Bonds B) Ron Artest and C) Terrell Owens, you would be correct. Is there just a touch of irony in this for us, or should we finally admit that the mass-media is racist and has a homophobic tendency towards the San Francisco gay-pride parade? I'm just asking.

When Yao Ming puts in his iPod (as shown in the pre-game special on ABC on Sunday), what type of music does he listen to?

Syracuse's Gerry McNamara reminds me of Mike Bibby in so many ways. I'm not saying he will be the player that Bibby has become, but Jerry Mac will find a spot in an NBA rotation as every team can use a zone-busting 17-18-ft jump shooting specialist. He's money when it counts. I'm telling you, somebody will get a steal in the later portion of the first round of the 2006 NBA draft. That being said, I picked Texas A&M to beat the Orangemen in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Go figure.

Mike Bibby, with 7.3% less pigment.

In case you're wondering, I could write a freakin' novella on the Barry Bonds fiasco and how the hypocritical sports writers are showing their... wait a minute... that's for an entirely separate column.

Hey, have you heard that Barry Bonds did steroids?

I'm over MySpace.

I will be leaving on Monday for my annual Spring Training pilgrimage to Arizona. Last year, BH and I had the pleasure of conversing with several players (remember Jim Brower, BH? Remember how we asked him how his arm felt after throwing 3,000 games the year before and how he said he felt "great?" Remember how he blatantly lied to our faces for about 5 minutes, yet we stood there and asked him for his autograph? Remember how he was released about 60 days later because he sucked harder than (there are so many inappropriate comments I could put here, are there not?)? Ahhhhhh, the memories. At least we have Rickie Weeks' autograph "for our kids.") At any rate, I'll do my best to report as much as possible from the desert. I'll keep a close eye on batting practice and the mid-inning outfield jogging to see how the young Giants are progressing. With that, # 9 through #2 of the much-anticipated part III of The Indispensables will be hitting the site after my religous experience that is Spring Training week.

BH (with camera) and I scouting the action in Scottsdale, AZ in March 2005. The Giants failed to listen to our scouting report that the team was too old to contend. Huston Street, however, gained some valuable pitching advice from BH on his way to AL Rookie of the Year. Much more on this during a later date.

One last note: Stapes, I apologize that we haven't had any NCAA tournament blogging on here. I really do. However, I fully speak for myself here when I say that fear that my minimal level of knowledge when it comes to the RPI and bracketology would simply be an embarrassment to the site and prove counter to the distaste we show towards sports columnists who try to sound like experts. I wish you well in your NCAA tourney pool, but I want to win that money. Seriously, I do.

Bonds and Roids: Part II

posted by BH

First of all, how crazy is it that excerpts from a new book about Bonds and steroid use comes out in ESPN the Magazine one week after excerpts from another book comes out in a "rival" publication? Is it coincidence? Is it the ugly cousin trying to keep up with his hot counterpart? I know these magazines have been in publication for some time, but I have an idea that Sports Illustrated's piece was leaked and ESPN the rag had to scramble. Secondly, who the hell is Jeff Pearlman? Most will remember him as the guy who wrote an article in Sports Illustrated on John Rocker a few years back, then followed it up with a piece about how fat David Wells was; a piece that did not actually contain any information from Wells himself. Obviously, he is monumentally qualified to write a book about how to go about doing one's job in a correct and ethical manner.

Apparently, the big news in the book is that over dinner at Ken Griffey Jr.'s house one night, Bonds said,
"You know what, I had a helluva season last year, and nobody gave a crap. Nobody. As much as I've complained about
McGwire and (Jose) Canseco and all of the bull with steroids, I'm tired of fighting it. I turn 35 this year. I've got three or
four good seasons left, and I wanna get paid. I'm just gonna start using some hard-core stuff, and hopefully it won't hurt
my body. Then I'll get out of the game and be done with it."

Irony is beauty. Basically, Bonds says that the media attention paid to the McGwire/Sosa chase of '98 motivated him to turn to steroids. Now the media rips Bonds for it. Remember when reporters found Andro in McGwire's locker and few people if any gave a crap? Remember when it was all but swept under the rug by a media enamored with his home run chase? Remember when steroid use in baseball was not against the rules? Why? Why wouldn't Bonds look at what Sosa and McGwire were doing and not go for an improvement? What did it get Bonds? A home run record, attained by breaking no rules.

Furthermore, in the story, former Giants scrub Jay Canizaro estimated as many as 13 players on the '99 Giants were steroid users and that he was sure Bonds was a user because of the signs, including his body size and acne on his back. Canizaro said Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson, gave him details about Bonds' steroid intake. "The Giants that year were really out of control," Canizaro is quoted as saying. Canizaro's allegations are backed up by the fact that the '99 Giants were literally Giants, won the west by 47 games, and swept the World Series by beating a fire-breathing dragon.

