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December 2006 Archives

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December 31

Watched the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Leper". Monk goes to the dark corner of a bar to find Derek Bronson, a billionaire who disappeared seven years back in a ballooning accident. Bronson claims to have washed up west of Guam, but contracted leprosy. Monk runs out of the bar screaming.

Natalie takes Monk to see dermatologist Dr. Aaron Polanski who explains that leprosy is not contagious. Monk returns to the bar and Bronson says he will soon be declared legally dead. He wants Monk to break into the house and steal some letters Bronson had kept from a love affair. For this he will pay $25,000. Bronson chose Monk because he is not a thief who will blackmail him.

Natalie and Monk easily enter the Bronson compound using a key and security code that had not been changed in seven years. Bronson's wife Mandy catches them, says those letters mean nothing to her and she wants to meet with her husband. Derek and Mandy meet in a parking garage. Because he will soon be declared legally dead, Bronson's nephews will inherit the estate, but if Monk will testify that he is still alive, Mandy can keep the house. At this point, you wonder why Bronson doesn't just show himself at the hearing.

Monk goes to the probate hearing and testifies to the judge's satisfaction that Bronson is still alive. Then Mandy shoots a piano player in her home who resembles Derek, but without the leprosy. Stottlemeyer and Disher go to the apartment of the piano player who has been reported missing and find a makeup kit and a book on skin diseases.

This is where the audience figures out that Derek is really dead and the piano player was impersonating him so that Mandy could retain the estate. Monk realizes it when he remembers the alarm system was installed just three years ago. He deduces that Mandy killed the real Derek and dumped his body in the ocean from the balloon.

Disher visits Dr. Polanski and comes to a similar realization. Together, they ride to the Bronson mansion. Natalie and Monk get there first finding Mandy about to dump the piano player's body from a hot air balloon. She quickly runs back inside and Natalie and Monk get onboard. As the balloon flies away, Disher arrives to arrest Mandy. Since neither Monk nor Natalie know how to pilot a hot air balloon, they are dumped in a very rough landing. Monk has to grab the hand of Dr. Polanski, a childhood sufferer of leprosy, to keep falling off a cliff.

This show was presented first in black and white and then in color. Certainly the opening scenes had a film noir feel and the plot had the requisite twists. However, I thought it was a waste of the beautiful colors on the hot air balloon.

Went on to the Bones episode "Aliens in a Spaceship". Some kids find what they believe are two aliens in a spaceship, but are really the dead bodies of two teenage boys inside a beer vat. They were victims of the Grave Digger, a kidnapper who gives only one message, to deliver a ransom to an offshore account, followed by GPS coordinates of where the victims were buried. All ransom payments resulted in survivors, all failed ransom payments ended in death.

Brennan and Hodges are kidnapped and buried alive in Brennan's car. Hodges' corporation refuses to pay the ransom without proof of life. Along the way, they extend their survival time with Brennan performing emergency surgery and Hodges improvising lithium hydroxide scrubbers. With a laser pointer, digital camera and perfume, Hodges knows exactly where they are from the rocks they are buried in. He sends a brief text message powering the cellphone by hotwiring the car.

Zach eventually interprets the text messsage and pinpoints the open quarry where they are buried. Brennan rigs an explosion using the air bags to show their location to Booth.

December 30

Watched the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes episode "The Dancing Men". Mr. Hilton Cubitt's American wife Elsie is distraught by the stickfigures drawn in chalk on their property. Sherlock Holmes quickly figures out they are a simple substitution cipher.

Back in Chicago, Elsie was a member of a criminal family promised at a young age to Abe Slaney, the heir to another gangster organization in a sort of political marriage of the underworld. She escaped to England and got her husband to promise never to ask about her past life. The dancing men were a criminal code which indicated to her that Slaney had tracked her home.

Late one night, Slaney tries to take her back and she refuses, even trying to send him away with a roll of cash. Hilton interrupts the meeting, but is shot dead by Slaney. Sherlock Holmes lures Slaney back to the house by writing a message in the dancing men cipher.

December 29

Went to Jomskviking and Monarchist Party reunion at Tom Cooper's house. The only person the general public has heard of is MacArthur Fellowship winner Ken Catania. Otherwise, the pictures below won't mean much to you. Those who of you do know these folks can consult the alt text of the pictures.

There was tank parked in front of the house. Why? I don't know.MacArthur winner Ken Catania and his fiancee Lisa.
John Cooper and John BuckleyGina
Mr. and Mrs. Greymael AKA David VierlingDark Wolf (among other names) and Vicky
Chris, Linda and KenTom and Stacey
Thoralf (Peter) and Barchan (Greg)Beth and her husband John

December 28

Watched the Cold Case episode "The Key". In 1979, middle aged couples engage in spouse swapping, trading keys at random in a big bowl. Libby Bradley reluctantly agrees to such a swap and a few weeks later, she turns up stabbed to death in the woods. Will Jeffries was a rookie on the case and promised to find the killer to Libby's 16-year-old daughter Helena.

