To Fuss is Human, To Rant, Divine!!

Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Dreeb! The Original Star Wars Fanbase is crumbling under attacks by the ruthless Director, George Lucas. There are no heroes. Mundanity is everywhere.

In a stunning move, the fiendish robot actress Natalie Portman has swept into the hearts of fanboys and kidnapped Good Taste, leader of the Discerning Mind.

As the Pitiful CGI Excuses for Actors attempt to flee our beseiged psyches with their valuable Box Office Take, two Reluctant Heroes of Old lead a desperate mission to rescue the captive Good Taste....

Thus begins Star Wars, Episode 3.02: Revenge of the Forgotten

Starring: Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, and Dennis Lawson as Wedge Antilles, who adventure across the galaxy in Calrissian's Converted Luxury Yacht, the Lady Luck, attempting to stop movie-making folly that will ruin their chances at ever making lucrative appearances at Sci-Fi cons again.

Actually, the real title crawl for Revenge of the Sith debuted today. It can be read here , along with the title crawls of the other 5 movies.

It's the only crawl that has felt it necessary to start off with a bang. Or rather, an exclamation of "War!"

I'm thinking that they're trying to evoke Christopher Lee as Saruman in "Two Towers" as a bit of pseudo-clever writing, but it comes off as more William Li circa Third Grade. Although I think I was capable of better exposition then.

I was definitely better at exposition come to think of it. And so was Lucas, in 1977 it seems. The crawl for the 1977 "A New Hope" reads much better than whatever the heck this is.

I encourage anyone reading this to come up with their own title crawl parodying the one for Episode III. I'm sure I'd be very entertained by the responses.

Oh and in unrelated news, Sammy Sosa will likely be an Oriole in a day or two. The trade is Sosa for displaced 2nd baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. and two-four prospects.

I would expect that the prospects involved would be fairly high rated ones. Val Majewski and John Maine are the big names that stand out, and any one of the two, along with a lower level prospect, would constitute a solid trade, as long as the Cubs take on part of Sosa's monster salary. Sosa is old and won't be the star he was five years ago, but he'll be good for attracting fans. As for knocking runs in, we'll leave that up to Miguel Tejada.

Majewski is their top prospect, but was injured late last year, so I would expect Maine to leave.

The Orioles might not miss him though. My favorite in their system right now is David Haehnel, a 2004 draftee (I believe that protects him from trades) that closed for Baltimore's A-level Aberdeen Ironbirds with a gaudy 61 K's in 37 innings along with a 1.21 ERA. I say this because he's a smart pitcher, and has good stuff, a fastball in the low 90's with movement and a plus changeup. He should move through the system quickly.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Flaw in the Ointment

I just realized that my dwarf numbers are wrong, even without factoring in the possibility that I'm using ecology equations wrong.

So what I had done, after figuring out the number of dwarves left over after the Battle of Azanulbizar and figuring out how the death rate figured into Dain bringing 500 to the Battle of Five Armies, was to say, ok, I have 286 from Cohort A and 214 from Cohort B, and I can add 1/3 of those numbers again to get the number of women left. This is not entirely right, since my mortality rate should be skewed heavily male, at least for the interval that includes the cataclysmic Battle of Azanulbizar.

I don't really feel like crunching the numbers again, though it would be simple, but if anyone really wants me to, email me, and I'll get on it.

Lenny Bruce is Not Afraid

Two signs of the coming apocalypse/alien-invasion/government denies involvement/national attention STILL focused on some bimbo's wardrobe malfunction.

First, there's a bright side to every story. Even the Greenhouse Effect and global warming. Because thanks to the CO2 cloud that is gradually enveloping our atmosphere, we might have a seaway connecting Russia and Canada.

This is WONDERFUL news!! This means that the marajauna and ecstasy for vodka barter industry will be facilitated ten-fold. If drunk Russians weren't bad enough, soon we'll have more drunk, stoned Russians than what we know what to do with.

In all seriousness, they are talking about using it as a legitimate trade route up North, as it would cut thousands of miles off sea-based trade. This includes, but is not exclusive to, "phosphates, ores, petroleum products, fertilizer and agricultural machinery." Yes, the wonderful tools of industry and the machine age. The same tools that are RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GLOBAL WARMING IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Let me get this straight (like Bering Strait, get it?).

Because of Global Warming, Canada and Russia can increase the oil consumption and volume of potential pollutants being used in their countries? Words fail me.

But fear not.

For right out of your neighborhood X-File, Black oil, or something very similar to it, has been found on the International Space Station. Only news
so far is that it is of "unexplained origins". The source was most likely oil expelled through a vent on the station. Yes, a likely story. I also enjoy the part about the "Russian experts" investigating the source of the spot.

What's the number for the Lone Gunmen again?

Oh well. Our new alien overlords will probably be better than the Bush administration anyway.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Gibson EB-0, 1961 Model

To get me motivated in my thesis, I've been periodically watching Furi Kuri. No joke.

For anyone that doesn't know the anime Furi Kuri, it may be the single most incomprehensible, phallically-charged, humorous, coming-of-age, short anime ever created. It's utterly brilliant and only six episodes long, but a first viewing usually makes the viewer (whether he or she knows Japanese or not) scratching their head in confusion.

Spoilers, so don't read if you're going to watch it.

The main character, Naota, is a jaded kid that's bored with his existence in Mabase, his mundane and predictable hometown. The only thing that's new is the Medical Mechanica factory, which doesn't serve any ostensible purpose to the local economy or any purpose at all except to emit a large cloud of smoke once a day, every day. Oh yeah, it looks like a huge iron.

Naota's brother Tasuku has gone to America (to go to school? play baseball?), leaving Naota at the mercy of his brother's clingy and slightly neurotic girlfriend, who has insisted on replacing Tasuku, emotionally and physically, with Naota.

Naota is confused about his relationship with his brother's girlfriend, and isn't sure about the whole girls and kissing and sex thing. Dirty thoughts and hair growing in weird places and stuff like that.

To top it all off, his brother, who was, and still is, Naota's idol, has sent him a letter from America with a picture enclosed that brags about his new blonde girlfriend. This sets the stage for Haruko, a guitar-wielding Alien riding a Vespa who literally runs Naota over.

As a result of his accident, not only does Haruko become his family's maid, but Naota also discovers a weird growth protruding from his head, a horn that may or may not be a result of his latent and confused sexuality. Of course, a robot erupts out the top of his head, along with some other monster, and by the end of the first episode, the robot is also working in his house and Naota is completely confused. And so is the viewer.

