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January 2007 Archives

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January 31

Many thanks to Christopher Seybolt and his friend for posting this horror on the web. As long as there are people like you, Chris, we will never forget.

Mr. Applegate's Baseball DictionaryJanuary 30

heart noun /hart/ Quality possessed by a player who displays no other tangible evidence of the level of excellence advocated for by the speaker or writer.

January 29

Like Tim Marchman, I agree that the current Yankee Stadium is not the House that Ruth built. That was destroyed in 1975. Yankee Stadium is only the tenth oldest stadium in the majors. The third oldest is RFK.

Babe Ruth played on the land, but did not play in the building. It would be like tearing down Mount Vernon, putting up a McMansion in its place and saying George Washington slept here.

January 28

Played the Atlantic Seaboard Skirmish with World-Famous Media Fan Martin Morse Wooster, Wendell Wagner and Hillary Goldberg. I guess we finished 8th of 12 as Steaks on a Flame. I was the second top scorer and picked up a copy of John Glenn: A Memoir.

We did well against actual college students and if the questions weren't about video games and recent music. Against the dinosaurs, who were still younger than us, we held our own but really couldn't win.

Watched the How I Met Your Mother episode "How Lily Stole Christmas". Lily replugs the answering machine and finds a message Ted left for Marshall over the summer calling Lily a grinch. The word wasn't exactly grinch, but Lily gets very upset.

Lily takes down all the Christmas decorations at Marshall and Ted's apartment. She refuses to accept Ted's apology and he spends Christmas in Staten Island with his fundamentalist cousin Stacy. Marshall gives Lily an Easy Bake Oven, what she always wanted as a child, but never told anybody but Ted eight years ago. Lily forgives Ted and rescues him from Stacy's house.

Went on to the CSI: Miami episode "Going Going Gone". A girl auctioned off is killed by her jealous ex-boyfriend. Then we find the guy holding the auction is not giving the money to charity but funnelling it against his will to a terrorist organization who are sending a tractor trailer of plastic explosives to a nuclear power plant. Horatio of course, takes out the truck with one shot.

Somewhere along the line, when Horatio realized he was dealing with terrorists out of his jurisdiction, he should have done what good bureaucrats do and pass the case off to other authorities. Even if the story requires him to be involved, Horatio acts as if everything in Miami is his business and Homeland Security lets him do it. Is he going to be cracking down on scalpers at the Super Bowl? If space aliens invaded Miami, would he put one in interrogation and finish by saying,"You're not invading Miami on my watch."

January 27

Watched the CSI episode "Living Legend". In August 1976, the Feds were closing in on British mobster Mickey Dunn when he disappeared in his gold Cadillac. Today, a Mexican fisherman pulled out of Lake Mead the gun hood ornament from the legendary Cadillac.

Elsewhere, the wheelchair-bound Ken Billings is pushed into traffic by Michael Myers, a karoke singer he befriended. In his pocket is a photograph of Mickey Dunn with Billings and four low-level Desert Inn employees. The bar has the video of Myers singing, along with fingerprints and DNA, but they turn up nothing.

Elsewhere, after leaving a hooker, Mason Carter helps an old black woman with her heavy bags. Once he gets inside, she strangles him. The same photograph is left with Carter. The security camera gets a picture of the woman named Pamela Voorhees.

One of the men in the picture, Johnny D'Angelo calls the police saying that he's been threatened by the ghost of Mickey Dunn. He says that the four guys in the picture followed Mickey and Derek Paul shot Mickey while the group took the money.

When Paul is brought in, he says someone else had already killed Mickey and that person's body is in the Cadillac. Next, we see Derek shot dead and his mother sees D'Angelo standing over his body. When the police go to D'Angelo's house, they find his body stuffed in the oven, dead two days before the Cadillac was fished from the water.

The same person killed all four men and recently bought a Cadillac convertible. They find him, looking like Johnny D'Angelo, but when he is interrogated, reveals himself to be Mickey Dunn. The story his pretty much as he told earlier, except that Derek's shot didn't kill him. Mickey came out of the water, shot highway patrolman Eddie Sanchez, dumped his body in the Cadillac, and took his identity.

Thirty years later, the bullet Derek put in Mickey is about the rach his heart so he wanted to go out with a bang. Unfortunately for him, surgeons removed the bullet and Mickey will spend a long time in prison.

Went on to the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Makes a Friend". Gail Segalis has just returned from Greece and she notices something strange in the bottle of Santorini wine she's brought home. She see something in the bottle which causes her unseen boyfriend to get really mad and strangle her with a towel.

Outside a supermarket, Monk literally bumps into Hal Tucker, played by Andy Richter, and for some reason they hit it off. When the gang are at the apartment of Gail Segalis, we learn she used to be a police dispatcher and told Monk she would send him a picture if she ever made it to the Parthenon.

Hal takes Monk to a Vancouver Canucks-San Jose Sharks game where they meet someone Hal knew in prison. Hal says that as an antiques dealer he bought stolen property. He shows great interest in Monk's mail. I guessed that he wanted to intercept Gail's photo with her boyfriend/killer who I believed was the bearded friend from the hockey game.

Gail went to Greece with restaurateur Tim Hayden, but he says she dumped him for somebody else and he went home early. When Hal knocks on the door of Tim's kitchen, we realize that he is the killer. Hal clubs Tim to death with a gun.

