No alarms and no surprises, please.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Ok, here's the 2009 Fridge Yankee Preview.
First, let's recap the 2008 Yankees. By all accounts, it was a disaster. 89 wins and missing the playoffs for the first time in somewhere around a gajillion years. Utter disaster! Fire Cashman, Fire Joe Girardi!
Here are the numbers.
89-73 (tied for 4th in AL)
Team ERA 4.28 (15th MLB, 8th AL)
789 Runs (7th AL, 10th MLB)
83 Errors (3rd MLB, 1st AL)
Those are the results. But, numbers only really have a meaning in context. When you begin a season you have a set of expectations. Usually veterans meet those expectations, especially expensive ones like the Yankees stockpile. You hope your young guys give you a reasonable performance and wish that one or two of them break out and reach their perceived potential. So, how does a $210 million team fail to make the playoffs? Well, in short, what you need to have happen is have lots of guys do far worse than anyone expected and have only one player exceed expectations. Just one. And he's old as fuck.
The Yankees didn't have a single batter exceed their expected output for a year. This would normally be fine as the Yankees have expensive veterans at many positions and all they need to do is perform to par. But A-Rod, Matsui, Posada missed over 200 games last year. Melky Cabrera, Cano, Jeter regressed. The bench was terrible, massing about 500 ABs of sub-600 OPS.
The starting pitching was a mess. The Yankees went into the season with the risky position of planning to start Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes 60 times. They got 17 starts and no wins. Darrel Rasner (sold to Japan in the offseason) started 20 games to place third in the rotation in that stat. The Wanger hurt his hammy and started a Hank Steinbrenner bitchfest about the lack of the DH in the NL. Usually penciled in for 30+ starts and 17 wins he only managed half that before getting hurt. The aforementioned Rasner, Sidney Ponson, Alfredo Aceves, Carl Pavano, Dan Giese, Kei Igawa started 58 games last year. 58, or greater than 1/3 of the entire season. They managed 15 wins. The Joba rules and shoulder stiffness limited Joba to 100 solid innings. Pettitte gutted out the season and ate innings admirably, but faltered down the stretch. Mike Mussina was the one Yankee who had a career year. The bullpen was sketchy all season except for the resplendent Mo Rivera who is ridiculous.
In short, an absurd number of things went wrong and the Yankees still managed to have the 4th best record in the AL. If you were to pick any 2 of the disasters above and have that player perform to expectation, the Yankees probably make the playoffs. So, the Yankees could reasonably expect to be better while doing basically nothing.
But, nothing wasn't really an option because they had 80 million to spend and 4 big holes to fill.
Here's what they did.
Last year's rotation leaving spring training was : Wang, Moose, Pettitte, Hughes, Kennedy. We saw how that ended up. Moose retired and Joba was in the rotation, so they had three rotation spots to fill. They signed the best two pitchers on the market, C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Sabathia has been extremely durable over his career and Burnett has averaged 26.6 starts over the last 4 years. With those signings, they can reasonably erase the 58 starts by the cannon fodder mentioned above. Additionally, they are high strikeout pitchers, who will help to limit any Yankee defensive shortcomings. Then, the Yankees brought back Pettitte on a one year deal and you can reasonably pencil in him for 30 starts. So, the Yankees bought reliability in the rotation and now the only real question mark is Joba Chamberlain. And that's pretty fucking good because he had a sub 3.00 ERA as a starter. And if any of these guys falter, we have Hughes and Kennedy waiting in AAA with superlative minor league numbers. This alone will make the Yankees far better depth. There will be no more Sidney Ponson sightings, except for perhaps the visitor's dugout.
