Archive for June, 2004

Friday Five: Dave’s Top Five Childhood Heroes

Friday, June 4th, 2004

Joe mentioned on our other blog that his childhood hero was Rey Sanchez:

“Let me give you some examples of the players that I loved when I was growing up. Rey Sanchez, Steve Buchelle, Joe Girardi, Mark Clark, Mitch Williams, etc…What the heck is wrong with me? Why would I like these guys? Iím actually kind of embarrassed to admit that I did. I even remember trying to be a ‘great SS’ like Rey Sanchez.”

In order to put him at ease, this is my list of childhood heroes, in order of embarrassment it causes me:

5) Ryne Sandberg

This one actually causes me no embarassment at all, but gives me a starting point. I still sign my emails with a “#23” at the bottom. As a known Chicago sports fan, everyone assumes it’s because of Michael Jordan. Those in the know, however, understood that it is in Ryno’s honor.

Ryno’s still my favorite player of all time.

4) Mr. T

He was BA Baracus on the A-Team and Clubber Lang in Rocky III (still the best Rocky bad guy, and not just because he killed Burgess Meredith, something Batman was never able to do). He wore all kinds of jewelry but somehow, in the way that German metal bands get away with having a silly keyboardist in the group, that never stopped him from epitomizing toughness.

3) Freddie Mercury

I LOVED Queen’s music, and still do, and thought Freddie Mercury was the coolest guy on the planet. When I was about ten or eleven somebody told me that he was gay. Only when I was fourteen or fifteen did I start to believe it, and not until I was in my twenties did I realize how openly, brazenly, and demonstratively show-tuney gay he was. It wasn’t embarassing to me that he was gay, just that it was obvious to everyone in the world but me. When he died of AIDS in 1991, the rock industry lost one of its finest vocalists and greatest live performers.

2) Lord British

The Ultima guy. I always imagined what I would say to this guy when I was a kid. After all, I played Ultima IV for at least 500 hours of playtime, the games were so deep and interesting, and he got away with wearing a crown in his pictures! When I got a job at Origin and met him I found out he was kind of a twerp.

Then I started calling him Dick British. All in all, he wasn’t a bad guy, but when you get an unrealistic image of a person in your mind, the person can only fall short in real life, so ol’ Captain English was a victim of my expectations.

1) Joey DeMaio (the lead singer for Manowar)

Manowar is a musically talentless metal band that sings about Dungeons and Dragons, riding on motorcycles, and having the capability to play music at high decibel levels. They always had paintings of themselves in leather, standing on a battlefield with vanquished foes and beautiful women dressed like they were on a Vallejo print. Joey DeMaio was always front and center, looking very heroic and muscular, like Conan the Barbarian with a guitar. I found them incredibly talented and their lyrics were deep and meaningful — until I turned thirteen.


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File this one under: Please God, you’re kidding right?

Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

I’m not really sure how many people saw this mini article in the Chicago Sun Times on May 29th, but it caught my eye, and I would like to pick it apart a little and give you my thoughts (worries).

“Rey Ordonez refused to acknowledge so early in his Cubs career that he could be a long-term solution to the dearth of shortstops in this organization.”

You’re kidding right? You don’t think the Cubs are really actually considering keeping Rey Ordonez as the permanent “Solution” as shortstop do you? What a waste of money that would be. Granted, Ordonez doesn’t make diddly squat, but he also isn’t worth diddly squat.

“Cubs manager Dusty Baker is expecting the best from Ordonez, who was 0-for-4 in the first game of the doubleheader.”

Excellent way to try to convince us. Tell us that we’re expecting the best from him and he goes 0-4 in his debut. Way to get us excited Mr. Reilly.

“There is plenty of Rey Ordonez left,” Baker said. “He’s young, and I hear he was playing real good [at Iowa]. He was playing good last year in Tampa Bay [before a season-ending injury].”

Ok, plenty to think about there. First, plenty of Rey Ordonez left? How much was there to begin with if there is still plenty left? The fact that Baker feels this way makes me a little nervous about his ability to accurately assess talent in a ballplayer. Rey Ordonez is nothing more than a glorified Rey Sanchez (My Hero as a kid) with a couple gold gloves. Rey Sanchez was always looked at as a liability, and I don’t see Ordonez as any different. Secondly, 33 years old is not young in sports terms. Yeah, sure this is the year of the old Farts, with Clemens pitching great, Big Unit pitching a perfect game, and Barry Bonds hitting like a man possessed, but this does not apply to pip squeak Cuban shortstops. So no Dusty, Ordonez is not young. Third, Ordonez was hitting alright last year. I’ll give Dusty that, but it was in 117 at bats. That’s nothing. The fact is, here are his career highs for important categories in a full season.

