Son of Yhency

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Keep Manny!

Yesterday, a Red Sox fan started an online petition to keep Manny Ramirez in Boston, and within a day, the number of signatures are in the five figure range and climbing rapidly. I implore EVERYONE to go to and sign the petition. They even allow you to offer to do something if Manny stays in Boston, so I told him he can crash on my couch whenever the Sox are in New York. Or whenever else he wants. That would be so kick ass.

The only problem with the petition is that it's aimed at the Sox, who, without Manny's protestations, would never even conceive of trading him. (Let's forget about the part where they placed him on waivers two years ago). It's Manny who wants out, so in a perfect world, the language in the petition should be targeted towards him and not the organization. But who cares, I think he'll get the point.


Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, 1932-2005

Online in Israel last week, I discovered that Pat Morita had passed away at the age of 73. An integral part to the Karate Kid trilogy, I'll always remember him fondly. People don't realize this, but he actually received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Mr. Miyagi in the first Karate Kid. And his list of work -- which includes a recurring role on Happy Days, Chin Li in The Karate Dog, Yip Tak in The Las Vegas Strip War, Oriental #2 in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and smaller roles in Baywatch, Family Matters, Married... with Children, Sanford and Son and M*A*S*H -- is massive, beyond anything I think anyone realizes.

Despite his three brilliant performances as Mr. Miyagi (or four, depending on how you regard that Hilary Swank flick), I'll best remember him for his rendition of the national anthem at a Yankees-Orioles game in Baltimore a few years ago. As anyone who ever saw him in an interview can attest, he spoke without any trace of an accent. However, Morita sang the anthem as I think Mr. Miyagi would have, which I found very strange. Strange, but funny. And I think maybe that's what he was going for.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My worst nightmare

The Dodgers, two months into the off-season and two weeks into the already moribund reign of Ned Colletti, have yet to hire a manager. Many candidates have simply had no interest in working in what has become a circus, leaving the club with the options of Jim Fregosi, John McLaren... and now, Grady Little?!!?!

Ummmm, pardon me? Grady Little?

No. No..... NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

This is a joke or a nightmare, right? Please, just wake me up. Or kill me. Whatever's easiest.

I'm really sick of what the Dodgers have become. This is a historical franchise, which once was full of pride and well respected around the league, and Frank bleeping McCourt is just killing us. KILLING US. Can the voters of L.A. recall him? Could we have Arnold create one of his crazy propositions saying that California voters can recall sports owners? To borrow a line from the Sports Guy, would anyone be against this?

But enough of that man. Back to our non-existent manager. I think it's time to take a different approach. Instead of whoring themselves out to the entire league and getting rebuffed by every bench coach, how about the Dodgers take a chance on some young rising star? It worked with Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox, Theo Epstein and the Red Sox. Why can't it work for the Dodgers? I mean, anything has to be better than Grady Little. For the love of all that's holy, WHY???

Monday, November 28, 2005

Back is the U.S.S.A.

Well, it was a fun week, but I'm back in the USA now. Woke up at 2am on Saturday morning in Tel Aviv (that's 7pm EST Friday night), got to the airport for a 5:30am flight, got to Frankfurt at 9am and then waited. And waited. And waited. Because my flight to New York wasn't until 5pm, meaning I had eight hours to kill in the airport.

What does one do during an eight-hour layover in Frankfurt? Not much, really. I considered going into town and walking around for a little, but it was in the 30s and I didn't have any heavy clothing. So then I thought about doing a little gambling at the airport casino I had seen some signs for. Unfortunately, the "casino" was about the size of my bedroom and looked supremely depressing. Then my eye caught the "Goethe Bar" and I considered going there until I remembered that I shouldn't be drinking alcohol because I'm getting over mono. So I settled on the Lufthansa lounge, which I got in to courtesy of my dad's United gold card. And let me tell you that you could do a lot worse than the Lufthansa lounge. Comfortable seats, free food and free drinks. If I wanted to do some boozing, I could have gotten absolutely smashed on all the free liquor and beer. But I kept myself in check. Anyhow, for those of you who have an eight-hour layover in Frankfurt, head straight for the Lufthansa Senator Lounge. Not the Business Lounge -- the Senator Lounge. Good times will be had by all.

By the time my flight to New York came around, I was nice and relaxed. Unfortunately, that ended very quickly when I sat down on the plane and the guy next to me was essentially forcing half his body onto my seat. Never mind the fact that his wife was on the other side of him; for some reason he felt he needed to lean on me. Not the most pleasant of flights, and I began to regret not drinking heavily in the lounge. Seven hours later, I was in New York, finally making it home at 10pm. For those keeping track at home, that's 27 hours door to door, with about two hours of sleep. Needless to say, I crashed upon arrival.