Mo Rivera had offseason surgery and looks as good as ever in Spring Training. At some point you can expect a decline, but Mo is exceptional and who knows when that will be. He may be like Eckersley and pitch into his early 40s. The bridge to Mo is looking a lot better than it was in the middle of the season. The Yankees re-signed Damaso Marte and he's been an above average reliever in his career and is solid from the left side. Brian Bruney was a bit of a revelation before he got hurt and I think he's the 8th inning guy which is a bit role for an unproven guy. But he looks great in spring training. Jose Veras quietly had a very strong season. I think he's gonna be pretty good this year, too. Phil Coke was fantastic down the stretch, but is still a bit new to the bullpen and the majors. Edwar Ramirez is what he is, which is replacement level. Jonathan Albaladejo is a wild card, full of unproven potential. The pipeline is very full of big arms in the minors: Robertson, Melancon, S. Jackson and others could all contribute later (especially Melancon). So this year will be a bit of a roller coaster ride. I predict a bit of a shuttle from Scranton to the Bronx and there will be some turnover. But bullpen management really is a strength for Girardi, so I feel confident that the Yanks will find some combination of arms that works for them by crunch time in late summer.
The big additions here are Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. Teixeira is better than Giambi in every single possible way. I think the amount of an upgrade will be staggering and his defense will make our infield much better. Swisher is the bench bat that the Yankees didn't have last year, causing them to use guys like Morgan Ensberg, Justin Christian, Richie Sexson to fill-in in the outfield and at first. He'll have that covered and also presents a good piece of trade bait if a trade is needed to shore up the pen. Gardner replaces Melky and should be a slight upgrade defensively. Offensively, he was even worse than Melky last year, but flashes potential for speed that Melky doesn't. He'll bat 9th and have a long leash assuming he catches the ball out in center. Posada and Matsui are back and looking healthy. I think it's clear that the Yankees would love to move the slow, rapidly aging Matsui, but they can't because of his salary. He won't be back this year and I could see him moved at the deadline to someone looking for offense and Swisher taking his place. Nady is here for the full year and Damon is in a contract year. Cano had a terrible first half but played to expectation in the second half. He should be much better this year. The big questions are A-Rod and Jeter. There's a lot of talk about Jeter's decline and while it's true that defensively he's declining, I'm not ready to bury the Captain offensively. Why? He was hurt all last year (rumor of broken bones in the hand, sapping power) but gutting it out because of the other injuries on the team and when he finally got healthy at the end of the year, he hit .345. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him decline, but I think there's reason to think he might be better this year at the plate.
And A-Rod? I expect him to return in early May, cause a bunch of controversy and still end up with 30+ homers and 100 RBI on the year. And until then Cody Ransom will play a great 3rd and barely hit his weight.
Melky, Molina, Swisher, Ransom and the much-hyped Ramiro Pena. All these guys are very solid defensively, but only Swisher is a threat at the plate. Pena will probably be sent down for at bats in AAA when A-Rod returns unless he does something amazing the first month. Melky will probably be traded. But this is a better bench than the Yankees have had in a while. Which should tell you how bad the Yankee benches have been.
The Yankees led MLB in spring training record. They're in the toughest division in baseball. The Rays went to the WS and the Sox almost did. Still, I look at the teams on paper and the Yankees look better this year. The Rays look worse. The Sox look about the same. That tells me that I think the Rays and Yankees will swap positions in the standings. The Yankees will win 97 games, the Sox will win 95 and the Rays will be left watching in October. The Yankee rotation is far better. The lineup is better. The defense will be better. Should be good times for Yankee fans.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Ok, I've obsessively cyber-stalked this movie for over a year. I love the book and wanted to love the movie. I wanted to come home in a post-coital-nerd-movie-glow like I did from the first Spiderman flicks, Iron Man, The Matrix, etc...
It didn't happen.
For me, the movie was a roller-coaster. There were moments where I was riding high in love with what I was seeing and moments that just didn't work at all and I wanted to hit fast-forward. Some of the problems stem simply from the nature of doing an adaptation. When it's done well, it works. Otherwise, not so much. Some of them are the known casting problems. And some of the problems are, frankly, bits brought to the material by Zack Snyder.
When it works, it's wonderful. There were times I was sitting in the theater with a smile on my face thinking, "Holy Crap, it's Watchmen!" There were also times when I thought, "Ugh, what the fuck was that?"
