Six years gone

Eric Wedge

2009 wasn’t supposed to go like this for the Cleveland Indians. After getting off to a terrible start in 2008, the Indians rallied to finish the year 81-81, with the help of some promising young talent from Buffalo. The 2009 Indians brought back Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, added free agents Mark DeRosa, Kerry Wood and Joe Smith, and were poised to compete in the weak AL Central division.

It didn’t work out that way. Whether it was injuries, ineffectiveness, or just plain bad luck, the 2009 Indians had their worst season in almost 20 years. When you assess a season like this, where do you begin? My review of the 2009 Indians is after the jump.

Firesale

Victor Martinez

Another day, another franchise-altering deal. With the Cliff Lee trade, I was a little disappointed. But I’ll be honest: the trade of Victor Martinez makes me mad.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why the trade was made. Victor Martinez has the most HR and RBIs of any catcher in the last six years, he was due to be a free agent after the 2010 season, and he’s in his prime. Thus, the trade value for Martinez right now may be as high as it will ever be.

But there’s a problem: Boston needed him.

  • Jason Varitek (the current Red Sox catcher) is past his prime.
  • David “The Cheat” Ortiz doesn’t hit with the same power anymore (The Man cut off his stash).
  • Manny Ramirez is gone.
  • The Yankees not only play in a stadium where they can score runs almost at will, their lineup is stacked with the highest 1-2 home run total players since May 8 (A-Rod and Texeira).
  • The Rays, after starting slowly, are back in the thick of things and only a few games back in the wild card.

This wasn’t a trade Boston was making to get incrementally better, it was a trade Boston had to make to survive into October. Therefore, they should have paid dearly.

And they didn’t.

3 prospects, one of which was Major League ready. Rumor was, the Indians wanted Clay Buchholz too (he threw a no-hitter for Boston in 2007) among others. If Martinez wasn’t going anywhere this offseason anyway, and Boston needed him, why didn’t Shapiro set his terms and say, “that’s the deal, take it or leave it”?

Anyone else feel like Shapiro just panicked? That he felt like he had to get something for him and took an offer? Here’s a guy who would have cost the Indians $7.1 million next year. Sure, he’s only a .297 career hitter. Sure, he only has the most home runs and RBIs of any catcher in the last six years. Sure, he was the team leader and only All-Star this year. Sure, he said he wanted to retire in Cleveland (at the All-Star break, mind you, when the Indians hadn’t yet went on this recent 7-3 tear) and maybe could have been convinced into staying past 2010.

When Cliff Lee was traded, he was a little bit disappointed or apprehensive, but other than that largely indifferent. He was a professional while he was here and I’m confident he’ll be a professional in Philadelphia too; a perfect team player. As I watched video of Martinez by his locker for the last time yesterday, I realized he wasn’t just a team player; he was a Cleveland Indian.

Clearly, Martinez was someone who just had to be gotten rid of while the iron was hot.

Maybe someday Shapiro will prove me wrong, and the three guys we got will turn into cornerstone, franchise players. But today, I’m mad about it., because it feels like the Indians treated one of the classiest guys in the game and most important guy on the team like garbage. And that’s not how it should work.

When someday never comes

Cliff LeeNormally, when I write about the Indians, I try to keep a pretty neutral voice. After all, I’m an Indians fan, but more than that I’m a baseball fan. Even if the Indians are losing I still love and enjoy the game.

But this one hurts.

As I read, listened to and watched coverage of the Cliff Lee trade to the Phillies, I was reminded of what the Indians were doing two years ago at this time. Do you remember?

  • After a disastorous start against the Red Sox, Cliff Lee stormed off the field, sarcastically tipping his hat to the crowd as he left. The Indians ended up losing 14-9 (I happened to be at that game), and he was sent to Buffalo the next day, and came back only for September call-ups.
  • On July 27, the Indians traded Single-A catcher Max Ramirez to the Rangers for former Indian Kenny Lofton. That night, he returned to a standing ovation and sparked the Indians to a 10-4 win.
  • CC Sabathia lost his 6th game on July 29, 2007, en route to a 19-7 Cy Young Season. His ERA was 3.58.

