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April 2001 Archives

Links were checked and verified as active only in the month the Eucalyptus entry was published. Links outside the silverscreentest domain may be inactive from this archive.

April 30

We picked out brick and carpet for new house. It has a frame now. I'll add pictures when they develop. The brick will be dark red. I wanted something that looked like the warehouse at Camden Yards or the National Building Museum.

April 29

One more thought on yesterday's WUSA game. Wendy Gebauer occassionally referred to the Washington Freedom as "DC," even though there's no DC in the team's name. It's probably a soccer habit from the dominant MLS team DC United. I wonder if this shorthand could be passed on to the Capitals, Wizards, and Mystics. The basketball teams do have a lower case DC on their uniforms.

People I can't talk about came over to wrap crystal. I kept out of their way and transported boxes to storage. Our storage facility is very near Montgomery County Airpark, the second busiest airport in Maryland. Usually, planes land or takeoff every 5-15 minutes. One a beautiful weekend day like today, the place looks like O'Hare. General aviation aircraft came and went every 30 seconds.

April 28

Saw the Washington Freedom beat the Carolina Courage. This game could have been written by Hollywood. In the 8th minute, Canadian national player Silvana Burtini of Carolina heads in the first goal. Not long after that, Mia Hamm gets a medial collateral ligament sprain on her knee. The North Carolina crowd hushes as she writhes in pain. National teammate and opposing player Carla Overbeck helps Hamm off the field. I don't think too many male players would do that unless the opposing player was his brother. With less than 10 minutes to go, Hamm has returned and feeds a perfect free kick to Pretinha. Then in injury time, Mia slams another free kick right through the wall for the winning goal. Would a wall of men, with their hands over their groin, have allowed a shot like that to go through?

The TNT production values seemed a little lacking. Except for the fancy corner shots, the camera was quite removed from the action. This could come from shooting in a smaller stadium. Then again, this is North Carolina where both soccer teams excel. Comcast Sports Network in its previous incarnation as Home Team Sports got great shots at small soccer fields along the Mid-Atlantic.

April 27

The NCAA delayed a vote to reduce the number of pre-season basketball games. This is one of the few times the teams from the lesser conferences can play the big boys on a neutral court. I wish the NCAA would actually require at least one small conference participant at these shootouts in Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico.

A recent issue of U.S. News compared Dubya with JFK. Back in the fall of 1999, the New Republic made a similar comparison. Well-known conservative columnist Martin Morse Wooster admits that Kennedy was intellectually superior to Bush. In an alternate universe, if Jack hadn't been pushed to be a politician, he might have been a Hollywood executive or a history professor. Bobby had the real drive and brains for office.

April 26

I've been following the news about the new Star Trek series on Science Fiction Weekly. Apparently, Berman, Braga, and the boys are negotiating with Scott Bakula. I hope he asks for too much money. I don't think he would be right for the captain's role. Then again, I thought Whoopi Goldberg was a bad idea. But that was thirteen years ago. The last seven years of Voyager lead me to believe I won't be pleasantly surprised.

The new series is also looking at Marjorie Monaghan for a Vulcan role. To me, she's a little too physical, in the mold of 7 of 9 or Tasha Yar. However, my wife thinks she can be an emotionless Vulcan since Monaghan has a rather emotionless range.

April 25

April 24

The Capitals disappointed me yet again by losing one game earlier than I expected.

Martin Morse Wooster still insists on communicating with me by snail mail while I communicate with him my e-mail. He read the blog and noticed I was a fan of whitewater canoeing as a spectator sport and asked why. I like it because it's exciting. It's an extreme sport that has some connection with practicality, not just created for the thrill. I know I couldn't do it because it terrifies me, but watching somebody else brave the rapids gives me a vicarious thrill. The courses can be as different as the golf courses in their layout. I'm disappointed I don't get to see enough of it on television amid the World Strongest Man Competition and the Great Outdoor Games. Some of the world's best whitewater rowers live in the Washington area and practice locally. If I really had the inclination, I would make a greater effort to see this sport in person.

