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February 2005 Archives

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February 28

I decided to take the day off because of the snow. Foxes and deer came to our yard in numbers to eat the seeds and peanuts Whitlock and Miranda left on Saturday.

Watched the CSI episode "Nesting Dolls". Two bodies are found at the construction site for a new housing development, encased in tar. Grissom is very excited and helps Catherine on his own time before breaking one of the skulls.

The prime suspect is played Zeljko Ivanek, a man who likes to marry submissive foreign women. He killed his Russian wife and went on to an unspecific Asian. The bodies were buried by a hairdresser. The first body was a woman who smuggled herself in a suitcase but died in the process. The hair salon also doubled as a marriage broker.

In the sub-plot, Sara talks about her abusive father and her mother who eventually killed him.

Went on to the Numb3rs episode "Vector". Charlie tracks the spread of a strain of Spanish flu. Both he and Don don't want their father to go downtown, but can't tell him why. The culprit was the head of an L.A. lab. He didn't want a Maryland lab to get the contract for developing a vaccine because they were working with a weaker strain. He was proving he was working with a more virulent variant.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Marc Filley, Sam Mayer and Ron Samford. Filley allowed a run in his one-third inning on April 19, 1934. Mayer mostly played outfield in September 1915 for the Nats, but also played one game in the outfield and pitched to two batters without retiring either. Samford played second and short for the Senators in 1959.

February 27

Watched the Point Pleasant episode "Lonely Hunter". There's a special meteor shower and the kids are camping on the beach while some of the adults are at Mr. Boyd's house. Not much happens except there's a serial killer who we think wants to kill Christina in serving God. It turns out to be the Dr. Forrester (Dr. Clayton Forester?) who worked on Judy last week. Christina turns him in to Jessie's Dad.

Went on to the Water Rats episode "Hunting Season". While a U.S. nuclear fleet is in Sydney, environmental protesters cause trouble. A gay has been beat-up by U.S. sailors in civilian clothes. Tavita, Sykes, McColl and Holloway form a vigilante group to track down the sailors, whom they engage in a street brawl. Nothing happens to the sailors, but apprently naval intelligence will make their lives miserable. Tommy has second thoughts about commitment to his girlfriend. Rachel's boyfriend arranges a corporate security position at double her current salary.

Today's Nats Birthday: Juan Delis. Delis play second, third and outfield for the 1955 Nats.

February 26

John Cooper and Kory Heath came over to see the house and play games. Miranda did not want to join in so we were stuck with 3-player games. Kory did autograph our copy of Why Did the Chicken.

We started with Cloud 9. Miranda watched, but seemed more interested in Kory's Dice Boot. Kory won the game because John and I didn't take many risks until the very last turn.

Then we played three rounds of Dayton 500. This was printed by Milton Bradley in the late 1980s, but is actually on the engine of a Formula One German game. Everyone gets dealt cards, each of which move one, some, or all the cars a given number of spaces. Then you bid on the cars, based on your hand which is stronger at moving certain cars than others. In the actual game play, you must also take into account the narrow turns and drafting. I can't remember who won which games, but there was some negotiation at the end of one game so that everyone could finish and not run out of gas. I guess it would be less of a strategy game dice were rolled for movement, rather than using the cards.

Watched the Monk episode "Mr. Monk vs. the Cobra". It begins with Harry Groener, the mayor from Buffy, plugging a book on television, debunking the myth of a late Bruce Lee-like martial arts star known as the Cobra. We get very excited, but he gets murdered by a ninja even before the opening credits.

Hair found at the murder scene is DNA-confirmed to be that of Sonny Chow, the Cobra, who died in 1999. While we try to figure out how this could be possible, a suspicious ex-con is at the cemetery when Sonny's body is exhumed. Downey had gone to jail for an armed robbery and he got put away for a killing in its execution, but the jewels were never found. Turns out he buried the jewels in Sonny's coffin. Unfortunately, when he got out, the Cobra's Filipino fan club put a massive tombstone on the grave. Needing some help in the excavation, Downey steals hair from a Sonny Chow museum and plants it at the scene when he kills the Mayor. When Sonny's body is exhumed, he takes steals back the jewels. In the process, he buries Monk alive, but Downey is eventually caught.

I couldn't deal with the crucial evidence being Downey's hand stamp from visiting the museum. In the couple of days since he was there, the ink should have washed off.

Went on to the Cold Case episode "Time to Crime". In 1987, a drive-by kills a six-year-old girl. Today, the automatic weapon used in that shooting turns up in a guns for sneakers program.

We follow the gun backwards. It was bought at a gun show from a dealer who took from some kids playing in a hallway. Those kids took it from their grandmother. That grandmother took it from a boy of a rich family for whom she worked as a housekeeper. The boy found it at a stable where some of his classmates had recklessly killed some geese and a horse. The classmate got it from somebody who worked on the river. The guy on the river got it the night of the shooting as it was tossed from the car at the scene.

Turned out it was the victim's 12-year-old brother who was trying to kill a guy having an affair with his mother.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Don Lee, Gary Majewski and Bill Starr. Majewski is the 2005 Nats version of Johnny Damon. Starr was the only man to pinch hit for Ted Williams in the minors.

February 25

Watched the MI-5 episode "A Prayer for My Daughter". A Mideast negotiator warns Adam of an Israeli extremist group called the November Committee backed by conservative newspaper publisher David Swift, a caricature of Rupert Murdoch. The negotiator is found shot dead of an apparent suicide, but we all know that's wrong.

Meanwhile, the Palestians have a gay MP named Ashworth on their side. Harry's daughter Catherine is a filmmaker documenting Israeli atrocities. Danny befriends Catherine to see if she is the November Committee mole. She's not, but they're soon sleeping together. The mole is Ashworth's boyfriend who sets up a suicide of the MP that Zoe and Danny foil. Meanwhile, Swift is framed for sexual assualt by Adam's wife, who works for MI-6. Swift must sells his newspaper and leave the country.

