Monday, December 31, 2007

Thanks For Such a Great Year

This is my 683rd and final post of 2007, and the 1,160th post in the history of The Mighty Quinn Media Machine. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to come over to my blog. It's really been such a pleasure to see it grow the way it has this year, and to see my readership here increase the way it has.

The Red Sox World Series championship was definitely the highlight of 2007 for me, and it brought so many people here. It was a fun watching the Sox lead the AL East from nearly start to finish. There were a few bumps in the road, but it was so gratifying to see them now have two titles in four years. And Tuesday Night Trivia was really a blast for me to host in 2007. I have now been doing it for over 18 months and I really enjoy it so much. We have a very faithful and loyal following of folks who come out for it, and I can't thank you enough for making it such a success.

Many people come to my site for a whole host of reasons. Many are Red Sox fans doing searches (Massachusetts continues to be the most popular state of those people who come here), many are just regular people who find my blog through all types of Internet searches. But I especially want to thank all of you who regularly come here. Many are friends and relatives of mine, and some are people who liked what they saw and just come back here to see what I'm currently blabbering on about.

So, however you arrived here, I want to wish you a very Happy and Healthy New Year, and I hope 2008 is an even more successful year for you (as well as me!). As for me, I'll be home watching the ball drop on TV in Times Square, along with watching lots of college football and The Twilight Zone and Honeymooners marathons. God bless and be safe during this holiday!

New Year's Trivia on Wednesday

Another reminder to all of you that Trivia Night will be held again this Wednesday, due to the New Year's holiday this Tuesday. Next week, we will return to our usual day of Tuesday, on January 8. So this week the special category will be New Year's Trivia, questions connected to either December 31 and January 1. And we will have the four regular categories as well, and we'll get going at about 9 PM on January 2.

The Sneak Peek question for Wednesday is:

What is the name of the process that makes it possible to view moving images on the Internet?

Have a Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The End in Denver

The Vikings season came to end in Denver on Sunday afternoon, as they were beaten by a Jason Elam field goal in overtime, 22-19, but it became academic as the Washington Redskins rolled over a Dallas Cowboys team that didn't show up, 27-6, and they claimed the final playoff spot.
It was not a great effort by the Vikings, as they scored only 3 points the first three quarters, and sure didn't look like a team bidding for a playoff spot.

Adrian Peterson spent the first drive on the bench, as he was late for a team bus. But Chester Taylor's fumble as he tried to reach for the pylon at the goal line resulted in a touchback and no points. That was just the kind of day it was for the Vikings.

Peterson had a fourth straight subpar game, rushing for only 36 yards. You have to think he's not anywhere near 100% after that knee injury, but he still won the NFC rushing title, and is a sure bet to be the NFL Offensive Rookie Player of the Year.

Once again, Tarvaris Jackson was very erratic. He finally got going in the fourth quarter, leading the Vikings out of a 19-3 hole. (He also threw a long bomb to Troy Williamson that should have been caught for a TD, but Williamson dropped the ball. He continues to be a huge bust.) They scored two TDs and two two-point conversions to tie it up, and the game wound up going to overtime.

But Jackson fumbled less than a minute into the extra frame, and Denver recovered it. They wasted no time, and Elam hit from 30 yards to end the Vikings season. They concluded 2007 at 8-8.

After the loss to Green Bay that made the Vikings 3-6, I thought for sure they would drop at least 10 games. But then they got hot, winning five straight to put them into a prime playoff spot. Jackson looked like he was gaining more confidence running the offense. Playing in January would have made the year for me, even should they get bounced out of the first round. But they will look back at that Washington game as the worst loss of the year. Just a win in that game would have put them into the postseason. But it was not to be.

I really thought the Vikings would make it when they got to 8-6. But the erratic play of Jackson and the lapses by the defense in the final two games really ended up costing the Vikings that chance.

Before this season began, I was hoping the Vikings could possibly go 8-8, and I would have considered that progress and a step forward.

I got my wish, as the Vikings went 8-8. But the final two games deflated me, and it seems like they missed out on a great opportunity to take the next step. And now, it's just 45 days until pitchers and catchers report.

The Patriots Run the Regular Season Table

It was truly a night to remember as a large crowd turned out at Professor Thom's to see if the New England Patriots could indeed run the entire NFL regular season table and defeat the New York Giants.
What they witnessed was simply one of the best nights in NFL history, and one of the best games of the 2007 season.

And the champagne can now stay on ice in Miami. Uncorked.

The Giants gave the Patriots one helluva game at the Meadowlands. All the worry and speculation over whether the Giants should rest their star players was all for nothing as they led for most of the contest, until the Pats came on charging in the fourth quarter to wrestle the game away from them, and make NFL history. (And yes, the game didn't end 23-7, so no worries now about doom being around the corner.)

The 2007 New England Patriots may go down as the greatest team in NFL history. They shattered all kinds of NFL and team records just on Saturday night:

Tom Brady set the record for TDs by a QB in a season (50)
Randy Moss set the record for TD receptions in a season (23)
The Patriots set the NFL record for points in a season (589)
The Patriots set a record for TDs in a season (75)
Wes Welker set the Patriots record for receptions in a season (112)
The Patriots broke their own record for consecutive regular season wins (19)
The Patriots became the first team in NFL history to win all 16 regular season games (since 1978, when the schedule was expanded)

Brady and Moss' records were set on the same pass, a majestic 65-yard bomb that gave the Pats a 31-28 fourth quarter lead, one they would not give up. It was simply a brilliant game, and the Giants did themselves proud by playing the Patriots as tough as they could, even though the game had little meaning for them. Eli Manning looked sharp for the first three quarters, and threw four TD passes. But a fourth quarter interception was his downfall, and the Patriots converted it into their final TD of the night, on a five-yard run by Laurence Maroney. The final score was 38-35.

Many of the Patriots fans hung around Giants Stadium long after the game had ended, very reminiscent of the Red Sox fans who stayed in Yankee Stadium long after the Red Sox vanquished the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. At Thom's there was lots of joy among the Patriot faithful.

But as everyone knows, all those records are great, but the Patriots haven't finished the job yet. They still have three more wins to get to have an undefeated season. Remember, the 1934 and 1942 Chicago Bears teams also won every regular season game, but both teams are almost forgotten because they both lost the NFL title game. Congratulations to the Patriots and all their fans on a truly memorable season. But there's still three more wins to get before you can truly call 2007 perfect.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Cold Hard Truth: Tough For NY to Handle

Yesterday's New York Daily News had an article by Mike Barnicle, a Boston-born and bred columnist, about the recent domination of sports by the New England teams called "Boston getting used to idea of beating New York following so much heartbreak. " The basis of the article was the new attitude of New England sports fans, and how that section of the country is now the center of the American sports world right now. Here's the article:

I found the article more humorous than anything else. (Barnicle did get one thing wrong it in that I must correct him on. He wrote: "The Red Sox are fan favorites who attract big crowds in every town, annoying local ownership." That's not true. Local ownership LOVE when the Red Sox fans come to their town, as the additional Sox fans put more money in their wallets. It's the local fans who hate to see the Red Sox throng come to their parks and drown them out.) But you can guess the reaction of the New York sports fans to it, especially that of Yankee fans. From today's News:

I love these Yankees fans. They don't have their beloved "Curse" to fall back on any more (and make no mistake about it, THEY embraced that moronic, idiotic, media-created "Curse of the Bambino", while true Red Sox fans NEVER did), so they go back to the old "we've won 26 titles and you haven't" stuff. But at least one Yankee fan admitted this: "Me and my buddies still try to fall back on the 26 World Series wins, but most of us can only actually name a few of them," a Yankees fan named Jim Surge wrote.

A refreshing bit of honesty where one usually doesn't find it.

Let's face the facts right now. New England has the NFL team of the decade, and so far, Boston has the baseball team of the decade as well. And it's one bitter pill for New Yorkers, especially Yankee fans to swallow. (Here's an intelligent, thoughtful observation from a Mets fan to Barnicle in the second article: "Go back to Boston!") The years of smug, arrogant entitlement that many Yankee fans felt finally came home to roost against them on October 20, 2004, and they still haven't gotten used to the fact that the team they felt it was their birthright to dominate has won not one, but two World Series championships in this century, while their club is still without one. They now have just a smidgen of an idea what it was like to root for the Red Sox all these years.

Barnicle may have been boasting in his article, but he's got a right to boast right now. The days of "mystique and aura" are gone for good. It makes the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry all the more interesting and exciting now that the Red Sox have two titles in four years under their belts. No more idiotic "curses" or "ghosts." Now it's just about baseball.

It's a "golden age" for Boston sports fans. And it's driving New Yorkers, and especially Yankee fans, bananas.

Get used to it.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Is a Pats 23-7 Win the Beginning of the End?