Hal joins Monk when he's called to investigate Tim's murder. After Hal finds the picture Gail sent to Monk, he stops being his friend. Monk starts stalking Hal and goes inside Hal's apartment. There Monk realizes that Gail had discovered Hal was using her as a patsy to smuggle stolen antiquities, which is why she had to be killed. Disher and Stottlemeyer also figure out Hal is the killer when they realize he talked about Tim being clubbed to death with a gun rather than shot which is what normal people would think of.

Finished off with the Cold Case episode "The Red and Blue". In 2000, East Tennessee country trio The Sugar Boys arrive in Philadelphia to open for star Edie Lowe. Late that night after the show, front man Truck Sugar is found shot to death.

The case reopened when Charlene, a waitress at the nightclub is arrested for shooting her husband with the same gun that killed Truck Sugar. We find out her story holds up - that it was her husband's gun that was stolen, then left at the scene of the murder where she took it back home. Lily and Scotty go down to Tennessee to interview witnesses and follow leads.

Edie Lowe's manager says he'll take the Sugar Boys on tour as an opening act, but only if Truck dumps his brother and bass player Ty. After that happens, Truck talks with Edie and his heroin addict pedal steel player Dusty outside the club. Edie says they'll have to soften their image more to pop, probably lose their cowboy hats. When Truck rejects those changes, Dusty shoots him and Edie just runs away. Dusty is arrested for murder and Edie for obstruction of justice.

January 26

Farid interviews Bill Ladson. Ryan replies. So do the Banks.

To quantify Jamming Econo's point about pitching being the problem, I went to the Hardball Times and added up team win shares. Compared to an average team the Nats had +6 win shares on offense, -9 win shares fielding and -26 win shares pitching. One would be tempted to say that putting Logan in as a regular to fix the fielding instead of the pitching would be putting lipstick on a pig. It's more like a boob job on a warthog.

Watched the Criminal Minds episode "Secrets and Lies". CIA field operative John Summers hides a Saudi woman and her two children. He is captured, tortured, and eventually killed by someone he recognizes as a member of his CIA unit, but the audience does not see. His unit later finds him and stages his death as a suicide.

Director Bruno Hawks brings the BAU right into Langley to find the mole. The Saudi woman is Aaliyah Nadir, the wife of a diplomat who funneled money to terrorist organizations. She provided intelligence to Summers until things got too hot and he moved her and her children to the Unites States. Now her husband Hassan has arrived in the United States looking for her so Summer has hidden her.

There's a race to find the mole before Hassan finds Aaliyah and the children. There are four suspects, all of whom are in supervisory roles, but one of them has her neck broken right there in Langley. A crucial clue comes from a conversation Summers had several weeks earlier with Gideon that Aaliyah is in a large container in Batimore.

The mole turns out to be Hawks himself who was paid several million by Hassan. Aaliyah and her family are saved while Hassan is arrrested.

The are several indications here that this show takes place in a different universe. The CIA would never call on the FBI to fix one of its own problems. There's no way the mole would kill somebody right in Langley. Finally, the CIA is presented as reasonably ethnically diverse when it's pretty much an Ivy League WASP group.

Went on to the CSI:NY episode "Sweet 16". A base jumper leaps from the top of a tall building, then unfurls his parachute. In an extremely unlikely event, a flock of pigeons chooses that moment to die on top of the parachute and he plummets to his death.

The birds are racing pigeons, traced by bands to their owner, Ray Seeley whom Taylor and Flack find dead on his roof coop. The weapon was a power tool which was also used to damage the coop. The pigeon feed contains a termite poison which caused their deaths.

The first suspect is Seeley's helper, young Jesse Quinn who also works in his stepfather Patrick's pool table-building shop. It turns out that Jesse doesn't really like pool tables, preferring pigeons. Patrick resents this, beating up Jesse. He finally decided to poison Seeley's pigeons and destroys the coop with a reciprocal saw. However, Seeley interrupted him, so Patrick had to kill him.

In the other plot, at a massive sweet 16 party, the father is found dead in the Benz presented to the daughter as a gift. The father was having an affair with one of her friends which is why he was paying for her silence with a Benz instead of the Mustang he had agreed with his wife on. While checking out the car, the wife just got fed up with the excesses and strangled her husband with her hair extensions.

Finished off with the Numb3rs episode "Brutus". The CIA had a brainwashing project that they were testing on California state prisoners. Now, people brainwashed under that project are being directed to kill people who ran the project.

After two people are killed, Charlie is able to use his math to find the likely third victim and the man perpetrating it. The mastermind was a psychiatrist whose brother was brainwashed in the program.

In the other plot, Larry announces he will be away for six months on the International Space Station so that Peter McNicol can play Thomas Lennox on 24.

January 25

Tom Waters is widely considered to be the greatest player ever on the quizbowl circuit. In my day, there was only College Bowl and while, he was pretty good, he wasn't the best. It was also clear Tom would do better at the harder questions we would now call ACF.

The Maryland team's favorite person on Emory back then was Lloyd Busch who is now a librarian there. Back then he was a colorful 35-year-old graduate student.

So that year, Maryland was in the final four of the eastern two-thirds of the national tournament. Our next opponent was MIT. Tom Waters was in our hotel room shooting the breeze.

