Thursday, August 28, 2008

What Went Wrong?

My fantasy baseball team "Thuganomics" has been completely terrible for years. We're in a keeper league that has been going since 2003. I've had a couple decent runs, but never a championship and I truly thought this year would be different. My keepers this year were Jake Peavy, Brad Penny, Jon Papelbon, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, and Adrian Gonzalez. I had a decent draft selecting Ichiro in the first round (seventh round if you count the six keepers) and I thought I was ready to roll.

I was even in first place until right around the All-Star break. First place! Even with Brad Penny pitching Henry Rowengartner after his magical arm ligaments loosed up and Troy Tulowitzki getting injured twice and I was still at the top. Since the All-Star break, my team has lost 7 (count 'em 7!) weeks in a row. This would be the equivalent of a Major League team losing 45 games straight.

Am I an awful fantasy baseball manager? I really don't think so. I typically do research, regularly peruse the free agent market, read MLBTradeRumors.com, and set my line-up (the same could not be said about my free Yahoo league this year, but I digress.)

Obviously, Jake Peavy hasn't been as good as he was last year, and some of my keepers have underachieved, but other players I picked up have over achieved. Matt Garza, Joakim Soria, Brian Wilson, and Gavin Floyd have all been solid. I'm not sure if anyone would've predicted great seasons from that bunch.

My track record makes me look like I manage a team about as well as Warren from There's Something About Mary, but I really feel like I'm better than that. I'll do my research, try to make a trade or two, and get ready for next year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tidbits

Here are some quick thoughts for the day:

FantasyFishing.com - one of my employees, Steve, won a Chevy Silverado playing Fantasy Fishing on FantasyFishing.com. Yes, I'm totally serious. It's free, and he was two places away from $1,000,000. Wow.

Nine Year Old Jericho Scott is Banned From Little League - Jericho Scott throws 40 mph and has been banned from pitching in the New Haven Youth Baseball League. In fact, the other team left the field when he took the mound. Are we really going to start banning CC Sabathia or Rich Harden from the Majors because no one can hit them? Remember kids, don't get too good at something- you might get banned from it.

Shawn Merriman Needs Surgery - And yet, he's looking for a 43rd doctor's opinion to tell him that he doesn't need it. Shawn, get the surgery, stay off the juice, and turn the "Lights Out" on your stupid dance.

Peyton Manning Activated - And with the activation, I've deactivated my hopes of a Bears opening week win.

Retirement? - First Favre, now Strahan. I realize that the end result is different for both players, but I get the feeling that the media likes to stir up retirement stories as much as possible. When someone gets older, they need to announce if they are in or out immediately after each season- and if you waiver at all it becomes a story. If a player in your position gets injured after you retire, it becomes a story. Seriously, if Brian Urlacher retires tomorrow, I'm letting him go and not looking back. The media clearly enjoys these stories (and apparently so does the general public.) One person who doesn't enjoy them: Me.

College Football - I have to be honest, I'm not a huge College Football fan. Maybe it is because I didn't go to a big conference college, or because I moved around when I was young and never stuck with a team, but I just can't get into College Football. One thing that could happen to make me watch more: A Bracketed Tournament To Decide The Champion.

What a Dream! - Last night I had a dream that I was back playing high school basketball for my old coach Frank Allocco. We were wearing our road uniforms, but I had my road jersey, but home shorts. On top of that, I had forgotten my socks. I was freaking out, because errors like this not only get you benched for the game, but have fun trying to live through the next few practices. Luckily, I woke up before I had run any lines.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer Comedies

This summer has been one of the best (if not the best) summer ever for great comedy movies. I would say the average comedy movie disappoints me because I'll get excited to see it, and my expectations will inevitably be higher than the actual product. That could not be further from the truth from the last three comedies I've seen in the theater. Throw The Dark Knight in there and you have a very entertaining summer at the movies.

