Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Subway Super Bowl" Doesn't Cut It

With all the success the Giants and Jets have had this season, the speculation has now turned as to whether both teams can make it to the Super Bowl, which will be played in Tampa early next February.

And since that started, I've been seeing some sportswriter-creation calling it a "Subway Super Bowl." That is wrong for a number of reasons:

1. Neither the Jets nor the Giants play in New York City, despite using the city name;
2. Both teams play in the same stadium, so you don't need to take a subway to see both teams;
3. East Rutherford, New Jersey does not have a subway system, the last time I looked.

At least "Subway Series" when it's been used for Mets-Yankees series is correct. C'mon guys, I think "All-New Jersey Super Bowl," while not as sexy as "Subway Super Bowl," is at least not a misnomer, and will have to do for now.

I've also noticed a tendency for fans at football games waving their arms during field goal and extra point attempts to try to "distract" the opposition kicker. Do I need to point out to you folks that when a kicker is lining up for a kick, he is concentrating on his holder and timing his kick to coincide with the snap of the center? Waving your arms does no good. Save your energy.

And no doubt you've heard about the Plaxico Burress nonsense, about how he "accidentally" shot himself in a club last Friday night. I think Tony Siragusa, during the Giants-Redskins game today, said it best, words to the effect of: "If you have to carry a gun to go to a club, you might as well just stay home."

Like with Jeremy Shockey last year, the Giants are winning without Burress. And tomorrow he's turning himself in to the police to face a weapons possession charge. Time to do everyone a favor and cut this knucklehead loose. He's not worth the trouble.

The Clock's Ticking on Weis

The Charlie Weis Watch is now on in earnest.

Notre Dame gave perhaps its worst effort of the year on Saturday night, and was completely dominated by a far superior USC team and was whacked, 38-3.

I thought the effort in the Boston College loss was atrocious. This was even worse. They only fight they showed all night was 45 minutes before the game when some USC and Irish players scuffled in the tunnel going out onto the field. (It was broken up before it could escalate into anything major.)

Notre Dame gained a total of just 91 yards against USC, the number one defensive team in the nation. They did not gain a first down until the final play of the third quarter. No sense recapping the rest, as it's just way too ugly.

Charlie Weis is some offensive wizard, isn't he? He gave his critics a tractor-trailer load more ammunition to go after him with after another awful loss on Saturday.

I can't remember the last time ND was a 32-point underdog, as they were on Saturday. And still, they couldn't beat that spread. They end the regular season at 6-6, far below expectations this year. They have now lost 15 games in two consecutive seasons for the first time ever. They are bowl eligible, and will probably get to a bowl only because they are Notre Dame and bring in fans, ratings and money.

And speaking of money, the rumors that it would cost about $10 million to buy out Weis appear to be exaggerated, and now I've heard it would take $3-4 million. With the way Notre Dame's season has crashed and burned after a promising 4-1 start, you have to think Weis is on very thin ice indeed.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Seven Years

It seems unreal that it was seven years ago today that George Harrison passed away.

We miss you, George.

Curt's Moving, to WEEI

Things have been unusually quiet with the Red Sox so far in this off-season, but I did hear this morning that Curt Schilling is shutting down his 38Pitches blog, and is moving his blogging over to WEEI's web site.

I always found Schilling's blog an interesting read. I loved the fact he circumvented sportswriters, and really pissed them off, by going straight to the fans with his thoughts. Of course he has an opinion about everything, but at least he can't claim he was misquoted on his site.

Schilling's MLB future is still up in the air, after the shoulder surgery he had just a few months ago. But I will always think of him around Thanksgiving, when Theo Epstein and his lieutenants went to his Arizona home five years ago on the holiday and convinced to accept a trade to the Red Sox. It changed the team's fortunes forever.

And I'll always think of him whenever I see blood on a sock.

38Pitches was always a cool read, and I wish Curt all the best, no matter what the future holds in store for him.

The Red Sox now have a new first-base coach, as former Mets infielder Tim Bogar takes over for Luis Alicea. Bogar's been a minor league manager before, and was with the Rays as a fielding instructor last season.

They also picked up reliever Wes Littleton from Texas in a minor trade yesterday, for two players to be named later. I remember him as the guy who got a save for Texas back in 2007 in the game they destroyed the Orioles, 30-3. (He pitched the last three innings to get it.) And the Junichi Tazawa rumors are getting stronger. The Japanese righthander is rumored to be ready to announce he will sign with the Red Sox, and as early as next week.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Murderers

I was really pissed off when I heard about this story.

You may have heard on the news that there was a stampede at a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, Long Island this morning when some customers, at 5 AM this morning to take advantage of sales, knocked down a door and trampled a poor security guard to death, and injured a few workers who tried to come to the man's aid after the stampede began.

Here's more on the tragedy.

And if that wasn't bad enough, customers in that place were actually angry at the Wal-Mart employees when they were told by them to leave because they were closing because of the man's tragic death.

I hope every one of you assholes who were involved in this man's death can live with yourselves. You have his blood on your hands. Over some stupid junk you couldn't wait a few more hours to buy. You had to have it at 5 AM in the morning? And you'd actually run over someone to have it?

The man's family will undoubtedly sue the store, who is not blameless in all of this.

But no matter how any of you might try to spin this, you all showed a callous indifference to human life. Most of you will never stand trial for his death (but fortunately I read that the police are looking at the store video tapes, so arrests are possible), but you committed murder. Plain and simple.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

I hope that all of you out there have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. I'll be celebrating it at my sister's house this year, enjoying turkey and pumpkin pie, as I do every year. I'll be listening to "Alice's Restaurant" by Arlo Guthrie on the radio (Q104.3 here in New York) at noon, watching the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys on TV in the afternoon, and later that night I'll be checking out "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" on ABC. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Peanuts gang, and I do my best not to miss the major holiday specials they are in. (The above YouTube clip is from the classic special, when the gang gathers around the ping pong table to have their meal. Enjoy.)

And of course, I am very thankful for a lot of things. I am so thankful for all those Americans putting themselves in harm's way overseas to protect our freedom, and I pray for all of their safety and that they return home soon. I am also so thankful to all of my family and friends. I am also especially thankful for them considering what I went through earlier this month, and I thank God for them every day, and that I am just about fully recovered now.

Have a great time everyone. And thank you, too.

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hell With the Winter, Bring On Spring Training

The Red Sox announced their Spring Training schedule yesterday, with the highlights being four games against the rival Rays, two games to open Citi Field against the Mets in April, and a game against the Puerto Rican WBC team.

The first exhibition games will take place on February 25, with the Sox opening in the afternoon against Boston College, and then at night playing the Minnesota Twins. The schedule will open a few days earlier in 2009 due to the World Baseball Classic, which kicks off in early March.

The Red Sox will also play two games against the Yankees: March 13th in Ft. Myers and March 24th at Tampa.

Tickets for Spring Training go on sale on December 6th.

Here's more from Ian Browne and the complete 2009 Spring Training schedule.

Trivia Q&A: November 25

We had 14 teams in for Trivia Night on Tuesday. I was a bit concerned that we might have a smaller crowd due to the holiday weekend approaching, but there was a good crowd on hand. It was enhanced by my softball league handing out the championship trophies at Professor Thom's before Trivia Night began. (Unfortunately my team, the Cereal Killers, didn't win anything.)

The numbers on Current Events were very strong (with thanks to my buddy Keith who read two of the questions in my stead), but the James Bond questions caused some problems, as the scores were rather low (and I heard a few complaints afterwards). We had a close match throughout, with the top three teams separated by just three points.

But the IQ Trivia numbers were rather low, with just two teams getting as many as three of the questions right. But one of them was the team in third place, and that team, I Thought Trivia Only Came Once a Week, jumped over the two teams ahead of them to win by just two points. Congratulations to John and his friends on their squeaker of a win.