As far as the Griffey revelations go, ESPNnews has been very careful to tell viewers that Griffey, "was not the source of the allegations." After all it's important that we protect the images of our biggest stars. Griffey responded to the excerpts, saying,
"The conversation we supposedly had, I don't ever remember happening," Griffey said at CalState Fullerton, where Team
USA held a workout between games in the World Baseball Classic. "I just don't remember us ever talking about the use of
any performance-enhancing drugs. I mean, the only thing Barry and I really talked about was me coming out to San
Francisco and working out with him. And I told him for six weeks, I can't leave my family. Just like me asking him to come
down to Florida for six weeks. It's tough when you have families. ... He said, 'You just need to get out here. Jerry Rice is out
here.' As for the other thing, that conversation didn't happen."

And Griffey's feelings about Bonds and whether or not he's been clean? "Does it really matter what I think?" he said before pausing. "Yeah, yeah."

Okay. Here are some of the fundamental issues I've got with the piece based on limited knowledge of what it contains. The first quote from Bonds seems to be a lot of information to be able to quote unless you've got a tape recorder. The quote itself should raise a red flag simply because, a)for steroids being such a huge issue, and seemingly so secretive, to announce these intentions in front of a number of people so brazenly would be insane, b) Griffey doesn't remember it, yet Pearlman quotes Griffey's response at the party, and from the point of view of Griffey, writes
"Nevertheless, Griffey understood how Bonds felt. For most of the past decade, they had been the sport's two top players.
Now, from their point of view, men with significantly less talent were abusing drugs to reach their level. Where was the
fairness? The integrity? Griffey didn't agree with Bonds' position, but he certainly empathized."

It seems like a memorable moment in the Bonds/Griffey relationship, at least so much that an unknown source was able to recall every single word of the interaction.

The other issue has to be Canizaro. Faced with the option of using steroids, as he had in his college days, the story tells us that "Canizaro was tempted. He was fighting for a job against other players who were clearly using. But then he remembered the acne and the shrunken testicles -- and the time he blacked out while injecting steroids into his rear." Dude, if the choice is making a major League roster full-time and putting up with shrunken cobbles and acne, I'm taking the stuff. Give me a break. The dude used steroids in college. He was drafted based on what he did in college. Problems here? Of course, and I don't believe the "my nuts would shrink and my back would look weird excuse." It also doesn't answer where Pearlman found Canizaro. Was he soliciting Bonds steroid dirt? Pearlman cites this guy as credible, when in the piece he gives obvious reasons for why Canizaro would hold some level of resentment for the Giants and their players.

We know Bonds did steroids. Obviously, few people if any have real evidence, but the circumstantial evidence is monumental. What is most troublesome about the Bonds and steroids focus is the seeming willingness by many to accept "revelations" published in books and magazines, designed to make a profit, as gospel. Few seem willing to question the motivations of these authors, despite the almost certain idea that these men are looking for and writing only that information that supports a preconceived hypothesis. For what it's worth though, from the excerpts I've read from Pearlman's book, Bonds come off as a little more sympathetic figure than was portrayed in "Game of Shadows."

When is the next book coming out? When does it begin to look like writers are out to make a buck off Bonds? When Pete Rose admitted to gambling on baseball and came out with his book around the same time, the effect was opposite what he wanted. Public sentiment turned the other way in a hurry. I'm wondering if that's kind of what's going to happen with Bonds. Right now, it's all a bad movie. We know that the bad guy is really bad. He kicks kittens and puppies. He beats up his girlfriend. He even crapped in the beans at Taco Bell. He's Sack from "Wedding Crashers" or Johnny Ringo in "Tombstone." But maybe there's more to the bad guy than we're led to believe. Maybe he's Norman Bates. Yeah he's messed up and in trouble, but you feel bad for him because he's had his ass kicked by his mother his whole life, and now she's dead and stored upstairs. When do the good writers start writing the movie? Or in this case, the book?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

New Edition

by SonDog

With the ever expanding popularity of this site (at least in the vast expanse that is my mind), the key decision makers (i.e., BH and myself) have decided to double the size of our editorial staff. In other words, we enlisted the support of two of our four loyal readers in order to diversify some of the viewpoints while spicing up some of the commentary.

New Edition

That said, I would like to introduce C-Lo (a journalism graduate - Public Relations emphasis - from the University of Arkansas) and DMo (an Environmental Studies graduate from Oregon University) as the newest contributors to Mile High Ramblings.

C-Lo brings a unique Southern perspective to our mostly West Coast ranting and raving. She also brings a female perspective, which of course is the perspective of illogical thought and violent mood swings (Ba-dum CHING!!). And I hope she didn't just quit. Seriously, because you're going to love her work. She also is one of the only women I know that is a fan of A) sports and B) whiskey, which goes a loooooooong way in my book.