Watched the Battlestar Galactica episode "Act of Contrition". Starbuck's Viper is re-entering over a moon with an atmosphere and she ejects. The rest of the episode is a huge flashback.

A flight deck accident kills several pilots so Starbuck is assigned to training new ones. Wracked with guilt over passing her fiance Zak, Apollo's brother and Adama's son, she declares her first class unfit. Starbuck eventually admits her mistake with Zak to Adama and she agrees to teach the trainees again.

On a flight with three of the "Nuggets," they run into eight Cylon raiders. All are shot down, but Starbuck crashes into the moon.

They let us out two hours early. Driving through the snow wasn't too bad yesterday afternoon or this morning.

Not at a surprise that most people on the OOTP board picked the Nats last. Except for the guy who picked the Expos last. And the guy who picked the Nats 4th ahead of the Expos. He seems to have forgotten the Marlins.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Jim Hayes, Al Hollingsworth, Josh Labandeira, Stan Rees and Johnny Schaive. Hayes pitched seven games for the Nats in the summer of 1935. On April 21, 1942, only four games were on the schedule and Hollingsworth, with the Browns, was among the four pitchers that pitched shutouts that day. Labandeira spent most of last year in Harrisburg and got a cup of coffee with the Expos. As a shortstop, his route to the majors was blocked first by Macier Izturis and now Cristian Guzman. Today, on his 26th birthday, Josh hasn't yet proved he can hit in the majors and will probably spend 2005 in New Orleans. We'll know by the end of the year whether he has a future as a bench player, a coach or a grad student. Schaive played 2B for the original Senators from 1958-1960 and the expansion Senators in 1962-1963.

February 24

As of the morning, the snow is coming down but not sticking in the District.

The Washington Post reports that Charlie Slowes and Dave Shea will be the radio voices of the Nats. I called Slowes once in the early 1990s when he was guest-hosting a radio call-in show. I think I was ranting about the baseball anti-trust exemption and why Washington doesn't have a baseball team.

National Cheese says:

Another reason the NFL doesn't suffer from dramatic public steroids scandals is that they have a salary cap. There is still tremendous competition to be the most heavily compensated player at your position in the NFL. However, when the ceiling doesn't exist, as in MLB, and a guy can make $250 million for 10 years of work, most guys will take absolutely whatever steps they have to to get it.

I believe that NFL players are widely using performance enhancing drugs. I have no evidence to support this theory, other than those guys are really big and really fast. I don't think the salary cap provides a hindrance to using steroids. The fact that you can only make $10 million over a career rather than $250 million doesn't mean cheating isn't worth the trouble. As a matter of fact, since nearly all NFL players don't have guaranteed contracts, that's even more incentive to make the team at all costs.

Picture of high school girls soccer teamThanks to the District of Baseball for this captioning error from Florida Today.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Champ Osteen and Fred Sington. Osteen played in the Textile Leagues of the Carolinas before playing for the 1904 Senators. Another Southerner, Sington was a great multi-sport Jewish athlete, despite what you heard in Airplane! He played tackle for the Rose Bowl Champion 1930 Alabama team and outfield for the Nats from 1934-1937.

February 23

From Bears Will Attack.

At some point in the future, computer and robots will be constructed with sufficiently advanced artificial intelligence as to make them seem equal to human beings in many regards. Robots will, of course, lack any sort of moral code or aesthetic judgement, except what is programmed into them. However, morality differs from culture to culture. It is likely that consumers will prefer artificial constructs whose apparent worldview agrees with their own, leading to Christian robots, Republican robots, Jewish robots, bohemian robots, fat robots, and so on. Is this variety preferable to generic robots with no developed sense of these qualities? Discuss.

Most robot stories concern the humanity or non-humanity thereof. The robot-robot interactions that come to mind are C-3PO and R2-D2 and Marvin the Paranoid Android vs. the Battle Robot. These exchanges merely transfer standard human types to mechanicals.

A robot with a particular cultural template acting within that home environment might as well be wallpaper. Put the robot in an alien setting and you get every fish out of water scenario. However, take two robots from two very different species and send them exploring a third planet. They meet and attempt first contact with their homeworld assumptions. Ah --- mayhem ensues.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Bob Boken, Hillis Layne and Jim O'Neill. Layne spent part of 1941, 1944 and 1945 with the Senators. He went on to manage the Lewiston Broncs in the Northwest League, winning a batting title and finishing second in batting twice in the 1950s. Hillis was named to the NWL 50th Anniversary Team in 2004.

February 22

I generally enjoy Bijan Bayne's writing, but he is so wrong: Bonds' Stock Falling: Was Barry Ever "Best"? It's so out of touch, you'd think it was written by Roger Maynard.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Ryne Duren, George Genovese, Lyle Luttrell, Roy Spencer and Doc Waldbauer. Duren supposedly scared batters with his thick glasses and his wild pitches. Spencer was freed by Judge Landis to sign with the Senators when he ruled that the Pirates had unfairly kept Roy from making the majors.

February 21

Pretty much every media outlet will tell you the Nats' weakness is pitching. Finally the dirty secret is out: No Offense, but Nationals See Need for More Runs. As previously stated, with not much OBP, putting Chavez lead-off just makes things worse. The blogosphere has tagged him with the nickname Inning-Ending Chavez.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Joe Foy, Milt Gray and Lloyd Hittle. I remember Joy Foy from the 1970 Mets before he joined the Nats in 1971. Gray caught two games for the Nats in May 1937. Hittle was a spot starter and reliever in 1949 and 1950.

Watched the CSI: NY episode "Tanglewood". A young man, Paul Montenassi, is beaten to death in the snow. He was apparently a Tanglewood gang wannabe, but his mother knew nothing about that affiliation. The mother is played by Stacy Edwards who looks way too young to have a son that old.

A robbery and murder at a convenience store is soon solved when the victim's blood is found on Montenassi. The real Tanglewood crew eventually fess up to the beating. They took a Mickey Mantle bat from off the wall, told the kid to bean a rival gang member and commit the robbery. However, the real Tanglewoods got nervous when Montenassi killed the clerk. They sanded off the kid's tatoo and beat him with the baseball bat. The leader says that Danny knows how little chance he'll have of going to jail.

