Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Jerry Manuel is a week into the new job, and under his guidance the Mets are . . . playing .500 ball. Sound familiar? Anyway, maybe they'll play at a .550 clip from here out, maybe they won't. I still say they aren't a very good team, but with the Phils in a spiral of suck, who knows how it'll all turn out?

But one thing is clear. As Alex might say, clear as an unsullied lake. Clear as an azure sky. Or as I might say, clear as Willie Randolph's daily planner. And what is that clarified fact?

Carlos Delgado CANNOT be the starting first baseman for a major league team trying to play in October. He's 36 years-old (or at least he will be tomorrow). He's slow. He's an awful fielder. And . . . most importantly, since he plays first base, He Can't Hit!

His numbers through 75 games played are 234/307/405. Last season he hit 258/333/448. That's 1 1/2 seasons of sub-800 OPSing by a first baseman. A first baseman who can't run, nor can he field.

This has to stop. Play Easley against lefties, play Nixon at first against righties, play Nick Evans. But stop trundling this fucking corpse out there day-after-day. Enough.

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Monday, June 23, 2008


. . . to the Great White North.

And based on the demographic breakdown of Nova Scotia (Ancient Algonquin for Whole Lotta' Caucasians), Geddy might as well have been shrieking about more than the snow-covered landscapes. According to the Wikipedia entry for Nova Scotia under "demographics," we learn that the province's ethnic breakdown is as follows:
Scottish: 29.3%
English: 28.1%
Irish: 19.9%
French: 16.7%
German: 10.0%
Dutch: 3.9%
Welsh: 1.4%
Italian: 1.3%
Now look closely at those numbers. I know you may not have a calculator handly, but shit, that's what I'm here for. Those numbers -- the tally of caucasoid European-descendants -- add up to 110.6%.

You might say that number represents Wikipedia's accuracy. And you could be right. But I would posit, those numbers represent just how goddamn white Nova Scotia must be. When they discover a Jew & his Asian wife on their pristine island, they're gonna tie my ass to a seagull and fly me back to NY.

Anyhow, enough about the demographics of Canada's maritime provinces. All I know is I'm planning on doing pretty much nothing for a week. Relaxation and little more.

Maybe I'll have some good stories to tell, more likely I won't. But I won't have anything to say for the next week.
And with an indirect H/T to Deb, she of The Good, The Bad, The Ugly . . . . The Mets, I realize that its un-semitism notwithstanding, the province is actually named after a variety of smoked salmon commonly found on the tables of Jesus-killing shylocks like me.

Life: so full of contradictions.

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Comedy legend George Carlin died last night, and I couldn't think of a more appropriate way to honor, eulogize, and remember one of the men who paved the way for the self-indulgent crap I engage in on this blog than to just come out and title this post with his famous Seven Dirty Words.

(I mean paved the way in terms of saying whatever I want, not bringing Teh Funny. That much should be painfully obvious.)

Anyhow, Carlin was a smart, clever man with a permanently rebellious soul and, shock-words or not, I can't see Bill Maher & Jon Stewart & Lewis Black and others of their stripe doing what they do without Carlin coming before them. Politics, anger, moral outrage at "morally"-driven outrageousness, & funny-as-shit riffing, that was his formula and thank goodness there are others around who also do it well.

I know George loathed religion more than anything else, so I doubt he believed in any sort of spiritual hereafter. But that doesn't mean I can't wish him well in whatever comes now, so I'll still offer a tried-and-true Rest In Piece.

Even if your bones are just laying in the ground, let em lay em lay there peacefully. Adios. And just for good luck, here are the "auxiliaries":

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Friday, June 20, 2008


Hey, whattaya know, it's another cave-in by House Democrats!

Seems that the House has approved another 800 zillion dollars to spend on the war no one supports. Meanwhile, the Dems will spin this as a "victory" because they were able to include some classic election year targeted spending -- college aid for returning troops, extension of unemployment benefits, aid for flood victims, etc.