The Indians, of course, went on to the ALCS that year and were within one game of the World Series. Two years, two Cy Young winners traded, and one (soon to be two) Octobers on the golf course (i.e. not in the playoffs), the Indians are in rebuilding mode. What happened?

  • The bullpen implosion. In 2007, the bullpen was a strong point for the Indians. Rafael Perez and Rafael Betancourt did great getting the ball to Borowski in the ninth, who would either completely blow up or completely dominate, most of the time the latter. In 2009, Betancourt is on the Rockies (after a decent, but injury-plagued first half), Perez is in Columbus (oh yeah, we switched AAA teams since 2007) and Borowski is out of baseball. It’s been downhill since then.
  • Injuries. Grady Sizemore, who hadn’t missed a game in two years in 2007, has been on the disabled list once and now has a recurring elbow problem. Travis Hafner had a miserable 2008 and is now only starting to get his form back. Victor Martinez (who may be next to depart) disappointed in 2008 as well due to injuries. Jake Westbrook hasn’t pitched in the majors since June of 2008. The Indians’ stars have just had some bad luck injuries.
  • Inconsistent offense. When you roll out a different lineup for almost every game in a season, it’s usually a telltale sign that a team isn’t getting on any kind of a roll. That’s been the Indians’ case the last two years. Early last season, the pitching was phenomenal but the Indians just couldn’t score runs. They seem to go through those stretches where no one in the lineup is hitting.
  • Pressure. The Indians collapse when the pressure is on. Only when there are few expectations for the season (i.e. when they’re 15 games under .500) do they seem to play well. (Trot Nixon did a great job in 2007 of keeping the young guys loose and not putting too much pressure on themselves.)

Now what? Unfortunately, the analysis is that the Indians got a pretty good package of prospects, but they won’t be ready for a couple years. Let’s face it: right now, the only Indians starters that are starters on most other teams are Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-soo Choo, and maybe Jhonny Peralta. Everyone else (and now that Lee is gone, this includes pitchers) are probably out of their element in the majors.

Even worse news: in the article I linked above, the word out of the Indians front office is that this was a move in order to make some room in the payroll this off-season; ownership won’t be chipping in more funds to sign players. Hey, with the Indians last in the league in attendance, can you blame them? The Indians aren’t winning enough games to fill the seats, so the Indians can’t afford to pay for players to win games, and the cycle perpetuates. I’m hoping Shapiro is right, and that in 2011, the Indians will be competitive again, but if the economy doesn’t improve, I don’t think there’s much of a chance of that.

Did anyone notice the year Franklin Gutierrez is having? The Indians traded him to Seattle in the offseason for Joe Smith (who, every time I turn around, is blowing another game. Seriously, what were we thinking bolstering our bullpen with someone from the Mets, the master of bullpen collapses?), because they thought Francisco had more upside. As it turned out, Francisco is gone too, but Gutierrez is having a nice year with Seattle, hitting nearly .300. Francisco was hitting .250. It’s the Brandon Phillips syndrome: what is it with playing in Cleveland?

Well, Indians fans, all you can do is wish Lee, Francisco, Ryan Garko, Rafael Betancourt and Mark DeRosa the best and hope that at some point soon, we’ll be trade deadline buyers, not sellers.

By the way, did anyone see who is replacing Lee in the rotation? You got it, Fausto Carmona, who was 19-8 in 2007, injured last year and sent to Single A this year. My, how times have changed.

Back to normal in Arizona


Now that Japan has beat South Korea in the final game of the World Baseball Classic, the rest of Major League Baseball can go back to preparing for the upcoming season. It seems like we’ve been in Spring Training forever, and we still have almost two weeks left (well, thirteen days). Nonetheless, it’s been a while since talking about our favorite baseball team, so here we go.

  • The pitching rotation, while inconsistent, seems to be taking shape. Cliff Lee, after a couple rocky outings, pitched a solid five innings the other day, and he seems like he’s getting into form in time for his first Opening Day start ever (which, incidentally, will be the Indians’ first Opening Day since 2001 that C.C. Sabathia didn’t start). Fausto Carmona had an injury scare, but it seems like he’ll be alright and he has had a good spring so far. Anthony Reyes, who figures to be the #3 starter, pitched well on Saturday and has had a strong spring.

