Friday, May 01, 2009

Paulo's Book Club: "The Yankee Years"

"The Yankee Years" by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci is a must-read for any Yankees fan. Unfortunately Yankees fans can't read.

For the rest of us who love baseball (even if we hate the Yankees) this is a great book covering two eras in Yankees history, their dominant run of four World Series in five years and their subsequent decline (such as it was with 2 World Series).

Before I talk about the content I think I should first explain that Joe Torre didn't write this book. Tom Verducci wrote this book, and Joe Torre was a major contributor, especially at the end.

In fact, it sort of seems as if Verducci wrote the entire thing, then all of the sudden Torre left the Yankees, and Torre jumped in and co-wrote the final few chapters, so he could give his side of the story on his departure.

The controversy surrounding the book upon its release revealed as much, you know Torre would never compare A-Rod's obsession with Jeter to "Single White Female." That was Verducci's voice, and quite possibly even his own observation.

In fact, the first part of the book is told with as much input from David Cone and bullpen catcher Mike Borzello, as it is with Torre.

That's the part of the book that describes the Yankees dynasty and it's a fascinating case study because of all the great tidbits about the individuals who breezed through that clubhouse.

For instance, I feel vindicated because for years I have been saying Paul O'Neill was a selfish player and no one believed me. This book says it explicitly, going so far as to say Yankees coaches couldn't position O'Neill in the outfield because he was too busy practicing his swing in right field.

Torre's handling of O'Neill, David Wells, then Roger Clemens and Gary Sheffield is what makes this book a great look into the mind and methods of this great manager.

But then it all turns south. Verducci explores the trends in baseball (steroids, "Moneyball") that turned the tables in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. And then we come to the beginning of the end for Torre and the Yankees.

Without giving too much away (you already know how it turns out though), the basic point here is that none of this would have happened if George Steinbrenner were still alive. With the Boss reduced to a drooling, shaking, crying shell of his former self, his minions took over and turned against Torre.

From Torre's perspective he was basically forced out, ending an incredibly successful 12 year run with the Yankees.

For its coverage of Torre's ups and downs as Yankees manager this book covers all the bases and I really do consider it a must read for any true baseball fan even if you hate the Yankees.

These Are the People Afraid of Swine Flu

Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt aren't exactly the people the world should be looking to for advice during this troubling time. So when you see Heidi and Spencer on their honeymoon (in their swimsuits, her fake breasts spilling out everywhere) in Mexico wearing masks, you know there is nothing to worry about.

too bad those aren't brains
Heidi and Spencer kiss through their masks, they gave each other herpes but they're afraid of a little influenza

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dog Ejected from Game, Watch Video to Find Out Why

The Greensboro Grasshoppers use a dog as a bat girl (Babe Ruth) so they decided to try out her younger brother, another black lab, Master Yogi Berra, as ballboy. Except maybe Yogi wasn't quite ready for prime time.

I know I have stated before that the new Poop would have stories several days after anyone else but this is not that case. I saw this story days ago but couldn't find the appropriate pictures to go with it, so I held off hoping it would come on youtube. It finally did, but with a weird freeze for the first 40 seconds. Please, please, please, if you love me, scan through the first 40 seconds then watch this video.

After this incident the umpire ejected Master Yogi Berra. He didn't quietly say to his handler "maybe we shouldn't use the dog anymore." He gave him the full finger point heavo-ho. Hysterical. A dog pooping behind second base. They don't eject David Wright everytime he takes a crap on home plate with runners on base.

We Need These Guys To Spice Up the Swine Flu Stories on the News

I'm getting bored with these swine flu stories. So I think every newscast should hire a mariachi band.
One of my favorite commercials ever.

Bud : Mariachi Band - kewego
A man offered some Budweisers to a Mariachi band once in a restaurant. But, unfortunately, he didn’t know how greatfull they would be!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Song of the Week

"I Got a Man" - Positive K
A throwback to a simpler time in rap music where every song was either about great a social ill, or about nothing at all, like this one.
It's actually not as meaningless as the 1000th song from Jay-Z about how rich he is.
It's just a thoughtless little ditty about a guy trying to get the girl.
And it has so many great lines including "are you a chef, cuz you keep feeding my soup?"
But why did they get an old Jewish woman to voice the female lines? "I already told you, I got a man, bubbeleh."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Secret Life of Eric Devendorf

One reason given for Eric Devendorf's ill-advised early departure from Syracuse is his need to support his family.
Devendorf was recently named the Most Hated Man in College Basketball, Devendorf is somebody's son, somebody's boyfriend and most importantly, somebody's daddy.
Madelyn was born on my 30th birthday, June 20, 2008.

Eric Devendorf's baby mama
Eric Devendorf's daughter Madelyn

Story suggested by Billy

Kyle Maynard's MMA Debut

Kyle Maynard, the guy with no hands and no feet who gained fame for dominating high school wrestiling, made his MMA debut.
The fight turned out exactly as I predicted. Maynard was unable to do anything. And his opponent fought cautiously and won by unanimous decision 30-27.
Kyle was considered a downed opponent so he couldn't be kicked or kneed in the head. His opponent had difficulty reaching him for strikes and Kyle's arms aren't really long enough to deliver strikes from the stand-up, as it were.
Kyle's strategy was to take down his opponent and use his superior upper body strength (supposedly he has the upper body strength of a 200 lb man, but he fights at 135) to take down his opponent, control him on the ground and deliver strikes.
But his opponent never allowed it to happen and the result was a boring embarrassing fight.

