Saturday, October 08, 2005

UCLA 47; UC Berkeley 40

Really a terrific game. There were a lot of reasons the Bruins should have lost this game. Horrible penalties that negated big plays. A bad break on missed fumble call right before UC Berkeley's first touchdown. An inexplicable failure of about 8 guys to bring down Marshawn Lynch on a huge 3rd and ten, leading to the conversion, and ultimately another touchdown. Honestly, I though the Bruins had lost the game on that play.

Maurice Drew was outstanding, scoring 5 touchdowns on the day, three on the ground, one through the air, and another on a punt return. After last week's poor showing, he really made ammends tonight. Drew Olson did not have a particularly great game, probably due in part to Berkeley's focus on his primary weapon, Marcedes Lewis. Also impacting his numbers were bad penalties and a couple of drops, including one that would have gone for a score if hadn't gone right through "Clutch Receiver" Joe Cowan's hands.

With just under 10 minutes to play, I was composing in my head a post about how Karl Dorrel had lost this game by choosing to punt on fourth and short from around midfield. Instead, they faked it, getting the ball into the hands of Jarrad Page who rumbled for the first down and much more, setting up a big touchdown. For the second straight week, Marcus Everett made the key reception to set up the game winning touchdown.

This team still has some problems, mostly on the defensive line. The Bears ran all over the Bruins, although the defense did make some key big plays. Tonight's injury to Brigham Harwell is really going to hurt on the D-line. Major credit goes to Trey Brown as well, who's interception sealed the victory. Minutes earlier he allowed a reception on a play where Ayoob telegraphed his pass, but for some reason Brown peeled off the receiver, leading to about six yards on a play that should have gone for no more than three. But he made the right read at the right time, and he helped the Bruins get to 5-0.

The Bruins will be favored in the next four, and probably next five games. 10-0 going into the U$C game is a very real possibility. Dorrell won't survive a 2001 like implosion.

Rain out

Not that you come here for news or anything, but if you haven't heard, today's game is rained out. We'll do it again tomorrow. Big question as to who takes the pill. Gotta figure it's going to be Bart. He'll be on his normal rest. So what happens with Wash? Well, hopefully he keeps his mouth shut and doesn't make any waves. I feel for him. He's had a great year, and he wants to play. He's earned it. But for whatever reason, Scioscia doesn't quite trust him. This ESPN article, probably from AP, still says Washburn vs. Chacon. But don't be surprised to see Bart vs. Moose tomorrow.

Comeback: Angels lead series 2 games to 1

Obviously, my last post was premature. Clearly, I'm drunk right now, mostly because I live about 200 feet from 10 different bars, but I digress. The bats woke up at the right time. This team, at least for one night, stepped up when they were needed the most. After blowing a 5-0 lead, they scratched, they clawed, they got an ump to make an honest call, and they got the effort out of the bullpen that they needed to take a 2-1 series lead. Worst case scenario, the Angels have Bart on full rest at home to win the series.

I spent the late afternoon at a bar downtown with Sox fans watching the White Sox winning their first post-season series in, like, forever. I've never seen my friends so happy. I remember that feeling from 2002.

It will be sad to see them lose the next series to the Angels.

Mostly, I'm glad I'll see Wash pitch again. He's had a great year, and I think he'll lead us to another round tomorrow. I'll admit it, I want J-Dub back in the fold for two more years, but I don't think the Angels will re-sign him. Let's make up for it by sending him out as a two time world champ.

Oh, and just a reminder, I am fucking wasted right now.

Friday, October 07, 2005

JUST KIDDING!!! Implosion; Yankees lead series 2-1

It was all right there. A 5-0 lead with 18 outs to go. 18 is a lot, but so is 5 runs. A blast, an error, a 12 hop single, a bloop single, another walk, and a rip to the gap made short work of the five run lead. It cost the Yankees only three outs to take control of the game, of the series.

A few days from now, we'll all be asking why, in the pivotal game of the series, the pitcher with the fourth best ERA in the league couldn't get the ball in his hands. Even better on the road. Only Scioscia and Bud Black know that. This isn't to denigrate Paul Byrd, who did a tremendous job for the Angels this year, but is there anyone, anywhere, who can explain why Jarrod Washburn wasn't starting this game.

When this offense scores five runs, the team has to win. But let's face it. The teams that win in the playoffs have reliable offenses and good enough pitching staffs. If it was the other way around, the Braves would have won 10 World Championships. There will be a lot of questions this off-season, but the biggest will be "where are the runs going to come from?" The Yankees have the ability to come from behind. The same ability the Angels had in 2002. That's what wins.

