Tuesday, August 31, 2010

#31: The End

It's been a blast putting my favorite YouTube clips on the blog, one per day for the month of August. And today we conclude with a song I would like to be played on the day I depart from this planet:

"Always Look On The Bright Side of Life."

We started with Monty Python, we might as well end with them.

I hope you enjoyed looking at these clips. Thanks for all of your responses to them.

Terry Francona: AL Manager of the Year

Count me in the group who feels it was a miracle the Red Sox were still in the playoff race until the calendar turns into September.

This was one of Terry Francona's best managing jobs of his career. 19 players went on the DL, the Red Sox had subpar years from Josh Beckett and John Lackey, and a bullpen that was one of the worst in the American League. And on the final weekend of August, the Sox were still very much alive.

But it still irks me that when the conversation of the best MLB managers comes up, the usual suspects (LaRussa, Cox, Torre, Scioscia) come up first, and Tito is usually an afterthought. He did one helluva job this year, and deserves some votes for Manager of the Year, no matter how September concludes for the Sox. (Ron Washington of Texas will probably win it, though.) He is the best Red Sox manager in my lifetime, and once again proved it in 2010. Tito has also taken another step to an eventual election into the Hall of Fame one day.

Losing 2 of the 3 in St. Pete this weekend now leaves the Sox 7 behind New York and Tampa Bay, and it looks like a certainty that the Red Sox won't be playing baseball beyond October 3rd this season. Just 31 games left to play and the schedule just doesn't favor the Sox making a run. Most of the games are on the road, and later next week they have to make a trip to the West Coast.

Well, that's the way it goes, folks. Some years the postseason happens, some years it doesn't. I'm as dedicated a Red Sox fan as there is, but maybe it's time to look forward to 2011.

Roger Clemens Incarceration Day took yet another step forward when the Texas Con Man decided to take on Uncle Sam on his home turf and will not take a plea bargain. He pleaded not guilty in federal court in Washington yesterday, and jury selection for his perjury trial will begin on April 5th.

You know he will be singing this song shortly after that.

On a much better note, Ryan Westmoreland's comeback took another step forward as he will join the Lowell Spinners this week to work out with the team. He won't play, but it is a really heartwarming that just six months ago he had brain surgery and the doctors were unsure he would have normal brain function, and now he is trying to get his baseball career back on track. Just a terrific story. Good luck, Ryan.

Monday, August 30, 2010

#30: Once a Media Whore...

A few years ago, I was totally amazed when my buddy Alex sent me an email one night and totally freaked me out. He discovered a news report from Channel 9 (WOR-TV) in New York from 1985 on YouTube, and it was about the radio war between Howard Stern and Don Imus, when they both worked at WNBC-AM in New York.

And 11 seconds into, guess who turns up? Yes, me.

I have a vague memory of the news report. They came into Tower Records in Greenwich Village (I really miss that place) when I was working as a clerk on the rock floor and asked me about it. I also turned up at the end of the piece as well. Some other folks I worked with were interviewed too.

I am still totally and completely amazed this ended up on YouTube! BTW, I also talked about this nearly four years ago, in the blog post "I Was a Teenage Media Whore."

This is number 30 in the countdown. Enjoy.

If It's a Success, Why Stop Doing It?

Trivia Night this week will feature our monthly installment of "Q Are You?" trivia, where I give you clues as to the identity of seven current celebrities, and you have to tell me who I am talking about. (And no, Paris Hilton will NOT be one of them. I promise.) It has proven to be a good category in the past, and we will continue to use it every month.

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

The Sneak Peek for this week is:
Wicket keeper is a position in what team sport?

The Red Sox have an important game in Baltimore at 7 PM, but that won't stop us from having a great Trivia Night, that begins just after 9 PM. We've been having some sizeable crowds lately, and I thank you so much for that. See you on Tuesday night!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

#29: I'm Big In Japan

Well, not really. But NHK, a TV network in Japan, came into Professor Thom's pub in May of 2007 and did a story for the good folks in the Land of the Rising Sun about the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in New York, and they came into the bar while the Sox were playing the Yankees in the Bronx.

And naturally, Yours Truly pops up in this report, first at about the 1:40 mark of the clip. (I have to admit it was cool seeing my words on the bottom of the screen translated into another language.) Some other friends of mine are featured, too, but my friend Rhonda is the centerpiece of the story, as she's interviewed about being a Red Sox fan from Massachusetts living here.

It's all in Japanese, so those of you who don't speak the language, you'll just have to do your best with this clip. It's number 29 in the countdown. Enjoy.

A Night of Lost Ground

I missed the majority of last night's Red Sox game in St. Pete due to my Saturday softball game. I follow the game on my cell, but I managed to get home with the Sox batting in the top of the 10th.

Victor Martinez had just gotten on base after selling to the ump he got hit by a pitch. I had the Rays broadcast, and as usual, they did their usual whining how the Rays were getting screwed by the umps. Kevin Kennedy was moaning about how the umps should be "embarrassed" by that call. And how would he have reacted had one of the Rays done the exact same thing and gotten first base?

Screw them, I went to my radio. And just in time to listen to Dan Johnson hit a home run off Scott Atchison to give Tampa Bay a 3-2 win.

I caught the highlights and saw Ryan Kalish's circus catch in center, and J.D. Drew's catch in foul territory that allowed Carlos Pena to score the tying run in the 7th. I honestly can't blame Drew for getting the out, as you never know what could happen should he let the ball go. What if the batter (Matt Joyce) hit a home run on the next pitch? There's no way to know, but unless the game's tied in the bottom of ninth with less than two outs, you should catch it.

Victor Martinez hit another homer in the 8th to untie it, and he had four hits on the night. But Terry Francona probably stayed with Clay Buchholz too long, as he gave up a tying home run to B.J. Upton to lead off the 8th. Buchholz was superb though, allowing just a run on three hits in seven innings. He continues to be a strong candidate for the Cy Young Award.

Hideki Okajima was reactivated last night and Michael Bowden was optioned to Pawtucket.

John Lackey takes the mound tonight in what you might call a rather critical game in this Red Sox season, against James (When Was The Last Time I Pitched a Big Game?) Shields, which will be the Sunday night game tonight. New York won last night, so the Red Sox lost ground everywhere, and now trail by 5 1/2 games in both the East and the Wild Card.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

#28: The Steal

The moment everything in Red Sox history changed.

Dave Roberts swipes second base in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, as seen from the perspective a fan in the right field stands.

20 seconds that still sends chills down my spine.

Hang in there, Dave. And thank you, always.

Number 28. Enjoy.

The Real Jon Lester Stood Up

Jon Lester had a nice bounce back from his last putrid start against Toronto, going seven innings against the Rays at the Trop last night as the Sox won, 3-1.

I missed the game last night, as I was at Citi Field with my dad watching the Mets win, 2-1, over the Astros. I followed the game all night on the Citi Field scoreboard, which I really like. It's one of those that tells you how many outs there and where the runners are on base, which are in a few of the newer ballparks.

Victor Martinez belted two home runs, but I did see that Lester did have a few hiccups, like in the fourth when Tampa Bay scored their only run. I noticed that the score went from men on first and second and one out, to second and third with one out, to a man on third with one out and a run scored. Could that have been two wild pitches? Indeed it was, as I discovered when I got home and checked the highlights. It would the Rays' only run of the night.

Lester wasn't perfect, as he walked five, and got out of two jams with double plays. David Price gave up a double to David Ortiz and a single to Jed Lowrie for the second Red Sox run.

Lester went seven, Daniel Bard pitched the eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon walked the high wire in the ninth, walking two batters, but also struck out the side, getting John Jaso looking to end the game in getting his 33rd save. It was also the 10th time this season that the Sox went from a starter to Bard to Papelbon in getting a win.

New York also lost, getting whacked by the White Sox in Chicago. The Red Sox now are both 4 1/2 back in the East and Wild Card races. Game 2 of the series tonight features Clay Buchholz against Matt (The Human Spitting Machine) Garza at The Trop.

Sad news about Stephen Strasburg needing Tommy John surgery. Hang in there, Nats fans. Many pitchers have made remarkable returns from major surgery (like Roger Clemens after shoulder surgery in 1985, winning the Cy Young and MVP the next year, and the great comeback season Billy Wagner is having this year after TJ surgery last year). I just hope the Nats fire the brainless Rob Dibble after his inane comments he recently made about Strasburg's injury, before it was known he needed TJ surgery.

