Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Favorites

Another year has blown by. The days and weeks pile up and next thing you know four months go by, then all of a sudden, it’s the end of the year. So since the New Year is only one short day away, it is time to compile my favorite things from what I’ve seen, read, and done in 2009.

Best Movie – The Wrestler – this movie featuring Mickey Rourke’s performance as a washed up professional wrestler trying to hold on, blew me away. What a comeback for Rourke, who had toiled in relative obscurity for fifteen years. He gives an absolutely riveting performance. Marisa Tomei as an aging stripper is excellent as well. Honorable mention: Gran Torino

Best TV Show – The Wire - This groundbreaking HBO show lasted for five seasons, each season consistently outstanding. The series started in 2002 and ended in 2008. We rented the DVD’s from Netflix. I will go so far to say as The Wire is the best television show of all time. There isn’t a single episode that doesn’t evoke quality, whether it is the writing, acting, or direction. The Wire is gritty and is said to be a very realistic depiction of inner city life and the struggles of city police departments. Honorable mention: The League

Best Reality Show – Rock of Love Tour Bus – Rock of Love is a skanky version of The Bachelor and stars the charismatic Poison front man Bret Michaels. This was the third and supposedly final installment of the Rock of Love series. There’s never a dull moment on this show with its collection of strippers, adult film stars, and generally trashy women. Honorable mention: Jersey Shore

Best Book – Boys Will Be Boys (The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty) by Jeff Pearlman – This book is about the 1990’s Dallas Cowboys, who played hard and partied harder. A fascinating account of what made guys like Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, and Deion Sanders tick. I blew through this book in three days. Honorable mention: Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn

Best Newspaper – The Boston Herald – The Herald is a classic example of what companies mean when they say they want to do more with less. Despite a staff that has been decimated by layoffs and defections over the last few years, almost every week the Herald exposed some new controversy with Governor Deval Patrick and the Democratic lawmakers that dominate the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Only in the Herald did you read that Governor Patrick hired 1300 state workers in 2009. The Herald’s writers work hard and regularly expose fraud and corruption; something the so called “paper of record” the Boston Globe fails to do. Honorable mention: NY Post

Best Radio Show – Felger and Massarotti on 98.5 The Sports Hub – FM sports station 98.5 went live in August and quickly provided a legitimate alternative to long time Boston sports radio king WEEI. I always enjoy Michael Felger, because he’s not afraid to take a stand and speak out about issues. Sometimes Tony Massarotti drives me crazy with his defense and loyalty of certain Red Sox players (Jason Varitek), but he generally provides thought provoking commentary. This show really works for me. Honorable mention: Dennis and Callahan on WEEI

Best Concert - Aerosmith – Not only was it a blast because I took my son to see his first show and it was of his favorite band, but the concert exceeded my expectations. Joe Perry’s guitar work was mesmerizing and the band was in great form that night. It also didn’t hurt when my son told me after the show it was the best day of his life. Honorable mention: Paul McCartney at Fenway Park.

Best Sporting Event I Attended – hockey game - UNH vs. Boston University @ Agganis Arena – I could not believe that BU sold out the Agganis Arena for a college hockey game. The atmosphere at the game was electric, with a large cheering section behind one of the goals. It also didn’t hurt that BU beat UNH 5-0.

Best Vacation Spot – Cape Cod - We rented a house in Eastham the week of August 15th, and somehow we managed to get the best weather of the entire summer. The weather during the summer of 2009, was dreadful, but during the week we were in Eastham, every day was sunny and in the 80’s. We also visited some of the most beautiful beaches New England has to offer – Head of the Meadow in Truro, Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, Nauset Beach in Orleans, Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, and Hardings Beach in Chatham. The further up the Cape you are, the more beautiful it is. Honorable mention: Naples, FL in April.

Best Workout – P90X – When most people workout, they get set in a routine and stick with it. The routine is comfortable, and after a while you don’t get anywhere with it. P90X gave me the boot in the rear end I desperately needed. I thought I knew it all about nutrition and working out, but found I was wrong. P90X is not easy. The diet can be challenging, particularly if you don’t like vegetables. However, it REALLY WORKS! I dropped 12 lbs., dropped 2 inches in my waist, and had to go buy all new pants.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pre Christmas patter

Good to see the Patriots this past Sunday making more of an effort to run the football. Their offense needs balance, and effectively running the ball sets up the play action pass. The Patriots offense had become too predictable.

The Celtics are currently on cruise control, eleven wins in a row, and a 20-4 record. One of the big surprises is Kendrick Perkins' improved offensive game. Perkins is averaging a career high 12 PPG and is shooting 65% from the field.

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman has made a career out of grandstanding and posturing; being "the conscience of the Senate". Senator Lieberman is always the one who is initially out of step with his liberal colleagues, critical of Democratic Party sponsored bills and policy initiatives. However, at the end of the day, Lieberman always votes with the Democrats. I pay no attention to him, because he's the boy that cried wolf.

After reading the story in yesterday's Herald about Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick hiring 1300 state workers this year after getting a sales tax hike rammed through into law, I was infuriated. In a state where voters paid attention and had common sense, Patrick would never see elected office again. However, in Massachusetts, he's probably going to get re-elected in 2010, because Independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill and Republican candidate Charlie Baker will likely cancel each other out. Both Cahill and Baker hold mostly mainstream views. Cahill was a conservative Democrat, before leaving the party.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Presents under the Tree

Despite the hysteria of talk radio yelping about Theo Epstein's comments from last week about this being a "bridge year" and the team wanting to remain competitive with an eye towards the future, I had a feeling that he was using a little misdirection. Theo's a smart guy and knows how to work the media. He never says anything that won't ultimately be to his benefit.

That is why I'm not surprised about the agreements to contracts with John Lackey and Mike Cameron. I'm extremely pleased about both signings. Cameron is a great defensive outfielder and has some pop in his bat. Lackey is a solid #2 starter. The Red Sox starting rotation now looks like this: Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Matsuzaka, and Buchholz, with Tim Wakefield still in the picture.

The Cameron signing means that the Red Sox are now probably out of the Jason Bay picture and will mostly go with a platoon of Jeremy Hermida and Cameron in LF. However, considering J.D. Drew's injury history, there will be plenty of AB's for both players.

I still believe the Sox need another bat, and the Lackey signing allows them to consider moving Buchholz. I'd like to see the team keep him, because he showed during the second half of last year that he can be a good big league pitcher. Every year, it looks like the team has enough pitching depth, but guys get hurt or don't pitch to their expectation level, and all of a sudden the rotation looks thin.

If the Red Sox go after a big time bat (Adrian Gonzalez), I'd rather have them trade Casey Kelly. Kelly dominated Single A, but he's years away from Boston, and needs to prove himself at higher levels of the minor league organization. I'd be willing to take that chance for Gonzalez.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Odds and Ends

Let's address a handful of topics this morning:

Headline on this morning: "Obama Warns Debt Could Fuel Double-Dip Recession" - Now considering President Obama is an extreme left wing liberal pushing a socialist agenda, this tells me he is setting up a plan for massive tax hikes. Health care reform is the centerpiece of his presidency and despite its mammoth cost ($1-2 trillion), that won't be pulled off the table.

This comment by Obama is also ironically comical, considering he's done nothing domestically in ten months of office but spend taxpayer money and add to the budget deficit and national debt.

Gotta hand it to the marketing geniuses at Fenway Park to put the bad news out that the Red Sox would be raising ticket prices on the day when all everyone is talking about in the six state New England region is Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on 4th down and 2, on his own 28 yard line.

The Red Sox released catcher George Kottaras yesterday. Kottaras did a fine job handling knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and he has a little pop in his bat. However, with the mystifying decision to apparently hand the backup catching job to Jason Varitek without competition, there was no room for Kottaras. He'll catch on with someone (pun intended) and I wouldn't be surprised to see him be a decent major leaguer if given the opportunity. If given 400 AB's, I project him to hit .255 with 11 HR and 50 RBI, and throw out 20% of the runners attempting to steal. Unfortunately, Kottaras didn't get much of an opportunity with the Red Sox.

I can't imagine why anyone would be fired up to vote for Martha Coakley or Mike Capuano for Massachusetts' vacant US Senate seat. Both are career politicians without an ounce of reform in their bodies.

President Obama has made several lousy political appointments in his brief time in office. However, one of the worst is also one of the most high profile. Attorney General Eric Holder is one who'd rather score points for his liberal agenda, than do what is right for America. First, was his decision to go after the way CIA agents interrogated terrorists. Now, he wants to try terrorists in a criminal court, instead of in a military tribunal. This is nothing more than Holder trying to establish a higher profile for himself, and take the military and the CIA out of the equation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

State of the Patriots

This past Sunday's loss by the Patriots to their hated rivals, the Indianapolis Colts, was painful. Despite the Patriots' 6-3 record, the warts of the team were on full display in the 4th quarter. After having some time to allow the shock of the loss to wear off and to reflect on what went wrong, I've come to the following conclusions about the three time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots:

The Patriots are a soft team - Long gone are the smashmouth days of 2001 and 2003, where there was balance in the offensive attack and heavy hitting on defense. When I watch this team, I wonder what ever happened to the 2001 Super Bowl game style where the secondary would punish receivers on every play, whether the pass was completed or not? The Patriots have turned into the 2003 Indianapolis Colts - a pass happy team that is entertaining and can put up points, but cannot physically impose their will on a very good team.