Yesterday, I went to see the new Will Smith film, "I Am Legend." I have always been a fan of science fiction films, especially those futuristic "end of the world as we know it" movies. And I am also a fan of Mr. Smith's, so I figured I'd check it out before the year ended.
(Don't worry, I'm not going to give anything away in this post about the film in terms of how it turns out. So feel free to keep on reading if you haven't seen the movie and plan to.)

It's a very good film. It was quite scary, and even spooky, in parts. The film is based on the book "I Am Legend" that was written in 1954 by Richard Matheson, who is best known for writing the novel "The Incredible Shrinking Man" and a number of "Twilight Zone" episodes. (And he's a fellow Brooklyn Tech alumnus like Yours Truly.) The plot of the film is that a virus has gotten loose on the earth that was originally supposed to be a cure for cancer, and it has wiped out more than 90% of the world's population. Will Smith plays a researcher named Robert Neville who stays in an abandoned New York City looking for the cure to the plague. After three years, he lives what he thinks is a solitary existence with his faithful German shepherd. He continually puts out messages on the radio seeking other survivors, but without success. The scenes of an isolated Manhattan are simply incredible, with grass and weeds growing all over a city of abandoned cars and trucks. The borough truly looks like everyone's gone.

But Dr. Neville isn't alone. And I'll let you discover who's there with him when you see the film.

Will Smith gives a very good performance as Dr. Neville. But there were two scenes in the movie that stuck with me after it ended. (And neither one is a plot spoiler.)

Early on in the film, Dr. Neville is seen driving around Manhattan, with everyone gone. (They obviously filmed these scenes early on many Sunday mornings.) He's driving around Greenwich Village when he stops at a very familiar spot that caught my eye right away. He goes into the now-closed Tower Video store on Lafayette Street and East 4th Street, and picks up a few videos. (He is shown during the movie watching movies, and TV videos before the plague struck.) I couldn't help but get rather nostalgic seeing the store that I spent many hours of my life in for over 20 years. (They filmed the scenes there shortly before Tower shut its doors forever last December.) It also brought back memories for me of some dear friends, a few who are unfortunately no longer with us.

And the other scene that hit me was the very first scene in the film. It is from a cable TV news show, that has that news crawl at the bottom of the screen. I could help but read it, and one thing on it really struck me as being ironic. It said: "Giants defeated by the Patriots for the second time this season, 23-7." (The plague hits right after this scene.) Now, the Patriots don't normally play the Giants twice in a season, (and the film is actually set in 2009) but then I remembered that they did indeed play each other earlier this year, in preseason, and the Patriots won at Foxboro, 27-20. And of course, the Giants and the Pats are playing each other this Saturday night at the Meadowlands.

Does that mean that should the Patriots indeed win 23-7 tomorrow, is life as we know it on this Earth about to end?

I definitely recommend "I Am Legend." Especially if the Patriots do win 23-7 tomorrow.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fitzy on the Sox Winning It All, Again

Here is a clip from Paul "Fitzy" Fitzgerald, that noted Boston fan, who gives his take on the second Red Sox World Series championship in four years, from last month. Fitzy is actually the comedian Nick Stevens, who I've actually had the pleasure of meeting a number of times at Professor Thom's. Nick and I even did a few innings of "Kayreoke" together during the 2007 season. He's really a talented guy who does standup comedy and has made many appearances at places like VH1.

I found this clip yesterday on YouTube, and it lasts almost five minutes. It was just too funny not to share. Nick also has a great web site called "Townie News" ( By the way, be careful watching this clip, as there is plenty of colorful language and belching, for your enjoyment.

Clemens Searches For the Real Steroid Abusers

I found it hilarious yesterday to learn that Roger Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, plans to launch an investigation into the allegations that his client was a big time steroid abuser in the Mitchell Report. In other words, this guy Hardin, who hasn't exactly dressed himself in glory throughout this mess, is going to launch an investigation into the investigation.

That's really going to be objective, isn't it?

Yep, Roger Clemens won't rest until he finds out who the real steroid abusers are. It certainly can't be him. You know this so-called investigation will do nothing but try to smear Brian McNamee, who basically rolled over on him and Andy Pettitte to George Mitchell and his investigators. Clemens basically lost any leg to stand on when his buddy Andy came clean (sort of) about the HGH McNamee supplied to him.

And I really can't wait for that farce of an interview he'll do with Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes" on January 6. He also plans to do a press conference that day. And you have to wonder what kind of softballs Wallace will toss at Clemens. Wallace, who's a Yankee fan and a frequent visitor in George Steinbrenner's box at Yankee Stadium, may not be the most objective of reporters to do this interview. (I've also noticed a tendency for some of these "60 Minutes" reporters to turn into "fans" when doing these interviews with star athletes lately.) I certainly don't expect to find the old "ambush" interviewer that Wallace once was on that show when he sits down with Clemens.

But then again, "objective" is a word that certainly can't help Roger Clemens these days.

Until he swears before Congress that he never took steroids, he can blather all he wants about how he's some kind of innocent man, the victim of some conspiracy by the Boston Red Sox or whatever, on every TV show in the land. Besides, why is he waiting until January 6 to have this press conference? If he is innocent, why didn't he have a press conference on the day the Mitchell Report came out? Mitchell also gave him a chance to refute the allegations even before the report came out, but Clemens refused to meet him.

Now he and his lawyer are in full spin mode, and it's really getting hilarious watching these guys squirm.

And on January 6, the dog and pony show should get even more pathetic, as Roger Clemens continues his Search for the Real Steroid Abusers, on nationwide TV.

Trivia Q&A: December 26

We had 10 teams in for Trivia on this special Wednesday night edition. At first we were worried we might not have a contest, as few teams were in the bar about an hour before we were supposed to start. I really had no idea if enough people would come out because of the Christmas holiday, and I knew many of the regulars would be away for the holiday. But fortunately, the turnout was good and we had a good night of Trivia.

The scores were surprisingly low for Current Events and General Knowledge. (I made GK a little bit harder than last week, but the numbers for them even surprised me.) The IQ Trivia questions I thought were a bit more difficult too. But the defending champions from last week, known this week as Foopa Fighters, led most of the night, and had a three point lead going into the final round. They had the highest score for IQ Trivia (15 points out of 25) and wound up winning by five points. My congratulations to them on their second straight win, and hopefully they will go for the hat trick either next week or the week after.

A reminder that next week's Trivia will also be on Wednesday night, January 2, as we will not be doing it New Year's Night. Trivia will return to Tuesday nights on January 8.

Current Events
1. This NFL star was selected the Associated Press' Male Athlete of the Year for 2007.
2. The former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan renamed a snowy mountain peak in their predominently Muslim country after this seasonal icon.
3. A car from this 1980s TV series is being put up for auction to satisfy the debts of its owner, who was murdered last year.
4. Former President Bill Clinton donated this instrument he famously played at his inauguration to the American Jazz Museum last week.
5. A state of emergency was declared in this South Pacific nation when a 6.8-magnitude earthquake rattled this country last Friday.
6. This Hollywood star is suing a Brown University student for poking fun at him in two web sites, as he feels the student "crossed the line."
7. A choir featuring Nick Lachey, and representing this Midwestern city, won the "Clash of the Choirs" on NBC last Thursday, and $250,000 for their charity.
8. Lee Myung-bak won the presidential election last week in what Asian country?
9. Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-lived British monarch last week, at 81. Which monarch's record did she break?
10. This film sequel, which opened last weekend, grossed over $45 million and was number one at the box office in the USA.

Answers: 1. Tom Brady; 2. Santa Claus; 3. "Knight Rider;" 4. saxophone; 5. New Zealand; 6. Chuck Norris; 7. Cincinnati; 8. South Korea; 9. Queen Victoria; 10. "National Treasure: Book of Secrets."

The Year 2007 Trivia
1. The Indianapolis Colts defeated this team last February to win Super Bowl XLI.
2. This man succeeded Tony Blair as British Prime Minister last June.
3. Last January, "The Doomsday Clock" was set at how many minutes before midnight?
4. In October, this track and field star surrendered the five Olympic medals she won in 2000 after admiiting to doping.
5. This tennis star retired in November after she was his with doping allegations.
6. Last February, this film won Best Picture at the 79th Academy Awards.
7. In January, Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House. What major city does she represent in Congress?
8. This team swept the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA title last June.
9. The refurbished Millennium Dome reopened last June in this city.
10. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series last October. How many have they now won in their history?

Answers: 1. Chicago Bears; 2. Gordon Brown; 3. five; 4. Marion Jones; 5. Martina Hingis; 6. "The Departed;" 7. San Francisco; 8. San Antonio Spurs; 9. London; 10. seven.

True or False ("The Q Train")
1. Composer Giuseppe Verdi's name in Italian is "Joe Green."
2. You paint on wet plaster to create a fresco.
3. 86,000 seconds is equal to one week.
4. Actress Keri Russell was once a member of "The Mickey Mouse Club" TV series.
5. Jimmy Carter's nickname was "Dutch."
6. The first condom commercial aired on network TV in 1991.
7. The famous "shot heard around the world", the subject of a Revolutionary War poem, was fired in New Hampshire.
8. An EKG records the activity of the brain.
9. Flea is the bass guitarist from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
10. A tankini is a type of soft drink.

