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April 2007 Archives

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April 30

The full moon is on Wednesday. Tonight is the only window for the Nats to win.

Brandon HarperApril 29

Today is the birthday of Brandon Harper. He played in 18 games last year with a .362 OBP and .512, but he's no prospect, turning 31 today in Columbus. There must be an injury bug somewhere as he's caught 100 games only twice in the minors.

Watched the Everybody Hates Chris episode "Everybody Hates Hall Monitors". Chris becomes a hall monitor in order to gain respect, but turns out to be a jerk once he's mad with power. Ms. Morella talks him into giving up the job.

Meanwhile, Rochelle complains about somebody at work to Julius at whatever job she works at. It finished off with,"When she worked at NASA, it was..." and there's Rochelle in an EVA hardsuit, serving freeze-dried food to the kids while complaining about some work argument concerning fuel mixtures or orbital velocity. This was the LOL moment of the year.

Went on the CSI "Empty Eyes". Five showgirls have had their throats slit in the house they shared. Sidle goes into one bedroom and finds one girl, Cammie, alive, but she soon dies leaving behind cryptic last words.

Most of the episode is an almost pornographic glorification of the murders. A few blocks away, Marlon Frost, an ex-con is found with his throat slit outside a bar with the murder weapon in the sextuple murder nearby. Sidle gently comforts him in the ambulance, hoping to make up for the tragedy of having Cammie die on her. In the hospital as she's printing Frost, she realizes he's the killer.

Frost followed Becca, one of the girls, home from a bar. Armed with a plastic gun, he killed the showgirls one-by-one for no real reason. This case strongly resembles the 1966 murders of eight nurses by Richard Speck. I have always believed that one man with a knife could not repeat that quantity of murders today. He was dealing with 1966 women, some of whom were Filipinas. I think that one of the girls would have forced Frost to prove the reality of his gun. After that, at least three of them could have fought back or escaped.

Watched the Criminal Minds episode "Honor Among Thieves". A Russian immigrant has been kidnapped in Baltimore. His brother-in-law worked for Ambassador Prentiss in Kiev, so she brings the victim's wife and daughter to Quantico.

The local boss Lysowsky wants to help, which Gideon finds strange that criminals would get themselves involved with civilians. It turns out Lysowsky's son Lyov is the brains behind the murders and Lysowsky enables the behavior by paying off the ransoms. Also, the current victim's daughter wants to run off with the money and Lyov. Eventually the mob take care of Lyov and the daughter.

Kate Jackson plays Ambassador Prentiss. Gonzalo Menendez, who previously played Clavo Cruz, plays a Baltimore FBI agent.

Mets' three hits enough to slip by Nationals. A lot of bad luck here. Bergman pitched a good game and only allowed a Carlos Beltran homer. The Nats got six hits but couldn't push across a run.

Shawn HillApril 28

Today is the birthday of Shawn Hill. The Missassauga native started three times for the Expos in 2004, bracketing two disastrous outings against the Pennsylvania teams with a five inning, one run, six strikeout performance against Toronto on the Fourth of July in San Juan.

Went to my nephew's first communion at the same church his sister Victoria had hers, St. Francis of Assisi in Derwood. He shared the first reading with a kid who looked uncomfortably like Joey Caruso from Everybody Hates Chris. Instead of cake immediately afterwards in the basement, we went straight to Red Robin for lunch. Next door at the IHOP was their giant pancake mascot.

Watched the CSI: Miami episode "A Grizzly Murder". Dennis West, Andy Kelso and Rob Harris are hunting in the Everglades when a bear chases them and makes mincemeat of West. He had vanilla gel - bear attractant on his jacket.

Duquesne and Delko process the hotel room where the three weekend warriors stayed, a particularly posh crib for such a rustic expedition. They find a lot of blood underneath the tiles which suggests another murder was committed there. Kelso and Harris are stopped driving back to Tallahassee and Boa Vista finds blood on the bumper and the trunk. When the hunting guide takes Duquesne to the place where he admits to putting bear attractant, they find a dead girl.

It turns out the trio hired a stripper, which turned out to be Tess Gowen, but Kelso raped and killed her while the other two were passed out. Rocco Robertson, a bodyguard sent with Gowen, investigates and is stabbed by West. Robertson's body is dumped in a carpet just outside the hotel while Gowen was dumped in the Everglades. Somewhere along the line, West developed a conscience so other two put vanilla gel on him to make him bearmeat.

I want to know why Robertson was not in the room with Gowen while she was performing. I thought that was the purpose of bodyguard for a stripper on call - to protect her.

Went on to the CSI:NY episode "Heart of Glass". A beautiful woman lies dead in a bathtub. Her head injury was serious enough to kill her and although there is a bullet in the water, she has no entry or exit wounds. The only clues are muffled gunshots, a scream and a wife upstairs with a headache.

Turns out the husband upstairs tried to kill his sleeping wife, using a pillow as a silencer. One barely got into his wife's brain and all she has is a headache. The other went through the floor, shorting wiring in the ceiling vent. The bathtub victim touched the vent and got electrocuted.

In the other plot, a record mogul is stabbed with broken glass as his aquarium is broken. His sister, who lives with him, says the assailant is 5 foot-6 blonde she'd never seen before. That broad description fits two of his recent visitors as well as the sister herself. Turn out the sister was suffering from a rare brain syndrome, acquired in a recent car accident, where she failed to recognize herself in a mirror. So she killed her brother, trying to save him from her own reflection.

In addition, Bonasera cuts herself on glass that has been contaminated with the victim's blood. He had AIDS and she must undergo a rigorous antiviral regiment, although we don't know at this point whether she has been infected.

Two-run hits by Beltran, Wright in 12th lead Mets over Nats. I don't get worked up about the extra-inning loss, just about Cordero's blown save. Williams pitched six scoreless innings albeit with five walks,

April 27

Nationals end first-inning drought, hold off Mets at home. The Nats finally scored in the first inning on a three-run homer by Kearns. Chico lasted 5 1/3 innings and Cordero actually had a 1-2-3 inning for the save. The run providing the margin of victory was delivered by Church in the fifth, but he ended the inning trying to stretch the single into a double.