It is also explained in the first episode that "Furi Kuri" is something, probably sexual, that is accompanied by a kneading motion of the hands. That's what Naota's grandfather suggests, but by the end of the series, Furi Kuri, and various other nonsensical words are representative of all kind of sexual acts.

So why do I like it? I think a list would serve best in this situation.

1) It's psychological, and deep enough that it makes you think, but all of it is right there. For instance, Haruko looks out for herself, and herself only. She's some version of the "pleasure principle" or the Id.

It's complicated because in the first episode, Naota notices that she looks a lot like his brother Tasuku. The sexual valuation of a brother figure is one that is underevaluated in Western culture, aside from the concept of a sibling rivalry, and I really like that this anime goes into it so deeply.

The robot Canti is also some kind of brother-figure, but it's a more idealized one, one that comes to his rescue. The guy with weird eyebrows, Amaroq, and Medical Mechanica also represent various psychological pressures, ego, super-ego, etc. etc.

The Oedipal does play a role, but like my thesis, it's very much concerned with lateral relationships (siblings) and that kind of thing.

Oh, and Atomsk is just a big damn God thing that everyone wants but no one can attain (except Naota, but that's because he's not after the whole Pirate King bit).

2) My theory about the term "Furi Kuri" is that its usage signifies an unwillingness to discuss sex in the household, with friends, and in general. It's the need to trivilize and make jokes out of sex because otherwise the topic would be too uncomfortable. When Naota's family and friends use the terms furi kuri, or kuri kuri, or muku muku, or pyon pyon, or chuuu, etc etc it avoids anything serious being said in the situation. And it leads to monsters erupting out of your head.

The nonsense term is basically filler for a more mature discussion that no one is willing to have, but it has to happen. Through all the teasing, first from his brother's girlfriend, and then his family, and then Haruko and even his friends, who are going through their own rites of passage, Naota has to figure out what it means. It's saying that whether it's Furi Kuri or the "birds and the bees", or any of the other terms that people use, everyone has to figure out the path to maturity, sexual or not, by themselves.

3 There are also plenty of metaphors for maturity, which may or may not be applicable to Naota. There's the idea that he doesn't like bitter drinks or really carbonated beverages, and the notion that this might make him immature. There's his distaste for really spicy curry, which has the same implications. And in the end, none of these indicators really make any difference. And his friends, who are either rigging school play elections or driving cars around delivering liquor, might not be any better off than he is at the beginning.

But one of my favorite quotes from the series, if not my favorite: Haruko - "Eating bad ramen . . . can be fun too" - cheap is probably a better translation than bad, but still . . . it's such a great philosophy.

4) The anime is not shy about various forms of representation. It jumps between various forms of animation, from standard Japanese "anime", fanservice and all, to parody of South Park, and then a kind of flipbook-like black and white manga style. At one point, it even suggests puppetry (in episode 5 when men dressed in all black remove two panels of manga from the scene). I love this last one because not only is it a nice breaking of the 4th wall, but the puppetry motif was used to a great extent in the Japanese film "Double Suicide".

5) Baseball and rock music and phallic imagery all run together. There's talk of "swinging the bat", guitars are used to defeat aliens and of course, there's The Pirate King, Atomsk's legendary Gibson EB-0, 1961 Model Bass Guitar.

6) Plenty of gross out factor - shit jokes, masturbation jokes, large mecha getting their intestine-like guts ripped out, it's nonstop.

7) Awesome music. The Pillow are a catchy Japanese punk group, and their stuff is the only featured music in the anime, to very good effect.

8) And really, the pace is so frenetic that it's over before you know it. I see something new each time I watch an episode, and there's just so much embedded in the animation that I'll probably never catch it all.

In fact the only complaint I might have is that the anime isn't that good about depicting women. I mean, you have Haruko, who is a female alien whose motto is "look out for number one" (she might look like his brother too, but that's besides the point), Mamimi, the neurotic and pyromaniacal and clingy girlfriend who might have found something out about herself at the end of the anime, a certain schoolmate of Naota's that is going through some troubles of her own, and her parents, whose marriage is being split apart by her dad's female secretary. The anime really ends up revolving around Naota, his brother, and his dad, and while that's not a bad thing, there is some space there, I think.

That being said, I haven't seen too many animes that are in any way progressive about women's roles. Utena. There's not a whole lot else.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Ecological Settings

I'm bored and procrastinating, so I got to wondering. In the Appendix to The Return of the King, Tolkien says some interesting things about Dwarves that I've always been curious about. If anyone is wondering, my version of the book has the section on dwarves in Appendix A, part III, Durin's Folk, starting on page 438.

Tolkien says that there for ever 2 dwarf males, there is only 1 dwarf woman, max (in other words, a maximum of 1/3 of dwarves are women, and they look a lot like the men). Also, "the number of dwarf men that actually marry is less than 1/3". In other words, with 1 marrying male / 3 males and with 2 males / 3 dwarves which equals 2 marrying males + 2 marrying females / 9 dwarves equals 4 marrying dwarves / 9 dwarves. 4/9 of dwarves are married.

So in other words, if there are 10,000 dwarves in a population, there might be approximately 6700 males and 3300 females. Of those 6700 males, about 2200 of them will marry. So out of 10,000 dwarves, 4400 enter into marriages (which are monogamous). 4500 males and 1100 females never reproduce. This will be an important number later.

This never made too much sense to me. To sustain their population, this would mean that, even discounting increased death rates during times of war (which happened pretty often in Middle Earth - all those Orcs, you know), dwarves have to have a lot of children just because so many of them don't reproduce. Either that, or the death rate for dwarves outside of war is incredibly low (which kind of makes sense).

Of course, I assume that non-marrying dwarves don't reproduce, but considering what Tolkien says about dwarves, monogamy and seriousness of their relationships, I feel fairly safe making this assumption. Also, I assume that Gimli's claim that "there are few dwarf women, probably no more than a third of the whole people" is not an exaggeration.

I wanted to test this out against actual ecological equations, and this is what I found.

First, we need to establish how big a population we're talking about, as well as how long life expectancy for a dwarf is.

We don't have too much of a sample size for dwarf life expectancy, only one table in the Appendix, but this is how it looks in terms of age breakdown (I also assume that Dwarves are not like Numenoreans with declining life-spans as generations progress).

