Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009 to You and Yours

This is my 713th and final post of 2008, and overall my 1,873rd post on this site. (I did 30 more posts in 2008 than in 2007. Guess I had a lot more to say!) I want to thank all of you who come to my blog, especially those who make it a regular stop. We had over 63,000 hits to this site in 2008.

Most folks come here through Google searches, either by word or by picture. But we do have a pretty steady number of regular readers of The Mighty Quinn Media Machine, and I thank all of you who've made it such a success and a joy for me to do.

I'm not planning anything special yet with the blog in 2009. First order of business is me getting a new computer, and that is very close to happening right now. I'll be so happy when I won't have to live off of Internet cafes and Professor Thom's computers!

We've gotten literally thousands of hits from people looking for trivia, and I'm glad to have helped many of you out. The main focus of this site is the Red Sox and trivia, but in 2009 I will continue to write about them and whatever else strikes my fancy.

It's hard to believe I am about to start my fourth calendar year writing this site. But time just seems to fly by, and I look forward to an even bigger year in 2009.

I'm not planning on doing anything special tonight, as I'm usually home on New Year's Eve with family and friends. I'm looking forward to settling in with "The Twilight Zone" on the Sci-Fi Channel and "The Honeymooners" on New York's WPIX, as both are doing their yearly marathons on this holiday. Just wouldn't be New Year's without them! (And of course, plenty of college bowl games mixed in on Thursday.)

So I wish all of you out there a wonderful New Year's holiday, and I hope 2009 is a terrific year for all of us!

Trivia Q&A: December 30

We had an amazing night of Trivia, as the bar had one of its biggest crowds ever on Trivia Night, and 21 teams took part. The Current Events round was rather tough, as many teams scored four points. But we had some strong scores for both New Year's Eve Trivia and 2008 Trivia. 

It was a close contest into the final two rounds, and I also had to give a few teams a point who answered "herd" to the rhinoceroses questions, as one of the regulars pointed out to me that there was another answer besides "crash." We had eight teams within four points of each other, but the team of We Brought the Whole Family Back From Christmas was the winner, as they got four of the five IQ Trivia questions right, and for the second straight week, won by just one point. Nice job, guys.

Current Events
1. This music distribution group couldn't reach a content agreement with YouTube, so their artists' videos have been yanked from the site.
2. This politician recently hinted that he'd love to run for president in a recent interview, but he is currently prohibited from doing so by the Constitution.
3. Robert Mulligan, a director who was nominated for an Oscar for directing this classic 1962 film, died last week at the age of 83.
4. This rock group had the number one tour in 2008, grossing over $210 million.
5. It was reported last week that a CIA officer bribed an Afghan chieftain for information about the Taliban by giving him this drug, and 4 days later the chieftain gave up valuable info about them.
6. This Emmy-winning actress, dancer and singer died on Christmas Day of cancer at the age of 81.
7. This deceased rock star is going to be featured by digital technology in upcoming TV commercials for a campaign to get laptop computers to the world's poorest children.

Answers: 1. Warner Music Group; 2. Arnold Schwarzenegger; 3. "To Kill a Mockingbird;" 4. Bon Jovi; 5. viagra; 6. Eartha Kitt; 7. John Lennon.

New Year's Eve Trivia

1. In 1999, this Russian leader resigned as president, and Vladimir Putin took over as acting President.
2. In 1862, President Lincoln signed an act admitting this state to the Union, which had broken away from another state.
3. This Academy Award-winning, Welsh-born actor, who won his award in 1991 playing one of the movies' most terrifying villains, was born on this date in 1937.
4. This Oscar-winning, British-born actor, who won his award in 1982 for playing one of history's most peace-loving heroes, was born on this date in 1943.
5. This 1950s rock-n-roll singer and TV star, whose sons had several hits in the 1990s, was killed in plane crash on this day in 1985 in Texas with five members of his band.
6. This legendary country singer, considered by many the genre's most influential singer and songwriter, died in a limosine in West Virginia on this day in 1952.
7. In 1999, the US turned control of the Panama Canal to Panama after which US president signed a treaty years before requiring the US to do so?

Answers: 1. Boris Yeltsin; 2. West Virginia; 3. Anthony Hopkins; 4. Ben Kingsley; 5. Rick Nelson; 6. Hank Williams; 7. Jimmy Carter.

2008 Trivia

1. Last October, this airline merged with Delta Airlines to form the world's largest airline.
2. In May, this Asian country abolished their 2 1/2 century monarchy, and later elected their first president.
3. This film, released last July, has grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide and is the fourth highest grossing film of all-time worldwide.
4. This event became the second most watched TV program in history in 2008, trailing only the 1983 "M*A*S*H" series finale.
5. This country upset Cuba, 3-2, in the baseball gold medal match last August at the Summer Olympics at Beijing.
6. This jazz artist won the Album of the Year Grammy for his album "River: The Joni Letters" and became the first jazz artist since 1965 to win the award.
7. This Eastern European state announced its independence last February, and has been recognized by 53 UN member states, while Russia and Serbia are among others that do not.

Answers: 1. Northwest Airlines; 2. Nepal; 3. "The Dark Knight;" 4. Super Bowl XLII; 5. South Korea; 6. Herbie Hancock; 7. Kosovo.

General Knowledge

1. What river runs along the border between Mexico and Texas?
2. A group of rhinoceroses is properly known as what?
3. Heathcliff is the hero in what classic novel?
4. Name 1 of the 2 South American countries that are landlocked.
5. What is the proper name for a padded cover used to keep the contents of a teapot warm?
6. The brain and the spinal cord are part of what system of the human body?
7. On which island was Napoleon Bonaparte born in 1757?

Answers: 1. Rio Grande; 2. crash (and herd); 3. "Wuthering Heights;" 4. Paraguay and Bolivia; 5. tea cozy; 6. nervous; 7. Corsica.

IQ Trivia

1. What rap group did George Lucas successfully sue to prevent a member from using the name Luke Skywalker? ( 3 points)
2. In what African nation do the events of Paul Bowles' novel "The Sheltering Sky" take place? ( 5 points)
3. Who was the first black model featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition? ( 4 points)
4. What US state capital is actually located on an international border? ( 4 points)
5. Named after printer John Dunlap, the "Dunlap Broadsides" are early copies of what document? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. 2 Live Crew; 2. Morocco; 3. Tyra Banks; 4. Juneau, Alaska; 5. Declaration of Independence.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We Ain't Crazy About You Either, Dearie

I saw this in Monday's New York Post editorial page:
Bye, Bye Bosox
"I hate them," she said. "It felt good"-- Yankees fan Kate Anello, dropping a Boston Red Sox poster into an industrial shedder in Times Square yesterday, as hundreds of New Yorkers and tourists fed bad memories of '08 into the machine.

I think a better choice would have been a team picture of the 2008 Yankees, the most expensive team in baseball history to miss the playoffs.

To each his (or her) own, I guess. Yankee fans will do anything to exorcise demons and curses, because as we all know they are totally obsessed with them these days.

Joining the iPod World

This past Christmas, I finally joined the world of iPod, as I received an iPod Nano from Mr. Claus. I'm really loving it, but it also has caused a few difficulties along the way.

My brother-in-law was over on Christmas Day and we attempted to get the iPod up and rolling. But my computer was pretty ancient, as I got it in 2002. (I got it the same weekend Derek Lowe pitched his no-hitter at Fenway. I've always connected the two.) We discovered that my computer just didn't have the memory to handle iTunes, so we attempted to download some software to make it happen. But it still didn't happen, and when I attempted to rid my computer of the stuff I downloaded, it literally killed my computer. I took that as a sign to get a new one, and I hope to close that deal soon.

Last Sunday, I was at Professor Thom's for the football, and brought about 50 CDs to get the iPod up and going. It took me nearly five hours to download all the songs into their iTunes, but it sure was worth it. (I wound up listening to most of the Vikings game.) I brought along a lot of the "best of" CDs I have so I can most of the hits on it. I brought along most of my favorite artists, like The Beatles, The Doors, Dire Straits, The Who, Steely Dan and CCR. But I've also some of my more diverse favorites, like James Brown, Larry Carlton, Sade, Frank Sinatra and Down to the Bone. And I've also got my two favorite jazz artists, Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck on the iPod as well.

The iPod Nano is extremely compact and weighs next to nothing. It's heaven for a music freak like me.

I'll have to redo the whole thing once I get my new computer and get iTunes downloaded, but until that happens, I can retire the old Walkman and join the 21st Century.

At last.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Two Special Categories This Week

Trivia Night this week will feature not one but two special categories, and they are "New Year's Eve Trivia" which will be people, places and things connected to December 31, and "2008 Trivia," which will be questions connected to the year about to conclude.

The Q Train gets the week off this Tuesday, but will return on January 6.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:

What is the proper name for a padded cover used to keep the contents of a teapot warm?

We should get going right around 9 PM, so I hope many of you can come out for the last edition of Trivia Night for 2008, on the evening before "Amateur Night."

