Saturday, October 25, 2008

So, I don't know much about baseball

My predictions for the World Series were proved terribly wrong in Thursday's game. I had tagged Brett Myers and Ryan Howard as the keys to the series. Well, Myers turned in decent start with 4 runs (3 earned) in 7 innings, and Howard did as well going 2-5 with a double and a walk. And the Phillies lost.

There isn't really a big secret with the Phils. What were they over the first two games, 1-22 with runners in scoring position? You're not going to win a series like that. The promising thing is that they had 22 runners in scoring position. We just aren't coming up with the clutch hits. Also, we look terrible in the DH spot. It says something when neither Coste nor Dobbs can come up with anything and Bruntlett has to hit it out of the park. I suddenly regret giving Utley the MVP for the NLCS... I'm missing Victorino and his 6 rbis and have a great appreciation for that over Utley's stat-sheet filling production.

Once again, nothing too insightful, I'm no sports writer. Hopefully, the guys can get it together at Citizen's Bank. As one of them said, it's like a 5 game series with homefield advantage. I like that thinking. However, I am scared shitless of Moyer tonight. We shall see, go Phillies, and thank you for reading.

Lewis Black, "Let them eat cake"

I took a train out of Philly yesterday to see comedian Lewis Black in my hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania. First of all, a quick tip for anyone taking a train at 30th street station. The line for boarding was honestly about 200 people long, and as I followed it, winding around corners and pillars, I guess the lady walking next to me noticed my increasing annoyance. She gave me a subtle "follow me" and led me to an elevator. I gathered that she was a frequent traveler, and knew that an elevator goes down and boards people before everybody else. Bottom line: locate the nearest elevator to your stair, wait for someone in a wheelchair, and walk behind them like you know what you're doing.

On another note, trains are freakin' awesome. With the new, lower price of gas it costs about a dollar more per gallon than driving. (if you usually use 3 gallons of gas to drive home, that would be 9 bucks, a train ticket would cost 12) For that price you get to sleep, or look out at the scenery and get to feel all cool riding the train, plus it's better for the environment.

But anyways, Lewis Black. It was everything I hoped it would be. I know many people aren't huge fans of Black. Many don't like his angry, heart-attack-at-any-moment style, swearing, or left-leaning opinions. If you ask me, I think it's perfect given the current state of politics and government in this country.

One of my favorite parts was when I think Black actually became enraged, beyond what his normal shtick is. He was talking about how there is so much material nowadays, it becomes difficult for him to even make jokes. His point: which McCain campaign worker makes the most money? Answer: Sarah Palin's make-up artists, at $22,000 for two week's pay. "That's half of what Joe the Plumber makes in a year!!" Couple that with Black nearly ripping his already disheveled coat off, and I was rolling pretty hard.

Black also went on to rail against everything from iPhones (don't tell me we can't get alternative energy in 10 years, I can get a million vaginas on this iPhone in one second) to aging (don't tell me turning 60 is the new 40, 60 is fucking old. There is nothing wrong with immortality, I'll get new friends)

However, the laugh of the night came when Black was talking about his parents, in a non-political portion of his routine. He was talking about how one of his performances was in the Poconos, and his 83-year-old parents were coming along. They were put up in two rooms in what were essentially, love shacks. "All there was in these shacks were places to the bed, in the tub, in the jacuzzi, in the giant martini... All there was in the fridge was some small, free food...My parents, being children of the depression, loved free food and found some in the fridge...all there was was a bowl of strawberries, and a bowl of whipped mom asked what the whipped cream was for...and my 83-year-old dad, without missing a beat, responded 'it's for my balls'"

That's Lewis Black; enraged, foul-mouthed, with a mix of 15-year-old masturbation jokes and 60-year-old life jokes. In my opinion, totally worth a Friday night.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Phillies win game 1. Or, thank god for Cole Hamels.

As I said in my previous post on the NLCS, Cole Hamels is the man. Hamels basically carried our team through 7 innings in last night's 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. By the way, since when did they drop the "Devil" from "Devil Rays?" Apparently, it happened last winter. I hope that there isn't divine intervention in the "Rays" season or we could be screwed. Anyways, Hamels easily gets the game ball and is the leading man for playoffs MVP.

