Archive for December, 2004

The color of sorrow is white

Monday, December 27th, 2004

It snowed here in Allentown, PA last night, and I am becoming acutely aware of how my mood is directly proportional to the temperature outside and the amount of rainfall. 90 degrees and no rain = Ernie Banks. 28 degrees and snow = Dave Kingman.

Today I’m Dave Kingman. A neighborhood kid is shoveling the walk and the driveway for ten bucks. My “job” at work today will be to find a cheap snowblower online, so internal combustion can do the work for me. Science needs to get its collective butt in gear and start making us some affordable robots so my robot can go out and run the snowblower for me. Then maybe my mood won’t be ruined.

Bulls lost, Bears lost, Cubs haven’t filled their hole in LF or closer, and Sosa’s still wearing a teddy bear on his sleeve. On the bright side, my wife and I had an awesome Christmas, but its glow has been covered in a chilly white blanket assembled from millions upon millions of individual flakes of agony.

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Nagging Question That Needs An Answer

Saturday, December 25th, 2004

For as long as I can remember, i’ve always loved baseball. I remember when I was a kid, watching the Cubs in the summertime at 1:20 on WGN. I would go to the card shop and spend all my money on baseball cards. In the afternoon, we’d play baseball with about 8 guys and always have to close about 4 positions. I loved baseball. However, throughout that time, one nagging question has always haunted and plagued my mind, causing me to lose sleep time and time again. It haunts me like an awful recurring nightmare that I just can’t seem to shake. The question is a simple one. It’s not “who is the best player to ever play the game?” or “will anyone ever break Dimaggio’s record?”. It’s much simpler, and it eats at the heart of baseball.

Why do all the good free agents get signed last? – I know, that’s not really the question you had in mind, but it’s one that drives me insane. Every year, I get excited and wait in nervous anticipation like a kid the night before Christmas only to be strung along like an ending relationship that just doesn’t seem to break off. I get glossy eyed at the big names on the market and dream of the team that the Tribune could put on the field if a thing called money never existed. Once the World Series ends each year, I think that the signings will come fast and furious as if the teams were starving lions who had just been thrown a pile of T-Bone steaks. Each year I am disappointed. This year is no exception. With names like Beltran, Beltre, Delgado, Pedro, Nomar, Kent, and Magglio on the market, my excitement level was at an all time high. These are some major names on the market. However, as the offseason started and the rumors flew, the signings did not. Hence, the reason for my question.

If you were a team in desperate need for improvement or simply a team in need of a slight tweak, you would think that you would want to go after the best possible fix. With that being said, it should be the big names that are signed quickly, setting the tone for the minor contracts to come afterward. How long can it possibly take to get a deal done? If all the GM’s really have to do is work to trade and sign players, then they should only need about a week to have their rosters set for the next season. If you work the phone for eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, you should have your whole team done. As a result, it should be the big names that go first, because they would be the top priority. Teams would know that if they didn’t get one of those guys, they would have to settle with low tier guys like Tony Womack. Who in the world would be interested in signing Tony Womack?

Maybe i’m just wishful thinking, but if baseball could come up with some way to make the offseason signing period a little shorter, it would certainly make it a lot easier for a lot of people. Fans would be able to see instantly what their team looks like for the next year. Vegas odds makers would certainly have a lot less work recalculating odds each time someone signs, and writers would be eternally grateful for the shortened signings, at least I would. It would let me focus on facts rather than rumors all offseason.

As I sit here now, Beltran, Delgado, and Ordonez are still unsigned. Will it happen this week? I doubt it, but you never know. One thing is certain, my question will always remain.

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A Message from Hendry Claus

Friday, December 24th, 2004

“Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas, Cubs fans! I have good news, my friends — you’ve all been good little boys and girls this year. This Christmas I’m bringing you a World Championship in 2005! Ho, Ho, Ho!!!!!”

Merry Christmas. Happy holidays to all. So far I’ve gotten my wish; as little snowfall as possible and, generally speaking, unseasonable warmth. Now if Hendry Claus can deliver the goods like he just promised, I can die happy.

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A word of advice

Thursday, December 23rd, 2004

Growing up, we’re always taught to listen to the advice of our elders. We’re told to learn from the people that came before us and the histories they leave behind. We study them in textbooks for hours on end in hot, sweaty classrooms. I can’t tell you how many times I learned about Columbus, Lincoln, and Jefferson. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy history to this day, but what I don’t understand is why we never educate our students on the biggest, most important piece of advice known to man. Why do we not educate our children on the dangers of the cable company?

For years in my house growing up, we never had the privilege of owning cable television. We were never able to watch the Disney channel, ESPN, or HBO. We were stuck with the local channels. Eventually, I broke the norm and called the cable company myself, telling my parents I would pay for it. If only I had been educated on this horrible danger. I once heard that heroine was one of the easiest drugs to become addicted to. Not being a drug user, I don’t really know either way. What I do know is this: Cable television is deadly and highly addictive.

Within the last week, my wife and I have packed up our belongings and moved across the state of North Carolina to the Raleigh/Durham area. It just so happens that our cable provider is a company called Charter. Even their slogan, “Get Hooked”, says it all. I’m addicted to cable television and I am to the point that I cannot live without it. With the Cubs being on WGN, I simply have to possess some way of seeing them. That’s where the problem enters.