They can't stop anyone on defense - This has been a problem since the January 2007 AFC Championship where they blew an 18 point lead to Indianapolis. The secondary is young and improving, but the defense is in a state of transition. Gone are Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and Rodney Harrison. Safeties Brandon Meriweather and Brandon McGowan are trying to be big hitters, but sometimes they are out of position and miss tackles.

They cannot rush the passer - Back in the Super Bowl days, Mike Vrabel or Willie McGinest could be counted on to get a big sack. The 2009 New England Patriots are unable to get to the QB. When you put a team in a 2nd and 18 situation or 3rd and 13 via sacks, a defense has a lot more flexibility in what their next defensive call can be. The inverse here is also true in that it limits what the offense can do. This is why the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense is so good. They are always putting teams in 3rd and long situations. The 2009 Patriots are usually in a 3rd and 5 situation.

No playmakers on defense - When was the last time a Patriot defender forced a big fumble? Other than Jerod Mayo, the Patriots don't have any big time playmakers on defense. The defense is younger and faster, but they are missing the Ty Laws, Tedy Bruschis, and Rodney Harrisons they had during their Super Bowl dynasty days.

Corey Dillon, We Miss You! - Clock killin' Corey Dillon lived up to his nickname. Dillon, and to a lesser extent, Antowain Smith, could be counted on to wear down defenses and chew up the clock in the 4th quarter by moving the chains with their physical styles of running. The Patriots idea of killing the clock and moving the chains now is to throw short passes and slants. It's not the same and it doesn't work as well.

Too Pass Happy - One of the things I don't understand about Bill Belichick is how he has gotten so far away from one of the attributes that made him famous and successful - shortening the game. Tom Brady is one of the greatest QBs ever and it is generally a good idea to maximize the use of him as a weapon. However, Peyton Manning is one of the all time greats, too. Instead of getting into a shootout with the Colts, the Patriots would be better off having long sustained drives keeping Manning off the field, like the one they had in the 3rd quarter that unfortunately resulted in a Maroney fumble. The Patriots ran the football well Sunday night vs. the Colts and should've looked to do it more against the Colts' small defensive front. It is a mystery why the hard running BenJarvus Green-Ellis doesn't see more carries.

Weakness at the Offensive Tackle Position - For years, Matt Light has been the left tackle and the right tackle position has been a revolving door. Remember Greg Robinson-Randall, Tom Ashworth, and Ryan O'Callaghan? Nick Kaczur has been the starting right tackle since 2007, and not a very good one. Neither Light nor Kaczur can consistently handle speed rushers without help. The emergence of rookie Sebastian Vollmer in the wake of Light's knee injury, has easily been the most pleasant surprise of the season. Vollmer is huge, athletic and can move his feet in pass protection and is a punishing blocker in the running game. When Light comes back, the Patriots should keep Vollmer at left tackle and slide Light over to right tackle where he belongs.

Despite this list of issues, the Patriots are still a very good team. A few tweaks in the game plan and in personnel, can make a major difference. Any team that has Bill Belichick and Tom Brady is going to be in the playoff mix. However, to be a Super Bowl contender, which I believe the Patriots currently are not, changes need to be made. Those who ignore recent history are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day - one year later

Today is the one year anniversary (first Tuesday of November) of the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. Taking into account the significance of the date, I'd like to post a few facts for those who voted for Obama:

  • $1.4 trillion budget deficit
  • an $868 billion stimulus bill that didn't stimulate anything.
  • a health care reform bill that is conservatively estimated to cost $1.2 trillion and will more likely cost $2 trillion when all is said and done.
  • understaffed troop levels in Afghanistan which threaten our success there and hurt troop morale.
  • 9.8% unemployment
  • trillions added to the national debt
  • bad mouthing America and apologizing for our "arrogance" to other countries when traveling abroad.
  • traveling to Switzerland to lobby the Olympic committee to bring the Olympics to Chicago for 2016 and coming home unsuccessful, and belittling the prestige of the U.S. presidency.
  • a bailout of GM and Chrysler that isn't working.
  • Obama Attorney General Eric Holder looking to prosecute CIA agents for some of their tactics to extract information from terrorists
  • the value of the U.S. Dollar at very low levels.

Are you Obama supporters happy now? You misguided souls elected the most overwhelmed empty suit since Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976. Supporters will say his nuance on whether or not to add more troops in Afghanistan shows depth of character and thoughtfulness. The rest of us believe nuance is code for indecisiveness.

Barack Hussein Obama ran as a moderate Democrat appealing to independents. Since his inauguration nine and a half months ago, he's attempted to enact the most radical agenda of any president, moving America closer to socialism than ever before.

Despite the first cases of H1N1 appearing in America last April, are you Obama supporters happy with the lack of vaccinations available? If so, then you're going to love the ObamaCare health package. Government has never been and never will be an effective instrument for driving economic growth. The prospect of the federal government taking over 1/6th of the economy (health care) by a bill produced by the House of Representatives that is 2,000 pages long is frightening.

The Obama Administration and the Democrats in the House and Senate want government to run everything. They believe that we all need our hands held through life by big government, taking our earnings in the name of taxes and punishing achievement by allocating the money we earned and giving it to those who don't work and don't pay taxes via grand initiatives.

As a country, we need to get back to the idea of personal responsibility. There's a difference between who needs government help and who doesn't. If you dropped out of high school and had three kids out of wedlock, that's not my problem. If you got fired for downloading inappropriate material from the internet on a company owned laptop, then you're flat out stupid. If you are a drug addict and got Hepatitis from sharing needles, I don't feel the least bit sorry for you. If you've been laid off from work and are actively looking to find gainful employment, then absolutely, you should be helped by the government. Considering the unemployment level and the current economic conditions, your unemployment benefits should be extended.

Candidate Obama promised change, and so far President Obama has delivered the wrong kind of change - big government. The kind of change we truly need are tax cuts, reduced government spending, a pro business, pro growth formula of policy initiatives. It is the private sector that will drive economic recovery with jobs and capital investment, not inefficient, government run programs.

We will ultimately all pay for this gigantic government spending. Right now, the U.S. Mint is printing money with nothing to back it. Why is this a problem? Because it devalues the U.S. dollar in the global market place and this will lead to increased inflation, particularly in the energy sector. Remember the $4.25 gallon of gas? Well, it'll be coming back if this continues.

On this election day, please do your country a favor. Go to the polls and vote for anyone who is a member of the Conservative or Republican parties. Despite the pipe dreams they try to sell, don't believe the rhetoric of Democratic politicians. Eschew them on your voting ballot and opt for real change.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time to overhaul the Red Sox

After 24 hours of reflection, I came to the following conclusions about the Boston Red Sox who failed this postseason in spectacular fashion:

The way the team is built is flawed - geared too much towards Fenway - they can't manufacture runs.

No athleticism - other than Ellsbury and Pedroia, the other 7 guys in the lineup have below average foot speed.

Too many DH/1B types - Ortiz, Lowell, Youk, Kotchman, V-Mart Lousy defense from the catching position. I can live with V-Mart's lack of throwing ability, but they need a second catcher who CAN throw and is a threat back there defensively.

No true ace - Beckett and Lester are #2 types. They don't have a Sabathia or a Lincecum shutdown type.

David Ortiz is no longer an elite 40+ HR slugger.

It's going to take a major overhaul and they may need to take a step back to move forward again.Papelbon should be made available in a trade. I'd shop him to see if they can get a power bat. They have the depth in the bullpen.

I'd make Beckett available, too. He is what he is. He's never going to be an elite starter again like he was in the 2007 postseason. They've gotten 4 years out of him. He's a free agent after next year. They've proven they can develop pitchers, but they've been unable to develop power hitters. They need an elite bat.

What is the plan with Casey Kotchman?

Enough with the Varitek nonsense. Eat the $3 mill. How much of Renteria's and Lugo's contracts did they eat? Get a real defensive catcher to back up Victor Martinez.

Unfortunately, they are somewhat hamstrung in that Ortiz, Lowell, and Drew are untradeable.

Keep Alex Gonzalez. They've got a solid guy there and have proven they have no ability to scout the shortstop position. Let him be, pick up his $6 million option.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Red Sox End of Regular Season Team Awards

Now that the postseason is upon us, it is time to hand out some team awards for the regular season:

Most Valuable Player- Victor Martinez - The July acquisition of Victor Martinez was the best by any team during this year's trading deadline. The team was struggling at the time and the offense definitely needed another bat. Enter Victor Martinez, who filled the biggest hole on the roster - starting catcher, and proved to be a power threat from both sides of the plate. Despite the fact that he doesn't have a great throwing arm, Victor Martinez, is a very good game manager, helping Clay Buchholz develop into a good starter. Also, pitchers such as Jon Lester didn't miss a beat when he caught them. To put it simply, Victor Martinez saved the season.

Most Valuable Pitcher - Jon Lester - The big lefty has supplanted Josh Beckett as the team ace with a 15-8 record and 3.41 ERA. After a rough start to the season, Lester's ERA's month by month were:
June - 1.85
July 2.60
August - 2.41
September - 2.52

An outstanding performance by this workhorse., who is still only 25 years old.

Least Valuable Player - Jason Varitek - See, I told you so. Last winter before the Red Sox re-signed him to a 1 year deal with a dual option, I outlined 25 numerical reasons why the Red Sox should not re-sign Jason Varitek. I was proven more correct than I thought I'd ever be - not only did Varitek bat .157 in the second half of the year, but his defense has become a serious liability. The Captain is not a major league caliber ballplayer anymore. It's over.