April 26

Hill, Young team up to help Nationals cool off Phillies. Would anyone have guessed that at this point in the season the Yankees would have used 9 starting pitchers already and the Nats are still on their original 5? The Nats rotation still sucks, but I’m surprised no one’s gone to the DL or been sent to Columbus by now.

Da Meat Hook hit the homer that would technically be the game-winning RBI under the old rules. Shawn Hill cruised, allowing a home run to Rowand in the 8th, but got pulled after walking Victorino in the 9th. Cordero again gave Acta and the fans ulcers by allowing one run score. However, he hung to strike out Helms to end the game.

Finished off with the Bones episode "The Man in the Mansion". Terry Bancroft is found dead in his DC mansion, dead for several days. He was first stabbed in the neck, then left on the floor for until he was later tied up and stabbed several more times.

Terry was a volunteer at an Anacostia youth center. The director, Robert Frazier, saw Terry take some drugs from Julio, one of the kids at the center. Julio's body is later found underneath a bridge with a bullet through his brain, but he was killed before Terry. Hodgins finds muskrat hair in Terry's throat that came from the lining in Frazier's leather jacket. However, Hodgins tampered with evidence because he used to be engaged to Terry's wife Clarissa. The team has to find evidence linking Frazier to the murder that Hodgins didn't find.

While Terry lay on the floor, a fungus got into his body that came from Frazier's blood, which is the crucial evidence needed. All evidence Hodgins processed was thrown out, but wouldn't evidence the Jeffersonian found be compromised because they are Hodgins' co-workers? Apparently youth center directors are very dangerous people. It's a wonder parents send their kids there at all.

April 25

Utley's productive bat leads Phillies to fifth straight win. Lately, John Patterson has earned the epithet "delicate flower" in the Natosphere. Tonight, he allowed a two-run homer to Ryan Howard. Zimmerman, Kearns and Schneider all doubled.

April 24

Phillies 6, Nationals 3. Bergmann went 6 innings but Rivera blew the lead. My Ka-Bouy had a rough eighth inning, allowing three runs.

April 23

I wonder if the Cameron Crazies will refrain from tasteless taunts when Seth Greenberg's boys come to visit the next season. That would be ironic since Cho's diatribe was partially directed at rich kids with their Mercedes and trust funds.

April 22

TRASHionals was won by the Mike Keenan Employment Agency.

I was not penalizing teams that interrupted audio questions during the audio portion, only during the read section. That was how the rule was applied when College Bowl was on radio. It seems other rooms where counting that as a neg 5. I think that giving the other team the full audio to hear is enough of a penalty that the first team doesn't need to be penalized further.

Uggla homers twice, drives in six as Marlins batter Nats. For the first time the Nats allow double digits. In the 9th, Zimmerman made it look close with the fourth grand slam homer in new Nats history.

Church was removed in the second inning for not running out a grounder. I was convinced he'd been traded.

Watched the Criminal Minds episode "Profiler Profiled". Morgan goes home to Chicago for his mother's birthday. He visits a mysterious grave and his old youth center. One of the young athletes he saw there turns up dead. Detective Stan Gordinski arrests Morgan the boy's murder.

When the BAU team gets to Chicago, Gordinski says he gave the case files to Gideon for a routine consultation. The profile came back to Morgan as a suspect. Garcia discovers Morgan had juvenile assault records that were expunged when he turned 18. I have a hard time believing Hotchner as his supervisor did not know this.

It isn't too hard to figure out Morgan was hiding episodes of child sexual abuse at the hands of youth center director Carl Buford. He was the one who had committed the series of murders going back to when Morgan was 15. Back then, Derek found a young boy's unidentified body and rounded up a collection to get a headstone for him - although his name is never found. This is the grave Morgan returns to every year.

Morgan confronts Buford at the youth center. Gordinski and his partner Dennison are in the shadows to arrest Buford.

April 21

I read for TRASHionals which included both audio questions on CD and visual questions on paper. Some interesting questions and incidents:

Marlins 9, Nationals 3. I got to my car and tuned in just as Chico threw his ridiculous pitch that ended up over the Marlins dugout. He didn't make it through five innings and allowed 13 baserunners. Although Speigner and Rivera allowed no runs, Wagner gave up four.

Watched the Numb3rs episode "Democracy". Rachel Lawton, a statistics professor friend of Charlie's, gives him a list of names. She says three of them have died mysteriously and the rest may be soon be dead including her. Rachel turns up dead of an apparent accidental overdose.

These mysterious deaths all seem to be linked to retired hedge fund manager J. Everett Tuttle who engineered the election of Jason Brasher as a Los Angeles County Commissioner. The people dying all had some connection as pollsters, demographers, mathematicians or computer techs. One guy refuses FBI protection and has his car blown up.

One woman agrees to turn state's evidence and as she's being moved to a safehouse, the FBI gets ambushed. However, it's a ruse as the woman is actually Megan. The man who hired the assassins takes the fall and does not implicate Tuttle. Charlie publishes his findings in an academic journal and the mainstream press picks it up. They begin to put pressure to investigate Tuttle, which is how the episode ends.

Oswald Kittner returns as Mildred tries to get him to apply to CalSci. He discusses the "conspiracy" to kill John F. Kennedy and it's funny to hear somebody named Oswald discuss it.

It's never clear what Tuttle's real agenda is. He's not overwhelmingly the richest man in the world and there's no telling whether another wealthy man could counteract him. Also, it's more likely for the richest people, not even acting in concert to advance the interests in government. There's no need to kill anybody, just control the media and pay off Congress.

April 20

Went to College Park Lanes to hang out with TRASHionals players and officials. I finally met Julie Stalhut who went to Harvard when I played College Bowl, but didn't play until she went to Western Michigan.