Dain Ironfoot is only 32 when he slays Azog, so dwarves mature pretty quickly for organisms with long lifespans. He was considered young, but we'll assume middle to late adolescence. Dwarf life-spans range from a short of 77 (Kili) to a long of 340 (Dwalin, of all people, by far the oldest), but most that don't die in battle die between the ages of 220 and 260. Balin, who was old in The Hobbit, was ancient by the time he went to Moria and bought it (231). Gimli is 262 when he sails West.

A cohort is defined in ecology as a number of individuals born in a specific time frame, so we'll use the companions from The Hobbit to form a small sample. Of Thorin's generation, the oldest is actually Thorin himself (which doesn't make sense because Balin is written as if he was the oldest member of the party in The Hobbit.) He was born in 2746. The youngest listed (Fili and Kili are a new generation altogether) is Gloin, born in 2783. We'll use the difference, 37 years, as our interval time X. I like this because it means Dain wasn't quite that old when he slew Azog.

But I still need my cohort size. Since Thorin and his people were scattered, I'll use the Iron Hill dwarves, which, after the Battle of Azanulbizar, made up the majority of dwarves and was their largest settlement (I think).

In The Hobbit, Dain only brings 500 dwarves with him, but I'll assume that this wasn't the entire population of dwarven males of fighting age. He had to come quickly you see, and only brought his best men, the veterans of the Orc and Goblin wars.

I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and guess that since the Battle of Abanulzibar or whatever took place 142 years pre-Battle of Five Armies, he brought those veterans and only those veterans. The veterans, if Dain is considered young, are between 142+37 or 179 and however old dwarves get, about 250. There are approximately 2 cohorts represented in this battle (250-179= 71, 71/2=35.5, interval is 37). Using an average, we say that 142/37 rounded to the nearest interger, or 4 intervals have gone by since the Battle. Considering that after the Battle of Azanulbizar "barely half their number, it is said, could still stand or had hope of healing", 500 is actually pretty good number.

Unfortunately, here I have to make some large assumptions. Since I don't have a so-called "normal" mortality figure to determine deaths outside of interspecies war, I have to assign a number. It will be a guess. I also split into two cohorts, a younger, A, and an older, B.

In that first interval for cohort A, birth-37, I'll say that only 1 out of 100 dies. In other words, only 1 dwarf baby/child/adolescent dies. They're hardy and have good midwives. They only die in those last 5 years when they are old enough to go to battle, and not many of them do. Same for Cohort B, although they have an extra interval since their generation is older.

After that, dwarves will die off faster, due to battles with the Orcs and Gobbos. I'll assign a 8% mortality rate. Seems low, but remember, women don't go to war. So for every 1000 dwarves in a cohort, 80 die every 37 years due to raids and stuff (hunting accidents, getting lost while going to the crapper, etc). Cohort A, by the time of The Battle of Azanulbizar, is at .99. Cohort B is at .911, due to the extra interval.

The Battle of Azanulbizar kills 50% of all dwarves present. But since it's only males, it's not really 50% of the cohort, but 2/3 of 50% or 33.33%. The older ones that survive I'm not concerned with, since they're no longer alive anyway by the Battle of the Five Armies. I'm only concerned with cohort A and B. After the Battle of Azanulbizar and that interval, Cohort A is down to .990 - (.333 of .990) - (.08 (of the .990 times .333)), which is .607. Cohort B is left with .911 - (.333 of .911) -.08 yadda yadda, which is .559

Cohort A has 4 more intervals (members are between 185 and 222) before the Battle of Five Armies. That last interval I'll up the mortality rate since dwarves seems to die in there, sometimes. At a rate of .08 per 37 years and .15 that last interval, by the time this generation marches off to the Battle of Five Armies, they have .402 of their original number left.

Cohort B has 4 more intervals, and I'm upping the mortality since those members are between 222 and 259. 2 intervals of .08, 1 interval of .15 and 1 interval of .24 (dwarves seem to drop dead all at once) result in a final fraction of .306. Actually seems pretty good considering half of them got wiped out in an interval.

If we have 500 dwarves left after 4 intervals (plus the initial one and the Battle interval), we can do some calculations to determine how many there were in the beginning.

if the 500 dwarves divide evenly between cohorts, there will be about 286 from A and 214 from B. 286 represents the number of living males, and to that we add one third, the number of females. We do this for 214 as well and get the existing number of dwarves from those cohorts. This is 381 and 285. 381 is .402 of the original, so there were once 948 dwarves in that cohort. Cohort B had 932.

I can provide figures if anyone wants, but I'm using the Cohort A size of 948 dwarves, 381 of which are still alive. That means 633 males and 315 females per cohort originally. Up to 210, but not that many, of the females became mothers.

We can get an age specific birth rate that is necesary to sustain a net replacement rate of 1 (no gain, no loss). Since Lx (remaining individuals/original) is .402, for replacement rate to be 1, Mx, births / people left, must be 2.488. This basically means the another cohort must have been made, or 948 babies. 948 babies for a maximum of 210 dwarf wives equals about 4.5 per wife, minimum.

This means that married dwarf women had to bear an average of 4.5 children during their lives, 1.5 of which were female and 3 of which were male. That's a lot of dwarf babies, although it is true that they live three times as long. This number is skewed because of the high rate of death in the cataclysmic Battle of Azanulbizar, I think, but then again, my other mortality numbers might be low.

This also means that if the fighting age for a dwarf was between 32 and 260, or about 6 cohorts, only 3800 dwarves were present for the Battle of Azanulbizar. Although those are dwarves that end up in the Iron Hills, so actually it might make sense. I think it very appropriate to give this age range, since dwarves in Tolkien are pretty much fighting non-stop, whether it be with Orcs or Goblins or Elves or Dragons.

I have too much time on my hands. Or should I say, I'm not spending enough time on writing my thesis.

Also, in conlcusion, the less said about dwarf sex, the better.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Bwa Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!

The ever graceful Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are now kind of screwed, considering the city of Los Angeles doesn't want them.

The new brief (which doesn't have real legal standing but probably will be factored in by the judge, I would hope) filed by the city of Los Angeles opposes the Angels' name change, on grounds that it's inappropriate to attach a city to your name that you have no financial, emotional or geographic ties to. Damn right.

Now all the judge has to do is laugh at the stupidity and tell the Angels to shove it.