Problem isProblems are, most of this aid should either (a) be granted anyway, or (b) not be granted at all. I mean, federal aid for the flood victims? Isn't that something the federal government does as a matter of course, without 11th hour compromises on unsupported wars? Or college aid for the returning troops? This is supposed to be a radical measure, a trade for continued war spending? I don't wanna sound too naive, but isn't that part of the promise they make to high school grads when they hoodwink them into joining the army in the first place?

And as for the 13 year extension of unemployment benefits, I'm sorry, but that's election year pork. Nothing more. This will sound cold, but it's a cold, hard fact: for the great majority of Americans getting clobbered in this stank-ass economy, a little fiscal responsibility on the part of the federal government (which is supported by those same citizens' inflation-damaged, heavily-leveraged tax dollars) will go a lot further than a mostly-symbolic extension of unemployment benefits. Take some action, any action to re-value the sinking dollar and those who've become unemployed will find jobs.

Meanwhile, further nonsense and . . . the war goes on. It's not like I'm voting Republican this November, nor would so much as suggest you do so either, but how on earth can I convince myself to vote for the majority of congressional Dems either? I can't.

What a mess.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008


Chinese officials have apparently decided to cave to . . . well, I'm not sure if they're actually caving to anything except centuries of western hegemony, and during this summer's Olympics will re-name dozens of traditional food dishes to appeal to foreign tastes & sensibilities.

In other words, if you're hoping for some "husband and wife's lung slice," for-get it, home slice. You'll just have to stick to the old tried-and-true "beef and ox tripe in chili sauce."

Which sounds only approximately 0.03% less revolting than husband & wife's lung slice, and suddenly not at all curiosity inducing.

Additionally, don't even think of strolling the food stands of Beijing looking for "bean curd made by a pock-marked woman" during these Olympics, Mr. Foo-foo Food Man. Ain't gonna find it. Instead you'll just have to order mapu tofu like you do at Empire Szechuan or Hunan Garden at the local strip mall.

Mapu tofu, by the way, for those of you not familiar with it, is essentially small blocks of somewhat soft tofu swimming in a puddle of fiery-hot chili-pepper oil. I like it, but as you all know, I'm crazy. I'd even like it if a woman without pock-marks cooked it up; I'm open-minded, baby. That's how I roll.

Finally, if you have a hankering for that long-time classic of Chinese cuisine, "chicken without sexual life," you my friend are out of luck. It'll have to be the boringly-named (and in all likelihood, boringly-prepared) "steamed pullet" in the summer of '08.

Meanwhile, I'm almost certain that "chicken without sexual life" is the nickname my friends secretly gave me during freshman year at college after witnessing my far-wall-shuffle at frat parties.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


So apparently the Pentagon has explained that American soldiers were "justified" in shooting a Reuter's journalist during a fire fight in Bagdad.

Supposedly his camera looked like a gun, blah, blah, blah. Listen, I'm sure it's hard-as-hell for a soldier to know what's going on in that situation, so I'm not wading into the merits of this one. Nor am I gonna criticize the reporters or the soldiers, all of whom are just trying to do dangerous, difficult jobs.

That said, I'm wondering if the reporter's name was Joseph Smith from Anytown, USA, and not "Waleed Khaled" from Not-in-America, World, if some 20 year-old private wouldn't have been served up Lynndie England-style.



Even though the Mets lost their first game of the Post-Purge Era, all is well for the boys in blue & orange. No matter that Johan Santana lost, nor that Jose Reyes' hammy acted up for the first time in years. No matter either that they're still under .500 and unlikely to improve much upon that mark.

No matter.

What does matter, and what brings warmth & joy to the cockles of my baseball-lovin' heart is that with pennant-destroying 1B coach Tom Nieto finally off the team, the Mets took some of the finest looking leads off first I've ever seen. I haven't checked the box score, but their Lead Factor (LF) in last night's game had to be at least 6 or 7. Maybe 8 if you factor in the ballpark & that it was an inter-league game.

