Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Wrong With This Picture?

Thanks to my golf teacher, Wilson, I've learned a tremendous amount about the golf swing. One of the things he's taught me to do is to look at other players swings and see if I can recognize their faults. This little exercise reminds of my own faults and to correct them if necessary.

Here's what I see here:

The stance is too narrow and his feet are closed to the target line. It's OK to close the feet to the target line if you're trying to hit a draw. (Reminder to me: Go through your setup before each shot.)

He's making a false move for more power by "reaching back" for it with his hands, which is causing his left arm to "break down"/fold. His shoulder turn look good, though. He's just getting too "handsy." (Reminder to me: Make a good, full shoulder turn.)

His hands are way too close to his head. They're practically in his ear. This is putting the club almost on top of his head and way off plane. (Reminder to me: Let the wrists break naturally, and "feel" my stopping point on the back swing.)

Club face is closed and looking down at the ground; his hands should like he's holding a platter, which will open the club face, put it on plane and make it easier to bring it back to square at impact. (Reminder to me: You don't do this now, so don't start.)

Left knee is pointing down and toward ball, causing his weight to shift and tilt left while his right side. Right knee is too straight and should have knee bend or flex. (Reminder to me: Flex the right knee for power, but don't collapse weight onto my right side.)

Oh, and he's wearing a tie.

Only two results are possible here: A weak slice. Or a fat, smothering hook.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hot Stove Topic: Jason Bay

Let’s light the lamp oil, put a log in the stove, pour the winter ales and speculate about all things in the world of the red-stringed rawhide….

The second biggest name on the market this off season is Mr. Jason Bay. There are many intriguing places where the 31-year old slugging outfielder could land, but where he does finally call home will depend greatly on where Mr. Holliday ends up.

The lineup—particularly the power aspect of it—is aging rapidly. With David Ortiz's power rapidly diminishing, there's no one on the team that's a lock to hit more than 25+ homers. (Youkilis hit 27 last year, second to Bay.) If Boston can't sign Holliday—which is entirely possible given that he's expressed his desire to stay with the Cardinals—they will go after Bay hard. In order for Ortiz to possibly bounce back from 2 years of subpar numbers, he'll need the kind of protection Bay can provide. The Red Sox will pay for that.

I think the prospects of Bay getting any more than a 4-year contract are slim given his age and his slump in production during the last half of '09. I firmly believe 4 years, $65-75 million will be what Bay fetches. Which means the Red Sox aren't the only team that can afford him....

$48 million. That's what the Mariners have to play around with after freeing themselves from the contracts of Adrian Beltre, Miguel Bautista, Kenji Johjima, Jerrod Washbrun and the oft-injured, clubhouse cancer that was Eric(a) Bedard. And it wouldn't it be nice for the Ms to solve their decades-long left field woes with Bay? Given his Northwest ties, Bay might find Seattle an intriguing destination. This is a franchise that is resurrecting itself in the wake of Bill Bavasi's reign of baseball terror. The Ms have the ability to pay $15-17 million Bay will command, leaving them another $30-32 million to sign Russell Branyan (why he isn't signed yet is baffling) and few Grade B or C starting pitchers.

However, the franchise still has a long way to go. Outside of Cy Young runner up Felix Hernandez, every spot in the rotation seems up for grabs. Which makes the Ms a less desirable choice for Bay if he's looking to get to the post season and a World Series.

Speaking of King Felix, whether or not the Ms sign Bay hinges greatly on what they decide to do with Felix, sign him to a long-term deal or trade him before the season starts. They could do both. The drawback would mean tying most of that $48 million into just 2 players. Under GM Jack Zduriencik, I don't see the Ms doing both. It's Bay or Felix, but not both.

St. Louis
Again, protecting Albert Pujols in the lineup is a top priority for the Cards. If they fail to sign Matt Holliday, they too will go after Bay hard.

Again, the same reasons I gave for the Cubs being involved in the Holliday bidding apply here with Bay.

San Francisco
Stranger things have happened, and Lord knows my G-Men need some kind of bat in their lineup, but I just give them a 5% chancc of signing Bay.

New York Mets
Why not Holliday instead of Bay? Bay's cheaper. However, the Mets simply have too much money tied into massive contracts now to sign Bay.

Your thoughts and cheap bon mots?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This is War, Not a Crime

On September 11, 2001, civilian and government installations were targeted in a covert operation by an international terror syndicate harbored and abetted by a government not recognized by the United Nations.

To anyone with reasonable and rudimentary observational skills, this was an act of war.

