Monday, February 27, 2012

Baseball Philosphy

I used to think I knew a lot about baseball. When I actually played I was a student of the game. I wasn't great but I loved it. I still love watching it, I love the strategy of it. Like Kissenger said, most of the action takes place in your head.

There's a lot to love about baseball. I love the Yankees. I love certain players. My favorite all time player is Lou Gehrig. I was a first baseman through most of little league and high school, but I was more of a defensive first baseman with a decent obp but not much power. I might have had a chance as a middle infielder if I could have thrown a runner out from the hole. I had the hot glove, but the arm wasn't there. But even though I'm right handed I love first base, and I took it very seriously. If a throw got past me I was ashamed. I don't care if it was in the dirt or five-yards wide, I knocked that fucker down or it was my fault, errors be damned.

Another thing I loved about baseball was baserunning. I loved Ricky Henderson. Stealing bases just seemed like such an incredible feat. Talking a walk, stealing second and scoring on a single is so beautiful it feels like cheating. Stealing third and scoring on a flyout is like money from home.  I was no base stealer, but I loved smart baserunning. Watching for fielders out of position, getting an extra base, I was all over it.

When I moved to Kansas City in 2000, it was really great because I was a 20-minute drive from the K. Kauffman Stadium was where the Royals played, and you could go there 82 times a year and see a baseball game. You could see the Yankees and the Orioles and the Red Sox. You could even see the Cardinals if you didn't mind a big crowd. (The Yankee crowds were the next biggest, for sure.) I saw just about every AL team in the three years I lived there. It was ten bucks for a bleacher seat, and I could leave my house at 7:00 for a 7:30 game and still see some warm-ups.

In KC I started following a baseball writer named Rob Neyer. Rob published a lot of baseball columns, and he did a personal column about the Royals, of whom he was a fan. He was a disciple of Bill James and talked a lot about sabermetrics. SABR is the Society of American Baseball Research, and learning about sabermetrics was a real eye opener to me. Sabermetricians basically believe that baseball players and games can be broken down to statistical probabilities based on a players numbers. And that certain numbers are much more important than others. Like on-base percentage and slugging versus batting average and RBIs.

The thing that stung the worst is that defense and baserunning, especially steals, are not important statistics in sabermetrics. That hurt. I loved defense and baserunning, and considered them a quintessential part of the game. Yet here I am learning they are essentially meaningless in the eventual outcomes of the game. This sounded like crazy talk. How could I be so wrong?

Well, of course baserunning and defense matter. They just don't matter enough. In general one player is not statistically better enough at baserunning or defense to outweigh a possible difference in any meaningful offensive statistic. Remember how I was a superior defensive player and put a lot of emphasis on baserunning? It didn't get me far, because those qualities just don't matter as much as being able to put the bat on the ball and making it go a long way. Period. Especially at a position like first base.

Steals are the same. Risking a baserunner that can score on the next extra-base hit costs more than would have been earned by the extra base stolen. So you have to steal successfully at a rate better than 50 percent to make it worthwhile. A great deal more than 50 percent. The risk is generally not worth it.

I always hated the whole "bloop and a blast" philosophy of guys like Earl Weaver, but while old Earl didn't know diddly or shit about sabermetrics, yet he was closer to right than a team that tries to leg out a single, bunt him to second then attempts to poke him in with a line drive. The math just doesn't bear that philosophy out. Walks and slugging are more important priorities.

And walks are insidious. Making the pitcher throw pitches is valuable. Get him tired and hit the hell out of him. Sure there are bullpens full of fresh arms, but bullpens get exhausted in long series, and that brief period when a pitcher starts to get tired are opportunities that cannot be overlooked.

I was completely wrong about what was really important about baseball. Crash Davis said, "strikeouts are boring, besides that they're fascist." Called strikes, balls and taking walks are boring too, but going deep into counts and drawing walks makes it far more likely your team will win. Everyone loves to see an amazing defensive play, a diving catch in the outfield or a shortstop that goes miles into the hole and makes the throw. But those plays are just for the highlight reels, they aren't that important in the long run.

I still love baseball. I can't wait for the season to start. One of the best parts of being a baseball fan is that there's still so much to learn about the game. More opportunities to be wrong.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Drive In

"Business For Sale" is a pretty good flick, but "Closed For Winter" isn't NEARLY good enough for them to be showing it for so many weeks in a row! IMG_20120226_120847 IMG_20120226_120902


Waffles goes to the mediator with his wife. The mediator, after considering their divorce says, "Mr. Waffles, I've considered your case very carefully. I've decided to give your wife $1000 a week."