However, last night's game is no cause for celebration. Ryan Howard, the key player for the Phils in this series, looked terrible. No hits, three strike-outs, and a number of bad plays on the defensive end. Luckily Utley got us on the board early with his 2 run homerun in the first, but we are going to need some slugging from Howard to keep pace. I don't expect the Rays 3-4-5 hitters to go 0-12 for the rest of the series, especially going against Myers and Moyer. The Phillies also left too many players stranded, including at least 3 leadoff base runners by my count. I'm not quite calling this game a steal because the Rays didn't show up offensively either, but Cole Hamels had a lot to do about that.

On another note, my predictions about the DH not being an issue are at this point, inaccurate. Thanks a lot Coste. Coste, being our only right handed hitter off the bench, really needs to perform better than he did last night. Give him another chance against a lefty, but if he doesn't improve, try your luck with Stairs.

Not anything too insightful, just my two cents. The real question will be how Brett Myers performs in a foreign stadium tonight, and if Ryan Howard can deliver some support. Go Phillies and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just when you think it couldn't get any worse...It doesn't.

The Temple football team came from behind to win a game in the 4th quarter? You have got to be kidding me. Standing in the parking lot of the Linc before the game, I was huddled near a grill anxiously awaiting a hotdog to fill my empty stomach and provide some warm solace from the chilly night. As I dropped the hotdog on the ground with a muttered curse, I looked up at the Linc and wondered what the hell I was doing there.

Temple's football team was coming into this game with a 2-5 record, near the pits of a laughable Mid-American conference, and had broken whatever heart I had for the team several times already. Three one-possession losses, all coming on the final play of the game? An offense that struggles to put up more points than I have fingers? A defense that can't stop anything until the other team reaches the red zone, then goes "oh shit" and sometimes makes a big play? You can understand why I was not overwhelmingly enthused.

But there was hope! The game was "nationally televised" on ESPN2, playmaking QB Adam DiMichele was back from his shoulder injury, and at the very least the game was for a good cause in fighting breast cancer. With these things in mind, I got myself a fresh hotdog and made my way into the stadium. Inside the gates I was greeted by grouchy employees thundersticks!?! Now things were really looking up. I made my way to a seat and, full of hope, looked at the scoreboard : Ohio 10, Temple zilch. As that 10 point deficit slowly sank in, I felt one of my thundersticks deflate in my hand. Oh, the irony. I looked around the stadium to gauge the atmosphere of the fans, and to see how the requested "pink-out" was going. That's strange, I thought to myself, why is everyone wearing white? Then I remembered my partial color blindness, and my heart sank even further. Cold, still kind of hungry, and now slightly sad, I again wondered what the hell I was doing there.

I sat for a bit, watched DiMichele get sacked a few times, watched as the fans booed at half time, and for a bit, stared at my shoes. Before too long I realized that we had gained about 5 yards in a quarter and a half. That's like a yard every 4 minutes. One bright spot was the peewee football scrimmage for the halftime show. One little tyke broke a tackle and ran for a 15 yard touchdown. Hey kid, ever wanted to play for the Temple Owls? The basketball team was also sitting right across the aisle from me, reminding me that there is a point to being a Temple sports fan. I watched about 5 three-and-outs in the 3rd quarter, banged my thunder sticks in protest, and left.

Upon arrival into the warmth of my bedroom on Temple's campus, my night improved. I played some Halo 3. I read a few articles out of my favorite magazine. I pet my cat a few times, still kind of bitter about her breaking my finger. After a while I remembered the Temple game, and for fun, checked the score. Your final: Temple Owls 14, Ohio Bobcats 10. What the hell.

Apparently, RB Kee-ayre Griffin sprang loose with a 37-yard run that setup a touchdown with 10:53 left in the game to make the score 10-7 Ohio. Then, the Owls had a shot to tie the game but missed a 25 yard field goal. Hey, that's the Temple I know. Apparently, Ohio QB Boo Jackson had money on the Owls, as he muffed a handoff on the first play of the following possession, and gave Temple the ball back with about 5 to play. A few minutes later, TE Steve Maneri caught the game-winning pass. Wow, am I a schmuck. Just when Temple football and my faith in it couldn't get any worse, it gets better. And I wasn't there to see it.