(Also, even though they recorded no extra-base hits, I'm certain that their Turns Rounding First (TRF) will improve by at least 13 or 14 Turn-Quality Points (TQP), getting them back among the league leaders -- where they usually were before that hideous bum Nieto started fucking everything up.)

It's all gonna be good again.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008


So it seems Omar finally gave in to his demons (and the carping of the ravenous & frothing N.Y. Sports press) and fired Willie. I'm hardly Willie-supporter number one, so don't look here for a passionate defense of the Mets erstwhile mellow manager.

I come to bury Omar, not to praise Willie.

Omar also fired Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto (ostensibly related to the Mets current 13 rank in the NL in Lead-Taking Off First (LTOF)).

Nor do I come to praise The Jacket or the Nietoaster.

I come only to say . . .

. . . FIRE OMAR.

The Mets problem, put very simply, is they're a .500 team. They're not an underachieving team, they're not an un-hustling team, nor are they a not-trying, nor un-pop-up-running, nor un-grit-and-dirt-and-un-doin'-it-the-old-fashioned-way team either.

Instead, they are exactly what the standings show them to be: a .500 ballclub, with a run differential after 69 games of +9. Maybe, you could argue, they should be 35-34. So because they're underperforming Pythag by a game it's not the GM's fault?

Let's review, shall we. The Mets have a slightly better-than-middle-of-the-pack offense and a slightly-worse-than-middle-of-the-pack ERA through 69 games. They play in a pitchers' park. Their O is a little above average and their D a little below. Guess we could say they're one or two position players and a few pitchers short of where we'd like them to be.

And who, may I ask, is responsible for that shortage?

(Other than Tom Nieto.)

Omar, of course. Why aren't they scoring more runs? Partly because they have a 400 year-old first baseman who can't run the bases, refuses to field ground balls, no longer jots notes after his many strikeouts, and sports a anchoresque .321 OBP. Oh, and did I mention that he's also on-pace for 21 HR and 75 RBI and costs over $100 billion dollars a season?

What would the alternative be, you ask? How about Mike Jacobs, the fella (along with Yusmeiro Petit) for whom the Marlins gave the Mets Mr. Delgado? Sure he was markedly inferior in 2006, but the Mets would have won the NL East that year with Ed Kranepool at first. The 2006 version of Ed Kranepool. And this year, despite an atrocious .277 OBP, Jacobs has a .542 slugging percentage. And he costs under half a million per season.

And what could the Mets have done with that additional $12, 13, 14 million? Well, we haven't gotten to the pitching yet.

And I'm not even gonna talk about Castillo/Easley/Valentin or whatever at 2B. Nor Brian Schneider at C. Nahhhhhhhh.

I'm gonna point to another of Omar's signature moves: the only man on earth older than Delgado, and someone who seems to care about as much: Moises "The Human DL" Alou.

When Omar decided to take a flier on the man who can't fly, he was 40 years-old and had played 221 games over the previous two seasons. Omar paid him $7.5 M for 87 games in 2007. His hitting streak notwithstanding, he grounded into 13 double plays in that half-season and was the defensive wizard in LF when the Mets pitchers gave up 17 hits a game en route to last season's historic collapse.

And Omar thought to himself, as he engineered the 2008 Mets, "why not bring back this ancient bag of bones and see what he can do?" And what has he done? Played 15 games, forcing the team with the highest payroll East of the East River to play Endy Chavez, Damion Easley, Angel Pagan, Fernando Tatis, Nick Evans, and the 2006 version of Ed Kranepool at the ultimate hitter's position (well, except for 1B).

Picture this: Mike Jacobs and his 16 home runs. And let's just draw a rough sketch of a 30 year-old left fielder hitting 250/350/450, who can field sorta ok. Brad Wilkerson was available on the free agent market and last year he earned less than $5 M. (Or even think of Jack Cust, he of the career .400 OBP and the $300,000 salary as an example of what a creative GM can do). Think of (a) the saved dollars, to spend on pitching, and (b) the increased run totals to spend on wins.