DMo brings more West Coast sports love (because we just don't have enough of that), intense political animosity towards a particular presidential incumbent, as well as a complete and utter disregard for pop-culture (or anybody's feelings). He also is my primary drinking buddy and a big fan of Irish whiskey.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Links

by SonDog

-- Interesting (i.e. satirical) take on the steroids issue from's Patrick Hruby. While there are more bullet holes in this argument than a Humvee in Iraq, as a Bonds fan I am inclined to believe that Hruby's points are infallible. My favorite part is where Hruby wonders aloud if Bonds will become pregnant (from the women's infertility juice) and lactate buttermilk (from the cattle roids).

-- (From Trav) The Onion became one of my favorite news agencies one day after college when I accidentally googled it while trying to find my college paper, The Orion. At any rate, this story pretty much sums up my feelings on the shock-factor from the Bonds news.

I'm still shocked at how they figured this out

-- (From C-Lo) The below picture was sent to me by a die-hard Arkansas Razorback fan. Why she thinks the Hogs, sans Nolan Richardson, can ever win an NCAA tournament is beyond me. Regardless, it's amazing that this image actually showed up on an ESPN telecast. Why our children are allowed to see a sign like this, but not Janet Jackson's 40-year-old boob is truly shocking. Somewhere, the FCC is having a collective hissy fit.

Take a hard look at what the sign says. Now THAT is funny.

-- For you Kings fans who haven't seen this, here is the official website for Ron Artest. Tru Warrior, to the core. Homey. Peep this, yo. I'm still not quite sure how well he's fitting in to the social web of Sacramento, seeing as it's still the land of a thousand farmers. The only 'hood found in Sac is the one you pop to check on your engine. (Ba dum, ching!) I still love the way the guy plays though.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Test Post

We're having some technical difficulties today with the site.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wojciechowski: New Thinker

posted by BH

This comes from Gene Wojciechowski's new column on I'm trying to figure out whether this guy has always been a beligerent, mimicing, unreflective buffoon seemingly motivated to write only by hate, or if he recently changed his style so people like me would post his pieces and comment on them. I'm sorry it's so long, but ol' Gene is gold.

In the end, there is only one question that needs to be asked: Do you believe Barry Bonds, or the book?

Good question. Way to start the piece. Since you actually ask this at the beginning of your piece, I'm guessing you're trying to be dramatic. What did Bonds say that is or is not to be believed? That he never knowingly took steroids? Maybe you're staying ambiguous so you can shape a preposterous argument for him, making him look crazy.

If you believe Bonds, then you believe the third-leading home run hitter in the history of Major League Baseball is the victim of an unrelenting federal and media conspiracy designed to frame him for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Seriously, did he say that? Wow, he must have watched a lot of X-Files. Oh, wait. You're doing that thing where you shape a preposterous argument for him, making him look crazy. Well done. This does make Bonds sound crazy. For there to be a conspiracy against him, you'd have to have many people working to discredit him. For God's sake, you'd have to have someone leak secret, sworn Bonds testimony to a...oh. Well, you'd have to have guys dedicate several years to uncovering information about you with the intent to publish...oh. Well, at least you'd have to have hundred of guys all over the country take time to write netgative influential columns describing...damn.

If you believe the excerpts of "Game of Shadows," then you believe that Bonds and his mind-boggling, bloated numbers of 1998-2004 (he missed most of last season with an injury) are a fraud.

Well, sort of. I mean, he didn't actually take the ball, put it on the other side of the fence, and get credit for hitting a home run. He didn't actually possess a stopwatch that slowed down time in order to stop the ball right before his bat made contact, only to position it so that he could hit a bomb. And he kind of was facing guys who probably had, you know, the same advantages he did.

I believe the book. I think Bonds is -- or was -- a human Walgreens, a grotesque and insulting example of better baseball through chemistry. And I think he should slither away, joining Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro in forced baseball exile.

I'm blown away. You want Bonds to go away? Wasn't that from your column like two weeks ago? If Bonds retains the choice to slither away if he desires, is it still forced?

Bonds is finished. He might play again, but there is only a chalk outline left around his integrity and home run totals. And the only way he gets into Cooperstown is if he spends the $14.50 for a Hall of Fame admission ticket.

Actually, he's getting into the Hall anyway. Probably for free.

Winstrol. Deca-Durabolin. Insulin. Testosterone decanoate. Human growth hormones. Norbolethone. Trenbolone. Clomid. These are the substances and steroids Bonds is alleged to have injected or ingested. They are the medicine cabinet of a cheater.