All the lanes were duckpins which is a shock if you're not from a part of the country that has them. David Bykowski kept trying to bounce the ball off both gutter guards and still knock down some pins. I don't think he ever succeeded.

I also found out the University of Maryland won their first quizbowl championship in 26 years, the NAQT Division II title. Division II teams consist entirely of undergraduates who have played in no more than one Section Tournament and no National Tournaments before this year, so it's sort of a JV championship.

When I went into the bowling alley the Nats had a comfortable 5-0 lead over the Marlins. I was dismayed to hear the game still going on when I got to my car. On the drive home I heard Doyle get caught stealing on a busted hit and run and Fick not run to first to a bunt, resulting in a double play. I was already home in the top of the 14th when Doyle drove the Sacred Cow on a hot shot off Jacobs.

Along the way, the Chief blew another save and Hill got injured getting caught in a third-to-home rundown. At lease he wasn't suspended for using performance enhancing drugs.

April 19

The last thing Phillie fans need to hear is that Ryan Howard injured his quad last night. Currently they're 1.5 games behind their Pythagorean projection and scoring 9 runs less than their runs created estimate would indicate. By comparison, the Nats are playing about a game above their heads and also scoring 9 runs less than their runs created estimate. So while Washington is lucky overall, there's room for the good fortune of situational hitting to even out. As phar as the Phils, although I expect a Nats victory today, I hope the Phillie bats stay quiet one more game.

Phillies squeeze out win against Nationals. I honestly thought there was going to be a sweep one way or the other. Either Charlie's tirade would whip up the Phillies or the team would suffer a complete meltdown.

It turns out John Patterson is not the ace we thought he was. He hasn't pitched well since this masterpiece in Auguts 2005. Da Meat Hook and Jeri Lynn doubled in the 9th to make the game look close.

Went on the CSI episode "Fallen Idols". The episode starts with a Grissom voice-over about pictures stealing your soul over slow-motion of a star basketball player as he hits the buzzer beater for a too-white team. The next morning, on Saturday, is Grissom as asked to investigate the disappearance of Ryan Lansco and his cheerleader girlfriend Megan Cooper.

He finds blood in Ryan's van's parking space and arterial spray on the sharp part of a tackling sled. A shed holding strength training equipment may have been the sight for bondage sex. The crime scene unit expands their search further, over the football field, that looks way too nice for basketball season.

Along a little-traveled nearby road, the police find Megan's sneakers and evidence of a hit and run. In the grass, they also find Megan barely alive. Ryan's van is found with a bloody, but empty sleeping bag in the back. Megan's best friend Sheila is brought in for questioning and she's listless and unresponsive.

Catherine finds public lice in the sleeping bag and Sheila turns up dead from a cerebral hemorrage. Al says she was hit in the head with heavy object several hours ago and swallowed the memory card from a camera. It turns out Charlie, a male cheerleader in love with Megan, conspired with Sheila to bind and videorecord Ryan confessing to giving girls pubic lice. However, Ryan escaped and in the commotion, he threw the camera at Sheila's and she accidentally swallowed the memory chip. Megan pushed Ryan against the sled, killing him.

Also, Ms. Kenter, the photography teacher, was having an affair with Ryan. She hit Megan with her car. Ms. Kenter took Ryan's body and arranged in it a bizarre tableau in her studio. She ended up taking an overdose with her arms wrapped around him.

Watched bits of the Mets against the Marlins. The announcers made a big deal of Fish starter Rick Vanden Hurk, perhaps the first great Dutch pitcher since Bert Blyleven. The closed-captioning kept calling El Duque "El Douche".

For the purpose of promoting this weekend's games against the Nats, Austin Kearns is Washington's marquee player. Cheap Trick will play after Saturday's game which will make for a handy ready-made headline. Cabrera came out of the game and is day-to-day for the Nats series. Then again the Nats couldn't beat Philadelphia without Ryan Howard.

April 18

Casto went back to Columbus and Mike Restovich comes up. Charlie Manuel had a meltdown. Either the Phillies will regroup and kick the Nats' collective butt tonight and tomorrow or we'll see historic collapse as the Nats get more comfortable in fourth place.

Phillies' struggles continue as they fall to Nationals in 13 innings. The Nats led 4-1 in the third, starting to make this game look easy. Then in the seventh, Bergmann allowed hits to Burrell and Rowand. Rivera came in to relieve, but allowed both to score.

Cordero blew the one-run lead in the 9th and the game went to in extra-innings. Four extra innings. In the 12th with Victorina on first, the infield went into a shift for Ryan Howard. He grounded to Belliard for a 4-5-3 double play. Zimmerman did an excellent job on the pivot. FLop hit a sac fly in the 13th to drive in Doyle.

April 17

The shooter at Virginia Tech has been identified and he wrote some disturbing plays for his creative writing class. I hope this doesn't result in arrests for the next kid who fancies himself the next Steven King or Quentin Tarantino.

Smoltz on brink of passing Cy Young; Braves down Nationals. That headline is for career strikeouts. The Nats wore Virginia Tech caps in the field. Williams did not pitch well, but it was primarily through allowing hits, not walks.

Not a good night for fielding. Several grounders shot by FLop. The Braves committed three errors and nearly gave the ballgame away.

April 16

The Baby Name Wizard Blog posits the next trend in masculine names will have the suffix "-man". Examples on the list include Cashman and Tillman. The former might be a favorite for Yankee Dads. I just don't see statheads calling their sons Beane and Bowden as a first name is a total non-starter.

Nationals Power decides that Bob Matthews doesn't like the Nats. The provocative headline is Nationals one of the worst teams ever, but the money lines turn out to be more measured:

The 2007 Washington Nationals have a chance to be one of baseball's all-time bad baseball teams...

The 2007 Washington Nationals have the potential to join this dubious company.

