Saturday, June 27, 2009

Baseball is Poop

Just Write Down Papi's Back
Big Papi has woken up. Through the first two months of the season David Ortiz was batting .185 with 1 homer and 18 RBI in 178 at bats. Since the beginning of June Papi is batting .310 (with a 1.060 OPS) with 6 homers and 16 RBI in only 58 at bats.

Paulie's Neat-O Stat of the Night
A few years ago the Mets lost 3 straight 2-1 games and I thought the circumstance was quite amazing, but 2-1 is a fairly common baseball score. Which is why I was fascinated to see that 3 times within a 5 game span the Kansas City Royals lost a game by the score of 12-5. And we were so close because one of the other games, the score was 10-5.

It's Not the Stadium
Perhaps topping the above 12-5 example in sheer statistical unlikelihood is the home run totals of Adam Dunn for the past four years:
2005: 40
2006: 40
2007: 40
2008: 40 (even a midseason trade couldn’t derail him)

But some (not me) were worried this streak would come to an end because in 2009 Dunn is playing his home games in spacious Nationals Park compared to the bandbox he used to play in as a member of the Reds. But so far this year Dunn has 18 homers in only 71 games, putting him on pace for 41. But I have a strong feeling he’ll slow slightly and end up with his 5th straight (exactly) 40 homer season.

Last in Your Baseball Encyclopedia, First in Your Slugging Percentage Leaders
Tampa Bay second baseman Ben Zobrist is the surprising AL leader in slugging percentage at .632. At 16 homers in only 204 at bats Zobrist is making himself a household name. Albeit one that is way down the list alphabetically in major league history. Only 12 players in history are behind him in the alphabetical rankings, one is active -- Joel Zumaya.

Random Side Note
For years, Hank Aaron was the first player alphabetically in baseball history. But then David Aardsma came along and ruined all that.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Bad Day for Gen X

Normally I don't post entire articles but this thoughtful piece from the AP's Ted Anthony really put into perspective the loss of two icons for Generation X.

"A record-shattering vinyl album and its moonwalking maestro. A paper poster of a golden-haired beauty in a one-piece swimsuit that was gossamer and clingy in all the right places.

It all seems so quaint now, the fragmented dream memories of a fleeting micro-era that began with words like "bicentennial" and "pet rock" and ended with MTV, Atari and absurdly thin cans of super-hold mousse.

The man-child named Michael Jackson and the luminous girl known as Farrah Fawcett-Majors jumped into our consciousness at a plastic moment in American culture - a time when the celebrity juggernaut we know today was still in diapers. When they departed Thursday, just a few hours and a few miles apart, they left an entire generation - a very strange generation indeed - without two of its defining figures.

"These people were on our lunchboxes," said Gary Giovannetti, 38, a manager at HBO who grew up on Long Island awash in Farrah and MJ iconography. "This," he said, "is the moment when Generation X realizes they're grown up."

It was a long time coming. Cynical, disaffected, rife with ADD, lost between Boomers and millennials and sandwiched between Vietnam and the war on terror, Gen X has always been an oddity. It was the product of a transitional age when we were still putting people on celebrity pedestals but only starting to make an industry out of dragging them down.

Its memorable moments were diffuse and confusing - the Ronald Reagan assassination attempt, the dawn of AIDS, the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. It had no protest movement, no opponent to unite it, none of the things that typically shape the ill-defined beast we call an American generation.

These were the people who sent to the top of the charts a song called "We Don't Need Another Hero," then figured out how to churn them out wholesale, launching the celebrity obsession that is now an accepted part of American cultural fabric.

And that was personified nowhere better than in the two people who died Thursday.

She was, perhaps, the last in a line that began with Betty Grable in World War II - the bathing beauty who seemed kissed by the sun and exuded a potent combination of innocence and sexuality. But her "Charlie's Angels" jiggle-show image presaged another world entirely. It was the one that would come to be dominated first by Brooke and her Calvins and ultimately, as the hunger grew tawdrier, by American Apparel ads and the celebrity sex videos of Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton.

She struggled for credibility after the poster and the Angels. She got it in 1984 with a dramatic turn as an abused wife in "The Burning Bed." But her last stand - a documentary about the cancer that killed her - was tainted by her run-ins with insatiable paparazzi and tabloids.

He was another thing entirely - perhaps the most recognizable face in the world, even more so than the pope or Barack Obama. His musical genius and energy seemed boundless for a time. They were rivaled only by his quirks, which consumed him.

He had a bumpy, extraordinarily public childhood. Then he spent an off-the-wall lifetime trying to get it back, erecting a ranch named after the fantasy land of Peter Pan and inviting children to share his life and his bed - with results that some said drifted into the criminal.

He caught fire in a Pepsi commercial. He shrouded his children in full-body coverings and dangled one over a balcony to show his fans below. His fabled multiple plastic surgeries turned him into someone almost unrecognizable. Nose sunk into face, cheekbones became caricature, ebony drifted into ivory.