Red Sox Sign Penny, Bard

The Red Sox have reached an agreement with righthander Brad Penny on a one year, $5 million deal for 2009. Penny was hurt for most of last season with shoulder problems, and ended the season on the 60-day DL. It's a low risk bargain for the Sox, and Penny was also teammates on the 2003 World Series champion Florida Marlins with Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.

The Sox are also bringing back catcher Josh Bard, who they traded to the San Diego Padres in a panic move in early 2006 with Cla Meredith for Doug Mirabelli. Bard was injured for most of 2008, but he may just get a crack at the starting catcher position, as Bard is just 30. Bard will sign a one-year, $1.6 million deal.

It really makes me wonder if Jason Varitek will indeed be in a Red Sox uniform in 2009.

Vikings Will Play in January

For the first time in four years, the Minnesota Vikings will play in the NFL postseason, as Ryan Longwell kicked a 51-yard field goal with five seconds to play to give the Vikes a 20-19 win over the Giants and won the NFC North title.

The Bears lost in Houston, so even if the field goal was missed the Vikings would still have won the title. But the Vikings needed to get over the hump of losing a do-or-die game on the final week of the season. They had lost four times in the last five years on the last day to be eliminated from any postseason berth.

The Vikings will play next Sunday (my birthday BTW) against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Metrodome. Philly walloped a Dallas team that didn't bother showing up, 44-6, and locked up the last Wild Card berth.

Adrian Peterson rushed for 103 yards to win the NFL rushing title, and had his 1oth 100-yard rushing day of the year. Peterson also ran for a 67-yard score. Bernard Berrian caught his third TD pass of 50 or more yards this season for the second Vikings TD.

The Giants put most of the bench guys in in the second half, as they had everything wrapped up, so the loss is of little consequence to them. But yesterday meant everything to the Vikings, and they finish 10-6, and it also saves Brad Childress' job as well.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why People Detest the New York Yankees

I could write all day about the title of this post, but this morning I read an editorial in the New York Daily News, and they were basically cheerleading the Yankees wild spending this offseason. Here is their editorial:

At a time when ... (fill in a snippet from today's wealth of dour news) ... the
New York Yankeeshave gone on a $423 million spending spree for two arms and a first baseman.

At a time when ... (Gloom. Gloom. Gloom.) the Yankees are lavishing $161 million on big CC Sabathia, $82.5 million on A.J. Burnett and $180 million on Mark Teixeira.

You can approach the latest monumental goings-on in the Bronx that way, if you like. Just don't look to us to be so crabbed. Instead, we say:

At a time when so much round us is going to hell in a handbasket, one of the great engines of the New York spirit is hitting on all cylinders. Money be damned, let's be winners.

And let's enjoy the ride - to the World Series, which is ours but for the formality of the season, or to making mincemeat of the fabled Brain Trust for taking one of the most stunningly spectacular baseball pratfalls in history.

And let's savor the fact that, with Jeter and A-Rod, the heirs to the Steinbrenner bravado, Hal and Hank, have assembled a roster worthy of the grand new stadium that's set to open in April.

For you can't put a price tag on hope, or on sports glory.

Like the glories of 1923 or 1927, 1943 or 1952, 1977 or 1996, 1998 or 1999, 2000 or, yes, 2009.

You don't win 39 pennants and 26 world championships by thinking small. It took guys with guts and owners with checkbooks to get Reggie Jackson and Dave Winfield, and oh, yeah, Babe Ruth. He was bought - yes, bought - for $125,000 and a $350,000 loan against the mortgage on Fenway Park.

That's the Yankee way, the New York way.

And, lest we forget, there's a healthy competitor in orange and blue across town in Queens. And another first-class cathedral to the sport rising there.

Drink it in. When so few have money to invest or spend, we still have our guys in pinstripes. The best team money can buy. And a beautiful place to watch them play on Opening Day, and 80 days and nights thereafter.

And then, for sure, through a handful of games on the path to greatness.


That attitude of "let's enjoy the ride - to the World Series, which is ours but for the formality of the season," is what drives me nuts. Like all the Yankees have to do is show up and they'll be in this year's World Series. Oh, give me a break. This reminds me so much of when the MFY got Slappy in 2004, about how they had swindled the Red Sox and were a sure bet to go 162-0. (I'm only sorry I never saved those newspapers.) Excuse me, how many titles has Slappy led New York to? None. How many postseason series have they won with Rodriguez? Exactly one. (2004 ALDS win over the Twins.) It's why people hate the Yankees, as they have to remind everyone of their resume (which also includes one monumental choke job in 2004; funny how they left that out).

They don't have a lineup of "superheroes" and it sure doesn't scare me. They've lost two of their betters hitters (Giambalco and Abreu) and replaced it with one (Teixeira), and are also banking on a pitcher with a history of arm problems (Burnett). I concede them nothing, and the Red Sox, who have plenty of money to spend with the players who've come off their payroll, have barely started retooling for 2009.

The Yankees have a very mixed history when it comes to plunking down big money for free agents, and it's NOT how they won four out of five titles in the late 1990s. It reminds me more of the early 1980s. It's a desperate attempt by the Steinbrenner Boys to act like Pop and make a big splash as they enter a new stadium.

BTW, who is this "fabled Brain Trust taking one of the most stunningly spectacular baseball pratfalls in history" they are talking about? If it's the Red Sox not getting Teixeira, they have no idea what they are talking about, as he wanted no part of playing in Boston. He and Scott Boras were just getting the Yankees to up their final salary numbers. Count me in the group that isn't devastated about not getting him.

Hey guys, ever hear the saying, "Some of the best deals are the ones you don't make?"

Watching the Yankees fall on their faces again in 2009 will be "priceless" and seeing them spend like crazy lunatics on shore leave in December and come up empty again will make it all the more sweeter.

Friday, December 26, 2008

7 Years? Not Bad

I had some major computer problems on Christmas night, as my brother-in-law and myself tried to find a way for me to get my new iPod Nano going. But it turns out that my computer, which I got in 2002, doesn't have the capacity to handle it. We tried a number ways to do it, but it just wouldn't work.

I attempted to reverse the changes we made late last night, as they were playing havoc with my computer. But my computer basically went kaput trying to do it. I take it as a sign: time to get a new computer.

I'll be shopping for one over the next few days, so I may not be posting much over the next week or so. I'm currently writing this at an Internet cafe not far from my house, and I'll be using that and the ones at Professor Thom's until I get my new one. It's a pain, but I don't have a better alternative right now.

I got seven years out of my computer. Can't really complain, and I think I got my money's worth.

15 Year Nightmare Ends For ND

On Christmas Eve, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish was a two-point underdog in the Hawaii Bowl against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. It was basically a home game for them, and I feared the worst, after the last few games the Irish had to finish the regular season.

But who was that Notre Dame team that took the field the other night? They were absolute world beaters, as Jimmy Clausen was near perfect, and everything he was throwing was right on the mark. He set a Notre Dame bowl passing record at the half, with 299 yards, and finished up with 401 yards passing and 5 TDs, also a record.

It was a banner night for Golden tate too, as he caught 2 TDs and also set an ND bowl record for yards in a game. He also brought a punt back for a TD, but it was nullified by a roughingthe kicker penalty. ND also had a kickoff returned for a TD, and played nearly flawlessly on defense.

It was a rout of epic proportions as Notre Dame scored the most points ever in a bowl, 49-21. Charlie Weis coached from the press box due to his two ailing knees, which hewill have surgery on both during the offseason.

They ended their nine-game bowl losing streak, as the last one they won was in the 1994 Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M. It is a record, but it can be tied this weekend if Houston loses their game, which will be their ninth straight as well.

The long national nightmare is over for ND. It's a good way to end a disappointing season. ND has an easy schedule in 2009, so we'll see if this win has any carryover effect for next year. Charlie Weis will need it for sure.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

That's What Christmas Is All About

Thank you, Linus.

And especially, thank you, Charles Schulz.

And a very Merry Christmas to all of you.

Nearly 500 Hits Yesterday

My site has been exploding over this week, thanks to the Frank Kelly "12 Days of Christmas" takeoff I put up here last December. We had 490 hits on Tuesday, the second biggest day ever here. Thanks to all of you, especially from Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, who've found it and enjoyed it here.

For those of you who haven't heard it, check it out by following this link. It's about five minutes, and very funny. I promise you'll enjoy it.

Merry Christmas.

Fenway's New Whipping Boy

I love all the crap I've been reading this morning about how the Yankees "swooped in" and "stole" Mark Teixeira from under the Red Sox "noses." Balderdash. (I'm keeping it clean because it's Christmas Eve.)

Sources last night said that Teixeira had no intention of signing with the Red Sox, and wanted to sign with New York. It was all a ploy by his disingenuous agent, Scott Boras, to get the Red Sox to get the price up so Boras could get the Yankees to give him the highest deal possible. Sure, the Sox were hot after him, but they stuck to their guns, and wouldn't budge from their highest price of eight years, $170 million. (And even that struck me as way too much for someone like him.)