Unless there were no rules in Major League Baseball against using those items.

Clomid is prescribed to women for infertility. Trenbolone enhances the muscle tone of cattle. Deca-Durabolin is a medication used in the treatment of kidney failure-related amnesia. And yet, write "Game of Shadows" co-authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, Bonds did so with regularity and without remorse.

I don't doubt that they do, but how can these drugs help him hit a baseball? Fuck, I guess the only thing stopping me from a career in Major League Baseball was the ability to bare children and remember shit.

Why would he show remorse? Was it against the rules? He had just seen McGwire and Sosa celebrated while they were doped up. Yeah, I'd feel really bad too if I were on the verge of going from Hall of Famer to legend.

Bonds always has been a drama king. He was insufferable in high school, insufferable at Arizona State, and insufferable now. But his statistics didn't come with a personality rating. Love him or loathe him, you simply couldn't argue with his talent. He arrived at the big leagues as a prodigy, a lithe, five-tool player. He will leave as a cautionary tale, an asterisk wearing a San Francisco Giants uniform.

Yes. The cautionary tale goes something like this. Don't piss off writers. They are the ones who decide whether fans are going to like you or not. They decide whether fans are going to hear about the time you played on the floor of the Giants clubhouse with Todd Benzinger's newborn daughter, or the time you wouldn't grant Rick Riley an interview. Don't mess with the self righteous. If you give them anything by which to discredit you, unless you have kissed their asses, they will.

How can you not read the work of the two San Francisco Chronicle writers and not at least wonder if Bonds knew about the working end of a syringe. Either you're naïve or a member of the Bonds family.

Seriously, I don't know anyone who was thinking prior to yesterday that Bonds has been clean.

When asked Tuesday at the Giants' Scottsdale facility if he was aware of the contents of "Game of Shadows," Bonds told reporters, "Nope. I won't even look at it. For what? I won't even look at it. There's no need to."
Here's guessing the Feds will. So will the IRS. So will his ex-wife's divorce attorney.

So will Santa Claus and Jesus.

So will MLB commissioner Bud Selig, though he was conveniently in Milwaukee on Tuesday, despite Team USA making its World Baseball Classic debut here at Chase Field. An MLB spokesperson said Selig hadn't seen the book and had no comment regarding the book's allegations.

What is Selig going to say. "Uh, yeah. About that. We kind of sold our souls to steroids for a while. It was fun right? Now, I guess we are finding out that all that excitement we felt wasn't real. Don't forget. This isn't really entertainment."

Then again, what can Selig do other than secretly root that Fainaru-Wada and Williams got it right? In so many ways MLB, the owners and the Players Association share part of the blame for creating this situation. For years they were helpless -- or clueless -- when it came to addressing the issue of performance-enhancing drugs.

Yeah, no one knew steroids was an issue until two seasons ago.

Faced with a choice of remaining true to the game, or becoming what he once despised, Bonds allegedly chose home runs over ethics.

Seriously, captain morality, if you could take something that would make you the next Hemingway, I'm thinking you might just take it. If you knew you'd be talked about for generations after you're gone, you might think pretty hard about it right?

But even as his numbers increased almost exponentially, as kayak-gridlock became commonplace at McCovey's Cove, as the countdown to baseball immortality became more pronounced, there was always an uneasiness about Bonds' accomplishments. They didn't seem, for the lack of a better word, natural.

First of all, stupid ass, it's simply McCovey Cove. It's awesome when you try to gain credibility but instead shit your pants. Secondly, you're not psychic. We've all been talking about it since 2001.

Bonds has his defenders -- lot's of them, including Derrek Lee, the Chicago Cubs All-Star first baseman who is everything Bonds isn't: a player who handles himself with grace and dignity. Lee hadn't heard of the book excerpt until he was asked about it after Team USA's 2-0 victory against Mexico.
"What's the story?" he said. "I don't know the story."
It was explained: detailed allegations of performance-enhancing drug use by Bonds.
Lee dismissed the latest revelations. It wasn't a story, he said. Bonds has never been caught using steroids. Leave him alone.
"People have been alleging him forever," Lee said.

Grace and dignity. Two words often used to describe people who write columns about how bad another person is and can be. So, clearly you put some stock in Lee's caharacter. So maybe you will be influenced by what he says?

Lee believes Bonds. I don't, and never will.

Damn. So much for Derrek Lee's ability to judge character.

I don't believe in coincidences, or physical transformations so stark that you do a double-take. I don't believe the numbers of 2001.

You should. They actually happened.

The tragedy of it all is that Bonds didn't need the alleged chemical boost. His legacy was secure. His Hall of Fame plaque was a done deal. It didn't matter if we thought he was a jerk because his statistics were so overpowering. No longer.