In the B-plot, a vehicular death appears to have been run off the road. The victim worked in a massage parlor. After her last client and that client's wife are cleared, the killer turns out to be the client's secretary.

Went on to the Point Pleasant episode "Who's Your Daddy". Boyd is the servant of the Devil who is sowing the seeds of discord. He makes Christina think she caused a car accident that seriously hurts Judy. While Sarah is giving a tour, he encourages her to tell all the dark, violent details of Point Pleasant's past. Boyd wants to buy up all of the town with Amber's help, while pushing Amber to take Ben from Meg.

The rich boy who hit Judy's car is filing a civil suit and Christina gets Ben to kill the guy. At the last moment, she stops him when the beacon of God comes from the lighthouse. Christina tells Boyd she will defeat him with her goodness.

In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Babel One", echoes of the original series episode "Journey to Babel" ring when Enterprise transports a Tellurite delegation for a trade conference with the Andorians. Shran gets picked up by Enterprise after he has been attacked by a Tellurite vessel. Later, Enterprise is attacked by an Andorian ship.

We figure out pretty early it's the same ship and the Romulans are behind it with a complex holographic cloaking device. Tucker and Malcolm are trapped in the other ship as they make their way to the bridge. Only at the end do we realize the Romulans are controlling their vessel remotely from Romulus and "To be Continued" flashes on the screen.

Finished with the Numb3rs episode "Uncertainty Principle". The "Charm School Bandits" rob banks with no weapons and politely open doors for customers. Charlie has determined their next hit but an attempted arrest turn into a bloody shootout.

All this death has upset Charlie and he retreats into attempting solve the P vs. NP Problem. Investigation reveals that the bank robbers are former Special Forces. They tortured a programmer to get passwords. Charlie eventually snaps out of it and his info leads to the motive that the robbers want to steal worn bills before they are destroyed.

February 20

Today's Nats Birthdays: A very busy day filled with notables. Livan Hernandez, Sam Rice, Muddy Ruel and Roy Valdes. Despite popular belief, Hernandez was born today, not on a Christmas Day when the New York Times said God is Dead and the War's Begun. As the opener draws near, I can already picture Jose Cruz, Jr. on the on-deck circle by the first base dugout, watching Livan Hernandez take his warm-ups. On the sound system, Elton John's voice and Paul Buckmaster's strings echo through the RFK Stadium. Hall-of-Famer Sam Rice may one day have a movie of the week made of his life. He lost his wife, two children, his parents and two sisters in a tornado. Rice went on to his baseball career, but never told his second wife about his previous life until 50 years after the twister. Ruel may well have been a baseball Forrest Gump. He was the catcher when Carl Mays threw the ball that killed Ray Chapman. Ruel got second life in the 12th inning of the 7th game of the 1924 World Series when Giants catcher Hank Gowdy tripped over his mask and dropped a foul pop. Muddy later doubled and scored the game-winning run. Valdes was a native Cuban who came to bat on May 3, 1944, got out, and that was the end of his career.

Watched the opener of Numb3rs. FBI agent Don Eppes has his mathematician brother Charlie figure out the residence of a serial rapist. When all the men in the hot zone are cleared, they realize there is another hot zone centered around the rapist's workplace. I think this geographic profiling of serial criminals is not new and has been done before.

David Krumholtz as Charlie is really only 26, still under 30 like his character. Alimi Ballard as agent David Sinclair was Quizmaster Albert on Sabrina and Herbal Thought on Dark Angel. Sabrina Lloyd is just plain hot.

Went on to the Water Rats episode "Shroud Lines". Rachel is attending a wedding aboard the replica of the Bounty went a dead falls from a unfurled sail. She must admit to her boyfriend Michael she is a detective and not a wine taster.

The victim is an alcoholic sail repairer. An e-mail comes to the Premier's private address stating that the victim was the start of a series of killings to harm tourism leading up to the 2000 Olympics. A Japanese businessman is killed and an American woman is found floating beneath the harbor bridge.

A Ted Turner-type rich sail racer admits to killing the sail repairman. A junkie confesses to killing the Japanese man. A woman says the American committed suicide because of an internet romance gone horribly wrong. The terrorist e-mails were from a young hacker bound to a wheelchair.

February 19

Smooth tapings of Silver Screen Test. My thanks to the crew of John Buckley, Michael Camillo, Craig Carter, Yen-Ming Chen, Andrea Lamphier, Bob Mattia, Nancy Poole, Ally Potter and Larry Sheingorn.

Today's Nats Birthday: Walt Herrell. This Rockville native made his only major league appearance on June 10, 1911, pitching the last two innings of a game , allowing 4 runs on 5 hits.

Watched the Battlestar Galactica episode "Bastille Day". It will take a lot of manpower to haul ice from a moon, so the government offers freedom points to the inmates on the prison ship Astral Queen. Apollo and a contingent make the offer in person. Tom Zerek, their leader and a Sagittaran terrorist/freedom fighter delivers their respectful decline.

When Apollo makes a personal plea, the prisoners rebel with help from guards, taking the visitors hostage. Zerek demands immediate elections. An assault team from Galactica arrives while one of the prisoners is proving his brutality. Apollo personally prevents the assassination of Zerek and negotiates elections in 7 months when President Roslin finishes out President Adar's term. The prisoners are left in charge of the Astral Queen.

Former Apollo from the previous series Richard Hatch plays Zerek. When he talks with Jamie Bamber, you can almost hear him saying,"I used to be a heartthrob just like you."

