Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hot Stove Season Kicks Into Gear

Hot stove season, for anyone unfamiliar with the term, is the time of the year when baseball fans used to sit around the general store, or the kitchen, any place where there was source of heat, aka a "hot stove," and discuss trades, possible trades, awards, and just baseball stuff in general.
The season kicked into high gear yesterday when the Yankees traded Gary Sheffield to the Tigers for 3 prospects: Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett.

The latter are single A players, so who knows how they will turn out, but Sanchez is a hard throwing righty, with a chance to make the majors in 2007. He does have a history of injury, but he wouldn't fit in with any Yankees staff of the last few years if he didn't. If, and that may be the biggest word in sports, but if he does as well as he has shown throught his AA and AAA career, he may be a part of the Yankees bullpen in 2007. Couple that with their own top pitching prospect, Philip Hughes, and they may have a staff that more resembles a quality major league staff for the next few years. This is a welcome change from the Saturday afternoon beer keg squad that they have been fielding. Wang and a bunch of guys that used to be good is not enough of a pitching staff. Hughes, Sanchez, and TJ Beam (who showed promise last year,) along with a couple others, and we may be talking about the Yankees staff without laughing.

The other big hot stove news is Daisuke Matsuzaka. You have to know I C&P'ed that name. Anyway, according to rumors (called premature by them) the Boston Red Sox are in the thick of a bidding war to bring this terrific Japanese player to America. Now, this may be different from deals in the past. The team must bid for the right to negotiate with him. That's not his salary, just the money to go to his old team to try to make a deal with him. The bidding is reputed to be in the vicinity of $38 million dollars. Matsuzaka is 26 years old and represented by who else but Scott Boras. He will most likely sign a contract for $7 mil per year for 3 years. That is the Boras way, so that Matsuzaka will get a second chance at free agency in 3 years, at age 29. And make even more money. I have to wonder, though, if he is worth it. Amortizing the big negotiating money over 3 years means that he costs about $13 million without his salary. Add that in, and it comes out to around $20 million per year. That's a lot of Wendy's Frostys. Will he guarantee Boston a pennant? If so, that is a fair price. If not, that is a lot of money down the drain.

And Boss George has been strangely quiet throughout all this. Is it to keep the price down so he can swoop in at the end, or does he think this isn't such a good deal?

One more Yankees rumor, but as of today it is a long shot. Nomar is available. Yankees brass is interested. That would mean all 3 of the greatest shortstops of the 90's would be playing in one infield, two of them at a position other than short. Could be interesting.

The last bit of hot stove news.

Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano each won a Silver Slugger award.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Nobody Ever Died for Dear Old Rutgers

Last night was what some have called the most important game for Rutgers footbal since 1869 (which was the first game in college football history.)
In a stunning come frombehind win, Ruytgers, the Scarlet Knights, beat Loiusville 28-25 with a field goal with only seconds left in the game. Rutgers had missed the field goal, but a penalty gave the kicker another chance, and he booted it straight through the uprights. Depending on which poll, Rutgers had been ranked 13th or 15th, while Louisville was 3rd. This big win has suddenly turned the collegiate football world inside out.
Teams that were out are suddenly in, and whispers from coast to coast ask: "What about Rutgers?"
College football has some ridiculous method of choosing a national champion. Many times, if not most times, the champion is rather arbitrarily chosen. It is rare that one plays two, or any other combination to wind up with an actual winner. The teams are voted upon, and we all know how elections can sometimes turn out.
And this year, Rutgers is undefeated. Because they have not played enough nationally ranked teams, they will receive little to no consideration for a championship.
In the pros, we always have next year, but college players have an even more limited window than the pros. It is hard to build on a college team as so many graduate every year. This looks to be a very special Rutgers team, but barring a miracle collapse by every other top 10 team, they have no shot at a title.
And that is a shame.
It's time for college football to consider some sort of a championship playoff series. Not necessarily more games, but something where the top teams get into the top bowls. It may be too late for Rutgers this year, but at least set it up so tha the next "Cinderella Team" will have a shot at being America's best.

