Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Very Worthy Cause For Kids

I was contacted recently by what I consider to be a very worthy cause. It is "The Fresh Air Fund," which is a nonprofit group whose mission statement is to help inner-city kids get a break each summer by sending them to the country for a few weeks to have a new and positive experience in their lives.

The kids range in age from 6-12, and live in low-income housing. The Fresh Air Fund has been doing this for children since 1877. (I always remember them from seeing commercials about the Fresh Air Fund during Yankees games in the early 1970s.) They have sent more than 1.7 million kids on summer vacations since their founding, and about 10,000 kids from New York City are helped out by the Fresh Air Fund every year. They go to 13 states from Virginia to Maine and into Canada as well. Now, the Fresh Air Fund is currently seeking host family sponsors to assist them in helping children have this new experience.

If you'd like to help out one of these New York kids this summer (2/3 of the families who sponsor them reinvite them to come back year after year), here is the Fresh Air Fund's web site you can check out and contact them at:

And if you'd like to just donate money to them, you can check out this link:

The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit organization and relies on contributions to keep many of their vital programs going. I encourage you to check out the above links, and make a difference in a child's life this summer.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Vikings Get a QB. Hopefully.

The Vikings traded a fourth-round draft pick to the Houston Texans yesterday and acquired 31-year-old veteran Sage Rosenfels. They had been trying to get him since last year, and they signed him to a two-year, $9 million extension.

He will compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the starting QB role. Jackson took a big step backward last January in the first-round playoff game against Philadelphia, after rebounding in the final games of the regular season.

The trade and contract extension tells me that the job will be Rosenfels'. Granted, he's no Tom Brady, but he stepped in for the injured Matt Schaub last year for Houston and played in five games. He threw six TDs, 10 INTs, and for over 1,300 yards. Here's more about the trade from ESPN. (Thanks Eddie.)

I don't know if Rosenfels is the long term answer at QB for the Vikings, but I really soured on Jackson after that playoff loss. The Vikings need to take the next step forward in 2009, or Brad Childress will be looking for work.

The Neverending Manny Soap Opera

As you've probably heard, Manny Ramirez turned down a two-year, $45 million offer from the Dodgers yesterday. When I heard the news, it just left me shaking my head. What in the world is Manny and The Embodiment of Evil Himself, Scott Boras, waiting for? The Dodgers don't want to bid against themselves, and Lord knows, this is a generous offer, since NO ONE else is interested in acquiring Manny and all the baggage that comes with him. Or is he really interested in retiring or playing in Japan?

My friend Dan sent me an email this morning about it, from the Los Angeles Times:

The Dodgers offered Manny Ramirez a two-year, $45-million contract that included a player option to void the second year. Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, countered by proposing a two-year, $45-million contract that included a player option to void the second year. So why isn't the deal done? The reason is in the fine print, according to a baseball source familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the two sides are still working toward a deal. What Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti confirmed on Thursday is that by agreeing to the club's offer, Ramirez would've earned $25 million this season and another $20 million in 2010 by exercising the player option for the second year. What Colletti didn't mention, the source said, is that most of Ramirez's salary would've been deferred. Two other sources previously told The Times that the proposed deal included deferred payments. Under the terms of the contract that Ramirez was offered by the Dodgers on Wednesday, he would've received $10 million this year. And by exercising the option for the second year, he would've received $10 million in 2010. Ramirez, who turns 37 in May, would've been paid the remaining $25 million over the next three years without any added interest. He would've received $10 million in 2011, $10 million in 2012 and $5 million in 2013. When making his counteroffer, Boras requested that none of the money be deferred.

Obviously both parties in this scenario need each other and badly. A deal will get hammered out, and if it is just over deferred money, it should be done soon.

Or maybe Manny just wants to spend as little time in spring training as possible.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

February 26, 1993

It was 16 years ago today that the World Trade Center was attacked for the first time, which resulted in six deaths and hundreds of injuries.

Say a prayer today for all of those who lost loved ones that day, and for those who perished 8 1/2 years later.

Here is a recap of the events of that day, courtesy of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

Win One, Lose One

The Red Sox opened the 2009 Spring Training schedule with a 7-1 win over Boston College in their annual opener against the college team. Josh Beckett pitched two solid innings and the Red Sox were actually behind 1-0 in the fifth before scoring seven runs for their first win in this calendar year.

The night game was a 5-2 loss to their crosstown spring rivals, the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium. The game was broadcast on NESN and simulcast on the MLB Network. Jerry remy was missing from the booth due to an infection and was replaced by a number of different voices, including old friend Brian Daubach.

Tim Wakefield got hit hard in two innings, allowing three runs. Jeff Bailey drove in the first run with a single, and Dustin Pedroia has two hits before the guys with the football numbers took over. And nobody got hurt, which was the best news of all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Let's Play Ball Today

NESN will be showing the first Red Sox game of the spring tonight, as the Sox take on the Minnesota Twins at the Twins home in Ft. Myers at 7 PM. They will kick off the spring this afternoon with their annual game against the Boston College Eagles at 1 PM at Ft. Myers.

I have also updated the Countdown Clock today to the start of Opening Day, which is just 40 days away.

I'll be at Professor Thom's with some friends as we gather to reaffirm that great annual ritual of spring baseball. I'll be taking the Red Sox jersey that's been sitting in my closet since last October out and root for the boys. It's something to look forward to when it's 34 degrees outside.

And for those of you with the MLB Network, they will be carrying NESN's feed of the game.

Spring can't come quick enough to suit me.

And a Happy Birthday to George Harrison, who would have been 66 today. We'll always miss you George. Thank you for the legacy of great music you left all of us.

Trivia Q&A: February 24

We had another large crowd turn out on a cold night Tuesday. 19 teams took part, and issued everyone an apology for the late change in special categories, as I mixed up the dates for the Mardi Gras, so I pulled "Are They Related Trivia" (that will happen next week), and replaced it with "New Orleans Trivia" in honor of the site of the Shrove Tuesday celebrations.

And the scores for New Orleans Trivia were better than I thought, as I originally some of the questions might be on the difficult side. General Knowledge proved to be a tougher category, as many people had trouble with the "octothorpe" and "Rockford Files" questions.

But the scores were very close throughout, as we had teams at the top tied throughout the night. We had the top six teams separated by just one point going into the IQ Trivia round. But the team of Cory Lidle Is No Sully Sullenberger ran the table in getting all 20 points and wound up winning by five points. Nice win by Chris and his buddies.

Current Events
1. This legendary folk singer played his first US concert in 15 years at the Beacon Theatre in New York after he was forced to return to the road after he lost his retirement savings.
2. Eric Holder, who is this member of the Obama cabinet, referred to the US as a "nation of cowards" in regard to dialogue on racial issues in the country.
3. A Florida jury awarded $8 million to the widow of a chain-smoker in the first of 8000 cases against this tobacco giant in Florida.
4. The finance minister of this country resigned last week after he denied he was drunk at a G-7 news conference.
5. Ivars Godmanis, prime minister of this Eastern European country, resigned along with the rest of his government over their handling of the economic crisis.
6. The new album by this rock band was accidentally leaked out and spread like wildfire over the Internet two weeks before its release date, and the group is now streaming it legally on their MySpace page.
7. This actress won two Razzie Awards last Saturday, including Worst Actress and Worst Screen Couple in this year's "anti-Oscars" awards.

Answers: 1. Leonard Cohen; 2. attorney general; 3. Philip Morris; 4. Japan; 5. Latvia; 6. U2; 7. Paris Hilton.

New Orleans Trivia
1. What New Orleans musician's nickname was Satchmo?
2. What month and year did Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans?
3. What New Orleans musician's real name is Mac Rebennack?
4. What was the nickname of the NBA team that once played in New Orleans and moved in 1979?
5. What historic American figure was called the hero of the Battle of New Orleans in 1812?
6. True or False: New Orleans is also known as The Crescent City?
7. What author of such novels as "Get Shorty" and "Out of Sight" was born in New Orleans?

Answers: 1. Louis Armstrong; 2. August 2005; 3. Dr. John; 4. Jazz; 5. Andrew Jackson; 6. true; 7. Elmore Leonard.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards.
2. A monophobic person is afraid of bright colors.
3. In the novel "The Old Man and the Sea," the old man goes fishing off the coast of Mexico.
4. The planet Mars has no moons.
5. "Blackboard Jungle" was the first major movie to have a rock'n'roll song in its soundtrack.
6. Pelota is a ball used in the sport of jai alai.
7. Hummingbirds are most attracted to the color yellow.
8. In humans, food passes from the stomach into the small intestine.
9. Wyoming is located in the Mountain time zone.
10. A botanist specializes in the study of insects.

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, being alone; 3. false, Cuba; 4. false, it has one; 5. true; 6. true; 7. false, red; 8. true; 9. true; 10. false, plants.