Answers: 1. true; 2. true; 3. false, it is one day; 4. true; 5. false, it was for Ronald Reagan; 6. true; 7. false, it was in Massachusetts; 8. false, it's for the heart; 9. true; 10. false, it's a bathing suit.

General Knowledge
1. In the 1994 movie, "The Lion King," what does the phrase "hakuna matata" mean?
2. The town of Vidalia, GA is famous for a type of which vegetable?
3. Which member of the 1980s "brat pack" was also a cast member of the TV series, "The West Wing?"
4. Which Canadian city hosts an annual stampede billed as "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth?"
5. Who was the only US president born in Illinois?
6. Gazpacho is a traditional soup of what country?
7. A sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet is called a what?
8. What was the name of the hit song by The Baha Men in 2000?
9. What does the "C" stand for in the medical term "CAT scan?"
10. What is the smallest continent by area in the world?

Answers: 1. "No worries;" 2. onion; 3. Rob Lowe; 4. Calgary; 5. Ronald Reagan; 6. Spain; 7. pangram; 8. "Who Let the Dogs Out;" 9. computerized; 10. Australia.

IQ Trivia
1. Serengeti National Park is located in what African country? ( 6 points)
2. What navigator disappeared along with Amelia Earhart in 1937? ( 5 points)
3. Chemical compounds that end with the suffix "ose" are types of what? ( 4 points)
4. The flag of which US state currently features the sun symbol of the Zia Pueblo Indians? ( 5 points)
5. The discovery of oil in Prudhoe Bay resulted directly with what other event that soon followed it? ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. Tanzania; 2. Fred Noonan; 3. sugars; 4. New Mexico; 5. the building of the Trans Alaska Pipeline.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Red Sox Championship Doesn't Make the Cut

The New York Daily News had its Top 10 sports stories of the year in their paper today. Most, but not all of the stories, had a New York slant to them as you'd expect. Here is their list:

1. The Mitchell Report
2. Torre's Farewell
3. Bonds' Record, and Record?
4. Mets Fall Apart
5. A-Rod Being A-Rod
6. Debacle On 33rd Street (Knicks)
7. Bad Newz for NFL (Michael Vick)
8. Bye-bye, I-Man
9. They're Not Done Yet (Yankees comeback)
10. News Catches Ankiel

Here is the story from the News:

The first thing I noticed on this: where is the Red Sox' second World Series championship in four years listed? Their great comeback from 3-1 down in ALCS, and winning seven in a row to the title? It's not a New York-only list, as they included Barry Bonds, Rick Ankiel and Michael Vick on this list. But the Red Sox not being on this list can be looked upon as a good thing, as I guess the Red Sox winning a World Series is now viewed by the News as old hat.

And thank God for that.

A Christmas Guilty Pleasure

Christmas has always been a time of tradition for me. I have always been with family at Christmas, and this year was no different. I always go to the Christmas Eve vigil mass, watch the Midnight Masses from Rome and St. Patrick's Cathedral on TV, open my gifts on Christmas morning (never on Christmas Eve), and watch parts of the Yule Log and "March of the Wooden Soldiers" on the day itself. And I always enjoy watching my nieces and nephews open their gifts.

As I wrote in a previous post, there are many wonderful Christmas specials on TV. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is my favorite, and "Frosty the Snowman" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" right behind. (I'll NEVER watch that Jim Carrey movie.) The "Married With Children" Christmas special with Sam Kinison as Al Bundy's guardian angel is simply a riot. ("How can you make my life any worse," Al asks him, "Give me two more wives, three more kids? Make me a White Sox fan?")

But as I was watching the wonderful conclusion of "March of the Wooden Soldiers" yesterday, as Silas Barnaby and the Boogeymen are driven out of Toyland, I discovered another Christmas special that I remembered was on TV, and it is absolutely the complete and utter train wreck of Christmas specials: "A Very Brady Christmas."

A quick synobsis of it: all the Bradys are getting back together for Christmas at the original house, and everyone of them is going through some personal crisis. (I think most are divorced or contemplating it, but that's not important.) I didn't watch most of the show yesterday. And like a train wreck, I should have looked away, but had to check out the final ten minutes.

It's simply the hokiest, cheesiest ending to a Christmas special in TV history. Mike Brady is called away from his Christmas dinner because of an accident on a construction site in a building he designed. He goes to it, rescues two trapped men, and gets trapped himself. The gang follows him to the site and keeps a vigil he'll be rescued. As all hope seems to be fading, Mrs. Brady then breaks into the wonderful Christmas standard, "O Come O Ye Faithful" and everyone else there at the site joins in with her. The song builds up and builds up and then Mr. Brady is shown trapped in the rubble and hears them singing. Moments later, he miraculously walks out of the site as the song comes to a finish.

Talk about a "Hollywood ending."

I'll never forget watching it back in 1988 when it first aired. My sisters were in total hysterics watching it, and just the mention of "A Very Brady Christmas" gets laughs from them. My sisters and I all grew up Brady Bunch fans, but that was beyond hokey. But I guess it's now part of TV history and Christmas special lore.

But don't you have to have cheese with wine at Christmas?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Year 2007 Trivia on Wednesday

Please remember that we will not be having the regular Tuesday night trivia this week due to the Christmas holiday, and it will be happening this Wednesday night, again at 9 PM.

The featured category this week will be The Year 2007 Trivia, as I will be asking 10 questions about events that occurred this year. We also be having the usual four categories as well. (The Trivia Q&A is in a December 27th post if you're looking for some 2007 Trivia.)

Here's the Sneak Peek question for Wednesday:

"What was the name of the hit song by The Baha Men in 2000?"

I hope many of you can make it for Trivia Night on Wednesday. And please remember that next week's Trivia Night will also be on Wednesday night, January 2, due to the New Year's holiday.

See you Wednesday night.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Yule Log Tradition Continues

It was a big success last year on my blog, so let's do it again and begin a tradition. Here is the famous "Yule Log," that has been a staple of WPIX-TV here in New York for many years. It debuted in 1966, left the air for a few years in the 1990s, but popular demand brought it back to the air. It will be on TV at 9 AM on Christmas morning (and it will be followed by the classic film, "March of the Wooden Soldiers" of course). Unfortunately I have no music for you to enjoy.

So here is the second annual Mighty Quinn Media Machine Yule Log. I hope you enjoy the crackling fire anyway. Have a Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas, My Friends

I want to wish all of you out there in cyberspace a Very Merry Christmas. I hope Santa Claus is good to all of you, and you are able to enjoy this holiday with all of those people you love. I will be with my family, and especially with my nieces and nephews as they tear open their gifts. It's always a treat for me.

I've included here a two-minute clip from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" of that wonderful speech from the Book of Luke that Linus gives when Charlie Brown frustratingly wants to know what Christmas is really all about. It's something none of us should forget.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

It's Not in Their Hands Now

The Vikings blew a golden opportunity to wrap up a playoff berth in the Metrodome last night as the Washington Redskins handed them a devastating 32-21 loss, and now both teams have similar 8-7 records in the fight for the last NFC playoff spot. (If they end up with the same 9-7 record, Washington gets the berth because of last night's win.)

The Redskins came out slugging, and the Vikings were simply flat. They were torched through the air, as Todd Collins threw one TD, and Clinton Portis threw another as Washington rolled up a 22-0 lead at halftime.

No matter how this season ends, the first priority for the Vikings after this season ends is to go out and get an experienced NFL QB. (Chad Pennington and Donovan McNabb come to mind.)

Tarvaris Jackson just isn't the answer. The guy has raw talent, and great scrambling ability, but just doesn't have the poise to make it as a regular NFL QB. Two more interceptions last night led directly to two Washington TDs, and he put them into a hole they simply couldn't get out of. He made some nice progress during the first four wins of the streak, but has regressed badly the last two.

Adrian Peterson was shut down again, gaining just 27 yards rushing last night. The Vikings came alive late in the third quarter, after falling behind 25-0. Jackson rushed for two TDs on the night, and the first put them back in the game. The momentum was definitely back with the Vikings early in the fourth, but a fumble led to yet another Washington score that basically put the game away.

And now the Vikings need help to get to the playoffs. All they needed last night was a win, as the Eagles beat the Saints yesterday, and that would have set up a first round showdown with Seattle. But now Washington only has to beat Dallas in order to make the playoffs, no matter what the Vikings do in Denver.

Beating Dallas meet be a tall order for the Redskins, but the Cowboys wrapped up everything yesterday, as Green Bay's loss gave Dallas home field advantage throughout the playoffs. So they have nothing to play for, and Washington has everything to play for on Sunday.

Once again, I'm in the position where I have to root for the Cowboys. Otherwise, the great comeback the Vikings made in this second half of the 2007 season will be for naught.