April 23

Today's Washington Post suggested that Anne Robinson's popularity on The Weakest Link may be because she's a woman. Of course, she's a woman who acts like a man with all the baggage that entails. The author, Paul Farhi, doesn't seem to be well-versed in the history of game shows, like someone who thinks the whole history of written science fiction is H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. Today, Nancy Pimental, reads the questions on Win Ben Stein's Money. A former stand-up, she's not just eye candy and naturally rattles off the one-liners as well as any man. On a lighter level, Karyn Bryant does just fine on Name That Video. Some of the moderators we've had at the National Academic Championship have hosted local high school quiz shows. In general, the news anchor-type can make an excellent game show host. I'm thinking somebody along the line of Cokie Roberts and Soledad O'Brien, not Katie Couric. But you look around and you can't find too many game show hosts that are women, black, Hispanic, or Asian. Other than yours truly, I can't think of too many of the latter.

April 22

Went to the location of our future house to inspect progress. The studs are up for the walls in the garage and the basement rooms. Stacks of lumber along the street were marked clearly for our lot. I talked with one of the carpentry subcontractors. He said I wouldn't recognize the place next week. He sounded like all the outside walls and windows would be up by then. We'll see. Meanwhile, the prospective purchasers of our current residence had the home inspector come through. Hopefully we haven't got any show-stoppers.

April 21

Sunderland drew with derby rival Newcastle. DC United managed their second win in three games. The Capitals lost to the Penguins. I'll guess that the Penguins will eliminate the Caps in the 7th game.

Spike went to the birthday party of her friend Christina Hussar. The party was at the Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts Imagination Stage. This is a small theater in a popular upscale mall. The play was Harry the Dirty Dog. We didn't actually watch it. We left Spike there for the party while we went shopping. After the play, the kids went to a party room in the back.

April 20

Had the Knossos meeting tonight. The book was The Gumshoe, the Witch, and the Virtual Corpse by Keith Hartman, a gay-oriented science fiction-mystery. Whitlock and I didn't read the book but that never stopped anyone from attending a meeting or having an opinion. As a matter of fact, some of the most interesting opinions can from a person who didn't read the book at all. The group shared the latest news and discussed the future of Buffy, Angel and Voyager. When we didn't discuss the book we also talked about the California power crisis, game shows, and weird web sites.

April 19

As NBA teams ponder whether to pick high school players in their draft, they should look immediately to the experience of Major League Baseball. Baseball teams have drafted high school players for years. Granted, almost none of them jump immediately to the majors, but their experience vis-a-vis college players is a useful lesson.

In general, a high school player has a higher potential upside than a college player. On the other hand, a college player is less of a risk. Obviously, when evaulating an 18-year-old, you could forsee greater things for him when he reaches maturity, but since that maturity is so far away, errors are more common. The future of a college player is easier to read, because that future is so much closer.

In baseball, that upside can be quite high. Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Robin Yount, and Ken Griffey, Jr. all made the majors in their teens. On the other hand pitchers making a splash as a starter before age 25, such as Fernando Valenzuela, Dwight Gooden, or Steve Avery don't often have long major league careers.

In basketball, it seems that the equivalent of baseball hitters are the shooters. Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant made successful transitions to the NBA. The basketball equivalent of pitchers are the big men. Even big men who played all four years in college don't necessarily come to the pros as finished products. So leave Tyson Chandler on the board...please.

April 18

I was shocked that the Capitals managed to beat the Penguins in overtime. Most Capitals fans could see the inevitable disappointment coming. The Penguins came back from a two-goal deficit and seemed ready to triumph in the extra frame. I was in Atlantic City during the four overtime game in 1996. On ESPN Sportscenter, Kenny Mayne panted that you should immediately turn to ESPN2 and see this incredible game. Of course the hotel didn't have the deuce.

April 17

English soccer and American baseball call their on-field supervisory personnel managers. In American football, soccer, and basketball, they're called coaches. This is probably because English soccer and American baseball started as a professional endeavor that required managers. The other sports originated in the amateur or college realm where you have coaches or teachers.

Speaking of coaches, I never thought Gary Williams should have been fired this year from Maryland. This program has an expectation to be somewhere between 3rd and 6th in the ACC. He accomplished that consistently from the ashes of Bob Wade. Wade was an example of Jerry Faust syndrome. High school coaches really shouldn't jump immediately to a major program.