General Knowledge
1. With Pluto now demoted from planet status, what is the smallest planet in the solar system?
2. What symbol on a computer keyboard is called an octothorpe?
3. What country banned the latest Guns 'n' Roses album last year?
4. What are the two lower chambers of the human heart called?
5. Carly Simon's hit song "Anticipation" was used in a commercial in the 1970s for what product?
6. In 1922, Howard Carter discovered the tomb of what historic figure?
7. What 1970s TV show opened each week with a voice on an answering machine?

Answers: 1. Mercury; 2. pound key; 3. China; 4. ventricles; 5. Heinz ketchup; 6. King Tut; 7. "The Rockford Files."

IQ Trivia
1. What author interviewed hundreds of people for his 1974 bestseller "Working?" ( 4 points)
2. What is Donald Duck's middle name? ( 5 points)
3. Who are the only two consecutive vice-presidents to each serve full eight-year terms? ( 3 points)
4. Which automaker passed General Motors as the top-selling car company in the US last quarter, after GM held the top spot for 77 years? ( 4 points)
5. Detective Wojohowicz was a character on what 1970s TV show? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Studs Terkel; 2. Fauntleroy; 3. Al Gore and Dick Cheney; 4. Toyota; 5. "Barney Miller."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Late Change to Trivia Night

Attention Trivia Night contestants:

The special category for tonight's Trivia has been changed. It will now be: "New Orleans Trivia" in honor of the Mardi Gras occurring tonight. "Are They Related Trivia" will now be occurring next Tuesday.

Sorry about the late change everyone.

The Best of Trivia Night?

I had the pleasure last night of doing my first night of Trivia at Professor Thom's that wasn't associated with the bar's regular weekly night. I was asked to host a night with some NYU business students who wanted to have a night of Trivia among themselves.

I put together four categories for the night, and they were all questions from previous Trivia Nights from the past six months. We did the usual categories like General Knowledge, IQ Trivia and True or False. (It wasn't The Q Train as I decided not to use a speed round.) I also took 10 questions from the world of popular music and made that the night's "Special Category."

It all went really well. We had nine teams participate (and two were not NYU students who just wanted to play) and the turnout was tremendous. We waved the six-player maximum rule, as many were groups of 8-12 people. Everyone seemed to enjoy the night, and a team named "WTF NYU FTW" was the winner, by two points.

It got me to thinking. I am considering having a "Best of Trivia Night." It will be a night of previously asked questions from previous Trivia Nights. It will be the same format as the weekly one, but without Current Events. I would probably have two special categories to compensate for that. I haven't picked a date as to when I will do this, but third anniversary of my hosting Trivia Night is coming up in June, so that is a possibility. Or maybe sooner, if the spirit moves me.

I also want to take this opportunity to let you all know that I am also looking to expand my horizons as far as my Trivia Nights go. I do it just one night a week at Professor Thom's. I have such a blast doing it, and I am looking for a second and possibly a third location to host a night. I am available every night except Tuesday (when I'm at Thom's of course), and if you know a place (preferably in Manhattan or Brooklyn) that is looking for someone to host a Trivia Night, I'd love to know about it. Please drop me a line at and let me know.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Know Your Celebrity Relatives

The special category for Trivia Night on Tuesday night will be "Are They Related Trivia." I will give you the names of two celebrities with the same last name and you will tell me if they are related in some way: by birth or by marriage or any way.

The Q Train lightning round will be another shot of "True or False Trivia." The Sneak Peek question for this week is:

What country banned the latest Guns'n'Roses album last year?

We'll get going sometime around 9 PM, so I hope you can make it out for what hopefully will be another great Trivia Night.

The Great Kate

As I do every year, the only awards ceremony I watch with any enthusiasm is the Academy Awards. (I haven't seen one second of the Grammys Awards in decades. You'd have to tie me in a chair to make me watch those braindead nitwits. But I digress...) And I watched it last night. There were few surprises, and for me that biggest one was Sean Penn (my Facebook friend) winning Best Actor for "Milk" over Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler." I thought for sure he'd win. Hollywood loves a redemption story, but I guess not this year.

But one winner that was no surprise to anyone was Kate Winslet winning Best Actress for "The Reader." I was really happy for her winning, and on her sixth nomination, Kate finally entered the Promised Land. (I haven't seen "The Reader" or "Revolutionary Road" yet, but I plan to.)

And good for her. I have been a big Kate Winslet fan ever since "Sense and Sensibility" and "Titanic." I knew it was just a matter of time before the Academy finally recognized what a terrific actress she is. Kate is the youngest actress ever to be nominated six times, at 33. (Kate was born on October 5, 1975, the day the Red Sox won Game 2 of the ALCS at Fenway Park over Oakland, and won the AL pennant two nights later. See, I can get the Sox into an article about Kate Winslet!) Kate also holds the distinction of being the youngest actress nominated twice, 3 times, 4 times, and 5 times.

As everyone knows, she achieved megastardom in "Titanic" but she did a smart thing by going the indie route right after the film hit. She did two small films, "Hideous Kinky" and "Holy Smoke" instead of roles she turned down, like in "Shakespeare in Love." (How the hell did that movie beat out "Saving Private Ryan" for the Best Picture Oscar?" What an injustice.) I was in the audience for both of its New York premieres, and Kate was also there in person as well.

I've followed Kate's career throughout this decade, with my favorite roles of hers being "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (it was funny seeing her on the Long Island Rail Road with Jim Carrey), "Iris" and "Little Children." She has a gift for doing foreign accents very well, and she has the American one down pat. Kate brings an intelligence to the screen, and a certain elegance, that I'll take over many of the bimbos on the Hollywood scene these days.

Meryl Streep now holds the record for Oscar nominations with 15 (Kate beat her out last night), but I can envision a day when Kate will challenge that record. She has such a diversity of talent, and I bet she takes another Best Actress Oscar down the road.

These days Kate makes New York City her home with her husband, director Sam Mendes and her two children. (She is the English girl I always hoped I'd meet. Oh well.) I offer her my congratulations on her long-awaited win, and offer the best for the future.

I'll be watching, along with millions of her other fans.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I've Already Gotten Over It

I saw an article today in Newsday today about how Red Sox Nation can't "get over" the loss of not signing Mark Teixeira this past winter. Writer Ken Davidoff talked to RSN Vice-President Rob Crawford and he thinks that the hatred will be more intensified because Teixiera didn't sign with the Red Sox.

I agree with Rob that Teixiera will get an extremely rude welcome when the MFY visit Fenway for the first time on April 24. But he won't get as much abuse as will the top two Yankee villains: Alex (I Haven't Done Roids Since 2003) Rodriguez and Johnny (I'll Never Sign With the Yankees) Damon. (Sure, Derek Jeter will be in for his share too, but he's now down in the hatred pecking order.)

There wasn't a consensus that Red Sox Nation wanted Teixiera. I, for one, was not pushing they sign him, as it would have created problems the Red Sox were wise to avoid: having to move Kevin Youkilis back to third and trading Mike Lowell to accomodate Youk. Spring training camp would have been filled with nothing but reporters questions about what the Red Sox were going to do with Lowell, and creating all kinds of unnecessary tension. (Not to mention the money they saved can be used in more important areas, as well as making deals to improve the club during this upcoming season.)

And as far as Teixiera not coming to Boston, so be it. It doesn't keep me up nights. I'd rather have seen him go to Baltimore or Washington, but Teixiera never talked about wanting to play for the Red Sox. He still holds a grudge about the way the Red Sox drafted him out of high school years ago, and eventually turned them down (although that was done by the Dan Duquette regime). He and his evil agent, Scott Boras, basically did what a lot of free agents have done: got one team to drive up the price, while waiting for the team they really want to sign with increase their offer above that price and go for it. Again, so be it, as there's nothing unethical about it. It's been done before and it will be done many times more.

I guess if Teixiera had gone anywhere but New York, it might not have left such a bad taste in the mouths of many Red Sox fans. But I don't think the Red Sox made a mistake not signing him and walking away when they realized they were just being used. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make.

And I'll go to war with Mike Lowell on third and Kevin Youkilis at first any day.

Terry Francona also announced that Josh Beckett will pitch the opener on Wednesday afternoon against Boston College and Tim Wakefield will start the night game that day against Minnesota. Here more from

Friday, February 20, 2009

Slappy's Growing Lies

The strange twisted case of Alex Rodriguez continues to spiral out of control, as the New York Daily News is reporting today that Slappy had a relationship with a Dominican trainer and a man connected to steroids named Angel Presinal. (And it was long after 2003, when A-Rod claims to have stopped his daliance with roids.)

In 2001, this guy was banned by MLB from going into any private areas in any MLB parks. He was nailed in Canada in 2001 with a gym bag-full of roids he claimed belonged to Juan Gonzalez, who he was training at the time. He wasn't charged, but he's been called "an unsavory character" by a few sources.

