Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Who are you, and what have you done with the real Astros front office?

It was brought to my attention that I didn't mention something when I was excoriating Andy Pettitte, because I didn't realize it at the time: that option Beakman wanted for 2008, the one he got from the Yankees, was a player option, not a team option. In other words, Andy gets to decide whether or not he'll get paid $16 million. The Astros' response to this was, obviously, "Um, no." So he's back in pinstripes. Oh, of course, Andy swears that he would never take the option if he were injured and unable to play. Sure. "No, thanks, you can keep that $16 mil, my arm hurts." Riiight.

So: Andy Pettitte is an ever bigger asshole that previously discussed. Hoo-rah.

But the Astros are not to be deterred. Andy's seat on the bench hasn't even grown cold yet, and they've already replaced him with Jason Jennings, a righthander from Colorado. And he's good, too: nevermind his win-loss record, which suffered because he played for a last-place team; his 3.78 ERA last year was 12th in the league. And yes, I can already hear the comments from the usual source about what a terrible ERA that is, but a) it's really not bad; and b) he pulled that off at Coors Field, which is a truly awe-inspiring feat. Forget how awful it must be to pitch for the Colorado Rockies in the first place -- the things the thin air in Denver does to a pitcher's stats are ugly, ugly, ugly. (I have a book somewhere that devotes an entire chapter to explaining how Coors Field destroys any chance a pitcher might have of being successful. And yet this guy did it.)

Now, they didn't get him cheap. They gave up a top pitching prospect, Jason Hirsh. They gave up Taylor Buchholz, who was our Jekyl-and-Hyde starter last year: he'd throw a shutout, then give up nine runs, then give up seven runs, then throw another shutout, then give up eight runs. Good luck in Colorado, sport.

But here's the one that hurts: they traded one of my favorite Astros, centerfielder Willy Taveras. He was runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2005, and he has the makings of being a star leadoff hitter in the mold of Kenny Lofton.

This trade felt really, really dumb to me when I first heard it this afternoon. Stephen and I were talking about who would fill the hole in center. And the obvious name leapt to mind, Chris Burke. Who is a far better hitter than Taveras. But then who hits in the leadoff spot? Oh, well, Biggio, obviously, who now won't have to platoon with Burke, 'cause he'll be starting in center.


So...they made a sacrifice...and boosted both their offense and their starting rotation at the same time?

Are these the same Astros I'm used to? The same guys who thought Preston Wilson was going to hit like Barry Bonds? Did they actually do something...intelligent?

They told Pettitte to go screw, made a savvy (if disappointing) trade, and improved upon their biggest weakness, offense.

Now, if only they can straighten out the mess at third base and figure out how to repair Jason Lane, they'll be all set.

Where's the NEED SMARTER DRIVER light?

I have spent an inordinate amount of time in my life being sneered at by auto mechanics.

'Cause as I've mentioned before, I know absolutely nothing about cars. And I'm also somewhat lax about getting problems checked when they arise -- not to due to laziness (not completely), but because usually I'm broke and can't afford to fix it, no matter what it is. So I ignore it and hope it goes away on its own. Of course, it doesn't, and eventually the car breaks down and I have to pull off some miracle (read: borrow money from friends) to repair it. And so it goes. And so it goes.

Today, I got my oil changed. I was a little overdue, according to the little sticker in the corner of my windshield. Not by much -- just three months. Or nine thousand miles. Depending on which benchmark you're looking at. But I had some free time and money this afternoon, so I got it done. Because the oil light had started to flash sporadically over the weekend. Time to get it fixed!

Now, here's my biggest problem with cars: that fucking CHECK ENGINE SOON light. I don't know what this light means. A lot of the time, those warning lights on the dashboard are self-explanatory. When the FUEL light comes on, put in fuel. When the BRAKE light comes on, put in brake fluid. When the OIL light comes on, put in oil. This is pretty simple, even for me.

But CHECK ENGINE SOON? How soon? Check it for what? That it's still there? Yeah, it's there, it's running, it's running fine, what could be wrong with it? The car certainly knows, that's why the light came on. But it's not telling me. Fucking arrogant car. "Oh, you mean I have to tell you everything? You can't figure it out yourself? How typical. And I thought you understood me!"

Perhaps I should see a mental health professional about my tendency to anthropomorphize inanimate objects.