But what do the Angels do? Withdraw the name change and admit that it was a stupid plan in the first place? Add another random city to their name? This just reinforces the point that anyone that wasn't already a fan would only laugh at them and wonder why they were bothering.

I personally hope that Anaheim finds some way to dump the Angels altogether as well, forcing the Angels to rename themselves the California Angels (which they once were), or if that doesn't catch on, the American Angels.

How about the Angels of Vladamir Guerrero? Anaheim Angels of Orange County?

How about the Anaheim Angels of Riverside and Pasadena? Then they could be the AARP. Wait, that's the San Francisco Giants (for whom the average outfielder age is about 39 - Moises Alou, Marqius Grissom, Barry Bonds).

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Writer's block sucks.

It especially sucks when you're trying to write about Milton. The greatest individual ever to write in the English language doesn't forgive writer's block, dead as he is. "Paradise Lost" is a harsh master and demands knowledge of classical sources, political context, contemporary literature and incorporates a slew of other fields from Hebrew text to chaos theory to international affairs. It boggles the mind as to how a blind man could have incorporated so much into his text. It doesn't bear thinking about too much because the more you think about it, the more depressing it is.

Of course, Milton was also intolerant of new views on women as well as intolerant of women, even if he did not hold the conventional male view that was prevalent at the time. After he wrote an article detailing the evils of censorship, he went ahead an censored Catholic articles while working in Cromwell's government. When people responded to his brilliantly (though selfishly conceived) written articles regarding divorce, his responses were vitriolic and harsh.

He wrote that he was search for a "fit audience" when he wrote Paradise Lost, and it is entirely likely that his fit audience was an audience of one; himself. For anyone else to try to comprehend it is an exercise in folly of the greatest degree. And yet I'm doing it. Trying to look into the text, trying to pierce the obscure veil that surrounds the author, a veil that also surround Milton's God, a seductive veil that invites your interest and then maddeningly defies the attempt to make out the image behind it.

This, by the way, is kind of the topic of my second chapter. In talking about narcissism and attempting to tease out the various meanings and nuances that it has on Milton's characters, I've arrived at one conclusion. Milton's God poses a grand paradox to all his children, from Satan to the Son to Adam, and for doing so, he's written out to be quite the bastard. I like the idea that Milton's God is an image of the real God, altered to drive home a point about the evils of tyranny and the evils of kings. I'm not sure I buy it completely, but it's a possiblity that critics have suggested recently.

God's paradox is as follows: "I am the Father. You will obey me and worship me and sing my praises as I sit on this throne behind a bright cloud that obscures my features completely. My voice is all you need. You never need to see me, nor should you ever try to see me or question my immortal wisdom, and nor should you ever try to be an origin yourself and attempt acts of creation. To do so is to die or be cast into eternal damnation. Pick your poison. You may be my sons but I do not need to reveal myself to you. It is not necessary."

And yet, in heaven, where no talk is necessary, only a melding of spiritual entities to convey thought, God is unquestionable and obscure. He communicates, but does not explain. Only to the Son does he converse, really. A good father he is.

Satan falls first, rebelling even though Heaven's rule is simple, requiring only daily obedience and worship. He attempts to create, for if you cannot see you maker, then why not try to see him through yourself and your offspring? This isn't allowed of course. And Satan, in his conceit, sees everything, all relationships, through himself, a very megalomaniacal, solipsistic view, but hey, he's Satan. He has sex with his daughter Sin because she is his image and she submits to him, as he is her maker. Their offspring is Death, the being with no image that is describe as the shadow of a shadow.

Adam falls next, even though he was "sufficient to stand" and even though he had a being made in the image of "God in him" for him, to serve as his "helpmeet", namely, Eve. Why does Adam fall? Heck, why does Eve fall? It was promised that they would have offspring, even as their pre-lapsarian (prefall) sex was upwards, and an aspect of worship (no kidding, by the way. Milton wrote this). I'm still trying to figure this one out. If Adam has his image in Eve, and his future children will be images of him, why does he need the knowledge of the image of God? Is it because Adam takes the concept of image to literally and overvalues the physical image of Eve? Possibly.

The Son (Christ) does not fall. He promises his father to be man's salvation, and in a retrospective episode in Paradise Lost, is sent out to do battle with the rebel angels, and does so gloriously, defeating them and casting them down into Hell. The Son also promises that man will be "all in all" with himself and God. He will be the King (Elvis Lives!) in that he has first become King of himself, and then becomes not a tyrant King, but one that is in fact equal with God and man, in that there is no more God, no more Son, but one entity/conciousness/thing. In "Paradise Regained" he rejects the throne of David, the armies of Rome and Babylon, and all earthly temptation. By becoming master of himself, he elevated everyone to the Kingdom of Heaven.

What makes the Son so sufficient that he does not need to challenge the father or disobey him but instead is rightly narcissistic, understanding his father's image and his role perfectly, to just the right extent? I'm lost. Perhaps Milton's point is that a fit audience does not need to seek to pierce the veil of his text and be enlightened scholars, but should instead be individuals that are committed to finding something within themselves, and in doing so, build a Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Oh wait . . . I like that . . . .


As an addendum onto my last post:

If anyone wants to see an excellent movie on the topic of how morality changes, and how it has to do with laws and politics, I would thoroughly recommend the movie "Unforgivable Blackness", a movie about the famous African-American boxer Jack Johnson.

Miscegenation, interracial unions (specifically a black man with a white woman for early 20th century legistators), were considered seriously morally bankrupt by most and was seen as a threat to society. To a large extent, they still are, although it flies under the radar nowadays, a silent rage. The black man was seen as a dangerous beast, and white women needed to be protected by the law from their unbridled animal nature.

There was an article in "The Dartmouth" just a couple of days ago, detailing how a lot of people here were outraged that for our Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorations, we had a white lesbian keynote speaker. Something about the civil rights movement of the 1960's having nothing to do with the modern gay rights movement.

I'll concede that there are differences, and that if they don't want to be associated with a movement don't feel connected with, then African American activists shouldn't have to be. Nevertheless, it isn't different on moral grounds, in that the basic emotion that drives it is fear. And for that reason, we shouldn't have too much troubles with inviting a non-black, non-heterosexual, female speaker to talk on the topic of ongoing activism.

