Welcome! (I guess...)

For those of you who by some extremely unlikely set of circumstances happened to stumble upon this page, I apologize to you. For those of you who intentionally came to this page - yikes! As the title of the weblog indicates, these are my Ramblings About Whatever. There is a chance that I will ramble about just about anything (as I am in this introduction), but only a select few topics will actually make this site. Enjoy! (I guess...)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Roger Clemens: The Saga Continues - February 26, 2008

It's been a couple of weeks since Roger Clemens's testimony before a House of Representatives committee, and so I thought that it would be a good idea to check back to see how things are going for the Rocket. Well, it seems that things are looking up for Roger since his oldest son Koby says that old Rog will be reporting to the Astros spring training camp - eventually.

I for one am glad to hear that things are turning around for Roger Clemens. The fact that such a great person like Roger Clemens is able to put these silly charges behind him and move on with his life is really uplifting. I was feeling a little depressed earlier this week, but once I heard the news that Roger would be reporting to the Astros spring training camp (eventually), my excitement could barely be controlled!

And then suddenly I woke from my nightmare and realized that the committee that heard the testimony was not controlled by a group of Roger Clemens's sycophants, in this case, mostly Republicans, but was controlled by Democrats who for the most part did not behave in Clemens's presence in the equivalent manner as a bunch of late 1990s preschoolers might when Barney & Friends came on. And then I heard the wonderful news that there is a chance that a criminal investigation may be launched as a result of Clemens's testimony in front of the committee. I know that it is a little early to get excited, but let's keep our fingers crossed.

And congratulations Roger! You have now earned your very own label!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Before There was a New Batch

As everyone knows by now, the Academy Awards were handed out yesterday evening. There were some surprise winners, and some awards went precisely where most people expected. And showing my talent for timing things perfectly, I turned to the channel on which the Academy Awards were being broadcast just in time to see No Country for Old Men win the award for best picture. Perfect timing.

Generally I don't watch any of these awards shows. The Academy Awards would tend to be the exception, as I am far more likely to watch this program than any of the other shows. And since I watched roughly two minutes of the Academy Awards, and since this total time dwarfed the amount of time combined that I have spent watching all other awards shows this year, there is very little of substance that I can say about this year's editions of those programs. However, using the Academy Awards as inspiration, and based on the overwhelming success that I had the last time I wrote about a movie (and please ignore the foolish comments), I wish to discuss the movie Gremlins.

Now some time ago (in a different space) I discussed this very topic. There is something about the movie Gremlins that disturbs me greatly. And of course what bothers me about the movie centers around the rules governing the mogwai. The first rule I don't really care about, never expose the mogwai to the sun or bright light, or it will die. Okay, I get this one; I have no complaints here. But the second rule is never get them wet. What exactly does this mean? Does it mean that a mogwai could not stroll the streets of Houston, TX because it is always so ridiculously humid that you feel like taking a shower each time you step out of your car (at least during the months of March through November). So is the humidity in the air not sufficient enough to get the mogwai wet? And does this mean that a mogwai can never take a drink of water for fear of reproducing? And let's go another step further. What happens if the mogwai is wet by Kool-Aid or by Olde English 800? These are very important unanswered questions if I do say so myself. (And I do.)

But of course this brings me to the stupidest rule of them all, never feed the mogwai after midnight. What exactly does this mean? It seems pretty clear that 12:01 am would count as after midnight and I suppose it would probably be bad to feed them at 12:13 am. But what about at say 4:45 am? This is still after midnight isn't it? And last I checked, 1:33 pm is still technically after midnight as well. So when can you and when can you not feed the little monsters? And what happens when the mogwai crosses into a different time zone? Let's say that the mogwai is in a part of Indiana that is near the time zone boundary. It's just after midnight in the Eastern Time Zone, but the mogwai feels like a late night snack. Can the mogwai walk across the street to the corner deli that is in the Central Time Zone and eat a sandwich without the fear of changing into a demon? Answer these questions for me if you please.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mr. Clemens Goes to Washington

Aaaaaaaaaaaand Ballgame! The Congressional hearing starring Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee is officially over and there are a few things about what transpired that made me extraordinarily happy. To start off with, I am not exactly pleased that Congress found time out of their very busy schedule to have such a charade. This is the most important thing that you can do with your time? A baseball steroids hearing? Times must be great...