Of course, the key qualifiers are "have a chance" and "have the potential". You know what? The 2007 Nationals have the chance to win 116 games. They've only lost 9 games which leaves 37 more games to lose. Will that happen? Heck no. But there's a chance.

Also, the 2007 Nationals have the potential to win the World Series. They haven't been mathematically eliminated so of course they have the potential. Diamond Mind projects a 6.5% chance of the Nats making the playoffs which is better odds than winning the lottery. I think any win prediction above 75 wins is pure fanboy delusion, but right now 100 wins and the World Series are theoretically possible.

Nats beat Braves for first winning streak of season. Chico didn't look any better than the last time, but lucked out allowing only one run despite four hits and five walks. The big hits were a single by Zimmerman and two doubles by Young. With the Phillies idle, the Nats nose into fourth place by percentage points.

April 15

Both the Nats and Orioles were rained out so I started with an hour of the White Sox and Indians. Harrelson and Jackson were gushing over media favorite Darren Erstad as he caught a foul ball. They immediately tried to spin a ridiculous attempt to start a 3-6-3 double play which resulted with the ball in left field. I was more impressed with Ozuna being alert enough to keep Peralta at second.

I went over to the Devil Rays and Twins. Brendan Harris hit his second home run of the season which, if he were on the Nats, would be good enough for second in homers in Washington, just behind the Sacred Cow. After that was over I got to the Yankees-Athletics game in time to see the Scutero walk-off homer.

Watched Cold Case episode "A Dollar, a Dream". In the fall of 1999, Marlene Bradford is living out of her station wagon with her two daughters, aged 9 and 14. In 2007, her body is dragged out of a pond from said vehicle.

The family lost their home when the father died of cancer. Marlene was working in a small grocery store and the owner, Mr. Patel, gave him his .38 to protect herself. The car was regularly located in a park where the family befriended Vincent Hopper, a divorced husband who still believed he could get his family back and buy his son a baseball glove, although that was many years back.

Hopper regularly bought lottery tickets, hoping to cash in big with a million bucks. He gave Marlene a scratch-off ticket, wanting a 50% cut as a finders fee. It was a $25 dollar winner, but when she gave him $12.50, he refused to believe it wasn't worth much more. Looking for the rest of the money, Hopper grabbed her gun and shot Marlene.

April 14

Keith Law says the Nats will have 100 losses "easily". Mike Golic also believes the Nats will be "historically bad". We'll find out at the end of the season.

The Bog asked for a translation of our favorite Korean cartoonist.

It's actually a bit of a let down.

The caption says, "WAS, why did you go there?"

Tour Guide, "This is the White House back door."

Bowden, "Wait, I shouldn't be doing this at this moment." Less literally he's saying, "What am I doing here when I've got things to attend to."

...I know. Total let down.

And the Dmitri Young cartoon:

My Korean is a bit rusty, but here is how I see it. The "big boys" are running away from the disastrous, pathetic baseball "babies" as fast as possible (the six repeating characters are the sound of footsteps). Rejected, Meat Hook is asking the other babies (Marlins, Giants, Rockies), "Why don't we play together?" Aghast (and insulted that the lowly Nats would think themselves that good), the Marlins say "I don't want to!!"

At the Hardball Times, John Brattain makes the case for Saduharu Oh and independent minor league players for the Hall of Fame. At the very least, I've always agreed with the Oh in the Hall argument. It's the counterargument to denying Rookie of the Year Awards to Nomo, Ichiro and Dice-K, because they aren't true rookies.

If the Japanese Leagues are major league, then their players should be in the Hall of Fame. Negro Leaguers are in the Hall of Fame, therefore those leagues were major. Since they had already played in the majors, Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe shouldn't have been eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award. It gets silly. Negro Leaguers and Japanese Leaguers hadn't played in the National or American League, so they should be able to get a Rookie of the Year Award.

In yesterday's chat, Tom Boswell had some thoughts to ponder, or at least to outrage:

I'm always amazed that, in a town that didn't have baseball for 33 years, there would [be] any resistance at all to a Baseball Maniac like Bowden who just drips The Game.

I'll put aside too much information revealed by anything dripping from Jim Bowden. This is typical condescending Boswell. He'd been the renowned baseball writer in a town without baseball, so when a team returned he assumed he'd be an undisputed authority.

But there were plenty of knowledgeable baseball fans in Washington already, some former Orioles fans, others fans of the Yankees and other teams. Certainly, some of those fans can claim to have been created by the writing of Boswell himself. The number of Nationals blogs is just below those of teams with a national fanbase and much larger than you would expect for a team in its third season. These are the people who have seen Bowden's work in the past. they haven't been hiding in a fallout shelter for 33 seasons, waiting to drink in knowledge from Mount Boswell.

One of the knocks, "He's a salesman and a self-promoter." Well, the Nats need some selling and some promoting.

The Nats need selling and promoting, not Jim Bowden.

Boswell is one of those who advocated for an innings-eater as a insurance policy in case "The Plan" didn't work.

"Because you SHOULD," I said. "EVERY insurance policy is a waste of money if there is no catastrophe. You're only glab you "wasted" the money on it if the 'worst' happens.

I used to agree with Boswell, until I read Beyond the Box Score which said that Bowden was doing just what statheads have been advocating for years - don't overpay for replacement level pitching. So I'd like to see this experiment succeed. Boswell is a bit disingenuous with the term "insurance" for an innings eater. When you buy an insurance policy and the worst happens, you get paid. There's no guarantee the innings eater himself won't get hurt.

There's also a comment ending the chat that is so much in the style of certain political rhetoric, I was surprised to not find such catchphrases as "Bloggers want 'The Plan' to fail", "Why do these 'fans' hate the Nationals?" and "Why do they hate winning?"

Hill handcuffs Mets while Nats' batters rough up El Duque. Hill went seven innings - seven innings! And Cordero had to make us nervous despite a four run lead.