Back then, it was the fear of blacks infiltrating white society, taking jobs, taking women, destroying everything "American" about America. Now it's arguably more pervasive fear, because you never know who is gay in your life. Might be the guy working next to you. Might be your next door neighbor. There is an "Onion" article ("Blackdar") this week that pretty much replaces the word gay with black, and it's a pretty telling article.

Anyway, check out the movie. It's pretty good. Very informative. And if you're a baseball fan, Rube Foster, Kennesaw Landis, and Harry Frazee make appearances. Pretty good cameos if you ask me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

End Around

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog on the topic of the Pope speaking out againt evil and immorality and sodomy and gays and cohabiting couples. I was basically pointing out that the Pontificating Pontiff really highlights a problem for many Catholics (as well as Christians of any denomination); where does religion and politics separate, and how literally do you interpret Catholic morality in application to laws and politics? Because obviously, if you're going to argue about gays on the grounds that they are Hell-bound sinners, then you've also got to address cohabiting couples and possibly support certain cases of vigilante-ism as well.

Looks like I was ahead of my time.

Apparently some very clever lawyers in Ohio are sticking the new amendment that barrs gay marriage up the asses of the legistators that wrote it. Their claim is a damn clever one that argues that as the amendment prohibits treating anything that's not marriage (gay union, cohabitation) as marriage, then battered unmarried cohabitants lose their exisiting protection under the law to be treated as battered spouses.

The current abuse law in Ohio is a good one actually, as a battered girlfriend or boyfriend gets treated as a battered spouse, gaining automatic police protection and a restraining order, if I am to understand it correctly. The argument that the law student that filed the claim makes is that since the amendment prohibits "recognizing a legal status of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design of . . . marriage", then either the current abuse statutes must be amended to exclude unmarried cohabitants (which may make up 1/4 of the abuse cases in the state) or the amendment must be overturned.

As I doubt the anti-gay marriage proponents would sacrifice civil rights for heterosexual abuse vicitims at their altar of homophobia, this puts them in quite a quandary. If the state recognizes cohabiting couples as "married" under the abuse laws, then it becomes a whole lot more difficult to prohibit marriage-like civil unions or outright marriages between gays.

I do have a problem with this though. As a result of this motion being filed, defense lawyers for abusers can file motion to dismiss charges on grounds of unconstitutionality and are apparently doing so already. There is a pretty big difference between charging someone with domestic battery and simple assault, and this issue, while it's being decided, is potentially going to screw over a lot of abused individuals and might put some of them in danger as well.

It might be the cost of overturning the amendment that some abusive cohabitatants will get off lighter than they would have otherwise, or someone might actually get hurt over this. At the very least, abused individuals wont be sleeping easy knowing that they don't have an active restraining order on their abuser. It annoys me to think that the people of Ohio might have been warned about this possibility and voted for the amendment (and Bush) anyway.

Where do you draw the line and stop people from living like people? If gays can't exist under the law, why do cohabiting individuals that aren't married? It's not like they're all going to get married in the near future. Technically, these people are living in sin as well, if you interpret the bible conservatively. And our law protects them. Why not gays?

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Bard

News came out last week that Shakespeare might have had syphilis. My reaction to that "news" is the same as when Dan Shaughnessy wrote two weeks ago that Minky held the ball.

"Who the hell cares?"

This Shakespeare thing is a little more harmless than Dan Shaughnessy, but nevertheless, it's still stupid.

Let me break this idiocy down into compartmentalized, little bits of dumb.

Considering those symptoms along with William Shakespeare's eternal fascination with venereal disease, one doctor thinks he knows why the world's greatest writer slowed down in his later years: He was suffering from mercury poisoning due to treatment for syphilis.

1) His eternal fascination with venereal disease is expressed in Shakespeare's work because people back then, like today, got off on laughing at crabs, syphilis and gonorrhea. And Shakespeare knew how to work an audience. Better than Seinfeld. Much better.

2) Saying that mercury poisoning slowed Shakespeare down in his later years is like saying that tantric sex makes Sting write bad music; while the events may coincide, causality is not necessarily present. Not to knock Gordon, but his Police work was better than his solo stuff.

Dr. John J. Ross thinks the side effects of the treatment probably made it difficult for him to physically write.

And "if he had a venereal disease, some of the attitudes toward women become understandable," said Ross, an infectious diseases specialist at Tufts University who writes about his theory in the Feb. 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

1) John Milton's blindness made it pretty damn hard for him to write, but it didn't stop him from churning out the greatest epic ever written in the English language. Considering a little mercury for his syphilis probably affected him less than whatever the 16th century equivalent of absinthe did, it probably did him more help than hurt.

2) If Shakespeare's views on women changed because one of them gave him the crotch rot, I think we would have seen a significant change in his writing in terms of women. Suffice to say that condescending (to put it lightly) views on women were not exactly out of the mainstream for the time. Shakespeare wasn't the worst on women in the time, syphilis or no.

From then on the article goes on to detail pithy points in Shakespeare's writing that apparently conveys his newfound V.D.

One last thing though . . . in my opinion, if Shakespeare got syphilis, it wasn't from a woman.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

BIg Bowl of Sauerkraut!

I don't get too many comments on my blog. It's either because people agree with everything I say (doubtful), I say everything that needs to be said (doubtful), no one cares about me and no one reads them (more likely), or no one care about the topic of my blogs (also likely, considering I've been writing exclusively about baseball lately).

So when I get comments I tend to check them quickly, in hopes that someone is responding in a way that will affirm my existence on this planet. I got one today, and I did a double take when I saw that it came from William Li. Not me, William Li, but another William Li.

Mind-blowing stuff, dudes. F'in ponderous.

Now I know there are a lot of William Li's out there. As I mention in my comment below, there's another one here at Dartmouth. I am rather amused, however, by William Li's comments to my blog in his blog (boy if that wasn't one of the most confusing sentences I've ever written).

I quote from his blog (hope this isn't a problem William - do you go by Will, Bill, or William? Personally, I like Will, although William is cool too; it just makes me sound English)

The truth is, I am mostly bothered by this William Li guy from Dartmouth having more colorful rants [than?] William Li from Sugar Land. I won't admit that New Hampshire William Li has better rants, but clearly they are more energetic and (in a 21-year old sort of way) is more brave with what topics he will take on and how certain he is about his positions.