Step Brothers: Probably the funniest of the three. I love Will Ferrell (not a very original opinion, but true none the less) and enjoy most of his movies. I was getting a little tired of all of his sports spoofs (Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory, and Semi-Pro) where Ferrell essentially plays the same character over and over in different (but similar) situations. This was a breath of fresh air. John C. Reilly was also on top of his game and these two childish 40-year-olds beat each other up (or get beat up together) and play pranks the likes of which haven't been seen. Horatio Sanz's cameo as the '80s only Billy Joel cover band singer was too much as well.

Pineapple Express: As far as stoner movies go, this one goes straight to the top (well, near the top.) Seth Rogen and James Franco are both hilarious as they run from killers and the law while still managing to stay high the entire time. James Franco especially deserves some credit on this one, as he normally plays more dramatic/serious roles (yes, I did just consider Spider-Man a more dramatic role.) While he's not known for his comedic roles, he does a great job playing a stoner drug-dealer. James Franco's foray into comedy reminds me of when Matt Damon was in Dogma and proved that he can also play comedic roles.

Tropic Thunder: This movie is ridiculously funny. The cameos by themselves are worth going to the movies. I won't say who they are, but one in particular is so funny that you'll be laughing like Caesar Romero's version of the Joker. Let's just say it's one of the biggest movie stars in the world and it has not been advertised at all. To be honest though, the show is absolutely stolen by Robert Downey Jr. He plays a character within a character, and the things that come out of his mouth are comedy gold. Even from the very beginning, they have fake previews to introduce you to the characters in the movie. Downey Jr.'s is by far the funniest of those.

You really can't go wrong with any of these movies. They're all really funny, so grab your 100 oz. re-fillable soda and mini-swimming pool of popcorn and enjoy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Already?

The title is massively sarcastic. I'm drained from the week. Lots of things are going on, and yet I'm frustrated because I haven't had much time to continue work on my next album. I won tickets on the radio last week to Sunday of the Outside Lands festival in San Fran (Wilco, Rogue Wave, Jackie Greene, Jack Johnson, etc.), and I'm so drained I don't know if I can make the trip.
I'm my own worst critic, but I don't feel like I gave a great performance last night (though I know a few people enjoyed it) at Pyramid in Sac. By comparison, I played very well last week, but something was off this week. I played a few new songs I learned, so I can take a mulligan on those, but even some of my traditional favorites were not great.

Now, I do admit I was a bit distracted by the Bears/49ers disaster of a game that was playing on the TV during the show, but that's no excuse. Just because those teams are as bad as Jason Kidd on a SAT test doesn't mean I have to go down to their level.

It is just one more reminder that every time you think you have everything figured out, you realize that there's more to learn or improve. Anyway, here are some albums I've been listening to in case you're interested:

"The Boxer" by The National - Sounds like Interpol but way better. Key tracks: "Fake Empire," "Racing Like a Pro," and "Mistaken for Strangers"

"Have You Fed The Fish?" by Badly Drawn Boy - This dude can write some seriously awesome songs. I hear his live shows suck, but I've never seen him myself. All in all, this album is his best. Key tracks: "40 Days & 40 Fights," "You Were Right," and "What Is It Now"

"Ghosts I-IV" by Nine Inch Nails - All instrumental and completely awesome. Trent Reznor has always done a great job composing and arranging twisted songs, but this really shows off how great a musician he is. Keep tracks: "28 Ghosts IV," 4 Ghosts I," and "13 Ghosts II"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Who Is Worse?

As I have been listening to KNBR 680- "the sports leader"- there has been a lot of talk about the San Francisco 49ers quarterback situation. And in the battle for the starting job we have the following candidates:

J.T. O'Sullivan - former UC Davis Aggie and regular A-Hole. While it was fun watching my college football team destroy other teams by scores that would make the 1999 St. Louis Rams feel proud, it was ridiculous seeing J.T. on Campus treating everyone he could like shit.

Alex Smith - Mr. Smith also made an appearance in Davis over a year ago, where I saw him at a local bar. He was getting drunk and making out with some girl. I'm pretty sure it wasn't his girlfriend, and to be honest she was about a 7 out of 10. When I saw this I thought, "I know I can get a hotter girl than that [and since then I have gotten engaged to her], and that guy has $50 million!" C'mon Alex, don't underachieve at everything!