And now it appears that John Henry wasn't really calling Boras' bluff as much as his knowing the Red Sox were just being used by Boras. So be it. Count me in the group that isn't devastated by Teixeira in NY. I'm not happy about it, but I concede them nothing. They can buy all the players they want, and it doesn't guarantee them anything. They beat out the Sox on Jose Contreras, Alex Rodriguez, Carl Pavano and Johnny Damon. Please remind me again, how many titles did they collectively bring to the Bronx? A whopping zilch.

All of this is good news for Mike Lowell, who gets to go back to third without worrying about being traded in spring training. The Red Sox still have plenty of work to do this winter, like resolving the catching situation, and adding a fourth outfielder and fifth starter. (Derek Lowe?) I would bet Theo Epstein is working on it right now (or at least after Christmas). Adding Teixeira would have brought on some problems, like taking a Gold Glove off first base in Kevin Youkilis and moving him to third and all the speculation over Lowell. That will not happen, and that's a good thing. He was just an extremely expensive luxury right now. (And I can't help think of the line, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.")

You know that Teixeira will be in for it every time he steps to plate at Fenway Park next season. Say what you want about Rodriguez, but at least Slappy wanted to play in Boston. (And signing Teixeira also puts all the onus for next season on New York. If they don't win the World Series in 2009, this winter's $420+ million spending spree will have been deemed a colossal, monumental failure. That's not too much pressure on these guys, huh?)

Yeah, the Yankees and their fans are crowing about this, but remember the words of one Theo Epstein a few years back, "We're not trying to win December."

Trivia Q&A: December 23

I was really curious to see what kind of crowd we'd get in for Trivia Night just two days before Christmas. I thought it might be low due to the closeness of the holiday, but to my surprise, 20 teams turned out on a cold night, but we had a great night. It was great to see onetime Trivia regular Mariangela return, as she's back in the area for Christmas. The scores were rather strong on December Holiday Trivia (and we had many Seinfeld fans who got the bonus Festivus question correct), but were a bit lower on General Knowledge, as there were a couple of tough ones in that round.

The scores were close throughout the night, and we had many tie scores in all the rounds. Going into IQ Trivia, we had the top five teams bunched up and a point separated each team. But the team called This $10 Gift Card is My Only Holiday Bonus (Bah Humbug) jumped from fourth place and got three of the five questions correct (the scores were also a bit lower due to it being a bit hard) and wound up winning by just a single point. They were also without their group leader Matt, who was away for the holiday, and he will undoubtedly hear from the rest of his group how they were able to win without him. Nice job, guys.

A reminder that we will be having two special categories next week, and the "Q Train" lightning round takes a breather this week, and will be back on January 6th with a new category. I will announce the two special categories next Monday. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, and thanks for coming out last night and making it such a great night.

Current Events
1. This radio format has officially passed country music as the most popular one in America with over 2,000 stations airing it in the country.
2. This New York-based bank holding company announced last week it lost $2.37 billion during its fiscal fourth quarter and lost 2.34 per share for the quarter ended November 30.
3. This four-time Emmy-winning TV star is now said to be suffering from Alzheimer's disease and his daughter is seeking court approval for a conservatorship of him.
4. This western US city got hit with a 3 1/2 inch snowfall last week, the largest amount of snow the city has gotten in 30 years.
5. China blocked access to this newspaper's web site last Friday, right after the government defended its right to censor content it deems illegal.
6. The International Criminal Tribunal found three senior army officers of this African country guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and were sentenced to life imprisonment.
7. This celebrity's home was burglarized last Friday and approximately $2 million in jewelry was stolen.

Answers: 1. news/talk; 2. Morgan Stanley; 3. Peter Falk; 4. Las Vegas; 5. New York Times; 6. Rwanda; 7. Paris Hilton.

December Holiday Trivia
1. In the 1983 movie, "A Christmas Story," what did Ralphie want for Christmas?
2. The Vince Guaraldi Trio did the score to what classic Christmas special?
3. What is the traditional spinning top game that is played during Hanukkah?
4. What was the gift my true love sent on "the sixth day of Christmas?"
5. What was the name of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer's dogsled driving friend?
6. What was the name of Scrooge's deceased business partner in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol?"
7. How many candles are there on a standard Menorah?
8. What are 2 of the 3 main rituals of the holiday of Festivus?

Answers: 1. bb gun; 2. "A Charlie Brown Christmas;" 3. dreidel; 4. six geese a-laying; 5. Yukon Cornelius; 6. Jacob Marley; 7. nine; 8. The Festivus Pole, The Airing of Grievances and The Feats of Strength.

True or False ("The Q Train")
1. A person born on Christmas Day falls under the sign of Sagittarius.
2. St. Elmo's fire is an electrical phenomenon named for the patron saint of inventors.
3. In Greek mythology, Oedipus' mother's name is Jocasta.
4. Oxygen is the first element on the Periodic table.
5. Bob Dole was a US senator for 28 years from the state of Kansas.
6. Martin Luther King was born in Memphis, Tennessee.
7. Avedis Zildjian Co. is the world's leading maker of cymbals.
8. Chip Gizmo is a character in the comic strip Doonesbury.
9. The femur is the longest bone in the human body.
10. Canada is the world's largest producer of uranium.

Answers: 1. false, Capricorn; 2. false, sailors; 3. true; 4. false, hydrogen; 5. true; 6. false, Atlanta; 7. true; 8. false, Beetle Bailey; 9. true; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. Which sci-fi author wrote "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "Around the World in Eighty Days?"
2. What is the 12th and final sign of the zodiac calendar?
3. What common household item contains 138 cubic centimeters of an argon-nitrogen gas mixture?
4. In what field did Arthur Frommer and Eugene Fodor make their fame?
5. Who is currently the sole anchor of NBC Nightly News?
6. Most of the over 800 known Dead Sea Scrolls are written in what language?
7. A turophile is a gourmet who specializes in what kind of food?

Answers: 1. Jules Verne; 2. Pisces; 3. lightbulb; 4. travel writing; 5. Brian Williams; 6. Hebrew; 7. cheese.

IQ Trivia
1. World War I began in 1914 when Austria-Hungary declared war on what country? ( 3 points)
2. What father and son won Academy Awards for the same movie? ( 4 points)
3. "Nanuq" is an Inuit word for what animal? ( 4 points)
4. Which college football team currently has the longest consecutive streak of appearing in bowl games, with 26? ( 5 points)
5. Queen Victoria's 1840 wedding is credited with popularizing what tradition? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Serbia; 2. Walter and John Huston ("Treasure of Sierra Madre"); 3. polar bear; 4. Florida State Seminoles; 5. white bridal gown.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Boras Sells Tex to The Dark Side

Like that scene in the movie "The Devil's Advocate" where Satan (Al Pacino) brings a respectable lawyer (Keanu Reeves) over to the Dark Side, the Forces of Evil claimed another victim today, as it appears that Mark Teixeira will sign an eight-year, $180 million deal with the Yankees.

To me, it sounds like his agent, The "real" Devil Incarnate (Scott Boras), was simply looking to get New York into the bidding, as it looked like the Red Sox weren't going to budge on their best offer, and the offers from Washington and Baltimore weren't going to approach even the Red Sox offer. And the Angels had enough the other day and kissed Teixeira goodbye.

Teixeira simply isn't worthy enough in my opinion for that kind of deal, and I was a bit uncomfortable what it would do to the Red Sox bringing him on board. On the bright side, it keeps Mike Lowell in Boston, and now a bidding war could begin on Manny Ramirez between the Dodgers and Angels. At least we won't see him in pinstripes. (Although the Angels said today that they have no interest in Ramirez. Sounds like the Dodgers maybe his only landing spot. But could the Mets make him an offer? Minaya has always been fascinated by him.)

It will now be very interesting to see the next move the Red Sox make in regard to this signing. You can bet Theo Epstein is working on that right now.

The Bronx Bastards continue their drunken spending, and earlier this month they had the gall to ask the Milwaukee Brewers to pick up most of Mike Cameron's contract for 2009 (it killed that deal), and worse, the city of New York for more than $200 million in untaxable bonds for that new dump they are opening next year. Makes me HATE them more than ever.

I can't say I'm thrilled to see Teixeira go to New York. It makes the Yankees a better offensive team, but it certainly doesn't put them ahead of the Red Sox. They let Giambalco and Abreu go, two of their best hitters, and replaced them with Teixeira. I don't see where they are now head and shoulders better than the Sox, either pitching or offense-wise (but NY certainly is worse defensively, even with Tex).

And I'm sure we'll have the inevitable press conference where Teixeira will say it's "his life's dream to play for the Yankees," the same bullshit we heard from A. J. Burnett last week.

If he'd just say something like "I sold my soul to highest bidder" I'd have more respect for him.

It's Festivus, All Over the World

It's the holiday for the rest of us. Break out the pole, and get your list of grievances ready!