Continuing with the covering the base strategy employed by Belliard last night, Schneider got Beltran out by simply hugging home plate. I don't think he ever actually tagged Beltran, but umpire Mike Winters decided that was sufficient to call Carlos out.

Winters got himself into some controversy in the 6th when Church homered, Schneider singled and Doyle hit a two-tun homer. El Duque hit Shawn Hill and Winters immediately threw out Hernandez. Orlando appeared to raise his hand in apology and Sutton took his side.

Wright had a bit of brain cramp with Schneider on third, Doyle on second with two out. FLop hit a slow grounder and instead of throwing to first, he chased Snelling back to second and tagged him out. That enabled Schneider to score. If Wright had thrown FLop out at first, Schneider's run wouldn't have counted. In the gamer, Wright says he thought he couldn't have thrown FLop in time at first. Or maybe he just thinks too much.

Watched the CSI: Miami episode "Broken Home". Babysitter Heather Crowley hears a pounding on the door and opens to it to find her father Edward, bloodied and beaten, falling to the floor dead. The Crowleys live next door to the Montavos, the family that Heather was babysitting for.

In the morning, Tripp goes to the back and finds the mother, Kimberly Crowley, stabbed in the neck with a garden tool. Boa Vista is fixated on the housefly in Edward's wound track - its torso has been pulverized as if it hit with tremendous force. Delko makes a crucial connection of this fly, which hit the motorcycle helmet at high speed of Heather's boyfriend Zach Griffith. The sexual assault kit on Kimberly revealed surprising semen.

Edward discovered Zach was having an affair with his wife. Zach whacked Edward, then Heather found out about the affair. In anger, she killed her mother.

Meanwhile, the Montavos had gone to a party, then blacked out, awakening in their car the next morning. The fingerprints of neighbor Dr. Michael Lasker appears on the Montavos' window. He admits to drugging the Montavos' drinks to keep them out of commission so that he could get to their house and retrieve a 1969 Mets baseball Lasker believes they stole.

A search of the Montavos' home reveals a stash of stolen goods in a floor vent, taken by their kleptomaniac son Justin from the neighborhood homes. The only exception is a bracelet that was reported stolen the previous month by Amelia Clarke of Golden Beach. She was a cancer patient under the care of Dr. Lasker.

He claims Mrs. Clarke gave the bracelet to him, but his daughter Lucille said she reported it stolen. Lasker has a string of mysterious deaths and malpractice suits in several states and the police suspect he might be a serial killer. Mrs. Clarke's body is exhumed and reveals evidence of a drug that can mimic respiratory failure.

Finished off with the CSI:NY episode "Some Buried Bones". A woman goes from store to store, burning off security tags with a small blowtorch, stealing clothes until she reaches Maddox where security guard Jeff Zegers follows her into the dressing room. A shot is fired, the security guard is dead and the women in the dressing room scatter.

The security camera shows the shoplifter wearing reflective clothing making her appear as a ghost. The big break comes when the security camera from another store shows her switching a real ring for a fake ring in her mouth. The fake ring bears her DNA. Although she isn't in the system, it does show an elevated level of propranol, a high blood pressure medication. There was a recent medical test where propranol was used for sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder and one of the New York City subjects fits the description of the shoplifter - Ava Brandt.

Brandt isn't home when the police enter her apartment, but they do find her next target on a PDA. Bonasera and Messner apprehend her on the street where Brandt is posing as a pregnant woman. She is played by pop star Nelly Furtado and tells her story that she was a Kansas City dental assistant. Brandt escaped an abusive husband with only the clothes on her back and discovered she was good at shoplifting.

But the murderer of the security guard was elsewhere. In the confusion at Maddox, Brandt had walked off with a $25,000 purse, but didn't notice the RFID reader inside. Clerk Marisa Richardson and maintenance man Chris Campbell used it to read the credit card numbers of customers without their even knowing. Zegers discovered the scam and wanted in on it. Richardson told Zegers to meet Campbell in the dressing room where the maintenance man shot him.

In the other plot, Chelsea University student Brian Miller is found dead in a Queens hedge maze, stabbed in the neck with an absinthe spoon. Reed Garrett, the son Taylor's wife had given up for adoption, visits Mac and says that Miller was investigating a secret society called Kings and Shadows for the campus newspaper. Garrett himself is investigating students taking exams for other students.

Someone enters Garrett's room and beats him up, warning him not to print his story. Miller was in fact investigating Kings and Shadows, but also taking exams for two students. That night, Miller wanted out of the society and the departure ceremony involved being drugged with absinthe, beaten by the other members, then left to find the way out alone.

Miller invited Eddie Williams to help get him out of the maze. Williams was a pre-med student and roommate Miller took exams for. He dressed as a Kings and Shadows member and stabbed Brian in the neck with the absinthe spoon. Williams was hoping to take advantage of the grieving clause with the death of his roommate, get straight A's for the semester and blame it on the secret society.

April 13

Nats can't hold on to early lead, falter to Mets. The streak of not blowing a lead failed. However, Patterson survived into the sixth inning. He'd only thrown 76 pitches. I would have let him go longer. Another bad night for Wagner, but I can handle a one-run loss.

Snelling threw out Delgado trying to stretch a single into a double. Belliard effectively lay on second base, preventing Delgado from touching it. I don't remember if he actually tagged him, but that was good enough for the umpire. I think you can block a base if you have the ball.

April 12

Nats not only lead in game, but snap six-game losing streak. So far the bullpen has been perfect in preserving a lead, providing there's actually a lead. And it was a shutout, too.

Afterwards, watching Ray Knight is like fingernails on chalkboard. He's nothing but a stream of cliches. Contrast this to Don Sutton from whom I seem to learn things. I don't like Eric Young on Baseball Tonight. He hasn't provided much insight, either. However, both he and Kruk know there's a decent amount of offense on the Nats to not be historically bad.