Leaving the prisoners to their devices points out the civilizing, if one may use that term loosely, effect of political legitimacy. The Astral Queen has no weapons and depend on the fleet for food and fuel. This will keep them in line. Likewise, when a terrorist becomes President, he suddenly takes on a set of responsibilities and must play the rules of nationhood. I think this may have been the hope of some Middle East observers that once Yassir Arafat got a country, he had to actually rule, fix potholes, etc. It's easy being a terrorist leader when all you have to do is symbolically blow things up or provide food to hungry children. Actually running a nation-state is hard. Arafat claimed he didn't sign a peace treaty because he feared for his life. I wonder if he really wanted the responsibility of leading a country, rather than a landless people. This is not to say that political leaders of legitimate countries are no less brutal than stateless warriors. As a matter fact, the sheer power of the state enables them to inflict massive amounts of death and misery, usually on their own people. But in the guise of the state, it's much more difficult to exert influence against outsiders without using armies, which leads into conflict with other states and their own armies. Dictators have assets and futures, which terrorists don't have. And that makes dictators easier to deal with by conventional means.

Went on to the MI-5 episode "Who Guards the Guards". Tom is gone, replaced by Adam as the resident heartthrob. Danny has a torch for Zoe who is explaining herself to photographer Will.

On the West Bank, Oliver Mace of the Joint Intelligence Committee who engineered a coup in the season opener, meets with a Pakistani terrorist leader. The Pakistani wants someone the British and/or Americans have under their protection.

Danny is guarding a famous writer, sort of like Salman Rushdie, as he meets with a bookseller. A hitman arrives wounding Harakat the bookseller, but leaving the writer unharmed. The writer hires ex-CIA guards and Adam assigns Danny to guard Harakat.

Adam meets secretly with a high government official, all the while trying to shake MI-6 trackers. Why do they waste so much time with internal battles when there are real enemies? The government official reveals that the terrorist wants Harakat dead. Danny takes Harakat to Lord's and whiles they drive away, the assassin kills Harakat as he sits next to Danny.

February 18

Mark and Stephanie McGwire
Mark McGwire and his drug dealer.

Moralizing is one thing. Fantasizing about moral sacrifice on the part of others is something else entirely. It borders on Internet stalking.

The Nats will be heard on WFED AM 1050 and Z104. To say this is a surprise to most observers would be an understatement. It would be equivalent to MLB disdaining DC once again and moving the Expos to Oklahoma City.

Elliott Price, the aforementioned Canadian citizen and former voice of the Expos has come out on the Ballpark Guys board and thanked everybody for their support. A certain guy portrayed on television by Jason Alexander called Price a dope. Elliott sent him back an e-mail to which he still hasn't responded. Price is now my favorite guy just for willing to slum with the peasants. Spend a few beers with Phil Wood to bone up on Washington history and I think you'll be perfect.

Basil finds it strange that I propose Nick Johnson bat leadoff. This comes from the concepts that you don't need speed to score on a home run and good hitters don't need help distracting the pitcher. On the other hand, you put the base stealer further down, say 6th. If he steals second, then those lesser hitters who hit singles have a much better chance of driving him home. In addition, you might give the #8 hitter some help by distracting the pitcher or forcing him to throw more fastballs.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Jamey Carroll, George Mogridge, Cal Neeman and Joe Tipton. Carroll looks to be Mr. Utility for the Nats. In the 7th game of the 1924 World Series, Mogridge relieved Curly Ogden after Ogden started the game and pitched to only two batters. The strategy by manager Bucky Harris frustrated Giants slugger Bill Terry who had trouble with lefties. Mogridge is also the only pitcher to steal home in extra innings. Neeman ended his career with the Nats in 1963, playing fourteen games. Tipton's story is pretty much like Neeman's - a catcher who ended his career with the Nats in 1954.

Cleveland's favorite party girl has a spread in Cleveland magazine.

I've been following other news and missed that Jack Chalker died. He always seemed like an unlovable curmudgeon to me, but that doesn't obscure the joy he brought to readers of his novels. Jack made a great toastmaster for the 1983 Hugo Award ceremonies. I never read any of his novels except for the last page of And The Devil will Drag You Under because Joe Mayhew made an appearance. Jack's wife Eva is a sweetheart who added this blog to her blog page on her own volition. My condolences go out to her and her sons. Events like this remind me we're all getting older.

My thanks to Jimmy Albert, John Buckley, Michael Camillo and Larry Sheingorn tonight for the setup on Silver Screen Test.

Tim talks about the self-esteem movement, a concept I've always found kind of silly. Coming from a hyper-competitive culture does that to you. But Darwinian upbringing can frequently exclude useful lessons.

In my senior year It's Academic ended in November because at that time they played three first round games, followed immediately by the playoff between those three winners. In other words, once all three teams for a match-up were determined, they would play that game. This meant that a finalist qualified in December and waited five months until their next match.

Looking for new activities, I joined the math team and found it liberating because I wasn't the captain. Certainly, I still wanted to get the right answer, but when I didn't I shrugged it off rather than stewing on it for weeks.

Similarly, I started a fitness regimen ten years ago for my health and I'm so sorry I didn't begin years earlier. The post-childhood physical education experience is so focused on the winners, that the nerds never even tried. Once you turn about 12, there are very few organized team sports for the sheer physical activity, as opposed to the cutthroat competition. If there were more activities, there would also be fewer teen-aged blobs sitting on the couch.

Also, fear of failure also leads to never trying at all. It's possible to learn from something you may not be good at all. Fear of failure likewise means that when you do fail, you don't try again. So that the persistence trait that sells billions of self-help books never materializes.

February 17

I don't claim to be a hockey fan, but my past study of sports economics drove my interest in the lockout. Now that the owners are talking replacement players, could the players be talking replacement owners? It might be conceivable that the well-heeled owners could be talked into jumping. Since they are probably in the most hockey-mad cities, they also have the fan-base that would recognize quality and not be seduced into rooting for laundry. Meanwhile, the remaining teams would continue in the sun-belt cities where fans wouldn't know the difference.