And A-Rod's been seen hanging with him as late as 2007, and Presinal's been tossed out of three MLB clubhouses, and he's also been mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Here's more from the Daily News.

I'm not surprised stuff like this is coming out. Slappy left everyone scratching their heads after his press conference earlier this week, and you knew it would lead to more revelations. Turns out his "cousin", identified as Yuri Sucart, really isn't a blood relative of Slappy's, and The Joy of Sox has a good column on his site today about more of A-Rod's lies and the real truth about the steroids he acquired in the Dominican Republic.

Young and stupid? He must think we're all stupid if he really thought none of this would come out and we'd believe his story, which seems to change every time he opens his mouth, and only winds up inserting his foot there.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Yeah. Twice.

I was watching "Life on Mars" on ABC last night, which I've been watching since it debuted late last year. If you haven't seen it, it's an interesting show (based on a hit British show) about a current day New York cop who gets hit by a car and is transported back to New York City in 1973 (which I remember oh so well). They do a nice job recreating that time period. I've always been fascinated by time travel.

Last night, the main character, Sam Tyler (played by Irish actor Jason O'Mara, who is really good) arrests a New York City councilman who tells him he also landed back in 1973 after getting hit on the head in 2009. He asks him to prove he came from 2009:

"Have the Red Sox won the World Series?"

"Yeah," says the councilman, "Twice."

Sam believes the councilman, who ends up getting murdered just moments later. But I love it when the Red Sox are mentioned in shows like this (there was a "Lost" episode a while back that showed the final out of the 2004 World Series to prove to Jack, one of the main characters, that it had indeed happened), especially when it has nothing to do with Bill Buckner or any kind of stupid, media-created "curses."

MLB Network is beginning their continuing Spring Training special, "30 Clubs in 30 Days" tomorrow night, and appropriately enough will begin with a look at the Red Sox. It's an hour-long look at the Sox and their upcoming season, with interviews with the players and coaches. It will air at 8 PM and 11 PM on Friday night, and will be repeated on Saturday morning at 8 AM and 10 AM.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The End

Today marks a sad day in the history of New York baseball, as today it will be the day that the final piece of Shea Stadium will be torn down and the old ballyard will officially be no more. (The final piece is the part of the park with the neon pitcher on the side of it.)

The Mets will be moving into Citi Field in April, and the place they called home since 1964 will be converted into a parking lot. I have feelings of sadness that it is gone, as it was the first major league ballpark I ever stepped foot in, on June 14, 1968. It was a Mets 7-3 win over the San Francisco Giants. (And I can tell the grandkids one day, if I ever have any, that I saw two Hall of Famers, Willie Mays and Wille McCovey, play in the first game I ever saw.)

I'm sure it's a mixed emotion day for all Mets fans. They've needed a new park for years and will be getting it in about six weeks. I can't wait to see Citi Field and check out my first game there.

Here are some photos of the Shea demolition, from

And here is a clip of that last piece hitting the ground, by way of Mostly Mets.

Trivia Q&A: February 17

We had another huge crowd on Tuesday night, with 21 teams taking part in the festivities. We had some strong scores in the Oscar Trivia as well as the 5 or More Academy Awards rounds. Five teams got perfect scores in both The Q Train and General Knowledge, and we had five teams within three points of the lead.

The numbers were good in IQ Trivia, with seven teams getting at least three of the five questions correct. But the team of The Meeks Shall Inherit the Earth managed to get four correct (the only team to do so) and moved from second place to win the night by four points. My congratulations to Matt and his crew for another win.

Current Events
1. The mayor of this major US city wants an apology from President Obama after he said companies shouldn't visit his city on the taxpayers' dime.
2. President Obama broke a taboo last week when honoring Abe Lincoln at Ford's Theater he uttered this word, which is considered to be bad luck to say in a theater outside a performance.
3. An L.A. woman has filed a $4 billion class action suit against this singing star after she made what was perceived to be a racially offensive gesture with her eyes recently.
4. The Chinese government warned the estate of this late fashion designer to return two sculptures from the Qing Dynasty that are scheduled to be auctioned off in Paris.
5. A panel of experts on US politics at the Times of London ranked the persidents, and chose this man, who served near the time their number one president held office, as the worst ever.
6. This actor made a bizarre appearance last week on David Letterman's show, including cursing at Paul Shaffer and lots of awkward silence, that has now become a hit on YouTube.
7. Nearly 40,000 people gathered in this world capital on Valentine's Day to set a new Guinness world record for the largest ever group kiss.

Answers: 1. Las Vegas; 2. Macbeth; 3. Miley Cyrus; 4. Yves Saint Laurent; 5. James Buchanan; 6. Joaquin Phoenix; 7. Mexico City.

Oscar Trivia
1. What 1997 film was the last one that the lead actor and actress both won Academy Awards?
2. Name 1 of the 3 actors who directed themselves to an Oscar for acting.
3. Who hosted the Academy Awards ceremony a record 19 times?
4. What was the last Western to win the Best Picture Oscar?
5. Name 1 of the 2 movie trilogies that each film installment received a Best Picture nomination.
6. What individual has been nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar a record 13 times?
7. Who is the oldest person to ever win the Best Director Oscar?

Answers: 1. "As Good As It Gets;" 2. Charlie Chaplin (1928), Laurence Olivier (1948), Roberto Benigni (1998); 3. Bob Hope; 4. Unforgiven (1992); 5. "The Godfather" and "The Lord of the Rings;" 6. Woody Allen; 7. Clint Eastwood (74).

Five Academy Awards or More Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Star Wars
2. The Wizard of Oz
3. On the Waterfront
4. West Side Story
5. Forrest Gump
6. No Country For Old Men
7. Rain Man
8. Patton
9. The Godfather
10. The Departed

Answers: 1. yes (6); 2. no (2); 3. yes (8); 4. yes (10); 5. yes (5); 6. no (4); 7. no (4); 8. yes (7); 9. no (3); 10. no (4).

General Knowledge
1. What is the third largest state in the US in overall area?
2. What term is used in golf for shooting a 3 on a par-5?
3. What book by Upton Sinclair was instrumental in the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act?
4. What US president declared the Americas off-limits to European colonization in 1823?
5. What term was first used by James Watt for a unit equivalent to 550-foot pounds of work per second?
6. What element makes up 78% of normal day air by volume?
7. What ship, that was sunk on December 7, 1941, was designated a National Landmark in 1989?

Answers: 1. California; 2. eagle; 3. "The Jungle;" 4. James Monroe; 5. horsepower; 6. nitrogen; 7. USS Arizona.

IQ Trivia
1. Which artist died in the late 19th century having only sold one painting, but a century later one his works sold for $82.5 million? ( 3 points)
2. Which US state is known as "The Yellowhammer State?" ( 4 points)
3. Over one mile deep and 25 million years old, what is the deepest and oldest lake on earth? ( 5 points)
4. Which future Hall of Fame player hit the first pinch-hit home run in World Series history, in 1947? ( 4 points)
5. T.S. Eliot's verse drama "Murder in the Cathedral" deals with the death of what man? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Vincent Van Gogh; 2. Alabama; 3. Lake Baikal; 4. Yogi Berra; 5. Thomas Becket.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Alex Rodriguez' Flying Circus

Absolute high comedy watching the Slappy press conference from Tampa this afternoon. The Yankees allow NO followup questions to the media's queries, which turns the whole thing into a joke. Slappy drags some mysterious "cousin" into this whole mess, and refused to identify him. Claims that he and his Mystery Relative bought stuff over the counter in the Dominican Republic that is a no-no in the USA.

Slappy basically said nothing this afternoon, and just left the press wanting more. He did lots of dancing, and tried more to appear like a victim in all of this.

A-Rod keeps using the "young and stupid" defense, which doesn't wash at age 24, or 26, or whatever age he was when he started juicing. He wasn't 18 when he started on the roids, as he was already an eight-year MLB veteran. (Funny hearing Joel Sherman's faulty math in his question: he said to A-Rod that since he took the injections twice a month for three years, that adds up to "36." No Joel, without a calculator I know that adds up to 72.)

Love that 30-second break Slappy did in ending his opening statement. Thought he might burst into tears at that moment. He even choked when he was supposed to get all choked up.

Get set folks. Slappy probably thinks he put out the fire with this mess. Little does he know it's a five-alarm blaze right now.

UPDATE: Apparently, Rodriguez said he was injected twice a day for six months over three years, so I guess Sherman was indeed correct with 36. Management regrets the error. Well, not really.)

The World According to Ted

I saw this on my friend Ian O'Malley's (of Q104.3 FM) Facebook page. It was just too good not to share. It's an excerpt from an interview that Ted Nugent gave to a French journalist, an animal rights activist, and the subject turned to Ted's love of deer hunting (my thanks to Ian):

The journalist asked, ʽWhat do you think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you shoot him?ʼ ʽIs it, 'Are you my friend?' or is it 'Are you the one who killed my brother too?ʼ

Nugent replied, ʽDeer aren't capable of that kind of thinkingʼ.
ʽAll they care about is, What am I going to eat next?, Who am I going to screw next?, and, Can I run fast enough to get away?ʼ.

