Not much today, friends, but you’re free to play like kittens in the comments. Just to get you started…
Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to be Mitch Albom, to get up every morning, look in the mirror and say, “I am worth every penny.” Think he does that? Or does he, like so many other successful people, secretly believe he has pulled off an illusion worthy of Ricky Jay, and tremble inwardly at what will happen when the audience finds out? I dunno. All I know is, I have never been a sportswriter and everything I know about baseball could fit in a shoebox, and I could have written a better column about the Mitchell Report than this. In fact, if you’d given me the Mitchell Report as a challenge, and asked me to write something about it, something suitable for a daily newspaper, I would have turned in something very much like Albom’s column. Watch me as I reveal the mysteries of punditry:
First, state facts already in evidence:
… the report was not earth-shattering, only because we already have suspected much of what it contained. Sure, many more names were thrown on the bonfire, including All-Stars such as Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Miguel Tejada, and as you read this, analysts and fans are screaming over how to view their careers.
Then, ask a lot of rhetorical questions:
So now what? … And if they had nothing to hide, why didn’t any of them talk? …Or will the net result be, as many suspect, a big fat nothing?
Sign off with that time-tested waffler:
Where we go next is anyone’s guess.
Michael Rosenberg, the other Freep sports columnist, does a better job. Not hugely better, but better. Writing a first-day column about a big event expected to have wide repercussions someday, but not today, is always an exercise in thumb-twiddling. But some twiddle better than others. For instruction on how to do it well, I recommend Thomas Boswell and Harvey Araton.
For the scores of you keeping track at home, let me report the dog’s health has taken a dramatic turn for the better on his new food. Within 24 hours, his energy improved, his tucked-in skinny flanks began to fill out and he stopped looking like a sick dog, and more like a very healthy one. There was a trip to the groomer in there for a bath and haircut, which helped, but you can’t fake weight gain. He goes back next week for another blood test, and unless my eyes deceive me, the results will be good.
Something to think about for later this month. Last year we spent that down week between the holidays posting pictures submitted by you folks. Because we have so many regular commenters here, it’s nice to get a closer look at one another when there’s not much else going on. So send in some holiday pictures, and we’ll fill the waning days of the year sharing them here.
So have a great weekend. Mine will be exhausting. Hope yours isn’t.
Mindy said on December 14, 2007 at 10:28 am
Thomas Boswell rocks. I clipped his famous column “The first 99 reasons why baseball is better than football” when it appeared in 1986 and still have it, all yellow and crunchy. Got many of his books after it appeared. The ’94 strike took the love of baseball right out of me, but I still love Tom. It’s difficult to read anyone else in the sports page.
Wonderful news about the Sprigster. I hope Santa brings him lots of goodies.
Pictures, hmm. It would be a good reason to learn my digital camera. Especially since it’s supposed to be easier to use than the one that was stolen.
John C said on December 14, 2007 at 10:33 am
Thanks for the Boswell link. Great stuff. Sad for me as an old Roger Clemens. Like Bonds he’s a sad figure because he really was one of the greats without the juice.
Mitch was, indeed, inane. But the worst one I heard was Mike Tirico on ESPN radio. The gist of his take was: We have the who the what the when and the where, but we may never know why. I yelled to no one in the car: “How about millions and millions and millions and MILLIONS of dollars?!”
You hear a lot of talk about what sort of example about honesty and ethics this sets for kids. I don’t worry about that. To me, bad examples are just as easy to work with as good ones. No, I worry about the very real effect (affect?) it has on teens. Imagine you are a young stud of a ball player. You’ve been tearing up fields since you were eight. Now you are in high school and the scouts are talking to you and you are starting to hear that you are good, but maybe not good enough, and you start to think that maybe a shot or two in the ass will get you over the hump and into the bigs and guess what: being a multi-millionaire who gets all the chicks sounds better than pumping gas.
brian stouder said on December 14, 2007 at 11:00 am
Agreed on all points. And – I think Ashley and Nance’s link to the shortened, enfeebled lives of professional football players also points back to ‘roids.