Friday, August 27, 2010

#27: Andy Dufresne Escapes

"The Shawshank Redemption" is probably my favorite movie based on a Stephen King novel. It is flawlessly acted and a truly riveting movie. It has so many memorable scenes, but I would guess the wrongly-convicted Andy Dufresne's escape from Shawshank Prison is probably my favorite in the film.

This clip is just over nine minutes, and goes from when Andy is first discovered missing up until Andy tasting freedom for the first time in 19 years.

This is YouTube clip number 27. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

#26: Where The Hell Is Beeks?

"Trading Places" is a terrific comedy that starred Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy from 1983, about a rich guy and a poor guy who switch places over a bet. But in the end they get the last laugh.

The last ten minutes of the movie are my favorite, when the guys get their revenge on the evil Duke brothers and wipe them out financially.

This clip begins when they arrive in Lower Manhattan and walk past the World Trade Center.

Number 26. Enjoy.

Incompetent Umps Strike Again

The Red Sox split a doubleheader yesterday with the Seattle Mariners, a 5-3 win in the first game but a 4-2 loss in the nightcap.

But it was the umpires who were an unecessary factor of the second game, as a vacation replacement ump named Dan Bellino wrongly tossed Adrian Beltre out of the second game, simply for trash talking with former teammate Felix Hernandez.

Beltre was caught looking at a borderline pitch the previous inning, but walked away and said nothing to the ump. Before the third inning started, Beltre was giving it to Hernandez by the Seattle dugout, and in Spanish as well. But for reasons totally unknown to anyone else on this planet, Bellino threw Beltre out of the game. When Beltre and Terry Francona went to argue their point with Bellino, they were shielded off him by the other umpires (and it was Joe West's crew, what a shock). Tito got tossed shortly after that.

It was a really embarrassing display by a group of inept umpires, which have infested MLB in recent years. Both Kevin Cash and Hernandez backed up Beltre's version of the events, but naturally the umpires didn't bother to get together and try to figure out exactly what transpired. Once again, MLB has a serious problem with rotten umpires, but naturally they will put their heads in the sand and do nothing. Bellino deserves to be suspended.

Josh Beckett pitched six solid innings, and the Red Sox scored four runs in the sixth inning of a scoreless game. Adrian Beltre and Daniel Nava had clutch RBI in the inning. But Beckett gave Seattle three runs back, on HRs by Russell Branyan and Casey Kotchman.

Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon shut the down on the Mariners over the final 2 2/3 innings, with Pap getting his 32nd save.

Tim Wakefield started Game 2 in place of Jon Lester, who was moved back to Friday against Tampa Bay, as Daisuke Matsuzaka has been complaining of a sore back and will not pitch in St. Pete. (Just what the Sox need, more injuries.) Wake wasn't bad, and pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs.

Hernandez pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing the Sox two runs in getting the win.

New York and Tampa Bay both lost, so the Red Sox gained a half game yesterday, and now trail both teams by 5 1/2 games.

Here's an interesting article from the Hauls of Shame web site about a Shoeless Joe Jackson jersey from 1919 currently in the Hall of Fame, that was originally in the late Barry Halper's collection. Turns out that it's a fake.

And The Texas Con Man will be arraigned in federal court in Washington on Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CHB Never Ceases to Infuriate

My friend Adam has a terrific response to Dan Shaughnessy, and a truly inane column that the Curly Haired Bastard wrote about Johnny Damon staying in Detroit. It's well worth the read. (Adam's comments are in italics.)

Why wouldn’t Damon come back to Boston?
Could it have been the booing? Let’s hope not, but if it was the booing that turned Damon off to Boston, then childish Sox fans get what they deserve. It was inane to boo a player who played 100 percent every day, delivered key hits in most of the big games at the end, and almost killed himself in service to the Red Sox when he collided with Damian Jackson during the 2003 ALDS.

This is inane. Fans aren’t rational, and “writers” like CHB love to stoke the Sox-MFY rivalry (he makes a lot of money doing it too). MFY fans would do the same to one of their own who signed with the Sox. That’s why David Wells laughed at Joe Torre’s reaction to the booing Damon got when he returned to Boston. Wells was treated poorly by MFY fans when he played for the Sox. A washed-up David Cone was called a traitor on the back page of the Daily News when he signed with Boston.
Did Damon deliver more key hits than Manny or Nomar, two players CHB hated? Who cares about the collision with Damian Jackson? That was a freak occurrence, not a result of Damon’s hard work. That’s not to say Damon didn’t play hard. He did. But CHB has made a career of tearing down Boston sports icons and other hard working players.

All of the above was erased in the minds of some nitwits because Damon signed with the Yankees. And that is pathetic. Damon came here from Oakland because Boston offered the best deal. When his contract was up, the Sox offered four years at $40 million while the Yankees offered four years at $52 million. It’s a significant difference. Damon wasn’t a guy who left for one extra dollar. He left because the Yankees outbid the Sox — by a lot.
For this, he was booed. He saw the T-shirts about looking like Jesus and throwing like Mary. He saw himself portrayed as a hardball Judas. He heard the Bronx cheers simply because he played for the Bronx Bombers. And that was stupid. And wrong.
The Sox bumbled the Damon contract negotiations after the 2005 season. They misread the future. They figured Damon’s game would deteriorate.

It did. As of 2007, the second year of a four-year contract, Johnny Damon no longer was able to play CF (the position he was signed to play). Damon’s defensive in CF had been declining for years. The Sox needed a CF, and didn’t want to overpay a player whose skills at that position were in decline. Damon lucked out in New York because the MFY could play him at LF/DH. The Sox had two players locked into both positions: Manny and Ortiz. Had Damon stayed in Boston, it would have been a disaster!

They were wrong. Damon was worth every penny the Yankees paid him from 2006-09. He played hard and he played well for the full four years. In his final year of the contract, he hit .282 with 24 homers and 82 RBIs. Think Boston could have used that? It’s better than the sorry numbers posted by J.D. ($14 million per year) Drew.

This is especially stupid. Damon wasn’t “worth every penny.” He was an overpaid, poor fielding, decent hitting LF/DH. As for Damon’s last year with the MFY, he hit 17 HR .279 AVG/.382 OBP/.533 SLG (.915 OPS) at home and .284 AVG/.349 OBP/.446 SLG (.795 OPS) with 7 HR on the road. Hmm, looks like his home ballpark (Coors East in 2009) helped his numbers tremendously. So far this year, Damon is hitting .273 AVG/.361 OBP/.409 SLG (.770 OPS).
I love it when idiots like CHB try to analyze baseball. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Here are Drew’s “sorry numbers” from last year: .279 AVG/.392 OBP/.522 SLG (.914 OPS). Drew also hit 24 HR in a HR-suppressing ballpark (11 HR at home, 13 HR on the road). CHB bringing JD Drew into the mix is rather odd because Drew didn’t replace Damon; he replaced Trot Nixon. This is just a weak attack on the FO—and a strange one at that. The Drew signing was a good one, and a good value for performance. Since CHB mentioned it, here’s a comparison of Drew’s and Damon’s hitting from 2007-2009:

Damon - .285 AVG/.364 OBP/.449 SLG (.813 OPS)
Drew - .276 AVG/.390 OBP/.485 SLG (.875 OPS)

Drew was the far better hitter, even with his subpar 2007 season. Also, Drew is the far better defensive player. What was the FO thinking?!?

Damon came up big again in the end. He turned the 2009 World Series in the Yankees’ favor with his amazing instincts in the ninth inning of Game 4. It was a 4-4 game with two out and nobody aboard when Damon singled to center off Brad Lidge on a nine-pitch at-bat. He then stole second and third on one pitch, taking advantage of Philadelphia’s infield shift on Mark Teixeira.
With Damon on third, Lidge couldn’t throw his slider and that gave Alex Rodriguez the cookie he needed to hit a game-breaking double. Damon’s instincts effectively won the World Series for the Yankees. That is the kind of player he is.

Wow, Johnny Damon single-handedly made Brad Lidge suck. Remember, we’re talking about a relief pitcher who had a 7.21 ERA (5.45 FIP) in the regular season in 2009.

