Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Grinding it out

It wasn't Jon Lester's prettiest win of the season. The lefty was not at his sharpest. He repeatedly fell behind hitters, running too many counts full. He had thrown over 50 pitches through his first three innings.

But he did what aces are supposed to do when they're struggling with their command. He found a way.

He pitched seven innings without giving up an earned run. He gave his team a chance when their post-season horse was sitting on the bench, recovering from a muscle strain. This could be the beginning of the end for the Angels.

The team has now dropped 10 straight post-season tilts with the Sawx, and last night, when the Boston nine were padding their lead, when Masterson, who didn't look sharp, got out of the inning, the Angels were shown sitting on the bench, mouths open and shaking their heads in disbelief.

This wasn't supposed to happen to them. They were healthy, the Sox were not, they had home-field, the Sox did not. They were supposed to wake up this morning up 1-0 in the series. They did not.

Because Lester is beginning to become the ace I argued he could be.

Because Lester is becoming the pitcher the Twins thought he would, the pitcher that would replace Santana in the Twins rotation.

Because the Red Sox are simply better in clutch games.

Putting the "fun" in dysfunction...

"Just win, baby."

Welcome to Raider football.

Define "win."

That press conference that the Crypt Keeper held the other day was a farce. I'm at the point where I pity Raiders fans (and let's face a basic truth about Al Davis, if there were even an iota of truth in his tampering accusation, he would have filed charges with the league over a year ago).

The NFL's answer to Howard Hughes has not only challenged the Ford family for most inept handling of a franchise, but might have past them - at least you can make the argument that the retaining of Millen was an attempt to give the franchise some consistency and give them an opportunity to build something.

Davis gave his coach a quarterback he didn't want, staff he didn't want, and other players he didn't want -the man is trying to make square pegs fit into non-existent holes, and then is blaming the pegs for the failure to fit.

Two quick things...

I don't like to get political at my blog, but I have to see if any of my readers can enlighten me - from what I have gathered, most of the people who support McCain and the Republican Party in the coming election claim to do so on the following two points; that McCain is a better selection for Commander-in-Chief because he was a captain in the Navy, and because Republicans are better in regards to national security issues. Where did these myths start?

McCain was a captain whose career had stalled - the Pentagon didn't feel he was fit to rise higher than captain (he was a pilot - which meant he spent time in a cockpit, but not leading troops into combat - who logged a total of about 20 combat hours and lost five planes) and is now asking the American people to give him a promotion that his bosses didn't believe he qualified for.

As for the second item - where did this myth begin? The Republicans are better with national security issues?

World War I and II, the last two major wars that we came out of in which our leadership is considered to have not made major blunders and handled poorly - Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and Harry S. Truman - all Democrats. Korea and Vietnam, the reigning president at the end of both wars? Eisenhower and Nixon/Ford - Korea wasn't so bad, but Vietnam was an absolute mess.

Now we have a party hell bent on not having the same resolution as Vietnam, in spite of the fact that it's come out that there was no intelligence that supported an invasion, that, by every analysis, stateside security has been weakened by this war, and our troops are being depleted in a place they should never have been in the first place. These are the security experts?

Just because someone is insane, doesn't make them a psychiatrist.

Sorry for the rant.

As for the other item - I'm off for the weekend. I will have my laptop with me, but I don't know if I will be able to blog. It is a working weekend, so I will also have to work to make time to watch game two. I will be in Durham, NC covering the World Beer Festival.

Tough life, huh?

The Wolf at the Door, and other thoughts

The Red Sox are on the verge - the veritable edge. Even though they were the third team to clinch a playoff spot and an invitation to the Dance, they are the last team in. They are on the precipice, looking down at the abyss with the mighty Angels standing behind him, ready to push them into oblivion.

At least, that's what a lot of the pundits would have you believe - that the Red Sox needed to win the division and hope that the wild card Rays would knock off the Angels. They'll point to the Angel's 8-1 record against Boston this year, or the fact that the Angels batted .053 higher in those nine games, or even that they outscored the Sox 61-33.