ʽThey are very much like the French.ʼ

The interview ended.

Ah, the Motor City Madman. Politically correct he ain't.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Oscar Trivia on Tuesday

This coming Tuesday night, we will have another round of Oscar Trivia. No, not that Oscar (pictured), but "Academy Awards Trivia" will be the special category. (You never know. One day I may have a round of Odd Couple Trivia, as I've always been a huge fan of the classic show.) It will seven questions about the awards, with a couple of questions that will have extra points.

We will also be having a special "Q Train" also in honor of this Sunday's awards: "5 or More Academy Awards Trivia." I will give you the names of 10 Oscar-winning films and you will tell me whether the film won five or more Oscars. It will be simple yes or no answers to it.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
What term is used in golf for shooting a 3 on a par-5 hole?

We should get going at or around the usual time of 9 PM, so I hope many of you out there can join for Trivia Night.

Now When Will Someone Wear 21?

Rob Bradford reported today that Takashi Saito will wear number 24 this upcoming season. We all know who was the last Red Sox player to wear that number, and apparently Saito contacted Said Former User of 24 and got his blessing to wear it.

I've asked this question a thousand times, so here goes number 1,001: When will the Sox give out number 21? If they are cool with giving out 24 so soon after Manny Ramirez wore it, and are fine with giving Rocco Baldelli number 5, when will see somebody with 21?

Are they waiting for the Texas Con Man to be wearing an orange jump suit and sitting in a place with striped sunlight before they do it?


This morning we had the 150,000th hit on The Mighty Quinn Media Machine since I put the Site Meter on my site shortly after we began in March 2006. It was a person from Memphis, Tennessee who found it through a Google search.

The numbers here continue to be very good, as we get about 200 hits here on an average day. Once again, I thank you all for making this site a success, and a joy to do.

Red Sox: Past and Future

Last night I was watching the MLB Network, and this weekend they've been running "Four Home Run Games." They featured the four-homer games of Mike Cameron, Mark Whiten and Carlos Delgado. But they also showed the game where the L.A. Dodgers hit four consecutive homers in the ninth inning to tie the San Diego Padres, and eventually won the game in the tenth, 11-10. (Sorry for the bad memories, Peggy and Ken.)

It was a really amazing game. I remember watching it on the MLB package back on September 18, 2006, and it was a see-saw game from the start. The Padres opened with four in the first, and with Jake Peavy on the mound, you'd have thought that would have been enough. But Los Angeles battled back to tie it in the third, but the Padres grabbed the lead in the eighth, and added runs in the ninth and took a 9-5 lead in the bottom of the inning.

Then the Dodgers exploded. Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson all went deep (and they were all shots) to tie it. The last two were off future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman. (And Drew would be apart of the next four consecutive home run spurt, the following April at Fenway against Yankee immortal Chase Wright.) In the tenth, the Padres grabbed a 10-9 lead, but in the bottom of the tenth, Nomar Garciaparra hit a two-run blast into the seats to give L.A. an incredible win. Even the normally reserved Vin Scully couldn't believe what kind of game it was. It was also the finale of a four-game series and put LA in first by a half-game. (The Padres would eventually get back in first place and win the West, while the Dodgers won the Wild Card in 2006.)

But I write this post for another reason. The amazing number of past and future Red Sox players who took part in this memorable game. As I was watching it last night, I decided to check and see how many took part. Here is the boxscore and list, courtesy of Baseball Reference:

Padres (9):
Dave Roberts, Manny (Those Aren't My Steroids in This Car) Alexander, Rudy Seanez, Paul McAnulty (currently in camp with the Red Sox on a minor league contract), Josh Bard (before and after this game), Alan Embree, Cla Meredith, Todd Walker and Mark Bellhorn.

Dodgers (5):
Nomar (I Really Hope He's Not on That List) Garciaparra, J.D. (Oh, My Aching Back) Drew, Julio (Stealing the Red Sox Money) Lugo, Brad Penny and Takashi Saito. (Derek Lowe was also on the LA roster but didn't pitch, and Bill Mueller also was in 2006, but he was hurt and forced to retire midway into that season.)

14 past and future Sox took part in the game, and of course, the Dodgers manager was the infamous Grady Little. Three members of the 2004 World Series champions were in it (Roberts, Embree and Bellhorn). Yep, Southern California baseball really was "Fenway West" that night.

My friend Jere over at A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory also has a column today about watching this game last night on MLB. We must be on the same wavelength...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Drew Still Hurting?

J.D. Drew came into Red Sox camp a few days early of the rest of the position players, but it was to meet with the team's medical staff. Apparently he is still bothered by back stiffness, the same one that limited his playing time to 109 games in 2008.

Drew says he could play today with it, but this could be more trouble this upcoming season. Rocco Baldelli, Brad Wilkerson and Mark Kotsay are the current alternatives if Drew's back continues to act up. Here's more from ESPN.

Get Your Facts Straight, Pal

Oh, those Yankee fans are at it again.

It's another of those "Letters to the Editor" that I love to comment on every once in a while. From today's New York Post "Sound Off":

"Now that Alex Rodriguez's name has been leaked as one of the 104 who tested positive for banned substances in 2003, we want the other 103 on that list. Let's see if David Ortiz is one of them. His numbers have fallen off the earth since testing began."

I won't mention this fan's name to protect his identity. But don't you love these Yankee fans who have to drag the names of Red Sox players into this when one of their Steroid All-Stars gets nailed? I'm sure this guy thinks the Yankees and Slappy are victims of some kind of conspiracy, led by the Red Sox.

Why don't you just come right out and say that, buddy?

And it would be nice if you had bothered to look up David Ortiz' career numbers before you wrote something as stupid as that. Testing began in 2004 (after the infamous 2003 secret survey was done). Here are Big Papi's numbers since 2004:

Year Games AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG
2004 150 582 94 175 47 3 41 139 .301
2005 159 601 119 180 40 1 47 148 .300
2006 151 558 115 160 29 2 54 137 .287
2007 149 549 116 182 52 1 35 117 .332
2008 109 416 74 110 30 1 23 89 .264

So you want to show me where his numbers have "fallen off the face of the earth" since 2004? He missed over 50 games last season due to his wrist injury, but still managed 23 HRs and 89 RBI despite that. (And it averages out to about 35 HRs and 134 RBI for a full season.) He had one of the greatest seasons in Red Sox history in 2006, breaking the club HR record. And that was two years after steroid testing officially began.

Listen, could Ortiz be on that list of 104? Sure, he could. I'm not going to say there is no way he can't be on it. Right now, any active player in 2003, including your hero Derek Jeter, could be a part of that failed steroid list. There is no way to know 100% for sure, until that list is finally made public. (The unfortunate fact is is that everyone in baseball is a suspect.) Somewhere down the line the names will come out. Can there be other Red Sox (as well as Yankees) on it? Of course there can be.

I love these Yankee fans who insist on taking potshots at the Red Sox and their fans when bad news hits their team. It can be a never-ending source of high comedy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In Memory of Beverly Eckert

We were all shocked and saddened by the terrible plane crash in upstate NY, just outside of Buffalo, last Thursday night. 50 people were killed when a Continental Airlines flight crashed into a private home six miles short of the airport. No one survived.

I got the news on Friday morning, but I was really stunned to hear that Beverly Eckert, who was a 9/11 widow and worked tirelessly to honor her late husband and all the victims, was on that plane. She was an eloquent spokesperson who earned the respect of everyone who knew her.

I met Ms. Eckert at one of the luncheons that the Voices of September 11, which I am a member of, sponsors every anniversary of the attacks. While I did not know her well, she is remembered fondly by all those who worked with her to make sure that a beautiful and lasting memorial would be built for her late husband, Sean Rooney of Aon Corporation, and all those who perished at the World Trade Center. She had also met with President Obama earlier this week at the White House along with other 9/11 family members.

Ms. Eckert was going to Buffalo for a 58th birthday remembrance for her late husband. The news of her tragic death has hit the 9/11 community hard, and I can only wish her family, who've had their share of terrible tragedy to deal with, my deepest condolences on her passing. The work she did on behalf of her husband and all the victims will never be forgotten.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Peggy and Drew on TPIR

Here is a 30-second video of my good friend Peggy Gartin on "The Price is Right" last Tuesday morning, as Peggy and Drew Carey chat about Twitter, the cool networking site that Peggy is a big part of in San Diego. I love the look on Peggy's face as the video comes to an end! Here is a link to Peggy's Twitter site: "The Peg Is In."

My thanks to InformationWeek for the video.