Just imagine it.

Then wake up from your dream and picture Omar raining twenties onto Billy Wagner as he shakes his money-maker to "Enter Sandman."

Nauseous yet? Good, that was my plan.

'Cause Omar also signed Country to his $10.5 M contract. Is he an excellent closer? Yeah, I guess, as long as you don't count pressure games, playoff games, games when the score is tied, or games when the scapegoat manager is hanging from the 20th story window of the team's hotel. Other than that, sure.

Or put it another way. If the Mets had spent $2 M a year for . . . any pitcher not named Wagner or Hoffman, would the 2006 playoffs have ended differently? Was Wagner's 16.88 ERA against the Cards guilded by his high salary? Was his horrendous HR given up to Taguchi somehow more valuable than it would have been if, say, Heath Bell gave it up? Did Wagner's stretch run last year prevent the collapse? (I mean, a 5.25 ERA in August & September when your team is trying to hang on to the division isn't that bad, is it?)

Anyhow, the point here isn't to attack Wagner, it's to attack OMAR, the man who wasted all that money on Wagner, as he has on Delgado and Alou. So they have no money left to pursue legitimate starters!

Instead, we get Pelfrey and Figueroa and Vargas. Just like last year we had Park and Brian Lawrence. And Pelfrey.

And in 2006 we had LimaTime! and Soler and Trachsel and the 2006 version of Ed Kranepool (even though he had a sweet 46 MPH change-up that he could drop on the opposing pitcher once in a while).

Do you see a pattern here??? Jeez, it's a friggin debacle when you look at it in the rearview. If the Mets had Jacobs at 1B, Brad Wilkerson in LF, and Heath Bell at "closer" (he of the <$400,000 in 2007) they'd have had an additional $20 to $25 million to spend on starting pitching and bullpen help this season. That's enough for 3-6 pitchers, easy. Via free agency, via trade, whatever. The money was there . . . except it wasn't, because it's in Wagner's and Delgado's and Alou's bank accounts.

And instead, the Mets are one game under .500, they have an old, injured team, and Jerry Manuel is their manager.

Because Willie, the man that Omar hired, just got fired.

Fire Omar.

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Monday, June 16, 2008


. . . this is the exception.

What the fuck kind of crazy story is this???

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


The talk has shifted to Obama's search for a running mate. Lots of banter about whether he'll tab Hillary, but I think that's crazy talk and I suspect that idea goes nowhere fast. We can only hope.

Anyhow, I'm gonna throw my idea into the ring because I know that most, if not all, of the nation's prominent strategists come to The Neighborhood for most, if not all, of their political analysis.

And I embrace my role.

My choice is . . .

. . . borrowed from a suggestion Neighborhood Regular™ George made in the comments to another blog. And his suggestion was . . .

. . . Jim Webb.

Webb is, in my so very unhumble opinion, an excellent choice. He balances Obama's perceived political leanings by being a more "conservative" Democrat, one who was actually a GOPer back in the day. Plus, with his military record, he can neutralize a bit of Crazy John McCain's "war hero" thing.

(And unlike McCain, who while brave & worthy-of-respect was a "war hero" only by dint of being captured, Webb really was a war hero.)

More importantly, perhaps, Webb can bring his white southernness to the table to neutralize whatever latent racism may threaten to derail Obama's campaign. (Though in fairness, it won't do squat to neutralize the blatant racism that probably won't, but could, completely derail Obama's campaign).

Finally, I'm probably out-of-my skull on this one, but I wonder if Webb couldn't turn a solid red state blue on election day. I know Virginny's traditionally a non-starter for Dems, but with the D.C. 'burbs and a sizable Black population already somewhat in Obama's camp, couldn't Webb tilt the balance a bit?

Who knows.

Anyway, that's my mid-June thinking. I reserve the right to change my mind 43 times between now and November and America's political punditry better accept that fact. But more important at this juncture: Your Thoughts?

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Sunday, June 08, 2008


(Or something like that.)