Our patron saint, Frank Costanza, hopes it's a good one for all of you! Please enjoy a YouTube retelling of the holiday with him, courtesy of "Seinfeld":

Thanks a Whole Lot, Green Bay

Boy, rooting for the Green Bay Packers last night was like rooting for the New York Yankees. But I had to on Monday night, as a win by them over the Chicago Bears would give the Vikings the NFC North title without the Vikings even stepping on the field.

And sure enough, the Packers led for almost the entire game, and had an 11-point lead at halftime. But Chicago came alive in the second half, and tied the game at 17 with just three minutes to play.

But Green Bay blew the win with 25 seconds to play, as a 38-yard field goal attempt was blocked. During the coin toss at midfield after regulation, the coin hit Brian Urlacher in the head, and Chicago won the coin toss. I knew at that moment, Green Bay was doomed. The Bears went down the field and kicked the game winning FG, and are now tied with the Vikings at 9-6.

Vikes need a win on Sunday over the Giants (who have everything wrapped up, thank goodness) to take the division, or a Bears loss in Houston should they lose.

Damn Packers. That's what I get for rooting for them, even for just one night. I REALLY hope the Detroit Lions not only beat them but kick the crap out of them in the season finale next week and get their first win of 2008.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Trivia This Week

This week's Trivia Night will feature as the special category "December Holiday Trivia." It will be eight questions (seven plus one bonus) about the holidays of this time of year. (You all know which ones I mean so no sense elaborating, right?)

I know that a few of the regulars will not be on hand, as some are returning home for the holidays. But others told me they will be on hand, so I'm curious to see how big the crowd will be. We will get going at 9 PM, and the "Q Train" lightning round will be "True or False Trivia." This will also be the last "Q Train" for this year, as we'll take a break from that category next week, and it will return on January 6th.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
Most of the over 800 known Dead Sea Scrolls are written in what language?

I hope many of you can come out this Tuesday night, but to those who can't make it, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, and hope to see you again after the holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

7 Fumbles = 1 Devastating Loss

All I can say right now is something I have rarely ever said in my life: "Let's Go Packers."

The Vikings gave a really putrid performance on Sunday at the Metrodome and got beat by the Atlanta Falcons, 24-17. They fumbled a mind-numbing seven times, and lost four of the them, and Atlanta converted two of them into 10 points.

The Falcons came out smoking, and scored a TD on a long drive to open the game. Matt Ryan was impressive leading the offense. I had a feeling from there it was going to be a long day. Adrian Peterson fumbled three times, Tarvaris Jackson fumbled twice, and the Vikings never led all day long. Peterson was held to 76 yards. Jackson didn't play badly, as he went 22-for-36 for 233 yards and 2 TDs, both to Visanthe Shiancoe. He also rushed for the same number of yards Peterson did, 76 yards on 8 carries.

Atlanta locked up a playoff berth with the win, the first appearance in the playoffs since 2004. And so much for the Vikings avenging the NFC title game loss to Atlanta of nearly ten years ago. The Vikings also saw their chance of a first-round bye go down the drain, and with this loss Chicago is still very much alive. If they beat Green Bay tomorrow night, both teams will be 9-6, and if they both lose or win next week, the Vikings will win the NFC North, as they own the tie breaker. Chicago plays the Texans at Houston next week, while the Vikings will host the Giants at the Metrodome next Sunday.

The Vikings loss gives the Giants and Panthers both first round byes, so the only bright side of today's loss is that next week's Vikings game means nothing to the Giants, as their playoff seed will be determined tonight with their game against Carolina. So with nothing to play for, it gives the Vikings hope to win the North outright next week (if the Bears also win tomorrow).

In a matter of one game, the Vikings have gone from a possible first round bye to possibly missing the playoffs. If the Vikings go into the tank and miss the playoffs, it might really be time to search for a new head coach.

Their Never Ending Obsession With Curses

I haven't commented on any those Letters to the Editor in a while, but I saw one today I thought was silly enough to merit my opinion.

Saw this letter in today New York Post's "Sound Off" sports column:

Manny being money

If the Yankees sign Manny Ramirez, I can't wait to see him in pinstripes. Manny will be Manny, and if the Yankees can adjust, he will help get them into the World Series. He hit .399 for the Dodgers in less than half a season, and put a mediocre Dodgers team in the playoffs. Alex Rodriguez will really profit from Ramirez hitting after him, which is where I think manager Joe Girardi would bat him to get the most out of both players. The Red Sox will experience the "Curse of Manny," which just began when they traded him halfway through last season. They will regret that move for some years, and will probably miss the World Series in the coming years.

"The Curse of Manny?" Good lord, here we go with more Yankee fan obsessions with "curses." Sure most agree Ramirez is one of the best righthanded hitters of his generation, but the fact the Sox were will to dump him on the trading deadline for less than his full value tells you what a cancer he was, and the fact that just about everyone of his teammates told Theo Epstein one day before the deadline he had to go. In past years when the rumors of Manny going were strong, his teammates mostly supported his staying. Not this time.

And the fact that the Red Sox knew he could become a free agent in 2009 and go to the Yankees didn't faze Red Sox management. Ramirez' time in Boston was over, and a divorce was best for all involved.

Insulting the ownership, shoving down the 64-year-old travelling secretary, the Sox simply had enough. This doesn't absolve ownership, who put up with his bullshit for years without as much as a suspension when it was merited. And this is just the stuff we know about. I'm sure there's more behind the scenes stuff the Red Sox management put up with that the general public isn't aware of.

And the fact that teams aren't exactly busting down his door to sign him should tell you something. His price tag is high (with Boras as an agent that's no surprise) but everyone is proceeding with caution. The Yankees know all about the crap he's pulled, and Brian Cashman is no fan his. Ramirez will get his big contract from someone, and the first time he dogs it to first or claims he can't play because his knee is aching will soon get his new fans wondering, "what did we get ourselves into with this guy?"

Funny how Ramirez had no "aching knees" in Los Angeles last summer, did he? He was a good boy because he was becoming a free agent so he could get his last big payday in 2009, so don't be fooled by his numbers or attitude in his short time in L.A.

By the way, letter-writer, did you notice that from August 1 to the end of last season, the Red Sox had the second-best record in baseball, and Terry Francona was more relaxed and called it "the funnest months" of last year? All because Ramirez and his black cloud were gone. The Red Sox have built up a solid foundation for their future, especially when it comes to pitching. Pitching is far more important in the long run. You think the Red Sox will miss the World Series in coming years because they traded Manny? They missed the 2008 World Series by just one game without him. It's a miracle they got as far as they did last season, with injuries to key players like Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jed Lowrie. (A healthy Beckett or Lowell alone would have put the Red Sox in the Series. Without Ramirez.)

Many have wondered if the Sox could have won the World Series if Ramirez had stayed. A better question is: would the Red Sox have even made the playoffs had Ramirez stayed? Can't answer that for sure, but my feeling is no. The Sox had sputtered so much with the Manny Ramirez distraction that getting rid of him when they did actually did saved the Red Sox 2008 season. And they got a quality player in Jason Bay (at a good salary) in return. Is he as good as Ramirez? No, but who is?

You want Ramirez? Fine, take him. Be careful what you wish for letter-writer...

Yet again, here's another Yankee fan dragging up "curses." Boy, these fans just can't resist using the "c" word when it comes to the Red Sox, can they? As we all know, it was Yankee fans who were obsessed with curses. But then again, Yankee fans have another "c" word they have to deal with, and deal with forever as well.

They still haven't gotten over the historic "choke" job their team pulled four years ago. And they probably never will.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

Last night I was watching TV and on the NFL Network came across a replay of the 1998 NFC title game between the Vikings and Atlanta Falcons. For those of you who might not remember, this was the game that the Vikings had a ten-point fourth quarter lead, and Atlanta came back to tie it, and won it and went to the Super Bowl, as the Vikings went home empty.

I debated whether I should watch it, but since I haven't seen it since it occurred nearly 10 years ago, I thought why not. There are times I can't resist torturing myself.

It is probably best remembered for Gary Anderson's missed FG (pictured) with just over two minutes to play. Anderson was perfect the entire season, and had made an astounding 122 kicks in a row (which included extra points) going back to the previous season. The Vikings were up, 27-20, and a 38-yard field goal would have just about iced the game.

And sure enough, he pulled it wide left. And he just missed it, by less than a foot. I will always remember that kick missing, and thinking that could his one miss all season cost the Vikings the Super Bowl, their first in 22 years?

It did. It's a shame that's what he'll be remembered for, after having one of the best careers any kicker has ever had. But Anderson wasn't the only one to blame. The Vikings defense went to sleep in the final Atlanta drive, allowed them the game-tying field goal with 49 seconds to play. And Dennis Green went all conservative after the game was tied, as he had 30 seconds to play, with 2 time outs on his own 30 on third down and sat on the ball and sent the game into OT. And this for the highest scoring offense in NFL history, as the Vikes scored 556 points that year and kicked the crap out of everyone. (The Patriots broke their scoring record last year. And didn't win the Super Bowl either.)

I was at the Metrodome the following August for an exhibition game, and saw a banner hanging from the rafters: "Denny: Use Every Second!" I guess I wasn't alone in thinking Green should have taken that final shot before overtime.