Pretty much out-of-the-blue, without any relation to the preceding line of conversation, he asked us if we knew what a funambulist was. We didn't and he told us it was a tightrope walker. In the next game a toss-up asked,"A circus, a football stadium or theater. In which of the places would you be most likely to find a funambulist?"

I buzzed in correctly with "circus", but the team wondered why Tom told us that earlier. We lost the game, but we also took gifts anywhere we could find them. The sponsor/coach for Emory at the time was Mike Decker who was also a College Bowl writer and is now Editorial Director for College Bowl.

Or it all could have been just a coincidence.

January 24

Appearing at George Washington University, Nationals owner Ted Lerner said:

"There has to be a balance between revenues and expenses," Lerner said. "It could take baseball out of control."

Which is what owners have been saying since 1869. Ted remembers because he was there. I'm more concerned about the words out of Rick Snider's own word processor:

Never mind smaller market teams like Washington and Baltimore are struggling to compete for the top players.

This meme has to be strangled in its cradle right now. Sure the Washington and Baltimore market is smaller than New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, but it's bigger than San Francisco (that signed Barry Zito), Houston (Carlos Lee) and Kansas City (Gil Meche). I have a sinking feeling Snider was being fed a company line.

January 23

Got a link from Yuda's Gameday Chat about fixing up football rules. One suggestion was to reduce the penalty for pass interference from spot of the foul to fifteen yards and a first down. You could make the argument that the pass interference play is American football's equivalent of soccer's diving in the penalty box. Instead of getting a boring penalty kick to score, you get a boring one-yard plunge to score. The only thing mitigating this slippery slope is the "uncatchable ball" concept which at least requires the quarterback to get the ball close to the receiver.

The Tuna retired. Washington fans are hoping he's replaced by Norv Turner.

No sense in comparing Caldwell to Buckner. Of course not. Caldwell screwed up twice. Buckner messed up only once.

The whole buildup to the New England-Indianpolis game was that Tom Brady was 12-1 in the playoffs. He was this generation's Joe Montana. Therefore, it was a given that the Patriots couldn't lose. I can't argue with those two premises, just the conclusion. That one on the right side of the hyphen meant Brady had lost and it was just last year to Denver. Montana himself was 16-7 in the post-season including a three-year winless streak from 1985-1987. There was every reason to favor New England, last Sunday, but it was far from a mortal lock.

January 22

I never heard of Kenny Cooper until Saturday, but if he's any good, he could make soccer popular among the NASCAR demographic. I've been reading posts and links from the DCenters. The U.S. Mens National Team stereotype is a preppy (John Harkes, Brian McBride, Landon Donovan) or an alt rocker (Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Marcelo Balboa). Cooper looks like a jarhead fresh from Iraq with a hefty helping of Bryant "Big Country" Reeves.

Crazy game in England as Arsenal scored two goals in the last ten minutes to beat Manchester United. This is when it's great to have Fox Soccer Channel live.

You're going to see a lot stories in the next two weeks about two black head coaches in the Super Bowl. Along with that article, you'll probably also see a mention about the relative lack of black coaches in the college ranks.

The college football head coaching job requires gladhanding and backslapping boosters that are usually white and sometimes racist. An NFL head coaching job requires impressing just one owner and the league requires interviewing minority candidates.

Last summer Nick Saban got into trouble for not attending a dinner with Dubya. It seemed to be a dinner party atmosphere, not an intimate affair of less than a dozen. Sportstalk Radio provided this as evidence that Saban was a boring workaholic, perfect for the NFL, as opposed to college football which is made for the garulous men with families. Now that he's back in college, was Nick's personality misanalyzed or just his love of money?

There are more black college basketball coaches. This could be boosters facing the reality that a higher percentage of basketball players are black relative to football players. Generally, college basketball budgets are lower, so coaches don't necessarily have to be friendly with the racist elements of the boosters. College coaches of whatever color or sport have bigger personalities. I think only Herm Edwards, among the NFL coaches could work a room like John Thompson, Jr. or John Chaney.

January 21

Here's a rare Wizards posting. They're now atop the Eastern Conference by virtue of their slightly better record in the conference than the Cavaliers. Of course, both teams woold only come in seventh in the West.

Watched the CSI episode "Happenstance". Wife and mother Amanda Sinclair is shot as she goes to the dry cleaners one evening. Meanwhile, her identical twin, newspaper editor Jill Case has hung herself from the second floor balcony.

Neither twin appears to have known of the existence of the other. Amanda has contacted her biological mother Dora Pomeranz who gave up her twin babies after undergoing a nervous breakdown. Dora's only child Tiffany admits to reading her mother's mail and to writing a letter to Amanda, telling her never to contact Dora and signing it with her mother's name. However, Tiffany did grow slightly obsessed and spent hours stalking Amanda, watching her playing with her son and fantasizing about a relationship.

The killer turned out to be Jake Lenoir, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer of the war zone in Iraq. Warrick finds flash drives Jill had hidden away which proves Lenoir's pictures were Photoshop composites. To protect his reputation, Jake killed Amanda, believing her to be Jill. Later, as he broke into Jill's home to steal her computer, she suddenly turned up and he had to kill her again, staging it as a suicide.