Current Events
1. This Australian actor was chosen as People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" for 2008 last week.
2. Mitch Mitchell, a rock drummer who gained fame playing with this guitar legend in the 1960s, died of natural causes in Oregon recently.
3. Pirates from this African nation recently seized a Saudi supertanker off the East African coast, one loaded with $100 million in crude oil and days later seized a Hong Kong ship filled with grain.
4. This European country last week dropped its pursuit of a ban on the Church of Scientology after finding insufficient evidence of any illegal activity.
5. This celebrated fashion designer was forced to pay $1 million to get himself out of a case where his company used bribes to get exclusive use of a desirable venue for his fashion shows.
6. According to a National Traffic Safety Administration study since 2001, this holiday had the most traffic fatalities than any other in the US.
7. This tennis legend was arrested last Friday in California after refusing to leave an area at a basketball game he was attending following a confrontation he had.

Answers: 1. Hugh Jackman; 2. Jimi Hendrix; 3. Somalia; 4. Germany; 5. Marc Jacobs; 6. Thanksgiving; 7. Jimmy Connors.

James Bond Trivia
1. Before Sean Connery was cast to play 007, what popular actor from such films as "His Girl Friday" and "To Catch a Thief" rejected the role?
2. What was Bond character "Major Boothroyd" better known as in the film series?
3. Name 2 of the 3 Bond films that Shirley Bassey sang the theme to.
4. What was the first James Bond film that starred Roger Moore?
5. Which actress was the only Bond girl to marry James Bond?
6. What is James Bond's rank in the British Navy?
7. Which TV actor had to reject the offer to follow Roger Moore in the 1980s to play James Bond because of his TV series commitment?

Answers: 1. Cary Grant; 2. "Q;" 3. "Goldfinger;" "Diamonds Are Forever;" and "Moonraker;" 4. "Live and Let Die;" 5. Diana Rigg; 6. Commander; 7. Pierce Brosnan.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Anthracite is a highly pure form of coal.
2. "Eureka" is New York's state motto.
3. There are 5 different types of pieces in a standard game of chess.
4. A peanut is actually a legume.
5. California has the longest coastline of any state in the lower 48 states.
6. Brazil has the largest Christian population of any country in the world.
7. Karl Marx, the father of communism, is buried in London.
8. Flotaki and kilim are popular types of rugs.
9. Drivers in Japan drive on the right-hand side of the road.
10. Jack Paar was the first host of "The Tonight Show" in 1954.

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, it is the motto of California; 3. false, there are six; 4. true; 5. false, Michigan; 6. false, USA; 7. true; 8. true; 9. false, they drive on the left; 10. false, it was Steve Allen.

General Knowledge
1. Who wrote the original novel "American Psycho," which became a movie in 2000?
2. What does AC stand for in the abbreviation AC/DC?
3. What type of book does a lexicographer contribute to?
4. In the Coleridge poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," what bird was hung around The Mariner's neck?
5. What species of bird lays the largest eggs?
6. "The Fosbury Flop" is a common technique in what track and field event?
7. Name 4 of the 7 most popular names taken by a pope.

Answers: 1. Bret Easton Ellis; 2. alternating current; 3. dictionary; 4. albatross; 5. ostrich; 6. high jump; 7. John, Gregory, Pius, Leo, Benedict, Clement, Innocent.

IQ Trivia
1. What famous person was the basis for the main character Oliver in the best-selling novel "Love Story?" ( 4 points)
2. According to Greek legend, what creature killed Orion? ( 4 points)
3. What author was executed for refusing to recognize the religious supremacy of King Henry VIII? ( 3 points)
4. Who was the first Jewish Supreme Court justice? ( 4 points)
5. What were the only four cabinet positions in George Washington's presidential administrations? ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. Al Gore; 2. scorpion; 3. Sir Thomas More; 4. Louis Brandeis; 5. Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Secretary of the Treasury, and Attorney General.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Will He Be Busted For Belching Next?

I love these oddball stories, especially on slow days.

A 13-year-old student in Stuart, Florida was recently arrested for "passing gas" in his classroom and shutting down his classmates' computers. Here's more on the story.

I didn't know farting could turn off computers. Sounds like a kid with a talent.

He was released to the custody of his mother. Can't you just hear her years from now, if her son becomes a career criminal. "It all started with Junior farting in the eighth grade..."

Can you imagine the damage this kid could have done if he had a lighter with him?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bond. James Bond Trivia on Tuesday

This Tuesday night, in honor of the new James Bond film that was recently just released, we will be having a round of "James Bond Trivia." It will be seven questions regarding the legendary British movie hero. (With thanks to my friend Matt, who actually had the idea for the category and wrote most of the questions.)

BTW, for those of you on the Internet looking for the questions and answers to the Bond trivia, they will be posted on this site on Wednesday morning.

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

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
What does AC stand for in the abbreviation AC/DC?

We will get going at the usual time of 9 PM on Tuesday night, so I hope many of you will come out and join us.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vikes Score Early & Romp Over Jags

The Vikings were in control all day long at Jacksonville on Sunday, and won an important road game over the Jaguars, 30-12.

The Vikings jumped out to a 14-0 lead before many of the fans found their seats. Napoleon Harris returned a fumble on the Jaguars' first play from scrimmage 27 yards for the first score, and Chester Taylor scored on a three-yard run to put the Vikings up by two TDs. Taylor started in place of Adrian Peterson, who was benched to start the game because he was late for a team meeting on Saturday.

Peterson came off the bench to rush for 80 yards and a TD, and the Vikings led 17-10 at halftime. Jacksonville couldn't get their running game going because of the Vikes' stingy run defense, so they relied on the pass, but made five costly mistakes (three fumbles and two interceptions). David Garrard was 27-for-45 for 317 yards and a TD, but it wasn't enough to counter all the turnovers.

The Vikings didn't get much out of Gus Frerotte, who went 12-for-20 for 120 yards, an interception and three sacks. But the stars of the day for the Vikings was their defense, who allowed just 35 yards rushing and was very opportunistic in taking advantage of the Jacksonville errors.

It was an important win for the Vikings, as the Bears won in St. Louis, 27-3, so they are both tied for first place in the NFC North at 6-5. The Packers can join both teams in first with a win in New Orleans on Monday night. Next week is a huge game, as the Vikings will meet Chicago at the Metrodome Sunday for what could be sole possession of first place.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Goodbye Charlie?

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hit a new low on Saturday, as they lost to one of the worst teams in the nation: the Syracuse Orangemen, 24-23 at Notre Dame Stadium.

It closed out the home season, and with a crashing thud. The Irish are now, 6-5, and have one game left to end the regular season. The USC Trojans wait in the wings for it next Saturday at the LA Coliseum. (How many TDs will USC be favored by next week? 4? 5? 6?)

Charlie Weis has been under mounting pressure from alumni and fans over ND's lackluster performance this year, as most pundits figured they'd win 8 or 9 games with the fairly easy schedule they'd gotten. But the last few weeks have been a horror show:

*An overtime loss to Pittsburgh at home after blowing a huge second half lead
* A loss to Boston College where they looked totally lethargic and uninterested
* A game they barely squeezed out a win against a Navy team that seemed to care more
* And now a loss to a 2-8 Syracuse team that had just fired their coach

Syracuse seemed to play with more passion on Saturday. They totally shut down the Irish on the ground (41 yards on 28 carries). Notre Dame made many critical mistakes that cost them points. They botched the snap on a field goal try, missed two long field goals, used up all their second half timeouts before the fourth quarter, had a critical pass interference penalty on a Syracuse drive that would have been fourth down, and had a holding penalty that took away a long gain to midfield.

Notre Dame blew a 23-10 lead late in the third, and couldn't add to their lead, as a 48-yard FG by Brandon Walker came up just short. All credit to Syracuse, who had two long drives in the fourth quarter, including a TD pass to Donte Davis from Cameron Dantley with 42 seconds left to win it for the Orangemen.

How bad is Syracuse? They are ranked no higher than 100th in any major offensive or defensive team category in the nation. Ugh.

It also marked the first time Notre Dame has ever lost to any team with 8 losses in a season, and it was also the 14th loss by the Irish in the last two seasons. That is the most they have ever dropped in any two-year span in their history. Very depressing.

It was a brutal loss, and a very dispirited way to close out the home schedule for 2008. You now have to wonder about Charlie Weis' future at Notre Dame. Alumni like Bob Kuechenberg and Nick Buoniconti have been very critical of him, and the pressure on Weis will only get more intense. He is now 28-20 in his four seasons at ND, and he has an amazing seven seasons left on his deal there.