Spring is Officially Around the Corner

Today is the day a lot of us wait for as the cold winter blows outside our doors. Today, the first pitchers and catchers report to Ft. Myers, FLA, and in the coming days they will report to other teams around Florida and Arizona. Of course, nothing earthshaking happens today, it's just the start of the 2009 campaign, and something to look forward to as we hope the worst of the winter is over.

I've updated the above countdown clock, as it is now the countdown to the first spring training game, which for the Red Sox is February 25th against Boston College at Ft. Myers.

I feel warmer already.

A happy 200th birthday to our greatest president, Mr. A. Lincoln. It's also the 200th birthday of one Charles Darwin. Weird coincidence that two men who went on to such worldwide, historical import were born on the same day.

And I also heard today that our old friend Kevin Millar has a new team, as he signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. All the best, KFC.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another Former Future Hall of Famer

This article appeared today at

The whole world now knows that Alex Rodriguez offered an "apology" for the fact that he was outed last weekend by Sports Illustrated magazine as one of the 104 players who failed a steroid test back in 2003.

Slappy had no choice but take the apology route last Monday.

He and his "handlers" obviously saw what has happened to such players linked with PEDs as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens. Their reputations have been destroyed by their either blanket denials or lame "excuses." A-Rod knew he couldn't deny, deny, deny. He's in the beginnings of a 10-year deal with New York, and if he went the other route he'd have reporters haunting him every day about his continued denials.

I watched the entire interview with Peter Gammons on Monday. And once again, Slappy came off as phony and insincere as ever.

If he had just said, "I used steroids and I'm sorry I did" he would have been better off. It was the majority of the sitdown with Peter Gammons that left me scratching my head. Does he really expect anyone to believe all of his steroid use took place only in Texas between 2001 and 2003? That he had this great "epiphany" during that 2003 season and simply stopped? And I also found it interesting that he said nothing about who or where he got the steroids from. He alluded several times to "GNC", the nutrition center, but what A-Rod took can't be found there. He tested positive for Primobolin, a hardcore steroid that is illegal in the United States.

Overall, this was not a hard-hitting interview by Gammons. Too often he seemed to lead A-Rod. It is suspected that A-Rod picked Gammons because he has always been sympathetic towards him, and that the MLB Network would not have been as lenient. (This isn't to blame Gammons too harshly, as there might have been parameters to the interview that Gammons might not have been allowed to violate.)

And I really can't believe Slappy when he says he didn't know exactly what he was putting into his body (aka the Bonds/Sheffield defense). Athletes like him know precisely what they put in their systems, and Rodriguez has always had a rep for his long and tough workouts. So he would just inject himself with any old thing without knowing the side effects or consequences? Give me a break.

He was further into fantasyland when he said that after the steroid test he was told by the Players Association that he "may or may not have failed the steroid test." Does he really expect us to believe that he went nearly six years without knowing whether he flunked it or not? And it wasn't until SI reporter Selena Roberts saw him in Miami last week that he finally knew he failed? Come on.

And the hatchet job he did on Ms. Roberts was really disgusting, as he tried to paint her as some kind of sick stalker trying to break into his house. He flung allegations at her that just weren't true. On a day when Slappy's trying to get some sympathy and save his Hall of Fame career, he comes off like a bully to a reporter who is just trying to do her job.

A-Rod went the "sympathy" path last Monday because he has an awful lot to lose, and he looked like he was trying to put out a five-alarm fire with a garden hose. Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi could apologize for their steroid use and move on, but they had far less to lose (they are not future Hall of Famers). He may have just seen any chance at the hall sail right out the window. The Yankees are stuck with him the next nine seasons, and if he does approach Barry Bonds' tainted home run record, it will be another joyless ride for the American baseball fan.

If Rodriguez should make it to Cooperstown one day, there are three words that should adorn his plaque, and no one should ever forget them: "ADMITTED STEROID USER." This admission will dog him not just the rest of his career, but the rest of his life. As the New York Post had in their headline of Tuesday: "LIAR. CHEAT."

The Yankees will stand by him, but they have no choice in the matter. Ripping him in public makes no sense, as it would make an inflammed situation that much worse. Privately their front office must be seething, but they will put up the brave front for their team's sake. New York is still on the hook for $270 million and anyone suggesting the Yankees cut Slappy to protect the franchise's reputation doesn't have a clue what they are talking about.

Many have applauded Rodriguez for his "honesty," but face facts. He wouldn't have done it if he hadn't been outed last Saturday. It wasn't A-Rod's guilty conscience that led to this, it was Slappy's pathetic attempt to try and save face. It didn't work at all. He's a cheater, and shouldn't get any sympathy for just admitting the plain truth.

And also remember, there are 103 other players who flunked that infamous steroid test. It's interesting that no other names came out with A-Rod, but with Barry Bonds' perjury trial set to set next month, the names might be coming to light. And, as much as I love to see A-Rod and the Yankees squirming over this, odds are there are some Red Sox players who are on it as well. How many is anyone's guess. (It averages out to 3-4 per team.)

But you have to believe if they are all aware of their steroid test failure (and you have to think they do know, despite A-Rod's statement about it), all 103 are really nervous about the list coming to light. It will ruin their careers, just like it did Alex Rodriguez last Saturday afternoon.

Trivia Q&A: February 10

We had another huge turnout on Tuesday night, and it was helped by Michigan and Kentucky basketball games. We had 22 teams come out for Trivia, and it was a close contest throughout.

I thought we'd have a lot of "A-Rod" inspired team names, but the most names were based on the singer Rihanna and her troubles at the Grammys. Nevertheless, the scores were not particularly strong for either Current Events or Abraham Lincoln Trivia, but they picked up for both True or False Trivia and General Knowledge.

The top five teams were separated by just five points going into IQ Trivia. We had just one team run the table in that round, but had some strong scores from the teams trailing the leaders. But despite that, the team called John Quinn's Illegitimate Octuplets held on for the win. They led the entire night but wound up winning by just one point. Congratulations to Matt and his team on the win.

Current Events
1. According to the NY Post, this man, who is projected to become the first billionaire athlete by 2010, does, in fact, not like to tip.
2. This rock star is furious at Ticketmaster because when tickets for one of his concerts went on sale last week, some fans got an error message on their computers and got an ad from a ticket broker instead offering seats for hundreds of dollars more.
3. Congress last week pushed back the date for the digital TV takeover from February 17 to this date in later 2009.
4. 134 ice fishermen had to be rescued last Saturday when a piece of ice broke loose from this Midwestern lake and cut the men off from land.
5. This Hall of Fame MLB pitcher was among the most famous people who lost big money in Bernie Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi scheme, it was revealed last week.
6. Milton Parker, who ran this Midtown eatery for 33 years and turned it into one of NYC's most famous restaurants, died recently at age 90.
7. A $50 billion lawsuit aginst this rap star was thrown out of court in Manhattan last week after a judge ruled that his ex-girlfriend's claim of an oral contract to share the wealth was not valid.

Answers: 1. Tiger Woods; 2. Bruce Springsteen; 3. June 12; 4. Lake Erie; 5. Sandy Koufax; 6. Carnegie Deli; 7. 50 Cent.

Abraham Lincoln Trivia
1. In what current state was Abe Lincoln born in 1809?
2. How many sons did Abraham Lincoln have?
3. In what year did Lincoln deliver his famous Gettysburg Address speech?
4. Which holiday did Lincoln make a federal holiday in 1863?
5. How many terms in the US House of Representatives did Abe Lincoln serve?
6. What was the name of the theater that Lincoln was assassinated in in April 1865?
7. What western territory, now a US state, was Lincoln offered the governorship in 1949, but declined?

Answers: 1. Kentucky; 2. four; 3. 1863; 4. Thanksgiving; 5. one (1847-49); 6. Ford's Theater; 7. Oregon.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. A chariot has two wheels.
2. Brine is water that is saturated with salt.
3. All lines of longitude meet in the continent of Antarctica.
4. Sting performed in both the US and UK on the same day as part of the 1985 Live Aid concerts. 5. In 1987, the state of Florida issued a special license plate honoring the space shuttle Challenger.
6. The sousaphone is a type of trumpet.
7. The 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations took place in Shanghai.
8. "The Banzai Pipeline" is a surfer nickname for the waters off the coast of Hawaii.
9. Kurt Waldheim became president of West Germany despite allegations he was a war criminal.
10. Rosh Hashana is the Jewish holiday known as The Day of Atonement.

Answers: 1. true; 2. true; 3. true; 4. false, Phil Collins; 5. true; 6. false, tuba; 7. false, Beijing; 8. true; 9. false, Austria; 10. false, Yom Kippur.

General Knowledge
1. What instrument was legendary comedic performer Victor Borge known for playing?
2. What major European city is made up of a chain of over 100 islands?
3. The 1998 movie "Ringmaster" is a parody of what TV personality's show?
4. What song was Michael Jackson performing live when he introduced the "moonwalk" in 1983?
5. What was the name of the first artificial satellite launched into space in 1957?
6. What is the term for a U-shaped bend in a river?
7. Since 1902, the 3M company has been located in what US state?