Yet through it all, even when the years of his quirks outstripped the years of his glory, he remained one of the planet's most popular figures, selling out shows wherever he went. "Icon," the Rev. Al Sharpton said, was "only a fraction of what he was." But icon was, of course, what he always acted as if he wanted to be.

Today, celebrities aren't merely created for our consumption. Audiences are passive no longer. We demand a part in creating our icons: Jon and Kate Gosselin and their ilk might as well be publicly held companies, and we all insist upon buying a few shares. Farrah and Michael Jackson were other - above us, maybe, or apart from us. Now, when we crown new icons, we want them to BE us.

"We want everything right now, and there's a blurring of reality. When does the celebrity world stop and our world begin?" said Penni Pier, an associate professor of communications at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.

When Farrah gazed at us in her swimsuit and, a single moment in history later, MJ dared us to moonwalk, they commanded giant audiences. The world had not yet become fragmented into the microcommunities that exist today. We liked them or we hated them, but we shared the experience just as Walter Cronkite told us each night that "that's the way it is."

Today, when Lindsay Lohan Twitters pictures of herself to her legions of followers, the notion that a paper poster bought in a shopping-mall Spencer Gifts could change the celebrity game seems rustic. And the vinyl version of "Thriller," redolent of raw materials and production lines, is a ghost in the virtual world of iTunes - a world that the generation after X negotiates with the fluidity of natives.

In the 1990s, members of Generation X would often laugh in bars about how the time of the Boomers was passing - about how the quaintness and naivete that made up the 1960s was, finally, a grave being danced on by Kurt Cobain. Today, members of that same generation sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings of pop.

A sexy poster upon a boy's wall in which a young woman grins wholesomely. A record album called "Thriller" and its attendant music videos, built upon the notion that sexiness came in the frisson of hints and suggestions rather than in cutting directly to the big reveal.

In the end, finally, they stand as the relics of a generation - one that struggled to find its place and now, suddenly, while still young, one that must wonder if it is as passe as the paper and vinyl that its icons' most memorable moments were etched upon.

We don't need another hero? After this week, are we sure?"

Paulo's Book Club: "Blood in the Cage"

"Losing feels like sucking a thousand dicks with your mom watching"

That uncredited quote sums up the passion captured in "Blood in the Cage" by L. Jon Wertheim. The book tells the story of the early days of UFC, using Pat Miletich as its vehicle.

Miletich has a somewhat typical upbringing of an MMA fighter. His father was no good and his poor mother raised five kids. His brothers all went down the wrong path (either ending up dead or in jail) and the only thing that saved Pat was his ability to fight.

Militech was one of the early proprietors of MMA back when the UFC had no rules and lots of opposition from politicians. But then Dana White and the Fertitas came in, and this is where Miletich sort of disappears from the book.

Like those old-time baseball players, he came along too soon, fighting for a couple hundred dollars a show, up to three times a night. Now these guys earn millions for two, maybe three fights a year!

But here's where the book falls short, it follows Miletich right up until his fighting career ends, then picks up the case of the UFC. It never explores Militech's coaching career in as much depth as I would have liked.

And while the story takes UFC from its infancy of eye gouges and head butts until Dana White and the Fertitas take over, it only does a cursory job of following and explaining the sport's explosion.

Essentially it comes down to this. If you like UFC or even have a passing interest in it, you will love this book. If you don't really care, you probably still won't after reading this book.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What's Your Favorite Michael Jackson Song?

Reflecting on the career of Michael Jackson the guy has had a TON of big hits. It's hard to choose just one. "Thriller" is probably his most famous because of the music video and its subsequent transformative effect on the music world. But I think "Billie Jean" probably best typifies his style, but if I had to choose a favorite I'm going to pick "Man in the Mirror."

Look Out Famous People

Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett both died today.
If these things really happen in threes (they don't), there should be some very worried celebrities.
Unless Ed McMahon counts.
Either way this has been a pretty bad week for celebrity deaths.


Interesting thing about Farrah Fawcett, she really was only on one season of Charlie's Angels and never really gained stardom for anything else she did, except for this famous poster which adorned the walls of millions of teenage boys' bedrooms during the 1970s.

Burger King Stoops to New Low, Uses Fellatio to Sell Sandwiches

Burger King's ad for its new 7-inch sub leaves little to the imagination. With the word "BLOW" prominently featured, it shows a woman, mouth open, ready to take all 7 inches.
Some are objecting to the ad, but I love it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sanford's E-mail

To what should be the surprise of no one, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford now admits his weekend camping trip was actually a visit to his lover in Argentina. The best part of this whole thing, the release of an e-mail Sanford sent to her:

"You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night’s light - but hey, that would be going into sexual details."

Another embarrassing sex scandal for another self-righteous politician.