Today, Libby's coat is found along with keys belonging to the Huxleys. Libby went home with Bill Huxley that night and started an affair. She also struck up a friendship with Bill's teenaged son Jed. The son misinterprets their relationship and he accidentally kills her while observing a solar eclipse. Although if you check the February 1979 solar eclipse was visible over the northwest United States and Central Canada, but not Philadelphia.

December 27

Gerald Ford died last night, which means we get a day off next week. He supported abortion rights and gay rights and would be thrown out of the current Republican Party faster than a Chipper Jones homer off a Mike O'Connor hanging curve. He wanted to impeach former SEC Chairman William Douglas from the Supreme Court saying,"What, then, is an impeachable offense? The only honest answer is that an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."

Ford was also unhappy with Johnson's conduct of the Vietnam War,"It is President Johnson's war, because the president plays everything close to the vest. He has an unhealthy passion for secrecy."

He was born Leslie Lynch King, a fact known to every trivia fan along with the fact that Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe. Ford found out about his adoption the hard way:

In the custom of those years, he had not been told that he was an adopted child. He found out abruptly when his well-to-do father, on the way to Detroit to pick up a new Lincoln, dropped by the lunch counter where his son worked and told him.

Leslie King invited his son to spend the summer with him in Wyoming after he graduated from high school. Ford turned him down, but he was shocked by the discovery of his adoption.

As terHorst recounted in "Gerald Ford and the Future of the Presidency": "Inside Jerry Ford, the hurt was deep." He quoted Ford as saying: "I thought, 'Here I was, earning $2 a week and trying to get through school, my stepfather was having difficult times. Yet here was my real father, obviously doing quite well if he could pick up a new Lincoln.' "

December 26

Watched the Numb3rs episode "Hardball". A former major league star is making his way back to the bigs with the help of steroids, but is killed by a tainted overdose. Along the way, one fantasy baseball afficianado is killed and another is shot at. The man behind it is the player's agent who was afraid his client list might be exposed as steroid users. Apparently sabermetrics can determine whether a player is using steroids.

It's pretty difficult to believe sabermetrics can pinpoint steroid use when sabermetrics is being used to prove steroids are of no conclusive help. Larry mentions a 1993 paper that concludes Shoeless Joe Jackson was not on the take during the 1919 World Series. Having never seen the paper, I'll criticize it anyway. Certainly, hitting performance over an eight game series can be demonstrated to be consistent with performance over the previous regular season. In the same way, post-season performance is also consistent with regular season performance and not due to "clutch" or "chocking" characteristics in a player. However, it is entirely possible, Shoeless Joe tanked in key high leverage situations and played seriously in others in a manner consistent with his overall play. The Black Sox themselves admitted they played for real in certain games when the gamblers failed to make their promised payoff. Also, some of Shoeless Joe's errors were in the field and not necessarily captured by most sabermetrics.

Jay Baruchel does a great job playing Oswald Kittner, a sabermetrics savant. He had the awkwardness down cold.

Whitlock noted that one scene reminded her of Blade Runner. Just seconds later, Granger says the same thing. Then there's a minute of sucking up to executive producer Ridley Scott.

December 25

Merry Christmas.
Washington Senators and Washington Nationals ornaments

December 24

Christmas Eve is a time to be watching television. Watched the Everybody Hates Chris episode "Everybody Hates the Buddy System". Jason Alexander is Principal Edwards who pairs up Chris and Caruso on a field trip to the natural history museum. The Principal even tries a Vulcan mind meld to encourage Chris to put himself in Carusoís shoes.

At the museum, Caruso is in the cafeteria for an hour and in the gift shop for another hour where he assigns Chris to stand by the door as a decoy while he shoplifts items. They miss the bus and wind up wandering all over the city on the subway. When they finally return to Corleone Junior High, Chris learns Principal Edwards had agents all over the city trailing them. Chris was supposed to learn that the principal can be wrong.

Back home, Tanya takes Rochelleís earrings to school without permission and loses one of them. Drew gets a perfect score on his spelling test and wants a Wayne Gretzy hockey jersey. Julius gets him a ďGritskyĒ jersey with the number 98 on it.

Went on to the How I Met Your Mother episode "Atlantic City". Lily doesnít want to face Marshallís family again in a big wedding so they agree to elope to Atlantic City. They find out Atlantic City is not Las Vegas and there is a three day waiting period to get married. The judge wonít waive the waiting period, but there is a captain who will take them into international waters for $5000.

Marshall should have used his legal training or the Internet to discover that Rhode Island does not require a blood test or a waiting period. Barney plays an incomprehensible Chinese gambling game, similar to Fizzbin, that includes mahjong tiles, a vertical roulette wheel and selecting a jellybean from the fists of three beautiful women. However, onboard the boat, Lily realizes she must face Marshallís family and wants a real wedding after all.