Anyhow, the trip was really great. The last few days were spent fairly locally, in Rehovot and Tel Aviv, which is a beautiful city. It was warm, it's right on the Mediterranean and we had some great food. I only wish we could have spent a little more time there, but I guess you can't have everything when you're trying to see all of Israel in a week.

Not sure when I'll be back, but hopefully soon. Apparently I may still be able to do one of those birthright trips, although my window of opportunity seems to be close to expiring. So maybe, just maybe, next year in Rehovot??

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Up and down we go...

Israel -- as if I didn't know this already -- is tiny. It's just a tiny, tiny country. Something like 500 kilometers from top to bottom, with some parts of its width being so narrow that you can literally see from one end to the other. You can drive from the Egyptian border to the Lebanese border in maybe four hours (not that you'd want to go to either of those places) and it's only another hour or so to the Eilat and the Red Sea.

My point is that it's pretty easy to cover this country. In my few days here so far, I've been to the Dead Sea (at 300 meters below sea level, the lowest place in the world) and Madassa in the south and Tsfat/Tzfat/Zefat (there are a million spellings), the Golan Heights in the north and just about everywhere in between. It's been a great experience so far, but I've really been amazed by just how small this place is. Anyway, the last bastion is Tel Aviv, and then I've covered everything but Gaza, the West Bank and Eilat. I'm only upset that I'll not be able to go to one of those three places.

The jet lag is just about over, but unfortunately, so is the trip. So I'll get screwed up once again come next week. In the meantime, I -- what the... what's this?!?!? Red Sox trade for Josh Beckett??? Gotta go, see you!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Potato... potato?

Turns out I'm in Rehovot, not Rehoboth. But I think Rehoboth may just be the English translation. So I guess I was still right. I don't know.

The trip here was good, but long. Spent about four hours in the airport in Frankfurt, which I think wins the award for strangest airport I've ever been to. Germans are just strange in general, I guess. Most of the time there, I was thinking of that Family Guy episode where Brian and Stewie are on a tour in Berlin and the tour guide skips over history in the early 40s and Brian said, "Wait, what happened then?" And the guide shouts back, "Nothing happened!!! We were all on vacation!!" Then he goes on some rant about the fuhrer. For some reason, I was finding that especially funny in the airport. Could've been the jet lag.

Anyway, I've been here a little over a day now, with all of today in Old Jerusalem. Great place, although I guess a little more quiet than I expected. Kinda like Old San Juan, if the analogy isn't too blasphemous for anyone. Saw the Western Wall and then did a tour underneath the wall and the Muslim section, which was very interesting. Apparently the Muslims decided to build on stilts instead of right on the ground. Go figure.

Even after 14 hours of sleep yesterday, my body's still messed up. We're heading out to the Dead Sea tomorrow, so hopefully a little more rest tonight will do me good. Until next time...

Friday, November 18, 2005

This year in Rehoboth!

As you may or may not know, I'm heading off to Israel later on today for a one-week visit to the country. This is my second time there, although seeing as I was five the first time, this will be the first time I actually bring back some memories. Going with the parents, and we'll be staying with some friends in Rehoboth. Unfortunately, I don't have much of a geographic knowledge of Israel (and this map, which highlights the West Bank for some reason, certainly doesn't help), so all I know about Rehoboth is that it's somewhat centrally located. Which is convenient, because we'll be doing all sorts of day trips to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, the Dead Sea and I guess a few other places.

I'll be missing Thanksgiving during this trip, which I guess is a first for me. Oh well. Can't say I'm too broken up about that. Not that I don't love me some turkey (dark meat, thank you very much), canned cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy. Yummy in my tummy.

Should be a lot of fun, and if Internet access allows, I'll try to add a few updates of my experience during the week.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Making of Gatorade's "Winning Formula"

You know that Gatorade commercial where the TV footage of three famous sports moments have been altered so that their outcome is the opposite of what actually happened? Well, now we know how it was done.

