Monday, October 22, 2007

Courtesy Flush: Sports Edition

Just a quick run through of some sports over the past week. ONWARDS!

Sadly, I was at that Eagles disaster on Sunday. I'm actually glad to say that I saw this final 97 yard drive by Brian Griese coming. You see, one of the benefits of being a long-suffering Philadelphia sports fan, you begin to anticipate and expect crushing defeats to take place. No regular season loss has been as devistating in recent years as that loss to the Bears. It officially ended the Eagles hopes of making the playoffs this year. This isn't just because this was a bitter loss, but due to the fact that the Birds still have two games against Dallas, one more against NY Giants and Washington, at New England, against Seattle, and at New Orleans. The key to this season was getting off to a fast start to help guide the Birds through the end of their schedule, that hasn't happened. Also, the rest of the NFC East are a combined 15-5.

Rough Sunday if you were a Boston sports fan:

If you aren't lucky enough to have Tom Brady quarterbacking your actual football team, it is just as good to have you QB-ing your fantasy football team. After a ridiculous 6 TD performance, it is clear that the Pats are going to run up the score on every team, and their run game is secondary to Brady's TD numbers. Here's what I said about Brady's fantasy impact in my NFL East Preview:

Best Fantsy Player: Tom Brady - he finally gets to have a multitude of weapons around him. With Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth at WR and Laurence Maroney coming into his own at RB it is almost like Brady is being spoiled. He should be able to extract TD's like a surgeon extracts a gall bladder this year.

As for the Red Sox, they came storming back from a 3-1 hole to beat the Indians in Game 7 hours after the aforementioned Pats won yet again. Personally, I'm happy that Daisuke Matsuzaka got the important start and pitched very well. He's been under a lot of pressure to be this elite pitcher right away, and it is going to take a year or two for him just to get comfortable to the new environment. Everyone makes a big deal about his $100 million contract, but he didn't ask the Red Sox to spend half of that just for negotiating rights. It is a bloated number, and I feel that along with an average year for this supposed phenom has caused people to give him a harder time than he deserves.

In the World Series this year, it is obvious that no one has any idea what will happen. Either team could sweep, it could go 7 games, every game could be a blowout, every game could be close, hell with the series going to snowy Denver in late October, we may not even finish this whole thing until early March. It is a complete wild card on all fronts. Too much is relied on for too many different things to take place to make any kind of confident predictions aside from, the Sox have experience or the Rockies lay off will hurt them. I did pick the Sox at the beginning of the year, so I'm sticking with them because it is more fun to be right than wrong, but I will say I think the whole series will fall in line with how Game 1 goes. It is the battle of the post season masters: Josh Beckett and his post season career vs. The 7-0, 21 of their last 22 Colorado Rockies. If Beckett pulls through and shuts down the Rocks, I like Boston, but if the Rockies come out firing another World Series Championship may not happen for the BoSox. Not like Boston doesn't have enough trophies nowadays.

On another bizarre note, ex-Phillie Paul Byrd has been linked to HGH. You'd think the feds would release, you know, good baseball players to link to HGH. Sort of play up that, it's ruining the game and tainting the sport type angle. If Paul Byrd, Jay Gibbons, and Jason Grimsley are HGH users, then maybe it's just making baseball players that would normally suck ass slightly more tolerable. In some weird way, it may actually be improving the sport. If Wes Helms hits 15 homers next year, investigators may wanna check out his bank statements.

(Note: the image is not altered. Paul Byrd really is that short and stumpy.)
(Note: Byrd released this statement in regards to HGH allegations, "Look at me! I look like an albino Smurf, and you're going to accuse me of HGH?")
(Note: I just made that quote up.)

Finally, UFC had it's latest pay-per-view on Saturday. UFC 77: Hostile Territory. While usually spectacular, this PPV was pretty weak and disappointing. There were two highlights. The first was the official announcement of Brock Lesnar as a UFC signee. Brock is a former amateur wrestling champ, professional wrestling champ, and had his attempt at becoming a professional football player thwarted a couple years ago when he was cut from the Minnesota Vikings. However, Brock may have found his calling with UFC. Stronger, faster, and more skilled than virtually any heavyweight in UFC, the only question with Brock is his ability to strike and take a hit. If he can be successful at those two things, then he will surely be a champion.