I mean – even taking evolution into account, these people who are 6’ 5″ and weigh 240 pounds and can run a 40 yard dash in under 4 seconds…and who are dead before they’re 60 – gives one pause.
And even if we leave aside body-building steroids, think of all the other potions that these people are injected with (pain killers and joint lubricators).
As John C points out, the screaming hypocrisy (especially on the part of blind-eye league, and the drug-pushing teams) encapsulated in the “Why?” part of this story is THE STORY
John C said on December 14, 2007 at 12:06 pm
I was going to bring up the football player angle. You see these stories of retired players who are essentially disabled … can’t get down on the ground to play with their kids … hopelessly arthritic. And every one of them, to a man, says they would do it all over again. That’s the lure of reaching that peak. And we think high schoolers won’t use steroids if it will give them an edge? Think again.
And Mindy, come back to baseball. It’s still a great game. Just forget about all the money (not easy to do when you’re paying eight bucks for a beer) and enjoy. And if you really can’t stomach the pros, wander over to your local park and watch some 12-year-olds. It’s still a simple, complicated game. And beautiful.
nancy said on December 14, 2007 at 12:08 pm
Very true. That was the heartbreaking part of that Earl Campbell story — he said it was all worth it. The guy’s a cripple, but he paid the price willingly.
Sue said on December 14, 2007 at 12:23 pm
I gave up on baseball when the Cubs, the Cubs’ fans, and idiots in general went after Steve Bartman during the certainly not unexpected Cubs implosion in 2003. Even the apologies by players and management afterward couldn’t shake me from the horrible realization that an ordinary person who did nothing wrong would have to actually GO INTO HIDING when a sports mob mentality takes over. I wish I could blame what happened to that poor man on massive player and fan ‘roid rage. Then there might be a reason for it, however malignant. At least we haven’t quite descended to the level of soccer murders. Yet.
brian stouder said on December 14, 2007 at 12:36 pm
There was a NASCAR race this year on a road course (Watkins Glen NY, I think), and they went red flag and stopped the cars – and a fan went over the fencing and up to one of the stopped cars! (I believe it was Matt Kenseth’s Ford)….and the commentators made light of it, and the incident made the highlight reel…. I thought “hmmmmmm”
The driver himself was one of the few people who expressed concern that any idiot stupid enough to run onto a live racetrack (it could as easily have been green-flag, and the guy could have gone for a ‘noted exit’ from this vale of tears) could just…do it!
Danny said on December 14, 2007 at 12:40 pm
Well, a couple of different (off) topics…
Jeff, I ordered a Kentucky Bourbon Fruitcake. It is scheduled to arrive Friday the 21st. I will let you all know if I become a true believer. I am thinking that it will be a good energy snack to have before morning bike rides over the holiday break. I can just picture myself now, ricocheting down the bike path.
Not a particularly busy weekend here. We are doing a very, very low-key Christmas this year. Staying at home. No presents because we have a bunch of friends that are tight this year and we don’t want them to feel obligated. We just want to get everyone together and do Thanksgiving Reloaded.
Well, almost no presents. The nephews I finished shopping for weeks ago. They are 9 and 10 now and so I got them slot cars, possibly the best toy I ever had in my life. I hope they like them too. I got the HO-scale. A 4-lane track that can go into the configuration of 15 different international speedways.
On another note, we got a new top-of-the-line Dell laptop for my wife, the XPS 1730. Because of the cutting-edge video card, we only had the option of Windows Vista for the OS and we got the latest Office too. Let me tell you, M$ really, really screwed up with this one. We have about 10 more days to decide if we want to box it up and send it back for a full refund and I think we are very close to pulling that trigger. The hardware may be a several orders of magnitude faster than the previous laptop, but it is absolutely a zero-sum game with the steaming piles of bloatware that pass for an OS and office suite. Geeessh!