"I think your decision is very fair," said Waffles. "And every now and then I'll try to send her a few bucks myself.'

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Are the Republicans Fucked?

It seems to me that the Republicans have really fucked themselves in the current presidential election. Somehow they've selected three possible candidates that will eat each other and can't possibly win a general election.

Mitt Romney seems front runner-ish. But he's got some serious problems, which is what gives so much steam to any "non-romney."

I don't really know a lot about the party, but it seems like there's a large group that votes along religious lines, and there's a more secular conservative movement that cares more about fiscal policy and more general social issues not dictated by religion.

The more secular cons like Romney, but he's a Mormon, which most fundamentalist Christians seem to regard a cult. Even the more secular Republicans have to be troubled by Romneycare. If their major weapon in the attack on the current administration is the health care reform act, pejoratively called "Obamacare," it would help if their candidate didn't have a government sponsored health care program of his own.

The other contenders are Santorum and Gingrich. Santorum's name is LITERALLY a gay sex joke. It's very hard to take him seriously since he scares the shit ot of everyone except hardcore fundamental Christians. Not to mention the guy oozes latent homosexuality. His only draw for Republicans is that he isn't a poygamist, and I'm not talking about Romney when I say polygamist. Newt had a $500,000 debt at Tiffany and Co. That's a guy that fucks up BIG TIME or very often. Or both.

And its pretty obvious to anyone watching that Newt is only running for the money. Yes, you cannot make money directly by running for president, but Newt has figured out a way to make being a "former presidential candidate" into tens of millions of dollars in income, so he wouldn't want to win, it would prevent him from making any money. I think that's why Palin never even ran, she couldn't stand to suspend the income long enough to have an actual campaign. Just look at her Governorship in Alaska, it was preventing her from making money so she had to get out.

So part of the party hates Romney and would never vote for him, Santorum scares all the rational members, and Gingrich is just a guy standing at an ATM machine. Which one of these guys is going to beat Obama, whose campaign can be reduced to 7 words; "GM is alive, Bin Laden is dead."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Someone called me "handsome" today. Well, they didn't really call me handsome, but they  implied it. Maybe I just inferred it. Whatever. I'm taking credit.

Of course they may not have meant it, there's a chance they were just being polite, or having fun at my expense. I'm choosing to not see it that way. I'm choosing to believe that this person genuinely feels that I am a handsome guy. Guys know there is something special that happens in your head and your heart when someone special calls you handsome. There's no feeling in the world like it.

I don't consider myself handsome. I felt uncomfortable when they said it, as though they may be playing a practical joke, or I was some kind of fraud. I do feel like I am looking a lot better these days than I have in the past. I got lasik surgery a few years ago. I've lost nearly 20 pounds since I started working on it last summer. I've found a hair style that I like and my hair has a salt and pepper look that I'm not unhappy about. I'm turning 44 on Sunday, I'm glad to have hair at all. I know some guys in their 20s who would be thrilled with my hair.

Until these things started happening, not only did I not consider myself handsome, I really feel I was ugly. I avoided mirrors, and photographs were out of the questions. For someone who loves taking pictures, especially of people, I appear in very few. I always saw a double chin, crooked squinty eyes hiding behind ugly glasses, and raggedy curly hair that never ever looked stylish. I looked like the nerd I was. Revolting. So even the possibility that someone might think I'm handsome is a gigantic upgrade.

I don't even know what it means to be handsome. But there's a chance I am looking better these days. When I went for my job interview with this company I dressed up very smartly with a bright blue pressed shirt and very snazzy tie, navy blue slacks and comfortable but decently dressy shoes. I caught myself in a full length mirror and thought "not bad." I almost thought I was handsome, and that confidence really worked well for me in the job interview. I was definitely dressing up my hand. But the bluff worked.

Still, I'm not handsome. I need to lose another 20 pounds at least, and my eyes, while a decent shade of blue, still make me cringe if I see them at the wrong angle. My adorable double chin is still there, helped by a scar I earned when I was four. I still look pudgy and boyish, which at my age and weight, is not awful. But I can do better.

Sorry no pics so you can't judge for yourselves. Looks are superficial anyway. That's what all ugly people like me say.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Can you believe Whitney Cummings has two new television shows on two different networks....nah just kidding. I'm not posting about Whitney Cummings. Of course I'm posting about the death of Whitney Houston.

I didn't watch the Grammy Awards show this year. (I've never watched it any year.) I assume it was all about Whitney. Every acceptance speech probably mentioned her. Even Chris Brown probably got a few tears in between punches. But was Whitney's death really that tragic?