January 20

Watched the How I Met Your Mother episode "Single Stamina". Wayne Brady plays Barney's gay brother James. We get a flashback of their mother's ever-changing explanation of why their skin tones differed. We get the idea that they were raised by a single mom and probably didn't even know who their biological fathers were.

Barney and James go out as each other's wingmen and one night, James convinces the two couples to join them. However, the foursome begin to suspect James may be in a relationship. Barney is disgusted that James is giving up the single life for marriage and the adoption of a baby. Eventually, though, Barney agrees to be a best man.

The story flashes forward a year later to the wedding reception as Lily and Marshall are married and Robin and Ted are still together. Barney has enlisted his infant nephew as his wingman.

Went on to the Cold Case episode "Forever Blue". In 1968, police officer Sean Cooper is shot to death under a bridge. Today, a dying con says he took a brick of heroin marked with the harp of known dealer Teddy Burke from the passenger seat of the squad car as Cooper lay dying.

Though the possibility of his corruption and his known womanizing are presented as motives for his murder, Eileen Bruno, the ex-wife of Sean's partner Jimmy reveals the crucial clue - Sean and Jimmy had a homosexual relationship. Their Lieutenant Tom McCree wanted them both dead, fearing their lifestyle more than Sean's veiled threat to out his boss' corruption. McCree sent both Sean and Jimmy to the bridge that night to kill them. Cooper's own father, the Sarge, was complicit, sending out the dispatch, although he believed his son would only be beaten up.

Just as they were being sent out, Jimmy realizes that Murphy, another cop, knows about their relationship, so Jimmy breaks it off. He rides with a rookie while Sean rides to his death. McCree himself hid under the bridge and pumped two shots through Sean's windshield.

The dying con's story is never verified - we don't see McCree planting the heroin on Cooper or the con grabbing it up later. Otherwise, if the con was lying, the cold case was reopened on totally untrue testimony.

The title refers to a prediction made by Sean at the baptism of Jimmy's son that the infant would follow in his father's footsteps as a police officer. I would have liked to see whether that prediction came true.

January 19

The book was Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. A history student from the mid-21st century goes back in time to England during the Black Death. Meanwhile, back where she left Oxford, they are dealing with a particularly virulent influenza epidemic.

I read the book around ten years ago and since it was about the time Buffy the Vampire Slayer started, I pictured Sarah Michelle Gellar and Anthony Stewart Head in the starring roles. I wasn't overly excited with it, but the book was a decent read.

The group generally liked the book and the characters. It was not lightened with comedy as much as a standard Connie Willis work. Ellen Caswell surmised that a back story for Kivrin, who first appeared in Fire Watch, occurred to Connie Willis and she just really wanted to tell that tale.

Technology has swept past what is supposed to be the mid-21st century in the book. Though people commonly communicate via picturephones, they are still tied to landlines as opposed to mobiles. It's ironic that this book shared its Hugo with A Fire Upon the Deep whose spiritual center is not unlike a Usenet group.

January 18

The Nats have invited Tony Womack to spring training. He'll be this year's version of Marlon Anderson or Damian Jackson. Womack is marginally better than Cristian Guzman and Nook Logan, but the ZiPS Projection says Washington is better in the middle infield with Jimenez, Thurston, Castro or Wilson.

January 17

Sure Victoria Beckham is beautiful, but so are most sports wives. I might have a higher opinion of her if she didn't hide behind fricking sunglasses all the time.

January 16

There are Hall of Fame voters who won't vote for McGwire because they believe he took steroids. So these people should have voted others in the next tier like Don Mattingly, Harold Baines or Wally Joyner. But these writers have decided that they won't vote for anybody from the "steroid era", whose chronological definitions are not exactly clear.

Even Hal Newhouser, two-time MVP winner from World War II, eventually got into the Hall of Fame. This isn't Oceania where truth can be changed at a whim. This isn't Soviet Russia where officials out of favor are airbrushed out of photographs. This isn't the NCAA where the Fab Five's 1992-1993 NCAA Finals appearances don't exist. Major league baseball was atcually played in the 1990s so go vote in somebody.

January 15

Here's the link explaining Beckham contract. MLS and the Galaxy won't pay more than $10 million per year. The other $40 million comes from endorsements. Of course MLS will go out of its way to exaggerate the size of this contract to show that it's healthy, but if the NFL, NBA or NHL was doling out major bucks, they'd tout it as well. In baseball, a big contract is another sign of the apocalypse.

Moving to LA also means possible movie opportunities for Beckham. My mind suddenly went to a "reunion" with Bend It Like Beckham star Keira Knightley in a Pirates of the Caribbean. Unexploded cannonball or classic round bomb with a fuse lands on the deck of Jack Sparrow's ship. Bechham's pirate character deftly kicks it back to the opposing vessel, bending it around the mast, right onto the powder store.

As a DC United fan, this doesn't scare me as much as if Beckham went to Chicago or New England, but I don't claim to know what I'm talking about it. Here's an interesting description by D in characterizing a DC United crowd:

But, in DC's loud side at least, it isn't just the geeks. It's a hybrid of the geeks, the refugees from DC's hardcore scene, and the strong ethnic supporters from Europe and the Americas. It's a strange conglomeration, the kind depicted previously only by a handful of cyberpunk writers.

Watched the CSI:NY episode "Here's to You, Mrs. Azrael". Party girl Nicole Garner survives a traffic accident, but she is paralyzed from the waste down. Her best friend Heather Rollins died at the scene.