April 16

Saw the much ballyhooed The Weakest Link. The questions are okay. The style is unnecessarily mean. Instead of getting rid of the weakest person, a strong person who is a threat may be removed. With all the abuse host Anne Robinson delivers when will we see a contestant say,"You need to get laid, bitch." Or, not knowing the exact name of Daphne on Frasier, I might have said,"Who gives a damn about the English. We kicked their ass 200 years ago and they still haven't recovered."

April 15

Sunderland is sliding away from the top of the English table. Looks like they won't qualify for any European competitions. Meanwhile, D.C. United lost in Chicago. I'm just amazed they won even one game so far. The Penguins are tied with the Caps in their series. A lot of sports are going on simultaneously. With the XFL, all the favorite team sports are active at the same time.

April 14

Looks like we're on the verge of selling our place. The contingency is the home inspection. We may have to vacate by the end of May, which means a few months at one of our parents.

April 13

Amazingly, the Capitals held Mario Lemieux to no shots on goal in winning 1-0. This may be the entire run of luck the Caps get. Back when my wife worked at the Animal Shelter, they named the cats according to some computerized formula, which was different every week. Once, they named the cats for hockey players. One of them was named Lemieux. Now to me, that is a perfect name for a yellow and black cat. Even the name sounds like a meow.

April 12

Looks like were on the way to buying a new house. It's supposed to look something like the picture on the right. The foundation has already been poured and it backs up to North Germantown Greenbelt Park in the area of Neelsville and Brink in Montgomery County, Maryland.

April 11

My friends Dave Choat and Diane Donaldson had a baby boy this morning: Koob (pronounced "kOHb") Dawson Choat. Congratulations and sleep while you can.

Pat Summit, head coach of the women's basketball program at Tennessee recently turned down the men's job. I think there's too much sucking up at the college level for a woman to coach in the men's game. For the same reason, there aren't many black football coaches at Division I-A schools. Now in my own mind, I feel that Rick Pitino, Bobby Knight, Tom Izzo would be better off in college than in the pro ranks. A college coach is king of his own domain and much more responsible for his own success or failure than in the pro game. Someday, I'll try to figure out the consistency of the statements I made in this paragraph.

I believe that the first major inroad by a woman into men's professional sports will be as a head coach in the NBA. The NBA has a history of affirmative action for women such as the WNBA and the female referees. Also, apprenticeships are not required to be a head coach in the NBA. Take Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as two examples. This could happen tomorrow, but I think it will take less than ten years. As a player on an equal basis with men, I think a female hockey goalie would be the most likely. Don't ask me when that will happen.

April 10

Remember a couple of weeks ago when a charter plane crashed in Aspen? The names of the victims were withheld. You know it made the news because everyone was expecting some Hollywood celebrity to be one of the dead. None of them turned out to be famous so you have barely heard a peep about the crash since.

April 9

Willie Stargell died this morning, just hours before the opening of the PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Common wisdom is that people will hang a few days for an important event, then die. Despite his mammoth home runs, there were some things beyond even Pops.

April 8

The picture on the left is Indians general manager John Hart announcing his resignation effective at the end of the season. He will replaced by assistant general Mark Shapiro on the right in the picture. It's not exactly "Separated at Birth", but he sure looks like Bruno Anselmo, the hit man from Dark Angel, shown on the right.

April 7

Been reading the recent stories about the demise of Crown Books. I know the independents say Crown was the first shot in their battle that they now fight against Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. However, the publishers loved Bob Haft. Crown went down because of a family battle between the members of the Haft family. Their business properties suffered the most. This is just a reminder to the free market fundamentalists that economic incentives don't solve all problems. The Haft business were making money, but that couldn't outweigh a family feud and members bent on destroying each other. I wass trained professionally as an economist. Unless you were trained in the Marxist tradition, you believe religiously in the free market. But also by studying it, you know its flaws. Ayn Rand's objectivism are like the religious fundamentalists. They see no shortcomings in their philosophy. Folks trained in a seminary or other similar institution also know the gaps in their beliefs. Despite this, I still believe in the free market, and the educated religious people still believe in their God.

April 6

Did some househunting today. Somewhere there is a primal connection between househunting and dating. And both can reduce weight quite quickly.