To not overshadow the bride, Lily demands Robin change and she buys a bikini swimsuit coverup that turns Ted on so much, they have sex in the courthouse closet.

In the Criminal Minds episode "The Last Word", there are two serial killers operating in St. Louis. The Mill Creek Killer is a handsome man who lures women away, bludgeons them to death, then buries them with their face exposed in an isolated part of Mark Twain National Forest. He returns to fix their hair and make-up. The Hollow Man is a taxi driver who shoots prostitutes with hollow point bullets.

The two serial killers appear to have a rivalry, one-upping each other. The BAU describes it as a sibling rivalry, suggesting they are literal siblings. Since the face of the Hollow Man is not seen at first, Whitlock thought that perhaps they were the same person.

Reid makes the big break, noticing that the killers are communicating in the classified unders the names Holden and Sunny from The Catcher in the Rye. I donít know why the Hollow Man would identify himself with a 5-dollar hooker. Reid constructs a bogus classified ad, implying that the Hollow Man killed a woman and left her in Mark Twain National Forest as a gift for the Mill Creek Killer to find and make-up. The Mill Creek Killer is arrested as he is about to apply lipstick to the ďvictimĒ, who is actually another FBI agent.

The Mill Creek Killer wonít confess to the murder at first and Gideon admits to him that all they could charge him with was applying lipstick to a corpse. Suddenly that revelation panics the Mill Creek Killer and he confesses to the homicides on the condition that his urge to make up his victims is not revealed. We never find out why he is more embarassed to be carrying lipstick on him, than killing women.

Meanwhile, as the Mill Creek Killer is brought to the FBI St. Louis bureau amid massive publicity, the Hollow Man is jealous and strongarms his way past the security guards to the FBI offices. He is eventually overwhelmed by the agents as he looks into the eyes of the Mill Creek Killer.

Paget Brewster as agent Emily Prentiss is in this episode trying to talk her way onto the BAU. Why canít TV government employees file SF-171s like everybody else?

Finished off with the CSI:NY episode "Open and Shut". Supermodel Mandi Foster is chewing out hotel concierge Sara Jackson on the roof of the building. A few minutes later, Sara falls out of the grip of someoneís hand onto the spikes of a sculpture.

Mandi Foster is played by Jill Latiano who has appeared in a number of commercials, but in this role, she looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar in Patsy Stoneís hairdo. Certainly attractive, but far from supermodel status.

It turns out the tantrum was just a publicity stunt and Mandi, finding Saraís dead body first, snatches the digital video camera from Saraís hand, uploads the tantrum to the tabloids, then hurls the camera in the Hudson. The killer was Mandiís stylist Tess who tried to get the video camera from Sara, not knowing about the publicity stunt.

In the other plot, the police hear shots from a nearby apartment while processing the Jackson scene. The tearful Grace Tomason says she shot a man who was hitting her husband Daniel in the head with a hammer. From the beginning, we believe she hired Ron Blunt, the guy with the hammer to kill Daniel, then shot Blunt.

It turns out she bludgeoned her husband in the bathroom, rather than the kitchen and Blunt arrived to see the dead body, being totally innocent of the murder. Grace was hurried in her plot by Blunt arriving early for his frameup and the police already on the scene of another murder. Also, the video Sara took shows Grace moving around in her apartment before the shooting.

Nationals 2006 Christmas Card. It is a child's drawing of a girl and a snowman in a snowstorm. The snowman wears a scarf with the Curly W on it.December 23

Here's this year's Nationals Christmas card. It was the winner of a Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington contest and drawn by a member of the Germantown club. The sentiment is
"Curly Wishing you the Joy of the Season all year long."

Frankly, compared to last year's, this is kind of lame. The only baseball related element is the curly W on the snowman's scarf. The snowman doesn't even wear a baseball cap. If this is the Lerners' taste, it's disappointing.

December 22

A couple of cases where the comments are the funniest part of the posting. First, the case of a Chicago man who stole the identities of Jim Thome and Juan Pierre. The man in custody is named David Dright and you'd think he'd impersonate, I don't know, the star third baseman of the New York Mets. As one Primate notes there can be no pair of more different ballplayers than Thome and Pierre, other primates provide other, frequently politically incorrect, counterexamples.

Then there's this book targeted at children about David Eckstein. None of the user reviews are serious.

The coaches came up to me after the game and told me, "Son, you need to be more like David Eckstein. His sheer WILL would have forced the centerfielder to slip on the wet grass." I was confused by this, as it was an extremely dry day. Upon pointing this out to my coaches, they told me, "Son, Eckstein would find a way to make that grass wet." I have no idea how he would do that. It probably wasn't legal. So I read this book. It was GREAT, at first. I felt I was being instilled with grit, heart, hustle, and the ability to make outfielders slip on wet (or not wet) grass. I felt I was improving.

