Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Last nite, Rob Neyer posted about Lenny Dykstra at his Sweet Spot blog. To me, the most interesting part was the last graf:

And speaking of books, most baseball players really aren't interesting enough to write about. Not in a serious biography, anyway. But Dykstra's different. Between his baseball career and his business adventures and the fractured relationship with his baseball-playing son, there's the makings here of a Shakespearian tragedy. The only problem is that you sort of have to wait until the ending, to really do the story justice.

Who else would Rob (or you) consider bio-worthy? Tacks Latimer had an interesting post-baseball life, but I doubt you could get a book out of it. His story is probably better suited for a film. Then again, no one knows who he is.

Hartford Courant: Suspect In Jasper Howard Slaying Faces New Charges

NBC Connecticut link. I plan on aggregating these as stories are posted.

Tracers: Keith Hernandez Edition

Rob Neyer would do these; even wrote a whole book of them. I was hanging out at BTF last nite (the Factory, not Backyard Tire Fire) and someone mentioned the Second Spitter Seinfeld episode. They said, " They say the game was June 14, 1987, Mets/Phillies, and Keith had blown the game on an error. It turns out that the Mets played the Pirates that day and won 7-4 on with the help of a Hernandez homer." I looked at retrosheet. Against Philly, he had a non-crucial error September 7th. He had one during a tie game vs Pittsburgh on the 18th, but that was at Three Rivers. I don't think that Larry David or whoever wrote the episode cared about the historical accuracy of a midseason baseball game, but it would have been interesting if there was an element of truth to Newman and Kramer's game description. I only checked 1987.

Is Seinfeld part of the Tommy Westphall Universe? I know that there is a tenuous connection between it and Mad About You. Maybe there's a parallel MLB in that universe where Hernandez still won his MVP but blew that game.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BTF seeks its revenge

I saw this title and immediately thought of Baseball Think Factory instead of Backyard Tire Fire. My worlds are colliding!

Schrodinger's Funk

Is Funky Winkerbean dead, alive, or somewhere in between?

Dead Presidents #1A

I found the announcement of James Madison's death in the Hartford Courant. It was in the July 4th edition of that paper. News travelled slower back then. It wasn't a separate story. Instead, it was included with a couple of other dispatches from that part of the country. One of the other ones involved a son of Francis Scott Key.

His son Francis was a midshipman at Annapolis. But he was expelled for killing another USNA student in a duel. I never heard that story before. I had heard about his brother, Philip Barton Key. Philip took Tersa Sickles as his lover. When her husband Daniel found out, he shot Key dead. At the trial, Sickles pled temporary insanity. He was the first in the United States to use this defense. He was acquitted and went on to become a general in the Civil War; thanks to political connections. He wasn't exactly a military mastermind.

Finally, I got a note from my friend Chris Jaffe about yesterday's entry.

The last Founding Fathers were James Madison and John Marshall, with Madison outlived Marshall by almost a year.

The only possible F.F. to outlive them both was Aaron Burr. His Founding claim to fame was involvement in the 1775 invasion of Quebec. Pretty much everyone else of note from that period was dead by then.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Big Hurt and The Killer B's.

I hung a calender from the Baseball Hall of Fame on my office wall. Some days it has a brief blurb on that particular date in baseball history. Today, it notes that Frank Thomas hit his 500th home run three years ago on 6/28. Craig Biggio got his 3,000th hit that day, too. As many of you know, Frank Thomas was born on 5/27 in 1968. So was Jeff Bagwell. When The Big Hurt takes The Big Sleep, Lance Berkman should $%^& himself in fear. My money's on 7/29/2046.

Dead Presidents #1

I guess that this is ostensibly a baseball blog. I love baseball and enjoyed driving through the eastern part of the state yesterday afternoon while listening to the Red Sox - Giants game on the radio, but the baseball muse hasn't been inspiring me lately, but that's okay.

I got the idea for writing what may turn out to be a new series from Alice Cooper. I was listening to "Nights With Alice Cooper" Friday and he mentioned some presidential trivia. One of the things he mentioned was that Teddy Roosevelt died of a tooth infection. This sparked my interest. I had a nasty one three weeks ago. Good thing I had it treated, no? I went to further research this on Whiskeypedia, but it wasn't mentioned there. However, a further Google search revealed a couple of sites that discuss presidential health and demise.