    The other two slots are less certain, but my guess is that you’ll see Carl Pavano and Aaron Laffey rounding out the Indians rotation at the outset of the season, with Scott Lewis as the Indians’ #6 starter at AAA Columbus. Jeremy Sowers hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t been good enough to merit a try in the rotation yet either.

    The good news for the Indians is that really, only one of those two starters needs to be good for the whole year: the Indians will get some reinforcements hopefully by the All-Star Break when Jake Westbrook comes back from Tommy John surgery (he threw off of a mound the other day, which is major progress, although he’s still at least two months away from being ready).

  • The Indians are convinced that Travis Hafner is on his way back, but it’s hard not to be worried as he posts a .143 average with no home runs. The Indians say he is driving the ball well in batting practice, and hope that will translate to the field soon. Realistically, I don’t know how much we can expect from Hafner this season, but I’d be happy thrilled with about 80-90 RBIs, 20 HR and a reasonable on-base percentage (think Kelly Shoppach numbers).
  • Mark DeRosa and Shin Soo Choo made it back from the World Baseball Classic without any injuries. This is the best news the Indians could hope for, as both of them were in it for a very long time. Rafael Perez was in the WBC as well, but he was part of the Dominican Republic team that was eliminated very early on.
  • The Indians’ bullpen hasn’t been all great. Kerry Wood has been excellent when he’s pitched (3 IP, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA), as has Rafael Perez (5 IP, 4 SO, 1.80 ERA) and Jensen Lewis (6 IP, 6 SO, 0.00 ERA). Beyond that, the numbers don’t look as good for Rafael Betancourt (5 IP, 7.20 ERA) and Masahide Kobayashi (5 IP, 14.4 ERA). I think Betancourt will be okay: he’s a pitcher that relies on spotting his fastball incredibly well, and he’s still tuning that. Kobayashi I’m a little bit more worried about, as he’s had a miserable spring the year after pitching a career high in innings. I think it’ll be up to guys like Tony Sipp, Greg Aquino, and Joe Smith to shoulder more of the load.
  • Josh Barfield’s not having the best spring at the plate, but he’s proven that he can be a good replacement to Sizemore in the outfield and can play other positions around the infield as well. If he can ever figure out how to hit consistently, Barfield will be an excellent and valuable player.
  • Indians’ outfielders Grady Sizemore, Matt LaPorta, Ben Francisco and Michael Brantley are having excellent springs at the plate. I’d be very surprised if we don’t see LaPorta sometime in July, with Dellucci being designated for assignment at some point.
  • Jhonny Peralta is killing it at the plate, with Asdrubal Cabrera having a solid spring as well. It’ll be interesting to see what happens should Josh Barfield earn more playing time.
  • Victor Martinez looks fully healthy and is swinging the bat well, with a couple of homers already this spring.

All I can say is, I’m ready for Opening Day. Hopefully opening the season in Texas this year will let the Indians get off to a hotter start offensively without any injuries (take it slow, Victor, take it slow) and the bullpen and rotation will come around. As far as the inaugural Goodyear Spring Training is going, you can’t hope for much more (except for maybe Travis Hafner starting to hit. Please).

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies

I’ve been meaning to blog about some of these things for a while, but never really had enough for an entire entry. Therefore, it’s back to tidbits.

  • I’ve gotten really into Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares lately. Both are reality shows with Gordon Ramsay as the host/chef/boss, but while Hell’s Kitchen is a competition like Survivor, Kitchen Nightmares, if it were on ABC, would be called Extreme Makeover: Restaurant Edition. Two reasons I like these shows: a) restaurants are a fair industry (more on that in a minute) and b) Gordon Ramsay is hypnotizing, whether he’s yelling at a competitor on Hell’s Kitchen or pouring his passion into resurrecting dead restaurants. Ramsay’s philosophy goes along with what I said in a), and it’s pretty simple: restaurants that are successful are restaurants that do things the right way. Too many industries are rewarding to companies that cut corners to earn an extra buck or maybe break some rules to avoid hassle.