Actually, I think that the overall grititude has been expounded upon enough. Suffice it to say that if you were to run all the back issues of True Grit magazine through a grit sieve, throw out the pulp, keep the grit, and then add to that a can of grits, you would still have less grit than this book.

This book has so much will to win that I would like to give it 5 stars. However, I continue to reserve the 5-star rating exlusively for the actual David Eckstein, just in case he is ever productized and mass-produced.

I must say, I was quite disappointed with this book. While the David Eckstein heart was in full force, the level of grit was somewhat lacking. I also could have used a bit more hustle. Also, I'm not so sure why there were so many references to Holiday Inn. Remember at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch's heart grew and grew? It's because he was thinking of how David Eckstein makes centerfielders slip on wet grass. That's one thing I learned in this book.

I think it's great that a guy like David, who could be off doing many terrible things like many other terrible baseball guys do (drugs, hookers, rude behavior, and something called the "Dirty Sanchez", which can't be good with a name like that), is instead using his apparently very small fingers to type out an inspirational book for inspiring kids. I think that is just so cute.

He also won the MVP award for the World Series. Why? He is gritty, he knows how to win and he has tons of heart. Tons of heart. Kind of like this book. It is absolutely filled with heart. Bloody, pumping heart. Pump. What he does around the bases. Pump pump pump pump with those little stubby legs. He's so fast and so determined that he can cause mere mortals to slip and fall on wet patches of grass. How? With the mind-bending powers of his heart. Read this book and you too will know how to channel the amazing powers of a gritty, determined heart. Oh, and you could win a yellow Corvette.

December 21

Peter Nowak left DC United to be Bob Bradley's assistant with the US Men's National Team. Bradley would continue to be the coach for the Olympic team regardless of his status with the Senior National team. I'm hoping this is a good sign for Bradley. Nowak wouldn't leave DC without some stability under Bradley or perhaps the hope that Peter himself would get the National job.

Tom Soehn moves up to the head job at DC from his assistant post. The DCenters have commentary and all the puns.

December 20

From Why I voted YES for McGwire by By Bernie Miklasz:

Unlike many of my colleagues who now fashionably demonize McGwire less than a decade after fawning over his 70 home-run pyrotechnics and transforming him into a national hero, I refuse to be two-faced.

If a voting member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) held fire on the topic of McGwire and steroids in 1998, they surrendered the moral high ground on the debate over his Hall of Fame credentials.

If a voting member of the BBWAA chose to glorify McGwire in 1998, then they're being phonies if they condemn him now, because we had strong steroid suspicions in '98.

My "Yes" for McGwire is also a vote against blatant hypocrisy.

While Norman Fost is skeptical about the steroid ban:

Iím not sure the President is in any place to talk about sending the wrong message. He found 15 seconds to talk about steroids in the State of the Union address, but not one second to talk about tobacco and alcohol, which are proven to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans, year-in and year-out . . . The administration has no serious initiatives on any of that.

This is called hypocrisy. You have 400,000 deaths a year due to tobacco - 400,000 a year! You have tens of thousands of alcohol-related deaths, a substance heavily promoted by Major League Baseball. And you have virtually no deaths linked to steroids - maybe one, maybe two. The President and Congress and the press have virtually nothing to say about tobacco and alcohol, but lots to say about steroids. You canít take it seriously in terms of relevance to kidsí health....

Because youíre not going to make it any better. Itís hard to reduce to zero [steroid] deaths - itís somewhere close to zero already - but itís relatively easy to reduce thousands of the 400,000 tobacco-related deaths. Thereís only so much air time, and Iíd recommend politicians talk about the things that really do affect kidsí values and kidsí health.

As you know, Iím in favor of a complete prohibition on steroid use by kids. There are adverse health effects there that donít apply to adults, and kids canít make informed choices. However, if baseballís worried about sending a message to kids, Iím 100 times more concerned about a place called Miller Park, where they sell beer in industrial quantities. The League takes little notice of it, nor do they have penalties for players.

December 19

You can't get away from Ryan Zimmerman.

Cecil Travis died over the weekend at the age of 93. Farid has an appreciation. Bill James has Travis with 169 win shares. Through age 26, he is most similar to Billy Herman who finished with 298 win shares and is in the Hall of Fame, so one could argue that World War II hurt his career numbers.

Did you knw there's a Fantasy Sports Writers of America? It's organizational acronym is an anagram for the Science Fiction Writers of America. James Quintong is on the Board of Directors.

December 18

Okay. I'll admit it. Jim Bowden is not the worst GM in baseball. He's no worse than third worst, after Bill Bavasi and Wayne Krivsky who he fleeced in trades. Baseball America has a story on which GMs have the best tools. JimBow gets honorable mention in the tool of making trades. Trustworthiness is listed as a tool, although I'm sure Bowden would consider that a liability.