Today marks the 174th anniversary of the death of James Madison. He was one of the last of the surviving Founding Fathers if not THE last. Most know that Adams and Jefferson died ten years earlier on the Fourth of July. His successor James Monroe also died on the on the Fourth in 1831. According to Dr. Zebra, "...(H)e refused the requests of friends' to take stimulants in order to prolong his life until July 4, the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. . ... Finally, one morning, a few days before the 4th, Madison was found dead in his bedroom, sitting in front of his untouched breakfast tray. " His last words were "Nothing more than a change of mind, my dear. I always talk better lying down." A niece had asked him what was wrong.

He was buried in the Madison family gravesite at their estate Montpelier in central Virginia.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Dissertation on Funky Winkerbean

Stumbled across this this morning. This guy's really into FBoFW, but he takes on other comic strips as well. Today, he discusses Cathy. AAACCKK!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Don't Know Much About Cagermetrics, But...

... was that kid from Harvard the best college point guard last year? I guess you have to adjust for age, so John Wall has room to improve. I also understand that many folks prefer Hollinger's metrics over those from Dave Berri, but does anyone know how this works? Moses? Are they adjusted for competition level or is Lin the modern day Bill Bradley?

Speaking of Bradley, someone suggest that I read some John McPhee. I picked up his short book on Bradley and read the main part of it. I believe it was one long New Yorker article. I still haven't read the chapters ofter that but hope to soon. I have a habit of juggling too many books and am also reading about the Civil War and sexual violence by athletes. Something has to give.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Propose A New Word

Punice: A play on a name using a stone Age pun a la The Flinstones. I was reading the Whiskeypedia entry for Jabberjaw and that cartoon did the same thing with watery puns like Aqualaska. Never you mind why I was reading about Jabberjaw before work.

Anyways, the All-Punice baseball team will be managed by Stony LaRussa and he'll use a bunch of LOOGYs like Stony Fossas, That's all I have for now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Like Watching A Carwreck

Buzz Bissinger on his membership in the Twitterati.

Fire Tom Batiuk

Today's Crankshaft is funny if taken together with yesterday’s strip. But reading the funnies shouldn’t be this much work. You’re supposed to look at three panels and laugh. It isn’t like this is a graphic novel where you can read the whole story in one fell swoop. The way this is playing out, it is like Chinese water torture. And don't let me get started on Funky Winkerbean. Other folks do a good job with that already.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Heisman Pundit

Stumbled across this site thanks to Senator Blutarsky. There series on program and talent rankings intrigues me. It reminds me a little of the work that Chris Jaffe has done on evaluating baseball managers. Could we evaluate college football coaches on how well or poorly they convert bluechip recruits into NFL performers? I don't think that's the only mission of coaches, but let's be honest. These teams are part of the de facto NFL farm system.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Never heard of this sport before. Sounds like polo without mallets.

American Tabloid by James Ellroy

Mark S reviews some political noir.

American Tabloid by James Ellroy was a giant curveball by the hard-boiled detective writer. Those of us who loved his L.A. Quartet didn't know what to expect when Ellroy finished with the 50s and started on the 1960s. The writing stayed as hard-boiled as ever, but Ellroy upped the scope from Los Angeles to the entire nation with a book that covers Kennedy's campaign through his death. And what a ride we are on.

Conference Realignment

I expand on my thoughts from yesterday and Howard Megdal (future GM of the Mets) chimes in as well. I really enjoy writing for the Perpetual Post. I find that it challenges me and I hope my writing becomes stronger for it. Plus, I learned how much Dan Szymborski likes cheese.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Here's How to Fix College Football

The Wall Street Journal weighs in on college conference realignment. Right now the Great Realignment of 2010 is more of a whimper than a bang. The way folks were talking, it sounded like changes would've been more radical. Then again, the Pac 16 would have still been more Pacific than the Pacific Coast League.