I heard a reporter recently say it might cost Notre Dame as much as $10 million to buy out Weis' deal and let him go. You have to believe they rue the day they gave Charlie The Genius that deal.

Christmas Already?

My calendar today says that today is November 22nd, 33 days to go until we reach Christmas. (Today is also the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.) Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year, and still is.

But in my mind, we still haven't reached the Christmas season yet.

These days you see Christmas ads and all kinds of Christmas stuff going up in early November, and even a few of the radio stations here in New York are playing Christmas songs now. (One station in particular, Lite-FM, goes "all-Christmas" a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. That's a bit extreme in my mind.) As far as Christmas songs go, I can listen to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" album by the Vince Guaraldi Trio at any time of year, even if it's 100 degrees outside.

I have always believed that there is one signature event that kicks off Christmas, and until it happens, the Season of Giving hasn't started yet. That is when Santa Claus makes his triumphant appearance down Broadway in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (pictured).

Everybody tries to get the jump on Christmas (and I'm waiting for the day when we start seeing ads for it on the Fourth of July), but my mind just can't focus on it until Mr. Kringle shows up on Thanksgiving Day, and that is this coming Thursday. Then I can get my Christmas shopping going.

I hope you all enjoy the holiday season. BTW, I don't mind if people say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," as it encompasses the two other major holidays at the conclusion of the year: New Year's and Hanukkah. When I worked in retail, I always said "Happy Holidays" during the season because I always wanted to be polite to those I didn't know who might not celebrate Christmas, and take the "safe route."

But I do mind if I hear things like "holiday tree" instead of "Christmas tree." Substituting "holiday" for "Christmas" in things like that that are strictly Christmas-oriented because people are afraid of "offending" nonbelievers is just political correctness at its worst. (I never got that "Merry Christmas" is "offensive." It's a season of joy and giving. If you find that "offensive," I suggest you go to a place where Christmas displays are barred.)

So whenever it starts for you, I hope you all have a great time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanks Covelli

Coco Crisp didn't have the greatest career in Boston. He was there for three seasons, and hit 21 home runs. He was brought in to replace Johnny Damon, who took the big money of the Evil Empire after the 2005 season.

He got off to a flying start in 2006, but broke a finger in Baltimore and missed the next six weeks. He never really got it going that season. He never really put the offensive numbers like he did in his final year in Cleveland in 2005.

But he made some catches that we'll never forget. The one he made off of David Wright at Fenway Park in 2006 is an all-time great one. And we'll never, ever forget the one that won the pennant for the Red Sox in 2007, as he went flying into the Triangle and banged into the bullpen wall to rob Casey Blake and put the Sox in the World Series.

I loved Coco's all-out hustle and desire. He was always a team guy and never complained about his role. I remember that diving attempt he made trying to catch a ball off the bat of Alex Rodriguez in April 2007 and he wound up falling into the bullpen and didn't come up with it. And later in that game, Coco hit a game-tying triple against Mariano Rivera and scored the game-winning run on Alex Cora's single in a five-run eighth.

In 2008, Coco will forever be remembered for the bench-clearing brawl against the Tampa Bay Rays in June. The night before the Rays accused him making a dirty slide on a steal attempt, and you knew the next night that some retaliation was coming. And when James Shields plunked him in the second inning, all hell broke loose. A number of Rays players went after him and got in some cheap shots on him and were suspended for it.

But even bigger than that was Coco's now-legendary at-bat in the 8th inning of Game 5 of the ALCS against the same Rays. The Sox had come back to 7-6 after being down 7-0. Coco had a 10-pitch at-bat against Dan Wheeler, fouling off some tough pitches. But he lined Pitch 10 into right to score Mark Kotsay from second to get the game tied, setting up the bottom of the ninth and the second-greatest comeback in postseason history.

So, courtesy of Erik J. Heels, here's a YouTube clip of Coco's immortal at-bat:

Thanks for the memories, Covelli. Good luck in Kansas City.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Coco Dealt to KC

The Red Sox traded Coco Crisp to the Kansas City Royals today for reliever Ramon Ramirez.

Ramirez, a 27-year-old righty pitcher from the Dominican Republic, was 3-2 in 71 games with the Royals last year. He averaged nearly a strikeout an inning, with a 2.64 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP.

He's more on Ramirez, from Baseball Reference.

Moving Coco clears nearly $6 million from the payroll, and you have to figure the Red Sox will add another bat to the outfield. Crisp batted .283 -- .315 in the second half -- with 7 home runs, 41 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 361 at-bats last season.

Trivia Q&A: November 18

I made a triumphant return to Trivia Night on Tuesday night, with many of the regulars on hand on a cold fall night. I really appreciated all of the kind words of concern from them. It was so good to be back.

We had 16 teams in, and had a really spirited night of Trivia. The scores were rather low on Current Events, as I think I made it a bit difficult. But the scores were strong in both Band Members Trivia and Spell the Word. It was a close night throughout, with six teams withing four points of the lead going into IQ Trivia.

(Thanks to Tara for correcting a mistake I made in General Knowledge. I said that the Okefenokee Swamp was located in Georgia, when she pointed out that it is also located in Florida. I gave everyone credit for that answer as well.)

We had a lot of strong scores in IQ Trivia, but the team of Careful, That First Step's a Doozy got four of the five correct and held on to win over the next two closest teams by two points. Congratulations to Matt and his crew for yet another Tuesday night triumph.

Current Events
1. According to the Pew Research Center, this man is America's favorite and least favorite political journalist.
2. This NYC-based Hollywood actor was left off the voter rolls on Election Day as he attempted to vote and eventually went to court to get proof he was a registered voter so he could cast his ballot.
3. A recent study says that this vitamin supplements don't appear to protect against cancer, as previous researched seemed to have suggested.
4. The founding members of this hit 1980s pop group are suing their publishing company for letting musicians cash in on their copyright of a number 1 song they had in 1982.
5. This actor, who is portraying a pedophile in his next film, recently admitted he was sexually abused as a child and hopes the role will help him come to terms with the past.
6. This Midwestern state, which allows its electoral votes to be split, gave one vote to Barack Obama and it was the first time a Democrat won a vote from the state since 1964.
7. Ann Dunwoody made history last week in becoming the first woman ever to achieve this military rank.

Answers: 1. Bill O'Reilly; 2. Tim Robbins; 3. vitamin B; 4. Hall and Oates; 5. Tom Arnold; 6. Nebraska; 7. four-star general.

Band Members Trivia
1. Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett
2. Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Ralph Johnson
3. Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel
4. Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton
5. Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Matt Cameron
6. Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook, Doug Clifford
7. Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd

Answers: 1. Genesis; 2. Earth, Wind and Fire; 3. Foo Fighters; 4. Aerosmith; 5. Pearl Jam; 6. Creedence Clearwater Revival; 7. AC/DC.

Spell the Word Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. IMBROGLIO (noun): a confused or complicated disagreement or misunderstanding.
2. APOGEE (noun): the point in orbit of the moon that is at the greatest distance from the center of the earth.
3. MISCREANT (noun): a scoundrel; an evildoer.
4. INNOCUOUS (adj): harmless; producing no ill effect.
5. GREGARIOUS (adj): seeking and enjoying the company of others.
6. SALUBRIOUS (adj): favorable to health; healthful.
7. SLUGABED (noun): one who stays in bed until a late hour.
8. QUORUM (noun): such a number of the members of any body as is legally competent to transact business.
9. DESULTORY (adj): disconnected or aimless.
10. AMELIORATE (verb): to make better; improve.

General Knowledge
1. The Okefenokee Swamp is located in what US state?
2. McCarran Airport is located in what US city?
3. The end of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century is considered the beginning of what period in European history?
4. What animated TV series featured a character whose favorite snack is Cheesy Poofs?
5. A professor most receives the title "emeritus" upon doing what?
6. In 1859, the first commercial oil well was drilled in what US state?
7. The song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" was made popular during what war?

Answers: 1. Georgia (and Florida); 2. Las Vegas; 3. Middle/Dark Ages; 4. "South Park;" 5. retiring; 6. Pennsylvania; 7. Civil War.