While Nicole is in ICU, someone came in and suffocated her with a plastic bag. Pretty early on, Heather's mother Julie looks like a good suspect - she's a volunteer at the hospital and we aren't wrong. However, we are thrown a couple of interesting twists.

Julie Rollins, used a fourth electrocardiogram lead and attached it to herself so that no code blue alarms would ring while she killed Nicole. However, those same leads revealed that Nicole and the killer were related, but the killer wasn't Nicole's mother Ellen. And Nicole wasn't Nicole but actually Heather. The girls looked similar and Nicole gave Heather her driver's license in case they got pulled over. That was how the paramedics confused Nicole and Heather.

It was Heather in the ICU and Julie Rollins mistakenly killed her own daughter.

Melvin Dorta

Today is the birthday of Melvin Dorta. Misschatter actually met and thinks he's a pretty cool guy. I like Dorta for the concept of a 25th man who can play any position. His best game was probably the nightcap September 2 against the Diamondbacks and Livan when he got two hits playing short. There will probably better options for reserve infielder when the season starts, but I wouldn't be surprised to Melvin in the majors at some point in 2007.

January 14

Watched the CSI: Miami episode "Darkroom". The tollbooths at Florida's Turnpike are apparently staffed by bimbos in orange shorts. One car stops but does not wait for change. On a bloody five-dollar bill is scrawled the message,"He's going to kill me."

One victim, Leslie Anderson, is found dead with ligature marks similar to that found on the woman at the toll booth. Trace on Anderson's pants leads to an abandoned hotel where Tripp and Wolfe find Tommy Boyer, played by Cirroc Lofton, Jake Cisco of Deep Space Nine. He says he tracked his fiancée Jill Gerard, played by Elizabeth Harnois from Point Pleasant, to this location.

Wolfe cracks a safe in the hotel and finds photographs and memorabilia, such as panties, from several women including Leslie Anderson and Jill Gerard. When the pictures are examined in the lab, Boa Vista recognizes her sister Anya and Valera verifies the blood on the bill is Anya's. Natalia gets a frantic call from Anya, but at least she is alive.

Tommy Boyer gives Horatio a "Dear John" letter from Jill Gerard. There is an embossment on the corner that is traced to Bill Starr's Custom Upholstery Shop. There they find the car from which Anya gave the bloody bill. The address Starr has for the owner leads to a houseboat where Horatio finds Jill Gerard.

Gerard turns out to be a collaborator and won't give up the killer. Sand in the killer's car leads back to the jetty where Leslie Anderson was first found. There the police find two women alive beneath the rocks, supposedly with the killer intending to drown them with the rising tide.

The women are able to identify their abductor as photographer Gavin LaPorte. Horatio arrests LaPorte at his studio where he has Anya.

There were so many questionable details here. Why are Florida's Turnpike toll attendants dressed in schoolgirl fetish costumes? Why are there no "turnpike" gate arms to slow down toll cheaters? How safe can it be to transport conscious women against their will in car as opposed to in a trunk or in an enclosed van with an accomplice? Can the audience believe that Tommy Boyer and Jill Gerard never had sex? Can anyone believe LaPorte is a successful serial killer with a trail of dead bodies with this messy procedure?

Went on to the Criminal Minds episode "Sex, Birth and Death". A D.C. prostitute is stabbed in an alley, some of her hair cut off and left for dead. Reid meets a high school student at a Metrorail exit who saw one of his lectures and the discussion turns to the details of the aforementioned murder, but the boy runs away before Reid can catch him.

Garcia quickly identifies the boy as Nathan Harris, a sophomore and the only child of a GW medical school professor. As he is brought in for a psychological evaluation, another prostitute is killed so Nathan is not the unsub. However, Gideon strongly recommends hospitalization which Nathan's mother strongly opposes in favor of daily therapy.

The kid goes missing for several hours during which the fourth victim of the serial killer appears at a Metro exit within sight of the Capitol. The BAU return to their profile of a man feeling powerlessness and gets a possible description from the street hookers. That descrption is forwarded to a congresswoman highly interested in crimestopping who may know the man from her staff or advocacy groups. She identifies Donald Weems, the only member of one such organization. He is looking for another victim when one of the prostitutes blows a whistle on him and the FBI arrests him.

Nathan is about to enter a mental hospital but takes a hooker to a motel on his "last night of freedom". Instead of having sex he tries to kill himself, but a desperate cry of help to Reid saves his life.

The alleys of Washington presented were probably shot in New York or Los Angeles. Weems emerges from the subway with a building behind him that it way too tall for Washington.

January 13

Watched the How I Met Your Mother episode "Slap Bet". Robin has an unexplained fear of malls. Marshall thinks it's because she got married at a mall and Barney thinks it's because she performed in porn at a mall.

Robin admits to Ted she got married and never bothered to get divorced because the guy ran off to Hong Kong. Marshall does research and can't find any record that Robin ever got married. Interesting that he can research marriage records but not marriage laws. Robin says she isn't married but is upset that Ted told Marshall.

Barney has web evidence of what he believes is of Robin performing porn under the name Robin Sparkles. It turns out that was her performing name as a Debbie Gibson/Tiffany-style Canadian pop star who sang in every mall in Canada for a year.