It did matter. A lot of guys weren't going to vote for Bonds on the first ballot solely because they thought he was a jerk. Writers feelings about Bonds on a personal level is why he has seven MVP awards instead of eight.

In recent years, perception was reality when it came to Bonds and the subject of steroid use. But this latest excerpt, complete with his smarmy grand jury testimony, convinces me reality is reality when applied to Bonds.

This is a fantastic made-up statement. "Reality is reality" is bending my mind in ways you can't imagine.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, about an hour or so before Team USA's game, Alex Rodriguez was asked about the death of Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, who died a day earlier from complications stemming from a major stroke.
"One of the saddest days in baseball for me," said A-Rod.
I felt the same way Tuesday. This time it was the death of a reputation.
Barry Bonds, rest in peace.

"Death of a reputation?" Seems more like affirmation. Don't act like you ever rooted for this guy. Don't act like you're sad for baseball. You and your little friends are at home jerking off to the thought of the guy you collectively, finally, beat. A long time ago, you and others like you decided that covering baseball was not the important part of your job. Your job had become being the moralist saftey net for America. You decided that Derek Jeter was a good guy because he was nice to you. You decided that Barry Bonds was a bad guy because he wouldn't grant you interviews.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Knee-jerk Reaction

by SonDog

Let me begin by saying I'm sorry if this is nonsensical rambling. I could write much more about this later when I 1) settle down, 2) have the time, 3) decide it's worth my time, 4) feel that my views are not as incredibly biased as they are below. Then again, I may never speak of this again because in truth, I much more enjoy writing about Home Depot trips or the Kings' playoff run. That being said, try to make sense of the following:

So, what exactly have we learned today about Barry Lamar Bonds?

We learned that for at least one day, and probably many more to come, Mark Faiunu-Wanananana and that other douchebag make up the hottest celebrity couple on the sports-talk show circuit because they're about to release a book about Bonds' steroid use. In fact, while running on the treadmill, I watched these two jokers on the following programs: 1) NBC Nightly News 2) 360 with Anderson Cooper 3) The ABC Nightly News 4) ESPNEWS 4 Quarters 5) The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. Wait... seriously? I HAVE TO SEE THESE GUYS ON THE PBS NEWS HOUR WITH JIM FUCKING LEHRER?!?! Are you fucking kidding me?!?! These guys are getting more air-time than Brad and Angelina, and I didn't think that was possible.

"We knew that our coverage was not going to be popular out at the ballpark," says Phil Bronstein, the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle (where Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams work), "but we also knew that there was the issue of role models and the growing number of kids taking steroids in high school. We kept our eye on that ball."

What Bronstein fails to mention is that all proceeds from the book, Game of Shadows, will be given to high-school charities to prevent steroid use.


Just kidding. I totally made that last part up. The fact that the book is being released a week before opening day of the season in which Bonds will likely pass Babe Ruth on the all-time Home Run list make it a sure best seller, bringing in millions. Naturally, the authors will pocket this dough. So don't give me this "save the children" crap.

I don't want to go off on a rant here, but is this a big revelation to anybody? I mean, is the baseball world truly shocked that Bonds was on the juice? Really? Because, maybe I'm wrong, but I kind of thought it was a foregone conclusion that a 5-year-old with a learning disability could determine that Bonds juiced up through the last few years.

Look, I'm not saying that Bonds should be defended for taking steroids. I have never defended steroid use in any player. What I've said all along is that the game of baseball itself didn't have a steroid policy in place, meaning all kinds of players were on the juice. That includes many of the same pitchers that Bonds had an "unfair advantage" over. I firmly believe that Bonds had no more of an advantage than any other player who decided to stick a needle in his ass. Sports Illustraded detailed this last season in a cover-story detailing how many pitchers were losing speed on their fastballs due to the new steroid policy. To me, this is clearly a personal attack on one man in an effort to cut him off at the knees while the topic is fresh. There are many, many other players who have done exactly what Bonds is being accused of, but these folks would like you to believe otherwise.

If you don't believe me, I have a perfect case study for you: There is another player in baseball who A) Is much bigger physically now than he was in his 20's B) Had a startling jump in his already stellar career beginning in his mid-30's (specifically 1997) C) Is performing at the highest level well into his 40's D) Had arguably a career best season at the age of 42/43! Take a look at the career numbers for this guy right here, who has also broke/approached/threatened "sacred" baseball records. Look at his career jump beginning in 1997 (his first with Toronto), which is coincidentally the year after Boston decided to let him go because he was "washed up." Can we expect the Bay Area's version of Woodward and Bernstein to dedicate the next two years of their lives to finding out the truth behind the Rocket's late-career resurgence? Probably not. Why? Because there's no real reason to, unless they are once again looking out for the children. Then again, The Rocket is a diety in baseball circles, and why would anybody want to undercut that?

