CategorySports

Ultimate Tak Ball

I love American ingenuity. Here is Ultimate Tak Ball!

People are really playing this.

Monkeyball

Last night I headed down to the new Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane location, since movie tickets were two bucks during this week’s soft open of the theater. It’s way out of the way for us, particularly coming from work, but seems reasonably convenient for South Austin peeps. Take Mopac south to the first traffic light and turn right, then immediate left. It took twenty minutes flat to come home at 12:30 AM. Kind of late? Well, cheap movies, so I caught a pair of them. Oh look, the title of this post is a bad joke. Look, they were both set in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it’d be way amusing to watch a motion captured Andy Serkis in an Oakland A’s uniform.

Moneyball was pretty good even if it was a touch fictionalized. Pitt was great, as was Hoffman in a nice supporting role. The one scene where Jonah Hill is desperately keeping up with Pitt and Hoffman is totally worth the price of admission. I’d love to know what Soderbergh would have made of it but I am totally content with what we got. Also, that was an entirely funny caricature of John Henry.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was kind of conflicted. The first hour or so is a pretty rough drama about the horrors of animal experimentation plus a really good performance by John Lithgow. Then there’s this magical point where my disbelief ceased to hover lightly in the air, and I’ll even spoil it, because it’s awesome. Caesar is in primate jail, and he’s having trouble adjusting. You know what it’s like being the new kid on the cellblock. So he gets kicked around a bit, and when he’s brooding back in his cell, he looks up at the orangutan across the way. Lo! Maurice the orangutan signs, “Hurt bad?”

Caesar is shocked, because whoa, another ape knows sign language! So he signs, “You know signs?” I’m wondering exactly the same thing. Maurice signs back, calmly, “Circus orangutan.” Clears it all up: everyone knows that circus animals are always taught ASL. Me and the shards of my disbelief will be over here snickering wildly. The movie doesn’t get any more believable from there on in. It stays enjoyable, though! It’s just a different movie in the second half.

Parochial

The Boston sports world is a weird place. Intense, fanatical, whiny, hopeful — it’s the kind of place that can support two sports radio stations without any problem whatsoever. Very macho world, of course. Sports. So the cool thing of the morning is this: Steve Buckley, who’s one of the reasonably big names in Boston sports journalism, came out. He writes for the (conservative) Boston Herald, and he has a frequent guest spot on (fairly conservative) WEEI, so that makes his environment just a little bit more unwelcoming than if he wrote for the Globe. Big kudos to him.

The comment section of his article isn’t quite a cesspool, although there’s a lot of hostility. Lot of praise, too. Also a lot of deleted comments. I expected worse, all in all.

One event closer to equality.

NBA League Pass

I wouldn’t need the League Pass if I was still living in Boston. But down here? It’s awesome; worth it for the Celtics games alone but when I can check out other interesting games at moment’s notice… that’s superb.

I wish it was in HD. The lack of high def is mitigated by the presence of home announcers sometimes. Listening to Tommy and Mike makes me feel all at home.

The Celtics bench is better than it was two years ago. Rasheed should practice his inside game for when he needs it, but otherwise I’m totally content. When Davis gets back, that’ll be another improvement.

The Big Three are not as good as they were two years ago. Garnett didn’t miss those alley-oops even last year. Possibly he’ll play back into better shape, but Allen’s still a bit down from his peak. It’s not a huge dropoff, but it’s there. Pierce has stayed pretty even.

The Additional Two are much improved. Perkins is a beast at his new weight. Rondo’s got it. Still no jumper, but he’s smarter when he’s unguarded now.

Obvious Joke is Obvious

It’s the week for rich businessmen to enter the political fray, huh? Of the two, I find Linda McMahon’s decision more interesting. Stephen Pagliuca is a fairly bland guy with a fairly bland background. Linda McMahon is also fairly bland, and she’s going to face the same questions about her loyalty to her party, but her background has somewhat more spice.

Her Web site is funny. You can barely tell her last name is McMahon, which is probably for the best. It’s not about Linda McMahon, it’s about Linda, who is barely related to that guy who shows up on your TV on Monday nights yelling at wrestlers. The WWE is merely “a company,” not a sports entertainment juggernaut or anything like that. It’s a pretty tasteful chunk of the Web.

There’s very little there about her positions on the issues. We learn she’s a fiscal conservative, which is poorly defined insofar as she’s not yet committed to supporting anything. That’s about it. In particular, there’s nothing on abortion. She donated to the Republican Majority For Choice, which will be impossible to play down and may sink her in the primary. Pro-choice views are nigh required for a Republican to win in New England, though. Ask Mitt Romney. So I’ll be watching to see how she walks that tightrope.