I suppose it depends on how you measure life. It might seem tragic if all that matters to you is the length. Her life was relatively short. But maybe if you look at Whitney's life as a whole and in a certain way, it wasn't so bad.

Whitney Houston was a superstar from her early twenties. She was absolutely worshipped, not only for her voice, but for her beauty and her sexiness. She may have been one of the most desirable women alive in the 80's. Her performance of the National Anthem brought cheers from the entire country. She made millions from her recordings. She lived almost her entire life in luxury.

And she partied. She obviously spent a great deal of her time seeking pleasure. Sure, people will tell you that living that lifestyle can be greuling and miserable, but it was probably a lot less so for Whitney. I picture her constantly surrounded by entourage and sycophants. If there was pleasure available to anyone, it makes sense it was available for Whitney.

She didn't select a particularly bad way to go out. I'm not even convinced it wasn't intentional. Zanax plus alcohol until you stop breathing while relaxing in a hot bath sounds like one of the most peaceful exits possible. And if the drugs don't finish the job, the water will. Maybe she hated the idea of growing old and ugly, especially as an addict. Perhaps she was facing a future that held no promise for her. She had flown so closely to the sun that coming in for a crash landing didn't appeal to her.

I know I wasn't much interested in what Whitney Houston was going to do with her future fame. She will be beloved, despite the poor example she evidently led as an addict. If you can sing or dance, you will be forgiven anything. It's all the fault of her DISEASE. She was a good person, deep down. Sure she was.

Whitney had a pretty good life. A lot of folks would probably trade with her. Forty eight years of unbelievable talent and beauty? It's almost a no-brainer.

What's sad and tragic about that?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Get Your Head and Your Ass Wired Together

"These are great days we're living bros. We are jolly green giants walking the earth. With guns! These people we wasted here today are the finest human beings we will ever know. After we rotate back to the world we're gonna miss not having anyone around who's worth shooting." --Crazy Earl

I love movies. I'm practically an addict. Around 1987, my favorite movie was definitely Full Metal Jacket.I had no idea movies could be like that. Subversive, funny, perverse, horrifying, sad, disgusting and beautiful. I learned about magic hour from watching Full Metal Jacket.

I wanted to be a professional photojournalist when I was a kid. I gave it a pretty good shot, I just didn't have what it took to be an artist. I confused artistic talent with technical skill. I had the skill but I never took art seriously. I thought it was fun. When I was working as a full time photojournalist people would ask me how it was I always said the same thing, "It's better than working!" I did some good work and got lucky a lot.

So it didn't hurt that a reporter and photographer for Stars and Stripes featured prominently in Full Metal Jacket. I recall watching the film and identifying the still cameras being used. The director, Stanley Kubrick was a former photographer so the gear, just like everything else in the film, were very authentic.

I even asked a girl on a date because she had a Full Metal Jacket poster in her office/darkroom. She was a photographer at a newspaper where I was trying to get a job. I discovered later that the poster wasn't hers, someone had left it up and she didn't know anything about the movie. She was a nice girl, very bright and a good photographer. But she didn't have much of a personality and neither did I, so we didn't have much going on. I was such a nerd. I don't remember much about the date except that I met her roommates when I picked her up and they were all gorgeous. They were so happy that the girl I was picking up was going out on a date.  

It's funny the things you remember when you're watching old movies. I've seen other films that I like as much or even more than Full Metal Jacket. I remember that Full Metal Jacket poster very well. But for the life of me I can't remember that girl's name.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Holy Pants

I need pants.

Two days ago I discovered three pairs of pants simultaneously needed replacement. One pair broke a belt loop, another pair developed holes that look like they were a manufacturing defect, and the other pair I spilled glue on and ruined. I tried removing the glue but that was a disaster. Maybe sandpaper was the wrong tool to try. At least I fixed the $2 item I was working on, even if I did ruin a $30 pair of pants. Nice work!

Anyhow, now that I've exposed my keen abilities in the housekeeping department, I need more pants. My new job requires pants. The dress code is, well it's not really a dress code. You have to figure out how to dress by feel. There's my office, which is pretty casual, jeans and golf shirts are pretty common. There's an operations center down the hall where it's fortunate if they're wearing clothes at all. If you walked in during third shift it wouldn't be a shock to see cut off shorts and a wife-beater. Down the street is the corporate headquarters. I wore a dressy shirt and tie with slacks and I felt under-dressed. Three piece suits are not uncommon, if you're wearing jeans you better be laying carpet or working on the air conditioning.