Look, for all I know The Rocket is a freak of nature whose body defies the laws of physics. I don't know if he was on the juice or not. Truly, I don't even care. What I'm getting at is this asinine fact: Two San Francisco Chronicle journalists who have never even spoken to Bonds in their lives (which they freely admitted during a CNN interview) dedicate nearly two years of their own lives to compiling mountains of evidence to condemn and tear down a San Francisco legend. Why? Because he's a pain in the ass to the media, generally unliked when off the baseball field, and what many view as the epitome of what's wrong with baseball. (There's an enormous racial aspect here that I'm not going to touch tonight because, like Jerry Maguire, I will spend the entire evening writing my own fucking novella.)

According to, "In addition to detailing the drug usage, the excerpt portrays Bonds as a menacing boor, a tax cheat and an adulterer given to (probably because of the rampant steroid use) sexual dysfunction, hair loss and wild mood swings that included periods of rage."

That's a lot to say about a guy you've never met. Especially the sexual dysfunction part. Seriously guys, did you just make that up so we would laugh? Or are you saying that this could be the real reason why Rafael Palmeiro did the Viagra commercials? Because Bonds turned the opportunity down first? Steroids, I get... but sexual dysfunction? How did you find that out?

There's one more thing that I have to mention. Most (i.e. 90%) of the information gathered by the two authors comes from sealed federal grand jury testimony given during the BALCO case. I don't want to contradict myself and use the classic bait and switch tactic that these two authors are using, but I just can't get over this: Using steroids without a prescription is illegal. I get it. Nobody denies that. Makes sense to you and me both, right? It's a misdameanor punishable by long... hours of community service.

On the other hand, leaking or releasing SEALED FEDERAL DOCUMENTS from CONFIDENTIAL GRAND JURY TESTIMONY is a FEDERAL OFFENSE punishable by a long... prison term. Why isn't anybody talking about this? Isn't that an enormous issue as well? Is anybody at the federal level looking into pressing charges against the person who leaked this sealed information? So, just so I get this straight, Fainaru-Wada and Williams gather the preponderance of evidence from somebody who is committing a Federal Offense (leaking the sealed testimony) in order to take down somebody who has committed a misdameanor?

There are times when I think our culture's priorities are incredibly fucked up. This is one of those times.

Immortality Defined

posted by BH

On my way out the door at 5:15 am PST, heading up to Squaw Valley, I heard Tim Kurkjian on ESPNews talking about Kirby Puckett. In an effort to demonstrate how great a player Puckett was in his time, Kurkjian said

In 1988, he became the first player since Joe Medwick in 1937 to have at least 234 hits and at least 121 RBI's (in a season).

I feel bad for the poor bastard who had 234 hits and 120 RBI's in a season. He doesn't get to be mentioned in the same breath as Puckett and Medwick. There's no better way of figuring out how good a guy is than by coming up with random stats. What about the guy who was the first to go .245, 17 HR, 73 RBI, 142 H, 23 BB, .308 OBP?

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Indispensables - Part II

by SonDog

If you are A) male and B) not gay (not that there is anything wrong with that), I trust you saw Kiera Knightley last night at the Oscars. Knightley was sitting directly to the left of Jack Nicholson. It seems that hearing me say, "I'd like to Kiera her Knightly," got old for my wife after about the fifth time I mentioned it, but I don't know if that is why Lese left the room... er, wait (My retort of, "But at least she's English!" flew over like a lead balloon). This has absolutely nothing to do with the story below, but I could not go a day without mentioning this. It's officially a tie between Jessica Alba and Kiera Knightley in my book. Officially.

In the immortal words of Ron Burgundy, "I... I want to be on you."

On to Part II of The Indispensables -- A countdown from the least valuable to the most valuable player on the 2006 San Francisco Giants' roster :

#17 Pedro Feliz (Third Base) -- Apparently, determining the age of the Latin American ballplayer is like trying to find the cure for cancer AND changing the empty toilet paper roll, wrapped into one task. In other words, it's damned near impossible. Seriously, why is this so hard to figure out!? The Oakland A's had another player this year (Jario Garcia, who now goes by the age of Santiago Casilla) who is 26 rather than 21. Thus, he's no longer viewed as a strong "prospect" due to the age "adjustment." This leads me to Pedro Feliz, who two years ago magically added three years to his previously assumed age. At this point, the Giants know what they are going to get from Feliz (20 HR, 80 RBI, .250 Avg.). Not to sound like Jay Bilas during the NBA draft, but no longer is there much of an "upside." Now at 31-years-old (in April), Feliz can't afford a drop in production. He will bat sixth or seventh in the lineup.