I don't know if that's the solution anyone would want. But you'd have a higher-quality, higher-paying league in the cities that care. You'd have a lower-quality Super AHL in the other cities. Maybe everyone has too much of a stake in the old system to let this happen.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Dick Bosman, Leon Carlson, Willie Kirkland, Nemo Leibold, Eddie Onslow and Eddie Phillips. Bosman started the last Senators game on September 30, 1971. He pitched a no-hitter for the Indians against Oakland in 1974 and went on to be a pitching coach for both the Rangers and Orioles. Kirkland hit homers in four consecutive at-bats for the Indians in 1961, played in Japan for six seasons and took a Japanese bride. What are the odds that both major leaguers named Nemo played for the Nats? Leibold managed in the minors for many seasons and several umpires resigned in protest when he was reinstated after a suspension for shoving an ump. Another player who left to have kids, Onslow's years playing in the majors were 1912, 1913, 1918 and 1927.

February 16

I know Ryan at Distinguished Senators hates Spring Training. I understand that opinion, but I found myself looking for those pictures of Brad Wilkerson and Mike Hinckley, just to convince myself this is real. I turned on Comcast Sportsnet just to see that pretzel W on an actual baseball team.

Last night was a rather warm evening. Usually when pitchers and catchers report, it's the light at the end of the tunnel while you're freezing. It seemed spring was arriving early, complete with baseball.

Some people don't like Spring Training. Some people also take new relationships in stride. Others call their new love several times a day. Being told,"You're going to see her tonight," won't stop you. Some people listen over and over again to "I love you," left on voicemail or the answering machine. And sometimes the feeling never ends.

Right now, it's just a milestone. I'll probably feel something else when the Nats play their first Spring Training game, and again on Opening Day, and when I make it to RFK Stadium myself. I've waited 33 years. I can afford to be sentimental.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Tim Cullen and Alex Ferguson. Cullen was the starting 2nd baseman during the Ted Williams years, but he also played third and short. Ferguson did not manage Man U, but was picked up in August 1925 from the Yankees for the stretch drive. He started game 6 of the World Series and allowed a homer to Eddie Moore. Pittsburgh won that game and Fergie was playing for the Phillies in 1927.

Watched the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring". Traylor Howard joins the cast as Natalie Teeger, Monk's new assistant, but that doesn't happen until the end of the episode.

We get the exposition during the psychiatric session. Sharona has moved back to New Jersey and, disappointingly, married her ex-husband. I'm calling fraught on that marriage.

Natalie has killed an intruder who seems to be after something in her aquarium. Earlier in the week she chased out a bogus water meter reader who was also interested in the fish tank. Monk determines that a tour guide at the museum stole a moonk rock and intended to smuggle it out in an aquarium kit. However the kit ended up being sold to Natalie's daughter.

When the tour guide steals the fish from the science fair. Monk chases him down, but given a choice between retrieving the moon rock and the fish, he chooses the fish. Natalie's husband was a Navy pilot and astronaut candidate who died six years ago.

I thought the moon rock should have been handled much more delicately than it was. Also, they mention that are only two hundred some moon rocks. Actually, Apollo astronauts collected around 850 pounds of rocks which are in thousands of individual pieces.

February 15

Via Victoria Groce, somebody's outed Youppi! And since it's a gay sports web site, why aren't they advocating allowing nfl.com to customize a Randall Gay jersey?

Today's Nats Birthdays: Bobby LaMotte and Dee Miles. Bobby LaMotte was not a NASCAR driver, but played third and short for the Nats from 1920-1922. Missing the championship 1924 season, he returned to the majors in 1925 to play two more seasons for the Browns. Miles played for the Nats in the 1930s. In 1941, he led the American League in pinch hits with 15 while with the Philadelphia A's.

February 14

I am of the school that believes lineups don't matter. How you order the players doesn't mean as much as selecting the right players in the first place. I think that except for getting your best players more at-bats by putting them higher in the order, the run producers are close enough together to get the runs regardless of the lineup.

Still, my philosophy is to pick out the three best slugging percentages first. Between these three, put the worst OBP 3rd, the best OBP clean-up, and the other guy 5th. The two best OBP left over bat 1-2. The rest of the lineup is according to descending OPS. So here's my 2005 Nats batting order with career OBP/Slugging:

1. Nick Johnson,1B .372/.418
2. Vinny Castilla,3B .324/.489
3. Terrmel Sledge,LF .336/.462
4. Brad Wilkerson,CF .370/.468
5. Jose Vidro,2B .367/.470
6. Jose Guillen, RF .322/.443
7. Brian Schneider,C .321/.399
8. Cristian Guzman,SS .324/.382

I've discounted Vinny's slugging because of Colorado. Sadly there's not much OBP here past Johnson, Wilkerson and Vidro.

Today's Valentine Nats (It doesn't include Fred Valentine): Tim Jordan, Bill Kay and Alex Sabo. Like Michael, Tim Jordan left Washington for New York, playing for both the Highlanders and Dodgers. Kay played 25 games for the Nats in 1907 as an outfielder. Alex preceded Chris by 52 years, playing just 5 games over 2 seasons.

February 13

My parents came by to drop off a birthday present for Whitlock.

From Overheard in New York:

The light changes. A nanny begins to walk, pushing a baby stroller. Halfway across the street, she looks down sort of lovingly, meets eyes with the baby and says with an eerily calm tone: You know I'm sacrificing my happiness for you.

The nanny looks up and keeps on walking.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Eddie Foster and Harry Kelley. Foster was known as The King of the Hit and Run. Here's a longer profile from Fred Malek's group, the Washington Baseball Club. Kelley pitched for the Nats 1925 and 1926. Later he pitched for the Athletics in 1937 and 1938 and for the Nationals again in 1938 and 1939. Which leaves a gap from 1927-1936 in his employment history. Either he made a successful career in the minors or he left to have a baby.

February 12

Costco already has Canseco's book. In two minutes looking at it, it seemed lighter in tone than I would have expected. And he thinks Tom Boswell has a vendetta against him.

Today's Nats Birthday: Len Randle. A decent player with over 1000 career games, he'll be forever remembered for sending manager Frank Lucchesi to the hospital with a broken cheekbone over his benching. Kinda makes Latrelle Spreewell's choking seem kind of mild. Randle also tried to blow a ball foul, a scene featured in many blooper reels.