In the immediate aftermath of the announcement of the Vidro, the Mariners boards were ready to abandon ship for the Nats. I hope they've come to their sense. Even with Snelling, the Nats are not going to sniff .500, which the Seattle fans were expecting in the Pacific Northwest. I know at least once in 2007, I'm going to mistakenly say or type Snellings.

Larry BroadwayDecember 17

Today is the birthday of Larry Broadway. He went to Duke University and is engaged to Amanda Sinclair. Start combing for that registry. He turns 26 today and he's just got to be thrown into the majors or traded. Broadway will certainly be the first option if Nick Johnson is unavailable due to injury.

White Flint was surprisingly uncrowded for eight days before Christmas. The Nats store had the portcullis gate hanging halfway over the doorway and had no customers until I walked in. The only unique item seemed to be 9x16 photographs encased in flexible plastic that looked more like placemats. There were only three pictures - Opening Night at RFK in 2005, Zimmerman sliding, and Zimmerman batting. After that I went to the Knossos December Holiday Party at Mel Dickover's.

December 16

Shot two episodes of Silver Screen Test. Thanks to the crew of John Buckley, Michael Camillo, Craig Carter, Eric Newman, Andrea Lamphier, David Lorentz, Pam Mandel, James Osioyibo, Robin Schoen and Dick Terrill.

Watched the Numb3rs episode "Blackout". A series of power failures appears at first to be a union action against management, then an attempt to manipulate the electricity market, turns out to be a means for a Salvadoran drug cartel to kill an Armenian mobster about to turn state's evidence.

Ivan Tabakian had been laundering Salvadoran drug money through his race track. Now that he was about to squeal to the feds, his former business partners wanted him dead. The blackouts were all intended to drain the prison's backup generator of diesel fuel, requiring a tanker truck to make refueling delivery.

The Salvadorans make such a bogus delivery, using a tanker dry of fuel, but used to transport their own assassination squad. The FBI figure it out as Don, Megan, David and Colby are able to keep Tabakian alive, even though he is shot. At the end, Alan and Charlie ease Don through his breakup with the prosecutor by watching late night TV and you realize they're watching Taxi, Judd Hirsch's old show.

December 15

Put up the set for Silver Screen Test. Thanks to Jimmy Albert, John Buckley and Mike Camillo.

December 14

Jose Vidro is about to be traded to the Mariners for outfielder Chris Snelling and pitcher Emiliano Fruto with Seattle paying 3/4 of Vidro's salary. The Natosphere is ecstatic, the good ship Mariner is bummed.

Over at the Hardball Times, Jeff Sackman figures out what we've known all along - that the Nationals are going to be terrible next year. Well, actually he's optimistic in that he's preparing Nats fans for several years of 73 wins. I don't want several seasons of 73 wins, but if the Nationals win 73 games in 2007, the Braves, Mets and Phillies must have suffered a meltdown.

There was a report Tuesday night that Joe Gibbs had been seriously injured in a car accident. It wasn't true, but apparently some outlets went on the air with it.

Matt LeCroyDecember 13

Today is the birthday of Matt LeCroy and Kid Mohler. LeCroy didn't embarass himself as a hitter both in Minnesota and Washington. But he did embarass himself as catcher, making Frank Robinson cry when he allowed seven stolen bases and made two throwing errors in less than seven innings. Mohler played three games at second for the Senators on September 29-30, 1894. A left-handed thrower, he injured his right arm as a teenaged pitcher and switched over. Although the Kid only had a cup of coffee in the majors, he played over 2,800 games in the minors, all without a glove.

December 12

When the 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catchphrases was released, many of them were historical quotes, not sayings by fictional characters or television personalities. I think an overloooked catchphrase is "The Mother of All Battles" which is what Saddam Hussein promised when the United States eventually attacked in Operation Desert Storm. After that the ultimate superlative was to call something "The Mother of All..." That phrase was absorbed into the vernacular so quickly, very few people know or realize it was popularized by such a notorious character.

December 11

Today is a day to think about Washington players past. Brad Wilkerson may be released by Rangers, now that they've signed Kenny Lofton. Nats fans would love to have him back, but that would probably mean in the neighborhood of a two year contract for $10 million, which the Lerners aren't going to pay.

Freddy Adu was traded with Nick Rimando to Real Salt Lake. I never got to see Freddy play in person. I thought maybe his next team would be in the EPL at age 18 or 19. Nick's last memory for local fans was taunting stalkers. I wonder who the DC major allocation will be.

December 10

The doomsayers in the Natosphere are looking at a 2003 Tigeresque 43-win season next year. Doing some extremely fuzzy math, let's assume that the hitting is average (.500) and the pitching and defense are replacement level (.350). Average those two out and you get a .425, 69-win team. In reality, I think the hitting is a win or two less than average and the pitching or defense are more than a win or two above replacement, so the result is still close to 69 wins.

The reality will be that luck pushes in either direction and the Nats could easily post 75 or 63 wins with no real change in talent. I still think we're looking at a bad team, not the mediocre team I would like to see, but not a historically bad team.