Least Valuable Pitcher - John Smoltz/Brad Penny - Daisuke Matsuzaka had this locked up, until he came back and redeemed himself with 4 strong starts and a 2.22 ERA in September. Former NL All Stars Smoltz and Penny were so abysmal for the Red Sox, they were released midseason.

Most Improved Player - Jacoby Ellsbury - 70 stolen bases, Gold Glove caliber defense, plus he's cured that hole in his swing and learned to work the count. What's not to like? While he was compared to Johnny Damon when he was drafted, I doubt he'll ever turn into the power and run producing threat that Damon is. But that's ok. Ellsbury is a fine, homegrown player and a valuable contributor to the Red Sox team.

Most Improved Pitcher - Clay Buchholz - Clay was a lost cause 12 months ago. However, he started the season at Pawtucket, pitched his way onto the Red Sox roster, and has emerged as the #3 starter. Buchholz really hit his stride and gained confidence when he went toe to toe with CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, and Roy Halladay in three consecutive starts, holding his own against them. Not so coincidentally, young Clay's emergence came once Victor Martinez started catching him, instead of Jason Varitek. As long as Buchholz mixes his pitches and keeps his fastball down, he's going to have success.

Team Enigma - Player - Jed Lowrie - Why can't this guy stay healthy? He's a solid defender, can play multiple positions, and can hit a little, but he continues to be dogged by a bad wrist that keeps him on the shelf. The Sox really needed him back in the spring when Julio Lugo and Nick Green played the worst defensive shortstop seen in Boston in a long time. A year after his surgery, his wrist still isn't right.

Team Enigma - Pitcher - Manny Delcarmen - Manny Delcarmen's ERA in the second half of the season was 7.27 and he basically pitched himself off the postseason roster. For a pitcher with a live fastball and excellent stuff, Delcarmen remains a mystery; he's never matured into a pitcher you want on the mound in a close game.

Rookie of the Year - Daniel Bard - despite some recent struggles, the young fireballer has helped shore up an already strong bullpen. With Bard and Billy Wagner in front of closer Jonathan Papelbon, it really shortens the game. If Bard ever sharpens up his breaking ball, he's going to be unhittable.

Mr. Consistency - Jason Bay - every year, Jason Bay gets 30+ HR and 100+ RBI. This year was no different. I don't care that he only hit .267, the Boston Red Sox went as Jason Bay went. When he went into a slump, the team slumped. Unfortunately, Bay is a free agent at the end of the season. The Red Sox definitely need to re-sign him.

Comeback Player of the Year - Mike Lowell - After hip surgery, there was serious concern about what Lowell could bring to the team in 2009. While he definitely lost range in the field, and is among the slowest runners in all of baseball, Lowell's bat wasn't affected by his surgery. He batted a productive .290 with 17 HR and 75 RBI in 445 AB.

Weirdest Season - David Ortiz - He had 1 HR after two months and at one point was hitting .175. From June on, he hit 27 HR and drove in 81 runs. Very strange, indeed.

Welcome Back Award - Alex Gonzalez - Theo Epstein never should've let this slick fielding SS go after the 2006 season. His acquisition in August stabilized the infield defense, plus A Gone had some key hits and did well with the bat.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Here, There, and Everywhere

Only in Massachusetts - the inevitable change in the law to allow the governor to appoint an interim Senate appointee will be the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award with the likely appointment of former Governor and presidential candidate Michael S. Dukakis.

The Boston Globe has led the cheerleading for former Governor Dukakis, endorsing his candidacy to be appointed to Ted Kennedy's seat. And the Globe wonders why they are losing subscribers by the thousands.

With very little fanfare, the stock market is approaching 10,000 again. Is it due to companies being overvalued or to the supposed end of the recession?

The recession has ended? Tell that to the people of Michigan where unemployment is a shocking 15.2% or those living in Nevada where unemployment is 13.2%.

Considering Nevada's unemployment rate, I guess that blow the theory out of the water that casinos bring good jobs to states.

Never mind the harm President Barack Obama is doing to the country domestically with trillion dollar budget deficits and a potentially disastrous health care bill, what about the incredible damage he's doing in terms of the war on terror?

Intelligence and spycraft is dirty work. Let the CIA do its job and keep the Justice Department out of the way.

What is the purpose of removing some of the prison rules on shoe bomber Richard Reid, who had ambitions on blowing up an airplane?

Since the House and Senate voted to stop funding ACORN, will President Obama have the temerity to veto the bill?

It wouldn't surprise me if he vetoed it. Since April, the Obama Administration has done nothing but continually prove themselves to be amateurs who have no clue how to govern or realize when they are going in the wrong direction.

In the real world, Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen would be arrested and held without bail for arsony. He has been brutal lately.

The Houston Astros fired former Red Sox and Brewers slugger Cecil Cooper yesterday as their manager. Poor Coop didn't have a chance. Astros owner Drayton MacLane is one of the five worst owners in baseball and every season never looks to seriously upgrade his team.

Can you teach a soft team to be tough? That's the quandary the New England Patriots find themselves in two games into the season.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

Yesterday's trade of Richard Seymour by the Patriots certainly caught me off guard. However, considering the salary cap and the contracts of players that expire after this year, the move makes sense. The Patriots will received a first round pick from the Raiders, and it will likely be a high pick. Seymour, while good, has not been a dominant player for a few years now. When was the last time he took over a game and terrorized an opponent's backfield?

The wheels are quickly coming off the Jason Varitek bandwagon. The Captain's batting average has dropped from .233 to .217 since the Victor Martinez acquisition and pitchers such as Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have had some great starts with Martinez behind the plate. Making matters worse is the success John Smoltz and Brad Penny have had during their brief tenure in the NL this season after being released by the Red Sox. Both were primarily caught by Varitek. Smoltz was said to be tipping his pitches and Penny praised Giants catcher Eli Whitside for his pitch selection after Penny tossed 8 scoreless innings in his first outing with the Giants. Toss in Daisuke Matsuzaka's struggles this year and Varitek's reputation as a stellar handler of pitchers has taken a big hit. What exactly is his value to the Red Sox at this point?

Victor Martinez batting third for the Red Sox has really given the lineup the depth it needed. J.D. Drew bats 8th when Martinez plays and Mike Lowell has been scorching the ball at the plate. Considering Tim Wakefield's balky lower back, the Red Sox need to ratchet up the offense, because the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation is in bad shape.

The Red Sox are going to have to throw Daisuke Matsuzaka out there and see what happens. This season has been a wash out for Dice K, but what other choice do they have? Junichi Tazawa has proven he isn't ready to be a full time major leaguer, Tim Wakefield has a bad lower back and has a history of being a lousy postseason pitcher. Paul Byrd is not the answer. The key to the Sox playoff hopes rests on Dice K bouncing back.

I like the way Terry Francona lined up his bullpen in last Thursday night's game vs. the Rays. Billy Wagner in the 7th, Daniel Bard in the 8th, and Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th. Those three can certainly bring the heat and it really shortens the game for the Red Sox. Relievers who can strike hitters out are always preferable to the sinkerball type.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Across the Landscape

Curt Schilling floated the idea yesterday that he'd like to run for Ted Kennedy's seat in the U.S. Senate. Despite chuckling when I read it, I'd vote for Curt over any of the Democrats who will be running.

I hate being redundant, but why do the Red Sox continue to pitch to Evan Longoria in close games?

As a member of the Red Sox, Brad Penny spent 3/4 of the season pitching erratically and not once did he make it through 7 innings. How does he join the San Francisco Giants and pitch 8 shutout innings in his first outing with them? The NL is a joke.

There is no bigger piece of misinformation regarding exercise than the notion that walking is the answer to shedding weight and better fitness. If you want to lose weight and be fit, you need to get your heart rate up, you need to be breathing hard, and you need to bring some intensity to a workout. Doing two 15 minute circuits a day of jumping jacks, karate punches and kicks, running in place, weightless squats and lunges, pushups, and ab exercises is far more beneficial than a 45 minute walk.

A routine like this also squashes the notion of people saying, "I don't have any time." Of course you have time. Perform one circuit first thing in the morning, and then perform the other when you get home from work.

I don't blame Rep. Michael Rodrigues, Democrat of Fall River, for stocking up on booze in New Hampshire at their tax free liquor stores. I will do the same thing next time I am in NH. However, considering he did vote to raise the sales tax on alcohol and then foolishly used his car with the House issued license plate, he deserves the heat he's getting in the paper. Rep. Rodrigues isn't the smoothest operator around.

Barney Frank says critics are distorting his record. No one distorts his own record more than Barney. He's not responsible for anything that went wrong in the banking industry. Just ask him.

RIP former Patriots running back John Stephens who was killed in a car accident in Louisiana yesterday. Stephens was the NFL Rookie of the Year as a member of the Patriots in 1988.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sports Sunday

On the heels of his woeful performance in Friday's game vs. the Redskins, the Patriots have cut backup QB Kevin O'Connell. Considering the team invested a third round pick in O'Connell in the 2008 draft, this move comes as a surprise. However, it had been reported by Pro Football Weekly earlier in the week that the team wasn't happy with the way O'Connell was progressing even before the exhibition game vs. the Redskins. Right now, the Pats depth chart is Tom Brady, Andrew Walter, and undrafted free agent Brian Hoyer.

Here's hoping KC QB Matt Cassel is ok after leaving the game with a left leg injury in Saturday's game vs. the Seahawks. With the way Cassel handled taking over the QB reins from Tom Brady last year, he ranks as a favorite at this address and I'd love to see him tear up the AFC West for the Chiefs.