Secondly, and more impressive, was the main event of Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin. Silva has been on a tear as of late since beating Franklin for the UFC Middleweight Championship by essentially breaking his face with knees. This time was just a pure tactical display of fighting by Silva. Virtually unchallenged all night by Franklin, Silva knocked down Franklin at the end of the 1st Round before finishing him off in the 2nd. It was about as impressive a victory as I have seen, and firmly place Silva as one of the best fighters on the planet. The only challenge may come from Dan Henderson, who is currently in the 205-lb. weight class division, who would have to cut weight to fight Silva. Something Henderson has done back in his Pride fighting days.

Here's a link to Silva's beat down of Nate Marquardt.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen, or The Boss as he often goes by, has been at this music thing for decades. New Jersey born Springsteen has long carried the spirits of the state along with him on his musical voyage to take over the country and most of the world with his good ol' rock music. Known for his soaring sound and poetic lyrics, Bruce has built up quite a reputation as a magnificent artist as well as an artist that puts on one hell of a live show. Following the release of Bruce's latest album, "Magic," he decided to load up the E-Street Band once again and hit the road.

For a long while, Bruce has sat atop my "Artists I Most Want to See Live" List. So when it was brought to my attention that he would be indeed touring with the E-Street Band, I had to jump on this opportunity because you never know how many more you'll have. With a long understanding and appreciation of Bruce without ever spilling over to his fanatic fan base, I was indeed pumped to see the show in person. I was lucky enough to pull floor seats along with three of my friends for the Philly show on October 5th. I was also fortunate to meet up with some more of my friends from the great state of Delaware to enjoy the Bruce festivities. Amazingly enough, as my friends and I went up to get our wristbands for general admission, we managed to slide up 200 spots in the GA lottery to land pit seats, making a great show even more unbelievable. We quickly entered the Wac Center a mere two people between us and the stage.

Thanks to a blend of brews and cigars my anticipation was soothed but ready to spring at any moment. Then, right on time, Bruce and the E-Streeters took to the stage. The non-stop concert spanned over two hours with the band moving quickly from one song to another so as to keep the concert bouncing. My basic concept of a Bruce show would be that it is similar to a sort of church service. Lots of music, everyone participating, and just a good vibe all around. Ok, maybe this doesn't sound like a church that you or I have ever attended, but you get the idea. Truly, my assessment was not far off. The vibe was definitely better than any concert I have attended, and the band executes extremely well, especially for it being one of the earlier stops on the tour. The set list played out as follows:

Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Brilliant Disguise
My Hometown
Darlington County
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Born to Run
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
American Land

While there were a good amount of new songs, and of course some songs were left off that I wanted to hear, I really couldn't complain. This being my first Bruce show I got to see "Born to Run," "Brilliant Disguise," and "Candy's Room," the latter two being personal faves. "Incident on 57th Street" was supposed to rear its head, but sadly did not debut until the following night. Most of the songs certainly pleased the fans, and as for the new tunes, they're good songs and I had no problem hearing them, even preferring to hear "Girls in Their Summer Clothes." The only major complaint was Bruce changing up the set list during the show, subbing in "My Hometown" over "Adam Raised a Cain," which is a much more concert friendly song. A typical highlight was "Born to Run" with the houselights up. Trite, I know, but I can't deny that song for what it is. From the most hardened Bruce fans to the people who just showed up for a good show, that song is just electric when it blazes through the arena. There's really no way around it, and if you don't feel that song when it's played live, then you're a liar. A fucking liar.

Overall the show was all I could have wanted and more considering where I was in the pit. It was an exciting, fun concert, and for the first time I was in a pit and wasn't worried about some douchebag causing problems for me or people around me. Those Bruce fans are all about enjoying themselves, not interfering with others.

Granted there are about 4 levels of thought on Bruce:

IV. Hate him - don't like his music, Jersey, or anything about the guy.
III. Think He is Overrated - enjoy "Born in the U.S.A." and "Dancing in the Dark," but don't get what all the fuss is about.
II. Good fans - like most of his music, have an idea what most of his songs are, and his significance to music in general.
I. Lunatics - know everything about Bruce, his family, and friends (I'm talking daily activities, hobbies, places the Springsteens' like to hang out), can name all the E-Street Band's middle names, and own a bootleg copy of Bruce's kindergarten recital from 1954.

