Wednesday, January 03, 2007

You ain't a beauty, but hey, you're all right

Face-down in a stream of semi-consciousness while Bruce thunders through my earbuds . . .

My hypothetical Hall of Fame ballot would look like this: Cal Ripken (as obvious as it gets, though his .276 career average raises at least one of my eyebrows), Tony Gwynn (how I wish the strike hadn't interrupted his run at .400 in '94; he had the ability and demeanor to pull it off), Goose Gossage (the second-best closer I've ever seen after Mo Rivera, I'm still dumbstruck that Bruce Sutter beat him to Cooperstown), Andre Dawson (438 homers, 318 stolen bases, 8 Gold Gloves . . . had he spend his heyday in Boston or New York instead of playing in front of Youppi!, you bet he'd be in already), and Jim Rice (okay, I'm biased because he was nice to me when I was 8 years old . . . but he was the most dominating hitter in the American League for a decade, and I find it ridiculous that he's punished for not being mediocre at the end of his career and fattening up his career totals with three or four .257-15-75 seasons.) . . . As for Mark McGwire: Uh-uh. Not yet, anyway. I need more information about just how many big-league ballplayers were juicing, particularly during the fraudulent summer of '98, before I cast a final judgment here . . . I suppose you could call me hypocrite for this, but I would vote for Barry Bonds. My contention is that he was a Hall of Fame lock even before he started gulping down and injecting every concoction this side of battery acid . . . Come to think of it, I think I'd also vote for Alan Trammell, a great-field, great-hit shortstop who was the heart of some fine Tigers teams and who was absolutely robbed of the MVP in '87 . . . Let's see, he's 43, famously surly, is coming off back surgery, had an ERA of 5.00 last year, is a mechanical mess, makes something like $16 million next year, and has the nerve to ask for a contract extension. Yep, I completely understand why the Diamondbacks would consider giving the Yankees a quality prospect or two for Randy Johnson. You're a sly one, Josh Byrnes . . . Barry Zito's K-rate has been shrinking as his walk rate has grown, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I thought he was on his way to become this decade's Steve Avery. Yet, unlike ESPN's excellent Keith Law, I'm not repulsed by the $126 million contract that Giants threw his way. He is durable, he's not yet 30, he's a hell of a competitor, he's immensely likeable, he still has quality stuff despite some lost velocity, and in the feeble National League, I don't see why he can't average 16-18 wins for the first three or four years of his deal. Will he be worth all that money? Of course not. But he won't be Mike Hampton, either . . . Don't know if I've ever mentioned this here or not, but one of my coolest memories at Fenway is standing on the field, oh, 40 feet from Zito before Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS and watching him snap off curveball after curveball while trying to work out some mechanical kinks with pitching coach Rick Peterson. Having seen it live and up close, I honestly have no idea how anyone ever hits Zito's hook - the thing just disappears - and the funny part is, he seemed pissed about how supposedly poorly he was throwing it that day. I always think of that when I find myself forgetting how amazingly talented and dedicated these guys have to be just get to the big leagues . . . The opening day closer for your Boston Red Sox? Right now, my money is on Manny Delcarmen. I'm talking myself into believing in the kid . . . Okay, I'm really starting to worry that J.D. Drew is stuck in an MRI tube somewhere. Is this thing going to get done or what?