In Boston in September 2010, Damon wasn’t going to be the Damon of 2004, but he would have helped. The Sox left field production this year is abysmal; people who have manned the position in front of the Monster are hitting .232 with an aggregate 16 homers, 62 RBIs, and a hideous on-base percentage of .301.

Yep, Sox LF have been pretty bad overall. But CHB is overstating the problem. Ells wasn’t good due to injuries and Jeremy Hermida, who is a bad player, played more games in LF than any other Red Sox player. Hermida is gone now. Ells probably won’t play again. Now, LF will be manned by a combination of Bill Hall, Daniel Nava, Darnell McDonald, and Ryan Kalish, .333-.360 wOBA hitters. So far this month, the Sox have gotten more from LF than the Rays and about the same production as the MFY:

MFY - .245 AVG/.330 OBP/.372 SLG (.703 OPS/.324 wOBA)
Sox - .235 AVG/.290 OBP/.447 SLG (.737 OPS/.322 wOBA)
Rays - .229 AVG/.279 OBP/.344 SLG (.623 OPS/.279 wOBA)

Another thing to note, while Damon is better than Hall, Nava, or Kalish (right now), the real question is: what are five weeks of Damon worth in terms of wins? So far this year Damon is a 1.3 WAR (Baseball Reference) to 1.7 WAR (Fangraphs) player overall. That numbers is deflated because Damon is primarily a DH. Let’s assume that Damon would be a 2 WAR player in LF, which averages out to a third of a win per month. Even if Damon came to Boston and played way over his head, he probably wouldn’t be worth more than half a win. The difference between Damon and Nava/Hall/McDonald/Kalish (a combined 2.7 WAR – Fangraphs) just isn’t that great—especially over a short period (a little over a month).

When Jorge Posada heard that the Red Sox had claimed Damon off waivers, the veteran Yankees catcher said, “Obviously, he would make them a lot better.’’

This is anecdotal BS. Damon and Posada are likely friends; just like Tek and Papi are friendly with Damon. Players aren’t always (or usually) the best judge of talent.

#25: Festivus For The Rest of Us

"Seinfeld" is simply one of the funniest and best sitcoms of all-time. It was suppose to be about "nothing" but they had some truly classic moments.

There was nothing funnier than when Frank Costanza reveals he created a holiday called "Festivus." I have featured this clip every December 23rd, when the day takes place, but why not now?

So this is number 25 in the YouTube clips countdown. Enjoy.

So Be It

Johnny Damon made his choice yesterday, and he blocked a trade to return to Boston.

OK, fine.

He'd rather stay with a Detroit Tigers team that has fallen hopelessly out of the pennant race than to return to Boston and help the Red Sox get to the playoffs. There is a lot of speculation as to Damon's exact reasons, and he didn't come forth and say exactly why.

But I suspect it has to do with Red Sox management as opposed to the fans. I'm sure he would have been welcomed back by the majority of them, and that it's time to put the recent past (Yankees) behind everyone. I believe that Damon is still angry for the way the Red Sox front office treated the contract negotiations after he became a free agent after the 2005 season.

Then I see crap like this. I love writers who don't get their facts straight. Damon wasn't booed during the Tigers recent trip into Fenway because he didn't play, as he had back spasms and missed the weekend. It would have been interesting to see the reaction by the Fenway fans of Damon no longer in a Yankees uniform, but it didn't happen this year.

And I certainly don't believe Damon passed on a Fenway reunion out of some "loyalty" to the Yankees. If he was loyal to New York, he would have signed a one-year deal with them and stayed before this season, but he and his agent, Dr. Evil, badly misread the market and he wound up exiled in Detroit. He should be as angry with the Yankees as he appears to be with the Sox.

If the Sox accomplished anything this week with Damon, they kept him away from a contender (Tampa Bay) and kept him in Detroit with the also-ran Tigers for the rest of 2010.

Damon had a chance to repair his broken legacy in Boston, but ultimately chose not to.

So be it.

Now it will be even more interesting should Damon return to Fenway with an AL team in 2011. It could be May of 2006 all over again.

Trivia Q&A: August 24

We had 21 teams in for Trivia Night, and a huge crowd at that. The Red Sox got rained out at Fenway, so our full attention was on the Q&A.

The scores throughout the night were generally on the strong side, especially in General Knowledge and August 24th Trivia. But we had a few teams that capitalized on the double points of In Q's iPd, and the scores dramatically shifted after that round. It also looks like the audio round went really well and most players seemed to like, so it will be back once a month on a rotation basis.

We had a logjam going into IQ Trivia, with the top six teams separated by two points. The IQ Trivia numbers were rather good, too. But the team of The Bar pulled out a one-point win (and we had four teams get at least 50 points, which rarely had happened).

BTW, the team of The Bar was actually just one person, a guy named Jim, who was originally from Kansas City, and I enjoyed chatting about baseball with him after the contest concluded. Congratulations, Jim. (And I believe it is the first time we have ever had a solo winner on Trivia Night.)

Current Events
1. This prestigious university regained the top spot in the US News and World Report's annual rankings of the best US colleges, dropping last year's number 1, Princeton, to second place.
2. This South American country declared a state of emergency last week after nearly 25,000 forest fires spread across the country.
3. This female R&B singer was fined by the city of Dallas, TX after being convicted of disorderly conduct for taking all of her clothes off while making a music video on the streets there.
4. Amnesty International has urged this country not to sever the spine of a man who was convicted there of paralyzing another man.
5. A painting worth $50 million by this 19th century artist was stolen last Saturday in Egypt and is still currently missing.
6. This country had national elections last weekend, and they resulted in a hung parliament, the first there since 1940, and the prime minister hopes to form a government with the help of independents.
7. A toilet belonging to this famous reclusive author, who died last January, was recently put up for sale on eBay for $1 million.

August 24th Trivia
1. The Treaty of Cordoba was signed on this date in 1821, giving Mexico independence from what country?
2. On this day in 1967, this man led a group of hippies into the NYSE and temporarily halted trading by throwing dollar bills from the viewing gallery.
3. In 79 AD on this date, the city of Pompeii was one of three cities to be buried in volcanic ash when this volcano erupted.
4. In 1456, the first Gutenberg Bible was completed printing in what European country?
5. Marlee Matlin, a deaf actress who won an Oscar for Best Actress in 1986 in her first role in this film, was born on this date in 1965.
6. Mike Shanahan, current head coach of the Washington Redskins who won back-to-back Super Bowls with this NFL team in 1997 and 1998, was born on this date in 1952.
7. Goodison Park, one of the world's oldest soccer stadiums, the home of Everton FC in this English city, opened on this day in 1892.

In Q's iPod ("The Q Train")
1. Hells Bells (AC/DC)
2. Jessica (The Allman Brothers)
3. Take Five (Dave Brubeck)
4. Baba O'Riley (The Who)
5. Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen)
6. Linus and Lucy (Vince Guaraldi)
7. Spirit In The Sky (Norman Greenbaum)
8. The Song Remains The Same (Led Zeppelin)
9. Centerfield (John Fogerty)
10. Rock and Roll Part 2 (Gary Glitter)

General Knowledge
1. In 1836, The Siege of The Alamo took place in what Texas city? ( 1 pt)
2. In 2001, what man became the second African-American to win the Oscar for Best Actor? ( 1 pt)
3. In 1885, what famous landmark arrived in New York aboard the ship Isere? ( 1 pt)
4. The 1965 Watts riots took place in what US city? ( 2 pt)
5. Anthony Dominick Benedetto is the real name off what legendary singer? ( 2 pt)
6. What actress portrayed Alexis Colby on the 1980s TV series "Dynasty?" ( 2 pt)
7. What popular video game company was founded in 1889 as a playing card company? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. Peter Benchley, the author of "Jaws," was once a speechwriter for what US president? ( 3 points)
2. What rock band took their name from a sex toy in the William Burroughs novel "Naked Lunch?" ( 4 points)
3. What current top 10 web site was originally founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998? ( 4 points)
4. William Marston, who invented the lie detector, also created what popular female comic book character in 1941? ( 5 points)
5. What 1976 movie had exactly one word of dialogue in it: "no," which was spoken by the famous mime Marcel Marceau? ( 4 points)

Current Events
1. Harvard; 2. Bolivia; 3. Erykah Badu; 4. Saudi Arabia; 5. Vincent Van Gogh; 6. Australia; 7. J.D. Salinger.