December 9

Like everybody else, I've devised a bowl playoff system. There are 33 teams because there are 32 bowl games. If someone is willing to host, we shouldn't begrudge them their game. After all, the first response to a college football playoff is always,"It'll destroy the bowls." Well if they're part of the playoffs, we can't possibly be destroying them.

So I arranged the sites by regions, then worked backwards from the final down to the first round based on my perceived prestige of the bowl games. I also worked backwards in constructing the dates, making the final in the bye week preceding the Super Bowl. For the first and second rounds, there is a game every day.

Like the basketball tournament, there are four #1 seeds, going to Ohio State, Florida, Michigan and USC. I worked down this list to seed the teams. I put a team in a different region if there was a team from that conference already in that region. After that, I made sure there were only two teams per conference in a region. Down at the end, Houston, Central Michigan and Troy got in as conference champions even though they may not be among the top 33 teams. Finally, I replaced Clemson with Georgia Tech for winning their half of the ACC.

Then I arranged each regional in descending order, keeping teams from a the same conference in different halves of the regional. Do I known what I'm doing? Heck, no. I just like designing brackets.

Chris BookerDecember 8

Today is the birthday of Chris Booker. He appeared in ten games in September after coming over from Kansas City and allowed runs in only two games.

Just wanted to correct something from Brian Rostrum. In the year Cal State-Fresno won the title (just CBI then), there were a series of "regular season games" on the CBS Radio network. The teams that won three games in a row retired undefeated and automatically qualified for the national championship. I think there were only two or three three-time winners so they also chose the highest scoring two-time winners until there were eight qualifiers from radio. Then there were eight regional winners from eastern teams. If that region had a radio winner who was also the regional champion, then the second-place team went to the nationals also. Those sixteen teams played a single-elimination tournament at Marshall University in February/March and Washington University-St. Louis emerged as the winner. The remaining eight regional winners went to St. Louis in June for the right to play Washington University. Cal State-Fresno won the western section and defeated Wash U. CBI also added an all-star game between Cal-State Fresno, three guys that were there in St. Louis, and Townsend Reese from Maryland who CBI/ACU-I/Time Magazine/somebody flew in just for that game.

The following year, they chose a much more rational system of eight radio winners, fifteen regional winners and a wild card all in one place, in this case Marshall University again. The radio winners had a first round bye. It must have been more rational because we won it all.

In my last year as captain, there were the same qualifiers of eight radio, fifteen regional and a wild card. They held four super-regionals or sub-nationals which were double elimination. The top two teams from each of these tournaments then went to New York for a radio single-elimination final. That was won by North Carolina.

As far as the wild cards, we never believed they were randomly selected. I think Marshall got at least one because they hosted the national tournament. At least in the World Cup, everybody knows about the automatic berth for the host country.

Saul RiveraDecember 7

Today is the birthday of Saul Rivera. One of the bright spots for the 2006 Nats, he went 3-0 in 54 appearances. Rivera is with his fourth organization, drafted first by the Twins. He has also been in the and Mets and Brewers organizations and this is his second go-round with the Expos/Nationals.

The Devil Rays may play three games in Orlando. Okay, it's at Disney's Wide World of Sports which is technically in Lake Buena Vista. I guess the Yankees won't allow the Rays to damage Legends Field.

December 6

Today is the birthday of Tun Berger. Born John Henry Berger, he was a shortstop and catcher for the 1892 Senators.

December 5

In the last few days, the Mariners signed Jose Guillen. The look on Hargrove's face in that link screams,"I'm gonna kill Bavasi for saddling me with this headcase." They're not happy about the contract length in the Emerald City.

Svrluga prepares the Nats Sleeper Cell for the realization that Bowden may not sign any free agent pitchers at all. From Nationals Farm Authority, Brian says it would be worth it to sign a Type B innings-eater. It doesn't cost the signing team anything in draft choices and letting him go after a year results in a draft pick compensation created out of thin air.

There is one train of thought in the Collective that if the Nats are going to sink from 75 to 65 win territory, they might as well go all in and aim for 45 wins. That means trading everybody except Zimmerman. Non-blogger but frequent Yudachat poster Simon Oliver Lockwood said:

I think thereís a significant tipping point in terms of attendance at about 65-70 wins. Thatís because - given the home field advantage - thatís about the level where the home team comes close to a .500 winning percentage (actually about a .450 pct.) on average. Once the home team gets below a .450 home winning pct., the average fan no longer believes thereís a decent chance of seeing a win if he goes to the game. People are not going to go to the park just for the park experience more than once or twice. If the fans believe the team isnít trying to win (not the pennant, just ballgames) this year, they wonít go to games this year.

Getting to 75 wins actually matters to me, as does winning more games than the Orioles and staying out of last place. I'm willing to sign the Type B starters for above market rates if it's only one year. Otherwise, let the young batters play. Trot out the young pitchers from the bullpen. If they're 25, they're not young anymore, so throw those pitchers in the rotation and see if the stick. What the Nats don't need is an veteran batter. Toronto is welcome to Royce Clayton.