    The common theme with all restaurants featured in Kitchen Nightmares is that the food isn’t good, and the food isn’t good because the kitchen isn’t stocked with fresh food or isn’t clean, and those two things occur because the chefs or owners are trying to cut corners. Inevitably, in each episode, Ramsay gets in there, cleans up the kitchen and basically just revitalizes the menu with fresh ingredients and the rest takes care of itself.

    The same is true of competitors on Hell’s Kitchen: aspiring chefs who aren’t team-oriented are gone; chefs who can’t cook are gone; chefs who lack passion are gone. Ramsay has two shows on FOX, and he uses both of them to push his brand: pour your heart, soul, and mind into it.

  • The reason I’ve gotten caught up on both of these shows is thanks to a great new website: Hulu. Mark Cuban wrote about it in July, and now that networks are catching on, Hulu is taking off. It’s not just the fact that it’s a video site with actual TV shows: it’s the fact that Hulu is a well-designed, well-executed system. Each show you watch has some commercials (only thirty seconds each, for the most part, some less), but they’re unobtrusive (as in, they don’t create popups, they don’t cover the entire page (here’s looking at you, ESPN.com), and once they’re gone you’re left to your video. The video player is executed nicely too, with all the common controls and excellent quality, and it lets you skip around however you want without loading a new commercial each time (basically, if you try to skip a commercial break, you’ll see a commercial). And unlike YouTube’s main page, which feels cluttered and disorganized, Hulu’s main page is wonderfully designed and looks awesome.

    Just for fun, here’s the Super Bowl ad:

    (Of course. As I’m trying to rave about Hulu, the Super Bowl commercial wasn’t available from Hulu. +1, YouTube.)

  • The entire Indians team is now in Goodyear, AZ preparing for the 2009 Indians season. Many analysts agree with my prediction that the Indians will win the Central, albeit cautiously. Their reasons are that the Indians rotation, after Cliff Lee, is questionable.

    I’m looking for Fausto Carmona to bounce back and emerge as the true ace of the Indians staff. Cliff Lee had an amazing season last year, but I don’t see him repeating that this year (although it’d be nice if he did). Carmona’s stuff, if he’s on, is simply electric, and he’s not yet in his prime. Cliff Lee, on the other hand, has a good fastball and an above-average curveball, but he’s not going to throw that fastball by you, so he’s more of a control specialist.

    In any case, the Indians aren’t quite sure about the rest of the rotation. Carl Pavano is a huge question mark (although I have a feeling that he’ll be someone like Paul Byrd: he won’t pitch phenomenally, but he’ll get enough run support to win). Jeremy Sowers has quite a bit to prove, but he showed signs of improvement at the end of last season. Aaron Laffey showed what he could be last year and then ran out of gas; I’m looking for him to regain that form. And that’s not even thinking about Zach Jackson, Anthony Reyes, or Scott Lewis, who all pitched last year for the Tribe with varying degrees of success. Dave Huff is being mentioned too. And don’t forget that Jake Westbrook will be back hopefully in mid-season to give the rotation a boost.

    So sure, the Indians have some question marks in their rotation, but they also have some options. (The same goes for most of the team, actually.) And as fun as it is to speculate about these things, I can’t wait for the season to start so these questions can start getting answered.

  • Isn’t Feburary a sweeps month? Why are there no new episodes of Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother or The Office until the week of March 2?
  • Video of the day:


    Probably one of the better fan videos you’ll ever see. Absolutely awesome.

Hope all is well, wherever you’re reading this from, on a cold and snowy Thursday morning.

The dog days of August

I remember around the All-Star break, I posted a midseason review. At that point, the Indians had thrown in the towel on 2008 and traded CC Sabathia to Milwaukee, where he has yet to lose and has already hit two home runs. This came on the heels (actually, the trade was in the midst of) a ten-game losing streak that effectively ended the Indians’ hopes at making a postseason run.

And yet, as I write today, the Indians have won their tenth game in a row.

Stranger things have happened, right?