The slap bet in the title is between Marshall and Barney and their beliefs about Robin's secret. The one who is right gets to slap the other in the face as hard as they can. After everything settles at the end of the show, Lily, as Slap Bet Commissioner, decrees that Marshall can slap Barney five times until the end of eternity.

Went on to the Numb3rs episode "Waste Not". A sinkhole appears in a Los Angeles school playground. The culprit appears to be the paving material made out of toxic waste but it's actually the barrels of toxic waste buried beneath the paving material that leached into the soil and broke it down. In addition, there's the clusters of childhood cancers from the toxic waste.

The federal prosecutor has been trying to nail the manufacturer for years but they've always been able to buy off potential hostile witnesses. The school superintendent is convinced to testify, but her liquor glass is spiked with peanut oil, which she is allergic to, and she dies while under protective custody with Megan. The FBI is forced to catch the manufacturer with a sting operation that has David posing as an EPA inspector.

In the other plot, Kathy Najimy is the new Mathemtics/Physics/Cosmology chair who wants Charlie to do less FBI work and more teaching. She also wants Larry to stop sleeping in the steam tunnels and is dating Alan.

Next up the CSI episode "Post Mortem". Retired cocktail waitress Penny Garden bleeds out falling against the glass in her home. While her nephew, a recovering drug addict, and her neighbor, a drug dealer, are the first suspects, the nephew turns up with a model, just like the one near the crime scene of Izzy Delancy. We end up nowhere near this model-building serial killer, but we do find out that the victim was intended to die in her chair. Penny was poisoned with liquid nicotine and convulsions landed that her in the window so the killer had to fix the model.

In the other story, Greg is the subject of an inquest in the death of Demitrius James who he ran over with an SUV. It's a boring story with the opposition set up as unsympathetic straw men. They could have limited this development to a few flashbacks and ended it with a lawsuit being served on Greg.

Finished with the Cold Case episode "Lonely Hearts". In 1989, a big girl named Martha Puck goes to a video dating service and turns up dead a few months later with a bullet in her back. In 2006, conman Ramon Delgado is found dead of a suicide while watching Martha's video dating tape.

A search of Ramon's storage facility reveals that he not only conned overweight, unattractive women, but married and killed four of them in hit and runs. It turns out Martha got him into the scheme of killing the women. Finally Ramon decides to marry Martha so she knows he intends to off her as well.

Martha gets a gun to turn the tables on Ramon. It turns out Eugenia, one of Ramon's earlier victims, gets the gun from Martha and kills her.

January 12

I remember the heady early days of the Nats - when the team was run out of a trailer and a hotel suite, when Ron Darling rode the subway to RFK, when no one could get MASN... Everything was new then and I remember seeing a Nat Pack girl taking the Metrorail home one night.

I was too far away to talk to her and didn't get her name, but she talked to the fans around her and was an open amabassador of the team, even though she was probably off the clock at that point. If the new Nat Pack are going to look like Las Vegas showgirls, then I doubt they're getting on the subway in costume. They'll just be another pretty girl on the train and there's a team interaction opportunity lost.

I know, this is just another step to the Nats' big revenue status and when they win division titles I won't care. But there was a day, when everything wasn't so slick and sophisticated.

Manny ActaJanuary 11

Today is the birthday of Manny Acta. There's nothing I can say about Manny Acta that hasn't been said before. Both Barry Svrluga and Todd Jacobsen have both reported on Acta in the Dominican Republic.

The interview with Stan Kasten continues at Nats320. In Part Two, Kasten reveals that Screech will be de-emphasized in favor of the Racing Presidents. Combined with the new all-female Nat Pack, I suddenly got the vision of Thomas Jefferson with an African-American Nat Packer and the attendant Sally Hemmings cracks.

In Part Three, Kasten said the Nats weren't offered much in trade for Soriano:

"NOT A THING-- We would take today or YOU WOULD TAKE TODAY!. NOT A THING! That is better, than what we wound up getting. Now, why is that, its going to be a mystery to me. Because the truth is, we got better pitchers in our deals for Hernandez and even Marlon Anderson (Johny Nunez from the Dodgers) than for Soriano. THAT SHOCKS ME!! SHOCKS ME (POUNDING HIS DESK). Nevertheless, it is the truth."

"And, what I saw, coming down to the deadline, the last day, there was a determination to trade him (on the part of Washington's Baseball Think Tank), I was worried. We were about to trade him for NEXT TO NOTHING!! And thatís, when I had to step in, and say--NO!!. We are not going down that road. WE ARE NOT GOING TO DO STUPID THINGS!!."

St. Louis has finally warmed to Tony LaRussa since he managed the Cardinals to a World Series title. Then I saw this bit:

Except for nearly losing his Escalade to a transporter fire somewhere over the Rockies...

Well that explains Albert Pujols - he's a Klingon! And the Cardinals keep winning because of some advanced Star Fleet technology.

Man in kangaroo costume appears to have third hand holding chopsticks.
Bizarre, but probably purposeful juxtaposition in the Washington Post Express.

January 10

Tony Gwynn supports Mark McGwire's entry into the Hall of Fame:

"In the late 1980s and early '90s, we had no rules," Gwynn said Tuesday on a conference call. "We knew, players knew, owners knew, everybody knew, and we didn't say anything about it.