Shaun Hill - No Davis stories for Shaun Hill, but this guy just doesn't have arm strength or athleticism. If you need someone to hold a clipboard, I will totally do it.

Anyway, back to my listening to 680- a caller called in and said "At least the Niners don't have the Bears' QB situation."

Now look, I'm not saying either situation is great (or even good), but are you serious? So you'd rather have two quarterbacks that have been paid a lot of money (Alex Smith got around $30 million guaranteed and Shaun Hill just signed in the off-season for extra cash) who both ultimately get beat out by a lifetime NFL Europa player rather than two quarterbacks who both have over .500 career records, neither are getting paid tons of money, and both are only signed through this year. Rex Grossman [shown below training for this season] is probably the most talented of the bunch if he could ever stop making stupid decisions with the football and Kyle Orton seems to win most of the time for no reason at all.

I really can't even believe I'm making this argument, because as I said before, NEITHER team has an enviable QB setup, but I just thought it was funny that people would call in and rationalize their team's terrible predicament. Niners fans are getting desperate to find something they can hang their hat on. Well, I'll be a gentleman and give you something- their defense will be very good this year. Whether their offense can keep the D off the field and fresh is another point entirely, but look in that direction Niners fans if you need encouragement.

Both these teams will probably go around 6-10 to 8-8 because of wins they'll steal from division rivals. Neither team will make the playoffs. But you know what the best part is? We get to see these two teams match up, tomorrow at Soldier Field. My final score prediction is 5-2. Watch out for that gem of a game.

For the record: I'd like to see Alex Smith and Rex Grossman eventually win the jobs and turn into the quarterbacks they were drafted to be, but if that's not in the cards, I won't lose any sleep over it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Orton, Grossman, Moxon, Grenouille, Anybody Else?

The Chicago Bears named Kyle Orton (shown training for this season) their starting quarterback today. I really don't have an much of an opinion on it. I always liked Rex Grossman (or more specifically I gave him the benefit of the doubt more times than most other Bears fans) but he really hasn't done much grab hold of the first-string position. And really, neither has Kyle Orton. But considering the options, I'm just going to roll with it and hope for an 8-8 type season. But I have to wonder, who would be a better option for the Bears?

Gee Grenouille - I believe he might be a good choice because the Bears win with defense and the QB just has to "manage the game." Grenouille relied 100% on Bobby Boucher to attack offenses. This was exemplified by other teams kneeling the ball down and punting back to Gee's team. The difference is, in the Waterboy, they didn't have Devin Hester returning punts.

Jonathon "Moxy" Moxon - The Beak once led the West Canaan Coyotes to the district championship after their first string quarterback busted up his knee. He showed commitment and focus (turning down the Ali Larter whip cream bikini) and had an inspiring speech to rally the team at the district championship game.



Joe Kingman - The Rock will not let anyone down on the football field. Though he may look like a defensive lineman or linebacker- I'd trust the Rock with an eight-year old daughter that I've never met, so why not trust him with the Bears offense?

Radio - Better decision making than Grossman, more athletic than Orton- I really don't see where this could go wrong.

There are many other good candidates (Jamie Foxx, the blond dude from Remember the Titans, Michael Vick) but for now I guess we're going with Kyle Orton. I'm very open to direct snapping it to Devin Hester and seeing what happens, but until then- let's complete some 5 yard out patterns!

* NOTE: In thinking about it, this is actually pretty similar to an entry over at The Money Shot from January 10 of this year. You can read that one HERE. G$ talks about the Redskins finding a coach by going the Hollywood route. Respek.