August 24th Trivia
1. Spain; 2. Abbie Hoffman; 3. Mt. Vesuvius; 4. Germany; 5. "Children of a Lesser God;" 6. Denver Broncos; 7. Liverpool.

General Knowledge
1. San Antonio; 2. Denzel Washington; 3. Statue of Liberty; 4. Los Angeles; 5. Tony Bennett; 6. Joan Collins; 7. Nintendo.

IQ Trivia
1. Lyndon Johnson; 2. Steely Dan; 3. Google; 4. Wonder Woman; 5. "Silent Movie."

Because It's The Right Thing to Do

This is a post I was really hoping I would not have to write. But I have to.

We all know of the controversy of the mosque that is planned for Lower Manhattan, just two blocks from the World Trade Center site on Park Place. It has stirred up some great passions on both sides of the debate. But I can only be on one side of it.

The mosque should be built at another location.

As many of you who have read my blog in the past know, I pay more than just a passing interest at what's been going on at the World Trade Center site. I have been at the previous eight September 11th remembrances, and I will be there again in less than three weeks.

The mosque controversy was barely a blip on the national radar screen until President Obama made comments about it to a Muslim group at the White House on August 13th. Originally he stayed out of it, saying it was a "local matter."

I was there at Ground Zero in June when there was a protest that very few paid any attention to. I felt I needed to make my voice heard about it, but most people who were there just seemed to be there to bash Muslims and their religion, not to voice legitimate concerns about the mosque being built near sacred ground (and that's a good part of the reason I wasn't at the one this past Sunday). There were very few 9/11 victims' family members I recognized, and just too many people there I felt that were using Ground Zero and the victims' families to further a different agenda.

In this whole controversy, my first concern is with the 9/11 victims and their families. Since 2001, I have been at Ground Zero on numerous occasions standing with the families. The City of New York has dumped on them time and time again, over such things as the building of the memorial and the remains at Fresh Kills on Staten Island. I was proud to be with them every time.

And in these nine years, I have gotten to know dozens and dozens of people in what is known as "the 9/11 community." They are regular people like you and me who have had their lives torn apart forever by what happened the morning of September 11, 2001. They are not far-right wing "Islamophobes" who hate everything to do with Islam. They have shown me great courage, determination and conviction that their loved ones will not have died in vain, and will be properly remembered forever. It has been my great pleasure to know Anthony Gardner, Mary Fetchet and many others who stood up to New York City and its bureaucracy in seeing that what gets built at Ground Zero will be a beautiful and everlasting remembrance to those beautiful souls who perished there. I admire them greatly, and they will forever have a special place in my heart.

A mosque just a short distance from that tragic site is causing a lot of pain for many of the 9/11 victims families and opening up old wounds. The people who want to construct this mosque (as well as the city of New York) see this, and seem hellbent on building it on that site. They talk about tolerance and things like that, but they are showing no tolerance whatsoever in my mind, and are basically giving the 9/11 families the middle finger and showing no sensitivity whatever to what they feel. Again, they are not "ideologues." They are just normal people.

Listen, I understand those people who feel that a mosque on Park Place would serve a noble purpose, a way of healing for the world to see. I have no problem with the building of mosques. 99% of American Muslims were horrified by what happened on September 11, 2001, and many Muslims were among the victims of 9/11. But sensitivity is a two-way street.

There have been many "comparisons" to what building a mosque at Ground Zero is like and most in my opinion are off-base. But one that I believe is accurate is when a convent was built near the Auschwitz death camp in Poland by the Carmellite nuns in the mid-1980s. It caused a lot of outrage in the Jewish community, and finally Pope John Paul II stepped in and had the nuns move to another location. (It took time but it did happen.) The nuns had every right to build it where they did, but the Pope saw what it was doing to the Jewish community and the relations with them, and made his decision, which in the end was the correct one. The Pope concluded that moving it was just the right thing to do.

Same applies here. The people building the mosque have every right to build it at Park Place. (There has been a mosque on Warren Street, not far from the WTC site, for over 40 years, built around the same time the Twin Towers were. That's fine, as it's an established house of worship.) It's not a religious issue. It's a sensitivity issue. Some of you may disagree with me, and that is your right. I don't think our American way of life is threatened if the Muslims pick a new location in Lower Manhattan. I guess I just come from a different direction on this issue.

When something of this nature happens, the opportunists pop out of the woodwork, trying to capitalize on the situation. Most are politicians of both political parties. I have very little use for most of them. But I do agree with New York governor David Paterson, who wants a broker a deal with everyone involved and move the mosque to another location in Lower Manhattan, on state land. I hope he succeeds in that quest, but those who are building the mosque have to meet him halfway on it, and right now, they don't seem interested in doing that.

Compromise is the American way, isn't it? Our whole government is founded on compromise.

It is my wish that those Muslims looking to build the mosque should see the pain they are causing the 9/11 families and choose another location in Lower Manhattan. (And forget the idiot, grandstanding, self-absorbed politicians in this who really don't give a damn about the 9/11 families.) I hope they would have a heart and just see the hurt this is causing to some good people, who have suffered more than their share of agony over the past decade.

Please, please rethink this.

Like Pope John Paul II did with moving the convent in Poland.

It's just the right thing to do.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

#24: Miss Weenie Tot

Another of my favorite sitcoms is "Married With Children." For me it was always must-see TV. It was controversial in its day, but Al Bundy became one of my heroes.

There are so many great episodes to choose from, but I pick the one where Kelly becomes Miss Weenie Tot, and Al and Peg win a sweepstakes prize, but need Marcy and Jefferson to cover for them. Classic stuff. (BTW, you will notice that you won't hear Frank Sinatra's "Love and Marriage," the theme to the show in this clip. They couldn't secure the rights to the song when it came time to put Season 3 and beyond on home video, so they had to put in some awful soundalike theme to it.)

So here is a quick four minute synopsis of the episode, courtesy of Crackle. This is also number 24 in the countdown. Enjoy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

As We Wait On a Red Sox Legend

The ball is now in Johnny Damon's court.

As the world now knows, the Red Sox claimed Damon on waivers today from the Detroit Tigers, and the two clubs have agreed on a deal. Damon has until Wednesday afternoon to decide if he wants to return to the scene of his greatest glory: Fenway Park. He has a no-trade clause in his contract, and the red Sox are one of the teams he can veto a trade to.

It sounds like the team wants him back, and I've heard that both Jason Varitek and David Ortiz are on board with it. A poll at Boston.com currently has about 69% of the fans for it.

I was checking out the Tigers game tonight, and Damon currently growing a beard. A portent of things to come?

Damon has said it's tough decision, that he likes the Tigers and playing in Detroit, but they are now out of the pennant race. Damon says it bothered him when the fans got on him after he left for the Yankees, and it sounds like he still holds a grudge against Red Sox management for the way he felt he was treated after he became a free agent in 2005.

Well, now, can be a time when both sides can mend fences, and Damon can repair the legacy he damaged when he left for New York. If he ultimately decides to spurn the Sox, he better have a good reason. The Red Sox fans will be watching closely, and he will really be in for it the next time he sets foot in Fenway Park in an enemy uniform. Stay tuned.

The Sox beat the Seattle Mariners tonight, 6-3, behind eight innings of the mostly solid starting pitching of John Lackey. He had only one really bad inning, and that was the sixth, when the Sox were up 3-1, and Lackey gave up four hits and the Mariners tied it.

But Marco Scutaro was the hitting star tonight, getting two clutch singles that drove in two runs each time. Jonathan Papelbon shut down Seattle in the ninth for his 31st save.

New York lost in Toronto, so the Red Sox are now 5 1/2 games back in the East.

Another Step to the Cy Young

Despite 2 3/4 hours worth of rain delays at Fenway on Sunday, the Red Sox gained a much-needed 5-0 win and took the weekend series from the Toronto Blue Jays.

A very rare sight was seen by those Fenway denizens: a David Ortiz triple, and it broke up Shaun Marcum's perfect game bid in the 5th inning. It was Papi's first three-bagger in over a year, and Adrian Beltre hit the next pitch for a double to give the Sox the lead.