I fall comfortably in the Tier II category, and I'm fine with that. I take Bruce for what he is, and I have a great respect for his music and know that it is a good time when Bruce is playing. So as far as this concert goes, I was more than pleased with the experience, and if you're anywhere in Tier IV or III and you have some money laying around, I say go to a Bruce show. He might be able to change your mind. So with that, I cross Bruce off the top of my "Must See Live" List. Who's next? It's hard to say, but they'll have a lot to live up to after seeing Bruce.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hey, Everyone! Come See How Good I Look!

Now that the Rockies have secured the last Wild Card spot in a bizarre game last night, it's time to hop in the time capsule and check out my pre-season predictions. I must admit, I'm getting better and better at this stuff as each year passes, and despite some embarassing misses, I certainly made some nice predictions. Let's check them out.

Standings (Predicted):
AL East - Boston Red Sox
AL Central - Cleveland Indians
AL West - LA Angels

NL East - Florida Marlins
NL Central - Houston Astros
NL West - San Diego Padres

AL Wildcard - New York Yankees
NL Wildcard - The Philadelphia Phillies (if not now, then never)

Standings (Actual):
AL East - Red Sox
AL Central - Indians
AL West - LA Angels

NL East - Phillies
NL Central - Cubs
NL West - Diamondbacks

AL WC - Yankees
NL WC - Rockies

Even though I made a clean sweep of the American League, my NL predictions yielded only one playoff team, the Phils (who knew?). Although my gamble on a young up and coming team went to the Marlins, instead of the Arizona Diamondbacks, I can't be too disappointed in going with the Padres, who just missed, and the Astros were a total mistake.

Playoffs (Predicted):
ALCS - Indians v. Red Sox
NLCS - Padres v. Astros
WS - Red Sox v. Padres
Champions - Boston Red Sox

Playoffs (TBD):
The playoffs are yet to be determined, but obviously I have some misses even though my champ is still there. Should be a good playoffs, especially with the Phils in, but I certainly would have preferred the Padres over the Rockies. The Rockies are on too much of a roll. The Phils need to come out the gates firing or we may not make it to the NLCS.

Awards (Predicted) -
AL MVP - Grady Sizemore
NL MVP - Albert Pujols

AL MVP - Alex Rodriguez: slam dunk, no questions asked. The only reason to anticipate this vote is to see if A-Rod will be a unanimous MVP.

NL MVP - Jimmy Rollins or Matt Holliday: Both of these players are great and well deserving of the award. Even though I have a stronger allegiance to Rollins, Matt Holliday is on my Keeper Team for fantasy baseball which endears him to me as well. However, being fair, the award does deserve to go to J-Roll. While both players carried their teams down the stretch, while Holliday had a great year, Rollins had a historic year. There is a difference, plus Rollins may get a Gold Glove this year, which is something you cannot say for Holliday. Jimmy's only concern is that incumbent MVP and teammate Ryan Howard may snag some of his votes.

AL CY Young - Roy Halladay
NL CY Young - Jake Peavy

Most Likely -

AL Cy Young - C.C. Sabathia: Sabathia has had a great year with 19 wins and logging 241 IP, but in all honesty there is really no one in the AL to stand up and take this award. My predictions, Halladay, came on late, but it was not good enough. Had Erik Bedard stayed healthy, he very well could have won the Cy Young.
NL Cy Young - Jake Peavy: Got this one right. Peavy had an off year last year, but now led the league in the triple crown of pitching (19 wins, 2.54 ERA, 240 K's). There may be some other votes for Brad Penny and Brandon Webb, but in all seriousness, their numbers do not compare to Peavy's at all. Although his lack of ability to come up in big games (see: Last Night) is the biggest knock on him.

AL ROY - Dice-K
NL ROY - Kevin Kouzmanoff


AL ROY - Dustin Pedroia: The AL race is still wide open. Dice-K is the biggest name out there, but had some shaky starts letting up 5 or more runs in his last 10 starts. Delmon Young has had a great rookie year (.288 BA, 93 RBI), but his number may still be beaten, and his bad attitude won't do much to win over voters. Pedroia has been the most productive and valuable rookie in the AL playing a solid 2B and hitting .317 with 86 Runs is just what that Red Sox line-up needed.