Forget the fact that the game was the laughing stock of the ESPN posters. ("Some high school football games are better than this one," "THE MARCHING BAND IS RUSHING THE FIELD," "Was his name really Boo?") Temple football just got one back from this season, and gave its fans an exciting win. We're one game out of first place in the MAC east and have a showdown with first-place Akron looming on the horizon. We're in striking distance of a dramatic turn around to a .500 season. DiMichele is back, and although his stats sucked, he led the charge to a magical ending. Barring the fact that ESPN may very well have rigged this game, this was an exciting win.

Sure it's not #3 Penn State vs #12 Michigan. Sure it's still only 3-5. Sure it's the Mid-American Conference. But it is my school's football team, and it is an exciting win. I apologize to Golden and the team for cutting out early. Go Owls, and thank you for reading.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fightin' Phils


Those are scenes from Temple University and Center City, respectively, after last Wednesday's National League pennant-clinching win. Obviously, I think we're all a bit excited. Just a few thoughts on that series, Charlie Manuel, and the upcoming Series.

I was pretty close with my predictions of key players for Phillies in the NLCS. I said Brett Myers for pitching, and while Cole Hamels got the MVP nod, Myers' 3 RBI performance saved his average pitching in Game 2. I don't think a loss in that game would have been as big as a series changer as Game 4 would have been, but going back to LA 1-1 could have been dangerous. I picked Chase Utley for offense, and watching him throughout the series, I was impressed. Here is a great link by someone who took the time to really crunch the numbers on Utley. Basically, "Chase hit .353, his on-base percentage was .522, [and] slugging percentage was .647, [all] tops of any Phillie with over six at-bats... No Phillie had more walks, hits, doubles, homeruns, total bases, or runs scored."

Pretty good performance, not to mention some outstanding plays on defense. Victorino had 6 RBIs to Utley's 3, but nobody filled up the stat sheet like Chase.

So now some thoughts on the World Series. Once again, I put the pitching key on Brett Myers. Cole Hamels deserves all the recognition, but he is the Phillies number 1 and we can expect him to keep us in any game. Brett Myers, on the other hand, is the big question mark. I don't see us winning this series in 5, which means Brett will be pitching twice. Additionally, if Manuel doesn't mess with the rotation, he will be pitching both starts in Florida, and his number are much worse away than at Citizen's Bank (something like 3.00/6.00 era and 8-5/3-8 splits). If Cole Hamels gets 2 wins, Myers 1, I like our chances of picking up one win in Moyer's 2 starts and Blanton's 1.

Which reminds me, I don't like what Charlie is doing by not messing with the rotation. I understand his angle of consistency and that without Moyer's 16 wins we wouldn't be here, but screw that it's the World Series. Myers has been much worse on the road, and Moyer has looked like crap recently while Blanton has shined. If you pitched Hamels, Blanton, Myers, Moyer, Hamels, Blanton, Myers, you would get a Myers home game, only one scary Moyer start, two promising Blanton games, and if necessary an absolute bulldog in Brett Myers for a potential game 7. Please prove me wrong Charlie.

Offensively, it is time for Ryan Howard to wake up. I gave him more credit than others for his recent performance, since his rare hits and plays have been clutch. However, with the Rays smacking 16 dingers in the ALCS, we need his power offense to match. One thing we do have over the Rays is more power throughout our lineup, but they have been scary recently by putting up 8 or 9 run games against good Red Sox pitching. We've been getting by on everyone else stepping up for him and Rollins, but I think we're going to need him to earn that 10 mil to keep pace in this series. Also, I think the DH issue actually goes to our advantage. We have a proven DH in Stairs, and I could see Burrell and Dobbs both doing well there too, with their defensive counterparts playing the field. In Citizen's bank, Hamels and Moyer have been known to get some hits in on occasion. I would throw Myers in there as well now, but he won't be playing at Citizen's Bank.

Overall, I think we're a good match for the Rays. I feel as though everything that they do well, we do just a little bit better (except batting averages and starting pitching). However, our power can compensate for that difference, as long as Howard chips in and we keep getting some key smacks from our personnel. I do think this pitching rotation will be a problem, but I'm still optimistic considering how we've fought this year. Go Phillies and thanks for reading.

Window Pain- If you don't read this post your finger will be broken.

This is a terrible time to start a blog. I've been thinking about starting one for months, maybe even a year, and I chose the day after I break a critical typing finger to do so. Last night my kitten, Maha (pictures will come), unleashed her fury in the litter pan (no pictures to come). Gasping for air, I naturally went to open a window. Well, whatever mechanism keeps windows from sliding down gave up on itself like a Met in September, and in one slamming motion the window crushed the tip of my middle finger.