In the end, it was a bit of a disappointment for me. And much of my frustration is from mistakes that were completely avoidable. My prediction is that some internet geek will do some of the fixing with a macbook re-edit, as the Star Wars geeks did when they removed Jar Jar Binks. But that won't erase the missteps that are burned in my brain. And that makes me a bit bummed. I had bought into the hype and it didn't live up to it.
Specifics and spoilers below. Stop reading if you don't want to be spoiled.
Here, specifically is what worked for me.
* Rorschach - Easily the best thing in the movie is Jackie Earl Haley. Fantastic. The movie was always good when he was on the screen.
* The uber violence of the scene where Rorshach and the psychiatrist and also in the prison in general. It's meaningful to Rorshach as a character, because that's what separates himself from his partners. He's crazy. I was riveted in that scene.
* Dr. Manhattan - glowing blue schlong aside, that's about as good as Manhattan could have been done, I think. And I expected a bit of a spacey voice, but Crudup's voice was very low key and very human. I ended up really liking it that way.
* The sequence with Dr. Manhattan's origin and the photo on mars. That was cool.
* The opening sequence was cool.
* The opening voice over. I was geeking out over the dialog.
Here's what didn't
* Malin Ackerman - What the fuck! Seriously, what the fuck! Argh! She even kinda looked weird naked.
* The uber violence everywhere else - This, apparently, is a Snyder signature. It didn't bother me in 300, because that's what that movie is about. That is not what the Watchmen is about. It was gratuitous. I wasn't horrified by it, but it just doesn't fit, so it's like dissonant notes in a song. You're cruising along and then all of a sudden Malin "I can't Act"erman is breaking some dude's elbow in slowmo with a bloody crunch and sticking a knife in his neck. Or Dr Manhattan is killing some dudes and spraying blood all over people's faces. And piled up over the entire film and it just became annoying. The exception is the Rorshach violence mentioned above. It was necessary there, just not anywhere else.
* The fire splooge in the sky scene - Tart was all over this, as well as the violence, and she's right. I'm all for humping but, this was weird. In the book, it was more classic Hollywood style love making, silhouettes, etc., and the owlship spewing mist plus fire fits that. With this, I almost was expecting a money shot.
* The sound track is fucked up - Again, Tart is all over that. This is a trick that should have ended with Forrest Gump - using songs to put the viewer in the frame of mind for a period. Thing is, that's absolutely the wrong choice for this movie. This is an alternate reality. Trying to use music place us in a time where Richard Nixon is in the middle of his 5th term as president is messed up. It didn't work at all. I seriously hope some nerd is gonna edit that shit out or there's a bad music soundtrack-free audio track on the DVD. That shit was jarring at times. It just needed a score. The 300 score was great. WTF, Snyder?
* I seriously don't remember Nixon and Kissinger having that much of a role in the book. If they did, I forgot it. But, those performances in the movie were weird and I hated it.
* I ended up missing the squid. I had long ago read about the change of the ending and had talked myself into the fact that it would be ok. I understood that by changing the end, they'd be able to skip a bunch of exposition regarding the origin of the squid. But, as the ending arrived I realized I was wrong. I did not like the change of the end and frankly the earth uniting against fake aliens makes more sense than uniting against Dr. Manhattan's possible return. Here's an idea, cut out the pelvic thrusts and blood spatters to free up time for the squid. And the floaty huggy crap? Ugh.
* The epilogue - That shit was terrible. The "I love you Mom" scene? And then including a random appearance of the New Frontiersman that was not set up at all. On the cutting room floor, I guess. Maybe a 4 hr director's cut will fix that?
* Ozymanidas - I probably didn't hate this casting choice as much as some, but Matthew goode was believable in the fight scenes and ably delivered the lines. There was just a lack of command emanating from his Ozy. Ozy has to be a big authoritarian figure. He wasn't. It hurt the movie.
It may seem like I hated the movie because I have more gripes than raves. That's not true. However it is far closer to the truth than I had hoped. And that will be hard to get over.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
One that I'm not aware of, maybe? Because last night we went to pick up some chinese food and the proprietor of New Great Wall started barking out orders to the cooks. My five year old son made a disapproving face and said:
What the heck? Why are those guys talking spanish? This isn't Japan! They should talk like Connecticut!