I saw a commercial recently regarding charitable funding for laptops for children. One of the main messages was that computers will unlock kids’ imaginations and thinking processes. Well, if those kids get a new laptop like ours, I can totally believe it, because the kids will have plenty of time to imagine things, think deep thoughts, and maybe even do shadow puppets while they are waiting for the computer to do even the most mundane tasks (like highlight text and cut and paste!!!).
If we send this back, we are going to buy our first Mac.
Kirk said on December 14, 2007 at 1:10 pm
Amen on Tom Boswell. It’s a sad time for worshipers of baseball such as I, but the game has transcended such darkness before and will do so again.
beb said on December 14, 2007 at 1:24 pm
The One Laptop Per Child initiative uses Linux for its operating system, because it’s free and because it’s not as bloated as Windows.
On baseball I think the reason Mitch Albom didn’t say anything decisive about the ‘riods scandal is because he knows that nothing will change. The team owners don’t care what the plays do so long as they win games. And when ten-twenty million dollar contracts are being thrown around you can believe that players will do anything – even kill old people – to get that money. It’s no longer a sport, it’s a sickness.
Jeff said on December 14, 2007 at 4:03 pm
MacBook rules. That’s all the theology i’m doin’ today.
Marie said on December 14, 2007 at 5:14 pm
I feel like I could have saved all the instant messages being shot around our office yesterday during Mitchell’s droning, tossed them in a bag and shook them up, and then arranged them into a better column than that. Sheesh.
del said on December 14, 2007 at 8:08 pm
Glad brian’s as appalled as others about giving highlight reel attention to such foolishness; and Christmas as Thanksgiving Reloaded is a good idea Danny.
As for athletes, I know two former pro/major college football players who’ve had knees replaced and also know that Olympic wrestling great Dan Gable had a hip replaced in middle age. Bet they’d all say it was worth it. And weird as it sounds they may be right. After all, we’re all getting older and creakier; stairs will get tougher to navigate and if we’re lucky we will have days of frailty and instability.
Past athletic glory let’s us revel in such pain — reminded of our heroic sacrice. Somebody strike up Springsteen’s “Glory Days.”
basset said on December 14, 2007 at 10:46 pm
Sports in our society are not about the love of the games, they’re about exclusion and producing an artificial elite.
Compare the number of children who play little-kid soccer to the ones who play in high school – you might want to play the game till you’re sixty, but if you don’t make the travel team and get to the next level, too bad, get off the field, loser.
Danny said on December 15, 2007 at 10:46 am
del, I think Dan Gable has had two hip replacement surgeries, but I am not sure if they were on the same hip (probably not). I saw him on the sidelines last year and he looked just great.
Anyone with some knowledge of video editing, can you tell me if the vcrs that play mini-dv tapes are worth buying to transfer video to computer? Here is an example of one such machine:
Seems that this is better than using one’s camcorder to transfer, thus reducing wear and tear. It just seems pricey. Any suggestions?
I’ve been looking at these machines for about two years now and it has been on the back burner because it is part of a bigger project I am envisioning for home movies, old photos, etc.
MichaelG said on December 15, 2007 at 3:01 pm
You want some honest sport? I got some honest sport for you. Also some great, most enjoyable family entertainment: The NCAA Women’s Volleyball final. It’s tonight (Saturday) on ESPN2 at 6:00PM Pacific time. A friend of mine works as a volunteer for the Sacramento Sports Commission, is working the tournament and recommended it to me. He tended the (non-alcoholic) bar at the banquet on Wed evening. He says the young women were all unfailingly smiling and unfailingly polite. He says they even called him “Sir”. “And I had to look up at all of them”, my 5’ 11” friend relates. I watched the semis on Thursday and enjoyed every minute of it. I wasn’t even put off by the shrill voice of the commentator. This is collegiate sport as it is intended to be. No steroids, no cheating, nothing but smiles, grins, high fives and hugs from the young women on both sides of the net. They are all plainly enjoying playing. Sure this is big time sport and yeah, a lot of them are competing for berths on the Olympic team, but it’s good, healthy competition. If you have any young women of teen or preteen years in your homes, I highly recommend tonight’s game between Stanford and Penn State. And the young ladies! Whew! Even if they are all over 6’ tall. Wish I were young again. I’ll be watching it. I even bought popcorn. The hell with the 49ers and Bengals who are on at the same time.