A few encouraging things I’ve seen in the midst of this streak (apart from the fact that the Indians are now a fun team to watch again):

  • Kelly Shoppach is giving the Indians a very real reason to think about making him more than a backup catcher. He homered again last night (a monster shot, too), and is hitting .263 with 17 home runs this season. After his miserable start, .263 is a drastic improvement. Realistically, Shoppach may never be the caliber hitter Martinez is, but I think you could pencil him in to hit about .280, maybe hit 25 home runs and drive in 80-90 runs in a year where he plays every day. Those kind of numbers are good enough to start on most teams, and depending on how Martinez comes back from this injury, may merit searching for a solution that gets Martinez and Shoppach in the lineup every day.
  • Who doesn’t like watching Jhonny Peralta hit? Ever since getting thrown into that cleanup spot (sort of by default, because no one else besides Grady had any experience whatsoever), he’s been an RBI machine. He’s got 73 RBI this year – an outside shot at getting 100 with 30 games left. But it’s how he’s getting those RBI lately that is more impressive. Yesterday, he swung at a first pitch from Justin Verlander in the first and simply served it into left field. He broke his bat, and he didn’t hit it especially hard, but he got the RBI with two out. It’s really been a remarkable turnaround for Peralta: before he started batting cleanup in June, I think he had something like 11 home runs and 20 RBI. Today, he has 21 homers and 73 RBI.
  • Franklin Gutierrez is finally starting to hit. And he’s hitting in the clutch too, driving in go-ahead and winning runs in three of the Indians wins over the streak. I don’t want the Indians to give up on this guy. We all see what he can do defensively, and if he can ever figure out the offense he’ll be a premier outfielder.
  • Shin-Soo Choo is showing no ill-effects after his surgery. He’s making strong throws from the outfield and yesterday he hit an absolute bomb to the second deck in right. He’s another guy I’d hate to see them give up on – what about platooning him with Francisco and Gutierrez next year? All three guys can play both corners. Francisco is showing he can hit everyone, and the other two are, shall we say, “improving” at hitting same-handed pitchers. Why not keep a loose platoon for part of the year and then if two of those players start to stand out move to a strict starting lineup?
  • Asdrubal Cabrera looks like the Asdrubal Cabrera who gave the Indians a spark in 2007. He still plays phenomenal defense, and now he’s starting to hit too. He’s more patient at the plate, he lays down a good bunt if needed, and last night he stole a base. I think it goes without saying that the Indians shouldn’t give up on this guy; he might be the shortstop of the future.
  • Ben Francisco is putting up Rookie of the Year-like numbers. After last night, Francisco is hitting .284 with 14 HR and 50 RBI in “limited” playing time (he now has the fourth most AB of any Indian on the roster, behind Sizemore, Peralta, and Garko). If he can continue his pace, he might edge out Longoria (of Tampa Bay) for Rookie of the Year simply because Longoria has been hurt.
  • Ever since getting benched, Garko is back to his 2006 form. Part of what was so frustrating with Garko most of this year is that he has shown he can be a great hitter with two strikes, he has shown that he can get RBIs even without hitting the ball well…he just wasn’t doing that. It seems like now he’s choking up on the bat with two strikes like he used to, and he’s playing smarter: just trying to make solid contact and get base hits without worrying about hammering the ball all over the ballpark.
  • I like what I’m seeing out of Anthony Reyes and Zach Jackson. Both have pitched pretty well, particularly Reyes, who is now 2-1 with the Indians. I’m anxious to see what both can become the rest of the year – are these guys we want in the rotation next year?
  • “And now into close for the Indians…Jensen Lewis?” He’s 7 for 7 in save situations this year, and finally overtook Joe Borowski as the Indians saves leader. I don’t think he’s our closer of the future, but he’s doing a better job than I thought he would.

Look, the playoffs are probably still out of the question for the Indians at this point (win 10 more, then we’ll talk). But .500 is definitely reachable. There’s still a chance for Grady to hit 40 home runs this season and drive in 100. Cliff Lee never loses. So even though this team probably won’t be playing in October, keep watching – things are getting interesting.

There’s a place up ahead and I’m going…

I’m 3/4 done with my college career, and without a doubt the last year was the hardest. The good news is that this time next year, I’ll be planning for life after college and hopefully becoming more of the person I’d like to be.