IQ Trivia
1. According to legend, who was the biological father of King Arthur? ( 4 points)
2. What film, originally made by Howard Hawks and starred Paul Muni, was later remade by Brian DePalma? ( 3 points)
3. In 1963, Jean Nidetch founded what diet organization? ( 4 points)
4. Montmorency is a sour variety of what food? ( 4 points)
5. What Shakespeare character says, "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"? ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. Uther Pendragon; 2. "Scarface;" 3. Weight Watchers; 4. cherry; 5. Puck ("A Midsummer Night's Dream").

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Most Valuable: Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia completed a dream season today as he was named the American League MVP, gaining 16 of the possible 28 first-place votes. Dusty had previously won the AL Gold Glove at 2B and the Silver Slugger Award for AL second baseman as well.

Pedroia became the first AL second baseman to win the award since Nellie Fox did it for the AL champion Chicago White Sox in 1959. He is the first Red Sox player to win the award since Mo Vaughn did it in 1995, and the 10th in team history.

Dusty was the only player in the AL to get 175 hits, 75 runs, 75 RBI, 15 homers and 20 steals. Pedroia was also the third player in history to win the MVP the year after winning the Rookie of the Year Award, joining Cal Ripken and Ryan Howard in turning the trick.

He was named in 27 of the 28 votes cast. Some writer named Evan Grant (who voted for Kevin Youkilis for the top spot) actually left Pedroia off.

Justin Morneau finished second and Kevin Youkilis finished third in the balloting. Here's the complete vote.

Congratulations, Dustin. It was well-deserved.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Know Your Band Members

This Tuesday night, Trivia Night will make its return to Professor Thom's after a one-week hiatus with a special category of "Band Members Trivia." I will name three members of a famous band from the rock'n'roll era, and you will tell me what band they were (or are) a part of.

I'm really looking forward to coming back after missing last Tuesday night. I'm not yet 100% back to normal, but I will do my best to give it a go.

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

And this week's Sneak Peek is:
What animated TV series featured a character whose favorite snack is Cheesy Poofs?

Hopefully everything goes well this week. If for some reason I don't make it to Thom's, I will let all of you know as soon as possible. But I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of things, and seeing all of you on Tuesday.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Three-Way Tie in the North

The NFC North is now a three-way tie as the 11th week of the NFL season concludes, as the Vikings lost at Tampa Bay, 19-13, and Green Bay stomped Chicago, 37-3 at Lambeau Field.

I didn't see any of the Vikings game, as I was still stuck recovering at home, and watched the Giants game for updates. (The Giants looked like worldbeaters today, rolling over Baltimore, 30-10.) The Vikings had a 13-6 lead at halftime, as Bobby Wade scored an early second quarter TD that put the Vikes up, 10-3. It would be their lone touchdown of the day.

Tampa Bay tied the game in the third quarter, and took the lead on a Matt Bryant field goal in the fourth, after they converted a Vikings fumble. Bryant kicked four field goals, and the Vikings fumbled again in the final minute to end any chance of a comeback win.

Adrian Peterson attempted to tie Robert Smith's 2000 team record for consecutive 100-yard games on the ground, but came up just short, and rushed for 85 yards on 22 carries.

The Packers win over the Bears made the everyone in the NFC North (except the Lions, who are 0-10) 5-5. All three teams are on the road next week.The Vikings take on the Jaguars at Jacksonville next week, while Green Bay is at New Orleans (on Monday), and Chicago is at St. Louis.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

ND Escapes. Barely.

It looked for all the world like it was turning into a laugher of a game in Baltimore today as Notre Dame took on Navy, to avenge the loss they suffered at South Bend last year that ended the 43-game ND winning streak over the Midshipmen.

The pouring rain showed up in the fourth quarter, and the Navy team did too.

It was 27-7 midway in the fourth, and ND was driving to put the game away. But a fumble at the five-yard line by the Irish gave Navy life, and they drove to one score with just under 2 minutes to play to make it 27-14. I thought that would just be a cosmetic TD to make the score closer. But Navy recovered an onside kick and scored shortly after they completed a long bomb at the one. With just over a minute, it was now 27-21. ND couldn't blow this, could they?

Navy came from 20 points back to beat Temple last week, and were trying to do it again. And Navy yet again recovered an onside kick, and were just 40 yards away from a game-winning TD. But Navy's miracle comeback came up just short, as a pass on fourth down went incomplete, and the Irish ran out the clock to get the win. Charlie Weis had a huge smile on his face at the end, more out of relief than anything else.

The heat's been on Weis bigtime at South Bend, and a loss to Navy might just have cost him his job. It wasn't a great game played by the ND offense, as they turned the ball over 4 times. Jimmy Clausen was 15-for-19 for 110 yards and two interceptions. ND scored their first TD on a blocked punt, and the other two on running plays by Armando Allen and Robert Hughes (pictured). The Irish ran for 230 yards today.

But they let a never-say-die Navy team, who is now 6-4, back in the game. There's more a sense of relief that ND didn't blow this game, as opposed to a team that just improved its record to 6-4. The game probably won't do much to get the critics off Charlie Weis' back.

Notre Dame concludes its 2008 home schedule next Saturday when they host Syracuse.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Slowly Getting Back to Normal

I've spent this week at home just trying to get my bearings back after the nasty fall I took last weekend. I'm nowhere near 100% right now, and I'm still sore in different parts of my body. It's been rough trying to sleep on just my right side, as my sore shoulder won't allow me to roll over.

I've done a few things around the house, but I've spent most of the time on the couch watching my favorite movies and last night's Jets win over the Patriots. I appreciate those of you who have contacted me by either leaving good wishes here on the blog or at my private email. It means a lot to me.

I've been wanting to get back to the blogging world, so I thought I'd take the time to give you all an update and comment on some things that happened this week as well.

I'm sorry to see Nick Swisher traded by the White Sox to the Yankees yesterday. I've been a fan of his since he came up a few years back with the A's. He's a good 1B/OF with good power and draws a lot of walks. I thought he'd be a good fit on the Red Sox. He'd have been a perfect replacement for Mark Kotsay, who figures to sign with a team as an everyday player. Swisher would have been a perfect backup for Kevin Youkilis, and a good fourth outfielder who can play all three positions, especially if Coco Crisp goes.

Swisher's also one of MLB's better citizens, too. A couple of years ago, he grew his hair really long to benefit women with cancer. He eventually cut the hair for those women battling the disease, which his grandmother died from. He's one of those guys on other teams I've always liked and rooted for. Too bad I can't anymore.

I also heard this morning that the great web site Fire Joe Morgan has officially closed as of yesterday. (The site is still up so you can go back and enjoy their archives.) Ken Tremendous and his crew made the decision to move on, and I'm sad to see the site end. It was always a place I went to for a good laugh, as they would lampoon everyone from Morgan himself to Tim McCarver, and they also had a special place in their hearts for sportswriters like Bill Plaschke and Murray Chass. I love the way they would breakdown some numbskull's idiotic rantings paragraph by paragraph with their cool analysis.

Thanks for the laughs, guys.

I also see the Red Sox won't be raising ticket prices for the first time in 14 years. I'm glad to see that they are sensitive to rotten economy and giving the fans a break for 2009. Now if they could just make getting tickets to an average game a little more reasonable. (I know I'm pressing my luck here.)

Anyway, it's good to be up and blogging again. Life goes on, and it's good to be back in cyberspace again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why Am I On The DL Now?

OK, I guess it's time to let you all know why I missed Trivia Night last night and why I'm on "the disabled list" right now.

I had an accident on Saturday night/Sunday morning in my house.

Late on Saturday night I was home watching my nephew for my sister when I became ill. I was violently ill throughout the night, and by 5 AM I had become so dehydrated that I actually fell on some stairs, and I had no idea how I got on them. I cut open my head at the scalp rather badly, and suffered some carpet burns on my face, knees and arms. My sister, who thankfully stayed overnight, called an ambulance, and they were there in just a couple of minutes. I was fully conscious in the ambulance and in the hospital.