NL ROY - Ryan Braun or Troy Tulowitzki: Both of these young player came on late. Tulowitzki helping carry the Rockies to the playoffs, and Braun emerging halfway through the year to end with a ridiculous line of AVG .324 HR 34 RBI 97 OBP .370 SLG .634 through 113 games. Tulowitzki put up his own offensive numbers going AVG .291 HR 24 RBI 99 OBP .359 SLG .479
in his rookie year. The two things Tulowitzki has going for him are that his team made the playoffs and he is a much better fielder than Braun. However, I think that Braun was just too productive to not give him this award. My pick, Kouzmnoff played very respectful and should finish in the Top 3 for ROY.

AL Home Run Leader - Travis Hafner
NL Home Run Leader - Albert Pujols

AL HR Leader - Alex Rodriguez
NL HR Leader - Prince Fielder

AL Batting Champ - Joe Mauer
NL Batting Champ - Miggy Cabrera

AL Batting Champ - Magglio Ordonez
NL Batting Champ - Matt Holliday

AL Future MVP - Carl Crawford
NL Future MVP - Chase Utley

I have to admit, I have no idea what this category means. At the time I guess I was looking for more categories to predict, and I assume I was going for sort of a breakout all-around star that would emerge. It's an unclear category and I'll probably never do it again. However, I was right about Chase, who would have been MVP had he stayed healthy all year.
AL Future MVP - Hanley Ramirez: I couldn't find one in the AL, might still be Crawford, but Hanley Ramirez is the man and I wanted to give him a shout out.
NL Future MVP - Chase Utley

AL Future CY Young - Erik Bedard
NL Future CY Young - Cole Hamels

Ditto with this category and the next two categories. Yeesh. Still think I nailed it though.
AL Future Cy - Bedard
NL Future Cy - Hamels

AL Breakout Bat - Howie Kendrick
NL Breakout Bat - Prince Fielder

AL Breakout Bat - Carlos Pena (AVG .282 HR 46 RBI 121 OBP .411 SLG .627): The man had one home run last year. ONE!
NL Breakout Bat - Prince Fielder: 50 Homers, yeah, I may not know what this category means, but I think I was right.

AL Breakout Arm - Dick Harden
NL Breakout Arm - Scott Olsen

I'm just not even bothering with this one. I will say that I was way off on both accounts though.

Clemens Return - 98 percent (He has returned)

Dice-K wins - 16 (15)

Howard Homers - 47 (Exactly right)

Dunn Strikeouts - 180 (Nowhere near Ryan Howard's record breaking total)

Worst Phillie - Some reliever (Adam Eaton)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Courtesy Flush

Well it has certainly been an interesting weekend. The Phillies are NL East Champs and going to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, while the Eagles are pretty much a disgrace. Why can I never have it all? As soon as one sports team excels, the other falters. At this point all you can do is appreciate what the Phils have accomplished and use that to numb the misery that is the NFL season. Just for the record, the Phils have a great chance to make it to the World Series, and if they play the Padres in the first playoff series, then whoever wins that will advance to the World Series, and you never know what can happen at that point.

If you listen to podcasts, or want to start, look into This American Life. It is the most popular podcast out there, and I've listened to it for a while, but I've always been hesitant to recommend it because it is so popular. I'm much more of a fan of Filmspotting or NYC Radio Lab, but This American Life is just really amazing and unique. I strongly recommend it, and you can find links to all of the podcasts to the right of the site.

I've made some modifications to the site, which includes some Recommendations pour toi to offer links to some books, CD's, DVD's, and whatever else you might want to purchase. There are some more pictures up to add to the decor, and the GLOCKthoughts Thinker of the Month is now the Bi-Weekly Thinker of the Month because a month is a long time, and I couldn't stare at the that O.J. picture for much longer. The new Thinker will be updated along with the Poll Questions, which will serve as time keeper. Also, there is a list of tags to posts to help navigate easier as the posts accumulate.

I have utilized the forum for some short postings and a couple links. Feel free to add to it or just check it out. You can post anonymously if you want, so there is no pressure to identify yourself if you don't want to.

Overall, I think this site has been quite a success. I've received some kind words, and with already near 700 views in a couple weeks is far ahead of the Myspace site. I guess it is because this site is more open to everyone where you'd essentially have to know me to look at my Myspace page. So that is definitely a benefit I was looking for.

I'll be throwing up an MLB Review post tomorrow, which will review some things from the year and go over my pre-season predictions. Should be fun. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I can't wait to see the Phils in the playoffs!