Watched the first two episodes of Point Pleasant. It's better than expected in that there are concepts worth watching. Marti Noxon and Ben Edlund, who both worked in the Angel/Buffyverse, are also among the many producers.

Elizabeth Harnois as Christina Nickson (Should her last name have been Regan or Busch instead?) is the devil's daughter and her bad feelings towards others manifest themselves in bad events. Like Buffy, she finds herself in a position she doesn't like, wanting so much to just be an ordinary girl. Christina could also apply to the general teen self-centeredness that our merest thought can lead to dire consequences.

The pretty people are pretty forgettable. Even Dina Meyer, who was a radiant nerd dream in Birds of Prey is reduced to a fading middle-aged slut. The exception is Aubrey Dollar as Christina's adoptive sister Judy. While not conventionally hot, she's a ray of sunshine in every scene she inhabits, a stable oasis of comfort in the darkness. Since Judy also serves as Miss Exposition, I doubt she'll die soon.

I can stay with the show on Christina's angst and Judy's glow. There is no Whedonesque humor and the pretty people aren't enough.

Went on to the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Observer Effect". A couple of aliens are onboard, temporarily inhabiting the bodies of members of the crew as they watch human reaction to a crisis. Tripp and Hoshi suffer from a disease that kills them.

Archer is in sickbay with them when one of the aliens inhabits Tripp's dead body and reveals the pair to be Organians. Archer convinces them to heal Tripp, Hoshi and himself.

Bad science here in that the virus is silicon-based. No human could die from a silicon-based virus anymore than we could catch a computer virus or your iPod could catch the flu.

February 11

Apparently, the short list for the radio team is Dave Sims, Mel Proctor, Tony Roberts and Rob Dibble. Expos voice Elliot Price would be great but needs a work permit because he's a Canadian citizen. I think Dibble is a clown, but other people have more colorful characterizations.

Boswell responds to Kornheiser. It's fluff, but well-written fluff.

No Germantown Black Rox this year. The Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate Baseball League begins. The old Black Rox will move to Rockville and become the Rockville Express. They join their compatriots from the Eddie Brooks League: the Maryland Bombers, the Maryland Orioles and the Maryland Redbirds and their former leaguemates from the Clark Griffith League: the Bethesda Big Train and the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. There's just too many teams called Maryland in this league. If you care, The Bombers play in College Park, the Orioles in Glen Burnie and the Redbirds in Towson.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Jimmy Ryan and Red Shannon. Ryan hit for the cycle for the Cubs in 1888. In his last two years, at age 39 and 40, he played for Senators in 1902 and 1903. Shannon played part of the 1920 season for the Nats.

Watched the Water Rats episode "Fireworks". Someone has rewired the board for a fireworks display aboard a barge. The guy who jiggered the works is easily found because he was wearing a way-too-obvious t-shirt.

However, three private school boys have also stolen fireworks and Jeff Hawker's son Rick is the ringleader. It's the standard divorce and father-son storyline with the kid going to juvy and his friend getting seriously hurt by the fireworks.

In the B-plot, Gavin walks from a beach party to a bathroom that is a gay cruising spot. He gets beaten up, but doesn't wish to report it because of where it happened. Gavin asks for desk duty and Frank angers him into a boxing match. Sykes wins, but Holloway took a dive.

The boys at the private school were all on the football team. In this case it means Australian rules football. Isn't it interesting that while England considers itself the birthplace of football/soccer, that sport didn't export so well to its European-dominated colonies. Those other places have other sports called football, usually running sports related to rugby. In Canada and the United States, they play variants of American football. In Ireland, they play Gaelic football. In New Zealand and South Africa, they play rugby.

Went on to the CSI: Miami episode "Cop Killer". A kid on a civilian ride-along program witnesses the killing of the cop at a routine traffic stop and when CSI arrive, said kid Patrick is nowhere to be found.

The car is found with a teen inside played by Kirsten Storms/Zenon/Betsy from Clubhouse. She claims a guy she was with named Jojo shot the cop and fingers a guy who did a recent carjacking with the cop's gun. However, the carjacker is soon cleared of the cop-killing.

Patrick is found in a mini-mart, bound with duct tape, but he bound himself. Jojo and Zenon are discovered to be a new Bonnie and Clyde scourge to mini-marts. Evidence points to Zenon as the actual trigger and when Jojo is arrested, he is released on bond to be a witness against Zenon. Patrick shoots Jojo dead for humiliating him.

I don't know why Jojo bothered to take Patrick along to begin with. He should have either shot him along with the cop, or just run off instead of kidnapping him.

In the undercurrent, Rebecca Nevins and Horatio break up over the release of Jojo. If Horatio is willing to end the relationship over this minor professional disagreement, we realize just what an insufferable jerk he is.

February 10

So while changing CDs this morning, I listen to Mike Greenberg, the genius who said that the baseball players should come to the bargaining table out of shame (scroll to August 16) and that there was zero chance Lou Piniella would become manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, saying he preferred cancellation of the season like hockey is doing as opposed to not having a champion like baseball did. Yeah, and instead of getting into a hot and heavy session that doesn't quite close the deal, you'd prefer rejection at step one.

BallPark Digest seems to believe Washington will get 2008 All-Star Game, but provides no supporting evidence.

Kornheiser's column on the Nats looks to be as popular as his column on Jacksonville. BallWonk says it best:

In fact, any baseball fan who read the Post on a regular basis would have a pretty good idea who the Nationals are...

Which raises the question: Is Tony's problem that he doesn't follow baseball, or that he doesn't read the Post?

Today's Nats Birthday: Rex Dawson. Sounds like the name of the star or a character on a 1960s television Western. On October 3, 1913, he pitched one inning, allowed one hit and struck out one.

February 9

My fitness center is the Official Off-Season Training Site of the Hard-Hitting DC Divas. At the little table where they keep everyone's workout cards, I even found a sheet of paper with the recommended strength and conditioning regimen on it. No weights were listed but why do I get the feeling they're lifting more than me?