As I was watching the program last night (and it was a pleasure listening to the team of Pat Summerall and John Madden doing the game, as they were always my favorites), I was thinking how closely this game paralleled another painful sporting event I would later witness: Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

Like the Vikings, the Red Sox had a late lead, and a win would have sent them to the sport's pinnacle event. But sure enough, the manager made a fateful late game decision (I don't have to say what the ALCS' was, do I?) that came back to haunt the team. Both teams lost in extra time, and both fan bases were stunned and devastated by it. Fortunately, the Red Sox bounced back the next year, and exacted revenge on the same field the very next year.

The Vikings however, got back to the NFC title game two years later, and were slaughtered by the Giants at the Meadowlands. They haven't been back since. (And tomorrow, the Vikings can wrap a playoff berth and take a big step towards reaching the NFC title game by beating yes, Atlanta. And yes, it's at the Metrodome. And yes, they're favored to win. Again.)

The two Red Sox championships have erased the pain of the 2003 loss very much, but the Vikings are still seeking to get to their first Super Bowl since 1977. It's the most devastating loss I've been through, and it hurts far worse then any of the Super Bowl losses in the 1970s, as this 1998 Vikings team was whacking everyone and were odds on favorites to win the Super Bowl that year. They didn't even get there.

And the irony of last night was that just as the Vikings were losing that game on the NFL Network, the Red Sox were seen on the MLB Network channel winning the 2004 World Series.

Opposite ends of the spectrum for me.

Or as I used to say about the Red Sox before 2004, which applies to the Vikings: I hope I live long enough to see them win it all. Just once.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Good Job, Jere

My pal Jere in Rhode Island had a post on his blog today about seeing me on the MLB Network channel and the preview they are running night and day featuring the 2004 World Series Film. Jere took a picture of me and the gang at the Riviera from his TV, as we are chanting "Let's Go Red Sox!" Around me are some of my friends who are also devoted Sox fans as well: Michael, Joe, Adam and Eric.

I look angry in the above picture but I can assure you it was during a Red Sox rally we are chanting (in the video it's the moments before the Red Sox win the World Series, but that's fine).

So if any of you have the MLB Network Channel preview, you can check it out any time before January 1st, as that's when the channel begins operation. It's running 24 hours a day, so you have about 7 or 8 chances to see it each day!

Thanks so much to Jere for taking the photograph.

Is Henry Calling Satan's Bluff?

In a stunning development last night, Red Sox owner John Henry announced that the Red Sox have effectively pulled out of the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, and that the Sox have been outbid by another team. (Henry did not elaborate in the emails he sent out about it who that other team is.)

Here's more about it from WBZ-TV in Boston.

Henry said in an email that,"We met with Mr. Teixeira and were very much impressed with him. After hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor."

Now, the next thing you have to wonder is if this was Henry's way of calling the bluff of the Devil Incarnate (known here on Planet Earth as Scott Boras) that there really is an offer that eclipses the one the Sox made to Teixeira. The Red Sox offer supposedly is eight years, $184 million ($23 million per year). There are supposedly just three other teams in the bidding: the Angels, Orioles and Nationals. (You can never count the Yankees out in matters like this, but all signs have pointed that they aren't serious about Teixeira.)

So, have one of the other clubs ACTUALLY given Boras a better deal than the Sox, or is this yet another elaborate bid by the Prince of Darkness to get more money out of Henry and the Sox?

Stay tuned. It's really getting interesting now.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


We had exactly 400 hits on this blog yesterday, which is one of the busiest days ever here. My SiteMeter numbers have skyrocketing the last few weeks, and I've gotten at least 300 or more hits the past week.

So what's causing the jump?

My friend Tracy in England sent me a YouTube audio clip last December of Frank Kelly, who played Father Jack Hackett (pictured) on the now-legendary show "Father Ted," doing a humorous, and a very different, reading of "The 12 Days of Christmas." It's done from an Irish point of view, and apparently folks from all over the world, especially from England and Australia, have been finding it on my site, which I put up last December. (If you Google "Irish 12 Days of Christmas" my site comes up first. Thanks, Google.)

If you'd like to check it out, go here.

I was getting hits on my site for the clip all year, even in the middle of July. But now, every time I check my SiteMeter to check who is on, there's always someone looking at it from my site.

The record for hits on this site for one day is 583, from November 2006, when I was linked in a Gawker article about Tower Records. My numbers continue to climb each day, and they are off to a good start today. Let's see if we can set a new record here.

The Media Machine continues to expand!

A Video Filled With Emotion

As many of you may know, baseball is launching "The MLB Network" on January 1st. It's going to be baseball stuff 24/7, and I can't wait to see what it will be like. (And I read that the lovely and talented Hazel Mae will be a part of it. More incentive for me to watch.)

The NFL launched "The NFL Network" a few years back, and has taken all kinds of criticism because it is generally unavailable on most cable outlets. From Thanksgiving until the end of the season, they show a Thursday night game every week. You have to have DirecTV in NYC to see it. But you can also get it if you have Verizon Fios. I just got that a couple of weeks ago (and I definitely recommend it).

On Fios, there's a preview channel for the MLB Network, and they've showing baseball stuff on it until it officially debuts on New Year's Day. (I don't know if the MLB Network will be on most major cable outlets.) So far they've shown the 2005 World Series Film, an MLB video about the best players and postseason moments (can't recall the name of it offhand) and the other night I discovered another they've started showing: The 2004 World Series Film.

Yep, that's the one that Yours Truly and a number of my friends make a few brief cameo appearances in. As the Red Sox are about to win the 2004 World Series in the film, they show a group of fans rooting the Sox home to victory, and you can see me in it wearing my Red Sox home jersey and hat. It's really special to be part of it, and it's still incredible to watch it, four years after it happened.

But here's a secret about those clips: they DIDN'T happen the night of Game 4 of the World Series. They actually occurred during Game 5 of the ALCS at the Riviera in Manhattan.

I remember being interviewed by a crew from MLB before that game happened, and they stayed around for the whole game. I also recall seeing them behind the bar during extra innings of that game. When I first saw the video, I knew it wasn't the night the Sox won it all because I'm wearing the Red Sox home jersey. (I have a superstition in the postseason: I wear the Red Sox home jersey for home games, and the road one for road games, so I knew it wasn't that night.) And besides, I wasn't sitting at the bar when the Sox won it all (I was in a crowd behind the seats), and in the video, a couple of friends of mine are wearing rally caps, and they wouldn't be wearing them when the Cardinals were up in the ninth.

But that's OK. MLB said they loved the footage and decided to use it anyway. That's cool with me.

I watched most of the 2004 World Series film again last night. I have two very different emotions when the Red Sox win the AL pennant, and then the World Series. Winning the pennant still makes me raise my fist in triumph, and I always think to myself (or sometimes yell out): "Take that, you bastards!"(or words to that effect, as sometimes they are a little more colorful) at those Yankee fans who were present who had to burn all their beloved curse crap after that game concluded. (And it is still my favorite baseball game on all-time, with Game 4 of the World Series an extremely close second.)

And speaking of the World Series win, I get a very different emotion when I see that: a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. No anger towards the Cardinals or their fans (who handled that day with nothing but class) but just shear joy at one of the best nights of my entire life. The video brings back that night in the Riviera so clearly, and the afterparty at the Tavern on Jane, my friend Horton's place in the West Village. It was simply a stunning night filled with a roller coaster ride of all types of feelings and emotions. Every time I watch it, I'm brought back to that night.

It's now been four years, but it absolutely never gets old watching that video. I am proud that I have a little part in it, and I'm sure that in 20 years, I'll still have the same emotions when I watch it. It's one of the most historic baseball (as well as sports) postseasons ever, and it will grow in stature as the years go on.

I'll treasure that for the rest of my life.

As the Sox fans at Busch Stadium chanted after Game 4 ended: "Thank you, Red Sox."


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trivia Q&A: December 16

We had 14 teams in for Trivia on Tuesday night, a night when the weather did not cooperate. It got colder and it was raining and snowing, but the regulars came out for it and I always appreciate their loyalty. A really good crowd turned out. Thank you.

We had a "triple points" round for the special category, "Academy Award Winners Trivia." You could run up a possible 21 points for the entire round by answering all three parts correctly, and one team actually got 20 out of the 21 to take a commanding lead. We Are The Suck built a commanding lead from there and were never really challenged. (Afterwards I wished I had put this category fourth and moved General Knowledge to second to keep all the big point rounds at the end of the contest.)

It was quite a night for We Are The Suck as they got only one other question incorrect after that, as they got 4 of the 5 IQ Trivia questions right and wound up winning by nine points. Congratulations to Matt and his team, who have won many times this year.

Also, I have decided to put "Spell the Word Trivia" on hiatus for a while. I will be making some changes to the Q Train after the new year. Nothing radical, as I just feel it's time to freshen up the category, and we'll have some new ones in the Q Train beginning January 6.