Baracky II

I'm not as much into spreading political messages as I am talking about sports, music, and pop culture, but here's video that combines Rocky and Barack Obama. Make sure you watch for McCain's mohawk as he makes an appearance as Clubber Lang:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Domination

Argue if you like (and if you're Skip Bayless, you probably will) but Micheal Phelps is the most dominant athlete I've ever seen (I was born in 1981). Now before I say why, here are the other athletes I think you can make an argument for (please add more if you want):

Michael Jordan

Tiger Woods

Lance Armstrong

Barry Bonds (you could do it, but the steroids issue will ruin your argument)

I couldn't think of a football player that stands out as truly this dominant, so I figure there probably isn't one, but again, argue if you want.

I have NEVER seen someone dominate the competition like Michael Phelps. He isn't even racing against other guys who've been training tirelessly for their Olympic moment- he's training against his own personal bests/world records. And let's keep it real- I know NOTHING about swimming. I had to look up distances of various pools I've swam in to see if they were 50 meters in length or not (incidentally, they were not.) But what I do know is the feeling I get when watching Micheal Phelps. I know that each race, he brings so much focus and competitiveness that no one else has a chance. He gets mad when he wins a gold medal, breaks the world record, but doesn't get underneath the time that he thought he could get (getting under 1:52 on the 200m IM is the race I'm referencing, I believe.)

Phelps in the pool reminds me so much of when Michael Jordan would tear people up on the court. There were points where Jordan could obviously not be stopped, and Phelps gives spectators that same feeling. You know he can't be beat. I love watching athletes when all of their talent comes together with hard work and focus.

Keep on rockin' Michael Phelps- you might be a bit goofy, but you're competitive drive is second to none. Finish it off and complete the greatest athletic performance I've ever seen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

XKCD.com

I'm digging this guy's webcomic. I recommend checking it out. There's a link in the sidebar.

Monday, August 11, 2008

50 (Quick) Stories

Ok, so probably not 50, but here are some quick things that caught my attention:

Fukudome - I just read a story that Lou Pinella is thinking about benching his high priced Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Why you ask? The answer is simple- a steady decline in batting average. He hit .305 in April, .293 in May, .264 in June, .236 in July and .107 in 28 August at-bats. Here's a segment from Cubs.com:

Fukudome said Piniella has not expressed his frustrations with him face-to-face.

"It doesn't bother me at all," Fukudome said. "Maybe that's the American way of doing things around here."

Well, since I've seen Mr. Baseball starring Tom Selleck, I clearly know everything there is to know about Japanese baseball- and I'm pretty sure that when a guy hits around .200, you're getting benched in whatever culture you're in. Especially when two guys on the bench (Mike Fontenot and Reed Johnson) have recently been hitting around .400. C'mon Fukudome, Cubs fans love you and voted you into the All-Star game when you had no business being there on statistical merit- don't cause a problem in the clubhouse. Better yet, start hitting.

Jason Mraz - I almost never talk about work (in fact, I say almost because this is the first time I've ever done it) but this one was a pain in my rear and I'm going to drop knowledge for those who want to listen. Jason Mraz is coming to Freeborn Hall in Davis on November 3 and tickets went on sale on Saturday 8/9. We also had a student presale limited to 100 tickets at $20 on Thursday 8/7. They also saved 100 tickets for another student presale which will happen in late September/early October.

For the student presale- people camped out as early as 5am and we had about 400 folks in line. Some people cut in line and I know of a few people that camped at 6am that didn't even get tickets. Of course, a few people were less than nice to me (coincidentally, if you want to tell me how bad a person I am, why wouldn't you confront the people who cut in line?) but many people were nice about it and listened for better ways to get tickets. Here's a quick cheat sheet:

- Have someone go online, buy at the window and call on the phone. For a very popular concert, the worst thing that can happen is that you don't get tickets- getting extra is no problem because you can sell them to some desperate soul who was not as resourceful as you.

- If you miss out, buy tickets on StubHub or eBay. DO NOT buy tickets on Craigslist. It works sometimes, but if you get scammed, there are no repercussions for the scammer like there are on StubHub or eBay- I find them much more reliable.

- Have realistic expectations of the show you are going to see. Too many people get so excited about a show that they can't possibly have fun. Any little thing that isn't perfect will set someone off so their night will be as fun as watching Art of War II on DVD (thanks for that one Wesley Snipes- the first one wasn't bad enough?)