Bill Hall later in the inning hit a majestic blast across Lansdowne Street to make it 3-0, and it was his 17th home run of the season. It was all Clay Buchholz needed, as he went six shutout innings. He did have trouble in three different innings, but got out of all of them unscathed.

Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront finished up, with Doubront picking up his second save of the season. Buchholz picked up his 15th win, and lowered his league-leading ERA to 2.26. Buchholz is definitely at or near the top of the Cy Young Award race, and has a 20-inning scoreless streak going right now.

New York and Tampa Bay both won, so the Red Sox continue to be 6 1/2 back in the East and 5 1/2 back in the Wild Card chase. John Lackey takes on Doug Fister tonight as the Red Sox open a three-game series at Fenway with the Seattle Mariners.

Name That Tune on Tuesday

The Special Category for Trivia Night on Tuesday night will be "August 24th Trivia." It will be seven questions about all things connected to that date in history.

We will also be trying out a new category for the Q Train lightning round. It is called "In Q's iPod" and it will be similar in nature to the old "Name That Tune" game show. We will play 10 songs that are actually in my iPod (which is a Red 16 GB Nano, like the one pictured), and you have identify the title of the song and the artist who sang it. I will play about 15-20 seconds of each tune, and if you get both right, you get two points. (One point if you get one of the two correct.)

The songs will also be well-known ones, and nothing obscure. If this goes well, it will become a monthly regular category.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
In 1836, The Siege of The Alamo took place in what Texas city?

We will get going just after 9 PM. The Red Sox take on the Mariners at Fenway that night, and that will be going on as we play Trivia. I hope to see many of you on Tuesday night.

#23: Dave Drops Stuff Off a Five-Story Tower

I was a huge David Letterman fan when he had his NBC "Late Night" show. (I check out the "Late Show" on CBS every once in a while, but it's not required viewing for me anymore.) I watched Dave just about every night, and he was always coming up with goofy and off-the-wall stuff.

One of my favorites was when he'd drop stuff off a five-story tower in New Rochelle, NY (among other places). Bowling balls through TVs, a bunch of watermelons all at once, that sort of thing.

Here's a great clip from the mid-1980s of Dave doing just such a thing. Never ceases to crack me up. This is number 23 on the countdown. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

#22: I'm Not Sure What a Jackwagon Is

One of my favorite commercials currently on the air is the Geico one (they make some terrific ones) that features former Marine Corps Drill Sergeant R. Lee Ermey, as a psychiatrist who becomes a drill sergeant again and let's his patient have it. Classic stuff.

This is the first commercial on the countdown, at number 22. Enjoy.

Uncle Jed to the Rescue

No, not this Uncle Jed (pictured left).

Jed Lowrie dropped a popup in foul territory in the 11th inning with two outs playing first base, and how many times have you seen something like that lead to disaster?

Fortunately, Jonathan Papelbon struck the Toronto hitter out, and the game proceeded still tied, 4-4, to the bottom of the 11th. Who led off?

Lowrie. I just had a feeling...

And Jed blasted a pitch from Casey Janssen into the Red Sox bullpen to give the home side a much-needed 5-4 win. And all the more important since New York and Tampa Bay both won yesterday.

It was Lowrie's 7th career home run, and four have come against Toronto. Go figure.

Papelbon got the win, as Daisuke Matsuzaka went eight innings, but had only one bad inning, the sixth, when he gave up a 4-1 lead and the Blue Jays tied it, on yet another home run from Lyle Overbay.

The Red Sox try to win the series today, weather permitting, with Clay Buchholz taking the mound.

And now, even players who WANT to play for the Red Sox are getting hurt and ending up on the disabled list.

The Pawtucket Red Sox placed Carlos Delgado on the DL after he experienced soreness in his hip and lower back, the hip he's had two surgeries on. He's been out a week, and his chances of making it back to the majors appears to be fading. Here's more from Extra Bases.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

#21: Art Work

"Taxi" is another of my favorite sitcoms of all-time, and is generally overlooked in the discussion of the best in TV history. It had a memorable cast of characters and the show was still going strong when it left the air in 1983.

I had a number of favorite episodes, but one of the funniest was one called "Art Work," when the cab drivers get together and pool their money to try to buy a painting of an artist who is about to die. It includes a number of hysterical Louie DePalma moments, one of my favorite sitcoms characters.

This clip is from the middle of the show, when the art auction takes place. It's number 21 on the countdown. Enjoy.

A 16-2 Loss Wasn't The Worst News of the Night

Jon Lester simply got the crap kicked out of him on Friday night, allowing 9 runs in 2+ innings, by far the worst start of his career, as the Toronto Blue Jays coasted to an easy win at Fenway.

Toronto scored five in the first and you knew this was going to be awful. It just got worse as the night wore on.

Toss this one into the garbage and forget about it.

But, before the game, the Red Sox had to place Dustin Pedroia on the DL for the second time, as he re-injured the foot that originally put him on the DL in June.

When will he be back? Lord only knows. He is the fourth Red Sox player that has made multiple trips to the DL this season.

Get well soon, Pedey.

The only good news of the night is that New York and Tampa Bay both lost. But time is running out.

I've got a sinking feeling the curtain is slowly coming down on this season.

Friday, August 20, 2010

9 Out Of 10 Ain't Bad

The Red Sox didn't get a season sweep from the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles, as Josh Beckett pitched five solid innings before the roof caved in and the Angels won, 7-2.

David Ortiz hit a solo home run in the fourth of Ervin Santana and it stayed that way until the 6th. Then, Beckett got hammered: two doubles, a single and a three run homer by Hideki Matsui. All of the hits were rockets, and it was 4-1.

The first five innings really looked like Beckett had turned the corner. He was never in trouble, and had allowed just two hits. But was gone after one out in the 7th, and Terry Francona had the brilliant idea of bringing in Manny Delcarmen. Three walks later it was 6-1, and an infield hit after that it was 7-1, and in the immortal words of Warner Wolf, you could turn your sets off there. I did.

It was the third straight start Beckett has given up six earned runs or more. And this was on a day when New York won, so the Red Sox are now 6 1/2 games back in the East. Tampa Bay lost in Oakland later on, so the Wild Card deficit remains at 5 1/2 games.

The Red Sox also put their 19th player on the DL for 2010 before the game, as Jarrod Saltalamacchia went on with an infection in his right leg. Dusty Brown was called up just before the game. Dustin Pedroia was a late stratch before last night's contest, as he felt some soreness in his recently-healed foot. Sounds like nothing to worry about, and he should be in tonight's lineup, when the Red Sox take on the Blue Jays for three at Fenway, with Jon Lester taking on Brett Cecil.

#20: October 21, 1975

Here's clip number 20, from "Good Will Hunting." Could there be any other choice but this?

I'd remember the date, October 21, 1975, even if I didn't have to see about a girl.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Feds About to Indict The Texas Con Man

Here it comes. Roger Clemens is about to be indicted for perjury for lying under oath in 2008 about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. (And he's REALLY going to take it in the butt now.)

Tee-hee. Roger Clemens Incarceration Day is a step closer to happening.

Here's more from The New York Times.

And here's the takeoff of the infamous denials Clemens put up on YouTube right after the allegations surfaced. Please enjoy this again:

#19: Can You Fly This Plane and Land It?

"Airplane!" is still another of my favorite comedies of all-time. Totally and completely off the wall, with serious actors like Peter Graves, Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges playing terrific comedy roles. It's the real genius of the film.

And it's got some excellent one-liners that will be quoted forever.

Here is the one probably quoted most often, when Robert Hays enters the cockpit for the first time. This is number 19 in our countdown. Enjoy.

Sox Nine, Halos Zilch

On a night when I picked to see "Inception" with a friend of mine in Brooklyn (a good film, but I think I'd have to watch it again to really appreciate it), the Red Sox came from behind to beat the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles for the ninth straight time, 7-5.

The Angels still haven't beaten the Red Sox since the infamous Papelbon meltdown of Game 3 of the 2009 ALCS.

I checked my cell just in time to see the Red Sox rallying in the seventh, with Daniel Nava getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring in tie-breaking run. He also made a great catch in the 8th to keep the two-run lead (pictured).

Adrian Beltre and Bill Hall both belted home runs, Victor Martinez had three hits and scored twice, and David Ortiz and Darnell McDonald had two hits apiece to pace the attack.