I got 10 stitches in the wound on my head, and I was treated for the carpet burns. I had some x-rays taken, and they were all negative. I was kept overnight for observation on Sunday, and I watched the local NFL games all day from my room. (And I raised my fist in the air from my hospital bed when Green Bay missed a winning a field goal that gave the Vikings a win, 28-27.) I was released on Monday afternoon.

I'm doing a lot better now. I'm still a bit sore, and I'm relegated to my house for the forseeable future, and I'm still along way away from being 100%. All of my sisters have been fantastic, as they all came to see me and have been checking on me every day to make sure I'm OK. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful, caring family, and I am very lucky. I went through a really scary experience, and it could have been a lot worse.

At the moment, I am still planning on doing Trivia Night next Tuesday. I don't know how much I'll be posting here on the blog over the next week, but I'll try to be here as often as I can.

I also want to say thanks to a few of the Trivia Night regulars, along some other friends who have wished me well. The Trivia Maven will be back, and better than ever!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Trivia Night Postponed This Week

I just want to let all of you out there know, especially the Trivia Night regulars, that we will NOT be having Trivia Night this week.

I'm on "the disabled list" right now and won't be able to host it any time this week. I'm OK, and I'll explain it in a future post.

Trivia Night will be back next Tuesday, November 18th at 9 PM.

Sorry to let you know about it at the last minute, but circumstances prevented me from letting you all know any sooner.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

10 Favorite Moments From the 2008 Season

Now that the 2008 baseball season is in the history books, it's time to look back on the year just past. Since I'm one of those people who loves to create lists, I'm going to run down my ten favorite Red Sox moments for the year 2008.

Here they are, in reverse order:

10. April 24. This is a personal one for me. It was my only trip to Fenway in 2008, and it was Justin Masterson's debut. But the really memorable part of this day was I took the Fenway tour, got a chance to walk on the sacred ground of the field, and went into the Green Monster seats and some other sections. I wound up sitting in the new "Coca-Cola" section, and had a great view of the game (except I couldn't see into the left field corner). After the game I got to meet Dennis Eckersley in a postgame reception for the "Blessed! Still We Believe 2" documentary I appeared in.As for the game, Masterson was sensational, allowing just one run and one hit in six innings against the LA Angels. But the bullpen blew it on him, and LA wound up winning, 7-6, despite a David Ortiz ninth-inning homer.

9. Manny Ramirez hits home run number 500. Manny (you remember him?) blasted HR #500 in Baltimore and became the 24th player in history to reach that coveted mark. It was a game that became better remembered later in the year as the game that David Ortiz hurt his wrist on a pretty inocuous swing in the ninth inning, and wound up missing seven weeks.

8. AL Wild Card clincher. I felt a great sense of relief when the Sox clinched the Wild Card on September 24 at Fenway against the Indians, and did it in style, coming from behind to beat the pitcher who is a shoo-in for the AL Cy Young Award, Cliff Lee, 5-4. It was just Lee's third loss of 2008.

7. Fight Night at Fenway. On June 5, the Red Sox had a dustup the night before with the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway, as a number of players felt that a slide by Coco Crisp into second on a steal attempt was too high and they started jawing with him when he got back to the dugout. The next night you could feel the tension in the air, and when Crisp came up in the second inning, James Shields immediately pluncked him, and it set off a bench-clearing brawl. A few Rays players, like Akinori Iwamura and Carl Crawford, especially went after him after he was down in the pile and were suspended for it.

6. Johnny Pesky's number 6 retired. I always feared the Red Sox would do it after he passed away, but they had the good sense to honor "Mr. Red Sox" and retire his number while he could enjoy it. It was retired for Johnny's longtime service to the team, as they waived some of those silly rules about which numbers can be retired. At least Bill Buckner can now also say his number was retired, too.

5. Opening win in Japan. The Red Sox opened 2008 with two games against Oakland in Tokyo in March, and they opened with a win in extra innings, 6-5, on Brandon Moss' home run. It was truly bizarre getting into Professor Thom's at 5 AM to watch a baseball game (and a good crowd turned up for it), and not more than 30 seconds after I got there, a radio reporter came up and interviewed me about it. Even at that hour, the press doesn't leave me alone.

4. Jason Bay scores the run to win the ALDS. It was another moment of great relief to see the Red Sox wrap up the ALDS against the Angels when they did, as LA was gaining momentum, winning Game 3 in extra innings and about to take the lead in the ninth of Game 4 (until that botched suicide squeeze changed everything). Jed Lowrie's single in the bottom of the inning gave the Sox a date with Tampa Bay in the ALCS.

3. The ring and flag ceremony. For the second time in four years, the Red Sox gave out World Series championship rings and unfurled a championship banner before a sellout Opening Day crowd. It didn't have the same raw emotion of April 2005, but it was sweet to see it happen again. The sweetest moment of the day was the reception Bill Buckner got from the fans as he threw out the first ball, and how moved he was by the applause. And the Red Sox further celebrated with a 5-0 win over Detroit.

2. Kevin Youkilis scores the winning run in ALCS Game 5. It was the most improbable single-game comeback in Red Sox history, and the second biggest in postseason history. The Sox were seven outs away from elimination and down 7-0. And the Ghosts of Comebacks Past popped up, as the home team scored four in the 7th, three in the 8th, and won it in the ninth on J.D. Drew's ground-rule double. It just the fifth time in the Red Sox' 108-year history that they came from 7 runs down to win any game. And the celebration at Thom's afterwards brought back sweet memories of the previous October.

1. Jon Lester's no-hitter in May. Lester continued his Hollywood comeback from lymphoma with a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals, 7-0, at Fenway. He also took the next step in his maturity as a top-notch starter and one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball. But the most memorable moment of the night was afterwards, when he was seen hugging Terry Francona. It brought a tear to my eye, and just about everyone else who witnessed it.

There were a few other memorable moments as well, like the 456th sellout in September, J.D. Drew winning the All-Star Game MVP, the Ramirez trade and its immediate aftermath, and the August 12th 19-17 game at Fenway against Texas.

Anyone else notice that not one of these moments involved The Evil Empire in 2008?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Just a Heartbeat Away...

Today Governor of Red Sox Nation New York Chris Wertz announced the officers of his administration, and Yours Truly has been named "Lieutenant Guvna of Trivial Things." I am certainly honored to be serving so high up in Gov. Wertz' administration, and I am just a heartbeat away from the top office. I really appreciate the confidence that Gov. Wertz has shown in me, and I promise him, and everyone serving under him, that I will not let them down.

Here is the list of appointments, with more still to be announced.

Lt. Guvna of Trivial Things-John Quinn
Minister of Propogander-Paul "Fitzie" Fitzgerald
Chief Consul-David Tice
Ambassador to Westchester-Bob Sullivan
Secretary of Manny Defense-Adam Liscombe
Secretary of the Treasury-Rhonda Zapatka
Consul to China-Michael Liss
Alderman of Tampa Bay Dept. of Rec-John Brooks
Secretary of War and Special Liason to Kelly's Roastbeef-Matt Schwalb
Councilwoman of Campaign Running-Ruth Montilla
Mayor of Binghamton-Eden Ligas
Cultural Attache' to Bellevue-Chris Campion
Secretary of Treasury-Mike Murphy
Head of Justice Department (Indicted)-Joe Cosgriff
Secretary of Edjumacation-Mel
Monsignor of Faith-Eric Fredrickson
Archivist of Thunder Mist-Michael Benoit
Borough President of Third Base-Melinda Richards
Guy of Strong-Dirk Gorman
Secretary of Labor-Dan "The Monster" Sullivan
Ministera di Calzini Rossi-Heather Love
Undersecretary of Bullpen Excellence-Karen E. Weeks
Superattendent of Dirty Water-Rob LaRose
Consul to the British Isles (Not including Wales)-Gareth Hill
Emperor of Alcohol- Robert Young
Secretary of Lite-Horton Foote
Minister of Minutemen-Matt Raycroft
The Mayor of Albany-Steve Forbes Jr.
Warden of Yankee Fan Internment Camps-Adam Reichmann
Park Ranger-Adam Bachelder
Head of the MPAA-Steven Brandt
Ombudsman of, ahm, Bud-Steven Wright
Grand Moff-Steven Osbourn
Gregorian Knight-Pez
General Consul of Clamcakes-Kim Rossi
King of Sol-Eric Silinish
Commander of Coopers, Princeps of Pickles-Rick Field
Head Cheerleader-Steve Kaczmarczyk
Chief of Chiefs- John Hendrickson
More to come...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dusty Takes The Gold

I'm not the biggest fan of the Gold Glove Awards (and remember: they are NOT the "Golden Gloves"; that belongs to boxing), as they are really a glorified popularity contest. It's done by vote, and too many of the voters vote for guys based on past reputation.