- Lastly, this is for the students- if you can get your $20 presale tickets, great. However, buy the $35 if you really want to go. If you wait for the second presale, the rest of the ticket will be sold out and no one will have much sympathy for you. The odds of you getting student tickets the second time are slim. Buy tickets now and resell them later if you happen to get lucky and get student tickets.


Enough about Tickets! - The Olympic 400m relay in freestyle swimming was absolutely amazing. I was actually on stage when it was going down, and you can imagine that more people were paying attention to the race (including me.) Jason Lezak came up huge overtaking the cocky French-man in the last 15m of the race. He was able to help Michael Phelps win another gold medal and keep him on track to break record for most gold medals won (held by Mark Spitz.)

I watched it a couple times after I got home on my DVR and I still can believe he was able to pull ahead and win by 8 hundredths of a second! Absolutely insane! Congrats USA, this is why the Olympic Games are awesome!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Barry Bonds' Legacy Gone?

I was just reading Scott Miller's article at cbs.sportsline.com about how Barry Bonds has disappeared from the San Francisco Giants facade. You can read the article HERE. Essentially, PAC SBC & T Park was decorated with TONS of Barry Bonds stuff for years- but not so anymore. Exhibit A would be the wall to the right- which shows me fake robbing a homerun after sneaking onto the field after a game, then having my friend Mike photoshop in the crowd and the '85 Fleer border. The wall has a picture of Bonds, Aaron and Ruth and it reads "A Giant Amoung Legends." They also used to hang fake chickens up after every intentional walk (yes, they hung up chickens even if another member of the Giants was intentionally passed.) They had multiple signs and practically every marketing campaign was based around it. Now it's all gone. For being a cheater and a polarizing figure, I really don't have any hate for Barry Bonds.

I posted on Scott Miller's story saying this:


Bonds is not the most popular dude (as a person or ballplayer) but as a Northern California resident for many years, I really enjoyed watching him play. We clearly know that the game was very juiced during his generation and he was the best of the best of that juiced generation. He should be recognized to a certain degree for that (I don't know what that degree is, but at least he can be recognized by the Giants.)

How quick us "regular people" forget that people cheat ev
ery day. If you have EVER cheated on a test or homework, left work a little early when your boss didn't notice, took credit for something that wasn't directly your doing, or exaggerated a tax write off (all pretty common things and the list could go on) - you should really understand that your life isn't scrutinized by the media so you don't have to be accountable in the same way as Barry Bonds. This can't be a double standard of "cheating is wrong, but only when a baseball player does it!"

The point is that he helped keep the Giants in SF, helped them build a beautiful ballpark, and got a lot of people out to enjoy the game- that doesn't disappear. I DO NOT think Bonds was right in what he did, or how he conducts himself- but I can't buy into this massive amount of hate that goes his way.

I'm not sure if this is right or wrong, but I actually do have more of a problem with fringe players that juice to make the last roster spot. Currently, minor league salaries are:
Minor League Baseball player contracts are handled by the Major
League Baseball office. Here are the salary ranges:

First contract season: $850/month maximum. After that, open to negotiation

Alien Salary Rates: Different for aliens on visas--mandated by INS (Immigration).

Class AAA--First year: $2,150/month, after first year no less than $2,150/month

Class AA-First year: $1,500/month, after first year no less than $1,500/month

Class A (full season)--First year: $1,050/month, after first year no
less than $1,050/month

Class A (short-season)--First year: $850/month, after first year no
less than $850/month

Dominican & Venezuelan Summer Leagues--no lower than $300/month

Meal Money: $20 per day at all levels, while on the road.


From The Official Website of Minor League Baseball
Now, I have a problem with those guys robbing a clean Major League player of the $300,000+ money they would've made per year in the Majors. Beyond that, I actually did enjoy watching Bonds play. I've seen him hit balls into the Bay while I was at the park. It was impressive. One of the best games I ever went to was Yankees vs. Giants last year where A-Rod went 4 for 4, Bonds hit a home run (751 I think) and Rivera closed out the game. It was so fun watching all of these Hall of Fame caliber players play at such a high level. The vibe in the park was amazing. You just don't get that now- and it's impossible to white wash from memory.