"As a player I kind of focused on what was going on on the field, and as far as I'm concerned he dominated an era."

Back home, Manny Acta has named Nook Logan the center fielder going into spring training. I would have opted for Alex Escobar until his inevitable injury because the record while healthy favors him. I would platoon all four - Casto, Church, Escobar and Logan, not only depending on the handedness of the opposing pitcher, but also on whether the Nats pitcher will tend to give up balls in the gaps and whether the bats will be needed more than the gloves. Acta also expects to start the season with 12 pitchers, which means Fick and Broadway will not be both coming north.

January 9

The casting call is going out for a new all-female Nat Pack. This is just one step away from the Mermaids or the MDX team.

Call me an old fart, but I don't like this trend. Sure, increase the female-male ratio and relegate the guys to "bouncer" duty to protect the girls and Screech. Even sex up the girls' outfits to a tank, but don't make them cheerleaders.

I think the Nat Pack should stay fan-friendly, family-friendly entertainment. They should be girls you see at the mall, not girls you see on the street.

There will be no role for the Frank Robinson next year, via Nationals Farm Authority. I understand how his presence might intimidate individuals in the front office. Frank's better suited to community outreach in Washington at any rate. The Nats could have paid him a salary instead of just offering expenses, but you don't want to break the budget on "The Plan".

Misschatter had an accident near Richmond, but she's okay. Screech's Best Friend has the first part of an interview with Stan Kasten.

January 8

Watched the Cold Case episode "Fireflies". In 1975, eight-year-old girls, one white, one black, become friends during the summer. In October, the white girl Melinda disappears and the black girl's older brother Terrell was the prime suspect.

Today, a post card from Melinda to her friend Cherise, unmailed from 1975, is found in the basement of a recently deceased postal carrier who refused to deliver to black families. Her body was never found so regular viewers strongly suspect she is still alive.

The crucial moment is when the words "Critter Lover" are painted on Melinda's house. Teenager Dale Wilson is blamed for it by his racist father Hank who is also the head of the civic association. Actually, Melinda's mother did in a twisted way to coax the family out of the neighborhood. Of course, when Melinda disappeared, suddenly the mother refused to leave.

When Cherise and Melinda meet in the woods, Dale finds them and shoots at Cherise to scare her. He drives Melinda to West Virginia and shoots her, but she lives to be put in foster care.

There is an unreal scene when Cherise's family moves in and the civic association is protesting across the street. Overt racism had disappeared by 1975 and taken cover under opposition to busing and affirmative action.

Went on to the CSI episode "Burn Out". An Amber Alert goes out for Jason Crowley and Lucas Hanson, two ten-year-old boys, one white, one black. This is an ironic to counterpoint to the Cold Case episode above.

As the Amber Alert goes out, convicted sex offender Carl Fisher, played by Alan Tudyk, Wash from Firefly, claims to have his car and/or house burned by angry neighbors every time there's an Amber Alert. He sits with Grissom and offers advice on finding who abducted the boys. Lucas is found buried on a golf course and Jason is on a bus for Houston.

Lucas had been neglected by his mother and, starved for attention, approached Fisher himself. Jason was living with an abusive grandfather until his father could get settled enough to take him to Houston. Lucas was suffering the effects of rough treatment from Jason's grandfather when Fisher took them both out for pizza. Instead of taking Lucas to the hospital as his condition worsened, Fisher gave him whiskey and aspirin. He died in Fisher's arms and Jason escaped.

Fisher is identified by Jason, confesses to impropriate contact with Lucas and setting his car and house on fire as Jason's grandfather is charged with child abuse. Meanwhile, Grissom's migranes are getting worse.

January 7

Watched the Criminal Minds episode "Lessons Learned". A DEA raid on a Northern Virginia house yields equipment for releasing anthrax. Following a trail in the NSA's archive of intercepted phone conversations leads to Jind Allah, an Egyptian who disappeared into Guantanamo six months earlier.

Gideon sits with him a while and becomes friendly. We learn Jind Allah's eight-year-old son was killed in a bazaar bombing blamed on Israel and the United States. He went on to be a prison cleric, recruiting U.S. citizens with grievances against the government.

Gideon gets him to reveal his cell's target is a shopping center. The BAU should have figured it would be one of the targets much earlier.

George Shoch and Joe SullivanJanuary 6

Today is the birthday of George Shoch (sepia photo) and Joe Sullivan (black and white). Shoch played outfield and shortstop for the 1886-1889 Nats, starting only in 1888 at short. Not much more than an average hitter, he played to age 38 with the Brooklyn Bridgegrooms. Sullivan was the starting shortstop for the 1893 Senators in his rookie year before being sold to Philadelphia in June 1894. He only played four seasons with a lifetime .299 average.

Thom Loverro said while being interviewed by Mark Sterne that he is not voting for Mark McGwire for the Hall of Fame. He won't speak for a bad human being like Ty Cobb. Loverro refuses to pass judgement on past Hall of Fame selections and doesn't mention Gaylord Perry at all. However, he feels he's a current gatekeeper who must apply appropriate standards on his watch. Similarly, although Sterne has no vote, he also felt it was his duty to advocate against the alleged steroid users from his position.