Please note that this is a link to a blog exclusively dedicated to Gatorade. And it's updated daily. How does someone find enough material about Gatorate to update it daily? I don't know. He just does.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The last word

As far as the AL MVP debate goes, this is it. I promise. But I couldn't resist linking to Jason Stark's argument for Papi for MVP. He basically makes the points that I did but has dug even deeper, beyond the basic situational hitting stats. Because if you thought those numbers were telling enough, there's more. Now we have proof -- beyond anecdotal -- that Papi was also more productive in the later innings and in closer games. And when you combine those two situations to look at productivity during the late innings of close games? Papi hit .313 to A-Rod's .176. Come on people, that's ridonculous.

Stark's other argument for Papi is that the MVP award has almost never been awarded based on defensive capability, as evidenced by people such as Jose Canseco, Juan Gonzalez and Frank Thomas winning it. So I wonder -- if Papi had simply played the year at first base, even at a sub-par level, would that have validated him in more people's eyes as the MVP? Just because he played in the field? History seems to say yes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Basketball preview -- college edition

Some people -- myself included -- love the NBA. It's got the prestige of being the best basketball league in the world and the play is (generally) polished and precise.

Others -- myself also included -- love college hoops. Not the same level of skill as the NBA, obviously, but as epitomized in the Tournament each March, the play is always intense and exciting. And there's something to be said for that.

Since I already took a look at the NBA and the Lake Show the other week, and with UCLA opening its season against New Mexico State at Pauley Pavilion tonight, I'd like to briefly explore my world of college hoops. And that world consists of two teams -- UCLA and Penn. Here's a quick look at each program for the upcoming season:

UCLA Bruins
My boys are back!! Apparently Ben Howland is some sort of a coaching/recruiting guru, because he went to Northern Arizona and within three years, they were winning. Same thing at Pitt. And now, three years into his tenure in Westwood, the Bruins are a top 20 team, or at least according to the most recent rankings. There were some bad years in there, no doubt, but with what is being heralded as one of the country's best back courts, hopefully Johnny Wooden can see the Bruins win one more national title in his lifetime.

Penn Quakers
Penn is... Penn? Not sure what to say about my boys, especially since I haven't seen them play live since 2003 and they get no national coverage (not that they deserve it). All I have to go off of is the recent ESPN breakdown on them and the preseason media poll that picked them to win the Ivies. But is picking them to win that league really going out on a limb? In the last 47 years, Penn or Princeton has either won or shared the Ivy League title 44 times, with a current 17-year streak going since neither of them had something to do with the title. That's just absurd -- but I'll take those chances.

With the NBA season two weeks old and college hoops getting under way, the best is yet to come! Should be a great few months of basketball, hope everyone is excited. Let's just pray we don't see a first round matchup in the Tourney between UCLA and Penn. Because then I may have to throw myself off the bus.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Manny being Manny!

Not much to say about Fruit-Rod winning the AL MVP. Can't say I'm surprised, but y'all know where I stand on the topic.

On to more light-hearted matters, here's a funny list of ideas by The Arizona Republic to convince Manny to accept a trade to the Diamondbacks... not that the Sox would ever entertain trading him in the first place. Right? RIGHT?!?!?

  • Install Manny a personal washroom under the left-field bleachers for those unanticipated emergencies, along with a little flag to be raised when Manny needs a break in play -- sort of like the ones you run up at Pancho's when you want more sopapillas.
  • Provide Manny with five "Manny is being Manny Today" cards per season to be used at his discretion as a free pass, sort of like a Get Out of Jail Free card they use in Monopoly and when NASCAR drivers get pulled over in Maricopa County by deputies who smell booze.
  • Promise Manny that one day his bust will reside alongside that of a Hall of Famer like Ted Williams. Then reserve the cryogenic tube next to Ted's.
  • Offer Manny a day off for every 10 ground balls he actually runs out.
  • Change the name of the Friday's Front Row above left field to Manny's Chateau.
  • Provide patrons there with free beer so they won't boo when Manny watches indifferently as a fly ball he thinks is out of the park bounces off the wall.
  • Allow Manny to make all Chase Field music selections. That way, Manny would have no reason to wear an MP3 player during a game again. Plus, it would rid us of that infernal sleep-inducing, rally-killing organ music.
  • Give Manny complete authority over opening or closing the roof, including a remote control so it will give him something to do when he's bored by all the long balls going overhead courtesy of the club's relief staff.

Red Sox, please don't trade him.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The argument for Papi

Oh man, I don't want to do this. But I must.

You see, living in New York City, I'm surrounded by Yankee fans. Not a surprising fact, I know, but a revolting one nonetheless. And they all love A-Rod. Again, not too surprising. But why??