Be that as it may, Dustin Pedroia won his first Gold Glove Award today at 2B, as the complete AL team for 2008 was just announced today. He's only the second Red Sox 2B to win it, the other was Doug Griffin back in 1972. Kevin Youkilis, who won at 1B last year, lost out to Carlos Pena, and that might be due to the fact he played many games at 3B substituting for the injured Mike Lowell.

Congratulations, Dustin. (BTW, that little clip featured here is from a great play that Dustin made on Miguel Tejada to keep Clay Buchholz' no-hitter going back in September 2007. Thought it was appropriate to feature it here.)

Here is the AL team:
C Joe Mauer MIN
1B Carlos Pena TB
2B Dustin Pedroia BOS
SS Michael Young TEX
3B Adrian Beltre SEA
OF Grady Sizemore CLE
OF Torii Hunter LAA
OF Ichiro Suzuki SEA
P Mike Mussina NYY

Here is the NL Team, which was announced yesterday:
C Yadier Molina STL
1B Adrian Gonzalez SD
2B Brandon Phillips CIN
SS Jimmy Rollins PHI
3B David Wright NYM
OF Carlos Beltran NYM
OF Nate McLouth PIT
OF Shane Victorino PHI
P Greg Maddux LAD

Dates to Watch This Off-Season

Earlier this week, I received an interesting email from Don, a devoted Mighty Quinn Media Machine reader and Red Sox fan. He sent me the complete off-season schedule for the Red Sox and MLB, which includes the dates for the awards, reporting dates for 2009, etc. (The exact day for Truck Day in February is still to be determined.)

So here it is (Thanks Don):

November 2008

Nov. 3-6
: General managers meetings, Dana Point, Calif.
Nov. 5-6: Rawlings 2008 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners announced
Nov. 7: 2008 Red Sox Hall of Fame Induction Gala; Inductees include Mo Vaughn, Bill Lee, Frank Sullivan, Mike Greenwell, and more
Nov. 10: AL and NL Rookie of the Year award winners announced
Nov. 11: NL Cy Young award winner announced
Nov. 12: AL and NL Manager of the Year award winners announced
Nov. 13: AL Cy Young award winner announced
Nov. 14: Free agents are free to sign with any team
Nov. 17: NL Most Valuable Player award winner announced
Nov. 18: AL Most Valuable Player award winner announced
Nov. 20: Day to file reserve lists for all minor league levels and
major leagues

December 2008

Dec. TBD: Tickets for early-season Red Sox games go on sale;
Christmas at Fenway ticket event
Dec. 1: Last day for teams to offer salary arbitration to their
former players who became ranked free agents in order to be eligible
for compensation
Dec. 7: Last day for free agents to accept an arbitration offer from
former team
Dec. 8-11: Winter meetings, Las Vegas
Dec. 8: Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote announced
Dec. 11: Rule 5 Draft
Dec. 12: Last day for teams to offer 2009 contracts to unsigned players

January 2009

Jan 5-15: Arbitration filing period
Jan. TBD: Boston Baseball Writers 2009 Awards Dinner
Jan. 19 or 20: Exchange of arbitration figures
Jan. TBD: Tickets for the bulk of 2009 Red Sox home games go on sale

February 2009

Feb. TBD: Truck Day
Feb. 1-21: Arbitration hearings period
Feb. TBD: Red Sox pitchers and catchers report; physicals; first
workout; remainder of team reports; physicals; first full-squad workout
Feb. 14-22: Mandatory reporting dates; deadlines vary depending on
whether players are competing in the World Baseball Classic
Feb. 25: Red Sox spring training games begin

March 2009

March 2-11: Teams may renew contracts of unsigned players
March 5: Second World Baseball Classic begins (Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan)
March 18: Last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers
and pay 30 days termination pay instead of 45 days
March 23: Second World Baseball Classic championship game (Dodger
Stadium, Los Angeles)

April 2009

April 1: Last Red Sox spring training game
April 1: Last day to request unconditional release waivers without
having to pay players' full 2008 salary
April 5: MLB Opening Day; active rosters reduced to 25 players
April 6: Opening Day at Fenway vs. the Tampa Bay Rays

Trivia Q&A: November 5

On a special night for Trivia this week, we had just 6 teams in, as it was apparent that the post-Obama election hangover took a toll. (I heard that Professor Thom's was jammed on Tuesday night, and my friend Matt told me it reminded him of a Red Sox playoff game.)

It was one of the fastest Trivia contests ever, and it lasted about 1 hour and 20 minutes. (The fewer the teams, the quicker I correct the answers.) The team called The Other Team took a commanding lead from the start, and held on to it throughout the night. The scores on the IQ Trivia was actually pretty strong, and one team scored all 20 points. But The Other Team got four out of five correct and wound up winning by five points.

Just a reminder that we will return to our regularly scheduled night, Tuesday, on November 11th, at 9 PM. Hopefully most of the Trivia regulars will be back. And hopefully the hangovers will have subsided by then.

Current Events
1. This twice Oscar-nominated actor announced last week that he was finished making films, and now wants to concentrate on making music instead.
2. This troubled athlete was found drunk in a Hooters restaurant last week in North Carolina and was taken into police custody to sober up.
3. This rock star canceled his annual Halloween display in front of his mansion last week due to security concerns in his town.
4. This Pulitzer Prize-winning author and broadcaster died last Friday at his Chicago home at the age of 96.
5. Viswanathan Anand of India successfully defended this championship over Russia's Vladimir Kramnik last weekend, a title he's held since 2007.
6. The leftist president of this South American country accused US anti-drug agents of spying and barred them from fighting drug traffickers there.
7. The Fox network canceled this long-running TV series last week after 13 years, but it will run 13 new shows of the series next season.

Answers: 1. Joaquin Phoenix; 2. John Daly; 3. Bruce Springsteen; 4. Studs Terkel; 5. world chess champion; 6. Bolivia; 7. "King of the Hill."

Modern Movies Trivia
1. What was the first feature film directed by Jodie Foster?
2. In the film "The Big Chill," the main seven characters all graduated from what university?
3. The 1998 movie "The Thin Red Line" features a rifle company fighting in what World War II battle?
4. The real-life tale of a shark attack on the crew of what ship is told by Quint in the movie "Jaws?"
5. What was the name of the inflatable autopilot from the classic comedy movie "Airplane?"
6. In the film "The Green Mile," who was Mr. Jingles?
7. What film was Meryl Streep nominated for her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress?

Answers: 1. "Little Man Tate;" 2. University of Michigan; 3. Guadalcanal; 4. USS Indianapolis; 5. Otto; 6. a mouse; 7. "The Deer Hunter."

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. "Nucleum" is the plural of "nuclear."
2. US Navy ships are assigned their new names by the Secretary of the Navy.
3. The state of Maine borders only one other US state.
4. Laughing gas is another name for nitrous oxide.
5. The cittern is a type of flute.
6. The space between nerve cells is called a ganglion.
7. Saute means "to fry in very little fat."
8. The Philadelphia Phillies won their first World Series title over the Oakland A's in 1980.
9. The South China Sea lies between China and Japan.
10. In his book "Earth in the Balance," Al Gore proposed eliminating the internal combustion engine.

Answers: 1. false, it is nuclei; 2. true; 3. true; 4. true; 5. true; 6. false, it's called a synapse; 7. true; 8. false, they beat the KC Royals; 9. false, it is between China and The Philippines; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. According to the Girl Scouts, what is their best-selling cookie?
2. What weapon was made famous by an American hero killed at the Battle of the Alamo?
3. On Christopher Columbus' 1492 journey to the New World, which of his ships did not safely return to Spain?
4. What is another name for the leaves of the herb cilantro?
5. In the American version of Scrabble, how many tiles does each player select at the start of the game?
6. What musician's last public appearance was at Birdland, a NYC jazz club named in his honor?
7. What NFL team did Brett Favre play for one season before joining the Green Bay Packers in 1992?