The Red Sox completed a sweep of the hapless Toronto Blue Jays today with a 7-0 victory. If I had been in Las Vegas, I would've lost a lot of money, because I would've put a bet on Roy Halladay to beat Paul Byrd. Byrd, in his first start of the season, was excellent, pitching six shutout innings. Halladay continued his August struggles.

Alex Gonzalez has come in and stabilized the SS position over the last two weeks. He's hitting well, too! Frankly, he never should've left after the 2006 season. Opting for Julio Lugo over Alex Gonzalez to play SS during that offseason ranks as one of GM Theo Epstein's biggest blunders.

In the Wild Card race, the Red Sox now are 5.5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays, a team they have struggled against the last two seasons. I'm not concerned about the Texas Rangers, but the Rays do worry me. They seem to have the Red Sox figured out.

A big key to the Red Sox postseason chances is a healthy and "in shape" Daisuke Matsuzaka returning to the team. Supposedly, the team is happy with his conditioning and his arm should be well rested. We'll see how it goes, when he's back with the team in the next week.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pats vs. Redskins

The general rule of thumb in the NFL is the third exhibition game (yes, I called it the old name - exhibition game - the powers that be in the NFL don't like that) is the most important one of training camp. It's the barometer of where a team finds out how their starters are doing and an opportunity to seriously analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a football team.. I had the opportunity to watch last night's Patriots-Redskins game and here are my observations from what I saw:

Bad News for the NFL - Tom Brady and Randy Moss are back! They were so in sync last night, you would've thought it was November 2007. Moss terrorized Redskins CB D'Angelo Hall during the first half.

Young DB's Having Difficulty - Jason Campbell is a middle of the road QB. Last night he picked on Darius Butler. Butler struggled, getting two interference calls on one play. Patrick Chung muffed another punt and looks shaky as a returner.

Big Vince - Vince Wilfork really came to play last night. He was disruptive, both making tackles and clogging the line. Mike Wright looked good up front, too.

I Still Don't Like the OL - I still am not crazy about the OL. I'm hoping air craft carrier sized rookie OL Sebastian Vollmer can step in and supplant Nick Kaczur at RT. In pass protection the OL is good enough (although I still have nightmares over their performance in the Super Bowl vs. the Giants), but they can't run block. The Pats OL are more of the mauler type of linemen, not the gifted, light on their feet, athletic type. I'd love to see the team invest a draft pick in a big time left tackle, like Bryant McKinnie of the Vikings.

Kicking Game - The kicking game remains in good hands with Stephen Gostkowski.

Laurence Maroney - If he can finally stay healthy, I have high hopes for Laurence Maroney this year. He still tippy toes to the line instead of hitting the hole hard, but he looked better last night as opposed to the tentative style with which he ran with last year.

Backup QB - Kevin O'Connell - Yikes! A dreadful performance.

Brady's Shoulder - Tom Terrific got slammed to the turf on a clean play by Albert Haynesworth. It looked like he landed awkwardly, but after the play was on the sidelines and not receiving medical attention, so it didn't look too serious. Typically, Coach Belichick was vague in his response to questions regarding the health of the shoulder after the game.

Last night's game was quite entertaining for an exhbition game and while the first team looked good vs. the Redskins, there are still some things that need to be worked on. The defense is the key to the team. If the youngsters in the secondary can gel and the front seven can get a pass rush going, the team will go a long way.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dogs, Dogs, Everywhere There's Dogs

Full disclosure: Other than Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, I like dogs. I can't have one due to my allergies, but generally don't mind them.

However, when did we as a nation become so pet happy? Particularly dogs. What Michael Vick did was revolting, but he did 2 years in jail. Compare that to Donte Stallworth who did less than a month in jail for manslaughter. Yet, there's outrage over Vick being signed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

When did dogs become so part of a family, that they now go EVERYWHERE? I just spent a week on Cape Cod and I saw countless dogs on the beach. Sorry, but I don't want your filthy, smelly mutt around when I'm chilling, drinking my favorite adult beverage by the ocean. Leave it at home. You may think your dog's cute, but I don't.

The worst offender of the week, was when we were at Savory Pizza Grille and Sweet Escape Ice Cream in Truro. Terrific pizza and ice cream, which unfortunately was dampened by this idiot family that carried the dog inside a woman's purse, then proceeded to let it walk around the picnic area unleashed while we were eating. At one point, the dog walked under our table. What the heck? There's a reason why dogs aren't allowed in restaurants. Same thing in the outdoor picnic area. It's unsanitary.

Going forward dog owners, please take others into consideration, when you take your mutts with you on vacation. If you can't be considerate, put the dog in a kennel for a week or find someone to care for him.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Town Hall Troubles

Despite protestations to the contrary, the Town Hall meetings being held by Representatives and Senators across the country are really starting to backfire on the Democrats. Every night there's a new clip of a politician getting chastized by his constituents at these meetings. Yesterday, the best clip yet was released where Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee had the temerity to answer a cell phone call while a constituent was speaking at the microphone.

The Obama Administration and Democrats can spin these confrontations at the Town Hall Meetings as Republican shenanigans or not representative of the views of most Americans all they want, but the truth is in the poll numbers. Obama's approval rating is down to FORTY SEVEN percent today. These meetings are doing serious damage to a party that has obviously overreached on any mandate they believed they had to implement extreme left wing policies.

The Obama Administration is so desperate to turn the tide that they actually planted an 11 year old girl in a Portsmouth, NH town hall audience, where Obama presided over a meeting and had the girl ask a softball question. Turns out, the girl's mother was a big Obama supporter and worked on fundraising activities in Massachusetts during the presidential campaign. Naturally, the Obama Administration denies this "coincidence".

Right now, the Democrats look like a collection of out of touch amateurs with no clue how to govern. Other than tacking on $787 billion to the federal budget deficit in a stimulus bill laden with pork barrel projects and favors for supporters, what has Barack Obama and the Democratic dominated House and Senate accomplished in the seven months since Inauguration Day? The House of Representatives is run by crazies like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, and Charlie Rangel. The Senate has lunatics like Barbara Boxer who asked a member of the armed forces to refer to her as "Senator", not "ma'am" and described the Town Hall Meetings as people "storming these town hall meetings".

Before the 9/11 tragedy, President George W. Bush had a very significant accomplishment that benefited the American workers. He passed a $1.35 trillion tax cut in the spring of 2001. Critics say that the cut disproportionately benefited the rich, but frankly it benefited everyone. Money back in people's pockets as opposed to the government coffers is always a good thing. I don't recall people storming town hall meetings complaining about tax cuts in the summer of 2001.

The Democrats are fortunate that November 2010 is a long way away. Maybe they'll get lucky and the economy will be growing by then. Right now, they can't stop shooting themselves in their collective feet with each policy initiative they propose bringing the U.S. closer to socialism. If they opt to hike taxes, 2010 will be a repeat of 1994. That was the year where the "throw the bums out" atmosphere was so prevailing that even Speaker of the House Tom Foley was thrown out of office.

What will be interesting is when the August recess is over and a government health care plan is actually voted upon. Will the House and Senate members vote to commit political suicide with their careers or vote against a bill to save their seats? I predict health reform will ultimately fail due to political expediency.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Unrelated items on a Monday

Why is it that liberals don't afford the same tolerance for demonstration to conservatives and mainstream Americans that they expect when they protest wars or former President George W. Bush's policies? It's amusing that the so called "party of tolerance", the Democratic Party, isn't accepting of voices that disagree with theirs.

I'm curious as to when my Congressman, Barney Frank, is going to hold a Town Hall Meeting? I'm not holding my breath for that unaccountable phony to hold one. I'd absolutely go if he did schedule a meeting.

I'm greatly looking forward to the new WBZ sports station on FM 98.5 that launches this Thursday. Boston has desperately needed a second sports talk station, and the signal on 98.5 is very strong. There have been other challengers to the WEEI throne in the past, but the signals for ESPN Radio and AM 1510 are pathetic. While I enjoy the Dennis and Callahan show on WEEI, Glenn Ordway's Big Show in the afternoon is mostly unlistenable, due to the presence of Ordway. On WBZ FM 98.5, Michael Felger will be hosting the afternoon show and I always enjoy his presence on the radio.

I know it's early, but the fat lady is now singing for the 2009 Boston Red Sox. Six losses in a row to key AL East teams is not the way to stand up and be the alpha dog of the American League. The Red Sox are now 6.5 games behind the surging New York Yankees, but incredibly are still tied for the AL Wild Card lead. However, the Tampa Bay Rays are only 1.5 games behind the Red Sox and the Rays have mostly owned the Sox the last two years.

The problem with the Red Sox is the lack of offense. Jason Varitek can no longer be an every day catcher. He's a .220 hitter who doesn't hit in the clutch. David Ortiz has been awful for most of this season. Jason Bay's been in a 2.5 month slump. J.D. Drew has been invisible and unproductive. There just aren't any clutch hitters other than Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia.

The SS position is a black hole. Right now, there isn't a major league SS on the Red Sox roster. I'm all set with Jed Lowrie. He can't stay healthy and he has been terrible at the plate when he has played. Nick Green is a mediocre defender whose batting average is .118 since the All Star break. There's a reason Chris Woodward was released by Seattle, so I don't believe he's the answer.

It's Camp Tranquility down in Foxboro where the Patriots are getting ready for the upcoming NFL season. Nary a word is heard from camp where all seems to be quiet and moving forward as expected. Coach Belichick runs a tight ship, so controversies are kept to a minimum.