This showed about as nuanced a grasp of immigration as Mr. Dobbs himself.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Obama Chia Pet
Dear Old Dude,
The following is not a funny joke:
So, I was at walgreen's the other day and I saw the Obama Chia Pet. Be the first one in your hood to get one!
It's not funny. That's mostly why I didn't laugh. That's mostly why the two other people you told that joke to while I was waiting for my Chicken Santore sub didn't laugh either. It made us uncomfortable. You made us uncomfortable. That shit was not cool.
Now, in your defense, it wasn't you that had the idea "hey, black president! Let's make a Chia Pet!" Someone else did that and, frankly, I think it's kinda fucked up. But as I drove back to my office, I remember thinking about your joke (which adds the "first in your hood" reference) and wondering why you thought it was funny?
Here's one idea I came up with.
Perhaps you feel that the world has passed you by (it has). Maybe you think that the things you hold dear (racial segregation) are going the way of the rotary phone (it is). You probably think that this has made our country less than it was in the good ol' days (it hasn't) and you feel isolated in your dismay at a world that's, in your eyes, going down the tubes. So, you construct a crappy, unfunny joke and it's a litmus test. Whether it's funny or not is not the point. You can go around and tell this joke to folks and try and find people that feel the same way as you. You can almost immediately see in their eyes if they're thinking to themselves "move along you unfunny fuck" or "Yes! Someone gets it! Black people shouldn't be president!" And when you find that person you can cling to each other like two castaways in a raging sea of racial equality. Perhaps then you can use a terribly unfunny bit of gallows humor to share your bitterness over a loss of status and reminisce about the days when black people didn't raise our taxes, they parked our cars at restaurants and carried our luggage at the airport.
Is that it? If so, I almost feel a little bad that you didn't find any other members of the oppressed majority to commiserate with at my favorite italian deli. Even the guy behind the counter who owns the place (I think) and is about the same age as you didn't sign on. After you walked away, he and I shared a raised-eyebrow "what the fuck was that" look. We were both very happy you stopped talking to us. While I can't agree with your feelings over Obama, I get the loneliness and fear, old dude.
I kind of hope that's what it is. Because the only other idea I could come up with is that you're an unfunny racist asshole.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Friday, February 06, 2009
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Read on as I, an evil Dad, make both my kids cry and yet get a good laugh out of it. I tried to be as faithful as possible to the actual events and dialog.
[Int. Fridge's kitchen]
Fridge is on the phone
Jonny (running in to the room): Dad! Daddy! Guess What!!
Fridge: (to person on phone) Can you hold on a minute? (back to Jonny) JB, you have to say excuse me when you interrupt someone....
Jonny: Daddy! Excuse me! I need to tell you something.
Fridge: ... and you know that it's rude to interrupt when they're talking on the phone. You have to wait until Daddy is done.
Jonny: But Daddy! I need to tell you something!
Fridge: Is it an emergency?
Jonny: well... no... but I need to tell you something!
Fridge: Jonny, it's gonna have to wait till I'm done on the phone, buddy.
Jonny: But, daddy! I NEED TO TELL YOU SOMETHING!
Jonny throws himself to the ground and writhes in the agony of injustice
Fridge (to person on phone): I'm afraid I'll have to call you back. We're having a meltdown.
Fridge (to JB, who is apoplectic): Ok, JB. You're gonna have to sit at the bottom of the stairs until you've calmed down.
Jonny: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! NO!!!!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!! Daddy, I have to TELL YOU SOOOOOOMMEEETHIIIIINNG!!!!!
Five minutes of carefully orchestrated histrionics at the bottom of the stairs follow. Eventually, Jonny calms down
Fridge: Ok, Jonny. Come over here please. You know that you can't interrupt people on the phone. It's rude, right?
Jonny: Yes Daddy. [wiping tears] I know. I'm sorry.
Fridge: It's ok, dude. What did you want to tell me?
Jonny (smiling and excited): "Skittle" and "Little". They rhyme!