John Lackey gave up all five runs in seven innings, two home runs, struck out five but walked none. He left with the lead and got the win. Jonathan Papelbon looked like the 2006 closer who lit up the league, striking out the side on 14 pitches in getting his 30th save, and he became the first closer ever to get 30 saves in his first five full seasons in MLB.

New York and Tampa Bay both won, so the Sox keep pace in the East, 5 1/2 games behind both clubs.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Cool Red Sox eBay Auction

My friend Fred Cantor contacted me today and told me about a really cool auction going on in conjunction with the single "Monbo Time."

A video of the song by The Remains has been put together, and you can actually become part of it. There is an eBay auction currently going on, and the winner of it can include a picture of their family as part of the video.

"Monbo Time" is a cool little ditty about the Red Sox and was recorded in support of one time Red Sox pitcher Bill Monbouquette and his fight against leukemia. 100% of the proceeds from the auction will benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Jimmy Fund, and the WEEI/NESN RadioTelethon, which will run on Thursday and Friday.

The winning family's bid will be incorporated into the song with the lyrics:

Today we are three generations, Our kids have been to Fenway too."

Really cool stuff. The winners will also receive a genuine 1968 Red Sox scorecard, and a 2004 program from the stage musical about The Remains, "All Good Things."

If you'd like to make a bid at eBay, please click this link. You have until next Wednesday, August 25th, to make a bid.

Here is the first two minutes of the video for "Monbo Time." Enjoy.

Kalish Makes a Statement

The Red Sox and their fans were happy to see Dustin Pedroia return to the lineup last night. He didn't have the best of nights: o-for-4, got caught looking in his first at-bat and made an error in the field. But having the heart and soul of the ballclub back on the field is what counts. The 4-for-4s will come soon enough.

Ryan Kalish blasted a grand slam off Jered Weaver in the fourth, after the Sox grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third against the Angels on a blast across Lansdowne Street by Darnell McDonald. The ball actually went through the back window of a car parked in the lot across the street. Send the bill to the Red Sox.

It was Kalish's second home run of the season, and he continues to impress in the field and at the plate. He was in center last night, in place of the recently DL'ed Jacoby Ellsbury. The Red Sox will issue a statement today about his recently fractured rib from last Friday night in Texas, and the feeling is is that this may shut Ellsbury down for the season. And now, you have to wonder if we've seen his last game in a Red Sox uniform.

Clay Buchholz was again terrific last night. He won his 14th game of the year and lowered his ERA to 2.36, and that leads the AL. He went seven innings, allowed no runs on seven hits while striking out three. Felix Doubront loaded the bases in the 8th but escaped with a strikeout, and Michael Bowden pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to cap the 6-0 shutout.

New York and Tampa Bay both won easily as well, so the Sox trail both teams by 5 1/2 games.

#18: Put Me In, Coach

One of my favorite music videos is "Centerfield" by John Fogerty, his terrific salute to baseball. And the video is nothing but old time clips of the stars from mostly the '30s, '40s and '50s. And all in glorious black and white as well.

I also dedicate this clip to the late Bobby Thomson, who passed away on Monday night at the age of 86. He is in this video of course, and despite hitting what many feel is the greatest home run in baseball history, he was always a gentleman to all who knew him. "The Staten Island Scot" will be missed.

Here's number 18. Enjoy.

Trivia Q&A: August 17

We had 17 teams in for Trivia Night on Tuesday, and with the Red Sox stomping all over the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles, it made for a very good night.

The scores were very good for Elvis Presley Trivia, as they were also for Odd Numbered Trivia. General Knowledge was slightly below what I thought it would be, but the scores going into IQ Trivia were still very close, with six teams withing two points of the lead.

But the team of Your Mother's a Whore, Glenn Beck pulled out a one point win, for their third win in four weeks, getting three of five right in the final round. (No team got as many as four correct.) Congratulations, guys.

Current Events
1. This major Midwestern city finished second behind El Centro, CA in a recent poll by the web site WalletPop for the title of "Worst Place to Live" in the US.
2. This country, which is currently building the largest clock in the world, hopes that "Mecca Time" will replace Greenwich Mean Time as the world's standard for time.
3. A museum in Texas is attempting to raise $30,000 in order to exhibit four dresses that actress Vivian Leigh wore in this classic 1939 film.
4. Former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who represented this state for 18 terms and was convicted on fraud charges in 1994, died last week at the age of 82.
5. Ronnie Ortiz-Magro was arrested on Sunday for outstanding parking tickets and is the second person in two weeks to be arrested from this reality TV show.
6. Philip Markoff, a former medical student, was found dead in his Boston jail cell on Sunday. Markoff was accused of murdering a masseuse he met through what online web site?
7. The 2010 Summer Youth Olympics opened last Saturday in what Asian country?

Elvis Presley Trivia: True or False
1. The FBI has over 600 pages of files on Elvis Presley.
2. "Love Me Tender" was Elvis' best selling single of all-time.
3. "Heartbreak Hotel" was Elvis' first gold record.
4. Elvis famously met President Nixon in 1970 and asked to be made a "Federal Agent-at-Large" in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
5. RCA Records was Elvis' first record-producing company.
6. "Suspicious Minds" was Elvis' last Billboard Hot 100 number one single.
7. Elvis Presley died at the age of 44.

Odd Numbered Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. The silver wedding anniversary is marked after this number of years of marriage.
2. In the US, this is the minimum age one can rent of buy R-rated films.
3. Alfred Hitchcock had a film named "This Numbered Steps."
4. A soccer match has this numbered minutes in each half.
5. This is the number of days February has in leap years.
6. According to many sources, Jesus Christ is said to be this age at the time of his crucifixion.
7. Alaska is this numbered US state to enter the Union.
8. The left fielder in baseball is represented by this number.
9. This is the number of flavors of Baskin-Robbins ice cream.
10. This is the total number of amendments to the US Constitution.

General Knowledge
1. Kenny Bania, David Puddy and Frank Costanza were recurring characters in what TV series? ( 1 pt)
2. The Buckeye State is what state's nickname? ( 1 pt)
3. "Ebony and Ivory" was a hit song for Paul McCartney and what other singer? ( 1 pt)
4. Golda Meir was the first female prime minister of what country? ( 2 pt)
5. Pat Garrett shot and killed what famous outlaw in 1881? ( 2 pt)
6. Who is the Roman god of fire? ( 2 pt)
7. What is the largest state east of the Mississippi River in terms of land area? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. The Hawke's Bay earthquake of 1931 was the worst natural disaster of what country? ( 4 points)
2. Lee Richmond was the first of 20 players in MLB history to accomplish what feat, in 1880? ( 5 points)
3. The 1966 film "The Fortune Cookie" was the first of ten cinematic pairings of what two Oscar-winning actors? ( 3 points)
4. Which 19th century man was the only US president born in the state of Pennsylvania? ( 4 points)
5. Bret Easton Ellis' first novel and its recent sequel are both named for works by what singer-songwriter? ( 4 points)

Current Events
1. Cleveland; 2. Saudi Arabia; 3. "Gone With the Wind;" 4. Illinois; 5. "Jersey Shore;" 6. Craigslist; 7. Singapore.

Elvis Presley: True or False
1. true; 2. false, "Hound Dog;" 3. true; 4. true; 5. false, Sun Records; 6. true; 7. false, 42.

Odd Numbered Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. 25; 2. 17; 3. 39; 4. 45; 5. 29; 6. 33; 7. 49; 8. 7; 9. 31; 10. 27.

General Knowledge
1. "Seinfeld;" 2. Ohio; 3. Stevie Wonder; 4. Israel; 5. Billy the Kid; 6. Vulcan; 7. Georgia.

IQ Trivia
1. New Zealand; 2. Pitch a perfect game; 3. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau; 4. James Buchanan; 5. Elvis Costello.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm On The Run Again

And of course, for a very worthy cause.

Last year, I ran in the inaugural World Trade Center 5K Run To Remember, at Governor's Island. It was fun but rather grueling, as Yours Truly isn't a great distance runner by any stretch of the imagination. But I was really well-supported, and I was one of the top fund raisers in the entire run. I was really touched by all of your generosity last year.