Only 13 days before President Obama comes to Martha's Vineyard! Hooray! Seriously, who really cares? I have more important things than to be concerned with than where a President spends his vacation time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Concert Review

Last night, I made a trip to Fenway Park to catch Paul McCartney play the second of two shows there. While walking up Commonwealth Ave and cutting over to Beacon St., I could hear the sound check and him playing Coming Up and All My Lovin'. That certainly boosted my already good spirits and set the tone for the pre concert dinner and cocktails with my sister.

Paul hit the stage around 7:50, with Beatles classic "Drive My Car", then "Jet" in which he butchered the lyrics, followed by two unknown solo songs "Only Mama Knows" and "Flaming Pie".

Despite being 67 years old, he sounded great, moved around with plenty of energy, and put on an impressive performance. I was concerned about the vocals, but those concerns were quickly put to rest as he growled through "Jet".

However, the set list made for a boring first half of the concert. There were a lot of lower key obscure post Wings solo songs, and classics like "Blackbird", Long and Winding Road" and "My Love" couldn't raise the overall interest of the crowd. .

The set list bizarrely ignored the timeframe of 1974-1981, where a string of Wings classics, such as "Listen To What the Man Said", "Silly Love Songs", "Let Em In" and "Coming Up" were neglected. It remains bewildering why Paul doesn't play those songs - everyone knows them and "Silly Love Songs", in particular, is still played often on oldies stations. "Maybe I'm Amazed" wasn't played either, but that may have had more to do with Paul's inability to no longer be able to sing the vocally challenging song. During a past tour, he dropped it from the set list because it took too much of a toll on his voice.

It wasn't until halfway through the show, when "Band On the Run" was played, that the crowd's interest really piqued and everyone started singing along to the third section of the Wings classic. The show was so flat up until that point that a WINGS SONG was what got the crowd going! After that, the show kicked into high gear with a flurry of Beatles hits such as "Back in the USSR", "Paperback Writer", "Something", "Hey Jude", "Day Tripper", "I Saw Her Standing There", and finishing up with with "Get Back", "Sgt. Pepper/The End"

Another criticism is the double John Lennon tribute. First there is the 1982 song "Here Today", then there's "A Day In the Life/Give Peace a Chance". Lennon's been dead for almost 30 years and the extra tribute seemed a bit exploitative. "Here Today" is a buzz kill. For what it's worth, Paul sings "Something" far better than George Harrison ever did. The song starts off as a ukelele version, until after the first verse, when the rest of the band kicks in, the ukelele is ditched for an acoustic guitar, and the song sounds oustanding.

Highlights of the show: "Live and Let Die" (with fireworks sailing over Fenway - I wonder what those on the Mass Pike thought as they drove by during this), "Band on the Run", "Something", "Day Tripper", "Paperback Writer".

Lowlights of the show: "Jet (which is usually stellar)", "Dance Tonight", "Here Today", new songs "Highway" and "Sing the Changes".

Of the five times I've seen Paul McCartney, this was probably my least favorite of the shows. However, the performance of the songs and energy brought to them were excellent and those who attended can say they got their money's worth. Show grade: B-

Set List:
01. drive my car
02. jet
03. only mama knows
04. flaming pie
05. got to get you into my life
06. let me roll it/ foxy lady
07. highway
08. long and winding road
09. my love
10. blackbird
11. here today
12. dance tonight
13. calico skies
14. michelle
15. mrs. vanderbilt
16. eleanor rigby
17. sing the changes
18. band on the run
19. back in the ussr
20. i'm down
21. something
22. i've got a feeling (with extended jam)
23. paperback writer
24. A day in the life
25. let it be
26. live and let die
27. hey jude

Encore #1
28. daytripper
29. lady madonna
30. I saw her standing there

Encore #2
31. yesterday
32. helter skelter
33. get back
34. Sgt Pepper reprise into The End

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Trade Deadline Moves

The Victor Martinez acquisition by the Red Sox will benefit the team tremendously. He's a great hitter from both sides of the plate, can play catcher and 1B, and brings some much needed thump to the lineup. He's known as an excellent game caller behind the plate, but supposedly isn't great at throwing out runners. Defensively, that scouting report seems similar to current Sox catcher Jason Varitek.

I'd like to see the Sox play Martinez behind the plate - a lot. Varitek historically wears down at the end of the year, and this year seems to be no exception. There are rumblings that he's had a bum left shoulder which has dogged his hitting for the last month. However, I doubt Sox manager Terry Francona will do that; instead he'll create a log jam at 1B and DH. Tito's loyal to a fault to his guys.

The Sox gave up young minor leaguers Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price. They are both a long way from the majors. No big deal there. It's too bad that they had to trade Justin Masterson, who was untouchable this time last year. Masterson has had some struggles this year, particularly against lefties, and projects to be a set up man out of the bullpen.

Despite the Red Sox claiming that the second trade gives them more flexibility and consistency off the bench, the trade of 1B Adam "We Hardly Knew Ye" LaRoche to the Braves for 1B Casey Kotchman makes no sense. LaRoche wasn't in Boston long, but I really liked him from what I saw. He can hit. Kotchman is a better defensive 1B than LaRoche, but isn't the power hitter that LaRoche is. To me, LaRoche is the better player. I'm definitely disappointed by this trade.

Looking at the big picture, the Red Sox definitely improved themselves with the Martinez acquisition, but what's even better is the Yankees didn't do much other than acquiring journeyman Jerry Hairson, Jr. from the Reds as infield depth.

Feathers may be ruffled in the Sox clubhouse due to some players (Varitek, Ortiz, and Lowell) sitting out games, but Victor Martinez will definitely give the Sox offense a shot in the arm and make it more consistent.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Slumping Sox

In the bottom of the 7th inning, it is now 6-1 Orioles. All the problems with the Red Sox are currently on display:

John Smoltz again missing on location and struggling. He put the Sox in an early hole and just like his outing at Texas last week, it snowballed. Entering the game, Smolz's ERA was 6.31. Today, he gave up 6 runs in 5 innings. Despite him being a certain Hall of Famer, the Red Sox will be faced with a decision over Smolz's fate if he continues to pitch like this in his next four starts.

J.D. Drew continues to be a non impact player. He is batting .136 with 4 RBI in the month of July. I've let go of my hopes of him being the 30 HR 100 RBI player he should be. What's the deal with Rocco Baldelli? Why isn't he playing more?

I love the Adam LaRoche acquisition. They gave up nothing for him and he can hit. Considering the lack of range Mike Lowell is showing at 3B, plus how slow Lowell is, LaRoche should see a lot of time at 1B with Youkilis at 3B. I know Youk is unhappy whenever he is out of the lineup, but the way he plays the game, he's going to need that rest so he will be ready for the postseason.

The Red Sox NEED Jed Lowrie to shake off the rust a little quicker and start hitting.

Dustin Pedroia, while having a decent season, is not even close to the player he was last year.

I'm not worried about Jason Bay. He'll come around.

It was nice to see Justin Masterson string together a few scoreless innings. He needs to gain his confidence back after a rough 6 weeks.

Mark Kotsay had 1 HR in 200 AB's in his time with the Red Sox. While a versatile defender, they needed him to be more of a run producer at the plate.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rough Times in the Land of Plenty

Today, the U.S. economy received some rare good news: Intel announced they had an excellent second quarter in their earnings report and the news had coattails; Intel's success set a bullish tone of trading for the day, bringing up the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 between 3-3.5% today.

On the federal government front, universal healthcare seems to be more and more inevitable. It is going to have to be up to moderate Democrats in the U.S. Senate like Ben Nelson and for Republican Senators to keep party discipline (that means YOU, Olympia Snowe), make sure this bill isn't filibuster proof, and vote against what I will think will be the most damaging legislation of my lifetime.

Already the U.S. federal budget deficit is $1 TRILLION. The House Democrats' plan for universal healthcare will include tax hikes on the richest Americans; those making over $350,000 and over will see a 1% increase in their taxes. Those making $1 million a year and over will get whacked an extra 5.4% to pay for this monstrosity.

The economy is still in a perilous state. The $787 billion stimulus bill hasn't worked. The beginning cost for the health care bill is $1 trillion. Realistically, it will be more like $2-3 trillion.
Just around the corner, the Baby Boomer Generation will begin retiring and collecting Social Security in 2011 - no one is talking about this! The Social Security trust fund has been raided for years to pay for other programs. How will the money be there for Social Security to be solvent, never mind paying over $1 trillion for government run health care!

The damage that is being done by those on Capitol Hill over the last 6 months is nothing short of alarming. If I ran my household the way the President Obama and the Democrats are running this country, I'd be bankrupt and could never get a house or car loan. However, George W. Bush and the House and Senate Republicans also deserve blame, because they abandoned their conservative principles and fiscal discipline over the last eight years.

Seriously, how is our economy supposed to recover, when taxes are being hiked on both individuals and corporations? One of the provisions being discussed in order to implement universal healthcare is if a company doesn't provide health insurance and has more than 25 employees, the small business will incur a $750 per employee penalty. Small businesses drive our economy. If this provision were passed, how will that stimulate job growth?

Once a universal healthcare plan is in place, many companies will immediately stop offering health care as a benefit to their employees. I can honestly say I am very happy with the health insurance I receive from my company. Never do I have to wait long to get in to see my doctors, the premiums are fair, and any doctor I would want to see is in the provider network. I would be livid if I were to lose my private health insurance, have to enroll in a government program, and wait months to see my doctors. How long will it take for one of my family members to get an MRI if they were to need one with government insurance? I know it won't be nearly as fast as the 5 days it took when a family member needed one in the fall of 2007.