[Int. Fridge's living room]
Fridge and Emma have just finished watching Jurassic Park. Clearly a questionable parenting decision as it was too scary for Jonny and he had to leave. Emma and Fridge are discussing the film, which Emma loved.
Emma: Daddy, wouldn't it be totally crazy if there were dinosaurs running around our house!?!?! That would be scary!
Fridge: Yeah that would be. But we'd have Roxy to save us!
Emma: Do you think Roxy could beat up a velociraptor??!?!
Fridge: Actually, no. She'd definitely try to save us if there was a velociraptor trying to eat us. But the dinosaur would probably eat her instead.
Emma: [Gasp!] No! We can't let them eat Roxy! I'd rather have the velociraptor eat me!
Fridge: Well, if I had to pick one of you to feed to a velociraptor, it'd definitely be Roxy and not you.
Emma cries out, leaping on top of a formerly sleeping, now bewildered labrador in a wild embrace.
Emma: Whaaaaa!!!!! No, daddy! That means you don't love my SISTER Roxy as much as me! That's not nice!
Fridge: Hey, I love Roxy, but that's exactly right. I don't love her as much as you. If it's you or her, then she's dinosaur food.
Emma: DADDY!!! That's a very very mean thing to say! Don't say that!
Emma collapses on Roxy, who is thoroughly confused. Emma sobs for a moment or two and then abruptly sits up with a tear-filled face and a slightly mischievous grin
Emma: Hey daddy [chuckles] maybe we can feed Jonny to the velociraptor instead?
Thursday, January 01, 2009
I've been tagged.
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Learned to play craps.
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
New Year's resolutions are for suckers.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Barbra, my sister-in-law had a baby about a month ago. My first niece after a bunch of nephews. She's cute as hell.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Not that I recall. I guess that might determine "close".
5. What places did you visit?
Vegas. Yankee Stadium for the last time.
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A maid. Seriously. I am working on this.
7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Feb 3 and Nov 4. Both big victories for my teams.
8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year?
I can't think of any. I've been in a ridiculous holding pattern for over a year. There's a lot of crap on tap for '09, though.
9. What was your biggest failure?
There are many things I failed to make any progress with, including my divorce.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No. Usually, my kids are bringing stuff home every month, but this has been a very good year for our immune systems.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
42" LCD HDTV. I can't imagine going back to non-HD full time anymore.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My kids. They had a great year.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My ex's boyfriend. He's an impressive douchebag.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage and day care. Always.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The New York Giants
16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
"The Frown Song" by Ben Folds.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder?
happier, I guess.
b) thinner or fatter?
fatter, for sure
c) richer or poorer?
poorer for sure.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
20. How did you spend Christmas this year?
21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
With my XBOX 360, yes.
22. How was work?
23. What was your favorite TV program?
The Daily Show. Clusterfuck to the White House was nightly must see tv.
24. What did you do for your birthday in 2008?
My kids and I cooked dinner.
25. What was the best book you read?
Bad year for Fridge reading. The user guide for Gears of War 2?
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I would say, Jay-Z's "Reasonable Doubt", which is only new to me and is a major staple in my rotation.
27. What did you want and get?
28. What did you want and not get?
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Tropic Thunder, I think. Iron Man was good, too. Dark Knight. Wall E? No huge standouts, but a bunch of solid films.
30. Did you make some new friends this year?
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Renting a dumpster and taking a week of vacation to fill it up with the ridiculous clutter in my house.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Hoodie and cargo pants?
33. What kept you sane?
Emma and Jonathan
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Right now, it's the Mom, Mrs. Taylor on Friday Night Lights. She's MILF-tastic.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Sarah Palin being fucking stupid.
35a. What political issue stirred you the least?
Sarah Palin's clothes
36. Who did you miss?
A few of my friends who live all over the US and occasionally my kids.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
There are a couple new guys at work that are pretty cool.
38. Burn any bridges?
Nope. Had ample opportunity to, though.
39. Best new restaurant you went to?
Margaritaville in Las Vegas.
40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
"There's no weakness in forgiveness." - The aforementioned MILF-tastic Mrs. Taylor.