I don't know about relegation, but there are some big conference/small conference alliances that might make sense. For instance, the MAC could partner with the Big 10 and if the Akron Zips are MAC champs, they could supplant Northwestern in the bigger conference.

Then again, the Pac 16 would have still been more Pacific than the Pacific Coast League. But we care more about college sports than minor league sports. Why? For some, it's the biggest game in town. This is true for places like Nebraska and Alabama. Others went to these sports powers or are affiliated with them somehow. For some, jhaving the last name O'xxx ties them to Notre Dame. But for someone like me, who lives in the middle of the Bowash megalopolis, it's the diversity of offensive and defensive philosophies. These guys aren't as good as the pros, but they play a different game. In football it could be the flexbone or spread. In hoops it could be the 2-3. Anyways, that's one aspect that makes me overlook the corruption in the college sports world; not that the pros are much better.

I'll have more thoughts on this elsewhere tonite.

16 Years Ago Today

The low-speed O.J. Simpson chase took place 16 years ago today. I was at work, so I didn't catch it on TV, but I saw the ESPN documentary last nite. I've dabbled in writing about sports and crime before . I'm thinking about doing it more often. There's the murder of Jasper Howard. There are also a few other high profile incidents that I'd like to discuss in the near future. Be patient, though. This requires a little more thought and legwork than my regular stuff.

Anyways, it's a big sports day. Game Seven and I unfortunately have an early dentist appointment tommorrow.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Delicious Bass

Gil Thorp has a character that is a dead-ringer for Napoleon Dynamite. Is that even legal?

And That Happened

Craig Calcaterra deserves partial blame for this blog. When I heard that NBC signed him, I decided to start blogging again. Why? Did I think it would be a path to fame and fortune? I'm not sure, but here we are and I believe that I've written more in the past nine months than I had before. I should have a couple of pieces elsewhere later this week.

Craig still contributes a daily column at his old digs over at The Hardball Times. "And That Happened" is a quick summary of the previous day and nite's ballgames. Today's installment features a script of a skit where Buster Olney plays a college-aged cockblocker. It's pretty funny stuff and material like that might be why Craig is a pro these days.

Did you know that Olney and Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods fame grew up together in Vermont? As I keep mentioning here, it's a small world.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jimmy Dean 1928-2010

I loved the song "Big Bad John" as a kid. Let's see one of these modern guys do a song like that. Maybe Steve Earle could, but I doubt he'd be up to starting a sausage empire afterwards.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What ever Happened To Soccer

If someone tells you that baseball is the only sport that receives this pining-for-the-old-days type of treatment in the press, they should know better after reading this.

Shrek and Donkey

When I first started this blog, I toyed with the idea of calling it What's Pastime Is Prologue and comparing a story in the headlines to one from the past. Some folks have done this with Stephen Strasburg and we are now acquainting ourselves with or reaquaintanting ourselves with Karl Spooner.

In Boston last Thursday, the Celtics beat the Lakers in Game Four of the NBA Finals thanks, in large part, to the efforts off the bench by Glen Davis and Nate Robinson. A fat guy and a short guy beat L. A.. It's almost inspirational. I was racking my brain to find a similar situation from the sports pages of the past. The one I thought of was the 1978 World Series, where Bucky Dent* and Brian Doyle led the New York Yankees in hitting when THEY beat L. A.. Dent was a regular, but he was expected to contribute more with the glove than the bat. Doyle was only playing because Willie Randolph went down with an injury at the end of the season. Doyle and Dent. Davis and Robinson. Are there any similarly odd couples that slipped my mind?

*It's much less painful to mention Dent than it was a few years ago.

Game Theory and NASCAR

The link is in the title. I'm not sure if this is a new feature, but I just noticed it. Anyhoo, this guy is a football game theorist, not a racing one. He raises an interesting point, but I used to watch a lot of NASCAR when the Hayseed still lived up here in Connecticut and there are a lot of other considerations. Sometimes drivers play it safe and race for points instead of the win. You sometimes have to decide when to pit and when not to. And there's drafting; especially at Daytona and Talladega. The deals cut are reminiscent of the political conventions of yore.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mini Book Review: The Catch

Crossposted from Residual Prolixity:

The Catch was disappointing. I was hoping that it would go into more about how San Francisco overtook the Cowboys as an NFC power. The book does touch on that, but it could have gone into more depth.