The bigger picture is how and when will our economy grow with all these anti growth policies the Democratic dominated federal goverment is pushing? I haven't even gone into the details of the cap and trade bill which will reduce American competitiveness in the global marketplace. When will the American people stop being so naive and suckered by politicians promising pipe dreams without tax hikes? For those of us who see the big picture and care about the future of America, these are rough times in the land of plenty.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

1976 Baseball All Star Game

Big thumbs up to the new MLB Network, which during this All Star Break, has been showing old All Star Games in their entirety. They showed the 1971 game last night and the 1986 game today. However, the ones from the late 70's were the best ones, so I was ecstatic to find that one of the games they are showing is the 1976 All Star Game. Some observations of that game:

Mark Belanger was an AL All Star at SS? Steve Swisher an NL All Star at C?

John Montefusco made it for the Giants. "The Count" was a very good pitcher, who unfortunately only pitched for terrible teams (Giants, Padres, Atlanta, and Yankees) during his entire career.

Don Money represented the Brewers who were then in the AL. He used to kill the Red Sox.

What a PATHETIC starting lineup for the American League.

P - Mark Fidrych

C - Thurman Munson

1B - Rod Carew

2B - Bobby Grich

SS - Toby Harrah

3B - George Brett

LF - Ron LeFlore

CF - Fred Lynn

RF - Rusty Staub

No wonder the AL didn't win for years. Fred Lynn's the only one who had any power in that lineup. Rusty Staub, Ron LeFlore, Bobby Grich, and Toby Harrah? Those players were decent, but didn't strike me as guys who should start an All Star game.

George Brett and the awesome Rod Carew are the two best players in this starting lineup. Carew is one of my favorite all time players.

The AL first base coach is Frank Robinson - he was better than anyone who played in that game.

The only starters in both lineups who are deceased are the members of the AL battery - Fidrych and Munson. Catfish Hunter is also deceased, but he didn't start.

In 1976, who better to lead off for the NL than Pete Rose?

The NL starting lineup is full of Cincinnati Reds:

P - Randy Jones

C - Johnny Bench

1B - Steve Garvey

2B - Joe Morgan

SS - Davey Concepcion

3B - Pete Rose

LF - Greg Luzinski

CF - George Foster

RF - Dave Kingman

Whoever voted for Dave Kingman to start in an All Star game, should be as ashamed of themselves as those who voted for John Kerry for President.

Johnny Bench only made 14 All Star games.

Best moment: Late in the game, Mickey Rivers running from first to second and going out of the basepaths on a 4-6-3 double play where he took out NL SS Bill Russell and spiked him in the thigh. The All Star Game really meant something back then. I have newfound respect for Mickey Rivers for playing that hard in an "exhibition game".

Cesar Cedeno hit a bomb late in the game off Frank Tanana.

Funniest line was when Rick Rhoden was pitching and he hit 91 on the radar gun, either Bob Uecker or Warner Wolf proclaimed any fastball better than 85-86 MPH was very good. Angels lefty Frank Tanana was throwing 95. Tanana blew out his arm soon after, and by the time the Red Sox got him, he was an 82 mph throwing junkballer.

Surprisingly, Reginald Martinez Jackson did not make the All Star team in 1976, as a member of the Orioles.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Open Letter To Terry Francona

Dear Tito,

In my 35 years as a Red Sox fan, I've seen many great players, as well as complete stiffs come through America's Most Beloved Ballpark. There are players who've surprised me by being big game performers - guys like Dave Henderson, Marty Barrett, and Todd Walker. There've also been players who choke when the pressure is on, see Schiraldi, Calvin and Clemens, Roger.

Through my countless viewing experiences of Red Sox baseball, I've developed a keen eye for talent and can tell you with utmost certainty that Manny Delcarmen is on the Schiraldi/Clemens end of the spectrum. He's got a $5 million arm and a $0.02 head. Manny can play a valuable part in a bullpen, by eating innings in blow outs or when the Red Sox are behind. However, he cannot hold a lead, has never been able to hold a lead, and after 5 years and 212 regular season appearances, he will never be more than he is - a Kyle Farnsworth type.

Please, for heaven's sake, stop pitching Manny in close games. I don't understand why you continue to use him in a role in which he is not suited? Particularly, when there are other pitchers out there in the pen (Saito, Bard, and Okajima) who can pitch in close games and get valuable outs.

I am not one of those fans who constantly criticize the manager of the local nine. You are the best. Red Sox manager. Ever. Unlike Jimy Williams and John McNamara, I rarely find much to criticize about your managerial strategies. However, you're one weakness is you are too patient with some players. Delcarmen is one of them.

After the All Star break, the trading deadline is 2.5 weeks away and teams will be in high gear trying to plug holes in their rosters. During that timeframe, only pitch Delcarmen in non pressure situations, so he has some good performances, and then Theo can drum up some interest in Manny and deal him.

I don't care that he is a local yokel, I don't get caught up in that nonsense. What I see is a pitcher who will be a major liability come October and I want him off our roster by then. Please manage him accordingly.

Best Regards,
Kevin Flynn

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bad Policy

On Wednesday the GAO gave a report about the effects of the much touted $787 billion Obama Stimulus Bill, and to no surprise among skeptics, it was found that the stimulus package isn't working as planned. Ugh. Despite the Obama Administration's promise of millions of new jobs and getting economic recovery on track, unemployment has climbed to 9.5% and the economy seems to be stalling.

Considering the Stimulus Bill was larded with various pork projects by Congressmen and Senators who wanted to "bring home the bacon", the idea that this stimulus package would fix the economy was ludicrious. No Republican House member voted for the stimulus. House Minority Leader John Boener and his embattled band of Republican House members certainly now have a feather in their cap to brag about on the cable news networks and in the 2010 elections.

The most appalling use of the stimulus bill is there are states that are using stimulus money not for "shovel ready projects", but to plug gaping budget holes. Great. Super. The spendthrift legislators and governors at the state level are reform adverse who don't like to make tough decisions, but instead plug their own budget holes where they can and pass on the pain to the local town governments.

Now there are rumblings amongst Democrats on Capitol Hill that a second stimulus bill is needed. Really? Famed billionaire investor Warren Buffett was quoted as saying a second one is likely needed, as well. You don't think ol' Warren would somehow benefit from a stimulus bill, do you? Anytime the media breathlessly publishes Warren Buffett quotes on finance and the economy, I raise an eyebrow because I doubt he speaks out on anything, unless there's a way he'll benefit from it.

The last thing the federal government needs to do is spend more taxpayer money. However, with Democrats firmly in charge of all three branches of government, money will continue to be spent, and billions will continue to be wasted. President Obama has a vision of universal health care and a potentially economy damaging climate control bill in his sights and trillions of dollars will be required to to meet that vision.

If the Obama Administration had pushed a policy of a four month income tax holiday and capital gains tax cuts as advocated in this space in March, it would've been less expensive and far more effective than the massive waste of "stimulus" and payback to union supporters of the Obama Administration. At what point will the liberal Democrats realize the massive debt and budget deficits they are racking up are extremely harmful to the long term financial well being of America? Here's hoping that Republicans can continue to put up a worthwhile defense, offer alternative policies, and convince the American voters that the Democrats' ideas are too expensive and risky to our country.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Some July 4th leftovers...

Finally, the Northeast is getting some good summer weather with the temperature in the mid to high 70's. The clouds broke on Friday, and it's been brilliant sunshine ever since. Tomorrow, will be another beautiful high 70's day.

I'm not sure what to make of Sarah Palin's decision to resign as Governor of Alaska. On the one hand, she'll get some peace in that the media coverage of her will wear off. However, if she has presidential ambitions for 2012, being out of the spotlight won't help her campaign. The media coverage of Palin the last ten months has been mostly meanspirited by the liberal networks who have no tolerance for a strong willed, independent thinking woman who doesn't toe the NOW line of abortion on demand.

Six Red Sox made the American League All Star team, with special notice going to 42 year old Tim Wakefield, who made it for the first time. When I was a youngster, the All Star game was always special and it was particularly exciting when Dennis Eckersley started the All Star game as a Red Sox in 1982. However, now that I am older and wiser, I'd prefer that the Red Sox players being at home, recharging their batteries, and having a much deserved three day break from baseball.

As a Celtics fan, I could take or leave Rasheed Wallace. He has skills, but he's a dog. I've seen several games where Rasheed has played with seeming indifference out on the court. On the plus side he's an excellent outside shooter and when he's emotionally invested, a solid defensive presence in the paint.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bashing Democrats

The Boston Globe published an embarrassingly fawning article about MA Senator John Kerry in yesterday's paper. I won't link it, because I don't want to give the web hits. Governor Deval Patrick may be an empty suit, but Kerry is the original empty suit do nothing politician. The Globe describes Kerry's service to the Commonwealth as being more caring than ever and exceeding expectations. What the Globe should've asked is why did it take him FIVE terms to care about his job or perform it well? I don't recall reading such a feature when Mitt Romney or Paul Cellucci were governor - both of whom had significant positive accomplishments during their tenures as governor. Could it have anything to do with Romney and Cellucci being Republicans? Nah!!! No way!

Remember when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would have sales tax holidays for one day every year in August? Well, now under liberal, tone deaf Governor Deval Patrick we have an August sales tax hike - from 5% to 6.25%. Governor Patrick has not fulfilled one campaign promise from his "Together We Can" tour of 2006. He's been an impotent leader and isn't even respected by leaders in his own party in the Legislature. The 2010 gubernatorial campaign can't come soon enough for me. Tim Cahill or Christy Mihos would both be excellent replacements for Patrick.