Maybe I'm in denial, but I'm still clinging to a granule of hope that Rodney Harrison will spend Sunday scaring the courage out of Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles. And if he really can't go this week, then I'll transfer my optimism to next week. After all Harrison's been through, I'm skeptical that a ligament sprain is going to end his season now . . . Even sans Rodney, I think the Pats pound the Jets, which should scare the living hell out of those of you who bleed red and blue considering my record on predictions this season is rather similar to the Raiders' won-lost record . . . But the Patriots are a better team, they have a better coach and a better quarterback, they're much healthier than they were during the Jets' upset at Gillette, they won't be caught napping this time, the field (the great equalizer the last time around) is obviously in much better condition, and Hank Poteat is starting at corner for the Jets. Seems to me that's a lot of check marks in their favor . . . He might be a latte-swilling, self-aggrandizing oaf, but Peter King still gets it right football-wise every once in a while: He had the sense to put Ty Warren on his All-Pro team . . . Dennis Green IS WHAT WE THOUGHT HE WAS!!! (A completely inept NFL coach) . . . He's fun to watch, no doubt, but Michael Vick is the very definition of a coach-killer. If I'm running the Falcons, I shop Mr. Mexico in the offseason, with the hopes of getting 90 cents on the dollar, then take my chances with Matt Schaub. They might not sell as much merchandise, but they'd be a better team . . . If Tony Romo doesn't find his mojo soon, he can forget about Carrie Underwood, because his "American Idol" dating pool is going to be reduced to William Hung and that big chick who was kicked off the show for doing nudie pics . . . Does Drew Bledsoe still go to the games? Really? Are we sure that's not just a propped-up Fathead?. . . I used to think Matt Millen must have compromising pictures of the Lions' owner to keep his job despite conclusive proof that he is an incompetent boob, but now I think it has to be something more sinister, like, say, a snuff film involving Marty Mornhinweg, or maybe a picture of William Clay Ford wearing a cheesehead. But now that we know that Millen is staying, at least we have a pretty good idea of where Dwayne Jarrett will end up . . . If Bill Belichick is duplicitous pond scum, as the old insult goes, then what does that make Nick Saban? Something unprintable, I'm thinking. Alabama is lusting after one slippery creep of a coach. . . You get the sense that Tiki Barber never passes a mirror without lingering to admire himself for a moment? I give him credit for getting out while all of his parts are still in working order, but geez, you'd think he's season-long Life After Football seminar might be off-putting to a few of his teammates who still put a high priority on their day job . . . Now that everyone has low expectations for them, is it possible that this is the year Peyton and the Ponies get to the Super Bowl? Nahhhhhhh . . . Herm Edwards does have the good sense to run Larry Johnson 40 times against Indy's horrendous run defense, right? He's not going to pull a Josh McDaniels and shun all common sense in favor of the passing game, right? Right? Herm? . . . I fear Baltimore, assuming Steve McNair can keep his leprosy in remission for the postseason. He's always been a quarterback who's much better than his statistics, and their defense is so deep, Ray Lewis might be their fourth-best linebacker at this point . . . So Matt Leinart is hooking up with Britney Spears now? Geez, guess he probably didn't see those pictures, huh? . . . Man, the NFC is just horrendous. If I had to pick one team from the Junior Varsity Conference to get to the Super Bowl, I suppose I'd go with Seattle, for no other reason than Shaun Alexander is finally healthy . . . Think I'm rooting for Philly, though. Andy Reid has my eternal respect (and probably his team's, too) for basically telling T.O. to bleep himself last season . . . All I knew about Darrent Williams was that he was a royal pest against the Patriots, and right now I'm wishing that's all I still knew. Mike Shanahan's heartfelt testimonial made Williams sound like a genuinely nice kid, one we'd all have enjoyed knowing. What a shame that we now know him as one more young American who met a senseless demise at the end of a gun.

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As for today's reason The Office's Jenna Fischer is the Official Muse of TATB, Increasingly Annoyed Wife Excluded:

Not only is she melt-the-waistband-on-your-underoos hot, but she's downright funny . . . and in that mean sort of way we kind of dig around here. Check out the punchline on this snippet from her blog yesterday, and tell me you didn't at least snicker:

A lot of people I know ask me "What is it like to be famous?" Well, I'm only a little bit famous and it has been adjustment. When I'm out in public and people are looking at me shop or buy coffee or get gas, it takes some actual effort to be my authentic self. People make snap judgments about you and those stories stick. I'm guilty of it myself. I've met a few celebrities and later gone to a party and said something like, "Oh, I met her – bad skin." As if that one 30 second encounter is all I needed to make such a sweeping judgment. My skin is pretty nice most of the time but right now I have 3 giant zits. Anyone who has met me in the last 4 days probably thinks I have horrible skin. I don't wear much makeup when I'm not working. My choices are: put on makeup to cover my bad skin (which is what gives me the breakouts in the first place) or walk around zits galore and let the judgments fall where they may. I choose option two. And, by the way, this is why I love Britney Spears. She is Option 2 all the time.

And somewhere, Matt Leinart itches himself and wonders why doesn't get the joke.

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