Monday: Day 1 – I have my appointment to have cable internet installed in the new apartment between 1-5. At this point, cable television is not necessary, because my landlord had ghetto rigged it, unknown to me, so that we would be on his feed, since we’re in a garage apartment behind his house. I call before noon to confirm my appointment and assure that they know exactly how to find us. At this time, I am told that my address does not exsist and that they have me listed as an address 2 numbers off. In the meantime, I am told that the change is a quick fix and that I would be fine. As we are in the process of making the change, the cell phone that I am calling on goes out. The reason I was on a cell phone is a completely different rant that I don’t want to stray to. After being disconnected, I wait on hold again only to speak with a completely different representative who tells me that I will not be able to have that cable feed and that they will be canceling my appointment for that day so they could reschedule after sending someone out to verify that service could be had at this location. He tells me that the next available appointment is the following Monday. At this point, I’m furious and get transferred to a supervisor. Once I talk to the supervisor, I am set up with an 8am appointment and a $20 credit for my troubles.

Tuesday: Day 2 – I wake up at 7:45 to make sure that I am prepared for my appointment. I wait and wait but no one shows. At 1 o’clock, I call charter from my father in law’s house due to my lack of a phone. When I talked to them, I am greeted with a snippy sales rep that did nothing but talk rude to me. I go back to my house, assured that they will be there and could be running late. When I arrive, there is a Charter van in my drive. He tells me that he just got done cutting the cable feed and that another tech would be there to do the new work. He calls the dispatcher and is told that they are running late and will be here by 5. 7 o’clock rolls around and still no tech. I call Charter again from a cell phone only to be disconnected at least 3 times. Now, having talked to god knows how many people and giving my name and phone number an unbelievable amount of times, I am told that my tech was at the house that morning and said no one was home. I explode into the phone that I was home all day and that the tech is lying. The rep says they can get someone out on Monday. I hang up and call again, this time I am told that my appointment had been canceled for today and that was the reason no tech arrived. Now, I am so ready to kill someone, it’s dangerous. I call one last supervisor, waiting on hold for at least 5 minutes each call, who turns out to be the most helpful of all. She tells me that she will send an E-mail to my local office to tell them to get a tech out here at 8am the next day. She gives me the name and number of the girl she is sending it to and tells me to call her early so I can make sure it gets done.

Wednesday: Day 3 – I wake up at 7am and call the number that I was given the night before. She assures me that she received the E-mail and is going to contact dispatch that morning. She takes my name and number and promises to call as soon as she hears something, which she does at 8:15. She tells me that she is going to get the dispatch to call me ASAP and get someone out. 10am and still no tech. She calls to check on it, and I tell her that I had not heard from them yet. As we are speaking, the call waiting beeps (at this time we finally have a phone) and I answer it. On the line is a tech saying that he will not be able to get to my house till tomorrow. I hang up on him and switch back to the girl that was taking care of me. I tell her what the tech says and she gets angry. She gives me the number for the plant supervisor, where all the local techs are based out of. I call him and he tells me that he will take care of it. He takes my name and number and tells me he’ll call back within 5 minutes. When he does, he gives me his direct line and tells me that the techs will be at my house at 3. He says that if they aren’t there by 3:15 to call him directly on his line and let him know. 3:15 arrives, but a tech does not. I count down the seconds and call the guy back. He yells at someone in the room or on another phone saying “Why the hell is the tech still not at this guy’s house?” He gets back on the phone and tells me they will be there in 15 minutes. 3:30 arrives and so does the tech. He sets everything up and leaves at 4:30. End of story? Hardly!!!! Late that evening, our internet goes up and down a few times, but is for the most part stable.

Thursday: Day 4 – I wake up and find that my internet is down. I sit on hold for 45 minutes listening to Lionel Ritchie music before finally being told that I have a weak connection. The rep says they will have a tech call me to set up an appointment to fix it that day. I wait till noon and still get no call. Finally, I call back the man that helped the day before. He tells me that he will take care of it. About 1:30, the same tech from the day before arrives and doesn’t understand why the internet is not working. He adjusts some things with the splitter, but cannot figure out what the problem is. After spouting a god awful amount of tech talk about drops and connectivity, he leaves and tells me that another tech would arrive soon. At 3pm, a final tech arrives and works for 2 hours to correct the issue. When all is said and done, the internet is working well and the cable television is doing the same. With any luck, I will be able to continue on with my addiction painlessly.

Like the great tales of Aseop, this tale has a moral/piece of advice.The advice here is this: Do not get caught up in cable television. It can only hurt you and cause you to “Get Hooked”. Stay away. Stay far far away.

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The solution to the Alou dilemma

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

The revelation that Moises Alou urinates on his hands to help build callouses was, I thought, worthy of a nickname. However, I grappled with varieties of “Pee-hands” for the whole year last year without settling on anything right.

I think I finally found it:
Pottyfingers.

Wherever Alou ends up, I hope fans of that team will embrace the nickname as warmly as a Michael Jackson embrace to an eleven year old boy.

When I am ninety-six years old I intend to mature, but not one day earlier.

Update: Alou signed with SF today for 2 years

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