Stat        High        Year

Average .258 1999
Hr's 3 2001
OBP .319 1999
Slg .336 2001
Fld % .994 1999

I’m not really sure what to think. Either Dusty was caught with the questions and didn’t want to hurt Rey’s feelings, or he really believes this. I’m not sure which it is, but if Ordonez is the answer, I know I don’t want to know what the question was.


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Robot Pitching Machine Report: Clemen Industries Models S & T

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2004

Memo from Cy Borg, Pitching Machine Project Leader

CLEMEN Industries Robotics



Models A-R disabled. Clemen S and Clemen T in active duty.

ClemenS Update:

Still our most successful model, The ClemenS pitching robot was in retirement due to worn parts over the offseason. However, lead field researcher Pettitte was able to get ClemenS up and running in tme for the season’s start. He has won all seven of his decisions and has no-decisions in three starts. ClemenS has given up 2.38 runs per nine innings this year, walking 26 and striking out 76 in 64.1 innings of service. Researcher Pettitte devoted himself full-time to ClemenS maintenance for a portion of the season, curtailing his own career. Now that Pettitte is dividing his time between pitching and maintaining ClemenS, our team is concerned that the robot will break down. However, early returns on the season are extremely promising; remarkable given that the expected life span of this robot has long been exceeded and its inning meter has recently passed 4300.

ClemenT update: Intended to be an upgrade over the Clemen model S, ClemenT has shown certain design flaws that have made its performance wildly unpredictable. Despite top-of-the-line pitch algorithms, ClemenT has had trouble with release point, target identification, and target accuracy. The addition of the Chin Patch has helped significantly, but ClemenT unit still suffered occasional breakdowns. Due to recalibration of key targeting systems, this robot has been very effective this season, rivaling the performance of the ClemenS this season. It has won six decisions against three losses in ten starts, with 24 walks and 65 strikeouts. The robot’s season inning meter is currently at 65.0 and shows no signs of needing tune-up.

Project goals for 2004:

ClemenS can show significant drop in performance this season and the project will still label its performance a success.

ClemenT, despite improvement, needs to maintain its current output over a full season to renew Clemen Industries’ service contract for this unit with the Chicago Cubs. They are very pleased with ClemenT’s performance thus far and have ordered production of a ClemenU, ClemenV, and ClemenW. Our project is staffing up to meet the Cubs’ Needs.

Report Update:

ClemenS and ClemenT will be in the same place simultaneously for a Houston-Chicago game. Let us hope, for the sake of our project, that the Clemen Industries “Houston Electromagnetic Pulse Grid” project does not go on-line today.


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Mike Royko

Tuesday, June 1st, 2004

Joe’s comments about Mariotti and Rogers are in line with mine. I have to admit that I liked Mariotti on Around the Horn, but he’s on the wrong side of the suck line in print. Phil Rogers is jaw-droppingly bad; the day started printing some of his stuff was the day I realized I need to stop visiting the site.

My dad always talks about Mike Royko, but I was too young to get to read his stuff. Does anybody have thoughts about Royko, or any other sportswriters for the Chicago newspapers, past or present? I’m having a hard time thinking of anybody who I enjoy reading more than half the time.


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I hate Phil Rogers

Tuesday, June 1st, 2004

There is a good article on ESPN about Mark Prior today written by Phil Rogers. He continues to blame Baker for the Cubs injuries to the pitching staff. I really wish people weren’t so fickle about this team. When things are going great, Dusty is a hero, and has brought the franchise from the dead. When things are going a little less than ideal, then the bash the manager stuff starts. I may not be in the majority, but I don’t mind how Dusty handles the pitching staff. He has a great reputation with his team and with everyone else as being a manager everyone wants to play for. You don’t get that reputation by abusing your players.

Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Greg Maddux, etc all have something in common. They are grown men. That means that they know their bodies and they know what they can do. They are not going to risk their careers and health because Dusty says so. He’s a good guy, but he’s not God. The fact is, Dusty communicates with his players and they have input. I don’t ever remember hearing any of his current or former players going on record and saying that Dusty didn’t know what he was doing.

Also read “I Hate Jay Mariotti” over at Cubbies Corner (Our other site)


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