The vast majority of my work doesn't require me to go to the corporate headquarters, but I have to go over there occasionally. I think I can get away with bringing some nicer clothes to change into if I have to go over there unexpectedly. Right now I dress nicely if I anticipate having to go over there for something.

I love the idea of wearing jeans to work every day. They're just more comfortable. If you're going to ask your employees to spend a lot of time at an office and they don't interact with the public at all, I think you should encourage them to be as comfortable as possible. But then I really like being dressed a bit nicer in an office environment. It gives that little extra flair of professionalism that makes an office a little bit nicer. Plus I just like looking nicer if I can. I usually compromise by wearing jeans but adding a sportscoat or a pressed oxford shirt. Or I wear khakis or some kind of non-denim pants that are more comfortable than dress slacks.

But where do I go for new pants? I usually try to buy everything on the internet, because 1) I'm lazy 2)It's usually cheaper and 3)I'm lazy. But I've been burned buying pants on the internet before. And when I buy something that doesn't turn out how I wanted there's a 50% chance I won't get around to returning it. Have I mentioned that I'm lazy? I have a pair of pants that I've never actually worn that feel like they're made out of fiberglass. Looked great on a computer monitor, stain resistant even! I don't think you could stain them with a magic marker. They're like dry-erase pants.

So I plan on making all my future pants purchases in person. I wasn't sure where to go, until I found out that the "Million Moms" movement is trying to get Ellen DeGeneris removed as a spokesperson for JCPenny. Now I'm no fan of Ellen. I saw a comedy special of hers over a decade ago and thought she was funny, but I've never seen her talk show. If someone wanted her removed because she wasn't funny I'd be okay with that. Or if they wanted her removed because she acts like a cunt, I'm cool. But they want her removed because of her sexual orientation? That's bullshit. How is it anyone's business who Ellen wants to fuck? Also, don't call yourself "Million Moms" unless there are 1,000,000 of you. There's 40k. At least be honest if you're going to call someone out as undesirable. Wanna know what's undesirable? Liars.

So I'm buying some quasi-dressy comfortable yet still appropriate for the office pants from JCPenny.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Mew Zic

One of the perks of the new job, besides the bigger salary (natch) is that I actually have an office, with a door! It's fantastic. For someone who has lived in cubicle land for the bulk of his career, being able to close a door is like gaining a new sense. Now I can close the door and actually use a speaker phone! I don't have to share every conversation, personal or otherwise, with all my co-workers and people who happen to be walking by.

Of course there's a catch. The office is right next to the elevator in this side of the building, so all I hear all day is elevator going up, elevator going down. Hiss and crank. Doors open, doors close, hiss and crank. It's kind of maddening, but my coworkers claim they don't even hear it anymore. I do.

My solution was to bring in a stereo from home. About 10 years ago I bought a bookshelf stereo system and hooked it up to my PC so I could listen to music or movies or games or whatever with decent sound. It actually has a lot of features for a bookshelf stereo, like a dvd player and a wireless remote. I never used it for more than its AUX IN feature. But my desktop PC usage diminished when I stopped playing online poker and WoW. I pretty much survive with laptops, netbooks and tablets now. The desktop is the port of last resort.

One of the beautiful features of the stereo was that it played MP3 files from the disc, which was a DVD. So that's up to 9gigs of music played in random order. It's like a commercial free radio station that only plays songs you like. I burned some collections on DVDs. I had a ball making disks of various artists, discographies and interesting mixes. One DVD is all greatest hits albums, one is top 100 songs from each year in the 70's, etc.

Unfortunately, when I got the unit to the office, the DVD player wasn't functioning. It just says "no disc" no matter what you put in there. It's been so long since I tried it I have no idea when it quit working. I'd replace the system but nobody really makes anything like it anymore. Why would they? An Ipod and a speaker does the work with far less effort.

But that's essentially what I had, an Ipod speaker, except that it sounds better than 99% of those on the market. I grabbed an MP3 player that hadn't really been used in a while (I actually had many to choose from, shamefully) and cleaned the built in disc of random movies and songs that had been stored over the years. I copied several of the DVDs onto the drive and set it for random play. It's a beautiful system because I have the player sitting on my desk with a long wire running to the stereo in the back corner. I can pause if the phone rings, fast forward a track I'm not in the mood for, whatever. It's awesome.

The collection is weird though. I have discographies of Rush, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Supertramp, Alan Parsons Project, Peter Gabriel, Steely Dan, etc. So the bulk of the songs that get played are classic rock standards and deep cuts, with other occasional bands from the greatest hits collections and one disc I called "good albums" shuffled into the mix. There's still room on the player's hard drive, so I can add more music to the 3214 songs that are on there. I haven't put the "top 100" discs on there yet, and I may delete some of the Rolling Stones' albums. They have some amazing stuff, but some are almost embarrassingly bad.