The series isn't over. The Yankees still have to win one more. But the Angels are looking at a huge hill in front of them, and they need to find the strength to climb it. It would help if they had a lead off man who could get on base. So we sit, and we wait, and watch maybe only one more game. There's always hope, I guess.

**UPDATE** Well, maybe not. Double, single, single, single, and we're back in business. C'mon boys, let's get this thing done.

**Update 2**

So far this whole "Dewey defeats Truman" thing is working. So read the post above, take it to heart, and realize that we're winning, and we currently have the bases juiced with no one out. Thank God they no longer have El Duque, who worked out of this earlier today.

**Update 3**

I keep doubting, they keep winning. See, there's method to my madness, yeswecan. Do NOT doubt me. If I give up again, you know we're going to win.

Kings 3; Coyotes 2

Nice win in the home opener for the Kings last night. Both teams were playing back to back games, so I'm not sure this feels as good as winning the second of back to back games normally does, but it's win nonetheless, and after Wednesday's debacle, it was much needed.

Three of the guys who are going to need to produce if the Kings want to be successful got on the scoreboard. Luc got his first of the season with a rocket from the left-wing circle after Parros had cleared some space, firing a perfect shot inside the far post. Frolov got his first of the season on the power play, knocking home the rebound of a Pavol Demitra shot. Finally, Demitra picked up his first of the season on a rare power play rush, flipping home a north-south pass from Frolov.

The defense stepped up and played a solid game. Much to the chagrin of many over at Lets Go Kings, Joe Corvo was the best defenseman on the ice. He made solid passes, got his shots on net, threw his body around, and made a terrific diving poke check to negate a scoring chance when he had been left all alone by his teammates. I think this is going to be a breakout year for Corvo. And while his off-ice issues will never endear him to many in the hardcore fan base, a solid season from Corvo is a must if this team wants to make the playoffs.

The Kings worked a lot harder last night, likely the result of not opening up a four goal lead in the first period. They skated harder, they hit smarter, and they stayed out of the penalty box for the most part. That's going to be a key to this season, as it seems that their PK is just awful so far. In the new NHL, that has to change if they want to make the post-season.

LaBarbera looked solid in nets, stopping 27 shots to pick up the win. I wouldn't be disappointed if they simply didn't name a number one goaltender and instead just rotated the position like in the old Hrudey/Berthiaume days. Then again, if one of them wants to elevate his game and grab that role, that's fine too. Next up are the Wild on Sunday night, who started the season without King killer Marian Gaborik. It didn't bother them Wednesday, as they beat the Flames 6-3. No word on whether he'll be in the lineup Sunday.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Branching out

My first post on a different blog is up. Head over to check out the Seitz Video Extra on the Bulls!' song of the day blog.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Angels ride the clutch; Series tied 1-1

So this is what I wrote roundabout the fourth inning
It's all over but the shouting, folks. Oftentimes in sports, there are little things that happen which, when isolated, don't seem to have much of an impact on the action. But when looked at in a broader context, these little things foreshadow the bigger things to come. A player in a slump hits line drives right at someone. A pitcher just barely off his game gives up bloop singles on great pitches. Tonight's game was full of evidence that the Angels are done, and they were done by the fourth inning. What am I talking about? In the third inning, after a lead off single, the Angels called a hit and run. A sinker ball pitcher throws a pitch practically over Figgins' head. Chone fails to make contact, and Posada has a perfect pitch to throw on. Kennedy heads back to the dugout. In the fourth, the Angels get a one out baserunner. Vlad tries to steal second. Cano, on the move to cover the bag, is in perfect position to field a ground ball which would have been a hit at any other time.

These are what they call "the breaks" and the Angels aren't getting them. In 2002, they got all the breaks. A Robin Ventura smash hits the high wall in right when it would have been long gone if it had been just a few feet to the left. Spiezio collides with AJ Pierszynski in game 2 of the ALCS, kicking the ball out of AJ's glove, giving the Angels a first inning lead. In the post-season, the teams are so close that the one that wins is the one that gets the breaks. It wasn't meant to be for the 2005 Angels, and there's no better evidence than the fact that the A's are getting all the breaks.