I still can't believe that the voters of Minnesota elected Al Franken to be their U.S. Senator. Then again, they elected Jesse Ventura as Governor, so I shouldn't be surprised by their awe of celebrities.

There's political unrest in Honduras, Iran's election was a mess, and North Korea is threatening to launch a practice missile in the direction of Hawaii. What is President Obama going to do about all this? This is one of those times where I wish there were some adults in charge (i.e. Dick Cheney) around the White House.

Gallup has a poll in which more Americans are finding the Democratic Party as "Too Liberal". Really? No way! Where were they back in November?

The Supreme Court made the correct decision on a 5-4 vote where they came to the conclusion that white New Haven firefighters were discriminated against when they were denied promotions in favor of minorities who scored lower on the tests than the white firefighters. It is good to see that a majority of the Supreme Court found discrimination to be color blind. What is disconcerting is four members of the Supreme Court were okay with discrimination in the name of diversity. Barack Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, (who as a member of a lower court, ruled in favor of discrimination) to the Supreme Court should be fought hard by Republicans.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday Sox

The Red Sox are in Washington, DC to begin a series vs. the Montreal Expo...oops, I mean the Washington Nationals tonight. The Nationals are an atrocious team, architected by former GM Jim Bowden, who during his tenure as GM made a complete mess of them. Don't forget Bowden was one of the names Larry Lucchino was considering to be come Red Sox GM when Theo Epstein was on his sabbatical. How badly would've that turned out?

Looks like the naysayers like myself were wrong. David Ortiz has finally snapped out of his slump and is showing power and better bat speed. Papi really looked hopeless the first two months of the season. So far in the month of June, Ortiz is hitting .308 with 5 HR and 12 RBI with a .400 OBP. Phew! Without Ortiz being the thunder in the order, the Red Sox are destined to another ALCS elimination.

Going in the opposite direction is Jason Varitek, whose average has fallen into the .220's. I am not particularly surprised, considering it was June when his average started falling last year. Terry Francona needs to give him more days off. George Kottaras has done a nice job with the bat of late when he's been in the lineup. Kottaras has a nice swing and has shown in his two months at the major league level to be a good receiver behind the plate.

Nick Green is one of those David Eckstein kind of guys. A scrapper and hustler who everyone underestimates. While he made some errors earlier in the year, he's been steadier in the field and he's been consistent with the bat all year. When Jed Lowrie comes back, Lowrie's going to have to earn his starting job back. Even if Lowrie becomes the starter again, Green is certainly an improvement off the bench over Alex Cora, the utility man the last few years.

No Dice-K, no problem. John Smoltz will fill his spot in the rotation and if Smoltz has difficulty getting it going after offseason surgery, Clay Buchholz is in Pawtucket and he's more than ready for the big leagues. Buchholz is beyond the point of needing any more seasoning. While he's obviously frustrated that he's still in Pawtucket, if Clay hadn't pitched so awful in Boston last year, he'd be in the rotation now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On the Political Front

Very soon, a comprehensive health care bill will be submitted by the House of Representatives and Senate, which could finally bring universal health care to the United States. Universal health care coverage is considered the centerpiece of President Obama's domestic agenda. Considering the Democratic advantages in the House and the Senate, this is the best opportunity yet to implement a universal health care (or "single payer") system.

Socialized medicine has been implemented in countries such as Great Britain and Canada and the results have been mixed. While everyone in those countries is covered by health insurance, when those of us in the U.S. hear of universal health care, it is of the horror stories of the 12-18 month waits for hip replacements. Also, the cost of implementing such a system in the U.S. would be astronomical. When I read of the cost projections for universal health care, I immediately think of Boston's Big Dig. The original cost estimate for the Big Dig was supposed to be $2 billion. Fifteen years later when the project was finally completed, the cost was $14 billion. I'm very skeptical about the projections that universal health insurance will cost $1 trillion over the next decade. I believe these projections are based on a very best case scenario.

However, a convincing argument by populists can be made regarding the cost of the Iraq war and the bank bailouts. Proponents will say if we can afford a war and bank bailouts, why can't we provide health insurance to all? This is certainly a legitimate point.

The cost of private health insurance continues to skyrocket and outpace inflation. Eventually companies are going to try to depress the salaries of their employees and consider the cost paid for employees health insurance as part of their salaries. Everyone knows that the cost of a routine doctor's visit is outrageous. The biggest issue with the cost of healthcare is the insurance required by doctors due to medical malpractice suits. Tort reform to prevent frivolous medical malpractice suits is certainly one of the measures needed to "bend the curve", the current buzz phrase being used to bring health care costs in line.

Ideas are being floated to help pay for the cost of universal health care. One idea is for the federal government to treat any health insurance that costs greater than $15,000 as income and tax it accordingly. Already, this proposal is being met with resistance from both Republicans and moderate Democrats.

I don't necessarily believe all the demagoguing coming from Republicans who are against it, but I also am skeptical about the way the Democrats are selling this - You can have it all and everyone will be covered! If it sounds like a pipe dream and too good to be true, it probably is. Also, don't forget that such a system will require the creation of a massive new government bureacracy, and as we all know, the federal government isn't exactly known for it's efficiency.

The key to the success of the Democrats passing universal healthcare legislation are seniors. So far, from what's been proposed, there hasn't been much of an additional benefit to them other than what they receive from Medicare. Considering seniors are the most reliable voting bloc in the U.S., placating them and giving them additional benefits could be the difference between getting a bill passed or it failing.

The results of the recent election in Iran has turned into a real problem for the world; a problem that must be handled with finesse and restraint. Heading into the June 12th election, polls had challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi holding a big lead and getting 63% of the vote. Such poll results are in line with the frustration of the people of Iran, who have experienced very high inflation and chronic unemployment under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So imagine the surprise across Iran when the results were quickly announced by the state run media that incumbent President Ahmadinejad won in a landslide. Mmm. Something certainly smells fishy there.

President Ahmadinejad is a terrorist sponsoring thug, who is working to build up a nuclear weapon arsenal in Iran. Considering his past radical statements about Israel, he isn't someone the world would want to have access to nuclear weapons. However, Mir Hossein Mousavi isn't exactly an altar boy, either. Mousavi is also a proponent of terrorism, but in this case, seemingly any change at the top in Iran would help ease world tensions.

Since the results have been announced, there have been rallies and protests in the street. The people of Iran believe the election was stolen from them, and they seem to have a good case. Tensions rose yesterday, when gunfire broke out from a militia group shooting at the demonstrators, killing at least seven and wounding several people.

I don't see a resolution to this situation where Mousavi winds up the victor. Any recount efforts (wink, wink) will likely result in a similar result. One thing I do know is Mousavi may want to put a will together, because based upon the situation, he doesn't appear to be long for this world.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Things On My Mind On A Rainy Day

Some thoughts on another gloomy June New England day...

Boston Globe scribe Nick Cafardo mentioned today that Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield is worthy of being considered for the All Star Game. STOP IT! Despite Wakefield being 8-3, guys with 4.50 ERA's aren't All Stars. Wakefield has pitched well when the Red Sox have needed him, but an All Star, he is not.

Next time Cafardo writes a column like this, how about if he does a little research about how Wakefield stacks up against the rest of the American League pitchers? Here are some that are far more deserving this season than Wakefield: Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay, Josh Beckett, CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Erik Bedard, Felix Hernandez, Edwin Jackson, Mark Buerhle - and those are just the starting pitchers. I didn't even mention relievers.

David Letterman should be ashamed of himself for the tasteless jokes he made about Sarah Palin and her family. Of course, since Palin is an independently thinking woman (i.e. doesn't toe the NOW/Democratic Party line), the Palins are given the no holds barred treatment by the liberal media. What if someone like Don Imus had made similar cracks about Nancy Pelosi? How would that be treated?

It baffles me how Letterman still even has a show. He wasn't funny in 1986, never mind in 2009. From what I've seen of his show, I've never once cracked a smile, never mind laughed. David Letterman's show is boring and tedious to me.

Regarding the Massachusetts Governor's Race in 2010 - ABD - Anyone But Deval. I just hope that there isn't an independent candidate, so votes don't get siphoned from the Republican candidate.

President Barack Obama was quoted the other day as saying it was ok to borrow money for healthcare. On the surface, it's not that outrageous of a quote, until you realize how much money the U.S. Government is now borrowing to stay afloat. Currently, the U.S. budget deficit is hovering around $1.7 trillion and the National Debt is $11 trillion. In 2011, the Baby Boomers will begin retiring, thus the Social Security trust fund will be drained over the next decade. Exactly, how is the U.S. Government even in a position to borrow another penny? I can't see China continuing to loan us money.

The definition of silliness - Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio describing star defensive lineman John Henderson's decision to sit out OTA's (Organized Team Activities) due to a bruised shoulder as "(Vince) Lombardi is probably rolling over right now." This is Exhibit A as to why Jack Del Rio should no longer be an NFL head coach. It's EARLY JUNE! Training camp isn't for another 6 weeks! Calling out one of your best players in the offseason isn't exactly the way to inspire your football team!