April 5

Saw Hideo Nomo pitch his no-hitter. Unlike American players, his exuberance was much subdued. Mike Lansing made a great catch to preserve the no-hitter to get the next-to-last out.

April 4

Bobby Knight kicked three players off his Texas Tech team for no particular reason. This is what the major league scouts mean when they tell high school players that college scholarships are only year-to-year deals renewed at the pleasure of the coach.

I think Elton John and Andrew Lloyd Webber do different flavors of the same music. Tim Rice has written lyrics for both. I'd just like to see Bernie Taupin work with Andrew Lloyd Webber next.

April 3

No one is a better "writer" in baseball than Tom Boswell. No one puts words together quite as beautifully as he. The sports community should be thankful that someone who would have been successful in any writing endeavour chose to grace his talent upon sports. But when it comes to analysis and facts, he's almost as easy to spot spouting garbage as Peter Gammons. Take this for instance:

"Great as he was, Gehrig never had a 50-homer season. In a four-year span, McGwire averaged 61. McGwire's 554 homers have already left Gehrig's 492 far behind. Just as important, the Cardinal has 1,350 RBI in just 5,888 at-bats. So, Mac is almost as prolific a run producer as the Yankee. Why is "almost" more than good enough? Because McGwire has been stuck in the middle of some mediocre lineups. Gehrig wasn't just part of Murderer's Row, he hit behind Ruth, who reached base more than 4,000 times in addition to all his homers. How could Lou avoid RBI?"

Well, first of all, Ruth cleared those bases many times so there was nobody for Lou drive in. It's amazing he got as many RBI as he did. Secondly, lineup protection is crock. By that logic, Scott Rolen must be the greatest hitter currently because he managed to eke out 89 RBIs from the anemic lineup he bats in.

"Gehrig was an exemplary baseball citizen, but McGwire's gone beyond that. The national joy that he and Sammy Sosa produced in their home run chase was one of the game's great gifts to the country. In Gehrig's favor, he was indeed the Iron Man while McGwire has been the M*A*S*H man throughout his injury-nagged career."

This is like saying,"In Mother Teresa's favor, she tended the poor in the slums of Calcutta while Hitler obsessed on that genocide thing."

Here's McGwire's stats. Explanations of the stats can be found in last month's archive.

Year Player        AB  H   BB  TB Tm RPG  RC/25.5     OWP   OW
1986 McGwire       53  10   4  20   4.60     2.91    .286  0.4	
1987 McGwire      557 161  71 344   4.92     8.18    .734 11.4	
1988 McGwire      550 143  76 263   4.38     5.76    .634 10.1	
1989 McGwire      490 113  83 229   3.98     5.30    .640  9.5	
1990 McGwire      523 123 110 256   4.02     6.01    .691 10.8	
1991 McGwire      483  97  93 185   4.74     4.03    .420  6.4	
1992 McGwire      467 125  90 273   4.37     7.86    .763 10.2	
1993 McGwire       84  28  21  61   4.82    12.96    .879  1.9	
1994 McGwire      135  34  37  64   4.99     6.67    .641  2.5	
1995 McGwire      317  87  88 217   5.18    10.40    .801  7.2	
1996 McGwire      423 132 116 309   5.44    12.46    .840  9.6
1997 McGwire-O    366 104  58 230   5.27     8.55    .724  7.4	
1997 McGwire-S    174  44  43 119   4.32     9.36    .824  4.2	
1998 McGwire      509 152 162 383   4.88    12.80    .873 12.2	
1999 McGwire      521 145 133 363   5.11    10.46    .807 11.9	
2000 McGwire      236  72  76 176   5.12    12.98    .866  5.6	
     Total                                               121.5 

Not bad, but look at Gehrig.