I'm not alone in my questioning of the usefulness of these hearings. For example, consider ESPN baseball analyst Jayson Stark. Stark believes that the whole Mitchell Report thing was a waste of time and, one would assume, this hearing as well. I kind of, sort of agree but not for the same reasons as the baseball/Roger Clemens apologist Stark. I think the hearing was a waste of time because the sport of baseball does not deserve this sort of attention. Jose Canseco claimed in his book of a few years ago that up to 85% of baseball players used performance enhancing substances. This seems a bit high, but I'm certainly inclined to believe that the number is much closer to this figure than am I to believe that the total was on the same order as the eighty-nine players who were named in the Mitchell Report. Why? Well, it's because during the 1990s and early 2000s there were a rash of drug busts in other sports as drug testers finally developed tests to detect performance enhancing drugs that had previously been impossible to detect. This led to a host of suspensions of cyclists and distance runners when a test for the synthetic version of EPO was created during the late 1990s (I believe), and more recently, suspensions of a number of track and field athletes when a test for THG was created. If you add to this the fact that neither Major League Baseball nor the baseball players union had any interest in testing for drug use, you have a formula that suggests that 85% of baseball players using these drugs might not be an unreasonable guess. My point is, why should we even care about a sport that is so obviously tainted?

But since the hearing was going to take place, I might as well have taken something positive, something enjoyable from it, right? Now, I fall into the camp of people who should not say anything at all about Roger Clemens. This is because I have absolutely nothing nice to say about him. As such is the case, it was quite a joy for me to see him facing the equivalent of the 95 mph fastballs he had no problem throwing up around opposing batters heads while he was protected from seeing the same by the American League's designated hitter rule. He came off as an awful witness as far as I could observe, and I imagine most other people would agree, apologists like Stark excluded. Many of the Congresspersons pointed out that Clemens's testimony was at odds with McNamee's (no surprise), but the testimony was also at odds with former teammates Andy Pettitte's and Chuck Knoblauch's testimonies. And many of the people present in the room, including Clemens, stated that they believed that Pettitte was a trustworthy witness. Sorry Jayson, things are not looking so great for your boy.

But surprisingly, Clemens was not without his defenders. And this fact is the source of my other satisfaction at watching the hearing take place. Amazingly, in a hearing dealing with steroid use in baseball (or at least by one single baseball player), opinions broke down along party lines. I have paid attention to politics for quite a number of years and know that this notion of bipartisanship is an absolute sham, but even I did not believe for a second that this subject matter would turn into a partisan fight as well. Simply stunning. The Democrats overwhelmingly supported McNamee while the Republicans seemed to bend over backwards in support of Clemens. And as a bonus, there was even bickering between the committee members. What a great spectacle, and I'm looking forward to the indictment...of Roger Clemens.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Sport of Congressional Testimony

This week in sports has been in a word, delicious. And this is not just because of the triumph of the New York Football Giants in Super Bowl XLII. This has been such a wonderful week in sports as I see it because it has combined two of my favorite things in the world, sports and politics. Or to be more precise, sports and political grandstanding. I love it!

But of course this week we were treated to not one, but two stories involving the intersection of sports and politics. We have the continuing and newly expanded saga that is SpyGate, involving the New England Patriots and their never ending attempts to cheat. Within the last week or so, the story about the improper videotaping conducted by the Patriots that was born late last summer was given new life as the senior U.S. Senator from the state of Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, decided that it was time for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to come on up to Capitol Hill to answer a few questions. Oh joy!

However, this story is lame as far as I'm concerned. First of all, I don't believe for a second that the Patriots were the only team that might have been illegally videotaping competitors, and I do question what level of advantage was even really provided by these actions. Also, since the Patriots did not win the Super Bowl (the New York Football Giants won the Super Bowl, in case you were wondering), whether or not they had been cheating does not really matter to me.

Enter now the other collision of sports and politics. And this collision would be none other than the Major League Baseball steroids scandal. It's more like a soap opera at this point than anything else, I would say, only with better actors and plotlines worth following. The fabulous recent developments worth noting are that Roger Clemens provided a deposition before Congressional lawyers on Tuesday at which he reportedly denied using steroids or human growth hormone (HGH). However, Brian McNamee, Clemens's former trainer and a witness on whose testimony the allegations against Clemens are based, reportedly provided physical evidence to federal prosecuters that McNamee's attorneys claim refutes Clemens's story. This is getting juicy! Obviously, the beautiful thing about these developments is that since both men were presumably under oath, at least one of them is likely to face jail time because it seems highly impossible that both could be telling the truth. And if given a choice of which one I'd like to believe (and which one I actually do believe), I would certainly have to side with McNamee.