Answers: 1. piano; 2. Venice, Italy; 3. Jerry Springer; 4."Billie Jean;" 5. Sputnik; 6. oxbow; 7. Minnesota.

IQ Trivia
1. John Reed's book "Ten Days That Shook The World" is an account of a revolution in what country? ( 4 points)
2. What web site scooped traditional news sources in breaking the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998? ( 5 points)
3. Since 1886, what country has been the largest producer of gold in the world? ( 3 points)
4. The Ruy Lopez is a popular combination of moves in what game? ( 4 points)
5. From 1979-1985, who was the host of the TV show, "Dance Fever?" ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Russia; 2. The Drudge Report; 3. South Africa; 4. chess; 5. Deney Terrio.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


And there are 103 others who'll be joining him at some point. It's just a matter of time.

And now, Miguel Tejada has been charged with lying to Congress about a former teammate's steroid use. Sounds like he will cut a deal and see no jail time. There are also rumors that Congress wants Slappy to appear before them. If he has a brain in his head, he'll go nowhere near the place.

Go Get 'Em, Peg!

For those of you near a TV set on Tuesday morning, my dear friend Peggy Gartin will be a contestant on "The Price Is Right." Peggy and I have been friends for many years, and we first met when we both worked at Tower Records in the Village together about 100 years ago. I've visited her and her husband Ken in San Diego (an incredibly beautiful city BTW) over the last few years and had a great time out there.

Peggy couldn't tell me exactly what happened with her appearance, as legally she had to keep quiet about what she might have won. It was filmed back in December, and will air tomorrow at 11 AM ET on CBS. But she did tell me she gets a lot of face time, and did progress on the show.

She did tell me she really enjoyed meeting Drew Carey and what a nice guy he is. I can't wait to see what booty Peg came away with. Peg also has a cool movie blog you might like to check out, too: The Peg Is In.

UPDATE (12:05 PM): The Price Is Right just concluded, and Peggy made it all the way to the Showcase. Along the way, she won a treadmill and $1000 (as she hit "$1.00" on the wheel). Unfortunately, she missed out on winning a trip to Spain in the opening round, and she lost in the Showcase, as she was outbid in going for a trip to France and a dining room set. Still, you did a great job, Peg. I was really excited watching and rooting you on. I'm really proud of you.

Wasn't Even the Second Best Play

I was bouncing all over the dials today with the admission by Alex Rodriguez of his outing last Saturday. I found myself on YES watching Mike Francesa (which I only do in small doses). I was actually agreeing with most of the things he was saying, which is a rare event indeed.

But as his show was going on, there was a crawl at the bottom of the screen for "Yankee Classics," which shows old Yankees games. (I'm still waiting for Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. I guess that will be a long wait.) Anyway, tonight they were showing the Red Sox-Yankees game from July 1, 2004, which they identified in brackets as the "Jeter dives into the stands game."

Let's get one thing straight about that game. While Jeter's catch was very good, it wasn't the best defensive play of that game. And it wasn't even the second best play of that contest.

Pokey Reese made a sensational catch in the 5th or 6th inning (I don't remember which). He was playing shortstop (remember Nomar sitting on the bench and appeared to be pouting that night?) and ran over to the stands in short leftfield and reached in among the Yankees fans and pulled a ball out that for sure looked like it was going to be a souvenir. It was better than Jeter's catch, only Reese didn't have to dive into the stands for it. It is almost totally forgotten.

And it is the second best defensive play of the night. So who made the best play of the night? Yep, The Last Honest Man Left in Baseball: Alex (I Had No Idea What I was Taking or If It Really Was Illegal) Rodriguez.

The game was tied in the 11th inning, and the Sox had bases loaded and no outs. (I was changing channels tonight and it was the 11th inning, so I hung around to check it out again.) Kevin Millar hit a ball that looked like it was going down the line to score two runs, but Rodriguez made a dive for it near the bag, managed to put his foot on third base, and then from one knee flipped the ball over the charging Gabe Kapler, who was tagged out at the plate for a double play. (Jorge Posada didn't realize A-Rod touched third and fired it back to him at third, and he tagged Manny Ramirez out, who had just been forced. Slappy actually thought he had a triple play, and Michael Kay went apeshit in the booth thinking the Yankees were out of the inning.)

Despite Slappy's goof at the end, it was still a sensational play. It was still better than Jeter's play one inning later. But of course, A-Rod's not the captain of the Yankees (and never will be), and can't walk on water like his shortstop counterpart, so he never gets the credit for that play.

I've heard this game in 2004 called the "Jeter game" and such, which is just plain wrong. Pokey's catch was better, and A-Rod's play in the 11th was even better than that.

It's just too bad the best plays of that game are all but forgotten. Maybe it's because neither player shed any blood making their play...

Monday, February 09, 2009

Admitted Steroid User

If Slappy ever makes it to the Hall of Fame, the title of this post should go front and center on his plaque. But I think his admission today has probably destroyed any chance of him reaching Cooperstown.

Honest Abe Trivia This Week

The special category for Trivia Night this week will honor our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, as if he were still alive, he'd be celebrating his 200th birthday on Thursday. (Remember that old joke: What would Abraham Lincoln doing if he were alive today? Fighting to get out of his grave.) Honest Abe is considered by many historians to be our greatest all-time president. It will be seven questions about the life of the man known as "The Railsplitter" and "The Last Victim of the Civil War," who adorns the penny and five-dollar bill.

The Q Train lightning round this week will be another round of "True or False Trivia."

The Sneak Peek question for Tuesday night will be:
What was the name of the first artificial satellite launched into space in 1957?

The crowds at Trivia Night continue to be huge, and I thank you all for that. I hope many of you can make it to Professor Thom's on Tuesday night at 9 PM.

The Lightning A-Rod

It's been a feeding frenzy here in New York papers over the last two days, as it seems writers in all the papers want Alex Rodriguez to come clean about the failed 2003 steroid test.

And in today's Daily News, that paragon of virtue, Bill Madden, wants the Yankees to cut Slappy and eat the remaining $270 million New York owes him. (What the hell has this moron been smoking?)

No matter what Rodriguez does, he has been tarnished by what has occurred over the last few days. Even if he's been clean over the last six years and remains clean for life, he still failed a steroid test in 2003, and that will never be forgotten. If comes out and admits it, he will forever be known as a juicer, and if he stonewalls like Bonds and Clemens did, he will be going down the same slippery slope they did. (Although he will not be facing any fines, suspensions or prosecution.)

There have been comparisons to what Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi did after they got caught and were exposed as juicers. But Rodriguez has far more to lose than they did. Neither Pettitte nor Giambalco are Hall of Fame candidates. Rodriguez can probably kiss that goodbye after the events of this weekend. The other two weren't lightning rods for controversy the way Slappy is. (Comparisons to Bonds and Clemens are probably closer to where Slappy is right now.)

But I find it very interesting that only Slappy was named by the Sports Illustrated story, by four independent sources. What about the other 103 players who failed that steroid test in 2003? Why weren't any other names leaked? I don't believe in conspiracy theories, but I think that question needs to be answered. Nearly 9% of all MLB players failed that test in 2003, and in light of Rodriguez being outed, you have to imagine the remaining 103 are rather nervous right now. (And according to the report, all players who failed that test were notified of it at the time.)

Curt Schilling over the weekend on his "38 Pitches" site said that he's clean and that the 103 players' names should now all be exposed. That's a bit ticklish, as when the test was originally given, the players anonimity was promised. The Federal government seized the steroid results when they were gathering evidence in the BALCO investigation in 2004, so they knew the names. I'm sure fans all over America are wondering exactly who was clean and who was dirty from that infamous test, and naming the remaining 103 would put an end to that speculation. But those players also have rights. But I also think it's just a matter of time before the names surface, as reporters will be digging for the truth.

Who leaked Rodriguez' name to Sports Illustrated? We may never know this. What we do know is that a lot of people were to blame for the steroid mess: MLB for looking the other way while it was going on, the players union for stonewalling steroid testing for years, and the dirty players themselves for cheating.

It will be interesting over the next few days to see what Slappy does. He's not exactly overloaded with options. But whatever his next move is, he's been tarnished by this entire revelation. And no matter how you slice it, the Yankees are stuck with him for the next nine years, as they won't be eating over a quarter-billion dollars they owe him.

Well, Hank, you wanted A-Rod. You wound up with A-Roid. Deal with it.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I Remember the HR's More Than the K's

With all the A-Rod insanity going on this weekend (the New York papers were a hoot today, more on that tomorrow), the MLB Network was all over the story, and it interrupted their special programming this weekend. They were going to show some of the 19 and 20 strikeout games in MLB history, from David Cone, Randy Johnson, Kerry Wood and of course, The Texas Con Man.