At work a few weeks ago, we had a persuasive communications class as part of some ongoing training. Our assignment for the day was to make a persuasive speech on the topic of our choice. So I spoke about why David Ortiz should be voted this year’s AL MVP. I went through the arguments for -- unbelievably clutch hitting and unparalleled clubhouse leadership -- and openly acknowledged the one argument (the only one!) against -- he's a DH.

Listen, if we're talking about the best player in the AL (and maybe all of baseball), you'd be stupid not to say A-Rod. But we're talking about the most valuable, and that's a completely different story.

Anyway, it just so happened that the speech of the girl who went after me was about why A-Rod deserved the award. And what do you know, her entire argument centered on the fact that Papi’s a DH. Great rebuttal. No, really.

So folks, with the MVP award being announced this Monday, let's figure this out, once and for all. Of course the award has something to do with how good you are, strictly as a baseball player. And I've already conceded this distinction to A-Rod. But in terms of value to a team, I’m arguing that Papi blows him out of the water.

It's common knowledge that Papi is immensely clutch. (And clutch hitting, which some used to say was more imagined than based in reality, has been proven to be very real.) Of his 47 home runs in the regular season, something like 20 either tied the game for the Red Sox or put them ahead. In the last week of the season, with the Sox' playoff hopes in jeopardy and the team losing to the Blue Jays, Ortiz tied the game in the 8th with a home run and then singled in the 9th to bring home the winning run. And then there's the whole winning the 2004 ALDS on a walk-off homer, winning Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS with a walk-off homer and winning Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS with a walk-off single thing. He's clutch, people.

It's also common knowledge that A-Rod cannot hit when anything is on the line. I know the playoffs aren't considered in the MVP voting, but did you see what he did in the ALDS this year?? He had two hits (in the entire series!!), zero RBIs, an error that allowed the Angels to win Game 2 and hit into what was effectively a series-ending double play in the ninth inning of Game 5. During the regular season, it was the same story. I had the misfortune of going to the game where he hit three homers and had 10 RBIs against the Angels. But the final score of that game? 12-4. Great production, wrong time.

I could talk until my face is blue, but as we know, baseball is all about the numbers. Common knowledge and anecdotes may prove a player’s value, but they’re not tangible. The numbers are. And they don’t lie. So let's take a look at some of the most telling ones.

First, a quick look at these guys’ basic stats for the year:


As you can see, they’re basically even. A-Rod’s better in average, Papi’s better in RBIs, and it’s a push in the other two categories. This is why most people think it's a coinflip between these two guys.

But it's not a coinflip. Dig just a little deeper and you'll see the disparity. Specifically, let’s look at the situational hitting stats for these guys. Because it’s one thing to hit when it doesn’t matter but completely different in an important situation:

With the bases empty:


Advantage in this typically non-important situation clearly goes to A-Rod. But lets see how this breaks down with runners on base:


Whoa, look at that! With just having runners on base, Ortiz all of a sudden becomes a better hitter and passes A-Rod (who becomes a worse hitter) in all stats. But let's dig a little deeper. Let's look at the situations not just when runners are on base, but when runners are in scoring position:


And the disparity widens! A-Rod, in this even more clutch situation continues to decline while Papi considerably improves. And the best part is, there's more. Let's look at runners in scoring position, with two outs:


Are you kidding me?!?!? While A-Rod doesn't get any worse here, Papi just blows him out of the water. I mean, that's not even close. In what is generally the most important time for clutch hitting, Papi hit 66 points better in average than A-Rod, 78 points better in on base percentage and 207 points better in slugging!

So here's the point, kids: Whether you hear all the stories or just look at the cold, hard numbers, in the most important times, Ortiz is without a doubt the better hitter. And that's what makes him so special and so valuable. But if you want just the best hitter in baseball, who will pad your lead in non-important situations, then I guess A-Rod's your man. I'm sure Astros fans would be clamoring for him right now, what with all those bases loaded, two out situations they couldn't execute during the World Series.

Then there’s the whole clubhouse leadership thing. When’s the last time you heard some story about A-Rod rallying the troops? Ever? Can’t say I have. He’s too busy playing poker and being bitch-slapped by Gary Sheffield for that sort of thing.

With Papi, you never stop hearing about how important he is to his teammates. Whatever’s required off the field, he does it. And if you can somehow argue that that doesn’t matter in the MVP voting, you’re an idiot.