It's hard to tell Kyle that he can't do something, since he's spent his life doing things people said he couldn't do. And if Kyle had listened to those people years ago he never would have gotten to where he is today. But now that he has experimented with MMA I hope Kyle gives up this dream and pursues others instead of becoming a laughingstock and a freak show.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Curious Case of Chien-Ming Wang

The first three starts of Chien-Ming Wang's 2009 season are so historically bad that I can't recall ever seeing a pitcher with similar numbers, certainly not one with his previous record of accomplishments. Here's the pitching lines:

4/8 vs. Baltimore: 3 2/3 innings 9 hits 7 runs 1 home run 3 walks 0 strikeouts
4/13 vs. Tampa Bay: 1 inning 6 hits 8 runs 0 home runs 3 walks 1 strikeout
4/18 vs. Cleveland: 1 1/3 innings 8 hits 8 runs 1 home run 0 walks 1 strikeout

On aggregate Wang has an ERA of 34.50, he's allowing nearly 5 base runners per inning and opponents are hitting .622 against him. If in his next appearance he begins baseball's longest-ever scoreless innings streak, his ERA will still be above 3.00.

There are three reasons this could be happening to Wang with this suddenness.

1) It's physical. So far he says he is fine and doctors are checking him to see if he reinjured the foot that caused him to miss much of last season.

2) It's mental. After basically blowing the 2007 playoffs, then missing half of 2008, and now this, maybe Wang's brain is getting in the way of his body.

3) His luck ran out. Sabremetricians put a premium on strikeout pitchers based on the theory that against all pitchers (good and bad) the batting average on balls put in play will be pretty even. If the hitter makes contact, the ball is equally as likely to be a hit or an out for any pitcher. Therefore the best pitchers strikeout a lot of guys and the other guys, it will catch up to eventually. Now there are guys like Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine who successfully kept their BABIPs (batting average on balls put in play) below league average for their entire careers. By the way, home run rate matters here as well, Wang has always had a great one due to this sinker. This rough start may indicate that Wang isn't the next Glavine or Maddux, and all the balls hit against him that went for outs in prior years, are finally starting to fall in -- all at once.

Racist Newscast

A TV station in Rochester does a story about Popeye's running out of chicken on the very day it advertised an 8-piece bucket, normally $7.29, for $4.99.
To confirm an age-old stereotype that black people like fried chicken, the racist news team at WHAM interviews nearly a dozen people for the story, I'll let you count the white people.

Btw, I still love Popeye's and I'm happy to pay full price for the 8-piece whenever Mrs. Poop is out of town.

Please don't tell the Conciergette that I eat an 8-piece by myself.

Thank You for Being a Friend

Normally when a celebrity dies I try to commemmorate them with the most obscure reference to that person as possible. For instance, Vonnegut , Heston and Rizzuto.

Since I'm not really a big "Maude" fan, and "Golden Girls" is too cliche, I'll just pass on these two anecdotes about Bea Arthur.

Two things you need to know to understand these stories.
1) Mrs. Poop loves Golden Girls.
2) Bea Arthur's character was named Dorothy Zbornak.

Mrs. Poop’s current Facebook status says “R.I.P. Dorothy Zbornak ” One of her friends commented “sorry for your loss.”

A few years back while watching “The Office” I noticed a credit for a producer named Kent Zbornak. I paused the show and wondered aloud if “he’s related to Dorothy.” Mrs. Poop thought for a few seconds, then started hysterical laughing. I often point to that instance as the reason why we make such a good couple. I’m the only person in the world who saw that name and made that connection. And she’s the only person who would have found it funny.

Bea Arthur, we’ll miss you.

Thank you for being a friend.

Dorothy Zbornak, thank you for being a friend

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Paulo's Book Club: "Pedro, Carlos & Omar"

Reading “Pedro, Carlos and Omar” by Adam Rubin, with the benefit of hindsight actually ruined the book for me. The book was written on the premise that the signing of Pedro Martinez and subsequently Carlos Beltran was going to have a transformative impact on the organization, resulting in several World Series titles.

Reading it now, four painful years later, takes a lot of the excitement out of it.

The book also pushes the premise that Pedro’s impact would be felt beyond his performance on the field. It would be a recruiting tool for other top Latinos (starting with Carlos Beltran) and it would turn the Mets into Los Mets, a marketing juggernaut in the growing Hispanic market.

Four years later I now consider the Pedro Martinez signing one of the worst in Mets history. An injury prone pitcher, past his prime was given four years and $53 million. After a hot start in his first season (12-3) he limped to a record of 20-20 over the rest of his contract and was never there when the Mets needed him.

And his impact as a recruiter is grossly overstated as well. He supposedly was the reason Carlos Beltran signed with the Mets, but the book even says Beltran wanted to take $14 million less ($2m per year) to stay with the Astros, but they wouldn't give him a no-trade clause. And they didn't have Pedro. Beltran also wanted to sign with the Yankees for less money, but they didn't want him (no Pedro there either).

And Carlos Delgado? He turned down the chance to be Pedro's teammate when he was a free agent, and even bristled at the Mets' overuse of the Hispanic thing in his recruitment. He only joined the Mets at gunpoint after the Marlins sucked, then traded him.

The flawed premise of the book notwithstanding, I also dislike the style in which it is written. The book reads too much like a best-of compilation of Rubin's Daily News game recaps.

There are some great anecdotes about the offseason wheeling and dealing, and even some gems from during the season, but mostly it's a rehash of the games, without enough new info to make rehashing them worthwhile.

"Pedro, Carlos and Omar" shows a lot of promise, and starts strong, but is missing that certain something that would take it from good to great. Sort of like the team it describes.