Moreover to anyone with reasonable and rudimentary observational skills that had been paying attention since 1991, this was not a random or isolated incident. 9/11 was merely the largest in a series of attacks against military, government and civilian targets, beginning with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing—which was inspired, in part, by al Qaeda's success in the Battle of Mogadishu (aka: Black Hawk Down). Subsequent attacks occur ed on military targets (Khobar Towers in 1996, killing 19 U.S. servicemen and wounding hundreds more*; USS Cole, October 2000, killing 17 U.S. servicemen) and on government offices (African U.S. Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, killing 12 Americans and killing 200+ locals).

In 1998, Osama bin Laden issued his fatwa, declaring war on the west.

Yet despite all those signs and bloodshed, nobody—on either the Western left or right—acknowledged let alone believed we were actively involved in a war.

We know all this. So why does this all bear repeating for umpteenth millionth time? (Believe me, it's boring to repeat so I wonder the same.)

Because to the American left and western liberals, they still believe 9/11 and the other preceding events were not acts of war, but crimes. They were isolated incidences, yet still deliberate and premeditated. To them, the pattern of attacks leading up to 9/11 do not signal war; they are too far apart in terms of years. There is no defined or ongoing battlefield, no city to win, no uniformed armies massing on our borders and no treaties to ever sign.

Yet the naive ideology persists.

Nowhere is this fundamental ideological rift more apparent than in the acts of Attorney General Eric Holder holding trials near Ground Zero , and in the words of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of (D-Vt.), who said, "They committed crimes of murder in our country and we will prosecute them in our country."

This is like describing the Nazis invading Poland as an 'incursion."

Is this fundamental misreading of our enemy out of deliberate ignorance or an unwillingness to accept the obvious, indisputable facts? I believe it is a combination of those two with a dash willful blindness because the events wholly contradict the liberal world view that if we appease and compromise with enemies (even when they've shown no willingness to compromise themselves) we can have a more peaceful world.

This is dangerous not only the United States, but Westerners at large. This lulls people into thinking that this enemy can be rationalized and reasoned with; that compromise is attainable. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

And while I fully admit the Global War on Terror is poorly named (you can't have a war against a tactic like terrorism), reducing it down to an "overseas contingency operation" as the Obama Administration has done strongly implies that there is no threat to the homeland and to the world at large.

To criminalize the war and treat the the terror masters like KSM as common criminals as AG Holder and by extension the Obama Administration have done, is in itself the greater war crime.

*The inspiration for the brilliant movie, "The Kingdom."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hot Stove Toipic: Matt Holliday

Let’s light the lamp oil, put a log in the stove, pour the winter ales and speculate about all things in the world of the red-stringed rawhide….

Soon, it will be A Very Happy Matt Holliday Season* for some team and their fans. The question is, where will the power-hitting outfielder end up?

In order, from mostly likely to least likely, are the teams who I think will be vying for Young Master Holliday’s considerable skills.

St. Louis Cardinals
The Cards know first hand of Holliday’s value. All he did in 63 games with them was hit .353 with 13 HRs and 55 RBI while compiling a Bonds-like 1.032 OPS. People will point and say, yeah, but look what he did in Oakland and in Colorado his last year. That’s a rookie point. First, he was injured for a third of the year in COL and in Oakland he was protected in the lineup by….Jason Giambi. Oye. That explains everything.

The Cards need somebody other than the streaky Ryan Ludwig protecting Albert Pujols. And Big Al certainly enjoyed Holliday hitting behind him, too. The Cards have the money, too. Will they choose to be a player? Oh, I think Big Al will have a Big Say in the matter.

Chicago Cubs
What a mess Milton Bradley was in right field. Sweet Lou will be happy to see his tired act on another team. However, there’s an overwhelming factor that makes the Cubs a major player: Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez coming off injuries and surgeries, so the Cubs desperately need an every day power bat in the 3-hole if they want to pass the Cardinals.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Scott Boras pits the Cards and Cubs against each other.

Boston Red Sox
Jason Bay or Matt Holliday? One thing’s for sure: one of them will end up in Boston. Bay’s bat went somewhat silent down the stretch and into the playoffs. Then again, so did the entire Boston lineup. Bay’s older than Holliday, but his glove is superior. David Ortiz’s career is officially on the skid, so his bat will need to be replaced, making Holliday an ideal long-term replacement.

Boston may have other needs, however—particularly at third base. If they blow their wad on Holliday, can they afford an Adrian Beltre?