#16 Ray Durham (Second Base) -- In the Good News! department, Ray Durham hasn't pulled anything in his legs yet. In the Don't Even Think This Won't Happen At Some Point department, Durham is a mortal lock to pull something. He will probably bat third in the lineup in front of some guy named Bonds. If he can stay healthy, Durham can have a monster year and help the Giants' lineup in many ways. However, considering that his legs have all the durability of a pair of balsa wood ski poles, it probably is unrealistic to expect more than 125 games.

#15 Lance Niekro (First Base) -- First of all, he might be my favorite hitter on the Giants not named Bonds. Second, he's the heir apparent to J.T. Snow, a San Francisco favorite. There's been a lot of talk that Niekro has to prove himself after last year's "horrible" second half, but nobody seems to mention that the guy hardly played in the second half. Snow received the lions-share of time at first, with Niekro receiving pinch-hit opportunities here and there. In his first year in the majors, in limited pinch hitting duties... OF COURSE HE'S GOING TO STRUGGLE!! I really hope he has a huge year.

#14 Steve Finley (Backup Outfielder) -- During a business trip to Denver last week, I found myself watching an episode of Boston Legal. What captured my attention in particular was a scene that found William Shattner, Corben Bernsen and Candice Bergen in the same boardroom. Can you imagine the fake-dialogue you can create using a room filled with Captain Kirk, Murphy Brown and Roger Dorn? I mean, that's a commercial for Depends waiting to happen. Where are the Oops, I Crapped my Pants guys when you need them? In addition, all are solid actors, but all are so old that you fear you're going to be witness to a stroke. Anyways, it's exactly the same scenario you will find in the Giants' outfield when Bonds (42 this summer), Moises Alou (40 this summer) and Finley (41 next week) are in the lineup together. A broken hip can happen at any moment with this trio. That being said, Finley will be very important to the team as the fourth outfielder, especially if/when Bonds or/and Alou go down with an injury.

Reverse negative pict. of Bonds, Finley and Alou in a Spring Training game

#13 Jack Taschner (Lefty Relief Specialist) -- You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned many pitchers yet. That's partially due to my belief that pitching and defense will define this season for San Francisco. The bullpen has the potential to be very, very good for the Giants, and Taschner should be the left-handed anchor. He proved at the end of last season that he can get both lefties and righties out consistently, and his overall stuff is better than any other lefty on the roster. Though he's still pretty young, I believe he will take over the lefty specialist role that Scott Eyre filled last season. However, that is wholly dependent on manager Felipe Alou having faith in his young pitchers out of the 'pen.

#12 Scott Munter (RH Relief) -- Take everything I just said about Taschner and the bullpen, make it right handed, and you have my synopsis on Munter. He's solid.

#11 Tim Worrell (RH Setup) -- GM Brian Sabean must know something that I don't about Worrell. The team is putting a lot of faith in a 38-year-old reliever that bailed on his teammates in Philadelphia last year. Again, the bullpen will be imperative to this team's success, and a lot will be riding on the right arm of Worrell.

#10 Omar Vizquel -- I started to write about how well Vizquel played last year. I wrote about his well deserved Gold Glove award. I wrote about how he's a really good #2 hitter in the lineup. And yada yada yada. Then I got to his age (39 in April).

Through the first 16 players in this review, there has been one constant thread... these guys are freakin' old in baseball age. We haven't even talked about a couple of the oldest guys yet. The more I write about this team, the more I believe two things: 1) They have the potential to easily win the NL West (that's the first time I've said that in years) and 2) They HAVE TO win it this year. Replace the Gatorade with Geritol, install MRI machines in McCovey Cove, air 24-hour marathons of Jeopardy! on KTVU Fox 2, I don't care. Just keep these guys healthy for this season. If the health is maintained, we'll be cheering them on come October.

Vizquel, Alou, Finley, Worrell, Fassero, Durham and Vizcaino in their rookie year of 1912

Coming Next: #9 through #2

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Indispensables -- Part 1

by SonDog

First of all, ESPN's Buster Olney stole my idea. That pin-headed bastard (What? Too much? Too strong?) posted a blog yesterday about the most indispensable players in baseball for 2006. Naturally, Barry Bonds is at the top of the list. With that said, for the last five days I've been working on the San Francisco Giants' list of indispensables, counting down from 25 to 1.

What I'm getting at is that if you, my loyal reader, try to say or even hint that I ripped this concept off of Olney's column, I'll have to give you a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to the head. I don't know how he did it, but that Yankee-lover Olney managed to find out about my idea and pawn it off as his own. I will never forgive him for this sin.

And in no way am I trying to be overly melodramatic. Er... wait. (P.S. Buster, if you are reading this, I would love a good reference at Insert smiley-face text here.) Burn in hell!!