Sure, they mentioned the West Coast Offense, but the author didn't explain how the rule changes a few years earlier made it feasible. Or how those changes may have spelled the death of Dallas's Flex Defense.

FWIW, two parts of Landry's offense live on: the multiple formations and the shotgun. IIRC, no one else was really using those tools at the time. But I don't think the writer touched on that at all. Xes and Os may scare some folks off, but I'd like to read about them; as long as there are accessible enough for me, a layman, to understand.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Twilight of The Huskies

I appear in a Perpetual Post piece about UConn's men's hoops along with Howard Megdal. We also discussed the team (and college sports in general) on the radio along with Jason Clinkscales.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Evolution of Blogs


Hat Tip to Chris at Smart Football.

As I Said At Sonofstuckfunky

That Comics Examiner is a hidden gem. His style differs from Josh Fruhlinger’s, but it’s just as funny. If I had to explain the difference between CE and CC, I’d guess that it’s less hipster-inspired, but I’m not good at deconstructing stuff like this. In any case, it’s sort of too meta for even me to be commenting on comics commentators.

Partial Football

Soccer's a pretty low priority branch on my sports tree, but I liked this article from Marketwatch. I think I'm more of a strat(egy)head than stathead. Hence, I find sites like Smart Football* interesting. Differing ethnic styles of sports also interest me as well, so this was right up my alley.

* It's about the other football.

Spearated at Birth

Jack Nicklaus and Joseph Hart

Warren Beatty and Richard Corriere

Marty Moon Namechecks Ernie Harwell

And Jason Beattie is there to mock him.


S. Strasburg (as OldHossRadbourn might call him) wasn't the only hyped prospect to debut recently. There's also Mike Stanton. Mike Stanton (reliever) and Hanley Ramirez played together on the '05 Red Sox. Ramirez now plays with Mike Stanton (prospect.)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Joyce And Griffey

I feel tempted to say something about events from yesterday. But then I recall a lesson I learned.

Don't sound more like everyone else than anyone else is able to sound like everyone else. Write meaningful and original thoughts and write them well.

I think I have the originality part down. I'll occasionally link a blogpost that catches my fancy, but I don't intend for this place to become news-driven. I suppose this might keep my readership level down, but so be it. As long as there is some sort of audience for James Burke-lite musings on sports and entertainment, I'll be happy. I have a few more article ideas on scrap paper that will blow you mind.

Red Sox And Movies Mobius Strip

I have a new piece over at Seamheads. I think I know what to call these literary exercises now. They are loops with a twist; sort of like Mobius strips. IMO, that's the best term for these.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Interesting Stuff From The FanGraphs Community - Up The Academy

I liked this post today about recruiting baseball players with non-traditional backgrounds. Football has been converting power forwards like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates into tight ends. I don't see why someone doesn't try this with pitchers. Plenty of past pitchers had hoops backgrounds; Tim Stoddard, Gene Conley, Ron Reed, and Bob Gibson are just a few. They probably have less wear and tear on their arms than some kid who's been on travel teams since his prepubescent days.

Readers Digest Version

Fred Thompson was minority counsel during the Watergate hearings and worked with Senator Howard Baker. Baker was later Ronald Reagan's chief of staff. Reagan was in The Girl From Jones Beach with an actor named Eddie Bracken and Bracken appeared in Baby's Day Out with Thompson. There's a longer loop involving Thompson that goes all the way through Jason Sehorn, but I haven't figured out all the links yet.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

These Are Their Stories

Saw this article on Law and Order over the weekend. I like how it compares L&O to a classic detective story whereas other cop shows like Homicide or NYPD Blue were more hard-boiled. Interestingly, they are both part of the Tommy Westphall Universe thanks to Detective Munch. But real life links interest me more. Through Fred Thompson, L&O (sounds like a railroad, doesn't it?) can connect the US Senate to Jason Sehorn or longtime umpire George Moriarty or the metal-rap group Body Count. But I haven't figured out a satisfying round trip yet. Ham sandwich to the best one in the comments section.