Basically, this year's squad -- which has dropped from from 7 2/5 good players to 6 1/5 due to Church's road-games-only concussion & Wagner's recent blown save -- isn't very good. That's about it. Not much offensive depth, not much power, not much starting pitching, not too many good bullpen arms. Basically a very average team.

So in honor of this despicable development, yet in combination with my geeky, summertime need to focus on baseball during June . . . I offer you the unofficially-titled & utterly unsolicited Bittersweet Met Trivia Question of the Current Losing Streak of the Day™.

As many of you probably know, the two rarest significant* one game baseball accomplishments are the perfect game & the four homer game. 17 of the former; 15 of the latter. That's it.

That's right, more perfect games than 4 homer games. And that doesn't even include Pedro's "imperfect perfecto" when he retired the first 27 fellas to dig in before giving up a double to Bip Roberts in the 10th. Anyhow. . .

. . . of the 15 guys who went yard 4 times in one game, an incredible 5 of them played for the Mets. But of course, none of them accomplished this tremendous feat while wearing the royal blue & orange.

The challenge to you (without looking at Baseball-Reference.com or whatever else) is to NAME THEM.
* Unassisted triple plays, three balks in one inning, 4 foul tips into the catcher's cup, etc. aren't significant. They're freaky.

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Friday, June 06, 2008


For that sense that things are . . . somehow ok, somehow "right" in the world.

(They're not, but appearances matter, so roll with it, ok?)

I don't have all that much to say, in fact, except that I have this lingering, dreadful feeling deep in the guts of my gut that the American people are gonna show their true colors (as it were) and send Obama to an historic and gruesome ass-beating in November.

I've said it before but I'm hardly a huge Obama fan: he's a helluva speaker, and he cuts an attractive, charming figure. Plus, to the degree it matters in terms of his ability to lead the country, I really dug his take on race & class in the two famous speeches -- let's call them "The Wright & Race Speech" and "The Bitterness Speech." Compelling stuff. But I'm not sure there's an awful lot of there there as an executive. Who knows?

Anyhow, to say I prefer him over McCain is as much of an understatement as saying "George Bush is an ass." I may even consider abandoning my usual third-party voting patterns and pull the Obamalever in November.

But, as the last 20 or so-odd years of my adulthood have proven, the American People & I don't see eye-to-eye on too many issues involving the economy, foreign policy, social legislation, the role of the federal government, constitutional interpretation, religion, or judicial power. Nor do we see eye-to-eye on culture, education, philosophy, or the importance of wearing an American flag lapel pin. More like eye-to-knee, and that's how it feels sometimes.

(The American People & I do see eye-to-eye, however, on botulism, Kim Jong Il, and French rock music, so all is not hopeless.)

Anyhow, even though I have no real basis to believe that Obama or any other mainstream Democrat has any intention or ability to improve the lives of the rank-and-file, at least he talks of somehow getting universal healthcare. He talks about the environment. He talks about ending the fucking war.

McCain? Who really knows, but since I missed the memo about him turning in his RNC card, we can assume he'll extend the war, flex his environmentalist muscles by planting trees on the White House lawn, and do his part to improve healthcare by explaining that one of those grapefruit knife/spoons works fine for removing cancerous tumors if you wash it well enough.

So who will the American People vote for? The same American People who've had 8 years to see their standard of living drop, their federal government intrude into their lives, and their sons and daughters die and get maimed in the desert?

I think deep down we know it ain't gonna be the Black guy with the name that rhymes with Osama.

Maybe I'm wrong, but deep down I don't think I am.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008


To the three people who actually come by here from time to time to confirm my heartbeat, I feel it is my solemn duty to say:
Yes. Still ticking. The Neighborhood, while frequently abandoned these days, is still on the map. Ignore the roving bands of wild dogs, stray tumbleweeds, and shady characters on the street corners who talk to themselves and keep their hands in inappropriate parts of their wardrobe. Ig-nore them. We're planning a sweep any day now -- the dogs will be shot, the tumbleweeds will be . . . untumbled, and the unsavory characters will be rounded up and sold into slave labor camps run by Halliburton. I repeat: All. Is. Well.
Now, let's turn to a few events brewing in this world of ours, to prove my existence, to prove this post is actually composed by Mike™ and not some Blogbot hired by my law firm to trick the few people who still track my presence on earth into thinking I haven't actually been permanently transferred to conduct a 12 year-long document review in an Antarctic weather station.