I really can’t even fathom how people can vote for A-Rod as the Most Valuable Player. It’s beyond me, really. I invite you to persuade me otherwise, but I just don’t see it happening. And please don’t throw me that DH crap because it just doesn’t fly. As already discussed, there’s far too much else that goes into the consideration set for that to hurt him that much. So until I hear any convincing arguments otherwise, Papi has to be your AL MVP this year. I pray sportswriters voted the same way.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Conspiracy and screwups in Boston

I think it's a well-known fact these days that a handful of massive media corporations out there own just about every TV station, radio station, newspaper, magazine, publishing company, etc. As you probably know, this concerns media watchers because of the inherent conflict of interest that comes with subsidiaries stacked upon subsidiaries. Put all of your resources together and you can build quite a powerful, non-competitive media behemoth.

The notion has been discussed far too many times, and I won't bore you with another example of that today. Instead, I'd like to present how all of this interconnectivity can actually be screwed up and make things worse. Impossible, you say? Well let's take a look at the good folks up in Boston.

Question: What do The Boston Globe, the Boston Red Sox, the New England Sports Network (NESN) and all have in common? They're owned, to some degree, by The New York Times Company. We can discuss at a later date how repulsive it is that a New York-based company has a share in so many Boston-area companies, but for the moment, let's stay focused and explore how this jumble of relationships has had an impact on the whole Theo Epstein debacle and how, somehow, it has actually made things worse for all parties involved.

The Boston Herald has bitched for years that the Globe gets preferential treatment from the Red Sox. And this may be true. For example, the Dan Shaughnessy column that acted as the final straw in convincing Theo Epstein to resign came from an exclusive phone conversation between Shaughnessy, Epstein and Larry Luchino, all of whom are essentially employees of The New York Times Company. Now how did a worthless columnist like Shaughnessy get this exclusive interview, something that any sports reporter in Boston would be drooling over? If he wrote for the Herald, would he have gotten it? Some would argue yes, but I'm not sure it's so clear. So let's chalk one up for the conglomerate here.

(On a side note, thankfully the Globe isn't shying away from this conflict of interest and has faced it head on in a column by its ombudsman, Richard Chacon. It's a noble effort, but I'm not sure Chacon completely allays the concerns some people have. He gives the old song and dance but there doesn't seem to be much substance or feeling behind it.)

Anyway, with his easy access to the braintrust of the Sox, Shaughnessy did what he does best and caused trouble by writing a column that was decisively Luchino-leaning. Now, mind you that most accounts of the phone conversation are that everyone was very buddy buddy; all signs were that Epstein would be re-signing with the Sox the following Monday. But after all, Shaughnessy is the man who brought us the Curse of the Bambino and the guarantee in June that the Sox would win the AL East, so why stop causing trouble now, even if it means messing with his parent company's subsidiary? So the madman's column was published, Theo realized he had had enough, and bolted. Screwup number one.

An even greater ironic twist and more embarrassing gaffe is the recent discovery that the Sox had a deal in place with Epstein as early as October 28, three days before his contract expired and all of this madness went down. However, the PR powers at the Sox caught wind that the Patriots would be announcing Tedy Bruschi's return over the weekend and didn't want the re-signing of Theo to be overshadowed. So, without making any official announcement, Theo and Luchino gave their interview to Shaughnessy on Friday with the understanding that they'd make the deal public the following Monday. But we all know what happened in between that call and Monday -- Shaughnessy published his column, stirred up his crap, and Epstein jumped ship.

To recap: In order to keep Theo, all the Sox had to do was make the announcement on Friday, have Theo sign the dotted line, and then no matter what crap Shaughnessy spewed, they would have had their man. But no, they outthinked themselves for some stupid press and managed to achieve screwup number two.

Was the decision to delay announcing Theo's re-signing completely motivated by the desire to overshadow Bruschi's news? Most likely, yes. (Which, on its own, is pretty pathetic.) But isn't at all probable that the folks at the Sox knew that Papa Times would be happy to have big time, front-page news from the weekend straight on into the week? I'd argue yes. Impossible to prove, and most likely not the key motivator, but quite possibly a factor in the decision making.

And that's how the big, happy, inbred family up in Boston screwed everything up. I can't believe they actually managed to mess up in so many ways, but they did. Now Bostonians are completely up in arms, the Herald is off in the corner gloating, and the The New York Times Company is probably shaking its head, wondering how Boston could actually screw up such a slam dunk. I guess the silver lining is that, although Boston messed up its own affairs, the group that oversees everything is based in New York. And I'll take that.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Panic in Lakerland!