This morning, the television in the weight room showed CNN and a presentation in China for the Year of the Rooster with lots of children dressed as baby chicks, dancing on stage. The television sound was off, but the speakers were playing Hey Ya. Weird juxtaposition - children dressed as chickens and Hey Ya.

Marlins, Miami-Dade Agree on Stadium Terms.

The Florida Marlins have reached a tentative agreement with Miami-Dade County officials in a significant step toward a $420 million, retractable-roof ballpark, Marlins president David Samson said Friday...

As part of the deal, the Marlins will contribute $192 million and eventually call the team the Miami Marlins.

I hope the city of Miami talked to the city of Anaheim so that the naming agreement is carefully written. I don't know want to have to refer to the Florida Marlins of Miami.

No Nats Birthdays for February 9.

February 8

Matt Bruce has a comment on how intellectual property law is squeezing out the small makers of military models, especially aircraft.

Ryan over at Distinguished Senators has a disturbing manga-style summary of the 2004 Expos season from Korean media.

At Nationals Inquirer, Basil Tsimpris notes that the Braves are treating Richmond as their territory and putting Atlanta games on radio there. He also ranks national baseball television play-by-play men.

How come there are Nats-related bloggers named Basil, Bijan and Brick?

My latest idea for the new ballpark would have Japanese flowering cherry trees, perhaps beyond the outfield fence. Fans would wonder every year whether they'd be blooming in time for Opening Day. If it's not feasible inside the stadium, the cherry trees should be planted in the walkway outside the stadium. Actually, it's not a new idea since I also thought about it a long time ago for the imaginary ballpark for my rotisserie league team.

For today's Nats Birthdays, meet a couple of Joes: Joe Black and Joe Cassidy. Meet Joe Black. Black actually played in the Negro Leagues, won the 1952 Rookie of the Year Award and won the last game played by Boston at Braves Field. He finished his career playing the last two months of the 1957 season with the Senators and compiling a 7.11 ERA, all in relief. Cassidy came to the Nats with no minor league experience, but I don't know how special that was in 1904. He set the rookie record for triples in a season with 19 and died of malaria in 1906, less than 7 weeks after his 23rd birthday.

February 7

Watched the Cold Case episode "Yo, Adrian". A former boxing referee makes a deathbed confession that he took $1500 to allow a fight to go 15 rounds that ended in a fighter's death. He flatlines before he reveals who gave him the money.

The fighter was a young local palooka and a small-time Philadelphia promoter was attempting to recreate Rocky, complete with a heavyweight contender in red and white striped trunks. The fighter was also dating the daughter of the referee, a relationship the father strongly disapproved of. Turns out the boxer himself paid off the referee to prove his worthiness.

Today's very busy Nats Birthday roster: Mel Almada, Endy Chavez, Stan Galle, Charlie Jamieson, Frank Kreutzer, Jerry Lane and Earl Whitehill. On July 25, 1937, Almada scored 5 runs for the Nats in the opener of a doubleheader against the Browns. Mel scored four more in the nightcap to set a record for runs scored in an 18-inning period. Chavez will probably be a fourth or fifth ourfielder for the 2005 Nats. Although Endy has played in the majors only for the Royals and Expos, he's changed organizations six times and had rights held by the Mets and Tigers at various times as well. More on Chavez at Nationals Inquirer. Galle played 13 games, mostly in a pinch-hitting role for the 1942 Senators. Jamieson played outfield and first base for the Nats from 1915-1917 and even pitched two games. Kreutzer pitched for the Senators from 1964-1966 and again in 1969. Lane pitched 20 games, mostly in relief for the 1953 Nats. Whitehill scattered five hits in blanking the Giants 4-0 for the Nats only win in the 1933 World Series.

Eagles fan Mithras at Fables of the Reconstruction:

I was reminded of what I wrote a year ago, a couple days before my dad died:

The last couple of weeks, dad was awake enough to watch the NFL playoffs. (He's an enthusiastic, well-informed sports fan.) After they ended, I was suddenly and ridiculously sad that he wouldn't live to see the Eagles win another Super Bowl. A friend of mine looked at me and said, "Man, you won't live to see the Eagles win another Super Bowl." Which was funny, and true.

Dad is sitting in a little jar on my shelf, but he can still block better than the Eagles' offensive line.

February 6

Watched the Battlestar Galactica episode "Water". The limitless recycled water supply of Galactica that is replenishing the rest of the fleet, suddenly goes into crisis mode when several of the water tanks burst. It's obvious that Boomer, while under Cylon control, set those detonators. She also finds the moon with water on it to save the fleet.

I wonder if the saga of Boomer will be the direct conflict between Cyclon directives and her humanity. Being a Colonial pilot puts a greater stress on her Cylon treachery. An ordinary human would have no problem with that dichotomy, but would also likely be psychotic. I think the Cylons thought a stable human would function better and this may the downfall of installing Boomer in such a sensitive position. At some point, she's going to crack.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Pelham Ballenger, Frank LaPorte and Dale Long. Pelham Ballenger had just 9 at-bats in 1928. After playing 1912 and 1913 for Nats at second, third and the outfield, LaPorte jumped to the Federals and played for the Indianapolis Hoosiers and the Newark Peppers. The Senators got Long from the Yankees in the expansion draft and traded him back to the Yankees in 1962.

February 5

While Whitlock went to the MVA to get her license renewed, Miranda came grocery shopping with me. At Lakeforest Mall, we had to navigate the crowds at the Chinese New Year celebration.

Apparently Sheryl Lee was cast originally cast Mary Alice Young in Desperate Housewives. Mary Alice has committed suicide and narrates the program. Sheryl Lee was Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks. Is there typecasting for "Girl Who's Dead Before the Series Begins"?

Today's Nats Birthdays: Jack O'Brien and Roger Peckinpaugh. O'Brien was an outfielder-third baseman who played with 1899 Nats and again with the 1901 American League Senators. Peckinpaugh played short for the 1924 World Series Nats. He managed the Indians in the 1930s, but his first managing was the Yankees at the age of 23.

February 4

Tried the 7pm-1am sleep shift. We'll see how the rest of the day goes.