I caught a little of the Wood 20-strikeout game, as well as the Cone 19-strikeout game, the one he threw against the Phillies for the Mets in 1991. But I did see a bit of Randy Johnson's masterpiece over the Oakland A's in 1997. (Ironically enough he lost the game, 4-1, in going the entire nine innings.)

That was also the game that Mark McGwire hit that moonshot home run off Johnson, a 477-foot shot that has been repeated over and over as one of the longest home runs in history. (It was reported at the time it was over 530 feet, but it was later measured and was nearly 60 feet shorter.)

But to my surprise, guess who was Johnson's 19th strikeout of the game? None other than our old friend Mark Bellhorn. Not that Bellhorn didn't strike out much as we all remember, but it was funny seeing him in an Oakland A's uniform. I had forgotten that that was the team he came up with.

Mr. Dinghonk hasn't been in the majors since 2007 when he was with Cincinnati. But I'll never forget those three home runs he hit in the 2004 postseason, especially the two he banged off the foul pole. I'll remember them more than his hefty strikeout numbers.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

John. Paul. George. Ringo. 45 Years.

It was 45 years ago today that four guys came from across the Atlantic on a mission. It was to conquer America and in the process they completely wiped clean and redrew the entire face of popular music.

The Beatles arrived amid great fanfare and thousands of screaming teenage girls. They had two wildly successful albums in the UK and nothing left to accomplish in their home country and knew that if they were ever going to have any worldwide success, America had to be won over.

They arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport (which had just been renamed for the late president the previous December) and met the press as soon as they got off their plane. Reporters seemed more interested in their hair length than their music, but they won over many of them with their good humor.

Their conquest of America had actually begun the previous month, when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was released and by the end of January it was number one. Actually, Beatlemania had first reached American shores on November 22, 1963, when CBS broadcast a five minute segment on the group on the CBS Morning News. It was scheduled to run on the news that night, but that was the day President Kennedy was assassinated and was canceled.

The Beatles stayed at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan with a throng of girls on the street. George Harrison was actually ill with a high fever and missed the first rehearsals of the Ed Sullivan Show, the popular Sunday night variety show they were going to appear on two nights later.

And on that February 9th night, just about every American would know who the Beatles were. An amazing 74 million people (almost half the US population at the time) tuned in to watch the Beatles play "All My Loving,""Till Their Was You," "She Loves You," "I Saw Her Standing Her There" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." (I was too young to remember that night, I was just 2 years old. But my parents have told me that me and my two sisters were dancing in front our TV set to the Beatles that night. I only wish I had that on film.) BTW, also appearing on Ed Sullivan that night were impressionist Frank Gorshin, who would go on to fame as the Riddler on the TV series "Batman," and a British singer/actor named Davy Jones, who would ironically a few years later be part of the obvious Beatles parody, The Monkees.

The Beatles were a smash that night, although some critics said they were a "passing fad" and "couldn't carry a tune." From New York, the Beatles would go on to Washington, DC and played their first concert at the Washington Coliseum two nights later. Beatlemania was on in America, and there would be no stopping it.

It's been 45 years since the Beatles arrived on these shores. Now this happens every Tuesday and Wednesday night on "American Idol": tens of millions watch amateurs, polished/vanilla or outrageous singers who compete for a record contract. Then they are "produced" to the masses much like the pretty, polished, produced singers that ruled the airwaves before the Beatles got here. This country might be in more trouble than we thought.

The similarities of American Idol to the pre-Beatles America are frightening. Fabian, Ricky Nelson, Paul Anka (although he was different I think he might have written a few of his songs). Even the girls and the girl groups were "manufactured". Some of the producers were genius mind you (Phil Spector comes to mind) but The Beatles gave hope to the Youth. That Rock and Roll could be written and original and meant for youth, instead of the masses.

I just got an iPod for the first time this past December, and one of the first things I put it in were all of my Beatles CDs. Their sound still sounds as fresh and as vibrant as the first time I heard them. The Beatles always succeed in taking my mind away from the miserable state that current pop music is right now. I'll listen to the Beatles until the die I leave this world. And I'll always thank them for having such a positive influence on my life.

But 45 years? Where has it gone?

My thanks to my friend and fellow Beatlemaniac Billy DePasquale for contributing to this article.

Guess Who Failed a Steroid Test in 2003?

Or so says Sports Illustrated.

Slappy's first trip to Fenway should be mighty interesting this year.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Happy Birthday Bambino

Today is the 114th birthday of the greatest player the game of baseball has ever known: Babe Ruth.

As the years have gone on, I have come to appreciate what Babe Ruth meant to the game. When I was a kid I rooted for Hank Aaron to break Babe's all-time home run record very much, because he would be breaking a "Yankees" record.

I never put any stock into that "Curse of the Bambino" crap, as that was just media-created nonsense and a taunting device aimed at the Red Sox and their fans. The Babe's daughter has always said he never held any grudges against the Red Sox for trading him to New York. (Actually he should have been sending Harry Frazee Christmas cards every year for doing him the biggest favor he could ever have done him. So the idea of a curse makes absolutely no sense.)

As the years progressed, I've read up a lot on the Babe, and Allan Wood's book, "Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox" is a terrific starting point to read about him with the Red Sox. (You may know Allan better for his great blog The Joy of Sox.) I have not read Leigh Montville's latest tome about the Babe, but I will at some point. Every player and fan should thank the Babe for his contribution to the game, and it's not a stretch to suggest that he may have saved baseball when it was at its lowest point ever, the Black Sox scandal of 1919. Baseball was in deep trouble in the early 1920s when the Babe came along to set the sporting world on fire with his home run records. (I won't list them all here, but here's a column I wrote two years ago about him on the anniversary of his death going into more detail.)

So, Happy 114th Birthday, Babe. Hope wherever you are it's a good one.

And speaking of birthdays, Happy Birthday to my sister Maureen, who is considerably younger than the Babe is today. And on the subject of births, congratulations to my buddy Chris Wertz and his wife Brooke on the birth of their twin daughters earlier today.

Years from now, you can tell them they share a birth with the Babe and my sister, and they were also born on Truck Day!

Truckin' to FLA

That day have arrived, the annual harbinger of spring. It has nothing to do with groundhogs or birds or anything like that. It is Truck Day in Red Sox Nation. It is the equivalent of New Year's Day for the rest of the world. This is the day when the Red Sox bring an 18-wheeler to Fenway Park and load it up with all kinds of equipment for a 1467-mile journey to their spring training home in Ft. Myers, Florida.

On a related note, I had the misfortune to have on Mike Francesa's show on the radio yesterday, and he basically bad-mouthed the day pitchers and catchers report, saying it was a nothing thing. He just doesn't get it. Like Truck Day, the day pitchers and catchers report (next Thursday) is a jump off point, a day to look forward to bigger and better things. Fatso will just never get it.

Back to Truck Day, the Truck (pictured above at Fenway as the sun was rising) will depart this afternoon and be in Ft. Myers by late Sunday. Here is the route the Truck will be taking down the eastern seaboard, and more about the day from the Boston Globe.

Spring is on the way...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Kotsay Has Back Surgery

I was wondering why the Red Sox signed Brad Wilkerson to a minor league contract the other day. And now we now why, as it was revealed yesterday that Mark Kotsay had back surgery in Los Angeles last week, and may open the year on the diasbled list.

Kotsay's had back trouble in the past, and the arthroscopic surgery he had on January 29 may put him out until late April or early May. Wilkerson is a similar type player to Kotsay, and will see time both in the outfield and first base.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Red Sox Add Wilkerson

The Red Sox continued their offseason of adding guys with high upside and low risk by signing veteran 1B/OF Brad Wilkerson to a minor-league contract. He split time last season between Seattle and Toronto, hitting .220. If he makes the MLB roster, he will make the major league minimum of $400,000, but incentives could bring him up to $1.5 million. Here's more from the Boston Globe on the Wilkerson signing.

Trivia Q&A: February 3

We had a fine crowd on hand on a snowy night for Trivia on Tuesday, as 18 teams took part. It turned out to be a night of high scores, and I can't tell if it was because of a smart crowd or easier questions. (Maybe a combination of both.) It was a close contest all night, and the scores were very good in every round, especially in "Over/Under 40 Trivia" and "General Knowledge."

And I thought IQ Trivia was going to be difficult last night, but a record five teams ran the table in that round and scored a perfect 20 points. And it included the team of Ladies, My Stimulus Package is Huge, and they wound up winning by just a point. Two of the teams they were leading by a point going into the final round also got 20 points, so it was fortunate that they were perfect as well. Congratulations to Keith and his friends on their victory, their second this year.