Joe CorbettDecember 4

Today is the birthday of Joe Corbett. He went 0-2 for the 1895 Senators. Corbett was the younger brother of heavyweight champ "Gentleman Jim" Corbett. He went 24-8 for the 1897 Baltimore Orioles, but in a contract dispute, quit to become a San Francisco sports writer before re-surfacing with the Los Angeles Angels of Los Angeles in 1903. Jim later coached the Santa Clara University baseball team.

December 3

Today is the birthday of Frank Shannon. On October 1, 1892, he played shortstop for the Senators. Ivy League Sports credits him as a former Harvard player although Baseball Reference doesn't. Shannon was a bantam 5 foot-3 who later played 31 games for the 1896 Louisville Colonels in his only other major league stint.

Watched the Bones episode "The Woman in the Sand". Brennan has been sent with Booth to Las Vegas to examine the skeletal remains of what is believed to be Mason Roberts, a federal prosecutor who disappeared in 2001. This is an FBI case which is why Gil Grissom is not working it.

While Brennan is examining Roberts' skeleon, she notices a vulture which leads her to the body of a woman who died in the last ten days. Roberts was killed with a baseball bat in what is assumed to be a mob hit. The woman is Billie Morgan who shows wounds that have re-healed, a sign of domestic abuse.

However, back in Washington, Cam concludes that Billie's injuries were from illegal "Fight Club" bouts. Brennan and Booth find the Fight Club with the help of former contender Joe Nolan. Once there at the club, Booth is knocked out by Walt Sugarman, an FBI agent deep under cover.

Further investigation reveals Billie was killed because she bet too much money on herself and needed to be made a lesson of. Sugarman arranges a bout with Booth, which Booth will throw, in order to keep Sugarman in the rotation and in position to make a future arrest. At the last moment, Sugarman is switched out for Monroe, a massive fighter very much larger than Booth. Brennan notices Monroe favoring certain parts of his body and gives Booth enough quick advice to defeat Monroe.

When Brennan approaches young Nick Arno for her winnings for betting on Booth, Nick says that he now owns Booth. At the Jeffersonian, they determine Billie Morgan was killed with a baseball bat, just like Mason Roberts. Outside the fight club, Nolan admits to having buried Roberts and Billie. He agrees to testify against "Sweet Pete" Arno, Nick's Dad and the mob boss who killed them both.

December 2

Went to the annual birthday party of world-famous media fan Martin Morse Wooster at O'Brien's Pit Barbecue. I got him a Nationals beer jersey on which I wrote a Post-It note that said,"You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. Have a beer." The card was also beer related. Among his other interesting gifts were an NSA mug and a can of haggis.

Watched the Criminal Minds episode "North Mammon". In the small Pennsylvania town of North Mammon, most of its citizens are at a pep rally for the football team headed for the state championship next week. The exception is three senior members of the girls soccer team who are spending the night together at one of their houses while the father is away on business in Philadelphia.

All three girls are kidnapped by a man who imprisons them in an unknown location, promising to free two if they choose which of them to kill. The mother of Polly, one of the girls, drives all the way down to Quantico to convince JJ, who is a distant friend of the family, to take the case. The clinching piece of evidence to the BAU is that both Polly and Kelly leave identical scripted messages to their families.

A pile of cigarette butts outside Brooke's home has DNA from Don Haas, the girls soccer coach who had an arrest for soliciting an underage prostitute in Pittsburgh dropped by Pete Chambers, Brooke's Dad. However, videotape shows Haas at the pep rally when the abductions took place. The girls' soccer uniforms are found in a dumpster at a motel where Pete Chambers had been staying for the past week, rather than Philadelphia like he claimed. Pete admits he has a monthly tryst there with a married man who can account for his whereabouts.

Back in their prison, Brooke is suffering from what would ordinarily be a bad cold if she had proper medical care. She believes Kelly is plotting to wait for her to die as her condition deteriorates. Kelly tells their abductor they have decided and he drops two hammers through the slot.

Polly and another girl whose face isn't visible are dropped off outside the police station, but the sickly Brooke is the other survivor, not Kelly. Under interrogation, Brooke reveals that while Kelly was talking Polly into helping her kill Brooke, Brooke snuck up from behind to kill Kelly. The adbuctor is identified as garbageman Marcus Younger.

Younger was a member of the last North Mammon state high school football champion, but he got injured early in the title game. Afterwards, he lost his scholarship to Notre Dame and his standing in the community fell until he ended up a garbageman. Younger wanted to show that the girls would turn against each other, the way the community turned on him.

If Younger was good enough to get a scholarship to Notre Dame, he could have caught on with a junior college at the very least, or red shirted at a four-year school. On the plane back, Hotchner tells Jareau to get some sleep, but this must be a universe where the flight time between Western Pennsylvania and Quantico by air is so long, one shouldn't spend it all awake.