Over at Distinguished Senators, reader Marc comments:

I think it is only fair to give Jim a shot (bad choice of words...) before ripping him to shreds (as every fan with a keyboard seems to be doing). Sure, some of his moves appear... unorthodoxed or risky. But remember, he is a professional general manager of a major league ball club. They don't give the reigns to just anybody (unfortunately... it would be a really cool job). I don't think Guzman is going to be as bad as everyone thinks; he's got some triples power, speed and a pretty good glove. Castilla... well, 20 home runs would be a shock. Guillen could be a steal (although Juan Rivera was pretty good himself).

Just remember that Bowden is in a very volatile situation and his job is on the line when the team is sold... he basically had to do something outrageous to keep his job. If he had sat back and played it safe, he would likely be out of a job when the team sells (and hey, it wasn't his money that he blew... just his reputation). But if his gamble pays off... he could end up with a nice cushy contract.

Certainly, the bloggers could all be wrong. If the Diamond Mind Projections are anything close, Bowden will look like a genius. However, to assume competence just because he's major league general manager flies in the face of evidence.

If are old enough to have been politically aware for a while, you've had the feeling at one time in your life that the President of the United States is a total idiot who has no idea what he's doing. You obviously are not privy to the possibly sensitive and secret information he uses to make decisions. Still, you didn't feel that just because he was elected, he was competent by definition.

In the work place in private industry, you've probably seen thoroughly incompetent managers. Just because these people got their jobs, doesn't mean they're qualified. Even though the free market is supposed to weed out the inept, it's not efficient enough in practice drive them from their positions.

Scroll back to the June 21, 2001 entry. I was at a panel at Balticon entitled "Has the Star Trek Franchise Run Its Course?" I didn't have much confidence then that Enterprise would be any good. An audience member said that Paramount had sifted through dozens of other proposed show ideas and that "These guys aren't stupid."

I came back with the line told by Harlan Ellison about a Hollywood executive who said,"Let's remake The Wiz white." If you don't already know, Enterprise has been cancelled.

The point here is that you have watched a television show or movie and thought,"These guys are total idiots." The fact that millions of dollars are spent in production and that not just any dweeb can make a TV show, doesn't mean it'll be any good. Hollywood is less competitive than most of industry, but more competitive than professional sports.

So when you come to baseball, with a legal monopoly, there is little driving force to weed out the incompetent. Add in the mystique that fans can't understand what goes on "between the white lines" and mediocre management can perpetuate themselves indefinitely. Billy Beane operates on taking advantage of the inefficiencies in the system.

Jim Bowden is in a similar position to CEOs or portfolio managers with performance bonuses. They will take extreme risks to increase their company's stock price or invest in high risk companies to boost their portfolio's return. The upside is limitless and the downside is pretty much the same regardless of the risks taken. Most of these executives usually have a golden parachute to ease them out the door. The Board of Directors is composed of their friends who will never actually fire them.

Sometimes, a steadier long-term approach is needed rather than an all-or-nothing shot. I don't think Jim Bowden is an idiot. I think he's got a thick skin and probably laughs at what's said in the blogs if he reads them at all. However, I don't think his interests are the same as the long-term interests of the Nationals.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Eddie Ainsmith and Germany Schaefer. Walter Johnson considered Ainsmith the best at catching him when he was wild. Schaefer is credited with creating a rule that you cannot steal first base. Apparently, with Davy Jones on third, when Schaefer played for the Tigers, they tried a delayed double steal. Deutschland got to 2nd safely, but the catcher didn't throw. On the next pitch, Schaefer ran back and "stole" first. Germany then shouted to Jones that he was going to steal second again. The rattled catcher threw to second and Jones scored.

February 3

Watched the MI-5 episode "The Sleeper". A Nobel Prize-winning chemist is actually a sleeper agent because MI-5 gave him nerve gas data that helped his academic work. Now the agency want him to sell the fictional nuclear trigger red mercury to terrorists.

As inducement, they create a story of huge gambling debts and his family, not in on it, move to Leeds. Tom, at first enjoys, then hates what they're doing to the scientist. He goes as far as running away with him to cancel the operation. Adam saves the plan as Tom is decommissioned.

Today's Nats Birthdays: Joe Coleman and Wayne Comer. Coleman was the first draft pick of the Senators and played for them until traded to Detroit in the Denny McLain deal. Comer was a 1970 teammate of Coleman and hit 15 of his 16 career home runs for the 1969 Pilots.

February 2

Fantasy baseball has overtaken my subsconscious. I dreamed Marshall Chamness, superstar centerfielder for my OOTP Washington Senators, was interviewed on Dan Patrick's radio show. He sounded like John Riggins. That's probably where my brain got the voice.

Today's Groundhog Nats: Wes Ferrell, Dale Gear and Cy Warmoth. Ferrell set both the single-season (9) and career (38) home run records for pitchers. Gear played for the 1901 Senators and if were a superstar today, would have spurred Nike to produce Gear Gear. Warmoth played for the Nats in 1922 and 1923.

February 1

Larry Mahnken over at Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has projections from 100 seasons with Diamond Mind.

I'd take this projection with a pound of salt. My current prediction for the Nats is 70-92 in last place and that's only four game above the floor in the projection. All of the Nats Fans would be thrilled at a 12% chance at the playoffs. Still, I have a hard time believing John Schuerholtz and the gang will only be at .500. In fact, that's the only team I'm certain will finish ahead of Washington at the end of the year. One could conceive of a sequence of bad breaks that could send the other three tumbling below the Nats, but not Atlanta. With people predicting year-after-year their demise, the Braves still have managed to win the division in every year there was a post-season since 1991. I'm not betting against them now.

Today's Nats Birthday: Carl Reynolds. In 1930, Reynolds hit three consecutive home runs at Yankee Stadium, two of them inside-the-park, while with the White Sox. In 1932, while with the Nats, Yankees catcher Bill Dickey broke Reynolds' jaw with a punch, earning a 30 day suspension and a $1,000 fine.

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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