Let's Go Cowboys...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Favorite Christmas Special

Last night I watched my all time favorite Christmas special. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is still gold standard in my humble opinion for quality Christmas fare, and it just isn't Christmas without watching Charlie Brown discover the true meaning of the holiday.

I watched it on VHS last night, as ABC broadcasted it back in late November and I missed it. They only show it once, and what's up with showing it in November? When I was a kid, CBS usually showed it about a week before Christmas (and it was always sponsored by McDonald's and York Peppermint Patties).
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" was first broadcast in 1965, and has been shown on network TV every year since. It's hard to believe it's been 42 years since it was first shown, and it's still as fresh and relevant since it was first broadcast. Charlie Brown is down, and tries to get into the Christmas spirit by directing a Christmas play he and the gang are putting on. Lucy has him go out and get a tree, but he comes back with a very small and "insignificant" tree, and earns the scorn of everyone. As he wonders what Christmas is truly all about, his pal Linus gives a very moving speech directly from the Bible about the birth of Jesus. "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." It's still the best and most moving moment in the entire special.

The soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio is still terrific to listen to (and I've even listened to it on CD in July). Watching the special always takes me back to my youth, watching it as Christmas was about to arrive, and I could wait for my presents. The special is watched by millions of kids around the world, and probably also by their parents, who like me, grew up with it.

Among my other favorite Christmas specials are: "Frosty the Snowman," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (the animated special with Boris Karloff, of course), "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer."But I will always love Peanuts, and especially "A Charlie Brown Christmas" above all the others.

God bless Charles Schulz, wherever he may be.

For the Rest of Us, There's Festivus

Tomorrow is that important of all holiday celebrations, one that is terribly overlooked in many circles.

Please remember to get out the pole and air those grievances. And please remember the founding father, Frank Costanza, when performing those feats of strength.

Have a very Happy Festivus, everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Clemens is Not Out of the Woods

The contents of the affidavit that Jason Grimsley made in 2006 were revealed yesterday, and curiously the names of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte were not in it. Nor were a few other names in the Mitchell Report, like Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts or Jay Gibbons. (Grimsley did mention such players as Sammy Sosa, Allen Watson and Pete Incaviglia.)

An article in the Los Angeles Times in 2006 said that Clemens and Pettitte were a part of it, and their names were redacted out of it. The unsealing of the document proves they were not named in it, and the Times is planning on running an apology in the paper tomorrow about it.

Listening to Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, you'd think this makes Clemens an innocent man who has finally been let off the hook.

"When this grossly inaccurate story broke in October 2006, Roger said it was untrue and the Los Angeles Times chose not to believe him. As the record now clearly proves, Roger was telling the truth then, just as he continues to tell the truth today. Roger Clemens did not take steroids, and anybody who says he did had better start looking for a hell of a good lawyer."

Clemens is far from out of the woods. All the Grimsley affidavit proves is that Grimsley either didn't supply or witness Clemens taking steroids. He's still up to his neck in trouble with Brian McNamee's testimony to the Mitchell commission, and the fact that he wasn't in the Grimsley affidavit sure doesn't make him an innocent man. Let's see Clemens testify before Congress next year and take an oath that he never took performance-enhancing drugs. Otherwise, all that saber-rattling from him and his lawyer is just a lot of empty talk.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Review of "Champions Again"

Yesterday I picked up a copy of the NESN DVD, "Champions Again" at the FYE store in Manhattan. Over the weekend I saw on NESN that FYE stores around New England were carrying it, so I stopped by the one on Sixth Avenue, and low and behold, there it was. (They were also selling the 2007 World Series video at an incredible low price of $4.99, after a $5 rebate. I guess I should have waited until now to pick it up there!)

Back in 2004, NESN also released their own DVD of the Red Sox championship season, "Faith Rewarded" (which Yours Truly made an appearance in). This one is similar to that one, as "Champions Again" does a recap of the entire season. It hits the high points (the April comeback against the Yankees, the "Mother's Day Miracle," Clay Buchholz' no-hitter, etc.), as well as the low ones (the Gagne trade, the near-Yankee comeback).

Overall, the DVD is well-done, with some interesting bonus footage, such as the last inning of the Buchholz no-hitter, the four consecutive homers against the Yankees in April, and the best of Orsillo and Remy (when RemDawg falls in the booth while doing air guitar).

I didn't like hearing either John Sterling ("It is high, it is far..") or Michael Kay on this DVD, and I especially didn't like when the Yankees were narrowing the lead in September, seeing a flashback to some guy's home run at Fenway back in October 1978. (No need to mention names, as it's ancient history.) I can do without seeing that nonsense on a Red Sox championship DVD. I would also liked to have heard more of Joe Castiglione and the NESN guys' calls and less from Fox, but you can't have everything, I guess.

But it doesn't take away from the DVD's quality. I especially liked that they included Mike Timlin's tribute on NESN to Tim Wakefield after the Sox won the Series. It's great to sit back on a cold winter's night and relive some great memories of another (I love writing that!) Red Sox championship season. Go get "Champions Again."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Trivia Q&A: December 18

We had 18 teams for Trivia on Tuesday night, which surprised me as I thought the number of teams would drop due to the oncoming Christmas holiday. But we had an excellent crowd, and a very good contest. The scores were generally pretty high, and the toughest category seemed to be Current Events. Almost everyone did well on General Knowledge, and the December 25th Trivia numbers were very good too.

10 of the 18 teams had at least 30 points entering the IQ Trivia round, with the top five teams separated by just four points. But the top two teams both got four questions right (the same four) and 20 points, and it wound up with Cheap Date Squad getting the victory over I Wish This Microphone, the current champions, by just two points.

It was a fine night of Trivia, and I thank everyone for all the kind words about it after its conclusion. I just want to remind all of you that Trivia Night will return on Wednesday night, December 26th, at 9 PM, and we will have the first Trivia Night of 2008 on January 2nd at 9, which is a Wednesday night as well. The following Tuesday we will go back to our usual night.

Have a Merry Christmas, everyone.

Current Events
1. Within ten, how many former and current MLB players were named in the Mitchell Report on players using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs last week?
2. Two bombings in this North African city last week killed dozens of people, including 17 UN employees.
3. Former president Alberto Fujimori of this country was sentenced to six years in prison for crimes committed while in office.
4. This Midwestern city was selected the "Top Green City in the US" by EarthLab Foundation last week.
5. This film, a British drama, received the most Golden Globe nominations with seven, it was announced last week.
6. A Scottish town approved this billionaire American developer's plan to build a $2 billion golf resort on its coast.
7. This Eastern state became the first state yesterday to abolish the death penalty since the Supreme Court reinstated it in 1976.
8. A recent finding showed that 47% of all adult American Internet users have looked up this when going on Google or other search engines.
9. This sci-fi film grossed over $76 million last weekend to become the number one film in America last week.
10. Name two of the five superstar pop artists who were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last week.

Answers: 1. Eighty-six; 2. Algiers; 3. Peru; 4. Chicago; 5. "Atonement;" 6. Donald Trump; 7. New Jersey; 8. their own name; 9. "I Am Legend;" 10. Madonna, John Mellencamp, Leonard Cohen, Dave Clark Five, and The Ventures.

December 25/Christmas Trivia
1. In 1223, this Italian saint, known for his love of animals, assembled the first Nativity scene.
2. In 1818, the first performance of "Silent Night" took place at a church in Oberndorf in this central European country.
3. The longest game in NFL history was played on this date in 1971, as this future Super Bowl championship team defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 27-24, 29 minutes into overtime.
4. Nicolae Ceausescu, former dictator of this European country, was condemned to death in 1989, and later executed.
5. This American singer/songwriter, whose devoted fans are known as "Parrotheads," turns 61 on Christmas Day.
6. This former MLB player, who holds the record for career stolen bases and played for many teams, turns 49 on Christmas Day.
7. This soul legend, who had hits such as "Please Please Please" and "Mr. Dynamite," died one year ago on Christmas.
8. This Red Sox relief pitcher, who made a huge impact in the team's 2007 championship run in his first season here, turns 32 on Christmas.
9. In 1979 on Christmas, the Soviet Union airlifted forces into this nation for the first time, and began a very costly occupation there.
10. In 1776, George Washington crossed this river to attack Hessian mercenaries in Trenton, NJ.

Answers: 1. St. Francis of Assisi; 2. Austria; 3. Miami Dolphins; 4. Romania; 5. Jimmy Buffett; 6. Rickey Henderson; 7. James Brown; 8. Hideki Okajima; 9. Afghanistan; 10. Delaware River.

True or False ("The Q Train")

1. Hat size is roughly measured by dividing your head's circumference in inches by two.
2. The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896.
3. Russia has the same colors on its national flag as does the United States.
4. Martin Short's SNL character, Ed Grimley, idolized game show host Alex Trebek.
5. People can develop hypothermia after prolonged exposure to cold.
6. The smallest element of an image on a TV screen is called a pixel.
7. Hawaii is the state that has the highest number of active volcanoes in the US.
8. The HJ Heinz company, in 2000, introduced green ketchup to the marketplace.
9. The Islamic faithful are required to pray at least six times a day.
10. The comic strip, "B.C.," was written by cartoonist Johnny Hart.