Now Loverro has admitted to being kicked out of the University of Miami for setting his fraternity house on fire. Most Saturday mornings, Sterne's monologue concerns the size of his current hangover. Loverro and Sterne have as much business making moral judgements as Bill Clinton does heading up a sexual misconduct panel or George W. Bush chairing a task force on military conduct.

Stealing from Yuda's Gameday Chat, the Nats have made offers to Tony Armas Jr., Ramon Ortiz, Steve Trachsel, Jorge Sosa and Jerome Williams with the hope that one of them will be the innings-eater the anti-planners hope. Not only that, they may have offered up to $3 million - almost market value! See what Basil thinks about it.

In other Nats news, I noticed in Baseball America's profile of Nats prospects that Matt Chico flunked out of USC and Palomar Junior College. You don't need brains to play baseball, but they're more important to pitchers and catchers than to the other positions. This may mean nothing at all, but it's a small warning flag to watch out for.

Watched the CSI: Miami episode "High Octane". At a street party, high performance race cars are doing stunts. One of the drivers, Dex Gilman, performs the "Jack-in-the-Box" where he sets the car on cruise control, steers with his feet, and hangs halfway out of the sunroof. Unfortunately, a string of lights hanging over the road decapitates him.

Now the episode goes about thirty minutes before the lab gets clear evidence of murder, but for a half hour of television time, Horatio and his gang of jack-booted thugs trample on the civil rights of misguided teens and honest businessmen. We are also led to believe that young party goers are going to get up before 6 a.m. to watch car stunts. Anyway, Gilman's car was raised several inches by built-in hydraulics just moments before he reached the last string of lights. The scheme was plotted by his girlfriend Brynn Roberts who set off the hyrdaulics for with her cell phone in order to get the footage of his decapitation on the web.

In the even more baffling other plot, contractor Steve Dunlar is stealing jet fuel from an underground line. We're not sure, but maybe it's to fill up a plane full of stolen cars headed to Venezuela. Apparently, the profit margin on hot rides is not enough to buy jet fuel legally. So Steve called 911 on the hotrod sideshow to divert the police away from him, but unfortunately, his son Evan found the jet fuel and put in his own car, thinking it was gasoline.

January 5

We all know Home Simpson works in a "noo-kyu-lar" power plant. Tonight I heard John Riggins say that the Washington football team has a good "noo-kyu-lus" for next year.

January 4

I've already advanced the concept that the Nats will be closer to 70 wins than 50 wins next year. Next up is Replacement Level Yankees Weblog who projected the actual 81-win season for the Nats two years. Once again, they predict a .500 year, just a hair ahead of Philadelphia for third place.

Despite all the gloom and doom from within the Nats Caucus, the outsiders are setting the win total at something above 70. In most cities, that's a disaster. Here's that's a relief.

January 3

One more time, it's my alternate NFL playoff seeding. Since each division plays all the teams in a division in the same conference, that pair of divisions could be considered a sub-conference. Also, if one of those divisions is particularly weak, the other division in the pair might unfairly feast on those weak sisters. Therefore, there should only be one wild card team from each sub-conference and the division winner with the best record gets the first round bye.

AFC East/South. New York Jets at New England with the winner playing Indianapolis.
AFC North/West. Kansas City at Baltimore with the winner playing San Diego.
NFC East/South. Dallas at Philadelphia with the winner playing New Orleans.
NFC North/West. St. Louis at Seattle with the winner playing Chicago.

In the AFC, all the qualifying teams are the same, except that Indianapolis gets the first round bye instead of Baltimore. One might argue that the two best teams in the AFC don't get to play for the conference championship, but maybe they padded their records on the Raiders and the Browns. In the NFC, I have St. Louis qualifying instead of the Giants since there can only be one wild card from a division in my method. Another thing I noticed is that tie-breakers are a lot easier since, except for the conference championship, everyone has played the teams they are competing against for a playoff spot or first round seeding. So fans can say about those games against that other division,"We need to beat them so that we'd win the tiebreaker for the wild card."

Royce ClaytonJanuary 2

Today is the birthday of Royce Clayton. He signed as a free agent 11 months ago and supposedly it was a good acquisition because Cristian Guzman got injured, but he was triple the salary of Brendan Harris. In his half-season in Washington, Clayton hit .269 with 27 RBIs. It's tough to pick a best game for him, but I'll go with June 2 against Milwaukee when he went 1-3 with two walks and three runs scored in the Homestead Grays uniform. Royce was traded to Cincinnati in the July Krivsky-fleecing and will play 2007 with Toronto, his tenth different major league team.

January 1

Watched the CSI:NY episode "Consequences". Two paint ball professionals take their rivalry to the real streets of New York. On of them, Kym Tanaka winds up shot to death with a real gun in a warehouse used to store balloons for the Thanksgiving parade.

The crucial piece of evidence is a black powder in the wound track that turns out to be cocaine colored black so that it can be smuggled in toner cartridges. The composition is exactly that of a bust Flack was on and one of the cops with him took three kilos. The dirty cop killed Tanaka who had stumbled onto the stash.

In a red herring, the other paint baller, Cyrus Menlo, was caught in a bear trap by a former astrogeologist who believed he was a space alien. Meanwhile, Stella believes she is being followed by a teenage boy. He turns out to be looking for Mac's late wife Claire who had given him up for adoption. The boy wants no further contact with Mac since he is not a blood relative, but an assumption is left in the air that he is the boy's father is well.

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