But anyway. When the guy changed the oil today, he gave me that Auto Mechanic look, the one I've been getting all my life. The one that says, "My god, you know nothing about cars, do you?"

I was somewhat low on oil. Actually, I was really low. So I got a sneer. As always.

At least it wasn't as bad as the time I rode my brakes with no brake fluid for so long the brake pads dissolved and the metal parts of the brakes crumbled to dust. That was embarrassing.

Can we invent transporters already?

Ask not for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee

I have 19066 days left on this earth before I am mercifully swallowed by death, according to a reputable source. The method? FRINAN kills me for correcting his grammar one too many times? Rocking out a little too hard to "Welcome to the Jungle" and driving my car into a tree? No: cancer. How lame is that? And how predictable!

If you're still around in February 2059, when I die, I want you to remember this for my funeral: do whatever you want. I'll be dead. Why would I give a damn?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The hell?

I certainly seem to be posting quite a bit, don't I? Here comes my fourth in the last two and a half hours. Last one tonight, I swear.

But I just couldn't keep quiet on this. Using the Blogger bar at the top of the page (actually, the one atop Revolver's page), I clicked the Next Blog button a few times and stumbled across this atrocity.

Yikes. That is one scary page design. I'd comment on the actual content of the blog, but I can't read any of it.

'Cause I do it all for you, ya know

So, I was finally able to switch over to the beta of the new Blogger. I gotta say, so far, it's pretty spiffy. Cool labeling feature, better-looking Dashboard, and the Template editing is a breeze. I wish it had been there a year and a half ago, when I put this blog's template together with duct tape and prayer.

I haven't finished (or even come close to finishing) the new Revolver episode -- which, for the moment, is titled after Fiona Apple's "Shadowboxer," which may give you some clues as to its content -- but in a matter of minutes I managed to overthrow the butt-ugly self-designed template I was using in favor of a fresh, shiny new one. I'd really, really like to know what you think of it -- if it's easier to read, if it's simpler, whatever. If you'd like to comment -- and I really need you to, don't know if I made that clear -- you'll have to do it here until I can figure out a way to make Haloscan work over there with the new template. EDIT: Who needs Haloscan? Blogger's built-in comment system works fine. I had tried it before on this site and it sucked; they seem to have improved it a great deal. Unfortunately, this has the side effect of obliterating all the old comments. I'm sorry.

Thank you in advance. And hopefully I can finish the damn thing soon.

A winner is you!

In all my vitriol in my last post, I forgot to offer a hearty "Congratulation!" to Tool and "Weird Al" Yankovic, musical heroes of mine who are each nominated for a pair of Grammies. Tool's song "Vicarious" is nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance, while their album, 10,000 Days, is up for Best Recording Package (and it should totally win -- it's the most inventive package I've ever seen, with stereoscopic images and built-in 3D lenses). Mr. Yankovic, meanwhile, picked up two nominations for his latest album, Straight Outta Lynwood: one for Best Comedy Album, and another for Best Surround Sound Album.

The awards will be handed out (probably to someone else) on February 11. Against my better judgement, I will probably watch the show. And I will, for some reason, be surprised when once again the voters give a Grammy to someone who doesn't deserve one. Eventually, I'll learn.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Beakman's world

For Pettite is an honorable man

Well, if you haven’t heard, Andy “The Beak” Pettitte has decided all that crap about wanting to play in his hometown and be near his family was, after all, just crap, and signed a one-year, $16 million deal to play for the Yankees again.

And why? Was it the money? The Astros offered him $12 million. He counter-offered, saying he’d be willing to stay for $14 million. The Astros gave him a counter-counter-offer of…$12 million. And Toucan Sam flew the coop.

I understand that baseball is a business and everything. I get it. But what infuriates me about this is Pettitte’s attitude, demonstrated in an ESPN.com article. Pettitte says what drove him to leave wasn’t the money, per se, but that the Astros seemed ready to head into 2007 without him. Apparently, this hurt his feelings. Last week, the Astros tried to engineer a trade that would get them top-shelf starter Jon Garland, and this was the last straw. “You’ve got to figure that was a pretty good sign that they were going to move on,” he said.

Well, gosh, Andy. You spend the entire offseason waffling about whether or not you’re even going to play in 2007. You refuse to make a commitment to anything. You refuse to speculate on next season. You state openly in several interviews that, had you to make the decision at that moment, you’d go ahead and retire. You question your physical status. Your ability to remain healthy for a season. You keep silent.