Year Player        AB  H   BB  TB Tm RPG  RC/25.5     OWP   OW
1923 Gehrig        26  11   2  20   4.75    15.79    .917  0.5	
1924 Gehrig        12   6   1   7   4.79    16.02    .918  0.2	
1925 Gehrig       437 129  46 232   4.74     6.96    .683  8.2	
1926 Gehrig       572 179 105 314   5.03     8.55    .743 11.4	
1927 Gehrig       584 218 109 447   5.08    14.70    .893 12.8	
1928 Gehrig       562 210  95 364   5.13    12.24    .851 11.7	
1929 Gehrig       553 166 122 323   5.44     9.08    .736 11.2	
1930 Gehrig       581 220 101 419   6.36    13.93    .827 11.7	
1931 Gehrig       619 211 117 410   5.89    11.42    .790 12.6	
1932 Gehrig       596 208 108 370   5.53    10.92    .796 12.1	
1933 Gehrig       593 198  92 359   5.58     9.81    .756 11.7	
1934 Gehrig       579 210 109 409   4.91    13.11    .877 12.7	
1935 Gehrig       535 176 132 312   4.87    10.23    .816 11.5	
1936 Gehrig       579 205 130 403   5.79    12.98    .834 12.2	
1937 Gehrig       569 200 127 366   5.25    11.88    .836 12.1	
1938 Gehrig       576 170 107 301   5.34     7.67    .674 10.7	
1939 Gehrig        28   4   5   4   5.01     1.16    .051  0.0	
     Total                                               348.7 

Look at the metronomic consistency of the Offensive Wins column, compared to McGwire, who rides up and down like the NASDAQ roller coaster. Here's one more first basemen, a recent player, whose consistency, makes a better overall bet than McGwire: Eddie Murray

Year Player        AB  H   BB  TB Tm RPG  RC/25.5     OWP   OW
1977 Murray       611 173  48 287   4.26     5.60    .634 10.9	
1978 Murray       610 174  70 293   4.01     6.15    .701 12.0	
1979 Murray       606 179  72 288   4.21     6.37    .696 11.7	
1980 Murray       621 186  54 322   4.46     6.71    .694 11.8	
1981 Murray       378 111  40 202   4.12     6.97    .741  7.8	
1982 Murray       550 174  70 302   4.48     8.06    .764 11.3	
1983 Murray       582 178  86 313   4.48     7.81    .752 11.9	
1984 Murray       588 180 107 299   4.16     7.72    .775 12.4	
1985 Murray       583 173  84 305   4.91     7.31    .689 11.8	
1986 Murray       495 151  78 229   4.53     6.78    .692  9.3	
1987 Murray       618 171  73 295   4.97     5.94    .589 10.3	
1988 Murray       603 171  75 286   4.16     6.13    .685 11.6	
1989 Murray       594 147  87 238   3.41     4.67    .652 11.4	
1990 Murray       558 184  82 290   4.36     8.22    .780 11.4	
1991 Murray       576 150  55 232   3.80     4.51    .585  9.8	
1992 Murray       551 144  66 233   3.86     4.97    .623  9.9	
1993 Murray       610 174  40 285   4.37     5.49    .612 10.5	
1994 Murray       433 110  31 184   5.49     4.41    .393  5.0	
1995 Murray       436 141  39 225   5.02     7.37    .683  7.9	
1996 Murray-B     230  59  27 101   5.34     5.04    .471  3.2	
1996 Murray-C     336  88  34 135   5.65     4.58    .397  3.9	
1997 Murray-L       7   2   2   2   5.01     4.53    .450  0.9	
1997 Murray-A     160  35  13  51   4.28     2.89    .313  1.5
     Total                                               206.6	

April 2

The teams from the low-major and the better minor conferences complain that major conference teams never want to play them once they get good. Perhaps the NCAA should require that those early season tournaments in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the pre-season NIT invite at least one or two teams from lower conferences. The conferences themselves could decide which team to send. The best team last year might not be the best team this year, especially in the lower conferences where the players tend to stay through their senior year and the best teams are loaded with seniors. It would be in the conference's best interest to send the best team, because if that team does well, the ripple effect throughout the conference of increased RPIs would benefit everyone. Now I read that the Big Six Conferences will seek to limit the pre-season tournaments to weaken the lower conferences under the guise of improving the academics of the student-athlete.

April 1

No April Fools joke today. Just noticing an interview Alvaro Martin had with Alex Rodriguez on the Opening Day broadcast. A-Rod is starting to develop the mannerisms of Cal Ripken.

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Last revised April 30, 2001
© 2001 B. Barrientos