So, I am doing it once again, and this time on September 5th, and again on Governor's Island. (I strained a hamstring last week playing softball, but I am in the process of preparing for the run.) Again, I am running for the Voices of September 11th, a wonderful group I am proud to be associated with. I will be running with my friend Joyce's name on my running bib, as I was so proud to do so last year.

If you'd like to support me, you can click this link and make a donation (you have until September 12th to do so). I am deeply appreciative to all of you who helped me out last year, and I look forward to another great run around Governor Island in September!

The Laser Show Is Back In Business

The 2008 MVP is back where he belongs:

And my old friend Bill Lee is back in business, too. The Spaceman signed a contract to pitch for the independent Brockton Rox, at the age of 63.

Go get 'em, Bill!

#17: Walk of Life

I've always been a huge fan of Dire Straits. I saw them in concert at Madison Square Garden in 1992 and it was a terrific show. Mark Knopfler is one of my favorite guitarists of all-time.

They had a video from 1985 for the song "Walk of Life" that had sports bloopers in the background as they performed the song in concert. It was always a good song and I always liked the video.

So, for number 17 on the list of favorite YouTube videos, here it is. Enjoy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Abbey Road: 24/7

Last night I discovered one of the cooler live webcams on the Internet. It is of the crossing at Abbey Road in London that the Beatles made famous on their magnificent 1969 album.

The cameras are poised from behind the crosswalk (the studios are just off to the right of the shot). So now you can watch all the tourists there are they see one of England's most famous attractions. (I went there for the first time in 1995. It was quite an experience for this Beatles fanatic.)

With thanks to my friend Russ who brought this webcam to my attention.

The Crossing - Abbey Road Studios

#16: The Best of Blazing Saddles

One of the great comedies of all-time is "Blazing Saddles," Mel Brooks' 1974 masterpiece. I wanted to feature my favorite scene in the film, the "farting scene." (But for some reason, all the clips on YouTube were "embedding disabled by request." Go figure.)

But I did find this great six-minute montage of the film's best scenes. It has the farting scene, all the way up to the fight that's at the movie's conclusion.

So this is number 16 in our countdown of my favorite YouTube clips. Enjoy.

Elvis In The Building On Tuesday

Well, not Mr. Presley exactly. But we will be having a round of "Elvis Presley: True or False Trivia," to mark the 33rd anniversary of his passing (which is actually today). I will give you seven statements about The King, and you will tell me if they are true or false.

The Q Train lightning round will be "Odd Numbered Trivia" (since we did Even Numbered Trivia last week).

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
The Buckeye State is what state's nickname?

We will get going at 9 PM. We have the Red Sox-Angels game on the big screen that night, and I hope to see many of you on Tuesday night.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A .500 Road Trip That Should Have Been Better

The Red Sox completed their ten-game road trip with a gem by Jon Lester last night, and an awful bullpen on display in the Texas heat on Sunday.

The Sox finished the ten game swing through New York, Toronto and Texas break even, but it easily could have been 7-3. Those two travesties earlier this week put a damper on what could have been a terrific trip.

Daisuke Matsuzaka gace the Sox a gutsy performance on Sunday in the 99 degree heat in Arlington, going 6 2/3 innings, allowing just two runs when he departed. But the crappy bullpen made one final appearance on the trip, and Manny Delcarmen (another one who I hope will find work elsewhere in 2011) threw a meatball over the plate on his first pitch to Michael Young and it was 5-0.

C.J. Wilson pitched a tremendous game for Texas, allowing just four hits in the 7 2/3 innings he went. The Sox showed some life in the eighth, as Marco Scutaro doubled in a run and Darnell McDonald hit a two-run shot. But any comebacks were short-lived, as Dustin Richardson and Michael Bowden allowed Texas two more runs, and it was over at 7-3, as the Sox went down in order in the ninth.

I would have settled for a 5-5 trip when it started in New York nine days ago. But the last two losses were brutal, and now the Red Sox head back to Boston five behind Tampa Bay (who won today), and 6 behind New York (who lost).

And get ready, The Laser Show is set to resume again on Tuesday night.

#15: The Best Series Finale of All-Time

There have been some great endings to some classic TV shows, like "M*A*S*H" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." And there have been some that never had a finale, like "Married With Children."

But for my money, the best ever was the surprise finish to "Newhart," with its clever ending that brought back the original series and that the whole second series was a dream by Bob Hartley.

Here is number 15 in our series of YouTube clips. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

#14: NESN Comes Into Thom's On Kayreoke Night

Here's a YouTube clip that features Yours Truly. This is from back in September 2006 when NESN cameras came into Professor Thom's to film us doing "Kayreoke", which was when fans took turns doing the announcing of the Red Sox game in the bar with the sound of the announcers turned down.

(That was fun. Why don't we do that anymore?)

Anyhow, I turned up near the beginning of it, and I'm also shown doing the play-by-play for an inning with my buddy Eric, and Chris and Jim from Professor Thom's were both interviewed here as well.

This clip lasts just under three minutes and it's number 14 in the countdown. Enjoy.

From One Lt. Governor to Another

It has been my pleasure to come to know Jim Prime, who has authored a number of fine books on the Red Sox over the years, which include "Blood Feud" (about the Sox-NYY rivalry, and it's terrific) and "The Red Sox World Series Encyclopedia."

Jim was recently bestowed a great honor by the Red Sox recently. He was named Acting Lt. Governor of Red Sox Nation for Nova Scotia. Jim is a part of a large group of Sox fans in that Canadian province, and is also part of the Bluenose Bosox Brotherhood, the Sox fan group of Nova Scotia.

Jim, who originally hails from Freeport, Long Island (that's the one in Nova Scotia, not New York, believe it or not), was the subject of an article by the Chronicle Herald about his love of the Sox and his new position.

Congratulations, Jim. Welcome to the group of Red Sox Nation Lieutenant Governors!

And on the Red Sox front this morning, good news and bad news:

Dustin Pedroia begins his rehab at Pawtucket tonight, and will also play there tomorrow. If there are no setbacks, he will be in the lineup Tuesday night against the Angels. And, Jacoby Ellsbury left last night's game after he felt pain in his side in the fourth inning. He collided with Texas pitcher Tommy Hunter on the first play of the game, and felt pain in the place he injured his ribs. He's heading back to Boston for an MRI. Another DL stint is a definite possibility.

As We Watch This Season Fade Into The Sunset

As Nelson Cruz' extra-inning blast was heading into the seats in Arlington, was anyone else thinking like me, of a certain night in October of 2003?

Tim Wakefield on the mound, first batter of the 11th hits the first pitch of a tie game...

OK, sorry. Enough of the bad memories.

You can't blow six-run leads at this time of year and expect to make the playoffs.

Right after the Sox scored seven in the fourth, my first thoughts were: DON'T LET TEXAS SCORE EVEN ONE RUN IN THIS INNING. IT WILL PUT THEM BACK IN THIS GAME.

So what does Josh Beckett do? He's gives up TWO in the fourth, and two more in the fifth.

It's a brand new game.

I knew the Red Sox would blow this. On a night when they hit five home runs, and have a six-run lead, they lose. This season is not going to end well.

45 games are left and they simply can't afford any more shitshows like this. Every win is precious. New York and Tampa Bay both lost, so there's goes another golden opportunity to gain ground. They are flushing the 2010 season down the toilet but fast.

I dare you to prove me wrong, guys.

I'm pissed and I've had enough of this crap. Time for bed.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer's Not Over Yet

My friends at the Fresh Air Fund are still in need of host families to help kids have a great summer. If you would like to help, you can go to through this link to become a host or just to make a donation.

They've been helping inner-city kids since 1877, and could always use your assistance.

#13: Coffee Is For Closers

Here's a cool mashup of two favorite films of mine: "Glengarry Glen Ross" meets "Major League."

This clip features Alec Baldwin's famous rant combined with a locker room scene that makes for an entertaining two minutes. I can't help but think that Jonathan Papelbon should be made to watch this mashup, over and over.

This is number 13 in our countdown. (Today is Friday the 13th, but I never cared for those series of films, so this will do.)

BTW, when they show some of the Indians players in some scenes(especially around 1:18), they appear to be wearing their uniforms backwards. I think whoever put this together took a piece of film that was actually backwards.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

#12: Hit Me Again!

I've always been a huge fan of gangster films like "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas." I guess there's something about them that always appealed to me, despite it portrays a life that I would never get mixed up in.