Current Events
1. David Gregory was named last week as the host of this TV show, the longest running program on television.
2. The sister of this one-time child movie actor was struck by a car last week in Los Angeles and killed.
3. Patriarch Alexy II, the head of this church, died of heart failure last week at the age of 79.
4. Riots broke out ten days ago in this European country over a police shooting of a teenage boy, and it spread to other major cities throughout the nation.
5. This 40-year-old actor was recently named the host of the 81st Academy Awards ceremony this February.
6. This popular Hollywood actor, who starred in such classic films as "The Caine Mutiny" and "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" died Friday in Nyack, NY at the age of 92.
7. A recent poll conducted by Rolling Stone magazine selected this R&B singer as "the greatest singer in the rock era."

Answers: 1. "Meet the Press;" 2. Macaulay Culkin; 3. Russian Orthodox; 4. Greece; 5. Hugh Jackman; 6. Van Johnson; 7. Aretha Franklin.

Academy Awards Trivia
1. Sean Connery
2. Renee Zellweger
3. Emma Thompson
4. Humphrey Bogart
5. Geraldine Page
6. Jon Voight
7. Martin Landau

1. Best Supporting Actor, "The Untouchables,"1987; 2. Best Supporting Actress, "Cold Mountain," 2003; 3. Best Actress, "Howard's End," 1992; 4. Best Actor, "The African Queen," 1951; 5. Best Actress, "The Trip to Bountiful," 1985; 6. Best Actor, "Coming Home," 1978; 7. Best Supporting Actor, "Ed Wood," 1994.

Spell the Word Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. SEGUE (verb): to proceed without interruption; to make a smooth transition.
2. LACHRYMOSE (adj): given to shedding tears.
3. NADIR (noun): the lowest point; time of greatest adversity.
4. TRUCULENT (adj): fierce; savage; ruthless.
5. WHEEDLE (verb): to entice by soft words or flattery.
6. LUGUBRIOUS (adj): mournful; gloomy.
7. TRAVAIL (noun): painful or arduous work; agony.
8. DEMAGOGUE (noun): a leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions of the populace.
9. LASCIVIOUS (adj): lewd; lustful.
10. AUGURY (noun): an omen; an indication of the future.

General Knowledge
1. How many atoms of hydrogen are in one molecule of water?
2. In what city did the TV drama "Homicide: Life on the Street" take place?
3. What US president was known as "The Great Communicator?"
4. What day of the week was December 7, 1941?
5. Liverpool, England's airport was renamed in 2001 after what famous person?
6. Mt. Hood is an extinct volcano located in what US state?
7. William Shakespeare's plays typically have how many acts?

Answers: 1. two; 2. Baltimore; 3. Ronald Reagan; 4. Sunday; 5. John Lennon; 6. Oregon; 7. five.

IQ Trivia
1. The 19th Century route the US government forced the Cherokee Nation to walk became known as what? ( 4 points)
2. In the children's book series, what country is Paddington Bear originally from? ( 5 points)
3. What numbered Congress will meet for the first time in January 2009? ( 4 points)
4. Krav Maga is a martial art that was developed in what foreign country? ( 4 points)
5. Leslie Lynch King, Jr. was the birth name of what famous person? ( 3 points)

Answers: 1. The Trail of Tears; 2. Peru; 3. 111; 4. Israel; 5. Gerald Ford.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Triple Your Pleasure on Tuesday

On Tuesday night, our special category for Trivia Night will be "Academy Award Winners Trivia." But in this category, each question will be worth three points. I will give you the name of an Academy Award winner (it will be someone who won an acting award, so you don't have to know who won for cinematography or best song), and for a point each, you will give me the award they won, the movie they won it for and the year they won. (It will only be for someone who won the Oscar just once, so you don't have to worry about multiple award winners.)

The Q Train lightning round will be "Spell the Word Trivia."

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
How many atoms of hydrogen are in one molecule of water?

We'll get going at the usual time of 9 PM, so I hope many of you can come out and join us.

Magic Number: One

Sitting on the bench for 11 weeks might have been just what Tarvaris Jackson needed.

He was the Vikings starter yesterday in Arizona, as Gus Frerotte sat out with a lower back injury. Jackson had his best day as a pro QB, throwing four TDs as the Vikings stomped all over the Arizona Cardinals, 35-14 to win their fourth straight game and are now 9-5 on the year.

The Vikings scored early and often on Sunday, as Bernard Berrian returned a punt 87 yards to open the scoring, and then he caught Jackson's first TD pass from 41 yards to make it 14-0. The Vikings added another TD before the first quarter was over as Sidney Rice grabbed one from 6 yards to make it 21-0.

Chester Taylor ran in from 11 yards midway through the second quarter and the Vikings were basically on cruise control. Arizona wrapped up the NFC West last week, so they had little to play for. They scored their first TD in the opening moments of the second half as Kurt Warner threw a 50-yard TD pass to Jerheme Urban, and as Vikings were attempting a FG later in the quarter, it was blocked and returned by Roderick Hood 68 yards to make it a 28-14 game.

But that's as close as Arizona got, as the potent Vikings ground game took over. It was an historic game for Adrian Peterson, as he rushed for 165 yards on 28 rushes, and set records for the most 100-yard games by a Vikings RB with 9, and also shattered Robert Smith's team single-season rushing record, with two games to play.

The scoring was completed with a 59-yard bomb from Jackson to Bobby Wade at the end of the third quarter, and the Vikes went on to win, 35-14. Jackson was 11-for-17 for 163 yards, but threw four TDs, the first Vikings QB to throw four in a game in four years. He didn't need to pass often, as the Vikings rushed for 239 yards as a team on Sunday. It appears Jackson has his starting QB back for now.

The Vikings "magic number" to win the NFC North is now one, as a Vikings win on Sunday against Atlanta, or a Chicago loss to Green Bay next Monday night will put the Vikings in the playoffs. And incredibly, the Vikings are still very much alive for a first round bye, as should the Giants lose to Carolina and the Vikes win next Sunday, it would set up a showdown on December 28 in the Metrodome between the Vikings and Giants, with the winner getting the bye.

It's been some season for the Vikings since they lost the first two games of this year, hasn't it?

Iraq: The Land of Flying Footwear

Here's that incredible clip from YouTube of that "journalist" in Iraq flinging his shoes at President Bush during a news conference with the president of Iraq.

Granted, an attempted assault on the President of the United States isn't supposed to be funny, but I can't help but laugh at this:

There's an Al Bundy joke in all of this, and I'm trying to find it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just Say No to Corporate Welfare

This is my 684th post of 2008, which is a new record for my site for one year. (I know, I've only been doing this site for just less than three years, but a record is still a record.) I guess I never have any shortage of things to write about.

And now we see that the New York Yankees are at it again. They reached an agreement with free agent pitcher A. J. Burnett on a five-year, $82.5 million deal yesterday. For those of you scoring at home, they have now ponied up nearly a quarter-billion dollars to two free agent starting pitchers this week. (I thought they were committed to developing pitchers from their system? So much for sticking with a plan.)

Listen, the Yankees have the money to do it, and they will be ripped in some circles for doing it. But as we know, their recent record in flinging money at mercenary ballplayers hasn't translated into any championships. And I'm very glad the Red Sox weren't serious about Burnett. While he won 18 games last year with a 4.07 ERA for Toronto, he's not at all durable, having gone on the DL 10 times in his ten-year career (as opposed to C.C. Sabathia, who has never been on the DL).

Or as my friend Eddie emailed me yesterday, "The Yankees have just signed Ed Whitson again." Or my friend Adam wrote me, "Here's the new Carl Pavano."

Whether Burnett turns out to be an able replacement for Mike Mussina or Andy Pettitte, or a bust like Whitson or Pavano, the Yankees are taking a serious risk with this guy.

And now I read today that the MFY are haggling over money with the Milwaukee Brewers over the Mike Cameron-for-Melky Cabrera deal, which has been held up. New York wants the Brewers to either take free agent bust Kei Igawa off their hands (and take his contract) or eat most of Cameron's $10 million contract for 2009.

Talk about nerve. They are spending like drunken sailors on shore leave and expect Milwaukee to give them some salary relief for Cameron. (Why do you think the Brewers are trading him?) If I'm with the Brewers I'd be more than a little offended at that.

But I'm even more offended by the Yankees asking New York City taxpayers to foot the bill for an additional $259 million in tax-exempt bonds and $111 million in taxable bonds for their new stadium. If they've got the cash to throw at Sabathia and Burnett (and I can't tell you how many times I've heard in recent days that the Yankees are "printing money" these days), THEY can pay for the rest of the new "palace" they are about to open in the Bronx next year.

If they want to spend their own money on such extravagance, fine. As long as it doesn't come out of my pocket. But you know there's some kind of sweetheart deal out there for them. I really wish Michael Bloomberg would tell them to take a walk, but I wouldn't bet on it. (The Mets also asked for a $89 million handout as well for Citi Field. Like the Yankees, they have the cash, they can pay for it.)