Yes, I'm stuck in classic rock hell and will never listen to anything new this way. If there was a way to listen to new music (youtube?) that wasn't nauseating I might hear some new bands occasionally. This is Nashville, so going out and hearing music means both kinds, country and western. To be honest I most get exposed to "new" music from movie soundtracks and television commercials. So that puts me far behind the curve. But so what? It's all shit since Elliott Smith died anyway.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Too Many Ladies in My Bath

Showers are fine, they'll get you clean and ready for the work day. But on Monday mornings, I like to bathe.

When I lived in Oklahoma, I didn't even have a bathtub in the master bathroom. There was a small tub in the hallway bathroom, but the master bath just had a stand-up shower. I suppose it was sacrificed for the huge walk-in closet, which was nice. I didn't care except that it was as dark as a dungeon. I didn't know what I was missing.

When I moved to Tennessee, I wanted a big-ass master bath. I loved the place in Oklahoma, but it was thirty years old, and didn't have the features some newer homes have. The Tennessee place was brand spanking new, and had some beautiful features you only see in a new home, like an exhaust-free gas fireplace, dual-pane energy efficient easy-to-clean windows, and yes, a gigantic master bath with a big whirlpool tub.

I was looking forward to a nice bathing experience. I filled it with hot water, or as full as I could get it. The water heater couldn't quite fill the tub before running out of hot water. I dropped in some girly-smelling bubble stuff and let the whirlpool jets generate bubbles almost to the elevated ceiling. I got in and...sat. It was a letdown. It wasn't very relaxing, the water was tepid and I was bored.

So the gigantic master bath sat unused for a couple of years. I was kind of pissed. I found out from a lot of people that their big whirlpool bath goes unused. I would have none of it.

First I would address the tepid water issue. I looked into the in-line water heaters, but someone told me that I would be better off just turning up the temperature of my water heater. I looked and sure enough, the heat was set at the lowest setting. I cranked that sucker up to boiling. It's dangerous, you can seriously scald yourself. But there are no children in my house. Sure the heater sits around with hot water cooling off and heating up all day, but it turns out it's pretty efficient and doesn't use that much more energy.

Next I addressed the boredom. I had an extra LCD computer monitor sitting around, so I hooked it up to a DVD player with HDMI output. I mounted the monitor to a swing-arm on the wall and attached a stereo. It's sad that I can't play store-bought DVDs on it, because of retarded copy-protection schemes. Good thing there's fair use.

I tend to sleep in on weekends. I generally awaken zombie style at 6am on weekdays to prepare for the work day. But weekends are for being lazy and sleeping until I can't keep my eyes closed anymore. Sometimes it even screws up my sleep schedule. I'll stay up until the wee hours. Screw morning guy!  He can take it. He's tough. Let's watch Robot Chicken! Whoo!

But even if I've only had a few hours of sleep on Monday morning at 5am I get into a steaming hot bath and soak. I'll usually watch half a movie or a couple of episodes of a TV show. It's so relaxing and feels so good I don't even notice a lack of sleep. Normally if I don't get enough sleep I am nauseated in the mornings (grammar tip: nauseated means you don't feel well. Nauseous means you make others nauseated. Like noxious. If you say "I'm nauseous," you're not saying you're sick, you're saying you're nauseating.)

The only problem with the master bath now is that it has been invaded by ladybugs. Everybody likes ladybugs right? Not me. Especially when they drop in on you out of nowhere when you're naked in the bathtub. What the heck do you do about ladybugs, how are they getting into my bathroom and why? Normally I'd like a lady in tub with me, but not a ladybug. They're kinda nauseous. Ew.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

1 Month

It took me almost a full month but I finally figured out a way around the company's internet filter so i can actually read what I post at my blog. So maybe I will post more.

Actually, I figured it out just so i could post a comment a Waffles' blog. Coincidentally it works for mine too.

Plus I think I will be depositing at BCP and playing some poker again. If I can remember how. A full house beats a flush, right? It's been a long time. I may deposit, but I'm not going to encourage too many people to follow my example. I expect the feds will shut the place down shortly so you should only deposit if you are a super small-time player like me, who gets way too much pleasure from watching players playing a four cent big blind game bitching about other players at the table being bad players. I guess they're expecting to be playing against Johnny Fucking Chan at the four dollar buy-in stakes.

So i will try to post more. It could happen.