Danny said on December 15, 2007 at 3:41 pm
Good points, Michael. I would like to add a plug for women’s soccer. Infinitely watchable and competitive.
MichaelG said on December 15, 2007 at 5:12 pm
Oh sure, I like women’s soccer. It’s fun to watch and they aren’t all a bunch of crybaby fakers like the European and South American men.
basset said on December 15, 2007 at 5:52 pm
Danny, that recorder is way more than you need for home use… unless whatever you’re doing requires time code, closed captioning, and playback of both US and European mini-dv tapes. I’d either find a used Sony DSR-11 in good shape or just buy a mini-dv camera and use it only for playback. The DSR series is pretty much the standard for professional mini-dv, I’ve never even seen one of those JVCs.
Danny said on December 16, 2007 at 10:22 am
Thanks much, basset. I had been looking at the DSR-11’s too, but have been kinda reluctant to get any of these machines (Sony, JVC, Panasonic, etc) because in the lower end price range ($1000-$1500) they all seem to be pretty much discontinued or just not well supported. But it is good to know that the DSR’s are the standard. I will look around on the usual sites.
Connie said on December 16, 2007 at 10:59 am
Danny, last year I purchased a combo DVD/DVR/VHS player that will record video to DVD. Works very nicely, except the recording has to happen in real time with the video tape actually playing. It was under $200 at Best Buy. It gets used the most for watching those items we still have only on video.
Whoo! Serious snow here.
basset said on December 16, 2007 at 1:09 pm
those are good if you’re just making a straight copy to DVD… but I think Danny wants to do more than that, sounds like his project involves some editing.
Danny, buy one of the DSRs if you want but you’d get away a lot cheaper with a $300-400 camcorder, you’re not gonna wear it out dubbing your home tapes.
for the price of a DSR you can get a new iMac with the iMovie editing software already on it, which should be all you need just to chop up and organize your old video. Hard drives are cheap; buy an external or two to archive and back up on, and away you go.
One other thing… just because whatever edit software you end up with has all kinds of flips and swirls and other such gaudy crap in it doesn’t mean you have to use ’em…
Danny said on December 16, 2007 at 2:21 pm
basset, thanks again. You’ve talked me into just buying the camcorder. And I totally agree with you about not using all of the “flips and swirls.”
My plan is to have unedited and edited versions backed up on multiple hard drives. This way, I will:
1. Always have the unedited tapes
2. Have at least two unedited backups on separate hard drives.
3. Have edited versions backed up on separate drives.
4. Be able to watch everything easier, without fussing with tape and camcorder.
And if and when we go HD, we just buy new camcorders.
basset said on December 16, 2007 at 9:47 pm
sounds good, and remember to put the backup drives somewhere else… in a storage unit, at work, friend’s home, any place you’ll still have ’em if there’s a disaster at your house. iMovie and iDVD should take care of you just fine, edit, make your own dvds and start cranking ’em out.
speaking of flips and swirls… one of the early small-format editing devices was called a “Video Toaster,” saw my first one about 1980. you could do a transition on that in the shape of those female silhouettes you see on big-truck mudflaps… they’d fall from the top of the frame and stack up to reveal the new shot.
the Toaster also had a falling-sheep wipe… you could not make this up.
and no sooner do I say all that than I see a snowflake-shaped wipe on CNN web video, a weather report from Boston Common…