On to part one of the list, from the last man on the projected 2006 Giants' roster to the first.

#25 Jason Ellison/Todd Linden/Dan Ortmeier (5th Outfielder): Not exactly a holy trinity, is it? One of these guys will make the team out of spring training (I'm putting my money on Ellison due to his speed). However, if Ellison continues to play like Jason Ellison, and Linden continues to play like Todd Linden, and Ortmeier continues to play like Dan Ortmeier, then all three could be in somebody else's farm system at some point this season. Fred Lewis and Nate Schierholtz are both high on the Giants' prospect list, and one of them could be the 5th outfielder by mid-season.

#24 Todd Greene (Backup Catcher): Greene is the odds-on favorite to win the backup catcher job. I have two words as to why this is a veritable lock: Yamid Haad. Remember how every time Haad came up last year you would mutter the words, "Automatic out?" Well, Haad and rookies Justin Knoedler and Eliezer Alfonzo are Greene's primary competitors at this point. That being said, the backup receiver position is Mr. Irrelevant in Giants' land as long as Mike Matheny is around.

The reason Todd Greene should feel secure: Yamid Haad

#23 Jeff Fassero (Long-Relief Pitcher): Is there a more un-inspiring sound as a Giants' fan than to hear an announcer say the words, "And on the mound for San Francisco is Jeff Fassero." First, it usually means the team is getting killed. Second, Fassero is 73-years-old. Third, he is basically playing the role of Eddie Harris from Major League. In fact, it would not surprise me in the least to see Fassero lean over to Pedro Feliz and say, "You trying to say Jesus Christ can't hit a curve ball?" In fact, when Feliz comes over to Fassero on the mound, I bet money that Fassero finishes the conversation by saying, "Si, si Peeeedro."

Fassero is in the background, telling Corben Bernsen, "You know, you might want to think about taking Jesus Christ as your savior."

#22 Jose Vizcaino (Backup Infielder): Vizcaino is a typical Brian Sabean veteran buffet selection special. Like Fassero, Vizcaino is 73-years-old. I actually enjoyed watching Vizcaino play back in '97 during his first tour with the Giants. When he signed with the Dodgers after that season, I didn't mind because I thought he was over the hill. At this point, Vizcaino is no where even close to being in the same vicinity as the hill. In other words, pray for the health of Feliz, Omar Vizquel and Ray Durham (although Kevin Fransden will be ready at Fresno if/when Durham goes down with an invevitible injury).

#21 Steve Kline (Lefty Relief Specialist): Kline was a somewhat ballyhooed pick up this winter. He is billed as the replacement for last year's lefty specialist (who left to sign an absurd contract in Chicago), Scott Eyre. So, why would I rate a lefty specialist as so replaceable? Because there is nothing special about him. It will be decided early in the season that Jack Taschner is the best lefty in the Giants' bullpen. And for Kline? I'm not sold that he will be around by the all-star break.

#20 Tyler Walker (Right-handed Relief Pitcher): Walker saved some games last year, but the bullpen is arguably the Giants' deepest area this year. Walker, at this point, is trade bait. He will probably make the team out of spring training at the expense of one of the Giants' younger, stronger arms (i.e. Jeremy Accardo, Brian Wilson or Kevin Correia), but I see him as utterly expendable. I have nothing else to say here.

#19 Mark Sweeney (1b/OF Pinch-hitter Deluxe): Sweeney is the Giants' slimmer version of Lenny Harris. So far this spring, Sweeney is credited with lightening the mood in the Giants' once morgue-like clubhouse. Yippy skippy. We know he's a solid pinch hitter (17HR, 80RBI the last two years combined) and he plays a respectable first base. Sweeney will win a couple of games this year for San Francisco with his bat. However, if manager Felipe Alou needs him to start regularly at any point this season, they're in trouble. In his 10-year career, Sweeney has 35 homers. But, at least he's a hoot in the clubhouse.

#18 Brad Hennessey/Jamey Wright/Kevin Correia (5th Starter Candidates): The fifth-starter competition is kind of like the dollar menu at McDonalds. You're never going to get a five-star entree for a buck, but on the right day you could be very satisfied with your double cheeseburger or McFlurry. The smart-money is on Hennessey, but you get the sense that the Giants' brass really wants Wright to force the issue (In his first spring outing Thursday, Hennessey pitched three shutout innings.). Correia has been too inconsistent, and Wright has been the epitome of expendable throughout his career (I mean, the guy couldn't keep a job on COLORADO'S pitching staff where the only qualification is having a pulse.). Also, Hennessey has thrown too many 7-inning, 3-hit games in his brief career to be overlooked. I guess with that synopsis, I'll be very disappointed if Hennessey is not the fifth starter come opening day.

Coming next: #17 - 9