Answers: 1. Thin Mints; 2. Bowie knife; 3. Santa Maria; 4. coriander; 5. seven; 6. Charlie Parker; 7. Atlanta Falcons.

IQ Trivia
1. The ruins of Chichen Itza are located on what peninsula? ( 4 points)
2. What architect is credited with developing the concept of the geodesic dome? ( 5 points)
3. Who was known as "The Man of a Thousand Voices?" ( 3 points)
4. According to legend, England will fall if what birds abandon the Tower of London? ( 4 points)
5. On what 1980s sitcom did First Lady Nancy Reagan make a famous appearance to talk about drug abuse? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Yucatan; 2. Richard Buckminster Fuller; 3. Mel Blanc; 4. ravens; 5. "Diff'rent Strokes."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The 44th President of the United States

The American people spoke loudly and very decisively on Tuesday night as Barack Hussein Obama, a 47-year-old senator from Illinois, a man born of black and white parents, made history and was elected the 44th President of the United States.

Just eight years ago, Obama was defeated for his first position in Washington, in a run for Congress in 2000. 76 days from now, he will take the oath of office as the leader of the free world.

The pundits were predicting a close election. Obama won easily, defeating John McCain by a 2-1 margin in the Electoral College.

McCain was very gracious in defeat, as he addressed crowds of his supporters in Phoenix and conceded shortly after the West Coast polls closed at 11 PM ET. And Obama gave a very stirring speech to thousands of his supporters in Grant Park in Chicago shortly before midnight ET.

I wish our new president-elect all the best. Obama will need it, as he is inheriting a literal mountain of problems, both foreign and domestic. This election reminds me a lot of 1980, when Jimmy Carter's disaster of a presidency swept Ronald Reagan into office with a landslide victory and a sea change in the American politics. We probably saw another sea change on Tuesday night. The American people wanted change, and now they have it.

(Obama's election affects me in a strange way. He is exactly five months older than I am. That means that the President and I will be the same age on my next birthday in January. It really makes me feel old. And we also have something in common. We both graduated from a college in New York City in 1983 with a B.A. degree in Political Science. Obama went to Columbia and I went to Baruch.)

Choose your adjective to describe the events of last night: amazing, historic, earthshaking, groundbreaking, incredible. Or all of them at the same time. Honestly, I never thought I'd see a black man elected president of this country in my lifetime. But it has now happened.

And the Philadelphia Phillies are now baseball's World Series champions.

It's been a remarkable last seven days.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

How About Some Movie Trivia?

We haven't done any movie trivia on Trivia Night in a while, so the special category in our special Wednesday night edition tomorrow will be a category I'm calling "Modern Movies Trivia." There will be seven questions concerning movies made over the last 30 years or so. There won't be anything particularly special about them.

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

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"What musician's last public appearance was at Birdland, a NYC jazz club named in his honor?"

We'll get going around 9 PM, so I hope many of you can come out for this special night of Trivia.

3 Minutes

It's a momentous day here in America, as most of us will be going to the polls to elect the 44th president of the United States. I woke up to the news reports that the lines for the voting booths in New York City and around the nation were long, with some folks waiting up to 90 minutes or more to cast their ballots.

My polling place in Brooklyn is at a high school not far from my house, at Edward R. Murrow High School. It's the first time it's been there, so with all this talk about lines I decided to go out early and see for myself if it was happening here.

I went out shortly after 9:30 this morning and discovered to my relief that there were no lines whatsoever. The voting was held in the school's gym, and I saw only one line to vote among the voting booths, and it only had about 4 people on it.

I've never encountered any long lines in the 28 years I've been a voter. I remember a few years ago I waited about 5 minutes to get into the booth, but other than that, voting has always been a rather quick experience for me in my life.

One of the few advantages I have for living so deep in the heart of Brooklyn. I was in and out of the school in about three minutes.

And who did I vote for in this election? That's between me and my Maker.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Just Do It. Vote.

Tomorrow is one of the most important dates in our recent history. America will go to the polls and elect the 44th president of the United States. The turnout is expected to be a record one, and that, of course, is a good thing.

Readers of this blog may notice that I rarely talk about politics here. Like everyone else, I have my own political opinions, but I generally keep them to myself. I haven't endorsed either of the two candidates, but I will be voting tomorrow. I consider myself an Independent, and in my life I have voted for Democrats as well as Republicans. I have never locked myself into either party, as there are things about both I don't like at all. I've been voting since 1980, and have missed only one November election, and that was in 1985, when I was on vacation in England.

I just look at the candidates and say, "Show me what you got." When I enter a voting booth, it's between God and my conscience that I cast my ballot. I've always felt it's important to vote, as the biggest complainers in this country are those who can't be bothered to do it. And they have no reason to run their mouths about it.

No one influences my vote, and especially not celebrities. Since this country began, politicians and celebrities have tried to use each other for their own benefit. And that's fine. Celebrities have every right to voice their own opinion on politics, as they are Americans like me and have that right. And I have every right to ignore them as well. The only time I am bothered by celebrities talking politics is when they use a forum they shouldn't to do it. When I go to a rock concert, I don't want to hear some rocker ranting and raving about some evil politician, no matter what side of the aisle they're on. If I want a sermon, I'll go to church.

Their opinion is no better or worse than mine. Just because they made their name in the public eye doesn't make them political experts.

Anyway, it's important we all go out and exercise a God-given right as Americans to cast a ballot on Tuesday. History is going to be made one way or the other, as we either will have the first black president or the first woman vice-president.

No matter what happens, I hope everything goes smoothly. We really don't need all the bloody nonsense that went on eight years ago. And whoever gets elected, we should all back them with all the support we can give them. John McCain or Barack Obama will be inheriting a mountain of problems, both domestically and abroad.

Good luck to him, whoever it will be. He'll need it.

A reminder to the Trivia Night folks: I'm sure most of you will be glued to your TVs on Tuesday night with the election results, so Trivia Night will be on Wednesday this week, and the Sneak Peek will be posted on Tuesday afternoon. See you then.

Vikings Keep Pace, Rip Texans

The Vikings came off their bye week yesterday and defeated the Houston Texans in a tough contest in the Metrodome, 28-21, as Adrian Peterson had another big day.

Peterson scored the first touchdown (pictured) and rushed for 139 yards on 25 carries. Gus Frerotte went 11-for-18 for 182 yards and threw three touchdowns. The only blemish on his record was an interception by Jacques Reeves, who returned it 44 yards for a TD that tied the game 7-7 in the first quarter.

The Vikings took a 21-7 lead into halftime as Frerotte threw TD passes to Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian just before the break.

Houston opened the second half with a long drive that resulted in a 3-yard TD pass to David Anderson from Sage Rosenfels, who replaced an injured Matt Schaub. The score remained 21-14 until the Vikings made it 28-14 on a 25-yard TD pass from Frerotte to Viscanthe Shiancoe. Houston made it a seven-point difference late in the game again as Andre Johnson caught a TD with just under four minutes to play.

The Texans got the ball back again inside two minutes but couldn't move the ball as the Vikings sacked Rosenfels twice, the last one on fourth down to end the game.

Well, at least one of my football teams didn't blow a halftime lead this weekend.

The Vikings are now 4-4, and are tied with Green Bay for second in the NFC North. Chicago pulled a come-from-behind win against the lowly Detroit Lions to remain at 5-3 in first. The Vikes have a huge game against the Packers next Sunday at the Metrodome.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fox Ruins Football, Too

We all know about Fox and their dubious coverage of baseball, but today, they hit a new low on their football coverage as well.

Here in NYC, they were showing the Tennessee Titans-Green Bay Packers game from Nashville on their doubleheader coverage. (I was switching back and forth between that game and the Jets-Bills game on CBS this afternoon.) It turned out to be a really good game, and of course, being a Vikings fan, I had more than just a passing interest in how Green Bay did.