Over in the Devil Rays game, Carl Crawford hit what he thought was a triple, but both he and Ben Zobrist ended up on third base. When Zobrist wandered home and got tagged out, Crawford stupidly tried to go back to second. He should have just stayed on first and the Rays would have had a runner on third and one out with the game tied. Instead, the bases were empty with two out and Morenau won the game with a homer in the bottom of the ninth.

April 11

Braves 8, Nationals 3. Jerome Williams survived five innings. Unfortunately it was the turn for Wagner and Rauch to have lousy performances.

April 10

Hudson dominates, Francouer explodes as Braves blank Nats. Chico looked really good, until he threw a strike to Jeff Francouer. Maybe Hudson was just too perfect tonight, and there was no way the Nats would have won. Take away a few bad pitches and the Ray King meltdown, it doesn't look so bad.

April 9

The Nats didn't lose today because they didn't play. I found a picture of the Australian Cal Ripken League Champion visiting RFK last August. Lore Sjöberg ponders the principle of carbon offsets applied to other fields. If the only the Nats could pay another team in suck offsets. Of course, if somebody had the money, it would be better spent on a starting pitcher that can get out of the 5th inning.

April 8

Diamondbacks 3, Nationals 1. Jesus Flores hit a foul ball that landed in a woman's hood. Today Teddy's excuse was being distracted by the Easter Bunny. Chris Young left the game after pulling up lame running out a single and chasing after a single, the slacker. Ryan Church may have hurt himself chasing Hairston's triple, but he stayed in the game. This wouldn't be so bad if all the losses were like this. Unfortunately, this is arguably their best game of the year.

Ronnie BelliardApril 7

Today is the birthday of Ronnie Belliard. Currently the starting second baseman while Cristian Guzman is on the disabled list, he made the 2004 All-Star Game with the Indians.

Watched the Criminal Minds episode "Ashes and Dust". A serial arsonist has struck San Francisco. Unlike the standard profile, a first responder who likes to look at fire and pose as the hero, this one has taken to murder, trapping families inside their own home and dressing in a firesuit so he can watch them die.

Garcia makes a crucial breakthrough when she discovers the fathers in the victim families were all executives of companies with leaking underground storage tanks. Evan Abby, the head of an eco-terrorist group that posted the offending toxic waste companies online, is shown the results of the latest arson. He appears shaken, but Hotchner notes he's hiding something.

Abby calls a meeting at his house to disband the group while Prentiss and Hotchner photograph the members as they leave. The unsub is Vincent Stiles, a recently divorced pharmaceutical sales representative who drives a company issue 1999 gold Taurus to stalk his victims. Incensed at being characterized as a coward at the meeting, he molotov cocktails a random guy in a suit talking on his cellphone.

Leukemia is killing Abby from years of exposure to benzene. He is particularly disturbed at the recent re-zoning of a benzene waste site for an elementary school. Abby identifies Stiles as the likely arsonist, but tips Stiles off so he is not home when the FBI arrives.

Abby meets with Stiles to apologize for calling him a coward and enlists his help in burning down the aforementioned benzene tank. At the site, Stiles and Abby douse the benzene facility with kerosene. Stiles says that with the speed benzene burns, he can easily escape. Abby says benzene will burn hotter than Stiles' firesuit can protect. Abby lights his lighter and burns them both.

Webb weaves masterpiece as D-Backs drop Nats. John Patterson is supposed to be the ace, but he doesn't look any better than the other four starters. The Nats only run came on an Austin Kearns home run that was really a foul ball.

April 6

The Hardball Times has an article entitled "Who Are These Guys?" for the non-Natmosphere.

Nothing like a 5-12, 4.94 season from a #2 starter to get the Washington fans excited about their hometown team.

The Eddie Brooks League has reconstituted itself as the Maryland Collegiate Baseball League. The Gaithersburg team now has a nickname - the Giants - and the MCBL will play ten games against Clark Griffith League teams.

Watched the Numb3rs episode "One Hour". Eleven-year-old Jo Santiago, son of Latin Hip-Hop mogul Che Lobo Santiago is kidnapped while delivering newspapers. Of the two bodyguards following the boy, one is killed and the other is seriously wounded.

Meanwhile Don has a session with psychiatrist William Bradford who demands he turn off his cellphone. Megan and the rest of the team run the operation without him and the episode supposedly take only about an hour of real time.

Reeves brings in Amita and Charlie who use illegal hacking, that really makes no sense if you think about it hard enough, to figure out that the surviving bodyguard was involved in the kidnapping. Actually, both bodyguards were accomplices and expected a cut of the ransom, but once the shooting started, it was clear the kidnappers weren't giving the bodyguards anything.

Charlie examines Che Lobo's tax returns and Lobo's initial investment in his record company seems like a crucial dollar amount. Granger grills Che Lobo slightly and the music exec reveals that he and Nacio Duque robbed a drug stash with each taking $1.65 million. While Duque frittered his money away, Che Lobo built a recording empire. Now Duque is trying to build his money back up on the ransom.

Granger takes it upon himself to deliver the ransom and Duque leads him on a wild goose chase to lose FBI surveillance. Charlie figures out where the chase will end, directing the FBI to the Disney Concert Hall. Duque shoots his partner with a rifle from a concealed position, just as he delivers Jo to Granger. The FBI descends on Duque, capturing him.

Don reveals to Dr. Bradford that he's a control freak. He doesn't want to trust his team. He just wants them to trust him.

Went on the CSI episode "Monster in the Box". Grissom finally opens the miniature model that has been sitting on his desk for four weeks and finds a crime scene that is supposed to take place two days hence - possibly a poisoning of an unmarried woman.

Using takeout menus in the model and a little scouting, the police find the apartment which belongs to Dr. Barbara Tallman, a psychiatrist played by Kathleen Quinlan. Sofia and Brass set up a sting, putting police officer Kamen undercover to pose as Dr. Tallman while hidden cameras watch. Peyton Tallman, played by Harry Groener, arrives and is whisked away. After several hours, the killer doesn't show and Curtis goes to wake up Kamen only to discover she's dead. The modelmaker had set a timer to release powdered charcoal into the fireplace and close the flue, filling the apartment with carbon dioxide.