As has been the case many times over the years, the Angels faced a no name pitcher with decent, but not eye-popping numbers, and they make him look like the greatest pitcher in history. The Yankees decided to go with a strong infield defense with the sinkerballer on the mound, planning on getting a large number of ground balls, and the Angels were more than willing to oblige. They could have started Giambi in center field and gotten away with, because nothing was getting to the outfield in the air. Lackey, on the other hand, threw a lot of pitches, walked a few, and could not avoid getting touched up by the stout Yankees offense. When they pushed their second run across in the fifth inning, the job was all but complete. If you want one stat that's indicative of this offense, look no further than their igniter, Chone Figgins. Through two games, to this point, he's 0 for 7, with three strikeouts. His career in the post-season as a regular (five games) he's now 2 for 21 with no walks, and 8 strike outs. That's not exactly what you look for out of your lead off hitter.

The Angels had another fine season. They can add another year to their division championship banner. But for the second straight year, the Angels will leave the party early, likely after the minimum number of required games. The gas is on, the match is lit, and it will soon be time to fire up the hot stove.
I consider it cathartic to prepare myself for the worst. Otherwise, I end up watching my team blow a huge lead, like the Kings tonight, and it catches me completely off guard.

Anyway, I was 100% wrong. The breaks, well, they broke. Things started going the Angels' way. They finally made the Yankees pay for an error, and then they went and did it again in the seventh after Finley's bunt pulled Cano off the bag at first. Lackey didn't pitch badly, but he did walk way too many hitters. Of course, perhaps the walk isn't a bad option against a team of mashers. I really think if the Angels get to the next round and face Chicago, the pitchers will feel like they were swinging the weighted bat in the this series.

The top of the lineup continues to disappoint. Figgins and Anderson have been brutal with the bat in their hands, Chone's making up for it on defense. Clutch hits from Molina and Cabrera kept the wheels turning, and the bullpen looked sharp, Frankie's meatball to Posada notwithstanding. Big credit to Mike Scioscia for calling the pitch-out at a crucial moment, and props to Escobar, Bengie, and Cabrera for executing. Bengie practically caught the ball in front of home plate, and threw a perfect strike. I thought that was a real turning point.

Now it's back to New York to face their big black nemesis. Paul Byrd has come up big for the Angels at important times this season, so here's hoping he can find a few more good starts in that surgically repaired arm. My big hope for tonight's game is that Vlad will learn that the team can win without him doing everything at the plate. He needs to relax, and maybe some of the other guys picking up the slack will help him do that.

Stars 5; Kings 4

Well, maybe I won't get center ice. The Kings got four goals in the first period, three in the first five minutes, but found themselves shorthanded 13 times to Dallas' 2. The result was predictable, as Dallas scored three times in the second period, and twice in the third. The Kings could barely get the goaltender out of the net in the final minute.

It's gonna be a long season.


Because of the success of the Angels, I've barely had any time to cover the Kings. With the NHL season getting underway tonight, it's probably a good time to mention that this blog will hopefully start featuring more Kings stuff in future, with one caveat. I calledt Comcast yesterday to order the Center Ice package, and the person with whom I spoke couldn't find any evidence that they were carrying it this year. This, quite naturally, pissed me off. However, the Center Ice package uses the same channels as the Extra Innings package. The on-screen guide has those channels showing games tonight, includind the season opener between the Kings and Stars. There's a free preview this week, so it's possible that the person I spoke with is simply a moron. I guess it's possible that they're showing the preview, but not offering the package for some reason. Honestly, with Comcast purchasing the rights to broadcast national NHL games on its stations, like OLN, you'd think their cable outlets would all be offering the package and promoting their product. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that cable companies are stupid.

Anyway, with the rule changes, roster changes, and anything else that might have changed in the year the NHL took off, I have no idea what to expect. The Kings disappointed me this off-season, either not pursuing good targets, or failing in those pursuits. We've been told that this CBA is what they've been positioning themselves for the last few years, and they didn't really act like it this summer. They did have a terrific team in Manchester last season, so maybe they're expecting big things from the kids. The pundits don't seem to be, but those guys are rarely on the mark.

So I guess we'll sit back and see if the lack of movement pans out.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Angels offense offensive. Yankees win game one.

In the end, you really only needed to watch the first inning, as the game was summed up nicely after only six outs. No killer instinct on the mound, no killer instict at the plate. Bart was able to get ahead, but didn't have the ability to put hitters away. On the other side, Vlad took two meatballs for strikes before grounding out on a pitch that practically bounced on the plate.

Honestly, this concerns me about Vlad. I mentioned it earlier in the season when he was being walked intentionally virtually every time up. He doesn't have the care free attitude of Cabrera. You can tell he lets things get to him. Those walks led him right into a long slump, and the team slumped along with him. Take the grand slam away from last year's playoffs, and he didn't hit .150 in that series. He seems to have the temperament of a guy who is going to try too hard. I hope it doesn't take a 2-0 series deficit to loosen him up this year.