As intimated already, McNamee is no saint, but it seems to me that only the most diehard of Yankees fans, or clear Yankees apologists (or those who are a combination of both, if it is at all possible to separate them into two categories), would side with Clemens on this one (excluding his family of course). Do you want to know who would not side with Clemens? Mets fans. I'm a Mets fan and thus will thoroughly enjoy observing this if it is ultimately going to lead to where I hope it will. And that would be with Clemens in jail. And that would also be with the countless sportswriters and commentators who have gone absolutely ga-ga over Clemens's accomplishments ("Oh, Roger Clemens is so awesome!" "He's the greatest pitcher of this generation!" "Roger Clemens may be the greatest pitcher ever!") when rational people suspected something might be fishy, having to explain why they were such fools.

So sure, while I think it is an absolute waste of time for Congress to holds hearings about matters that are as inconsequential as steroids in baseball, if the hearings are going to happen, I might as well enjoy them. Bring on the hearings!

Monday, February 4, 2008


Never have I gotten so much enjoyment out of watching the same ESPN SportsCenter edition air and re-air than I did from late last night to early this morning. By now everyone knows that the New England Patriots were derailed in their attempt to go undefeated and reach sports immortality. For the New York Football Giants were waiting in their path. In Super Bowl XLII the Giants did something that I tried to talk myself into believing was possible, even painted a scenario within my mind that had elements of what actually took place on the field, but never quite believed would happen before the game. For this reason, I am still in shock after the Giants 17-14 victory over the Patriots in last night's Super Bowl.

As a New York Giants fan, I wanted to believe that it was possible for the Giants to win. But as much as I wanted to hope it was a possibility, for the vast majority of that game, there was lingering doubt. Don't get me wrong, just about everything in the first half transpired in a way that I thought was needed if the Giants were to have a chance at this upset. During the very first drive, the Giants controlled the ball for nearly ten minutes and came away with a field goal and a 3-0 lead. Hey, the Patriots offense cannot score any points if they are not on the field, can they? But it was not until after the Patriots scored on their first drive to take a 7-3 lead that the key to the Giants win began to unfold.

Now I've made it no secret to some that I absolutely abhor the whole lionization of Tom Brady. Sure, he is certainly a great quarterback, but I have long thought it was premature to name him as the best quarterback of all time as some have whispered, if not shouted. Heading into last night's Super Bowl, Brady was 3-0 as a Super Bowl starting quarterback, and there were many who seemed to take this to mean that he single handedly won each of those previous championships. People seem to forget what happened in the Patriots' first Super Bowl victory against the St. Louis Rams (XXXVI). Brady's stats in that game were 16/27 for 145 yards and one touchdown (with no interceptions). Those are decent stats, but nothing extraordinary. Essentially, Brady did not make any mistakes and never had to win the game on his own. The defense was what won that game for the Patriots, as the Patriots scored their first seventeen points off of Rams' turnovers, including an interception that was actually returned for a touchdown for the first score. The Patriots won mostly because their defense was able to hold a team that averaged more than thirty-one points per game during the regular season to seventeen points in the Super Bowl. But the legend of Tom Brady has grown to the point where this season there were an enormous amount of people who suggested an utterly foolish theory that Randy Moss's record breaking season was more a function of playing with Tom Brady than was Brady's record breaking season a result of playing with Moss. That notion is completely asinine (as was it asinine to me that Moss got exactly zero league MVP consideration), and for this reason alone I wanted to see Brady get smacked around out there a little bit just to see how everyone's darling golden boy quarterback reacted when things were not going as they should. And this is precisely what happened.

So to get back on topic (and away from my diatribe about Tom Brady), I knew that the Giants' defensive line had to smack Brady in the mouth. And so starting in the second quarter, that's exactly what the defensive line started to do. They abused the Patriots' offensive line and started smacking Tom Brady around. Mr. Dater-of-Actresses-and-Supermodels (okay, I'm not done with my attacks on Brady) could never get comfortable passing as he knew that there was a very good chance that each time he dropped back a ferocious defensive lineman was likely to drop him on his back. The results? Eighty-one yards of total offense from the vaunted Patriots offensive machine. However, the Patriots still carried a 7-3 lead into halftime, and would continue to maintain this lead heading to the fourth quarter.