Wow, that was fast. Kwame is sucking and people are panicking. But let's preach some patience. Really, let's give him, like, four more games before we dump him.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Correction #1 of ∞

It occurred to me the other day that I made quite an error in my Lakers rant last week. So I waited for someone to correct me. Which, of course, never happened. Thank you, oh faithful readers!

In assessing Mitch Kupchak's moves as the Lakers' GM, I said the only two good things he did during his tenure was trade for Kobe and sign Shaq. Although I made it very clear that anyone could have orchestrated those moves. Well, I'm an idiot. Because Kupchak became the Lakers' GM on August 7, 2000, meaning he wasn't responsible for either of those moves. The man that was behind them, which led to three Lakers championships? You guessed it -- Jerry West.

(And now that I know that The Logo was the one that was key to bringing those two guys in, well, they were simply brilliant moves. West saw Kobe's potential and threw what was then a productive Vlade Divac to the Hornets. And after quite a bit of courtship, West convinced Shaq that the Lakers were where he needed to be. Brilliant.)

So... so... this only further demeans Kupchak's achievements, or lack thereof. And it got me to thinking. What exactly has Kupchak done for this team? I mean, it's completely fair to say that the Lakers won their three recent championships because of the moves that West made before leaving. And so I did my research, and here are some highlights of Kupchak's tenure, in chronological order:

8/15/00 - Signs Stanislav Medvedenko. I wish I were making this up, but this was Kupchak's first move as GM, a great way to make a splash in L.A. All you Stephen A. posers, say it with me: Sla-va-med-ve-DENK-o!!!

8/25/00 - Signs Isaiah Rider. A known clubhouse cancer. Which makes him kinda like T.O., although not nearly as good. Here's a snippet of how he fared in L.A. Check out who else is in the article.

9/21/00 - Trades Glen Rice, Travis Knight, first round draft pick for Horace Grant, Greg Foster, Chuck Person, Emanuel Davis. I loved ridding ourselves of Glen Rice... but what was so wrong with Knight?? Little did I know that Mark Madsen, who was drafted just three months earlier (by West), would pick up where Knight left off. But those two guys aside, was picking up Grant, Foster, Person and Davis worth even giving up the draft pick?? Jamaal Tinsley was taken with that pick. I'd take him instead of those four guys combined.

9/29/00 - Waives Chuck Person. Okay, I'd take Tinsley over the remaining three guys.

10/6/00 and 10/16/00 - Respectively, re-signs Brian Shaw and Shaq. The Shaw-Shaq Redemption continues!! I'll give it up to Kupchak for that.

10/25/00 - Waives Emanuel Davis. Tinsley for the final two guys?? (Mitch, the season hasn't even started yet and you've waived two guys from that trade!!)

6/28/01 - Trades Greg Foster for Lindsey Hunter. We're down to Horace Grant for Jamaal Tinsley.

7/18/01 - Loses Horace Grant to free agency. Say it ain't so HoGra!! Jamaal Tinsley sure seems nice now, huh?

9/27/01 and 10/16/01 - Signs Paul Shirley, then waives him. A career in writing is born.

6/30/03 - Declines to exercise option on Robert Horry, making him an unrestricted free agent. This is clearly the beginning of the end of the dynasty.

7/16/03 - Signs Gary Payton and Karl Malone. I was excited as anyone, but was this Kupchak's doing? Nope, you can thank Ambassador Shaquille for these two guys coming to play at a ridiculous discount.

7/28/03 - Signs Horace Grant back after a two year absence. Jamaal Tinsley, eat your heart out!!

8/19/03 - Signs Koko Archibong. Not only a Penn graduate, but his name is Koko. Unfortunately, he was waived two months later. However, some "genius" at Cal Tech actually took the time to put this web site together, which is simply brilliant, even if you never had the chance to appreciate Koko in all of his glory.

7/10/04 - Hires Rudy Tomjanovich. To this day, does anyone know what happened with this whole situation? Very sketchy, all around.

7/14/04 - Trades Shaq for Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, Caron Butler. I don't care whose fault this was (Kobe is the widely accepted culprit), but for Kupchak and Buss to allow it to get to that point is completely inexcusable.

7/15/04 - Re-signs Kobe to max contract. Wow, that was hard to do. "Kobe, we're giving you the max. You can go somewhere else, but no one can offer you this much money." End of story.

7/16/04 - Loses Derek Fisher to free agency. Another piece of the puzzle falls away.

7/20/04 - Signs Vlade Divac. His line for the 04-05 season? 15 games, 2.3 points per game, 2.1 rebounds per game, 1.3 assists per game and one block. (Note that the block isn't per game. That's the total number for the year.)