Yes, these are all trends that could indicate doom for the Sox - a brief appearance in the first round. It could easily be argued that it's very likely, based on those numbers, that the Sox are toast. Hell, Jon Lester's career ERA against the Angels is over seven and Daisuke Matsuzaka's is over 10 - not exactly reassuring.

The team could easily be down 0-2 by the time they return to Fenway.

At least that's the trend indicated by numbers. The numbers don't trend well for the Sox. That is a fact.

Of course, that doesn't include the Angels 0-6 record against the Red Sox in post-season play this decade, having been swept twice.

It's also a fact that until 2004 no team in the history of baseball had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a seven game series. Until this year, no first baseman had come close to Steve Gavey's errorless streak of 194 games.

To cross sports - the numbers didn't favor the Celtics winning the way they played in the post-season up until the finals. No team in the history of the NFL has ever completed a 16-0 regular season...except for the Patriots last season. No team has ever won 20 regular season games in a row...until the Pats did it. Until this year, no one has ever returned home from the Olympics with as many as seven gold medals. Until 2004, no cyclist had more than five total Tour de France victories. Based on trends, all of the above accomplishments were unlikely.

I'm not saying I think the Red Sox are going to win. I'm hoping they do - but they have their work cut out for them. They will have to fight and scrape to stave off the wolf at the door.

The bottom line is that this is a team that's going to have to adopt the persona of the right side of their in-field. They will have to be the Dirt Dogs, the scrappers, and brawlers. They have to come back to Fenway with at least a split.

The bottom line is that this is an opportunity for one of these two teams to buck a trend and get a monkey off its back - the Angels post-season woes against the Red Sox, or the Sox breaking the monkey of a season in which they barely were able to steal a win from the Angels.

Other things...

Terrell Owens is whining that he didn't get the ball enough in the Cowboys' home loss to the Redskins on Sunday. He's whining after a game in which Tony Romo had 47 attempts, 17 of them went to Owens.

The volatile receiver caught seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. He also dropped three, including a late touchdown that would have put the Cowboys ahead, and short-armed at least two others.

Maybe before he whines about the offensive coordinator not calling his number enough, he ought to make the plays on the catchable balls thrown his way.

Can't say this is a surprise, though. It was only a matter of time. Really, the only surprise here, to me, is that he kept it together this long.

I would also like to take a moment to wish good luck to now former Jacksonville offensive lineman Richard Collier who had to have a leg amputated after being shot during the preseason. Collier's life has changed radically in a brief period of time, going from being a monster of a human that pushed people around, to being paralyzed from the waist down. While a most unfortunate turn of events, Collier joins the likes of Sean Taylor and Darrent Williams as apparent targets of attackers.

Granted, Collier supposedly wasn't exactly in one of Jacksonville's high-end neighborhoods when shot, but one has to wonder if some of these players aren't putting themselves into harm's way. These are horrible things that no one deserves, but one still has to wonder.

Monday, September 29, 2008

And now for something completely different....

A brief departure from sports for the moment...

Some of you occasionally visit my other blogs like Grains N Grapes (I have a regular gig writing for the Mid Atlantic Brewing News), and GibberingIdiots (entertainment - I minored in film in college). Today I started a new blog - http://www.rabbitskulldesign.com/

Rabbit Skull is the name that I utilized while selling flash to tattoo artists in Philadelphia.

This is an on-line portfolio for me that I posted, in part, because I recently did some character sketches for the internet zombie movie currently being chronicled on-line in conjunction with the BBC here.

Over the next couple of weeks/months I will slowly but surely upload a variety of examples of my work from my portfolio. Here's a taste, though, with a couple of unpublished editorial cartoons I did back in 2004 (honestly, the wife has been on me to post these for quite some time...I just figured they were no longer timely). Please pay special attention to the bat in the second one (all art is copyright, Kevin M. Smith) -

More later. Enjoy, and feel free, as always, to comment - and yes, I know I have Bonds batting from the wrong side of the plate.