However, after getting screwed over by Boras in the A-Rod trade a few years ago, Sox management might not be so eager to deal with Boras and Holliday.

New York Yankees
After spending nearly half a billion dollars in free agents last year, are they game for potentially doling out for another 9-figure contract? Maybe. There are two big reasons for the Yanks to pursue Holliday: the need to fill out their aging and mildly punchless outfield and get younger. Holliday addresses both of those issues. However, even the Yanks need to mind payroll, so it’s entirely possible that they could resign Johnny Damon and World Series hero Hideki Matsui to 2 or 3-year deals for far less than what Holliday will cost.

I think they’re out of this race.

Are the other teams in the running? Let's hear them.

*ESPN.com, you can thank me for the “Happy Holliday” pun-y headline later. My apologies if I made you gag, Dear 3.5 readers.

Fire Up The Hot Stove

Let’s light the lamp oil, put a log in the stove, pour the winter ales and speculate about all things in the world of the red-stringed rawhide….

Henceforth, this will be a regular feature until the sun shines brightly again on the grass at Safeco Field. A little something to distract us from the otherwise dreary and meaningful goings on in the world today. So I encourage you, Dear 3.5 Readers, to join me in the coversation by leaving your thoughts and opinions in the comments section where we can discuss them like the well-informed baseball purists that we are.

Beginning now.....

And #1 on My Christmas Wish is:

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Just Ate a Trip to Las Vegas

So the wife arrives home last night after a trying 5-day business trip. And the third thing out of her mouth after “hello” and “I’m exhausted” was the snippy-toned question of, ”Did you go out all week for lunch?”

Now I don’t take kindly to such insta-snarky queries after having watched our 19-month old solo for 5 days. By the time he gets settled down to sleep, and I clean up the kitchen, sweep the floor, possibly do some laundry and get some dinner in my stomach, it’s 9:15pm or so. After that, it’s down time for Daddy. The last thing I’m thinking about is lunch the next day.

Yet I begrudgingly recognize that, despite her bitchy (and still unapologetic*) tone, my wife has a point: Buying lunch is costing us money.

Just how much money it’s costing us is what I wanted to know. So I did some quick and rough calculations.

Let’s start with homemade lunches based on store bought items**:

Bread: $3.5 per loaf
Sandwich meat: $11 per/lb. of Boar’s Head turkey or roast beef (I refuse to eat the cheap meat)
Chips: $3 per bag
Fruit: $3 on average (bananas, apples, etc.)
Drink: water $0
Total: $20.50

Per lunch (divided by 5): $4.10
Per month ($20.50 per week x 4 weeks): $82
Per year: ($82 per month x 12 months): $984

I like to go out to lunch in lovely Kent, WA, every so often to break the monotony just like a normal person. Of course I was “bad” and ate out every day this week. But this week was and is an exception. Yet I know multiple coworkers people who buy their lunch every single day. Let’s look at what it costs them to eat out based on a lunch I might eat, which are typical of the places they go to eat.

Chipotle: $8 (burrito and a drink)
Little David’s Deli: $9.50 (full sandwich, chips and drink)
Company Café: $7.50 (entrée, side and drink)
Little David’s Deli: $11 (hot sandwich, chips, drink)
Company Café: $7.50 (entrée, side and drink)
Total: $43.50

Per lunch (divided by 5): $8.70
Per month ($43.50 per week x 4 weeks): $174
Per year ($174 per month x 12 months): $2,088

The difference? $1,104.

Holy cats!

Hmm, what could I do with an “extra” $1,104?

That’s airfare, 2 nights at a decent hotel in Las Vegas (my first choice), plus a little left over for poker. Or 4 rounds of golf (caddie included) at Chambers Bay. Enjoy 4 to 5 dinners for 2 at El Gaucho steakhouse. Attend at least 10 Mariners games with a friend—even paying for their ticket if you're feeling so generous. Consume 9 bottles of Jose Cuervo Reserve La Familia. Anjeo. Play for 18 $60 buy-ins to the Roxy's double stack tournament. A really new and bitchin' gas grill. A really new and bitchin' set of kitchen knives.

Okay, so those are just my little fantasies, but you get the gist.

Oh, and you know how long it takes you to make a sandwich, throw some chips in a bag and grab a piece of fruit?*** Roughly 6 minutes.

$1,104. And that’s just one person. For the two of us that works out to $2,208 per year.

Now doesn’t it make you want to lose your lunch over how much you’re spending on it?

*I’m waiting.
**I do the shopping every week, so these are accurate numbers.
*** A comment on my laziness this week, for sure.