I felt dejected because the Giants had opportunities, but were failing. This would change as the fourth quarter got underway. One huge forty-five yard pass to backup tight end Kevin Boss got the Giants going offensively in that quarter, setting the stage for wide receiver David Tyree to make the first of his two huge catches in this decisive period. The five-yard touchdown pass Tyree caught put the Giants up 10-7 with just over eleven minutes to play. The two teams then traded scoreless possessions (with the Giants coming agonizingly close on an occasion to completing a big play that might have transformed the complexity of the game entirely), but then the Patriots got the ball back with just under eight minutes to play. The next five minutes plus were crushing. The Patriots methodically moved the ball eighty yards down the field, never facing a pressure down until it was third and goal from the Giants' six yard line. And then, as had happened twenty-three times during the regular season, Tom Brady found Randy Moss in the end zone for a touchdown. Patriots 14, Giants 10 - 2:42 left in the game. The game was over, but at least I still had my silver lining. I would never again have to hear about the last and only perfect team in the NFL, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, popping open bottles of champagne each time the season's last undefeated team fell. And yet, there was a part of me that still hoped and would not completely stop believing.

After the ensuing kickoff, the Giants started their drive at their own seventeen yard line with 2:39 remaining. As the Giants progressed down the field, there were a number of anxious moments. There was a third and ten pass play to Amani Toomer that came up just short of a first down. This necessitated a nervous fourth and one play on which the Giants' Brandon Jacobs edged forward for one yard. A couple of plays later, there was a dangerous pass that was almost picked off for an interception that almost certainly would have ended the game. In retrospect, the fact that that pass went incomplete was certainly a sign of destiny. The Giants had to win this game, but yet, I still did not truly believe. The next play would almost certainly erase my doubt.

The next play will be talked about for as long as there is American football. The next play is already legendary, and its legendary status will only grow in time. Eli Manning, who cemented his own legendary status in this game and throughout the playoffs, was pressured heavily as he went back to pass on this third down and five play. Not one, but two Patriots defensive linemen grasped Manning's jersey on that play. A sack on that play would have been disastrous. It would have set up fourth and very long, necessitating a miracle to keep the Giants' hopes alive. But such a miracle fourth down play was not needed, for the Giants got a miracle on third down and five...two miracles in fact.

Somehow Manning was able to escape the grasps of his foes. He stumbled momentarily, but caught himself before going down. And then he released the pass that may become known as the most famous pass in Super Bowl history. Down the field Manning spotted David Tyree open and lofted the pass in the air. Thirty-two yards down the field, Tyree leapt into the air as the Patriots Rodney Harrison made every effort to break up the pass. Tyree got both hands on the ball momentarily, but due to Harrison's efforts, the left hand slipped off. As Tyree and Harrison fell toward the ground, somehow Tyree maintained his hold of the ball with that right hand as he pinned the ball to his own helmet. And then before returning to Earth, Tyree was able to get that second hand back on the ball. It was the most unbelievable sequence that I have ever seen in any football game. And because it was so unbelievable, this play made me believe that the Giants would win the game.

Two more plays brought up a third down and eleven play. Manning hit rookie wide receiver Steve Smith for twelve yards down the right sideline to bring the Giants to first and ten at the Patriots' thirteen yard line with thirty-nine seconds remaining. The next play was pure magic. Plaxico Burress who had predicted the Giants would win, who had predicted that the mighty Patriots would score only seventeen points when they had averaged nearly thirty-seven points per game during the regular season, was locked up one on one with a Patriots defender. A fake slant move followed by a faded pass to the corner of the end zone and now it wasn't only the Giants fans who were believers. With thirty-five seconds remaining, the Giants led 17-14.

Oh sure, the Patriots had yet to use a timeout that half. They still had three remaining. But it did not matter, the media darling golden boy Tom Brady could not fight destiny. This was not to be his coronation as the greatest quarterback of all time. For the defensive line of the Giants was not done smacking Brady in the mouth. Rookie Jay Alford broke free on second and ten and planted Brady hard on the ground. Third and twenty. Game over. Oh, there was still nineteen seconds left, but it was already clear that it was game over. Two more futile passes down field to the blanketed Randy Moss and the dream of perfection had ended.

The Giants were the champs! Shortly after the game, I received phone calls from both my younger brother and my younger sister. I told each how much I was shaking during those last moments of the game. I was shaking still as I talked to my brother. It was the most pleasantly shocking single moment that I can remember, even though I had almost talked myself into believing this result was possible in the week before.

Later in that evening as I drove out to a fast food place to get something to eat (you see, it had been several hours since I had last eaten, so caught up was I in the game), I was still in a daze. It was one of the most exhilarating feelings that I have ever had, even if I was perfectly aware that I would have to hear about some old men opening champagne bottles for at least one more year.