Look, I could care less what happens to Bonds. He may never play again, and disappear into obscurity. He may be black-balled from the Hall of Fame. He may die of steroid induced injuries from using over the years. But here are two things I'll say about him: 1) I don't hate him and 2) it was fun watching him play.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Good and Bad of Playing Music

Being a musician for as long as I've been doing it, you start to notice quirks about people in the way that they "listen" to live music. I've had good shows. I've had awful shows. I've had shows that test my will and make me want to Brett Favre my career away. I've had great shows that make me believe that this is what I'm supposed to do. And most of this is due to people's reaction, support, and enjoyment. There are sometimes people who will ignore and not clap for the musician even if their life depended on it (it doesn't depend on it, so maybe that is just an exaggerated cliche'.) There are sometimes people who will get a little too into the music and want to make multiple suggestions about what you can do better. There are people who yell out to play songs that I have no idea how to play, yet they irrationally believe I can all of a sudden learn the song and lyrics and play it anyway.

So I have two examples from my show last Friday at Pyramid Sacramento:

1) I played the first hour of songs and only played two of my own songs- all the rest covers. I prefer to play my own stuff, but my job is also to entertain. When winning over a crowd, many times you have to play songs that people know (or you have to make people relate to your own material, which is more difficult but many times possible.) Playing all covers may be the basketball equivalent of getting a little lazy on defense on a possession and getting beat baseline or not boxing out.

So I get done with Act I and a guy comes up to me. He says, "Hey man, your cover of 'Billie Jean' was really great- I like the way you play that song. I was just wondering though, are you going to play any of your songs? I went onto to Myspace and checked out your songs and I was wondering if you could play those songs?"

Wow, right? I absolutely came back from break and played a bunch of originals (and mixed in a couple covers near the end, but the ratio was more favorable.) The show actually was more interesting because that little spark of confidence was just what I needed to engage people in my own songs. I really would like to thank that person who came up to me and gave me a great amount of confidence (sometimes you need a little kick in the pants, even if it is with positive confidence.)

2) At the end of the show, I made sure to say, "If you want to buy a last minute CD or throw a tip in the pitcher feel free." Then I began to clean up my stuff. I leave it out for a good 10 minutes before I have to put my CDs and tips away. It typically takes me three or four trips to get all my equipment to my car so people have plenty of time to get a CD or leave a tip.

I went to get my car, and then I brought both of my PA speakers out to my car (at the same time- watch out for the guns- they'll getcha.) And as I'm collecting the second trip, I guy comes up to me with money in his hand and says, "oh, where's the place for tips, is it already gone?" I said, "I've just been cleaning but if you want a CD or leave a tip they are right here" and I opened a plastic container with everything. He gives me a weird look and says "oh, nevermind," and walks away awkwardly.

Look, I'm all for people tipping me, and I fully understand that some people tip, and some don't. It's not like I tip every single time I see a tip jar at an ice cream place or at a restaurant where they have a tip jar and you order from a counter. Occasionally yes, but not always. So I get it if you don't want to tip some musician that you didn't know was going to be there- but if you're digging it, a buck or two doesn't hurt. HOWEVER, if I walk up to someone with money in hand and ask where the tip jar is, I'm not walking away awkwardly without leaving a dollar. Excuse me for having to clean up my equipment. I'm sorry I can't leave the proper environment for someone to tip 10 minutes after I'm done playing. In fact, feel free to tip WHILE I'm playing to avoid such a weird predicament.

So the guy Brett Favred me on the tip (yep, second usage in this blog- let's make it a verb!) It's really not about the 85 cents in nickels he was going to give me, but rather the principle of it.

I guess the moral of the story is that being a musician is a lot of fun and even when something weird happens, it usually is something to laugh at later.