"Nobody Ever Died for Dear Old Rutgers"

Nobody ever died for dear old Rutgers,
Nobody ever had a life to give
When you're clipped by someone in the rear
You hear a mighty cheer,
But you're laid up for a year.
So nobody ever died for dear old Rutgers
Strangely enough they simply want to live
The alumni won't admit it's true, but
Nobody ever died for Rutgers U.

Rutgers, Rutgers, Rah, Rah, Rah, Rah, Rah, Rah, Rah, Rah

Nobody ever died for dear old Rutgers,
Giving away your life would be extreme
When the coach says smash the Princeton line,
His reasoning is fine,
But it's no good for your spine,
So nobody ever died for dear old Rutgers
But there's a lot of valor on the team
You can get a little black and blue, but
Nobody ever died for Rutgers U.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Cookin' In Brooklyn

This is another one of those shows that only seems to show up on digital cable systems. I get it on one of the Discovery channels. It does not seem to be on any particular time, but whatever day it is on, it will be on maybe 6 times during that day. Alan Harding owns a few restaurants (did I have to tell you they are in Brooklyn?) and his show sometimes highlights a particular problem he may be having in one of the restaurants. The show has a catchy theme song, and I'm really a sucker for a good theme song. It's hard to think of any really bad show with a good theme song. Though My Mother The Car was a legendary awful show and had a decent theme song. Perhaps that is the exception that proves the rule. Or maybe I just like theme songs about cars. Or TV theme songs in general.
Nevertheless, Cookin' in Brooklyn is a very different type of cooking show. He does cook different recipes, but so far, I haven't seen many that I would ever make at home. He uses a wide variety of ingredients and often, they are things I wouldn't use. He put bacon and pork rinds in his chili!!! Oy vey!!!
The reason I like the show is that he doesn't just cook his recipes, he creates stories around every episode. For example, on the aforementioned chili recipe show, he was watching a football game with his friends. They provided the beer and he provided 4 quarters of food.
He celebrated Bastille Day (I'm not making this up) and had a BBQ with some lamb sausages. Often Alan will go out on the street and offer his creations to passersby.
The show is always interesting, and Alan has such a mild demeanor that it is an almost relaxing show to watch (as opposed to Iron Chef or Emeril--BAM!!)
And, that may be why I try to find the show, even when it is a repeat. The show is funny, and very interesting. It is as much a show as a cooking show. One episode may find Alan riding around in his old pickup truck (not a classic, just a beat up mid-late 90's white Ford) and then he'll be at the docks, then he'll be in his kitchen, all in the pursuit of the perfect fish dinner.
Or he'll organize a sandwich contest--I can't even explain that show, but it sure was entertaining. The show is always dependable for a laugh of two. And while I may not copy his recipes, they do make me think about food in a different way.
And it does have a kick-ass theme song.
I rate it a 6.8.
Here's a link with some of his recipes.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Borat: Cultural Learnings Movie

Ok, the official title of the movie is Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan . The title is too long for the page top.
The Crotchety Old Lady and I went to see the movie today. We went to the 11:35 a.m. showing. Believe it or not, the theater still had quite a few attendees. I would estimate it as being at least half full. I guess that is a fair crowd for a Sunday morning.
On to the film, a mocumentary of epic stature...
It reminded me of Airplane, a comedy with constant jokes. One after the next. Many of the scenes from the movie have already been shown both on TV and various internet sites, but I can assure you that the funniest scene from the movie, possibly the funniest scene from any movie ever, has not been shown yet. The Old lady laughed so hard that tears rolled down her cheeks. I feared that she was going to have a seizure as she apparently couldn't breathe. And she was not the only one. I have heard laughter in a theater before, but never quite like this. In fact, she told me afterwards that this one scene was worth the price of admission.
As far as the rest of the movie, the jokes came so fast and so often that I am sure I missed some. Rapid fire comedy at its best. Just be sure that you go to the restroom before the movie. If you get up during it, you may miss a few dozen really funny lines. And no way, you could ever ask someone, "What did I miss?" It would take too long, and you would miss another dozen laughs just trying to catch up.
I plan to see this movie again, it was that funny. And Pam Anderson had a nice role in it, so you know I am a huge fan already.
By the way, the movie is not family entertainment. It is rated "R" and deserves it. But it isn't a movie that gets its laughs from "blue" language. It uses comedic situations that transcend the one joke "guy from a foreign country who misunderstands English" humor that you often see in these movies. In fact, the funniest scenes would be funny even with different characters. The movie is so very well written. To paraphrase the words of Borat, "It has just enough Anti-semeticism."
It may even have you singing the Kazakhstan National Anthem as you leave the theater.