Dr. Tallman insists on returning to her condo and soons turns up dead. The killer smothered her with a pillow, knocked over a vase, replaced the vase, and left left his tears in her ear. Dr. Tallman was dying of Parkinson's Disease and asked her brother to kill her, hoping to blame the miniatures killer.

Ernie Dell's home video reveals a biological son, Lionel, who angrily shoved his birthday cake off the table at age 5. Lionel has since changed his name to Mitchell Douglas and has no biological siblings, but there was a steady stream of foster children through the house. When his father Ernie killed himself, he was hoping to end the investigation to protect one of those foster children. That killer remains at large at the end of the episode.

Finished off with the Bones episode "The Girl in the Gator". In anger, Booth shoots the clown from the top of an ice cream truck so he has to undergo pyschiatric examination from Dr. Gordon Wyatt, played by Stephen Fry, instead of going to Florida with Bernnan to investigate a human body eaten by a gator. Gee this sounds an awful lot like Don Eppes' hour with the shrink on Numb3rs.

Brennan partners with Tim Sullivan, a charming FBI agent who is constantly thinking about the wildly different things he could do once he leaves the bureau. The victim is Judy Dowd, a "Virginia State" student on spring break in South Florida and the only child of single father Bill Dowd. Judy got seriously drunk one night and her picture appears on the web site "".

Alex Winter plays Monte Gold, the proprietor of HSB. Bill Dowd asks Angela if Monte killed Judy. She is not permitted to say, but Bill takes that as yes and kills Monte himself.

The night Judy got blind drunk, she may have been raped on the HSB bus, then dumped while still ambulatory in the Everglades. There she was found by Reverend Isaac, an itinerant preacher played by French Stewart. Isaac follows the HSB bus, ostensibly to save souls, but he has a history of molesting teenage girls.

When Isaac picked up Judy, he made an unwelcome move on her and shoved her back onto his car's naked gearshift. This would have been only a minor injury, except that he left her to die disoriented in the Everglades to be eaten by an alligator.

Meanwhile Booth reaches an epiphany while building a barbeque and drinking tea with Dr. Wyatt. He doesn't know whether he let Howard Epps fall to his death on purpose or accidentally. Somehow this not knowing is really important to a control freak like Booth.

In between the above shows, I tried to check in on the Nats game that was supposed to be on MASN2, but all I got on Channel 671 was a blank screen and a notation to check on other channels. It wasn't on any other channels, but the Nats game appeared after we stopped watching ths shows. I'd like to thank the Nats fans who lit up the switchboards of MASN, DirectTV or whoever so I wouldn't have to.

Otherwise, the Nats offense was punchless except for the Ryan Church homer. I'm amazed Jerome Williams lasted six innings.

April 5

Something Awful has the MLB2K& patch notes for the Nationals:

Removed any traces of effort from team to mirror real life MLB experience.
Austin Kearns' ears no longer catch strong winds and propel him out of the stadium.
Removed sound file of Montreal snickering and counting piles of money.

Austin Kearns doesn't have ears anywhere in the ballpark of Jim Bullinger. As far as Montreal snickering, all they got was a piece of the Florida Marlins. It was a decent financial return, but not the $400 million profit split among the other 29 teams. I think these would be more appropriate patch fixes:

Diamondbacks 4, Nationals 3. A one-run loss doesn't sound so bad. Micah Bowie. Jesus Colome and Jon Rauch held Diamondbacks scoreless to give the Nats a chance to come back. There still remains Jason Bergmann giving up four runs in 3 2/3 innings.

April 4

J.C. Bradbury had a rather simple-minded explanation blaming expansion for the increased offense in baseball. Phil Birnbaum responds:

Here's what I think is happening: players realize that it's hard to hit major-league pitching. And they realize that top pitchers are getting better and better, and so harder and harder to hit against.

But they've also figured this out: if they get bigger and stronger, their stats will get better even if they don't do anything different at the plate. If they work out over the winter, and maybe even dabble in steroids, they can do exactly what they did before, but some of what used to be warning-track fly balls will now become home runs.

Put another way: it's hard to improve your hitting by changing your grip, or your batting stance, or the way you react to a breaking ball. But it's easy to improve your hitting by bulking up. So that's what players do.

And that means that a larger percentage of major-league players wind up being power hitters. In the past, the guy who hit .250 with only moderate power might get beat out of a job by the .290 slap hitter. Now, he works out over the winter, gets strong enough to turn 6 fly balls into home runs, and that makes him a .262 hitter with 20 home runs instead of 14. Now, it's the slap hitter who's out of a job.

More power hitters means more strikeouts. Even if Joe Pitcher doesn't get better at all, he finds that he's not facing contact hitters who strike out every 12 AB – he's facing power hitters who strike out every 6 AB. Bingo, more strikeouts. That would be true even if the overall quality of the batters he faces didn’t change – as long as their power profile changes.

Ninth-inning rally gives Nationals relief, Acta first win. I correctly predicted this would be the first win, but not like this. Matt Chico allowed six runs in four innings, but the bullpen held the Marlins off while the hitters chipped away at the lead. Ryan Church hit a three-run homer but I'm sure his detractors will note his OPS for 2007 is far behind n.000K whose only two major league home runs were at Coors Field.

I was away from the computer for the ninth inning and unaware that the ever-unreliable Jorge Julio was closing for Florida. Dmitri Young drove in the winning run with the bases loaded and one out. He hit a fly ball down the left field line that Josh Willingham allowed to drop fair. Willingham was hoping the ball would hit foul. If he caught it, he couldn't stop Casto from tagging up. All the recaps report it felt like a division-clinching game and it sure felt that way to the fans as well.