Answers: 1. false, divide by pi; 2. true; 3. true; 4. false, Pat Sajak; 5. true; 6. true; 7. false, Alaska does; 8. true; 9. false, five times a day; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. In July 2001, what popular TV and phone psychic's hotline was sued by the state of Missouri for fraud?
2. Jiminy Click, celebrity interviewer, is a character created by what comic actor?
3. Burt Ward's 1995 autobiography, "My Life in Tights," recounts his career playing what TV character?
4. In the 1975 movie, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," what are the names of the stranded young couple?
5. "R.S.V.P." is the abbreviation for a phrase in what language?
6. In 1969, what US city's name was the first word spoken from the moon?
7. Simon LeBon is the lead singer of what pop music group?
8. The bubbles inside a glass of champagne are made up of what gas?
9. Singer Perry Farrell, formerly of Jane's Addiction, founded what music festival in 1991?
10. The largest area of tropical rain forest in the world is located in what country?

Answers: 1. Miss Cleo; 2. Martin Short; 3. Robin; 4. Brad and Janet; 5. French; 6. Houston; 7. Duran Duran; 8. carbon dioxide; 9. Lollapalooza; 10. Brazil.

IQ Trivia
1. Used by Pueblo Indians for ceremonies, a kiva is what type of structure? (5 points)
2. What Shakespeare play features the line, "parting is such sweet sorrow"? (4 points)
3. Whose mural, for the RCA Building in New York, was destroyed because it portrayed the Russian leader Vladimir Lenin? (5 points)
4. The Scoville scale is used to measure the intensity of what? (6 points)
5. The Vespa motor scooter takes its name from the Italian word for what animal? (5 points)

Answers: 1. underground chamber; 2. "Romeo and Juliet;" 3. Diego Rivera; 4. heat of chili peppers; 5. wasp.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Giants Should Lose in Buffalo?

I usually do my best to avoid sports talk radio. It is usually a haven for brainless nitwits who can run their mouths off about any sports subject. (Sounds like the Internet actually.)

Yesterday was a rather dull day so I listened to a bit of "Mike and the Mad Dog" on WFAN.  (I still love the nickname Don Imus once hung on them: "Fatso and Fruit Loops.")  A big topic of discussion was the Giants upcoming games against Buffalo and New England. The Giants are still in a very good position to make the playoffs despite the loss to Washington last Sunday night. 

Francesa took the absolutely bizarre position that it might be better for the Giants if they actually lose to Buffalo this Sunday. He feels that a win against the Bills, which would clinch a Giants postseason berth, would make the final game against New England almost worthless, as the Giants might want to rest a number of their star players against the Patriots if there's very little to play for.

But if the Giants fall to Buffalo, they will have to "play hard" against the Pats in order to make the playoffs. Francesa, who seems to want the Patriots NOT to go 16-0 more than anything else (I guess the Giants NOT getting to the postseason would make him happier), is really afraid of a "bad game" if the Giants wrap everything up this Sunday.

Where do I start with this asinine nonsense? The Giants don't give a rat's ass if the Patriots go undefeated. (Sure, they'd like to beat them in Week 17, but if they have the playoff wrapped up, it's not the end of the world.) I'm certain that Tom Coughlin and the Giants staff want this wrapped up as quick as possible, and really hope that the final game against New England will not mean much. Should the Giants lose Sunday, they might almost HAVE to beat the Pats in order to make it. If they wind up tied with the Vikings and Redskins at 9-7, they will be eliminated. 

However, A Giants win on Sunday and a Vikings win against Washington will still leave the Giants with something to play for against New England. The fifth seed in the NFC would still be open, and a win over the Pats would give that to them. However, if they end up tied with the Vikings at 10-6, the Vikes would get the fifth seed. 

If the Giants wrap everything up against Buffalo, I would bet you'd see most of the Giants stars for one half, and rest them for the second half. I wouldn't risk my best players in a "nothing" game when there is a playoff game to be played the following weekend. If I am a member of the Giants, all I want to do is get the playoff berth done as quickly as possible. I really don't care if the Patriots go 16-0, as the playoff game the next week means so much more than whether the Patriots make history on December 29. (Fatso also feels that the Giants beating the Pats would mean so much more to history than anything else. It would if the Giants were already eliminated from a postseason berth.)

If the Pats are 15-0 going into the final game (and they should be), they will be going all out to beat the Giants. But if the Giants aren't going all out to stop them if they have their playoff berth locked up, so be it. Francesa and Russo should relax. It reminds me a little of when the Red Sox struggled a bit in September when a playoff berth was just about to happen and so many people were losing their minds that they weren't going to win the AL East. The final game for the Giants could be like the last game of the baseball season for a team that has already clinched an October berth. If it don't mean much, send in the second-string guys, even if it means far more to the other club. 

Coughlin, like Terry Francona, is probably looking at the bigger picture, and isn't concerned with what his critics think.

I have to get away from listening to sports talk radio. I feel like I lose a couple of IQ points every time I hear some birdbrain losing his mind over stupid nonsense.

Ugly But Effective

Last night's Vikings' 20-13 win at the Metrodome over the Chicago Bears was certainly not a thing of beauty, but it kept the Vikes' winning streak going at five.

The Vikings turned the ball over four times, three times on interceptions by Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson has shown steady improvement over the course of the winning streak, but last night he took a step backwards. He threw a lollipop up for grabs just before the half ended that was picked off, and the Bears converted it into a TD to make it 13-3. But a really stupid roughing penalty by Chicago helped the Vikings get into field goal range, and Ryan Longwell kicked one from 46 yards out at the buzzer to make it 13-6 and gave the Vikes some momentum for the second half.

The Bears were certainly anemic on offense all night, as the Vikings looked strong, especially against the run. But Chicago also played well on defense. Brian Urlacher had an interception, a fumble recovery and a sack to lead them. It just seemed like the Vikings were determined to keep the Bears in the game, as Adrian Peterson had trouble getting free most of the night. He did rush for 78 yards including two touchdowns.

Jackson did have one shining moment, throwing a pass to Robert Ferguson, who broke free and ran down to the one yard line to set up the first Vikings TD. He threw for 239 yards, but seemed to be rushed a good past of the game, and even appeared to be throwing off-balance at times.

Good teams find ways to win, and the Vikings found that last night. It was a game they really should have lost, but the Bears are pretty awful right now. The Vikings are now 8-6, and face Washington on Sunday night at the Metrodome. A win over the Redskins will just about assure the Vikings a playoff spot, against either Seattle or Tampa Bay.

But they have to get a better game from Jackson. The Skins have played better as of late, and still have Wild Card aspirations. I guess the cliche, "I'd rather be lucky than good" applies to last night. But you can't count on that happening every week, especially with the season about to finish.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Trivia On Tuesday

Professor Thom's Tuesday Night Trivia will feature a special round of Christmas/December 25 Trivia. It will be questions about people, places and things associated with either Christmas or December 25.

We will also have the usual four categories as well, and we'll get going at about 9 PM. Please also remember that next week we will be having Trivia Night on Wednesday, December 26, as Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday this year.

The Sneak Peek question for Tuesday night is:
"The bubbles inside a glass of champagne are made up of what gas?"

I hope to see many of you for Trivia on Tuesday night.

Slappy "Apologizes" to Red Sox Fans

I don't know if many of you caught it, but Alex Rodriguez was profiled by Katie Couric on "60 Minutes" last night and issued an apology to Red Sox and Rockies fans for having the announcement of his contract opt-out upstage Game 4 of the World Series.

Like everything else Slappy does, it came off totally half-assed and insincere. He also firmly denied any involvement with any kind of performance-enhancing drugs. (We'll see what Jose Canseco has to say about that down the road.)

But the most interesting thing about the interview was when Couric brought up the name of agent Scott Boras. Just the way his face twitched said that he and Bor-ass aren't exactly buddies anymore.

When the segment with Rodriguez ended last night, I had just one overwhelming thought:

Thank God the Red Sox re-signed Mike Lowell.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mitchell Report Conspiracy Theories?

You knew this would happen. The conspiracy theorists are now having their say, and a few have taken their cases to the New York papers. 

I've now read where some Yankee fans think that the Mitchell Report is somehow "invalid" because there are no names of any "major" Red Sox stars in it. (I guess Eric Gagne and Brendan Donnelly don't qualify under "major.") And they seem to think that George Mitchell, because of his ties to the Sox, probably overlooked or covered up any big name Red Sox players who may have been juicers.

What rubbish.

Let's face facts. Mitchell and his investigators got lucky, as they found Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee for their report, and both were based in New York. (So you figure that most of the major names they have would be New York-based players.) If they didn't have either man, the report would not have been very substantial. The commission had no subpoena power, and very few people would cooperate with them.