8/2/04 - Re-signs Stanislav Medvedenko. While other pieces come and go, Slava's the rock that keeps the ship afloat. Or not.

8/6/04 - Trades Gary Payton, Rick Fox, cash for Chris Mihm, Jumaine Jones, Chucky Atkins. I'm more upset about unceremoniously dumping Fox than anything else here. And I guess giving up the cash.

6/14/05 - Hires Phil Jackson. Another tough recruitment effort. "Hey Phil, would you rather coach in a place you know, get $10 million a year and be with your girlfriend... or go to Minneapolis?" End of story.

6/28/05 - Drafts a guy named Von Wafer. I kid you not. (Unfortunately, he looks far too normal to have a name like that. And he's not German. I thought he'd be German.)

8/2/05 - Trades Caron Butler, Chucky Atkins to Wizards for Kwame Brown, Laron Profit. An actual quote from a breathless Stu Lantz during the Lakers' game the other night, after Profit made a nice play: "Laron Profit was not supposed to be the best player in the Wizards trade!!"

There you have it. A bunch of unexceptional moves (and draft picks) that were made, as far as I can tell, for no apparent reason. I mean, just look at these players!! Every one that came because of Kupchak has either been average (at best) or they suck, but were great at one time. What pointless move is next? Only time will tell.

The silver lining is that people are now saying that the Lakers are trying to save some cap space to make some big signings in the next few years. If that's the case, and they make some smart moves, I'm happy. But with Kupchak's track record, I'm not gonna believe it until I see it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Cuban-TNT update

It looks like Mark Cuban's gone soft on us. In his latest blog entry, he backs off of the various controversies he's stirred up. He's not mad at TNT, he's not mad at the RIAA, he's not mad at Hollywood, he's not even mad at Donald Trump!! Say it ain't so Mark!! Even if this is how you really feel, can't you at least lead us to believe that you'd like to fight all these people (and entities) to the death? It makes for better reading.

Anyway, looks like has actually started to track the back-and-forth between Cuban and the TNT crew. I find it hard to believe that David Stern would allow such hootenany to infiltrate the league's web site. Then again, he's a marketer, and I guess nothing grabs eyeballs more than scandal. And an iron fist.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Mark Cuban, you're my hero

Love him or hate him, you gotta respect Mark Cuban. He's successful, rich, carefree and he owns a basketball team. Oh, and he can pick a fight with the best of them.

While you can often see him on various sports programs offering his thoughts, he airs all of his thoughts on his blog, And some of them can turn vicious. The latest victims of his lashings? The TNT basketball crew.

His first post begins innocently enough with his excitement over the Mavericks' victory in their first game this year. But soon, almost without warning, he starts attacking the TNT studio crew of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Reggie Miller. Of Chuck and Kenny, he has this to say:

There is a reason why [they] haven't gotten head coaching jobs. There is more to running a team these days then thinking you know what you are talking about... With all that money you guys make (hey if you are going to talk salaries, lets see how you like it), go out and hire some kids to track what actually happens in a game rather than having TNT bring in kids to go out and get donuts... Kenny wants to be the coach, but won't do the work, so never will be more than a sidekick.

Good stuff, definitely. But then he turns his attention to Reggie Miller, who's had less than one week of work at TNT under his belt:

And rook..I mean Reggie Miller. Remember this rook. Every year TNT brings in the guy who was good, but retired last year, and puts them in that same seat you were sitting in. You may have noticed that they arent there any more. Do something more than just try to be another guy who tries to fit in and trade nonsensical barbs with the boys.

A little unwarranted to attack Reggie in his first week? Maybe. But who cares, this is great!!

Then, I guess the TNT boys responded to Mark on air. Because the other day, he responded with a new post, where Mark challenged the basketball knowledge of Charles and Kenny:

I'm willing to compare the basketball knowledge of AJ, Del Harris, Joe Prunty and Larry Riley to the two of you anytime. My guess, you guys are on the short end of the stick.

I love it! Stay tuned to Blog Maverick for further barbs in this bitch fight.

And while you're there, be sure to check out the archives for Mark's fight with another celebrity -- a certain Mr. Donald Trump. You see, while this little fight with the TNT boys will probably pass over in a few weeks, Cuban hates Trump. Which makes for great reading.

The first sign of trouble came in Cuban's post on April 14, 2004, just as Cuban was pimping his reality show, The Benefactor. Cuban quotes Trump, who basically said that The Benefactor would be a rip-off of The Apprentice. Obviously Cuban took some offense to this and tears into Trump, talking about how they're completely different. Great reading.