My jealously of this energetic young man's blog brings up an ugly truth about me. I suppose I've always attacked people who were so certain because I myself have rarely been certain of anything. Maybe people like my brother or mom will disagree but I once wrote a paper in college defending philosophical skepticism over whether or not I had hands

I'm rather flattered, although I don't know who "William Li from Sugar Land" is. Is that the writer of above comments? Another blogger?

I am quite random about my topics, but they are exactly that; random topics. And in my opinion, rants are rants when they take one particular view.

But the views I take in my rants do change, quite often in fact. And often, I'm ranting because I'm confused on a certain topic. I'm flattered because if I'm presenting a specific point of view or argument in any one particular rant, it means that I'm avoiding the schizophrenic tendancies that undirected and poor ranting tends to take. It's a rant to me when I pick a topic (like the Pope, or driving ages) and just run with it. It's fun because sometimes, I surprise myself when I end up taking a stance on an issue that is more extreme than what I usually believe, or is contrary to what I believe entirely.

But if someone were to engage me in a debate about some of my rants, I might cave rather quickly or change my view. In other words, what I believe is not set in stone. Not even clay.

And, William Li, if you're jealous of me, then I can most certainly say that I am very jealous of you. As a senior in college, I have no clue where I will be in six months. Corporate recruiting is avoiding me like I'm Jack Kerouac (if only . . . ), and to some extent, I would kill to have the kind of stability that you seem to possess. And don't worry, I'm not going to pull a "Talented Mr. Ripley" and replace you one day.

You've got a wife and daughter, with another kid on the way, a job, enjoying law school, and a good sense of humor? Besides the fact that my parents would love to see me in law school, it sounds to me like you've got it pretty good. But perhaps the grass is greener and whatnot.

I can say this however. If your daughter thinks that elephant rhymes with dinosaur, kudos to her. I see a poet in the makings there. E'le'phant, di'no'saur. While there is no end-rhyme persay, the comparison in actual rhythm is very legitimate. Nothing but potential there, I say.

In any case, feel free to keep commenting, and this is directed to William Li and anyone else that happens to read my blog.

And Will/William/Bill/Billy/Willy, hope your daughter writes some good megafaunal poetry and hope your soon-to-be son is well and happy and healthy.

Monday, January 10, 2005

All That Jazz

So . . . instead of doing my thesis, I've been doing two things

1) Monitoring Sons of Sam Horn and the latest Hot Stove news (Beltran to the Mets, 7 years, 119 million)

2) Reading X Files Transcripts

Damn X-Files . . . curse you Chris Carter, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, for being part of the most addictive TV show ever. Damn you. . . wait . . . no, no, I didn't mean it. . . come back. . . .

Yeah, there's something about that show. Better scripted than other sci-fi, even Star Trek: TNG, better acted than most dramatic series out there. Prime Time TV just isn't the same anymore. The X-Files had a way of combining sci-fi to satisfy the geek (The Lone Gunmen, conspiracy theories) in you, while keeping the thriller/horror aspect (exsanguinations) and even getting you on the Mulder/Scully relationship.

And it's technically o.k. to have a man-crush on David Duchovny. It's ok. . . .

Funny song too. Bree Sharp "David Duchovny"

Friday, January 07, 2005


Sorry folks, another baseball article. But this one has more to do with journalism, so bear with me.

If you hadn't heard by now, Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe wrote an article for today's paper detailing how Doug Mientkiewictz (henceforth known as simply Doug because I don't want to type out his last name again) kept the ball that won the World Series, the one that Edgar Renteria grounded to Keith Foulke, who then tossed it to Doug to end the series.

Shaughnessy then goes on to paint a contentious picture of ownership for the ball, even going as far as to postulate that just because Doug, a defensive-minded first baseman that the Sox brought in for the last three months of the season, was weak offensively (he actually is fairly decent and had a bad year) and not an Opening Day player, he doesn't deserve ownership of the ball. He makes Doug to be some kind of ogre, who was doing the right thing when he flipped Derek Lowe the game ending ball of the ALCS and the horrible, monstrous deed when he kept the WS ending ball for himself.

This is underhanded journalism, no doubt about it, for an underhanded individual, a journalist that doesn't know how to do real research and doesn't know how to write a real article, and gets his ya-ya's out by inventing mysterious curses and arguments.

Shaughnessy is one of the most contentious, attention-seeking journalists out there, but it surprises me that even he had the temerity to write something as idiotic as this.

First of all, I don't think that Doug was thinking "ooh, this ball is going to pay for my kid's college tuition" when they won the World Series and he jumped onto the pile. I'm fairly certain that his reaction was "WE JUST WON THE EFFING WORLD SERIES". Fairly. To even insinuate it (Shaughnessy pretty much outright says it) is absolutely ludicrous.

And I'm fairly certain that no one would grudge him the ball either, because by all accounts he had a lot to do with the Sox winning the series and more importantly, because in the end, the Sox won the World Series, and it's just a friggin' ball. Lowe isn't asking for it because he won the game, Foulke isn't asking for it because he was the pitcher. Manny isn't asking for it because he was he MVP. Johnny Damon isn't asking for it because he is the Christ reborn.

The only person who's asking for it is Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox CEO, and he has so far only put in a request that Doug return it so it can be displayed, no mention of buying it, or how the club might hold it against him if he didn't acquiesce. If Doug gave the ball up, it would be "a nice gesture on his part." (Lucchino) If he doesn't and the Sox end up having to pay him a couple of hundred thousand for it (Doug says something about putting a kid through FSU), no one will really give a damn. In fact Shaughnessy is the only person that suggests that there is any argument to be had.

By spouting all the figures, 93,000 for the Buckner ball, 450,000 for the 73rd home run, 3 million for McGwire's 70th, Shaughnessy is only trying to inflate the value of the ball and create more controversy. He doesn't even pause to think that the Sox wouldn't mind giving an integral member of their Series team some money if Doug turned out to be economic about it (which he has not actually said and really, is only human nature in the end), and that the 3 million paid by McFarlane for McGwire's 70th HR ball was a horrendous overpayment that McFarlane is now paying for, to some degree, in bankruptcy. Oh, and also that some fans might want the ALCS ball more than the WS ball.