April 3

Diamond Mind optimistically predicts 75 wins and a fourth place finish for the Nats. This is the most wins predicted by any of the statistical models I've seen.

This morning, I've heard a lot of complains about the lack of merchandise at the souvenir stands at RFK and long lines at the food merchants. Now I'm the cheap sort of a guy who buys hot dogs and bottled water from the vendors outside the stadium instead of the overpriced fare inside. But as Dave said, as he lit a cigar with a hundred dollar bill,"I want to spend money. Please let me do it." Lernastan should be eagerly extracting cash from those who want to spend, rather than nickel and diming everybody else.

Florida's Olsen sharp on mound, on offense, too. From the full moon, I expected a blown save, not a blow-out. Hill did not pitch terribly, but the defense let him down. Chief didn't disappoint, allowing two runs in his inning of work.

Guadalajara AKA Chivas and DC United accomodated me by not scoring until after the Nats game was over. Moreno's bicycle kick goal should have been played continuously on SportsCenter. Granted that was mostly the fault of Team Bimbo goalie Luis Michel, but it was spectacular nontheless. Michel doesn't sound like a good Mexican name, more like a descendant of Maximilian.

Troy Perkins allowed the winning goal, letting past a shot he should have knocked over the crossbar. Rain was the not friend of this DC United team, unlike the ones that won two MLS Cups soaking wet in 1996-1997. Still, except for a couple of defensive lapses, United were in this game throughout. I hope they can keep it up for the MLS season.

April 2

I drove out of my garage before sunrise, saw the full moon and emitted an expletive. The Nats are 5-19 under the full moon.

The board on East Capital Street which used to feature Livan Hernandez and Freddie Adu now has Ryan Zimmerman and Ben Olsen - two University of Virginia players.

I hit the Yudite tailgate party hosted by misschatter with "SPRING BREAK! WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!". Hoping I don't forget anyone, I saw DCSportsChick, Nationals Institute of Health, Nationals Power, Nats Triple Play and William World News. The Bog Man himself, Dan Steinberg, came by with a Comcast camcorder man. He wanted to meet everybody and leaked the news that Teddy would make some entrance from the top of stadium. From Lot 8, we could see Teddy's head on the roof.

I stood on the ramp for the National Anthem and I discovered Adrian Fenty was a few feet in front of me. I saw the game with Simon Oliver Lockwood AKA Jonathan Fellows of the 1984 University of Chicago College Bowl team. You can read about the debacle here.

When n.000K got injured SOL could envision Kory Casto putting an ad to sublet an apartment in Columbusist. There is a new scoreboard feature where Honest Abe plays three-card monte with you. Some guys in front of us were heckling Thomas Jefferson with lines like,"Anti-Federalists Suck!" Sally Hemmings cracks come to mind everytime Tom poses for pictures with an African-American woman.

There's another game tomorrow, which will probably be a heartbreaker, before the winning streak begins in earnest on Wednesday.

Watched Cold Case episode "Shuffle, Ball Change". In 1984, 16-year-old Maurice Hall lives in the shadow of his older brother Grant, a wrestler headed for the Olympics. Both work in the grocery store run by their father, a widower. Apparently, Maurice has an affinity for dance, but he ends up missing. In 2007, his body is found in a landfill.

Maurice learned a little dance from his late mother and, like Alex from Flashdance, longs for professional training. He gets some secret instruction from Dr. Leroy, the teacher at the local dance school, in his father's grocery store.

One night, Grant and Maurice get into a fight, injuring Grant's knee, effectively ending his wrestling career. After Maurice is accepted to the dance school, he discovers Grant was faking his injury. He was so intimidated by the junior olympic wrestling academy, that he quit, but Grant couldn't let his father know he quit, so he faked the injury. Maurice tried to encourage Grant to keep trying, but Grant got angry and beat him to death with his crutches.

There's no way a tough, blue collar guy, proud of dropping out of high school, is going to name his son Maurice. Even though a death was involved, this was an upbeat, uplifting episode. In the other plot, Will Jeffries discovers who kiiled his wife in the hit and run and begins stalking him.

April 1

My entries in Ball-Wonk's Prognostication Challenge:

1. Nationals season record - 69-93.
2. Nationals NL East division place and games back (if any) - 5th place, 21 games back.
3. Date on which Nick Johnson first appears in a Nationals game - September 1.
4. Date on which Nick Johnson suffers season-ending injury - September 2.
5. Nationals team leader in pitching starts, with number of starts - Shawn Hill - 26 starts.
6. Total number of starting pitchers used -16.
7. Number of ejections for Manny Acta - 3.
8. Guzman's batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging average - .240/.279/.344.
9. Nationals home runs at RFK - 70.
10. Paid attendance for the July 21 game against Colorado at RFK (our only Fox national broadcast of 2007) = 20,014.

Watched the Criminal Minds episode "Jones". Just before, Hurricane Katrina hits, detective William LaMontagne, Sr. makes a break in a serial killer case and carves the word "Jones" on the wall of his house as he dies. Now the killer's murdering again after an eighteen-month hiatus. It's possible, he relocated to another city in the interim.

The killer has been sending a series of letters patterning himself after Jack the Ripper. Garcia finds a similar MO in Galveston during the hiatus. Morgan gets a sudden epiphany that the serial killer operates like a lionness, picking an antelope off from the herd, and realizes they are chasing a woman.

Another victim has a handstamp from a bar that was previously known as Jones. The local detective, William LaMontagne, Jr., explains that his father worked a rape back in 1998 with his partner J.R. "Smitty" Smith. Smitty refused to continue the investigation and LaMontagne, Sr. was transferred from sex crimes to homicide.

The serial killer is Sarah Danlinn, a former Tulane med student who was the victim of the rape. Because the authorities refused to prosecute, she is taking revenge on all men, picking them up and killing them. The FBI barge in on her as she's cutting up her last victim. LaMontagne, Jr. reveals who he is and gets her to drop her knife.

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