  • After work tonight, a friend and I decided to try to get one of those famous 23 cent pizzas. Actually, the original plan was to get more than one – as many as possible, actually. Unfortunately, we weren’t counting on every single Clevelander having the same idea. The talk radio people like Mike Trivisonno (who is normally fun to listen to, for the record, but has his moments where he’s just an absolute moron) were very annoyed that so many people were taking advantage, and as the previous article states, there were some issues. But tomorrow is another day, and by this time tomorrow, we’ll all remember that Papa Johns doesn’t really make great pizza.
  • The Indians took a series in New York (mostly thanks to Cliff Lee and David Dellucci, two oft-maligned southpaws on this blog), but another southpaw, Travis Hafner, is really struggling.

    All you can hope for with Travis Hafner is that he’s seen video of his swing from this year (and presumably last year – last year he wasn’t ever bad enough to merit drastic reconstruction on his swing, but it might have been enough for him to develop some bad habits) and compared it to video in 2006. To me, after watching the video, it’s pretty obvious. Of course, it’s far easier said than done – but the season is still young, and Hafner has plenty of time to turn it around.

    Ben Francisco is up, and is getting regular playing time, which is nice to see. He’s had some good solid hits already, and his defense in the corner outfield spots doesn’t leave me holding my breath as much as Dellucci.

  • And now a message from every mathematician in the world: “To Hillary Clinton: It’s Over”. She doesn’t seem to think so, and I guess when you have as much money as the Clintons do (although that amount is dwindling, because she keeps loaning herself money) you can alter math.

    One thing I’ve noticed about John McCain recently – his supporters are far easier to get along with than either of the Democratic candidates. Perhaps the Democrats are a little edgy because they see McCain gaining ground quickly while Obama and Clinton battle it out, but seriously, there is no need for the fawning on the message boards: “OMG PRESIDENT OBAMA I LOVE YOU” or the hatred: “OMG PRESIDENT CLINTON II BARACK OBAMA SUCKS”.

I’m typing this from my work laptop and I’m really not a fan of the keyboard or touchpad (I have a docking station and a mouse at work, but not with me at the moment), so I’m going to adjourn. Once again, I apologize for the lack of updates lately – hopefully I’ll be on a more regular schedule soon.

The roster is set

The Indians have finalized their Opening Day roster, sending Tom Mastny to the minors to make room for newcomer Craig Breslow. I’m not sure I like this move (or, for that matter, the Cliff Lee, David Dellucci or Jorge Julio moves), but we’ll see how it (and the others) pan out. I’m just hoping Ben Francisco does get a chance at some point this year, as I think he’s the Asdrubal Cabrera of 2008.

I also hope the Indians finally, at some point, get rid of the dead weight that is Andy Marte. Look, Mark, we know you have your pride and don’t want to admit that trade was a failure; but in case you haven’t noticed, it hasn’t worked out so well for the Red Sox either, and we still have Kelly Shoppach, who is probably one of the top 10 catchers in the league and he doesn’t even play every day for us.

Given the choice, I’d much rather see Josh Barfield, because even if Barfield is hitting .050 as a fifth infielder, he plays outstanding defense and runs well! You certainly can’t claim the latter for Marte, and given what’s happened the last couple days you can’t claim the former either.

And by the way, in other baseball-related news, the Red Sox lost this morning. I love the city of Boston, I may want to live there at some point in my life, but today seems a little sweeter because the Red Sox lost. And now that that series is over, the baseball world can go back to normal and play the games at night.

The commencement

…of the 2008 Major League Baseball season! Yes, I woke up at 6 AM to watch the first few pitches of what I hope will be an outstanding season, and then went back to sleep.

  • The Boston Red Sox are alone on top of the AL East, after a win earlier this morning in Japan against Oakland. Oakland, by all rights, should have won that game. Huston Street, the closer for the Athletics, is a good pitcher and I don’t expect him to blow many more saves this year, but as it happened, the backup right fielder Brandon Moss tied the game in the ninth with a solo homerun, opening the gate for the return of Manny Ramirez to untie the game in the tenth with a two-run double.