You'll see Carl Pavano (and probably Ed Whitson) in a Yankee uniform next year before the city stands up to the Steinbrenners and refuses them the corporate welfare they seek. Bet on it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The New Logos

Here they are, courtesy of The Joy of Sox:

The "Circle Sox" is just slightly different than the one we are used to, as the "BOSTON" is just a little different, and the same coloring as the "RED SOX." Looks fine to me, and I like the "Hanging Sox" very much (on the sleeve of the road uniforms more than the alternate hat), and I wish the Red Sox would bring that logo back on the jackets they wear. I still own one of them.

Like this guy used to wear:

New Laundry

The Red Sox debuted earlier today the changes to the uniforms and the logo they promised. The first uniform pictured is the alternate road jersey, the hat is an alternate one for special occasions, and the other is the new road jerseys. (Haven't heard yet if the Sox will have players names on the back or not. Sorry the above pic is cut off at the end. Click the picture to see it in its entirety.)

I don't have the logo yet, but I'll post it soon. Here's more from the Red Sox web site.

Here is a slideshow about the changes from WBZ-TV. (You can see the new logo, which is very similar to the old one, in the slideshow.)

UPDATE: Yes, the Red Sox WILL have their names on the back of their new primary road jerseys. Fine with me.

Hell With C.C., Mets Get J.J.

The Mets pulled off a blockbuster, three-team trade last night with the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians, and continued the blowup of last year's awful bullpen, as they acquired one-time Mariners closer J.J. Putz (pictured), setup man Sean Green (not to be confused with the retired outfielder of the same name but a different spelling) and outfielder Jeremy Reed.

The Mets traded seven players to Seattle: pitchers Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith, Jason Vargas, outfielder Endy Chavez, and three minor leaguers. Seattle then traded Smith, and a minor league second baseman to Cleveland for outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.

This is a terrific trade for the Mets. They finally moved Heilman, who figures to start in Seattle. Chavez was a good fourth outfielder who'll always be remembered for that amazing catch in the 2006 NLCS against St. Louis. Green is a good setup man who'll see most of his action in the seventh and will give the Mets some valuable middle innings. They will have to convince Putz to accept the eighth inning role to setup Francisco Rodriguez, as Putz still wants to close.

The Red Sox tried to get Reed three years ago after Johnny Damon left, but wound up trading for Coco Crisp instead. Reed has never really hit much in his stints in Seattle, but has a good glove and figures to have a shot at being a fourth outfielder, replacing Chavez in that role.

The Mets still have some work to do, but they've made some great strides to put 2008 in the rearview mirror. I've been a critic of Omar Minaya, but I'll give the credit where it's due and he's done a nice job so far this winter.

I also heard this morning that the Melky Cabrera Era in the Bronx is now over, as the Yankees sent the overrated outfielder to Milwaukee for Mike Cameron. Cameron is a decent pickup, as he's a good glove with some power, but doesn't hit for a high average. The Tampa Bay Rays also made a deal today, sending pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers for young outfielder Matt Joyce. The deal paves the way for stud rookie David Price to pitch in the Rays rotation in 2009.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How About This For a New Logo?

The Red Sox will debut some small changes to their logo and uniforms tomorrow at 6 PM at Fenway Park. How about this logo, courtesy of HuggingHaroldReynolds:

Seems to me I've seen something like this before...

Go over to The Joy of Sox web site, as Allan has a great post about the complete history of the Red Sox and their uniforms.

Sadness and Hope

I read in today's New York papers that the ramp that leads into Ground Zero is about to be taken down, as the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is making progress and the ramp will be taken away to make room for the cranes on that part of the site.

I walked down that ramp for every remembrance since 2002. It has always been a very emotional moment every year when I was in line about to reach it. And walking down it is always a sacred experience, especially at the first year anniversary. Hearing that the ramp is being taken down brought back many moments for me today of those remembrances.

I feel sadness, but also hope. Hope that the memorial is making great strides, and that we'll have it completed by the tenth anniversary, September 11, 2011.

Hypocrite Radio

I spent nearly two hours of my life yesterday (which I unfortunately can never get back) listening to WFAN Knucklehead Radio and Mike Francesa, the station's resident blowhard/know-it-all/arrogant asshole/midday host basically rip C.C. Sabathia to pieces, and about how he was basically a user trying to get a similar type of deal from a West Coast team. Francesa even intimated that Sabathia was a something of a coward for not wanting to pitch in New York, and the "privilege" of being a New York Yankee. (Where's my barf bag?) The muttonhead Yankee fans jumped in, and they and Francesa basically hammered the same point over and over again:

"We don't want Sabathia. Get lost loser. We hope the Yankees don't sign him."

Well, surprise, surprise. The Yankees are right now on the verge of signing Sabathia (and his over 7.00 career ERA in the postseason) to a seven year, $160 million deal. (BTW, exactly WHO were the Yankees bidding against with this deal? The closest anyone came was Milwaukee, who offered 5 years and $100 million. It shows how desperate and insane this is.) I simply can't wait to listen to WFAN radio today and what the backpedalling Francesa and the jackass MFY fans will be saying today. And I can't wait for the first jackass who will call up and say the Yankees have won the World Series with this signing.

Wait, didn't they lock up another title when they acquired Mike Mussina? Jason Giambi? Hideki Matsui? Slappy? Randy Johnson? Bobby Abreu? Johnny Damon? (Titles in a Yankee uniform by all those players combined: zilch.)

Just like death and taxes, that is inevitable. Listening to mid-afternoon radio on WFAN is like looking at a car wreck. You shouldn't do it, but you can't help but do it.

And yesterday, the Mets solved their closer situation, as they signed Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year, $37.5 million deal. Well, the Red Sox can't beat up on him in the postseason any more (unless we see another Red Sox-Mets World Series).

Trivia Q&A: December 9

We had 13 teams in for Trivia Night last night, and a large, lively crowd as well. We had a couple of teams with clever names ridiculing the disgraced governor of Illinois. (We always get some original team names based on what's currently happening in the world.) There was some good scores for True or False Trivia and General Knowledge, but the numbers for England Trivia could only be said to be fair. (A number of the Trivia regulars who are British were noticeably missing, and I later learned they were off at a Christmas party last night. Sorry guys.)

There was a slight bit of controversy in the General Knowledge round. I asked a question about what an official statement from the Pope was called, and I was looking for "papal bull." But another term called "motu proprio" was answered by three teams, and it was pointed out to me that was also a Papal statement as well. (I also accepted "edict.") So I gave those teams credit for it as well.

We had a close match going into IQ Trivia with the leading team out in front by five points. But only one team got as many as four of the five questions correct, and it was the second place team, I Wish This Microphone..., and they jumped over the leaders to win by three points. It was a tough IQ Trivia round, as only one other team got as many as three right.

Congratulations to the winners, as it was the first win by I Wish This Microphone, a Trivia Night regular team, in quite a while. Good job guys.

Current Events
1. This troubled pop singer's name was the number one searched words for 2008 in Yahoo search engines.
2. Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball," is rumored to planning to run for the US Senate in 2010 as a Democrat from this Eastern state.
3. A recent poll at selected this meat as "America's Most Hated Food."
4. This Southern state replaced Mississippi as "the unhealthiest US state" due to its high obesity and smoking rates.
5. The lead singer of this country group is being sued for defamation over statements made about the stepfather of a young boy who was murdered in Arkansas in 1993.
6. Paul Benedict, who plated Harry Bentley on this TV sitcom in the 1970s and '80s, died last Friday at the age of 70.
7. A cholera outbreak in this African nation has resulted in hundreds of deaths and over 10,000 people infected since August, and continues to spread.

Answers: 1. Britney Spears; 2. Pennsylvania; 3. liver; 4. Louisiana; 5. The Dixie Chicks; 6. "The Jeffersons;" 7. Zimbabwe.

England Trivia
1. What is the second largest city in England by population, after London? a. Liverpool; b. Manchester; c. Birmingham; d. Newcastle.
2. What English soccer team did David Beckham play for before going to Spain and then to the USA? a. Chelsea; b. Arsenal; c. Liverpool; d. Manchester United.
3. What is the name of the statue in the middle of Piccadilly Circus? a. Eros; b. Disraeli; c. Victoria; d. Churchill.
4. After passing through London, the River Thames flows into which body of water? a. Atlantic Ocean; b. English Channel; c. Baltic Sea; d. North Sea.
5. Where is the Chamber of Horrors located? a. Tower of London; b. Madame Tussaud's; c. British Museum; d. Barbican.
6. Which English actor has played such diverse roles in films such as Sid Vicious, Dracula, and Lee Harvey Oswald? a. Joseph Fiennes; b. Brian Cox; c. Gary Oldman; d. Bob Hoskins.
7. In which London park is Speaker's Corner found? a. Hyde Park; b. Regent's Park; c. Kensington Gardens; d. Green Park.