Went on to the CSI:NY episode "Murder Sings the Blues". Supposedly, people are given a time and location and suddenly a wild party spontaneously erupts onboard a subway car. Randy Kern, the organizer of such parties, apparently gets $500 per flyer online for his invitations. Yeah, it didn't make any sense to me either.

Anyway, a girl named Jenny Anders dies unboard from drinking a flask containing dimethylhydrazine, an animal carcinogen also found in some jet fuels. The killer was James McQuinn, a former offender for manslaughter who got off for another crime because his alibi was Randy Kern. Today, McQuinn is trying to sell wild parties onboard planes, not too different from Kern's subway parties. Apparently, McQuinn wanted in on Kern's business and intended to poison Kern, but Anders got a hold of the bottle first.

Hawkes had met the victim for an hour and his phone number was on a piece of paper of on her person. Mac gets unnecessarily self-righteous because Hawkes took too long to recuse himself from the case.

In the other plot, Grant Jordan, New York's most eligible bachelor is found drowned in his apartment swim gym, one of those endless pool devices. Jordan employs "room maids", girls hired to clean an apartment and have sex with the client in exchange for room, board and money. The first suspect is his previous room maid who had delusions they were getting married. However, the killer was the next door neighbor, a practicing Buddhist who couldn't stand the noise the swim gym was constantly making.

However, it's never explained why, after the neighbor killed Jordan, he left the swim gym running. If he was so pissed off about the noise, why did he allow it to continue? Also, the neighbors seem to be beautiful young people who enjoy really expensive apartments with no visible means of support.

Next up the How I Met Your Mother episode "Swarley" AKA "Crazy Eyes". Joss Whedon alumni Tom Lenk AKA "Andrew" the nerd villain and Morena Baccarin AKA "Inara" the companion turn up in this episode.

Marshall gets a date with Chloe, played by Morena Baccarin, a girl at the coffee shop. When Barney and Ted meet her face-to-face, they tell Marshall she has "crazy eyes", but he doesn't listen. Soon Chloe is calling him nine times a day and calls about a crazy dwarf guy with a limp and a hunchback chasing after her. Lily interrupts their date at his apartment.

We learn Lily had gone to the coffee shop looking for Chloe and quickly interrupts a conversation with Brian, played by Tom Lenk. As she follows Chloe in the rain, she huddles beneath her rain coat, hits her knee on faucer spigot causing a limp and calls to her in a deep voice. Therefore Lily was the dwarf hunchback.

Lily leaves the apartment and sits out on the stoop. Marshall joins her and they get back together. The group goes back to the bar to celebrate, but Marshall has forgotten Chloe who tore up the apartment looking for her keys. Marshall really should have been more polite to Chloe and at the very least paid for her cab ride home before going to the bar.

The title "Swarley" comes from the name Chloe puts on Barney coffee cup. Soon everyone is calling him Swarley.

Finished off with the CSI: Miami episode "Open Water". Mike Harris is flailing in the ocean next to a cruise ship. Captain Quentin Taylor tries to shoot a shark to scare them off to no avail as Mr. Harris is shark breakfast.

Harris had just met and married on this cruise Gwen Creighton, a four-time divorcee, played by Sherilynn Fenn. Gwen is accompanied by her sixteen-year-old daughter Mandy. While we suspect Mike's time bonding with Mandy was inappropriate, it turns out he was sincere. However, Mandy was tired of getting another stepfather and pushed him overboard.

Meanwhile, the ship's magician, stole Gwen's passkey, lifted $70,000 in cash from Harris' safe, then returned the passkey to Gwen. For some stupid reason, he allows Calleigh to search his magician's kit where he hid the money.

In the other plot, a passenger possibly sick with avian flu escapes her restraints in the infirmary. Captain Taylor strangles her and dumps her in the garbage to keep her from panicking and infecting the other passengers. Strange that the ship's doctor doesn't think to immobilize the patient with a very strong sedative or that the Captain doesn't shift responsibility onto higher authorities like the CDC. Turns out the bird flu diagnosis was premature and incorrect.

Cookie LavagettoDecember 1

Today is the birthday of Cookie Lavagetto. He managed the Senators from 1957-1960 to a 248-348 record. Lavagetto continued with the team to Minnesota where he was fired in June 1961. As a player, he was a four-time All-Star third baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1930s and 40s. In the 4th game of the 1947 World Series, Bill Bevens of the Yankees was pitching a no-hitter, although the Dodgers scored a run in the fifth on two walks, a sacrifice and a ground out. In the bottom of the ninth, with New York ahead 2-1 and the no-hitter still intact, Bevens allowed two runners on a walk, a stolen base and an intentional walk. Cookie pinch-hit for Eddie Stanky and hit a double to break up the no-hitter, score both runners and win the game.

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors' alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the persons or the institutions with which they are associated.

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