On the subject of OTA's, I didn't realize that they are actually different than minicamps. Teams aren't supposed to be hitting during OTA's, but I'm sure many of them do. The OTA's are "voluntary". If you are a marginal NFL player, attending OTA's is probably a wise idea. However, if you're an established player who's going to be finishing a rookie contract and looking at free agency at the end of the upcoming season, the last place to be is at the OTA's. Why risk an injury when you technically don't have to be there? The fact that these are "voluntary", makes Del Rio's comment about Henderson all the more ludicrous.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Yankees Are In Town

The first place New York Yankees roll into town tonight for a 3 game series vs. the Red Sox. The Bronx Bombers have been red hot since the return of slugger Alex Rodriguez and have recovered from a slow start to bypass the Red Sox and Blue Jays into first place.

Big ticket free agent acquisitions Mark Teixiera and CC Sabathia have both produced according to their contracts, and Nick Swisher has brought a fun attitude into the notoriously stiff Yankee clubhouse as well as having belted 12 HR and bringing flexibility to the bench.

LF Johnny Damon is having a tremendous year, hitting 12 HR from the second spot in the order, after he and SS Derek Jeter were flip flopped. Jeter is sporting a .379 OBP from the leadoff spot and has 8 HR. Despite his critics who think he is overrated and a defensive liability, Jeter is still an excellent player who can get on base and has the power to take advantage of the short porch in RF, where he has been known to deposit seemingly lazy fly balls the opposite way into the first few rows of seats for home runs. Jeter's ability to handle the bat and use the entire field with an occasional inside-out swing is one of the most underrated aspects of his game. Regarding Jeter's lack of range at SS, all I know is he has far more range at SS than the much maligned Julio Lugo of the Red Sox.

From the looks of it, the Yankees are settling right into their home at the new Yankee Stadium, which has already earned a reputation as a launching pad for home runs. Things are going so well for the Yankees right now, that even CF Melky Cabrera, who was all but left for dead on the side of the road at the end of last year, has reclaimed the starting CF job and has been a key contributor with 6 HR and a few game winning hits. The Melk Man is the player teams don't want to face at the plate in the 9th inning right now - he's batting a scorching .471 in the 9th inning this season.

On paper, the Yankee starting rotation looks excellent, but other than Sabathia and Joba Chamberlain, has been shaky. Chamberlain has become an occasionally dominant starter and is pitching very well. Free agent acquisition A.J. Burnett has been a disappointment - the low point being when he blew a 6-0 lead vs. the Red Sox back in April. Andy Pettitte has benefited from good run support, thus his 6-2 record. Chien-Ming Wang has been excrutiatingly bad and has a 14.46 ERA.

The biggest area of weakness for the Yankees is their bullpen, which is a mess. Mariano Rivera, while good, is still getting back to full strength after offseason shoulder surgery. Besides Rivera, none of the other members of the Yankee relief corp would make the Red Sox bullpen. The Yankees are hopeful that young Phil Hughes can stabilize the set up role. Considering Hughes' struggles at the major league level, that may be wishful thinking. When healthy, Brian Bruney is a decent reliever. However, it seems his arm is showing the effects of being abused during the Joe Torre era. The rest of their bullpen is filled with pitchers who are borderline major leaguers.

This series will be a good benchmark for the Yankees to see where they are at. The Red Sox are 5-0 against them so far this season. They've played significantly better baseball since the last time they faced the Red Sox and during that timeframe the Yankees set the record for most games without an error.

While most of the Red Sox-Yankees series are overhyped, this June series has more meaning to it than cynics think. If the Yankees do well, and take 2 out of 3, then they will still be cruising along playing good ball. If the Red Sox take 2 or sweep the series, it could slow the Yankee Express down a bit or even derail them.

Let's hope that the weather holds out and we get to catch the playoff type atmosphere at Fenway Park (America's Most Overrated Ballpark) over the next three days.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Random Thoughts for a Friday

Thank you to Rodney Harrison for his great contributions to the Patriots Dynasty. Rodney is hanging them up at the right time. He's been unable to play a full season for three years now, due to various injuries. Rodney's style of physical play isn't conducive with a long playing career. Harrison is so beloved amongst the Patriots faithful, that his positive drug test for HGH is swept under the rug and pretty much forgotten. Despite my enthusiasm for young safeties Patrick Chung and Brandon Meriweather, Rodney was the best safety the Patriots have ever had play for them and he'll be missed.

It's great to see Josh Beckett starting to settle in and pitch like the ace he's supposed to be. His last few outings have been great. I also appreciated how he drilled Gerald Laird late in the game Wednesday, when the game was pretty much already decided after Laird attempted a bunt in the sixth inning while Beckett still had a no hitter going.

Surprise, surprise, another Massachusetts House Speaker in trouble with the law. This time former Speaker Sal DiMasi was indicted on accepting kickbacks from a software company, in order for them to secure a state contract. What DiMasi is accused of doing is as bad as former State Senator Dianne Wilkerson accepting bribes. They both should be thrown in jail for a long time and considering this is the third consecutive Speaker of the House to be accused of ethics violations, an example should be made of them.

I caught some of Newt Gingrich on Hannity last night. Newt made some great points regarding President Obama's speech in Cairo. Why is President Obama talking down America? Instead, he should be speaking about all the great things we have done for the Muslim world. He should be speaking about the freedom from oppression we brought the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the millions the U.S. sent in humanitarian aid to nations such as Thailand and Indonesia which were devastated by the 2004 tsunami; both with large Muslim populations.

When I shake my head at the thought of the future of television with rubbish such as Jon and Kate Plus 8, Extreme Home Makeover, I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Outta Here! and Dancing With the Stars, a show like Rescue Me restores my faith that no matter what happens, there will always be a high quality show available to watch. After a slow start to this season, Rescue Me has really picked up and this has been an excellent season.

I was on the other day, looking up old music videos, when I stumbled upon Olivia Newton-John. Now I don't own any of her music, but in looking back at her career, she might have had the most underrated singing career of the 70's-80's. Rarely, is she mentioned when someone will talk about the biggest musicians of that timeframe. You'll hear names like The Eagles, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Bee Gees, Hall & Oates, etc. How about this collection of hits by her during that timeframe: Let Me Be There, I Honestly Love You, Have You Ever Been Mellow, Sam, Hopelessly Devoted To You, Summer Nights, You're The One That I Want, Magic, Suddenly, Physical, Make A Move On Me, and Twist of Fate. Wow! She may not have been the best, but was certainly dominant for about eight to ten years.

What is up with the weather here in the Northeast? It's June and we've yet to have any nice consistent 90 degree days. I want to open my pool, but don't want to open it when the air is 68 degrees and the water a bit colder than that. At every one of my children's softball and baseball games, I'm wearing a light jacket.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Current State of Politics

I've had some opportunity to do some reading about President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor and I'm unimpressed with her. The main controversy about her is her willingness to make decisions based upon "empathy", as opposed to what is right and wrong. A case out of New Haven, CT in which she ruled to dismiss a case by a firefighter who sued because he qualified for a promotion, but wasn't given one is at the core of the Sotomayor controversy. Judge Sotomayor's decision was based upon race and empathy as opposed to who achieved the highest test scores and who was most qualified.

As the great columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote today, "Figuratively and literally, justice wears a blindfold. It cannot be a respecter of persons. Everyone must stand equally before the law, black or white, rich or poor, advantaged or not."

I couldn't agree more with Krauthammer's comment. Also, Judge Sotomayor is not above playing the race card, describing her experiences as, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Now what would've happened if Justice Samuel Alito had said the reverse of that when he was nominated? He'd have been massacred by the liberal media and his life would've been ruined.

I don't care what race, origin, or creed a politican or judicial nominee is. I really don't. I DO care that they agree with my philosophy of upholding the tenets of the Constitution and that they do not practice judicial activism. I want them interpreting the law, not making law and deciding cases based upon empathy. Making laws is for the Legislative Branch of the U.S. Government. Judicial decision making based upon empathy for the accused because they had a bad upbringing is what lets child molesters, rapists, and murderers out of jail too soon and allows them to come back to general society to ruin more lives. Putting a person like Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court is dangerous for the future of justice in this great country.

Regarding the Sotomayor nomination, what is up with the Republican Party? They already came out and said that they wouldn't try to filibuster the nomination. Why are they tipping their hand? Would the Democrats not be above playing dirty and turning over every rock of evidence on a Republican President's judicial nominee? I want the Republican Party to start acting like the conservative, loyal opposition they are supposed to be. Right now, they are acting like the party of impotence and it disgusts me.

The current state of the Republican Party is they are a rudderless, fiscally irresponsible party that caters to social conservative causes. That doesn't go far enough for me. They are too much like Democrats. The Republican Party needs to be fiscally conservative, have an alternative vision to fix the problems of this country, and to not let liberals walk all over them.

I can understand the philosophy of, "If your enemy is shooting himself, stay out of the way". Particularly in the case of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lame denials about not being aware of waterboarding, despite being given a briefing to the contrary by the CIA in 2002. The GOP should continue to call for her resignation, all the while allowing her to keep putting her foot in her mouth. However, the GOP needs to be more of an opposition party and provide that alternative vision.

Three to four years ago, when U.S. citizens were captured by terrorists in Iraq, they were beheaded. Being beheaded is a particularly gruesome way to die. Beheading of captured enemies certainly isn't part of the principles of the Geneva Convention. If this is the case, WHY is there outrage over the waterboarding of terror suspects and the Guantanamo Bay prison compound here in the U.S. ? It makes absolutely no sense. Don't we have other, more important things (i.e. a recession and high unemployment rate) to be focusing on as opposed to second guessing the CIA about how they do their job and how they keep America secure? Spycraft is a dangerous, nasty, and NECESSARY job. Let's not lose focus on the role it plays in keeping the U.S. safe.