Let's say they also found a clubhouse guy or some other steroid pusher with connections to the Red Sox, and they named some big Boston names. If Mitchell had "buried" that evidence, don't you think that the guys who were interviewed by Mitchell would somehow let the Boston papers know that Mitchell excluded that evidence? You know someone like Dan Shaughnessy would LOVE something "juicy" (pardon the pun) like that. And besides, George Mitchell is man of impeccable character that he wouldn't risk tarnishing his lifelong public service by leaving out vital evidence like that if he had it in his possession.

Even a blowhard like Yankee shill Mike Francesa doesn't believe in any conspiracy theories around the report. Can there be juicers on the Red Sox who weren't named in the report? Of course there can be. The Mitchell Report is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the steroid investigations into baseball goes. If there is evidence against any Boston player, it should come to light. It's just that these nonsensical theories about how Mitchell is covering up because of his Red Sox connection is so blatantly absurd. 

But of course, consider who these ludicrous theories are coming from: brain-dead Yankee fans.

With Andy Pettitte's admission he took HGH in 2002, he just made Roger Clemens' life all the more miserable. So are we now to believe that McNamee got steroids for Pettitte but not Clemens? As I said before, if Clemens is indeed clean, he has to start filing lawsuits  for slander. Otherwise, he's wasting his time. His life becomes an open book if he files suit. 

I also read a really hilarious column in today's New York Post about some guy named Baichu, who was another of Clemens' flunkies, and worked with him as his massage therapist in Houston from 2004-06. Baichu basically called McNamee a troubled man who was also an alcoholic and was jealous that Clemens let him go when he returned to Houston and won another Cy Young Award, so McNamee "made up" all that stuff up about him. Baichu said that Clemens was "only guilty of having a big heart."

It made me want to reach for my vomit bag.

Clemens only has one recourse now that Pettitte has come clean. Disappear the way Rafael Palmiero did after he got caught in 2005.

I hope he does us all that favor.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Clemens: A Legacy Destroyed

There was no bigger "casualty" in George Mitchell's steroid report that was released this past week to MLB than Roger Clemens. There had been whispers for years that he was on the juice, but now it has been put in a report for all the world to see. And it could just be the tip of the iceberg.

Clemens was a sure-bet first-ballot Hall of Famer. His numbers are very well known: 354 wins, 7 Cy Young Awards, two World Series rings. He was arguably the pitcher of his generation.

And now it appears that his chances for enshrinement to Cooperstown may have died with that report being released.

His career now appears to be finished. I can't imagine any team taking a chance on him now. He's 45, and his body was breaking down late last September, and he threw just two postseason innings for the Yankees. They certainly don't want to be associated with him any more.

Clemens issued a statement through his lawyer on Thursday that he never took steroids, and that he was "slandered." If Clemens was indeed "slandered" and wants to get his reputation back, he has only one option: lawsuits, against MLB, George Mitchell and his commission, and Brian McNamee, the personal trainer who rolled over on him to Mitchell. McNamee had everything to gain by coming clean about Clemens, and absolutely nothing to gian by lying about him to the investigators. (In fact. NcNamee, as well as Kirk Radomski, could face more jail time if in fact it is proven they lied to the Mitchell investigators.)

As the venerable Mr. Mitchell said after the report was released, Clemens had every opportunity to state his case to his investigators, but declined. If Clemens is going the lawsuit route, he better damn well be 100% clean and have nothing to hide. If he brings a case, those people he's suing will bring everything out in open court. EVERYTHING about Clemens and his past steroid use.

I find it interesting that not one person implicated in either Jose Canseco's book, "Juiced," and the terrific "Game of Shadows" book has gone after the authors for slander in terms of steroid use. I remember right after Canseco's book came out, people like Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez was talking about going after him in court. Funny that none of them have.

And with Clemens' involvement in all of this, one man seems to have been vindicated: Dan Duquette. In 1996, he was supposed to have said that Clemens was in "the twilight of his career" at 34, as his numbers the previous four years had declined dramatically. With all of this, Clemens departure is now proving to be one of the best things to have happened to the Sox in recent memory. It was a disaster in the short run, but the next winter it spurred Duquette to trade for Pedro Martinez. He would not have made that deal if Clemens had resigned. The Pedro trade was the move that set the wheels in motion for the incredible Red Sox world championship seven years later.

It will be interesting to see how the Yankee fans will react to the allegations against Clemens and Andy Pettitte. I'm sure there will be sympathy for Pettitte, as he was always regarded as a "true Yankee", as he was brought up by the club and was a part of their four recent championships. But at some point, Pettitte will have to make some kind of "apology" to the Yankee fans in order for him to be forgiven by them. I'm sure if he's sincere about it, they will take him back.

As for Clemens, I'm sure they will toss him under the bus. In some ways they already have.

John Harper, in Friday's Daily News, has already used the term I've used for years about Clemens: "carpetbagger." I also read in the same paper one Yankee fans wrote that he was "from Boston anyway." Clemens has had tons of vitriol thrown his way from Red Sox Nation over the years, and has been called "traitor" among other colorful names. But I'm sure he's in for a LOT of hate from Yankee fans in the near future. I'm sure they'll quickly mention that fact he was really a Red Sock, and was never a "true Yankee." (And the fact he failed to deliver for the team last year after he much ballyhooed won't help his cause.)

If Clemens is going to throw around terms like "slander" when it comes to the Mitchell Report, he better be sure he's got nothing to hide. Right now, he can either yell loudly his innocence, be totally silent, or admit his drug past. He's got too big an ego to come clean (see Bonds, Barry), so this could go on for some time. But it will be fascinating to see if he indeed risks everything by going to court over the Mitchell Report.

I guess right now he's got nothing to lose. His legacy's on the line.

If it hasn't already been totally destroyed and rewritten by George Mitchell last Thursday.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Listening is an Act of Love"

Earlier this week, I completed reading a very special book called "Listening is an Act of Love." It is a compilation of stories put together by StoryCorps, which has been recording stories of every day people since 2003.

In July of 2005, I did just that for my friend Joyce. I spent nearly an hour with a facilitator from StoryCorps and remembered my friend. StoryCorps has now recorded thousands of people who talk about their lives and their loved ones. Every session is preserved at the Library of Congress.

Dave Isay founded StoryCorps a few years back, and he has put together a wonderful book of 50 stories from those people he and his staff have recorded. It includes loved ones of the 9/11 victims (whose stories will also go into the 9/11 memorial museum that will be constructed at Ground Zero in 2009), AIDS victims, Holocaust survivors, Hurricane Katrina survivors, prisoners, and just regular people recording their memories.

I was at a book signing last month where I met Mr. Isay and heard a couple of people featured in the book read their stories. They were very powerful to hear live, and they really touch the heart. It is really a wonderful thing Mr. Isay and his staff have done in recording people's stories. Over 200 loved ones of 9/11 victims have done so, and their aim is to try to get at least one for every person who perished six years ago. The book is a wonderful testament to the great work he has done, and I am proud to be a part of it and support their efforts.If you ever get the chance to pick up "Listening is An Act of Love," please do so. You would be supporting a great cause, and I'm sure you'll be as touched as I was with these beautiful stories about the lives of every day Americans.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Mitchell Report Explodes

The George Mitchell Report was released today at a press conference in New York, and to say the least, it got the interest of anyone who cares about Major League Baseball. And it is being treated like an earthquake just rocked the sport.

The former senator from Maine was commissioned by MLB to investigate the use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs that have proliferated in the sport over the past decade. The 304-page report named names. And their were some huge names mentioned.

Miguel Tejada, Eric Gagne, Brian Roberts and Paul LoDuca were among the biggest names mentioned, but the biggest were Yankee pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. Jason Giambi was the only active player who spoke with Mitchell and his investigators. The Mitchell investigators spoke at length with a former trainer, Brian McNamee, who worked with Clemens and Pettitte for many years. The information on Clemens sounds the most damning, and could well derail his chances for a first-ballot Hall of Fame election.

About half the players in the report are still currently active. The complete list of names mentioned in the report:
Lenny Dykstra, David Segui, Larry Bigbie, Brian Roberts, Jack Cust, Tim Laker, Josias Manzanillo, Todd Hundley, Mark Carreon, Hal Morris, Matt Franco, Rondell White, Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, Jason Grimsley, David Justice, F.P. Santangelo, Glenallen Hill, Mo Vaughn, Denny Neagle, Ron Villone, Ryan Franklin, Chris Donnels, Todd Williams, Phil Hiatt, Todd Pratt, Kevin Young, Mike Lansing, Cody McKay, Kent Mercker, Adam Piatt, Miguel Tejada, Jason Christiansen, Mike Stanton, Stephen Randolph, Jerry Hairston Jr., Paul Lo Duca, Adam Riggs, Bart Miadich, Fernando Vina, Kevin Brown, Eric Gagne, Mike Bell, Matt Herges, Gary Bennett Jr, Jim Parque, Brendan Donnelly, Chad Allen, Jeff Williams, Howie Clark, Nook Logan, Rick Ankiel, David Bell, Paul Byrd, Jay Gibbons, Troy Glaus, Jason Grimsley, Jose Guillen, Darren Holmes, Gary Matthews Jr, John Rocker, Scott Shoeneweis, Ismael Valdez, Matt Williams, Steve Woodard, Barry Bonds, Jeremy Giambi, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Marvin Benard, Bobby Estalella, Benito Santiago, Randy Velarde

There were rumors that players like Jason Varitek and Nomar Garciaparra were on it, but they were proved to be false Internet nonsense.