    We’ve barely started the 2008 season and already Manny Ramirez has done two things which are completely stupid: 1) on hitting the double, he stood at home plate for a while and watched as his majestic homerun hit the ground before the wall and then realized he should run somewhere, and 2) when asked about being named “Hero of the Game” and getting a check for $10000, said “That’s going to be some gas money. I love it.” This is fourth highest paid player in baseball, he gets paid more than $10000 an inning. Ugh. But at least it brings me to my next point…

  • For every time the Red Sox lose this season, I’m going to donate one dollar to my sister‘s El Salvador fund. I encourage you to do the same, perhaps with a charity closer to you, or maybe in a different amount. It makes rooting against the Red Sox much more fun.
  • From the “ruh-roh” department, Facebook was hacked. I haven’t been on Facebook in a little over six months now (mostly because I’m jealous of Mark Zuckerberg), but I realize I’ve said that Facebook is a much more secure application than Myspace or similar sites. However, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect! It’s common sense that the more features you have in an application, the more vulnerable it is to attack, and I guess that’s what happened with Facebook. Never fear though, apparently the hole was plugged in less than an hour.
  • I generally enjoy following politics but lately it seems like it’s getting more and more depressing. I’m getting tired of the “Obama campaign” and the “Clinton campaign” fighting it out; why can’t “Obama” say something to “Clinton” and vice versa?
  • In happier news, the Indians are only six days away from Opening Day. The weather for Opening Day appears to be getting better, which would be nice. Also, the rotation was finalized yesterday with Cliff Lee getting the 5th spot. I hope Cliff Lee proves me wrong, but for some reason he doesn’t seem like the type of pitcher the Indians need. Also from that article, Aaron Fultz is out, and I can’t say I’ll miss him all that much.

    I caught a little of the game yesterday and a little of the game today: yesterday Jake Westbrook threw six perfect innings against the Braves, and today, last time I checked, Paul Byrd hadn’t allowed an earned run against the vaunted Yankees.

    But for some reason, Andy Marte is still on the big league roster. TRADE HIM! I watched him boot two balls in 4 innings today, and both weren’t especially hard grounders to field. The defense I could forgive if the guy could hit, but I’m not seeing a lot of hope there either. Everyone talks about trying to avoid another “Brandon Phillips”-like trade with Marte, where he would go to a new team and then tear it up. First of all, Brandon Phillips had a decent year with Cincinatti when he was traded (2006) but wasn’t quite as impressive last year. It’s not like we lost a heck of a lot. And secondly, we have two second basemen who I would take over Phillips any day. Same goes for Casey Blake over Andy Marte (and maybe Jhonny Peralta over Andy Marte).

  • Caught Britney Spears’ guest star appearance on How I Met Your Mother last night, and I’ll say this: her role was mercifully small.
  • And now the quote of the day, this time talking to our friend George Costanza:
    I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. What were you thinking? What was going on in your mind? Artistic integrity? Where, where did you come up with that? You’re not artistic and you have no integrity. You know you really need some help. A regular psychiatrist couldn’t even help you. You need to go to like Vienna or something. You know what I mean? You need to get involved at the University level. Like where Freud studied and have all those people looking at you and checking up on you. That’s the kind of help you need. Not the once a week for eighty bucks. No. You need a team. A team of psychiatrists working round the clock thinking about you, having conferences, observing you, like the way they did with the Elephant Man. That’s what I’m talking about because that’s the only way you’re going to get better.

    Jerry, Seinfeld

I think that’s all from within the legendary walls of Case Western Reserve University. Stay well, go Tribe, and boo Red Sox!

Global warming can kiss my…

Isn’t it too late in the year for it to be this cold? According to the spyware-laden, ever-annoying Weather.com, the average for this time of year is about 45 degrees. Today’s high? 35 degrees. At least it’s sunny. Better save the snow for 10 days from today, Opening Day against the Chicago White Sox! On to the links then:

  • Our favorite Cupertino corporation, Apple Inc., is in talks with the major record labels to create a one-time premium alternative to iTunes, allowing a user to download all they want for a one-time fee. Can you say cha-ching? The thinking behind this logic is that the average user buys 20 songs on iTunes, meaning that charging a $40 premium on top of the purchase of a new iPod is a win for Apple.