Colon looked like he was falling in love with the radar gun. He was bringing heat, to be sure, but he wouldn't get away from it, and he got burned. Tough to criticise him, though. Last year in the first half of the season, he was getting killed on two strike off-speed stuff, so I guess he's gotta do what he thinks he's gotta do. All of the damage was done with two outs. The Yankees are a team that you cannot afford to leave on life support. Bart could not plunge the knife in when he needed to.

The offense simply isn't reliable enough to score runs when the team is trailing. Their recent run of comeback wins notwithstanding, this isn't really a rally offense. It's not really a good offense, and if they get behind again, they're in trouble. Remember, this is all against a guy who got absolutely hammered by the Orioles in his last start.

Tomorrow night is the series, folks. The pitching matchup says the Angels should win, but this is a terrific Yankees offense against an anemic and unreliable Angels offense. I expect them to, at the very least, put up a better fight. But the next game is it. Lose and it's over. Win and they still have some sort of chance. They needed this one. The Angels had their ace on the mound against a shaky starter, and the Angels made Mussina look about 8 years younger. Leave the bats at home again tomorrow, and the hot stove starts heating up.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The deal with the comments

So yeah, like Richard and Rob, I've been getting ton of comment spam lately. At least one or two, if not more after every post. You might not notice, because I'm one diligent bastard, but trust me, it's grating. So for the time being, I'm going to a word verification system. Think of it as Blogger's way of shirking their responsibility and passing the frustration on to me, who has in turn decided to pass it on to you. Please don't let it keep you from commenting. The more the merrier, unless you're a spammer, in which case you'll be deleted, but quick. This is only a trial period.

Earlimart w/ Richard Swift and the Sons of National Freedom @ Schuba's - 10/2/2005

It really doesn't seem like there's that much to review, really. It was just a few months ago that Earlimart came to Schubas with Okkervil River. Last night's show was pretty much more of the same, with a similar setlist. They threw in a couple of new tracks, and there was maybe one more that I couldn't recognize, but I don't know if it was new or not. Which isn't to say the show wasn't fantastic. It was. Normally a three piece act, they brought along another guitarist/bassist, and a full time keyboard player. That didn't keep the lovely and talented Arianna Murray from moving back and forth between bass and keyboards. She was looking quite fetching, with hair that seemed a bit blonder than the the last time. And speaking of hair, I almost didn't recognize Aaron Espinoza at first, his hair a little longer than the last time.

Richard Swift kicked off the night, playing a couple of solo tunes at the piano. The crowd was pretty sparse, but it was a Sunday night. While I wasn't expecting a big crowd, I was expecting a little more than we got. Swift was recommended to me by cupie and yeswecan over at Halo's Heaven, and he didn't disappoint. Some classic troubador fare, but this guy really has a terrific voice. Kind of reminded me of Rufus Wainwright at times. After the first couple of songs, a backing band who I can only assume were the Sons of National Freedom took the stage and turned the set into a rollicking good time. Swift did a couple more alone before the band retook the stage to finish off the set. Talked to him after the show and he seemed like a pretty good guy. I'm still listening to his album, but so far so good.

Earlimart followed with a set that included the following:
  • First Instant, Last Report
  • The Hidden Track
  • We Drink on the Job
  • The Movies
  • Sounds
  • All They Ever Do is Talk
  • Unintentional Tape Manipulations
  • Heaven Adores You
  • Broke the Furniture
  • A Bell and a Whistle (they closed with this one)
It seems like they played more than that, so maybe they did. That's about 13 or 14 songs, though, so no complaints. Pretty fun evening. At one point Espinoza spilled his beer, which coincidentally led right into "We Drink on the Job". At one point he solicited for a sleigh bell player for "Broke the Furniture". I guess I could have gone up there. I was only about 8 feet from the stage, which was more or less the front row because of the small crowd. But honestly, no one wants to see another guy up there, so the girl in front of me finally volunteered her friend. Speaking of "Broke the Furniture", it's really an indictment of country music that bands who aren't country can write better country songs than bands who are country. I'm thinking not only of this one, but Gone for Good by the Shins as well.

This is a band that you really need to listen to, because they're really good. I'm pretty sure you can still stream their album from their website, so you have no excuse not to. But it's not enough just to listen. You need to see them live if the opportunity presents itself, because in person, it's just so much better. All of those little parts that make you say "man, that would sound better if it were way louder," well, they're way louder, and more intense. Lots of energy, and ultimately lots of fun.

I'm guessing they'll probably take some time off and record, but hopefully they'll be back before too long.