Answers: 1. c; 2. d; 3. a; 4. d; 5. b; 6. c; 7. a.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Sulfur in its solid form is usually colored yellow.
2. In 1947, the Marshall Plan was introduced to economically rebuild Japan.
3. The board game Life was revised in the 1990s to reward players for recycling trash and helping the homeless.
4. The Whale Shark is the largest fish in the world.
5. A mulligan is a do-over in golf.
6. San Juan, Puerto Rico is the largest city in the Caribbean.
7. The solar plexus are located in the pelvic region of the human body.
8. "May Day" originally comes from the French meaning "help me."
9. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was originally written by the British during the Revolutionary War to mock the Americans.
10. The Broadway musical "Spamalot" was written and created by Monty Python member John Cleese.

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, Europe; 3. true; 4. true; 5. true; 6. false, it is Havana; 7. false, stomach; 8. true; 9. true; 10. false, Eric Idle.

General Knowledge
1. The first Winter Olympics took place in 1924 in what country?
2. A portobello is a popular type of what food?
3. What was the relationship between US presidents William and Benjamin Harrison?
4. In 1996, the school board of Oakland, CA proposed the official recognition of what dialect?
5. The carotid arteries bring blood to what part of the human body?
6. An official statement issued by the Pope is called what?
7. Newton's Second Law of Motion states that force = mass times what?

Answers: 1. France; 2. mushroom; 3. grandfather and grandson; 4. ebonics; 5. head; 6. papal bull/motu proprio; 7. acceleration.

IQ Trivia
1. Within five, how many signatures are on the Declaration of Independence? ( 4 points)
2. In 1997, who became the first person named an honorary veteran of the Armed Forces by Congress? ( 3 points)
3. The 2002 novel "A Thousand Country Roads" was written as an epilogue to what bestselling book? ( 5 points)
4. What North American city, after New York City, has the largest population of foreign-born citizens? ( 4 points)
5. What Asian country conducted its first nuclear test explosion in 1974 under the code name "Smiling Buddah?" ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. fifty-six; 2. Bob Hope; 3. "The Bridges of Madison County;" 4. Toronto; 5. India.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tiant, Hodges Snubbed Again

The Veterans Committee had the Hall of Fame vote, and two popular veterans were snubbed yet again: Luis Tiant and Gil Hodges. It makes me wonder if either of these two deserving men will ever be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Hodges received just 43% of the vote, while Tiant did even worse, with just 20%. Gil has now received more votes than other candidate in history, but still is on the outside looking in. Ron Santo just missed also, and Allie Reynolds missed getting in in the "pre-1943" vote by just one.

Joe Torre received nearly 30% of the vote, but only one active manager (Connie Mack in 1937) has ever been elected to the Hall of Fame. Torre should get in as soon as he retires from active managing.

They elected Yankees and Indians second baseman Joe Gordon as the lone player to receive 75% of the 64 votes of the committee, which is made up of all living Hall of Famers. (Gordon got in in the seperate "pre-1943" vote, which had just 12 voters.)

While Gordon was a terrific player and a nine-time All-Star, he was also the beneficiary of what is considered by many to be one of the worst choices in history for MVP. (And I had to laugh when a few weeks ago I heard that said about Dustin Pedroia.) Gordon won the award in 1942 the same year that Ted Williams won his first of two Triple Crowns. Gordon his .322 that year with 18 HRS and 103 RBI. But of course, the Yankees won the pennant that year.

The press must REALLY have hated Ted.

Here is the complete vote:
SINCE 1943
Player Votes Pct.
Ron Santo 39 60.9
Jim Kaat 38 59.4
Tony Oliva 33 51.6
Gil Hodges 28 43.8
Joe Torre 19 29.7
Maury Wills 15 23.4
Luis Tiant 13 20.3
Vada Pinson 12 18.8
Al Oliver 9 14.1
Dick Allen 7 10.9
Player Votes Pct.
Joe Gordon 10 83.3
Allie Reynolds 8 66.7
Wes Ferrell 6 50.0
Mickey Vernon 5 41.7
Deacon White 5 41.7
Bucky Walters 4 33.3
Sherry Magee 3 25
Bill Dahlen >3
Carl Mays >3
Vern Stephens >3

All quiet on the Las Vegas front, as there was just one trade made on the opening day of the Winter Meetings. Texas trdaed catcher Gerald Laird to Detroit for two minor league pitchers.

I also read today in the Boston Herald that the Red Sox are planning to unveil changes to their "select uniforms" on Thursday, and to their "logos." It is believed the Sox may have a new alternate uniform. I really hope the Red Sox don't do something really silly, in a New York Islanders "fish sticks" sort of way. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Trivia About Blighty on Tuesday

We've had a number of special categories on Trivia Night about specific places, such as Ireland, Brooklyn, California, New York, Canada, New Jersey, and New England. And on Tuesday night, we'll have another one, as we will have "England Trivia," about that country across the ocean that we broke away from over 230 years ago. It will be on all types of stuff about England, such as geography, entertainment, population and sports. (Such as the above picture of England winning soccer's World Cup in 1966. But that won't be one of the questions.) The questions will be of the multiple choice variety.

The Q Train lightning round will be "True or False Trivia."

The Sneak Peek question for the night is:
An official statement issued by the Pope is called what?

We'll get going around 9 PM. We've had some good crowds despite on the onset of the holidays, and I hope many of you can come out and have fun with us.


It was 28 years ago today that we lost John Lennon.

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

We'll always have the music, and John's spirit, with us.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Too Close For Comfort

When I saw that the Vikings were playing the Lions today in Detroit right after Detroit got whacked 10 days ago, it actually scared me to death.

Let me explain. The Lions had dropped their first 12 games and you'd think playing them would be a piece of cake. The Vikings had a big win last Sunday night over Chicago to gain control of the NFC North lead. With all the hubbub over the suspensions of Kevin and Pat Williams (and the subsequent blocking of the them by a federal judge), I really feared a letdown. (Both players did play.)

And the law of averages says the Lions will beat somebody this season, as no NFL team has lost every regular season game since they went to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

And, back in 2001, the Lions were 0-12 and beat the Vikings in Detroit, 27-24. So I wasn't terribly confident about this game.

Sure enough, the Vikings came out flat on Sunday, as Detroit scored field goals on two drives to jump out, 6-0. The Vikings were hit with four offsides penalties in those drives. Gus Frerotte had nothing, and threw two interceptions in the first half. As it was winding down, Frerotte suffered a lower back injury and left the game, not to return. He was no great shakes anyway, so backup Tarvaris Jackson (pictured) came in.

Oh boy, are the Vikings really going to lose again to a winless Lions team in their 13th game of the season? I didn't have a good feeling about seeing Jackson in the game.

Jackson, who had taken few reps in practice, actually looked pretty good. He went 8-for-10 for 105 yards and a TD. The Vikings were down 13-10 going into the fourth quarter, but Jackson his Visanthe Shiancoe to put the Vikings up, 17-13. Detroit came back with a FG with just over 5 minutes to play. The Vikings managed to run the clock down to 22 seconds before Ryan Longwell iced the game with a 50-yard FG, 20-16.

The game also featured an altercation between Vikings LB Napoleon Harris and Lions RB Moran Norris, and Norris was tossed out after taking a swing at Harris. One play earlier, Jared Allen was cut down on a cheap block at the knee thrown by Lions tackle Gosder Cherilus, and he wanted a piece of Cherilus, but had to be held back by his teammates.

The Vikings are now 8-5, and with Chicago's win over Jacksonville, they still have a one game lead over them. Next week they go to Arizona, and play the Cardinals, who wrapped up the NFC West today with a win over the Rams.

I still think the Lions will not go winless. They have played teams tough despite the 13 losses, and have had second half leads in many of them. They have the Colts, Saints and Packers left on their schedule. That's tough, but I still think they'll pull one of them out.

I Guess It Really Is Big

You might be wondering what the title of this post means. Well, get your minds out of the gutter for a minute. No, it has nothing to do with anything raunchy. You see, yesterday I finally said goodbye to cable TV and got Verizon Fios. You know those commercials you see everywhere: "This is Fios. This is big."

It took the Verizon installer about five hours to set everything up. He emerged two phone lines into one, and put a new router with my computer. Just after 2:40 PM we got the new system up and running, and so far I am very impressed with what I've seen.

I now have over 200 channels, and a few outlets I never had in the past that I was hoping to one day get, like BBC America, NFL Network, WGN Superstation, and host of movie channels, like Cinemax and Showtime.

This morning I was able to watch "Monty Python's Flying Circus" on BBC America, which shows three episodes starting at 9 AM in a two-hour block, so they can fit in commercials. I can now watch those Thursday night NFL games on the NFL Network, which has been roundly criticized since its beginning because it is so unavailable on many cable outlets. (I guess I'll be getting the MLB Network, which debuts on January 1.)

It's a lot to take in, and most of the cable stations, whose channel on cable I have in my memory bank, are now on a completely different number. I've already made the mistake of going to the wrong number station already. But I'll get used to the new system in no time.

Fios has made my TV picture noticeably clearer, and so far, so good. I am also about to get rid of AOL, as I will be going with Mozilla Firefox on a full-time basis. I had Cablevision for 15 years, but my relationship with them ended yesterday.

It's been just under 24 hours so far, but Fios has won me over. So far.