    There are two things wrong with this statement, the first is that I’ve purchased over $300 worth of music from iTunes in the last 18 months. If I get access to a plan that allows me unlimited access, I think I’d pay up to $150 on the spot and I’d still beat the system.

    The second problem with that is that Apple assumes that removing a per-song fee will not change users’ downloading habits. Let me ask you something: if you go to a restaurant like Don Pablo’s or Max and Erma’s, do you usually get dessert? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. I don’t, because normally I’m full and paying $5 for a small piece of cake turns a $10 meal into a $15 meal pretty quickly. An extra piece of cake when I’m already pretty full isn’t worth a 50% bump in the check (at least). However, if I go to a place like Hometown Buffet, not only will I get dessert, I’ll usually get three. Why? I’ve already paid for that dessert whether I eat it or not; why not enjoy it?

    The same goes for music. If I have the unlimited plan, any questioning I have about “eh…will I really listen to ‘KISS: Live In Detroit’ enough to purchase the entire 5-disc set?’ If I’m paying $40 for it, probably not. But if I’ve already paid once…wait for it…keep waiting…

    You pull the trigger of my…. LOVE GUN!

  • Barack Obama gave a speech on race and the influence it’s had on this campaign. I’ve read and watched it; probably top five of all speeches I’ve heard in my lifetime. Without coming out and saying it, Obama essentially said it was ridiculous that race was even an issue in this race, and he’s completely right.

    But he’s missing another aspect of diversity: the role religion still has in politics is pretty sad. “But Jimmy,” you say, “how could you say that after supporting Mike Huckabee?” I think religion is pretty unimportant when it comes to choosing a President. Ultimately, you’re not voting for your God, because if God were running for President I’m pretty sure he’d win every time. You’re voting for the person and how he will run the country. If that doesn’t make any sense, I’ll put it another way: I would have still supported Mike Huckabee if he wasn’t Christian but was still the same person. Of course, your religion generally tends to define who you are, so it’d be very hard for Huckabee to be the same candidate without his religion.

    A more relevant example is the allegation that some have made that Barack Obama is a Muslim. My response to that is: so what? What’s he going to do, call up his buddy Osama and say, “hey, I’m on the inside, they’re trusting me with everything! We’re so in!”? Of course not. The view that all Muslims are terrorists is ridiculous in this day and age.

    When you’re electing a president, you shouldn’t elect someone who follows the same religion as you because they follow the same religion as you. You should elect someone who will defend to the death your right to follow whatever religion (or lack thereof) you want to follow.

  • I realize as I type that that I’ve never typed my interpretation of “one nation, under God” in a place that everyone can access; at some point, I’ll have to do that.
  • Onto the wide world of sports. The NCAA March Madness tournament has begun, and right now I still have no idea who’s won any games. I find that I really don’t care this year, for whatever reason. My pick is for North Carolina to win it all, but I haven’t filled out a bracket. “March Madness” seems like its getting dangerously close to “April Fever”, doesn’t it? Every year it seems to start later and later. Why is this? Why can’t basketball just go quietly into their offseason like the rest of the sports? NBA playoffs last like a month and a half, and March Madness keeps getting later and longer. Basketball is, to me, nothing more than a filler between the end of football season and the beginning of the baseball season.
  • I have been watching more of the Cavs games lately, and I came to a realization. You know that guy LeBron James? He’s pretty good.
  • Both Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey especially pitched well last night. Dear Mark Shaprio: Take advantage of the lack of starting pitching around the rest of the league and please, please, please trade Cliff Lee to someone who is desperate.
  • Onto the quote of the day:
    Just remember, when you control the mail, you control… information.
    Newman, Seinfeld

    If George is the best sitcom character of all time, Newman has got to be in the top three. How anyone kept a straight face when he was in the room during shooting is beyond me.

Finally, I’m looking for a new travel coffee mug. I’d prefer one that is mostly metal (I’m not a big fan of plastic) and one that’s constructed well enough to not let any coffee drip out inadvertently. I’m willing to pay considerable cash for it. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Just kidding, one more thing. I’m noticing that I’m getting viewers from all over the country now, but I’d like to know more about who’s reading this blog. So if you’re reading this blog and you like (or hate) what you read, leave a comment somewhere with your first name and location.

Until next time.