Yes, all the players want to cherish the memory. But they were there, and they lived it and all the fans lived it, and everyone has the memory of the Red Sox winning the Series. Perhaps Doug should give the ball to a Red Sox museum or something like that, but that is not the point of contention here. Doug is not a villain that stole something from the Sox and their fans. If the Sox have to buy it back, he's still not a villain. Shaughnessy is the only villain, a cheap journalist who needs to make a buck by screaming "fire" where there's none, a Sox fan who doesn't know how to celebrate, and a jealous little snot who only knows to blast a good man and a good baseball player who was lucky enough to be on the field and have the winning ball tossed to him when the Sox won their first World Series in 86 years.

If Shaughnessy has a problem with it, he should ask Theo if he can be the Sox replacement at first base when they get back to the Series so he can have a chance to catch the ball. That's all this article is about in the end, jealousy. That and the fact that Shaughnessy was the one who really got all this curse stuff started to begin with.

Yeah, that's right. Way back in 1986 George Vecsey wrote about the Curse of the Bambino. It was never really institutionalized before then. But Shaughnessy really gave it legs when he embellished and wrote that it "had been around for 7 decades" and later wrote the book "The Curse of the Bambino". He tied all the problems that the Sox ever had, from bad management, to racism, to a little bad luck, into that one transaction, which has been spun beyond belief since then. And now that the "Curse" is gone (Shaughnessy even writes about "the ball that broke the curse" in this most recent article), Shaughnessy needs something else to stir up the fans and to help him keep his job. And apparently that something is Doug Mienkiewictz.

How sad. And how stupid is Shaughnessy, because in trying to make Doug a villain, he's obviously looking out of himself, because the Gold Glover isn't quite as good an interview as Kevin Millar, who talks about drinking before games and embodies the "Cowboy Up" "Bunch of Idiots" mentality that supposedly permeates the Sox. The Sox are trying to trade one of them, because they don't need two first basemen and David Ortiz next year, and don't think for a second that the Sox won't take Shaughnessy and his bully pulpit into account. As a high profile Globe sportswriter, Shaughnessy should know better than to write crap like this, especially when the subject matter concerns a player that might get traded.

All I have to say is, if Doug gets traded, and next year in the WS, Edgar Renteria hits a dribbler between Kevin Millar's legs that wins the WS for the Cardinals [note - not happening, now that Edgar is on the Red Sox], Dan O'Fucking Shaughnessy better not write an article about how Larry Walker should give up the ball because he's Canadian.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Carlos v. Carlos

Tim Kurkjian, contributer to ESPN, pens a good article about how Carlos Beltran is more timely than great; he's a remarkable player and a valuable one, but not to the tune of 17 or so million dollars a year, which is the contract that he will probably command for seven years as a free agent in this free spending off-season.

17 million dollars a year is a lot of money. It is more than half the payroll of the lowest spending major league team. If you factor in luxury tax for a team like the Yankees (40% for the third time offenders), it might BE the payroll of a team like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Beltran is a great switch hitter, a stellar defensive center fielder, a savvy base-stealer, and even better, something that Kurkjian does not mention, is not a clubhouse cancer and is a great promotional tool especially for a team with a large Dominican (ethnic, not religious) demographic. He's entering what should be his best years as a major-league player (29-31) and might seriously threaten to hit 50 homers and steal 50 bases one of these days.

But 17 million . . . let's see who's comparable to Beltran right now. says it's Carlos Lee, and it's a telling comparison. Both players are of similar age (Beltran is less than a year younger), both are excellent outfielders (Lee had NO errors in left field last year), and their career slugging percentages are virtually identical (Beltran .490, Lee .488). Their 2004 on-base percentages were also virtually identical (.367, .366). Lee actually just got traded, to the Brewers for Luis Vizcaino and Scott Podsednik and a player to be named, and made 6.5 million in 2004 (and will make 8 million next year with an option for 2006 for 8.5 million that the Brewers would be daft not to pick up). No GM in their right mind would make a deal like that for Beltran. So what makes Beltran worth from 9-10 million dollars a year more?

It might be argued that Beltran has more upside since he's the better athlete. But then again, Lee is also a young player with his best years ahead of him. Lee doesn't have the basepath instincts or speed that Beltran does, but 30 steals a year is not worth 10 million dollars. If they were, Dave Roberts would be richer than Croesus. Admittedly, Beltran is a ridiculously smart basestealer, not getting caught once in 28 attempts with the Astros last year. But then again, Lee is no slouch either, with a career percentage slightly above 70, or roughly what Bill James says it takes to make a steal worthwhile.

Beltran is a switch hitter, but Lee is a right handed batter that mashes against both righties (.303) and lefties (.308).

So it boils down to "intangibles". Beltran (deservedly) got rookie of the year honors in 1999, but Lee had an impressive rookie year too. Beltran plays a more glorious position in center, and is the more marketable player, as a charismatic, clutch switch hitting center fielder. Lee's closest left field counterpart is probably Hideki Matsui of the Yankees, who is probably overall a little better and has a slightly better contract, but gets a whole lot more attention because of his team and his mystique as a transplanted Japanese baseball player (Godzilla). So Lee's steady play and good presence in left amounts to ten million a year less because he hasn't gotten the awards and plays for low profile teams like the White Sox and the Brewers.

Some team out there, possibly the Mets, will overpay for Beltran. They'll overpay a lot for him, because that's what agent Scott Boras is good at. They'll pay more than premium money for a premium outfielder, but then again, perhaps that's not such a bad thing. After all, it's not like Beltran will get a bloated contract like the one that Manny Ramirez possesses. However, it is because of his stellar playoff run and Boras' good marketing ability that Beltran will land a seven or eight year contract. Unless he hits 50 home runs next year, Carlos Lee will never get a seven year deal. Heck, no player should ever get a seven year deal; it's just bad business planning. For any player around 27 or 28, a seven year deal pretty much guarantees two or three good years, hopefully little to no decline after 32, and hopefully no injuries. There's a lot of risk that often does not pay off (see: Mike Hampton).

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


You know you're going through baseball withdrawl when you're still checking the newswire five (or more) times a day even though Spring Training is still over a month away.

The Anaheim Angels just made one of the worst marketing decisions I've ever heard of, renaming themselves The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim so that they could reap the benefits of targeting Los Angeles fans, who are theoretically getting fed up with the bad decisions being made by Dodgers management, even though the Dodgers ranked second last year behind the Yankees and ahead of the Angels in attendance. The problem with this is that not only is the name stupid (In spanish, they're the Los Angeles Angeles de Anaheim?), Los Angeles is an entity completely separate of Anaheim, and worst of all it doesn't take basic human nature into account. This name change (hopefully) might not last long, as the city of Anaheim will take legal measures, but it still reflects a pigheadedness that plagues both owners and players in the sport.