The Mitchell Commission based a lot of the report on the testimony of Kirk Radomski, a former Mets batboy and clubhouse attendant, who was caught trafficking in steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. It appears that he gave them a treasure trove of information. (It was also part of his plea bargain agreement that he name names to Mitchell.)

I haven't had a chance to read the full report, but I look forward to checking it out. Here is the complete report:

What will this mean for MLB and its fans? At this point, your guess is as good as mine. The sport needs to be cleaned up, and the report is a good first step. What will this mean to the players named by George Mitchell's report? Hard to say exactly, but they will surely have some kind of stigma attached to their careers, especially to the ones who are currently playing, and those who are big stars like Clemens and Tejada.

This just the beginning. It will be interesting to see if the report leads to any permanent changes. As a fan, I hope it brings more awareness to the scourge that is steroids.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trivia Q&A: December 11

We had 12 teams for Trivia on a rainy night in the Village. Most of the teams did very well, either because we had some very intelligent players or I made the questions a little too easy. (Probably a combination of the two.)

The scores for True or False and General Knowledge were exceptionally high, and for Celebrity Real Names they were almost as good. Going into the last round, we had five teams separated by just four points. But Accidental In the Eye had an excellent IQ Trivia round, getting four of the five questions correct and got 19 points and wound up winning by 5 points. They are among the regulars and it was their first win. My congratulations to them.

Current Events
1. This computer retailer was sold to a restructuring firm and will close all its stores and go out of business soon.
2. This classic rock band reunited for the first time in 19 years at a concert in London yesterday.
3. This film, a family-oriented fantasy movie, grossed $26 million and was the number one film in the US last week.
4. This British pop singer, who's nominated for six Grammys, was seen wandering aimlessly on the streets of London in just a bra and jeans recently.
5. A state of disaster has been declared in this Asian country, after it suffered the worst oil spill in its history last week.
6. Four people were injured and two were killed after a shooting occurred in a church in this state on Sunday.
7. A launch of this space shuttle that was originally scheduled for last weekend was postponed until next January.
8. The New York Philharmonic announced plans to play next February a concert in this reclusive nation after the country's Culture minister invited them last August.
9. Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy last Saturday, as a sophomore QB from this college team.
10. Michael Vick was sentenced to federal prison on dogfighting charges on Monday. How many months is he sentenced to serve?

Answers: 1. CompUSA; 2. Led Zeppelin; 3. "The Golden Compass;" 4. Amy Winehouse; 5. South Korea; 6. Colorado; 7. Atlantis; 8. North Korea; 9. Florida Gators; 10. twenty-three.

Celebrity Real Names

1. Alecia Moore-- singer
2. Bernie McCollough-- actor
3. Anna Mae Bullock-- singer
4. Robert Van Winkle-- singer
5. Terry Bollea-- athlete/actor
6. Carlos Estevez-- actor
7. Allen Konigsberg-- actor/director
8. Robert Zimmerman-- singer
9. Marshall Mathers-- singer
10. Dana Owens-- singer/actress

Answers: 1. Pink; 2. Bernie Mac; 3. Tina Turner; 4. Vanilla Ice; 5. Hulk Hogan; 6. Charlie Sheen; 7. Woody Allen; 8. Bob Dylan; 9. Eminem; 10. Queen Latifah.

True or False ("The Q Train")

1. In 1754, Ben Franklin published a political cartoon depicting the colonies as parts of a snake.
2. The part of a magazine where you'd find the list of staff members is called the masthead.
3. Vanilla is added to espresso to make a caffe latte.
4. The "Wild West" town of Dodge City is located in Wyoming.
5. Gene Simmons was the lead guitarist of the band Kiss.
6. The indigo plant is used to make a dye that is a shade of blue.
7. Montana does not use the first two letters of its full name as a postal abbreviation.
8. The TV family, "The Addams Family," lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
9. Salinity is the measure of chlorine in water.
10. By definition, to obfuscate means to confuse.

Answers: 1. true; 2. true; 3. false, milk is added; 4. false, it's in Kansas; 5. false, Ace Frehley was; 6. true; 7. true; 8. false, the Munsters lived there; 9. false, it's salt; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. The TV series, "Spin City," focused on the mayoral office of what US city?
2. "Veritas," the one-word motto of Harvard University, is Latin for what?
3. In what movie does John Cusack's character recite "top five lists" of various likes and dislikes?
4. Who was the Japanese emperor during WWII?
5. If you were eating an orange roughy, what would you be having?
6. The female members of the musical group The B-52s originally wore what distinctive hairstyle?
7. Which Asian city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1975?
8. In the 1993 film, "Rudy," the title character plays for which college football team?
9. Chicle is the main ingredient in what product?
10. At the start of the 2000 film, "The Patriot," Mel Gibson's character lives on a farm in an area that becomes which US state?

Answers: 1. New York City; 2. truth; 3. "High Fidelity;" 4. Hirohito; 5. fish; 6. beehive; 7. Saigon; 8. Notre Dame; 9. chewing gum; 10. South Carolina.

IQ Trivia

1. Which American oceanographer found the wreck of the RMS Titanic in September 1985? (5 points)
2. What classical composer was the father-in-law of classical composer Richard Wagner? (6 points)
3. Of the father, mother, son and daughter, which character dies in William Faulkner's novel, "As I Lay Dying?" (4 points)
4. In 2000, Melissa Etheridge revealed that the father of her two children is what rock singer? (5 points)
5. Mount Sinai is located in what country? (5 points)

Answers: 1. Robert Ballard; 2. Franz Liszt; 3. mother; 4. David Crosby; 5. Egypt.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Celebrity Real Names on Tuesday

Tuesday Night Trivia will have as the special category: "Celebrity Real Names." What I will do is give you the real name of a current celebrity, along with how they made their name (such as "actor," "director," or "author" something like that), and you tell me what their stage name is. We will also have the usual categories as well.

(By the way, that is a picture of Scarlett Johansson I have put up here. She is not in tomorrow night's Trivia. I just liked that picture so I put it up.)

The Sneak Peek question for Tuesday Night Trivia is:

"The female members of the musical group The B-52s originally wore what distinctive hairstyle?"

We've had some great crowds for Trivia the last three weeks, so I hope to see many of you tomorrow night.

$125 An Autograph?

I was rather disappointed to find out over the weekend that Jacoby Ellsbury had an autograph signing at a couple of locations in Massachusetts last week, and that the fans who showed up had to pay $125 a pop to get a picture or baseball autographed by the newest Red Sox star.

I've never paid for anyone's autograph, and I never will. But I am not against the concept. If people want to shell out good money to get them, so be it. And I'm not against players doing it, especially those old time players who need the money.

And Jacoby is by far not the only young player who has done something like this. He is making the bare mininum right now, as he is a rookie, which is still some pretty good money. If he was doing this for a charity (as what Curt Schilling does for ALS and Shade), it would be rather commendable.

But the fact that so much is being charged for his autograph (and it was $150 for him to sign a jersey or a bat; don't ask me why it's $25 more for those items), but it really sounds like the public is being gouged here. But once again, if people are willing to pay that much, no laws are being broken. I just will never take part in it.

Here's more from the Extra Bases blog:

I was also not terribly happy to hear that Ellsbury signed on with Scott Boras as his new agent. (Is that the connection in all of this?) Everyone knows about his rep. Fortunately, the Red Sox have control over Ellsbury for the next six years (assuming they don't trade him), so they don't have to worry about Boras for a while yet.

I Guess They Just Like to Complain

You may remember that the Giants beat the Bears in Chicago last week, 21-16. They won it when the Giants scored a TD with just under two minutes left. Since that game was finished, I have heard tons of complaints from Giants fans, in both the papers and on radio, about how Tom Coughlin nearly blew it by scoring the touchdown.

Yesterday I saw a letter in the sports section of the New York Post about the game, a week after it was played:

"Can someone tell me why the Giants, with the ball on the 2-yard line, did not run out most of the 1;47 left on the clock last Sunday and then kick the field goal? They would have avoided the Bears' comeback drive that almost resulted in a touchdown. Imagine if the Bears had scored and won the game. I would not have bet much on the career prospects of Tom Coughlin after that."
Mark Cohen, Paris, France

I can tell you very easily, Mr. Cohen. You see points, you get them! Especially touchdowns. Yes, the Giants could have run down the clock, as Chicago only had one timeout at the time. But the field was slick, and if you run down the clock (to about 30 seconds left), you had better make the field goal. You risk a bad snap, a fumbled hold, and a kick on a rough field that could be shanked (even if it was barely a chip shot). I know that Coughlin hasn't had the greatest confidence in kicker Lawrence Tynes, so he elected to stick it in the end zone as quick as possible.