The game was tied 16-16 and went into overtime. Now granted, the Giants-Cowboys game was starting at 4:15 on Fox and they would have to leave the game when the Giants game started for those fans watching in New York. That's in the NFL rules, and that's fair enough.

The game in Tennessee was winding down in OT and the Titans were moving into field goal range as the clock was moving towards 4:15. As the Titans were getting ready to set up for a game-winning field goal attempt, the clock said 4:12 and some voice came on saying that Fox had to leave the game for the following game's home-team coverage.

And all of a sudden, as they show Titans kicker Rob Bironas on the field getting ready for the attempt, the screen goes dark. What the hell? And what do those assholes at Fox show next? Some goddamn commercials!!! Again, they aren't going to the kickoff of the Giants game directly, they have to show some stupid commercials for nearly three minutes (they can't wait to show them until after the next game started?) and take away the fans who have watched the Titans-Packers game for three hours and twelve minutes and deny them what could have been a great finish.

And yes, there was a great finish as Bironas kicked the winning field goal to give the Titans a 19-16 win. And I discovered that a few seconds later when I tuned over to CBS to check on their scoreboard update.

Absolutely, totally lame. And inexcusable, too.

Fox sure has written the book on how to destroy sports on television.

Lousy Football, On Both Sides of the Atlantic

Yesterday at South Bend, Notre Dame let a two-touchdown halftime lead against Pittsburgh get away, and the Panthers won, 36-33 in four overtimes, the longest game the Fighting Irish have ever played.

The Irish played a solid game on offense, as Jimmy Clausen threw three TD passes, two to Michael Floyd and one to Golden Tate. Clausen was 23-for-44 and 257 yards. Floyd and Tate continue to be an impressive tandem of receivers, and have brought ND's offense back to where it was a few years ago. Floyd also set the ND record for catches by a true freshman yesterday.

But the Irish defense simply couldn't stop Lesean McCoy, who rushed for 169 yards and 1 TD. Pittsburgh forced overtime with about 2 minutes to play as they scored a TD on fourth down and six, as QB Pat Bostick hit Jonathan Baldwin to make it 24-24.

Overtime was a field goal derby, in the first three overtimes both teams hit one apiece. With the game tied at 33, ND kicker Brandon Walker missed a 38-yard attempt as it went wide right. This opened the door for Pitt, and they got the game winner as Conor Lee hit from 22 yards to give Pitt the win, and drop the Irish to 5-3. All three of the ND losses have been to teams with winning records. (The last win against a team with a winning record for ND was against Penn State in 2006.)

Notre Dame faces Boston College next Saturday at Chestnut Hill at 8 PM.

And across the ocean in English football (that's soccer on these shores) was Liverpool's loss to Tottenham Hotspur in London yesterday. Liverpool was atop the Premiership standings going into yesterday, and were riding high after beating Chelsea last week and ending their 86-match unbeaten record at home.

On paper, it looked like it might be a piece of cake for the Reds, who needed to win to keep pace ahead of Chelsea, who whipped Sunderland, 5-0 yesterday. I caught a good part of the match on the Fox Soccer Channel, while switching over to the Notre Dame game on NBC.

Dirk Kuyt scored in the third minute to put Liverpool up 1-0. And it looked like it might stay that way. Spurs were the bottom team in the Premiership, but had won one and tied one since they changed managers recently and put Harry (Houdini) Redknapp in charge. And in the 69th minute, Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher accidently headed a cross into his own net to tie the match. (There are fewer more embarrassing sights in sports than hitting a ball into your goal in soccer.)

And in added time, the Spurs completed the comeback, as Roman Pavlyuchenko scored after Pepe Reina made a beautiful save, and the shot appeared to be heading out of bounds.

So now Liverpool and Chelsea are tied in points at the top with 26.

And now I'm hoping the Minnesota Vikings don't complete the "hat trick" of my favorite football teams collapsing this weekend.

Good luck to my friends (and dedicated Red Sox fans) Ruth and Eric who are running in today's New York City marathon. I'll never know where they get the stamina to pull it off...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The 2008 Rays and The 1969 Mets

Friday over at his blog, Michael Leggett wondered why people were making a comparison between the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays and the 1969 New York Mets. Back last July when everyone was waiting for the Rays to collapse and return to the AL East cellar, I knew that they weren't going to do that, and to me they did indeed remind of me of the Mets club that shocked the baseball world and won the World Series that year. So I decided to take a closer look at both teams.

Granted, the Rays didn't win the World Series this year, but a comparison to the Mets of 1969 showed many similarities. (And this is a comparison of the teams, not the fans, as New York and Tampa Bay fans are as different as night and day.) Going into '69, the Mets had never won anything in their previous seven years, finished out of the cellar just twice, and lost 100 or more games in the other five years. The Rays in their first ten years as an expansion club had finished last every year except 2004, and that was also the only year they won as many as 70 games (exactly that many). They lost 100 or more three times, and 99 in two others.

Both teams were laughingstocks, and had known nothing but ineptness. Only the most cockeyed of optimistic fans expected the team to finish anywhere around .500 in their amazing turnaround years.

The Rays nearly joined the 1991 Minnesota Twins as the only clubs to ever finish last one year and win the World Series the next. The Rays did make history as the only club to ever have the worst record in MLB one year and go to the World Series the next.

The 1969 Mets finished ninth in 1968, the last season before divisional play started. Few gave them a chance in 1969 to compete with the big boys of the NL East: St. Louis, Chicago and Pittsburgh. The Mets did however, and finished 27 games in the standings better in 1969 than they did in 1968, one of the best improvements in MLB history.

But the Rays topped that, winning 31 more games in 2008 than they did in 2007. And they did it in a similar way that the Mets did it: with pitching and defense. The Rays were second in the AL in overall ERA, 4th in MLB in bullpen ERA, and were the only team to have five starters win 10 or more games. Tampa Bay was second in the AL in overall defense. The Rays also did it with speed, as they led the AL in stolen bases with 142. But offensively, they were in the middle of the AL pack in runs scored and batting average (and incredibly they were last in the league in BA with runners in scoring position).

And the 1969 Mets were also second in the league in ERA, and second in team defense. And like the Rays, they weren't an offensive juggernaut either, and actually were one of the weaker offenses in the NL. They were ninth or lower (in a 12-team league) in runs scored, home runs and batting average. They actually set a record for the lowest team BA for an NL pennant winner: .242. They were in the middle of the NL pack in stolen bases.

But the Mets had two excellent starters in Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. Seaver won 25 (and the Cy Young Award), while Kooz won 17. Tampa Bay did not have two starters near either one in terms of overall numbers, but they had a better back end of the rotation. The Mets had only one other ten-game winner in Gary Gentry (with 13), and their other two main starters, Don Cardwell and Jim McAndrew, only won 14 between them.

Both teams also had solid bullpens. The 1969 Mets didn't have a "closer" per se, but Tug McGraw and Ron Taylor handled those duties well. They combined for 25 saves and 18 wins, and both had ERAs under 2.80. One of Tampa Bay's biggest strong points was their pen, and they got incredible years out of guys who never really scared anyone before, like J.P. Howell, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler and Chad Bradford. They were dead last in ERA by the pen in 2007, and did a marvelous turnaround in '08.

And to make the comparison that much closer, Las Vegas oddsmakers made the Mets a 100-1 favorite to win the Series in 1969. The Rays had the same odds, 100-1, going into 2008.

Many baseball pundits thought the Rays would not finish last this season, as most had the Orioles in the AL East basement (and they were proven correct). Most predictions I saw had them winning around 75 games, and some had them closer to .500. And most also had the Mets not in last place going into 1969 also, as most thought that would go to the expansion Montreal Expos (and were also correct, as Montreal dropped 110 that year).

The Rays in 2008 proved as resilient as the 1969 Mets were, and got stronger as they closer to the finish line, like the Mets did. Tampa Bay held off the Red Sox, who were the second best team in MLB after August 1, for the division title.

So I believe that the Rays came very close to doing what the 1969 Mets did: win a World Series out of almost nowhere. The 2008 Rays are a great story, one of the best feelgood stories of this past year. They nearly made history the way the Mets did, but the parallel to that beloved team is indeed striking.