I suppose I ought to do one of these things before tomorrow. So without any rhyme or reason to them, here goes:

Angels over Yankees in four - The Yankees may have better pitching, as Alex Belth seems to think, but here's where he's wrong. The Angels will prevent runs better. And they'll do it better in this series. I've actually had this argument before, where one of us is talking about actual pitching ability, while the other is referring to run prevention in general. Fine. Split that hair if you like. The Angels are better at keeping runs off the board, and that's why they'll win this series.

White Sox over Red Sox in four - Every post-season needs one series that goes against what everyone predicts. This one will be it. Once again, run prevention will be the difference. They don't give MVPs for this series, but my pick to click is Aaron Rowand. You read it here first. Unless someone beat me to it.

Angels over White Sox in seven - The Angels will win a dramatic seventh game, with yours truly in attendance, after which I will take the red line to Fullerton, get off and walk east toward my apartment, and stop in at the Children's Hospital emergency room on the way, because I won't be leaving the Cell unscathed.

Cardinals over Padres in three - Every post-season needs on series that goes against what everyone predicts. This one won't be it.

Braves over Astros - Why? Because the Braves always beat the Astros in the playoffs. Except last year, but that was an anomoly.

Braves over Cardinals in six - Bobby Cox outmanages Tony LaRussa,, who am I kidding? I don't know dick about the National League anymore. I just want the Cardinals to lose.

Angels over Braves in six - The team that has been in the post-season forever loses to the team who will be in the post-season for the next forever.

There, it's saved for posterity.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Things I've learned from "The Alternative"

VH-1 Classic has a show that runs Wednesdays and Thursdays for an hour, and Sundays for two hours (10:00 am and pm Central time). Today's really sucked, but was salvaged at the end by showing the Damned's version of Arthur Lee and Love's "Alone Again Or".

This show has some issues, in my opinion. First, while they do tend to stick what one generally would consider "alternative", occasionally they'll throw a White Zombie or Ministry video in there. I like to think I was pretty well tuned in to the mainstream wing of the alternative scene 15 years ago, at least up until KROQ started playing really crappy stuff at the end of the '90s. These are not bands I would have considered alternative at the time. Second, and this isn't really a criticism, they play stuff that never got anywhere near a radio station with more than 1,000 watts while it the music was contemporary. Just today they played "Eye of Fatima" by Camper Van Beethoven. Also, they'll play obscure videos from bands that had decent hits, but they'll never play the hits. Take Gang of Four, for example. They play the video for "Is It Love" all the freaking time. But they never play "I Love a Man in a Uniform". Maybe they need an order.

One of the most interesting things I've noticed, however, is their selection of artists in heavy rotation. I swear, if you were a 17 year old kid doing a paper on major alternative acts of the last 25 years, you would thing that The Jam/The Style Council/Paul Weller, and the Sisters of Mercy were among the hugest fucking acts of all time. Now, the Jam were huge, but mostly only among people who wore black nylon jackets with orange lining and rode Vespas. And the Sisters of Mercy? I'll admit, I think Vision Thing is a pretty terrific album, and that's before taking into account the camp value, and "This Corrosion" is a classic song, but did anybody really listen to these guys back then, at least in this country? You certainly wouldn't expect them to show up on virtually every program.

That said, I'll give the VH-1 folks props, as they do play Lush and My Bloody Valentine a lot, but they don't play nearly enough Stone Roses or Echo and the Bunnymen. I guess I could start doing a "video of the every couple of days", but I wouldn't want to step on Pinko's toes.


It's hard to believe, having watched as many games as I did this season, that this is the second best team in Angels history. But there it is. 95 wins. Good enough to win the A.L. West by seven games. Good enough to take home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Good enough to play the Yankees in the first round, which thankfully means night games, which means I can actually see them play. It also means that I may have a couple of fires put out at work by the time they (hopefully) play the White Sox in the ALCS. Some other factoids, as have been noted in the halosphere: Figgins led the league in stolen bases (note to Podsednik, you have to reach base to steal), and Frankie led the AL in saves, even with his DL time, and his sucking time.

A rematch of the 2002 ALDS, this features the same offensive powerhouse Yankees, with even worse pitching than they had three years ago. The Angels enter, once again, a team with excellent pitching, but their offense is worse. We'll find out if it's worse to the same degree as the Yankees pitching. I think the Angels should win this series, but maybe they'd be better off if I gave up all hope.

No excuses. The rotation is set. The bullpen is rested. The offense is.....deep, I guess, but not necessarily reliable. It's October, folks. The most wonderful time of the year.