Plus remember, the Bears would get the ball back anyway, and by the Giants scoring a TD, that forces Chicago to score a TD instead of a field goal if the Giants had gone for the FG. And don't forget, the Bears have the best kickoff return man in the NFL in Devin Hester. Does that answer your question, Mr. Cohen?

And besides, the Giants won the game! I still can't believe all the pissing and moaning I've heard from these fans, even though the strategy worked out and they won the game. There were two schools of thought to go with in the situation Coughlin was in, and the route he went worked out. But yet these fans have squawked for the week about "what could have gone wrong but didn't." I can only imagine they have an intense dislike for Coughlin (or just like to complain, despite winning). The baseball equivalent of what happened last week could have been having a the tying and winning runs on second and third base in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and walking the number three hitter to take your chances with the cleanup hitter. He strikes out to end it to give your team the win, but the fans complain loudly that the cleanup guy could easily have won the game with a hit.

Giants fans: you won last Sunday (as well as yesterday in Philly). Let the Chicago game go. A playoff spot seems almost assured.

History Made As Vikes Whack Niners

The Vikings won their fourth in a row yesterday in San Francisco, and made NFL history in the process, as they won, 27-7. The Vikings became the first team to get two interceptions in a game by defensive linemen, and it included a touchdown by Kevin Williams (pictured) on the first play from scrimmage.

Pat Williams also had an interception, and Spencer Johnson apparently had a third one as the game was ending, but it was later ruled a fumble.

I watched the game at Professor Thom's pub along with a sea of Patriots fans. (They didn't join the Vikings game until it was already 10-0, because the NFL package was still in the Chargers-Titans game, which was still in OT.) And whenever the Vikings did something good, I was the lone Minnesota backer in the bar. (But I did get a few compliments on the retro Vikings Randy Moss jersey I was wearing.)

Tarvaris Jackson had another solid game, going 19-for-25 for 163 yards and one touchdown pass to Robert Ferguson of 19 yards. The Vikings jumped out to a 20-0 lead by the middle of the second quarter, and put an exclamation point on their first half dominance when Chester Taylor ran 84 yards for a TD to make it a 27-0 Vikings halftime lead.

The Niners completely shut down Adrian Peterson, as he gained only 3 yards on 14 carries. With the exception of Taylor's long-distance TD, the Vikings gained only 33 other rushing yards. But the defense was the star of the day, as the Vikings recovered three fumbles and had the two picks. The offense had another huge first half that basically put the game away, for the third consecutive week.

I was also in a rare position yesterday, as I had to root for the Dallas Cowboys to win, and they did, over the Detroit Lions in the final seconds, 28-27. And combine that with Arizona's loss to Seattle 42-21, the Vikings now are in sole possession of the final Wild Card spot, and now play Chicago at the Metrodome next Monday night.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Au Revoir

The Milwaukee Brewers have reached a deal with former Red Sox reliever Eric Gagne on a one-year, $10 million deal, where he will be the club's closer. (And the Red Sox finalized a one-year deal with Mike Timlin yesterday.)

There were rumors going around on Friday that Gagne would accept arbitration by the deadline, which was midnight Friday. That simply made no sense, as Gagne wanted to be a closer again, and that wasn't happening in Boston. So now he gets a shot to claim his old role back in Milwaukee.

Gagne's numbers in Boston were simply hideous (and I won't list them here). However, getting him last July 31 was absolutely the right move, as the Sox needed the bullpen reinforced. They traded Kason Gabbard and David Murphy to make it happen, but neither was in the Red Sox long range plans. There were concerns about how Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima would hold up as the season wound down. Gagne was the best option out there, and the move was universally applauded.

No one could have any idea just how bad he would be. Every outing was an adventure for Gagne, and he rarely got a 1-2-3 inning. The meltdowns he went through in Baltimore and Toronto were extremely painful to watch. Fortunately, Gagne did not cost the Red Sox the AL East title. But the worst was the Game 2 loss to Cleveland in the ALCS. He was the last best option out of the pen in that extra inning game, and he began the seven-run disaster that evened the series. After that he was strictly a garbage time pitcher. He was on the mound when the Red Sox won the pennant, but they also had a nine-run lead at the time. If it had been much closer, he would have been nowhere near the pitcher's mound.

Now, Gagne goes to Milwaukee to try and revive his career. I'm sure they'll be more than a few Red Sox fans who'll be keeping an eye on him to see how he does.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


It was 27 years ago today that John Lennon left us.

It's still one of the worst days of my life.

We miss you John.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Red Sox 2008 Spring Training Schedule

The Red Sox announced their Spring Training schedule today. There are eight fewer games due to the Red Sox opening their regular season next year in Japan. They are also playing the majority of their Florida games at home in Ft. Myers at City of Palms Park. Here it is:

Feb. 28      Boston College (SS) City of Palms Park     1:05 p.m.
Feb. 28 Northeastern (SS) City of Palms Park 6:05 p.m.
Feb. 29 Twins Hammond Stadium 7:05 p.m.
March 1 Twins Hammond Stadium 1:05 p.m.
March 2 Twins City of Palms Park 1:05 p.m.
March 3 Marlins Jupiter 1:05 p.m.
March 4 Pirates City of Palms Park 1:05 p.m.
March 5 Reds City of Palms Park 1:05 p.m.
March 6 Dodgers City of Palms Park 1:05 p.m.
March 7 Twins (SS) City of Palms Park 1:05 p.m.
March 7 Orioles (SS) Fort Lauderdale 1:05 p.m.
March 8 Marlins City of Palms Park 1:05 p.m.
March 9 Dodgers Vero Beach 1:05 p.m.
March 10 Mets Port St. Lucie 1:05 p.m.
March 11 Mets City of Palms Park 1:05 p.m.
March 12 Twins Hammond Stadium 7:05 p.m.
March 13 Rays City of Palms Park 1:05 p.m.
March 14 Orioles City of Palms Park 1:05 p.m.
March 15 Reds City of Palms Park 1:05 p.m.
March 16 Pirates Bradenton 1:05 p.m.
March 17 Yankees Tampa TBA
March 19 Blue Jays City of Palms Park TBA
March 22 NPB Opponent Tokyo Dome TBA
March 23 NPB Opponent Tokyo Dome TBA
March 25 A's (Reg. Season) Tokyo Dome TBA
March 26 A's (Reg. Season) Tokyo Dome TBA
March 28 Dodgers Dodger Stadium TBA
March 29 Dodgers Memorial Coliseum TBA
March 30 Dodgers Dodger Stadium TBA

SS --Split Squad
NPB --Nippon Professional Baseball Team (TBA)

Forever Living In Infamy

It was 66 years ago today that life in the United States was changed forever when an early dawn sneak attack by Japanese planes on our naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii drew the nation into World War II.

21 ships and 188 aircraft were destroyed, and 2,350 military personnel, along with 68 civilians, were killed that day. More than 1,100 were injured. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the next day before a joint session of Congress, called December 7, 1941 "a day that will live in infamy."

December 7, 1941 will forever be a day that will be remembered with incredible sadness in American history, along with November 22, 1963 and September 11, 2001. The course of American history was changed forever.

The number of people who survived that day continues to decline (my friend Joe's dad is one of them) as the years progress, so please say a prayer today for those who survived, as well as for those who gave their lives that fateful day, nearly seven decades ago.

"Champions Again"

NESN's DVD of the 2007 Red Sox World Series championship season, "Champions Again: The Story of the 2007 Red Sox," will be released one week from today, on December 14. NESN also put out a retrospective of the 2004 championship season called "Faith Rewarded" which was a terrific DVD.

This DVD is available through NESN's web site, and also at retail outlets throughout New England. I doubt I'll find it here in New York City, so I'll have to mail away for it.

Here's some more info on the DVD:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

12 Days of Christmas, Canadian Style

Yesterday I put up the Frank Kelly parody of "The 12 Days of Christmas" and I got a whole bunch of hits from folks around the world looking for it on YouTube (especially from England, Ireland and Australia).

My friend Steve reminded me today of another great parody of the song, this time by the legendary Canadian duo of Bob and Doug McKenzie. It's been over 25 years since Bob and Doug hit the big time. They were actually Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas of the great "SCTV" show, and they were a funny recurring skit of two Canadian guys with their own TV show, "The Great White North," talking up the greatness that is the nation of Canada.

They put out their own album in 1982, which I still own. I also met them once, at an album signing in a record store in midtown Manhattan. (I can't for the life of me remember the store.) The last cut on it is their own version of "The 12 Days of Christmas," which I used to listen to every Christmas.

So I found a clip on YouTube of Bob and Doug doing their immortal rendition. It's nearly five minutes long. I hope all of you hoseheads out there will enjoy it.

Take off, eh!!