Then, in his September 8, 2004 post, Cuban responds to Trump's appearance on Leno the night before, basically saying that the success of The Apprentice has next to nothing to do with Trump. And finally, in his November 23, 2004 post, the day after Trump filed for bankruptcy, Cuban basically dances over Trump's dead body and gloats about how miserable of a businessman he is.

Is this all just a little too juvenile for a successful businessman? Definitely. But is it hilarious? DEFINITELY. And that's why I'll continue to check up on Cuban's site to see who his latest vendetta is with. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

West Philadelphia, born and raised

When you attend the University of Pennsylvania, one of the first things you learn is that Penn is not Princeton. Obvious, right? Well, it's drilled into you from the second you step on campus as a freshman, mostly from all the "Puck Frinceton" t-shirts. But you come to learn that it really is true. Better academics, better sports program, better city, better everything. Well, almost everything.

Last I checked, sleepy Princeton, New Jersey doesn't have much of a crime problem. Penn, being in West Philadelphia, does. And this year, from reading, the web site of Penn's student-run newspaper, it almost seems as though things have gotten worse, like they're reaching a crescendo. Then I read yesterday's issue. And a few things caught my eye. Because it's not just crime anymore. It's strange crime. For example:

Undercover cops retrieve student's iPod in sting - The Penn Police actually took the time to run a sting operation to catch two 16-year olds who were holding a stolen iPod for ransom. Do they have nothing better to do? (Although it's strange to think that these kids wouldn't just want to keep the iPod instead of trying to get a $100 for it.) As a bonus, some of the reader comments after this article are ludicrously hilarious.

Crime log - Probably one of my favorite running features in the DP from my student days. Just read through some of these items. Half of them contain the words "unattended" or "unlocked". One actually contains the double-whammy of "unattended" and "unsecured". People, you live in West friggin' Philadelphia. Lock your shit up.

Security concerns - The weekly staff editorial call for more security on and around campus. It never comes. This article is more sobering than anything else. Even the reader comments aren't their normal, outlandish self. Sorry.

Gotta love going to a school where you're afraid to walk home after dark. And now that SEPTA workers are on strike -- we can discuss at a later date how a public transportation system came to be called SEPTA -- transportation options are even more limited. What you got on that, P-ton?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Finding Found

I'm not one to pry into the lives of others. But a few months ago, I had the fortune of a friend recommending Found Magazine to me, and my zeal for peeping into the inner thoughts of others has reached levels I've never experienced.

Found Magazine ( is a publication that compiles and prints the found notes, letters, drawings, photos, etc. of others. People from across the country (and occasionally, the world) send their found items into Davy Rothbart, the magazine's founder, and he aggregates them into a magazine that's published every few months.

The found items in these magazines run the gamut of emotions -- from hilarious to sobering, reflective to idiotic, shocking to, ummm, shocking. Because just about everything that's published is new, refreshing and completely unexpected.

For example, to the left is Davy's first "find" -- he found it sitting on his car windshield one night a few years ago -- and what inspired him to create the magazine. Note that the writer spits out pure, genuine hatred for most of the note, only to pull a 180 in the postscript with a simple request that comes out of nowhere. Strange, right? Well, this is what all of the finds are like.

Davy and his brother have been touring bookstores and theatres around the country for over a month now, doing readings of some select found items. I went to one of these in New York last month and had a great time. He's still touring, so if you're in California and other places throughout the southwest and south, I'd highly recommend catching him. The event schedule can be seen here. If you're really lucky, Davy's brother will perform his coffee-house rendition of "The Booty Don't Stop", which is based on a found recording by the Ypsilanti All-Starz, and can be heard by clicking here and then clicking "The Booty Don't Stop" link.

If you can't make an event, I'd suggest either ordering one of the magazines or just browsing the web site, which has many of the items that you can find in the magazine. A new item is loaded onto the site every day, and I find myself going whenever I'm bored. There's also a book out now, and while I haven't seen it, the reviews, not surprisingly, are outstanding. Because the lives you peer into in Found Magazine are supremely exciting, addicting and never dull.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

You're the man now dogggg!!

Never has a web site remained as consistently annoying as this one. Frankly, I'm shocked that its owner continues to pony up the $35 a year to keep it active. Then again, I'll keep on checking it every few months just to make sure it's there, kinda like when someone farts and you know it stinks, yet you keep sniffing for it.