I rate it a solid 9.58.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I Pity the Fool

Mr. T is back on TV. I have to admit, I would watch anything with Mr. T on it. If it was a show with Mr. T just sitting on a stool and talking, I'm there. A cooking show where all he makes is cheeseburgers--I'm there. You can get the picture. I am a huge Mr. T fan. He is perhaps the funniest tough guy to ever get on TV. Whether he is telling someone to stop the jibber jabber (a Mr. T trademark expression) or running around calling everybody a fool, Mr. T is just the best.
In his new show on TVLand, Mr. T helps people with their problems. And he does it with his own inimitable Mr. T style. For example, in one episode, a car dealership is struggling, so they call in Mr. T to raise morale. He motivates the staff and even helps sell a couple cars himself. Nothing is funnier than Mr. T helping his customer negotiate with the dealership's sales manager.
Another episode featured Mr. T helping out a dance school. The parents and the dance school teacher/proprietor were at odds. He helped them all get on the same page for the benefit of the kids.
Each episode has a "warm fuzzy" factor of 10+. Mr. T is like a big old teddy bear. Listening to him speak, though, he either has fantastic writers, or he is a much more educated man than he has portrayed in the past. He quotes classic literature and philosophers equally well.
But the show does have some serious flaws. In the dance show, the kids welcomed him like he was a pop star. Since he has been more or less out of the spotlight for the last 20 years, it just seemed so contrived. Sure, Mr. T was a big star, but these kids had never seen him on TV except on TVLand repeats. And even then, the show is only on once a day during the week. I just don't believe these kids had any idea who he is. Maybe it's just the skeptic in me.
And, Mr. T does get a little corny as he actually participates in the dance recital. He organizes a car wash and goes out into the street to draw people into the car wash. He is pretty funny yelling at the cars as they go by.
I've seen 3 episodes, so far. Each one is as great as the next. Mr. T helps a real estate office in Brooklyn, a dance studio in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a car dealership (I think it was in NYC.)
Overall, though, the show is great. It's hard to rate it due to my absolute nearly child-like admiration for Mr. T.
It is a very solid 8.6. The only reason it didn't rate higher is because it is on so many times (like all basic cable programming) and it is hard to look forward to it when I never really know when it is on. Or what episode is going to be repeated endlessly. Have I mentioned that I like Mr. T?

A quick review of my ratings system:
10--a prime show. The Sopranos or 24 would rate a 10.
9-- definately worth watching. Think South Park or Seinfeld re-runs. Not as funny as the first time, but still great TV fare.
8-- Pretty darn good stuff. If you can't be home, you'd consider setting up the VCR. Some solid 8's would be Earl, or Everybody Hates Chris.
7-- Not quite good enough to tape. But you can look forward to watching. The Office is the first show that comes to mind as a 7.
6-- Now we get into the shows that are ok, but only a first choice if other shows are re-runs. You won't mind watching a 6 at a different time. Britcoms are 6's.
5-- Think of a movie you liked, but have seen a dozen times or more. You'd choose the movie over the program, then the program is a 5. Mash and almost everything on TVLAND has become a 5.
4-- Crappy show, but with some redeeming quality, like it features hot chicks. Any show with Pam Anderson would be a 4.
3-- Only worth watching if the only alternative is infommercials. Fishing shows are 3.
2-- About the same as a good infommercial. QVC is a 2.
1-- Infommercials, unless they are The Knife Collector Show. They sell swords!