Another terrific gangster flick of recent vintage is "Casino," another Robert DeNiro/Joe Pesci flick that has been popping up a lot lately on my cable TV. It's one of those films that I always get roped into if it's on.

One of my favorite parts is when the Pesci character, Nicky Santoro, shows up in the casino late one night demanding a $50,000 marker, but the DeNiro character, Sam "Ace" Rothstein, will only give him $10,000. And he takes it out on poor Don Rickles, ripping the phone off the wall and giving him a beatdown. (I noticed recently that the guy who plays the blackjack dealer in this clip was also in "Rain Man" playing...a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas. I guess he must be one in real life. Or he's been seriously typecast.)

Some colorful language in this clip ("Casino" held the record for the most "F-words" in a single film, with 422, until 1997), and it is number 12 in our countdown. Enjoy.

Another Inexcusable Papelbon Crapfest

Once again, the Red Sox' Achilles Heel struck on Thursday.

The Sox were poised for a sweep in Toronto, after a 10-1 thrashing of the Jays on Wednesday. John Lackey pitched eight solid innings, allowing two runs. He had some solid support, with Jed Lowrie and David Ortiz going deep. The five runs should have been enough. (They did leave runners in scoring position early, but a 5-2 lead in the ninth should be plenty.)

Lackey allowed a home run to Jose Bautista to open the ninth, and that was it for him. But in comes Jonathan Papelbon, who had absolutely nothing. Line drive double and sharp single on his first two pitches made it 5-4. I knew the bell was tolling.

Another line drive single and it was first and third, no outs. After a strikeout, Papelbon officially blew the save when he gave up a line drive double down the left field line to Edwin Encarnacion, and it was 5-5. Sixth blown save of 2010 for Papelbon, matching his career high (and the third Lackey victory he's blown, too). Everything hit off Papelbon were liners (as you may have noticed by my description). No cheap hits at all. It was also the first time he was pulled in the middle of an inning that was still tied.

Daniel Bard, the Red Sox' 2011 closer (I'll bet money on it right now) came in with the bases loaded and gave up a sacrifice fly by Fred Lewis to center, giving Toronto an inexcusable 6-5 win. They had the Jays by the throat, but Papelbon, who continues to be a shadow of the closer he once was, let them off the mat.

You may have also noticed I didn't say anything about Bard becoming the closer now. That's because Terry Francona won't do that in the middle of a pennant race. Nor should he.

The Red Sox took 2 of 3 in Toronto, but it feels like a series loss.

Today you saw the reason why the Red Sox won't make it to the postseason. The shitty bullpen struck again. You just can't give up games like this and expect to be playing into deep October.

Papelbon will be on another team next season. Just wait and see.

Not Getting Better Anytime Soon, Mets Fans

Last night I watched the Red Sox pull out the whoopin' sticks on the Toronto Blue Jays, as they hit four home runs and Clay Buchholz pitch eight strong innings in a 10-1 win.

But that's not my focus right now. Today I write about the embarrassment that is the New York Mets. (It seems like the only time I talk about them is when stupid nonsense happens.)

You've all heard by now the dustup that Francisco Rodriguez had with his father-in-law in the Citi Field locker room after the game last night. His victim was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, but Rodriguez was arrested and will be charged with third-degree assault.

Once again, the Mets have embarrassed their fans with crap like this. They are a joke of an organization, with the worst GM and worst manager currently employed in baseball. (Why the hell wasn't Rodriguez in the game with the bases loaded and two outs and the Mets with a one run lead? Jerry Manuel is an awful in-game skipper.)

The Mets are an also-ran, the Other Team In Town in New York. They are run by a collection of nitwits. The Wilpons won't fire either Omar Minaya or Manuel because they don't want to spend the money to bring in someone with a decent pedigree, and they are still on the hook with Minaya for another year at $3 million. Exactly what the hell were they thinking in giving this clod a three-year deal in 2009? He's been the architect of two major collapses (one historic), and has given odious contracts to stiffs like Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

It still makes my head spin that BOTH Manuel and Minaya still have jobs today.

And both Fred and Jeff Wilpon will hide their heads in the sand today after what happened last night and pray this all blows over. There are more and more empty seats at Citi Field and their loyal fans are very pissed off at all this. The best thing they can do is stay away and keep their money in their pockets until some real change is made.

The Mets are currently where the Red Sox were in 2001. Lots of bad contracts, an awful manager and GM, and a front office that needed to be overhauled.

And the Red Sox fans got their wish when the team was sold to John Henry and company. Their first order of business was to clean house and fire the manager and GM, both of whom were in the middle of their contracts. (Does that seem like about 50 years ago or what?)

The Mets have to do the same thing. They need new ownership, someone with a vision. They currently have absolutely no vision, no plan, no nothing.

The Mets are an embarrassment to the city of New York and their fans, and last night was just the latest in a long line of embarrassments. It's sad because New York is a National League town and it was really exciting when they were on top, and the Yankees were an afterthought. Those days seem like 100 years ago.

But it doesn't appear that team will be sold any time soon. And that is bad news for Mets fans everywhere. Terribly, terribly sad.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

#11: Car Jumping With Joey

This is another of my favorite YouTube clips, which I featured on this blog a couple of years ago. It is of Joey Gathright, one-time Red Sox outfielder (who has also been with the Rays, Orioles and Royals, among others) who made this video when he was back in the minors in 2002.

It is an amazing jump clean over the top of a car, and he does it twice. You have to see this to believe it.

This is clip number 11. Enjoy.


I was thinking yesterday about the Red Sox signing Carlos Delgado last week. And this hit me. When they do bring him up, which should be after a short stint in Pawtucket, what number will he wear?

That should be an easy one. Give him number 21.

We all know who the last Red Sox player to wear that number was. No one has worn it since 1996. Right after the Texas Con Man blew out of Boston, the number wasn't given out, for many reasons. I never understood why management back then, who had a stormy relationship with Clemens, didn't just give it out to some rookie. (They did that with Wade Boggs' number 26 after he left in 1993.)

I have read that the Sox have offered the number to Jonathan Papelbon, but he declined to take it, and I also believe that Josh Beckett decided not to wear 21 either when he came to Boston in 2006. (He did wear that number in Florida.) I think the reasons have more to do with a respect for Clemens from players as opposed to anything else. When the Red Sox were trying to lure Clemens back a few years ago (and thankfully failed), they kept the number open, but now it's time to give it to someone who will gladly take it.

And I'm sure Delgado would if offered. He wore 25 when he came up to the Jays in 1993 (not sure if 21 was available then), but Clemens grabbed it when he arrived in Toronto in 1997. When Delgado arrived at Shea with the Mets (pictured), he took 21 in honor of his idol, a fellow Puerto Rican and legend Roberto Clemente.

So, now the Sox can finally have someone wearing number 21. Delgado can honor his idol while giving Clemens the screws.

Sounds like the perfect storm to me. I hope he does it.

More Offense Than The Last 3 NY Games Combined

The Red Sox started off the three-game series in Toronto on a good note, winning 7-5. The Sox scored seven, which was one run more than they scored at Yankee Stadium in the previous three games combined. They did despite a rotten outing by Daisuke Matsuzaka.

They gave him a 4-1 lead by the third, but he gave it right back, walking two batters ahead of Travis Snider's three-run shot. He also allowed a solo home run to Adam Lind. Just when you want to start liking the guy...

He left with a 5-4 lead in the sixth, and Felix Doubront came in with the bases loaded and got out unscathed. But he allowed a home run to Jose Bautista in the 7th that tied the game.

Mike Lowell belted a home run that untied it in the 8th, and Jed Lowrie continued his fine hitting with an RBI double after Ryan Kalish's pinch single. Manny Delcarmen pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Jonathan Paplebon got his 29th save to preserve an important win.

New York lost in Texas in 10 innings, as David Murphy singled in the winning run off loser Mariano Rivera. Tampa Bay also won, so the Red Sox remained 4 1/2 behind the Rays and 5 behind New York.

The Red Sox brought up Jarrod Saltalamacchia today and placed Kevin Cash on the DL with a hamstring strain.

The news also continues to be good on Dustin Pedroia, as he will play two rehab games at Pawtucket on Saturday and Sunday, and if that goes well, he will be in a Red Sox uniform on Tuesday night against the Angels.