She’s smart. A lot of the WWE’s business success is thanks to her. She is undoubtedly a better businessman than her husband, who reliably lets emotion get in the way of decisions. She’d be a fierce defender of free speech for obvious reasons. On the other hand, she’s complicit in one of the worst abuses of employees in the United States — the WWE’s “independent contractor” crap, which directly results in drug addictions, ruined lives, and deaths.

In the end, you’d have to guess she’d be a business-oriented Republican, who’d work to keep government small and limited. She would most likely be consistent in that she wouldn’t want the government dictating social mores either. Could be worse; I’ve just never seen any great value in keeping government small while allowing big corporations to flourish. Large organizations are large organizations.

I can’t see it getting that far, though. WWE television programming is a great platform, but the skeletons are too visible. In way too many cases, quite literally.

Q4 WWE DVD Releases

Of note:

The Triumph and Tragedy of WCCW — more or less the von Erich story. Interesting probably for the documentary more than the wrestling.

Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Life and Legacy — no match list, but the description sounds tempting.

The Shawn Michaels Story — some repeats, no Bret Hart matches (?), but worth it probably for that hour long match with Cena alone. Said match is not included on the 3 DVD Cena set coming up soon, btw.

Rey Mysterio: Biggest Little Man — the 6 man tag from When Worlds Collide, the Malenko match from Great American Bash 1996, the July 8, 1996 Nitro Malenko match, the Eddie Guerrero match from Halloween Havoc 1997, his Smackdown debut against Chavo Guerrero in 2002, and the Angle match at SummerSlam 2002 are duplicates from his old DVD. C’est la vie. There’s a ton of new worthwhile material, although the old DVD is probably obsolete — the only match that isn’t repeated that’s worth seeking out is a Benoit match. Hm, and a Psicosis match, but still.

Nancy, Daniel, and Chris Benoit: RIP

At the time I write this, the solid facts are that three people are dead: Chris Benoit, wrestler, and his wife, and their seven year old son. When I heard that news last night I was devastated. Chris Benoit’s death alone would have hit me hard; add a family tragedy to it, and the news horrified me.

But it’s worse. The preponderance of evidence is that Chris Benoit killed his wife and son.
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Red

Dear Red:

Thank you for 1986; and all the others, but thank you for 1986. That was the year I learned to love basketball: packed around a little television in my dorm, watching the fuzzy images of Bird and Parish and McHale storm through the league. My dad scalping tickets for the playoffs. 36-6 in the third quarter. The Celtics.

Thank you.

Walking it home

Stupid baseball.

OK, so you have a man on third, two outs, it’s the top of the 11th inning. The score is tied. Your pitcher runs up three balls on the batter, no strikes. You have two choices; you can either pitch to the batter, who knows you’re in a hole, or you can shrug and walk him and go for the next batter.

I dunno, it’s not like I’ve run the numbers, but I can’t see how the second choice isn’t better. You run the risk of additional runs, sure. On the other hand, there is no possible scenario for the third out which does not stay the same or improve if you have the man on first, since you now have the force out at second, removing a possible throwing error from the outcome matrix.

Lots of people know baseball better than me. I’ve never seen a manager turn a three-ball zero-strike situation into an intentional walk. Do they ever? Should they? Is there a remote chance that Coco Crisp, Jason Varitek, and Alex Gonzalez will squeeze out a run and make us suffer through more of this?

Crisp hit a double. That’s something. Varitek flew out. That’s not something. Gonzales fouled out. That’s not something either. Eh, it’s the bottom of the order, we don’t expect miracles. Youkilis has an RBI! I’m still peeved at Francona for not walking Rollins; this coulda ended with that. Loretta walked. Go ahead, make Ortiz a hero again. Yep, Ortiz whacks a single, Youkilis wanders on home, game over.

Nonetheless, I wanna know why you don’t walk the batter with two outs, tie game, extra innings, one man on third.

Timing is everything

David Pinto comments on the Beckett trade here and here. Both times he notes that the Red Sox are going for “win now” rather than rebuilding — but it doesn’t seem to me like that’s a wildly goofy thing to do. The Red Sox are one year off from a World Series victory and they have three postseason appearances in a row; in theory, at least, it makes sense to try and keep the streak going rather than rebuild.

I personally like the trade. The Sox had an abundance of minor league pitching, some of which will contribute next year. Lowell and Youklis between them should solve first and third base. The rotation is something like Beckett, Clement, Schilling, Wakefield, Papelbon, and Arroyo as the backup — shuffle that as you see fit, but it’s about right. The kids plus Timlin could be a good bullpen.

The big problems are in the outfield. Manny’s probably gone. Damon’s almost certainly gone. Trot Nixon will miss half the year again. I think you really need three outfielders who can start and play reliably and that’s a tough set of holes to fill.

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