I Guess Her Time Was Up

An Italian woman who escaped death when she arrived too late at Rio airport to catch Air France flight 447 to Paris ran out of luck when she was killed in a car crash on her way home.

Johanna Ganthaler, 65, died when the car driven by her husband Kurt swerved across the expressway near Kufstein, Austria, and was hit by a truck.

After the couple from Merano, Italy, missed the Rio-Paris flight, they were put on a plane to Munich instead. They only learned that the flight had plummeted into the ocean with the loss of all 228 on board when they arrived in Germany.

The Ganthalers, who had just retired from running an appliance store, had spent a month with their son and daughter-in-law in Brazil, where Ms. Ganthaler celebrated her 65th birthday.

As any faithful Poophead knows, I often contemplate the strange vagaries of the universe. Can't really understand why Johanna Ganthaler would miss her flight, saving her life only to die a short time later.
But I guess when your ticket is punched it's going to happen one way or another.

South Carolina's in a Tizzy, Where is He?

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (no relation to Fred and Lamont) disappeared for 4 days and no one knew where he was. Not his wife, nor the lieutenant governor nor police.
He stormed off after an argument Thursday, and ditched his security detail.
All weekend no one knew where he was, though his wife Jenny says she wasn’t worried.
Now Sanford's staff says he was just camping in the Appalachians.
I believe he was camping --- WITH A HOOKER!

Update: After witnesses reporting seeing him at Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, Sanford admitted he actually went to Buenos Aires because he wanted to do something exotic. I guarantee this story involves a hooker in some way, but the poor thing is probably dead by now.

Song of the Week

"Ego" - Beyonce featuring Kanye West

"It's too big, it's too wide, it won't fit."

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think she's using "ego" as a euphemism for "cock" here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Will Exploit Kids For Food

On a very special episode of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” the Gosselins announced their divorce, saying it’s not good for their kids to see them fighting all the time.
But the show must go on.

Instead of allowing their kids to go through this difficult time without the spotlight, Jon and Kate will instead film new episodes of their hit show – separately.

I don’t blame Jon and Kate for their marital problems – raising 8 kids understandably puts a lot of pressure on a couple.
And I understand that Jon wants to use his newfound fame to get laid, while Kate wants more bikinis (hey she has to show off the free boob job and tummy tuck she got).

Plus, Kate is a controlling bitch who probably trapped the poor sucker with twins then sextuplets and now he’s rich and doesn’t want to put up with that shit anymore.

All of that seems reasonable, at least in the fucked up world of people who turn their lives into contrived TV shows.

But with this latest turn, Jon and Kate have sunk to new lows, possibly making them the worst parents not named the Octomom.

By trotting their kids in front of a camera for 40 more episodes (at a price of at least $75,000 an episode, $3m for those keeping score at home), it’s clear they are putting their own lust for fame and money above their concern for their children.

I sure hope they put a lot of that money away for their kids --- a lifetime of visits with 8 different shrinks can be very expensive.

The Machida Era

A few months ago I contrived a question to get some UFC chatter going on the Poop -- who would lose first, Anderson Silva, Rashad Evans or Brock Lesnar.
We all chose Evans, but it was TON who correctly predicted the man to do it:

" real guess...Lyoto Machida. He's so damn elusive he barely gets touched in his fights, but can bring the pain in a big way when needed. I wish they would pump this guy more...although never getting touched may not be good for the fan appeal."

That brings me to another question I asked a few months ago. After reading something that basically said Machida is the perfect test for any MMA fan. If you like Machida you appreciate the technical aspects of the sport. If you hate Machida then you are a troglodyte who just likes to see people bleed and get knocked out.

So I asked SCZA for his thoughts on Machida and he said "he's not a very exciting fighter." Point proven, TON = sophisticated aficianado, SCZA = blood mark.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Something is Wrong with Bobby Parnell

Like most Mets fans I was ecstatic with the early season performance of Bobby Parnell. Finally the Mets had developed a hard-throwing pitcher who could get guys out from the bullpen and maybe eventually progress into a starter or perhaps closer.

When JJ Putz went down most of us felt Parnell could ably step into his 8th inning role while he was gone. Boy were we wrong.

In his past 7 outings Parnell has failed to get an out 3 of those times.
He has pitched 4 innings (12 outs) and allowed 9 hits and 3 walks, a perfect .500 on base. He's allowed 6 runs over that span (13.50 ERA) and lost two games during that stretch.

Unfortunately I don't think the Mets can afford to keep trotting him out there and letting him put two men on base before someone else comes in. I think it's time to send Parnell back to the minors and let him try to regain the form that made him so effective earlier this year.

Update: Parnell allowed 4 hits without retiring a batter in Sunday's game, all 4 runners scored so updated stats in last 8 appearances: 4 innings, 12 outs, 13 hits, 4 walks, 10 runs, 22.50 ERA and 4 outless appearances.