And then, when the Astros start covering their bases on the off chance you proved sincere with your retirement threat, you throw a fit and run back to New York. Huh?

See, the Astros got burned this way once before. After the 2004 season, they badly wanted to re-sign Carlos Beltran to a long-term deal. He was, of course, the hottest free agent on the market, and they spent two whole months locked in a massive bidding war. They spent so much time on Beltran, in fact, that when they ended up losing that battle to the Mets, there was no one left on the market at all. The stubborn pursuit of one player burned them badly, and the 2005 Astros were a weaker team because of it. (Yes, the 2005 Astros went to the World Series. If they hadn’t wasted all that time on Beltran and picked up another bat or two, they might have won.)

So this time, the Astros weren’t going to be played that way. Yes, they wanted you back. So did I. They offered you $12 million to pitch for a single year. And you’re telling me that $2 fracking million is what ruined this? $14 million is acceptable to pitch a single year close to home, but $12 million is an insult? Huh?

Even funnier (and stranger) is the news that another missing part of the deal was an option for 2008. The Yankees tacked on an option for a second year with the same price tag, $16 mil (and perhaps thirty pieces of silver). The Astros wouldn’t offer this. Again, Pettitte’s feelings are hurt. You’re hurt, because they wouldn’t add an option for a second year to a guy who, for months, was on a 60/40 lean toward retiring? The fuck? That would be like me telling my boss that I’m thinking about quitting my job because I don’t think I’m physically able to drive anymore, him offering me $9.00 a hour for all of next year, and then me leaving to work at Pizza Hut because he won’t guarantee it for the year after that, too.

And as if all this wasn’t bad enough, Pettitte made himself sound like a world-class dick during his press conference. If anyone reading this ever plans on becoming a famous athlete—or a famous anything, really—here’s a free tip on how not to be an asshole: never, ever refer to yourself in the third person. Andy, on the speculation that Roger Clemens will follow him back to the Bronx:
“I haven’t talked with Roger one time during these negotiations. I don’t know what Roger’s going to do. I worry about what Andy Pettitte has to do, and then go from there.”
The only way he could have sounded more like a colossal asshole just then would have been to end all those sentences with “Know what I’m saying?

So, yeah. I’m pissed. If it’s not clear from my subtle innuendo, I feel betrayed. I realize baseball is a business and all, like I said. But…dammit, this kind of attitude just pisses me off. You told us over and over you weren’t sure you wanted to go to the Prom, and then get pissy when we ask someone else, just in case you didn’t.

Well, whatever, Beaky. I don’t like to openly hope for athletes to get injured, but let’s just say if your elbow falls apart in Spring Training, I won’t pity you or the Yankees.

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass—or the nose—on the way out.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

You got a reaction, didn't you?

An awkward moment in my life:

On Sunday afternoon, I was at Pizza Inn, "working." I had nothing to do, so I was watching television: an old episode of Family Feud, courtesy of the Game Show Network. Richard Dawson was hosting in all his 1970s glory, and the screen was awash with open collars and bell-bottomed pants.

Hopefully, you remember how Family Feud works, but if not, it's pretty simple. A family is given a survey question the producers of the show gave to 100 people. (As a kid, I often wondered if it was the same 100 people for every question, and if so, did they get credit as being a writer for the show?) The contestants must try to guess the most popular answers. Truly inane, yes, but mildly entertaining.

The question this time was "Name a fictional character with a beard."

Obviously, someone leaps all over the number one answer, Santa Claus. The next few answers go by pretty quickly: Bluebeard, Rip Van Winkle. But the family gets stuck on the last one -- nobody can get it.

A few customers in the store start lobbing out answers. I come up with several, in my head, but none would be an appopriate answer for a 70s game show -- Hagrid, for instance, did not exist yet.

I was coming up with answers, yes, in my head, when, for no reason I can discern, I blurt aloud, "God!"

They gave me funny looks. I wandered back to the kitchen.

Never did see what that last answer was. Even money says it wasn't God.

(And lyrics by the White Stripes make great post titles. "You think not telling is the same as not lying, don't you?" (from "Red Rain") is just begging to be used for a rant about Bush, isn't it? As is "I said it once before, but it bears repeating now.")