Initial thought: my realtor is an asshole, and so is my kitten. Which brings me to the point of my first post, and that is a few tips for Temple students, or any inner-city students for that matter, who are planning to move into off campus housing. There are many obscure pitfalls that can easily be looked for, but are not often thought of, especially by us college kids. So with great difficulty in typing with a splint, and some zenmaster-like appreciation for my asshole landlord and kitten for kick starting my bloggin' dreams, I give you my first post.

But first, what does Temple advise students to look for? According to Temple's Off Campus Living Website, you should look for the following things: "smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, signs of water damage, exposed wiring, exposed pipes, check that the locks on the doors and windows are working, proper lighting in hallways, clearly marked emergency exits, check out the basement if there is one, run the water in the sinks, flush the toilet, turn on the shower & if at all possible, speak with other tenants and/or neighbors and ask them how they like living there."

All in all not a bad list, besides pissing off whoever is giving you a tour by playing with something every time they turn their backs like you forgot to take your Ritalin before you came. But better to piss them off now than you being pissed off later. Just a few things to add or clarify.

+ You guessed it, check to make sure your windows stay open. This may seem unimportant or rare, but in my personal history it is not. Many of the houses I have seen have windows that do not stay up, and besides the fact that you can break your finger; it does become very annoying when you want to open it up one day. Or you can just use your chem book to prop it open.

+ Mouse holes. A big thing I couldn't believe didn't get mentioned. Check the floorboards and baseboards carefully, especially ones out of sight like in the corner of a closet. Actually, it is probably a good idea in general to check places a little out of sight. These are spots where your asshole landlord probably missed something when he came in the day before to try and fix everything in 10 minutes that the previous tenant complained about for a year. If you have mice, one WILL climb up your pajama bottoms in the middle of the night, scaring you and anybody else who may be in your bed at that time. Trust me, it happens. Drop a piece of cheese when you first walk in. If it's gone by the time you leave, you're probably in trouble. Note: ignore this if you are lonely and need the company.

+ Test the closet rack or pole. Do a couple pull ups on whatever will be carrying the weight of your clothing in your closet. You'll get good exercise, intimidate your landlord, and find out if your clothing will all crash to the floor after you took all that time to color coordinate it. Triple threat, baby. Note: ignore this if you just throw all your clothes on the floor anyways.

+ Wired for cable? Are you sure? A couple times now I've been in places where the cabling doesn't work for shit, or there is no cable at all. People take it for granted so they often miss the fact that it isn't there. Note: Skip this if you don't watch TV, and then think about how lame you are.

+ Does your landlord speak English or have a business card? If not, good luck. Note: if you are a landlord who doesn't speak English, you don't understand a word I'm writing right now.

+ Ask to look under the light fixtures to see what kind of bulbs they use. Many times, it's some weird ass bulb that you can only buy at Home Depot on Columbus Boulevard. When your hallway light goes out, good luck getting your landlord out or getting down there to buy one in the next few days. Be in the dark. Stumble around. Stub your toe. Scare your roommates. Have fun with it.

+ Got a basement? How many people do you think you could fit down there? Can cops see into it? If there were cop lights outside, and people inside, would they see the lights and freak-out?

+ Do your washer and dryer sound like they're dying? Is the pipe connected properly?

+ Finally, pet ownership. If you have to, get a cat. Mine is pretty easy to take care of; refill food and water when it's low, change the litter 2-3 times a week, get it some shots and watch how goofy it can be. Few potential problems: clawing up your stuff, stinking up your room, pouncing on your head at 2 am, and meowing sometimes. If you like cats, it’s worth it. Can't speak for dogs, but they seem like they would be a lot more work and my neighbor looks miserable when she is walking it at 12 on a Friday night. If your landlord has a pet policy, they probably won't enforce it. They like your money.

This concludes my slightly unorthodox suggestions for those moving into a new place. So unless you are a lonely, messy, dirty, bookworm vampire it probably would be in your benefit to take note of them. If you are a lonely, messy, dirty, bookworm vampire, you should live in my place. In general, use your common sense and look around the area. If you see sketchy things, it is probably a bad idea, not that we have much of a choice (more of that in a later post). Thanks for reading.