No self-respecting L.A. resident is going to identify with a team with Los Angeles in its name if the team is forty miles away in a different city. If the San Francisco Giants renamed themselves the San Francisco Giants of Oakland, they're not going to pull fans away from the Athletics. The reason no one follows the Golden State Warriors of basketball anymore is not because of the relative anonymity and vagueness of their name; it's because they suck ass. If a L.A. resident is going to follow Anaheim, they probably do so already. Anyone that enjoyed Anaheim enjoyed it for what it was, a team right next to Disneyland with a pretty stadium, a team with exciting talent (Vlad the Impaler, a team that is a perennial playoff contender, a team boasting some of the cheapest ticket prices out there.

If anything, this renaming move will drive fans away as they realize that they're being manipulated by the greedy owners for a couple of extra bucks. I've read several accounts that cite Angels fans as some of the best fans in the country, in terms of politeness and knowledge of their team, St. Louis fans possibly being the best (Yankees and Red Sox fans need not apply), but I wonder if they're going to take very well to this bastardization of their team name. In all likelyhood, they'll still come, just to watch Vlad, but it's still not a good marketing decision to piss off your existing demographic to pander to another that hasn't even expressed interest.

I'm not from California (only lived there for a couple years), but I'm pretty sure that most Californians identify as strongly with certain regions (Bay Area, LA, Sacramento, Anaheim) as much as an Ivy League student identifies him or herself with their respective school. The renaming of Anaheim would be like Dartmouth renaming itself University of Pennsylvania-Dartmouth College. No one from Dartmouth would say that they went to UPenn, and the students at UPenn would look around in befuddlement and wonder what in the hell they were smoking up in Hanover, NH. One of the reasons New York used to be able to support three teams was because people identified so heavily with their area, the Bronx or Brooklyn. That and the fact that one of them was always winning. Nowadays, everyone outside of Queens and most Queens residents seem to be Yankees fans, but we won't go there.

The Angels drew over 3 million fans to their games last year. This is coming off a World Series win, to be sure, but they had done a very good job bringing in locals and tourists alike with the promise of a good time and the rally monkey. Now there was a good marketing decision. Get your fans involved with ThunderStix and the Rally Monkey, ploys that everyone else in the U.S. will soon tire of, and you've got a fan base that identifies with its team, is willing to defend it, root for it, and participate at a deafening rate at home games. Plus, they'll buy ThunderStix and Rally Monkeys like hotcakes.

This is what I don't understand about the people that market the sport of baseball. If you're marketing a team like the Indians or the Braves, sell derivative and insulting foam products. This sets your fans apart. Easy enough. The Angels have their Rally Monkey. The Yankees have their pride (read: arrogance). The Cubs, and until recently, the Red Sox, had their respective curses. Also easy enough.

But the best way to market your team, and the best way to distinguish yourself from a nearby team, is not to rename your team, possibly angering your existing fan base, but to WIN. Win a World Series. Get into the playoffs and come dangerously close to winning even; some might say that doing this is better than winning. Sign a big name free agent, someone showy who can make great plays in the field and wields a bat of mythic proportions, that has a good P.R. image. It's that easy. The only one caveat is if your team always wins, but never wins the World Series, after which your fans get tired of winning. Atlanta finds themselves in this predicament, but it's rather unique to them.

There are two teams in Chicago, one North Side and one South. Both franchises are storied and among the oldest in baseball. The Cubs have the Sosa, the Ivy at Wrigley and their curse, and the White Sox . . . well, the White Sox don't have very much else, which is their marketing problem. They don't win. They're less popular not because of the Black Sox scandal of 1919, but because they never win. They win less than the Cubs, and no one cares, because the Cubs at least come close to winning. They used to attract fans with Big Frank Thomas, but now that he's in decline, they need to find a new solution.

Detroit has been plagued with one of the worst seasons ever, a weakening local economy, and they still are on the upswing, mainly because they've started winning and they have a legitimate personality in Pudge Rodriguez, who held onto the ball (NLDS) and won the Marlins a World Series.

Peter Angelos of the Baltimore Orioles is worried about the new Washington Nationals not because there is some limit on the number of fans in the area, but because he's not willing to spend enough so that the Orioles can win. That Jeff Maier kid kind of ruined the franchise, but he's just another excuse in the end. The Orioles retooled last year and had a decent team this year, but where have they been this offseason? Why did they not land Pedro, or Clement, or Wells?

Marketing when you've been given something popularly known as "America's Pasttime", that carries with it the biggest charge of nostalgia imaginable, is not difficult. Usually, the equation runs something like Home Runs + Wins = $$$$ And yet people manage to completely screw up. We've not trying to sell hockey in San Jose here, people. Baseball has enjoyed two of its best years EVER in the last two years, what with both the cursed teams in the playoffs, several heart-stopping playoff series, and some great talents emerging (Pujols, anyone?). It has been good enough that people are almost willing to say "BALCO, shmalco" and turn back to ESPN's Baseball Tonight.

This is the sport of Boys of Summer, of Ruth and Mays and Mantle and Jackie Robinson, that neither gambling nor steroids can detract from (yet). The only thing baseball has to fear is itself. Strikes and selfishness and skyrocketing contracts are the only things that make people sniff at the sport. Players are to blame as much as owners on that one. You can be a great player and have your nine figure contract, but you need to at least project a good public image. Want a bigger contract? Don't strike. Don't be a bitch to the media. Play ball and let your bat and your P.R. firm do the rest.

Basketball is as popular as it is because of two letters. M. J. He was arrogant, and kind of a jackass retrospectively, but he knew how to market himself. It's too bad no one can step up to bat for the MLB and do the same thing. I'm not saying that all the players are selfish drunks. But at the same time, no player has stepped forward to be the face of the sport for a generation yet. Not really. Free agency hurts, and someone like Clemens would have been iconic had he stayed with one team his whole career. Jeter, possibly Nomar, are the only players I can think of that have the marketability, the ability to inspire both love and hate, to be called an icon.

It's not hard to get people to come to your ballpark and eat overpriced sausage and nachos on a hot summer's day with as much expensive domestic beer as they can drink until the seventh inning. Not hard at all. In fact, I'm pretty sure the Rally Monkey could do it.