Current Events
1. The number of unique Internet users in a single month reached this landmark number in December 2008.
2. The coalition government under Prime Minister Geir Haarde of this country collapsed amid protests against its handling of the nation's financial crisis.
3. John Updike, whose article about the final game of this baseball Hall of Famer, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," gained him national fame, died last week at age 76.
4. This Midwestern city was named the nation's most challenging place for asthma sufferers to live by The Asthma and Allergy Foundation.
5. A 4.5 magnitude earthquake rattled this West Coast city last Friday morning, but there were no reports of damage or injuries.
6. Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of this Eastern state, was elected chairman of the RNC last week.
7. Ingemar Johansson, who won the heavyweight title from Floyd Patterson in 1959 and came from this country, died last Friday at age 76.

Answers: 1. One billion; 2. Iceland; 3. Ted Williams; 4. St. Louis; 5. Seattle; 6. Maryland; 7. Sweden.

Grammy Awards Trivia
1. In 2002, the soundtrack to this George Clooney film won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, just the third ever to do so.
2. In 2007, the classical crossover Grammy went to "Love Supreme: The Legacy of" what 1960s jazz sax player?
3. Who won the Grammy for Best Rock Male Vocal Performance four straight years, 1998-2001?
4. Which controversial female rock star is the only person to refuse a Grammy Award, in 1990?
5. Who was the only Grammy Award winner to be stripped of the honor?
6. Name 1 of the 2 artists to win 8 Grammys, the record, in one year.
7. True or False: Country/bluegrass singer Alison Krauss has won the most Grammys of any female artist.

Answers: 1. "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?;" 2. John Coltrane; 3. Lenny Kravitz; 4. Sinead O'Connor; 5. Milli Vanilli; 6. Michael Jackson (1983) and Santana (1999); 7. true (she's won 20).

Over/Under 40 Trivia
1. Mariah Carey
2. Lance Armstrong
3. Nicole Kidman
4. Mary J. Blige
5. Brad Pitt
6. Janet Jackson
7. Tyra Banks
8. Matt Damon
9. Kate Winslet
10. Charlie Sheen

Answers: 1. under (38); 2. under (38); 3. over (41); 4. under (38); 5. over (44); 6. over (42); 7. under (35); 8. under (38); 9. under (33); 10. over (43).

General Knowledge
1. What artificial fat substance did Frito-Lay use to make "Wow" brand potato chips?
2. Payola is a type of illegal payment associated with what industry?
3. What chess piece can only move diagonally?
4. If it is 12 noon in New York City, what time is it in Denver, Colorado?
5. In 2001, the Boeing Company relocated its world headquarters to what U.S. city?
6. "Come On Get Happy" was the theme song to what 1970s TV show?
7. Walter Lord's 1955 book, "A Night to Remember" recalls what famous event?

Answers: 1. Olestra; 2. radio; 3. bishop; 4. 10 AM; 5. Chicago; 6. "The Partridge Family;" 7. The Titanic sinking.

IQ Trivia
1. Founded in 1852, what is California's oldest prison? ( 4 points)
2. Members of the infamous "Heaven's Gate" cult believed that a spaceship was hiding behind what comet? ( 5 points)
3. What US First Lady was also the niece of a former president? ( 3 points)
4. In the classic Superman comics, what was the name of Superman's dog? ( 4 points)
5. What long-running British TV show follows the lives of folks living in the fictional London borough of Walford? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. San Quentin; 2. Hale-Bopp; 3. Eleanor Roosevelt; 4. Krypto; 5. "EastEnders."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"The Day The Music Died"

It was 50 years ago today that rock'n'roll suffered its first horrible tragedy, as Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were all killed in a plane crash shortly after takeoff in a cornfield in Iowa.

The musicians were on a rock'n'roll tour of the Midwest, which was plagued with problems. On February 2, Buddy Holly was tired of the cold, having travelled with the other musicians by bus, which had breakdowns. He needed to do his laundry, and wanted to get to the next venue ahead of time, which was Moorhead, Minnesota, so he chartered a light plane in the area. The local laundromat in Clear Lake, Iowa was shut that day.

Holly was originally going to fly to Minnesota with two of his bandmates, Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup. The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) was suffering from the flu and asked Jennings if he'd give up his seat. He reluctantly agreed, and when Holly kidded him later about it, Jennings said, "I hope your ol' plane crashes." That joke would haunt Jennings the rest of life.

Ritchie Valens asked Allsup for his seat, and during the final show they flipped a coin for it, with Valens winning the flip.

The plane was flown by an inexperienced pilot named Roger Peterson, and the plane crashed five minutes after takeoff. The plane was found eight hours later, with all four men on board likely killed on impact. Officials reports put the crash on bad weather and pilot error.

Buddy Holly was 22, The Big Bopper 28 and Ritchie Valens just 17. Their influence is still felt in popular music today, and Holly was a man so far ahead of his time in the music business. We will never know the great things we would have gone on to accomplish. Buddy's widow, Maria Elena, recently talked about her relationship with him in this recent interview.

Don McLean immortalized the 1959 crash in his epic 1971 song, "The Day The Music Died." It's made appreciate their music all the more so, and the 1959 tragedy is one of many reasons I've never flown in any type of light plane.

All three great rock'n'rollers will never be forgotten. They may have passed, but the music never, ever dies. May God rest their souls.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Music Awards Trivia on Tuesday

This coming Sunday night is the annual Grammy Awards presentation. I'm not the biggest fan of that award (don't get me started as to why), but it's a good excuse for this week's Trivia Night special round: "Grammy Awards Trivia." We will also have a new category for the Q Train lightning round: "Over/Under 40 Trivia." I will give you the names of 10 celebrities, and you will have to tell me whether that person is currently over or under the age of 40. (There will be no one exactly 40.)

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
If it is 12 noon in New York City, what time is it in Denver, Colorado?

We should get going at the normal time of 9 PM on Tuesday night. We are supposed to be getting some rotten weather on Tuesday (Has this been a miserable winter or what?) but I can always count on many of the Trivia Night regulars to be in attendance. See you then.


It was a helluva great Super Bowl, as the Pittsburgh Steelers won a last-minute thriller over the Arizona Cardinals, 27-23. Santonio Holmes (pictured) made a sensational catch in the end zone with 35 seconds play (eerily similar to what happened last February) to give the Steelers a record sixth Super Bowl win.

I had a feeling that the Cardinals scored too quickly, with 2 1/2 minutes left, to take a 23-20 lead. Ben Rothlisberger led Pittsburgh down the field and hit Holmes with the game-winner for Big Ben's first ever Super Bowl TD pass.

I watched the game at Professor Thom's with a crowd that was mostly pulling for the Steelers. My congratulations to them and their fans on a great win. I've always said that I have a lot of respect for the Steelers and their fans, as they closely parallel the Red Sox fans and the devotion they have to their team.

You know what this means now? Yep, bring on the baseball season. Pitchers and catchers are just 10 days away.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Random Stuff to Begin February

Some odds and ends as we begin the month of February.

It's the day of the Super Bowl, and for years here in New York it meant listening to Jonathan Schwartz on the radio with his "Salute to Baseball." He would dedicate one hour of his show on Super Bowl Sunday to baseball, to counter all the endless nonsensical hype to football's finale. It was always great stuff, as Jonathan's a big time Red Sox fan. He would play some of the most famous calls in Red Sox history, like Pudge Fisk's Game 6 blast or even Bill Buckner's famous error one time. He would always throw in a baseball-oriented song or two, and would also play just a random radio broadcast of a Red Sox game from the 1950s or '60s.

It was a joy to listen to, and he began doing it over WNEW-AM radio in the early 1970s. My parents always listened to that station, as they played classic vocalists like Frank Sinatra. But a few years ago, Jonathan stopped doing it because his current gig at WNYC-FM did allow the space for it. That's a real shame, but today I found his show and he was discussing the late John Updike and his famous piece on Ted Williams. He told some little known facts about it, and that was fun to listen to. Thanks for all those memories, Mr. Schwartz.

A great film to check out is "Man On Wire," the story of Philippe Petit and his walk between the two World Trade Center towers in August 1974 (pictured). I saw it again on DVD this weekend, and it's a fascinating story about how he and his friends pulled it off. Seeing Petit walk across a thin wire over 1300 feet above New York City still made me wonder how in the world he found the courage to do it, and he even lays down on thr wire at one point. It was scary just watching that. "Man On Wire" was filmed in 2007, and in watching it, you'd never know the buildings are gone, as there isn't one reference to the WTC attacks. The film is nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary this year and I hope it wins.

I also saw "The Wrestler" this weekend as well. It's the story of a washed-up pro wrestler trying to get his career back on track and the women in his life. It reminds me a lot of the story of Jake (The Snake) Roberts from "Beyond the Mat", the very good wrestling documentary from the late 1990s. Mickey Rourke is simply spectacular as Randy "The Ram" Robinson, and should be a synch to win the Best Actor. Rourke's career went off the rails many years ago, and everyone loves a comeback, so I'd bet on him winning. It's a terrific film as well.

And oh yeah, there's a football game today. I'll be at Professor Thom's taking it in with a bunch of Pittsburgh Steelers fans. I like the Steelers and the points today.