Or something like that.

Anyhow, the events in our world:

1. Over The Hill

Can I get a whoop-whoop, or whatever it is the cool kids are doing these days. She's done, she's finished, she's gonna be out of our collective hair for at least 4 more years. At which time, of course, she'll reappear in an effort to disturb us with shocking displays of her selfish narcissism all over again.

What have we done, as a people, to deserve this nightmare of a human being? Oh well, at least she lost. Maybe someone needs to tell her.

2. One Step Forward, One Step Back (and five walks in an inning by Oliver Perez)

Man, the Mets are frust-rating, with a capital "F" and stands for "fuck" and that rhymes with "suck." Man, these guys are pissing me off. Two good starters, four good position players, and about one and two-fifths of a good relief pitcher.

(I'm not sure who the 2/5 is. You figure it out, man. I'm a lawyer, not a mathematician, whattaya' want from me?)

But beyond that, what a buncha' stiffs. Pelfrey, Delgado, Moises "I Put The D In The DL" Alou, Heilman, Perez. Yikes, these guys have been awful.

And that, my friends, is what's wrong with this team: they're not good! They try hard, they do their best, whatever. But when you have exactly seven and two-fifths good players, you should be 30-28. Oh, enough of this; too depressing.

3. I Haven't Seen A Fuckin' Movie Since Al Pacino Started Overacting

Like I said, I've been busy as hell.

4. I'm Taking A Vacation Though

Yee and haw don't do it justice. I'm so psyched to take 16 days to do anything but go to the office, travel for work, answer the phone, or read e-mails, the English language does it no justice.

So I'll express it in Spanish:

Yo estoy muy feliz tener vacaciones. Es una cosa muy buena.

And if anyone gives me shit for mixing up "Estar" and "Ser" trouble will come down upon your head. So don't even go there.

I'm gonna take a few days to chill out and catch up on all the things I've been too busy to do for the last five months. You know, things like eating dinner with my wife, reading for pleasure, walking outside, breathing oxygen, all those luxuries I've been missing out on.

(I'm sure you've noticed that I didn't include "have sex" or "drink beer" in there. You know, no matter how busy one is, or how many nights he spends traveling, it's amazing how he'll still manage to hit the fundamentalist of the fundamentals. Think about it: ever been so busy you couldn't find time to take a shit? Exactly.)

Oh, and we'll spend one week somewhere in the wilds of Nova Scotia. Never been, know nothing about it, not even sure if they have "wilds" there, but it sounds relaxing and it's far away from cell phone & blackberry reachability. 'Nuff for me.

5. An Idea That's Brewing

I've said it before, so nothing too profound here, but the one-and-only real drawback from the return to the working lawyer's life has been the inability to blog with any regularity. I like the job, and although I can't garden or work-out as often as I used to, hey what are you gonna do? Life calls for compromises. But it really sucks that I can't blog. Just not enough time and, more importantly, not enough energy to ratchet it up daily or even a couple times a week.

That said, I miss it, and I really miss writing Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day posts.

So -- and this is so far from a promise I'm gonna call it a promisenot -- I've been thinking of firing one up when I have some time off later this month.

(Ok, calm down. Sit down. Enough with the whooping & hollering. Uhhh, what's that? My imagi-what? Halluci-huh? You mean that wasn't cheering? Well, that sucks.)

We'll see. It sounds good in theory, even if it probably won't be any good even if I do it. Hey, I'm at least 14 months out of practice. Nevertheless, for old times sake: any suggestions?

Later, y'all. Though hopefully not too much later

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