Archive for March 2013

About a Broderick

March 31, 2013

Walking to my morning Matching Half fix the other day, I approached this church on McAllister and wondered if there was a blood drive going on?  Voting?

But the van was a long deluxe bathroom complex.  And there were people hanging out in the church.  A lovely lady exited and someone who seemed to work there called out “Honey, do you want to use the bathroom here [the deluxe van] before you go?”  The answer was no– she had already gone inside.  Weird.

Then around the corner, looking down Broderick I saw this:

Thanks to my film-making brother I recognized this as a film crew.  Hmm..  a commercial?  TV? Movie?  BTW– some readers will recognize these homes as being kitty-corner from their reunion Victorian on the NE corner of Broderick and Fulton.  Others will recognize it as being 2 blocks down the street from their Victorian.

After I was done with coffee and was walking home again, my curiosity got the better of me and I looped back around.    Just in time to see a scene!

Beautiful young lady walks out to her Mini.  Seconds later, a distraught man in his boxers and open robe a-flying races down the steps after her.  Panicked, he pleads with her thru her car door, then in defeat slowly pads back up to his home.  Meanwhile, another woman and her 10? yr old son exit the station wagon/Uhaul behind them and climb the neighboring steps.  As the mom enters her building, the boy stops on the steps to gaze a bit perplexedly at the man-child next door.

How do I know he’s a man-child?  Because research showed that what was being filmed was a TV pilot– an adaptation of the Nick Hornby book (and 2002 Hugh Grant movie) “About a Boy” which is about a man-child who is befriended by the son of a single mom next door,  lessons are learned, etc etc (at least I think they were, it’s been a while now).

So watch for it on NBC this fall.  Looks like the opening (establishing?) scene was in the 2012 reunion hood.

PS:  I very rarely see celebs, but this is my second random encounter with Minnie Driver who plays the mom.  I also saw her in Heathrow in 2000 and flew with her from London to LA (though not in the same class).

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The Dream Team Project: Milwaukee Brewers

March 29, 2013

In order to deepen my appreciation for baseball and its history, I have embarked on an effort to create a “dream team” for each franchise in the American and National Leagues, from the time it began play in its current location, or from 1947 (whichever is earlier). I present each team in batting order (the starting pitcher bats 9th), and include three more starting pitchers, five relief pitchers, as well as the best player, hitter, and fielder not in the starting lineup.

* = Left-handed batter or pitcher. # = Switch-hitter.

Milwaukee Brewers (from 1970)

  1. Paul Molitor, 3B (1978-1992)
  2. Robin Yount, SS (1974-1993)
  3. Cecil Cooper, 1B (1977-1987) *
  4. Ryan Braun, LF (2007– )
  5. Gorman Thomas, CF (1973-1983)
  6. Sixto Lezcano, RF (1974-1980)
  7. B.J. Surhoff, C (1987-1995) *
  8. Jim Gantner, 2B (1976-1992) *
  9. Teddy Higuera, P (1985-1991) [#] *

Player: Don Money, 3B (1973-1983); Hitter: Prince Fielder, 1B (2005-2011) *; Fielder: J.J. Hardy, SS (2005-2009)

Other starting pitchers:

  • Ben Sheets (2001-2008)
  • Moose Haas (1976-1985)
  • Mike Caldwell (1977-1984) *

Relief pitchers:

  • Dan Plesac (1986-1992) *
  • Rollie Fingers (1981-1982 & 1984-1985)
  • Mike Fetters (1992-1997)
  • Ken Sanders (1970-1972)
  • Bob Wickman (1996-2000)

This dream team illustrates the difficulty of matching players to positions. Paul Molitor is the best third baseman, second baseman and designated hitter in Brewers history; Robin Yount won an MVP at both shortstop and center field. Traffic jams at third base and left field mean Brewers greats like Don Money, Jeff Cirillo, Ben Ogilvie and Geoff Jenkins can’t crack the lineup. “Harvey’s Wallbangers” (I was rooting for them in 1982) still hold down five of the starting spots.

But this team is poised to change; Rickie Weeks (2B), Corey Hart (RF), and even Jonathan Lucroy (C) are all likely to be “tapped” for the Brew Crew’s all-time nine in the near future.

UPDATE: Franchises are our normal frame of reference for baseball history, but I believe that cities are what really counts. In other words, the greatest Milwaukee Braves of all time should not be folded into the history of the team that now plays in Atlanta, as no one in Georgia saw them during those years. Thus, I would argue that Milwaukee’s “dream team” should include: Eddie Mathews at third base, Hank Aaron in right field, and Del Crandall behind the plate. Paul Molitor would then move to second base. Lew Burdette would join the starting rotation, and Warren Spahn would join the starting nine.

chalet-figurine

The Dream Team Project: Texas Rangers

March 26, 2013

In order to deepen my appreciation for baseball and its history, I have embarked on an effort to create a “dream team” for each franchise in the American and National Leagues, from the time it began play in its current location, or from 1947 (whichever is earlier). I present each team in batting order (the starting pitcher bats 9th), and include three more starting pitchers, five relief pitchers, as well as the best player, hitter, and fielder (and pinch hitter) not in the starting lineup.

* = Left-handed batter or pitcher. # = Switch-hitter.

Texas Rangers (from 1972)

  1. Rusty Greer, LF (1994-2002) *
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (2006– )
  3. Josh Hamilton, CF (2008-2012) *
  4. Juan Gonzalez, RF (1989-1999 & 2002-2003)
  5. Rafael Palmeiro, 1B (1989-1993 & 1999-2003) *
  6. Ivan Rodriguez, C (1991-2002 & 2009)
  7. Buddy Bell, 3B (1979-1985 & 1989)
  8. Toby Harrah, SS (1969-1978 & 1985-1986)
  9. Charlie Hough, P (1980-1990)

Player: Jim Sundberg, C (1974-1983 & 1988-1989); Hitter: Alex Rodriguez, SS (2001-2003); Fielder: Pete O’Brien, 1B (1982-1988) *; Pinch hitter: Ruben Sierra, RF (1986-1992 & 2000-2001) #

Other starting pitchers:

  • Kenny Rogers (1989-1995 & 2000-2002 & 2004-2005) *
  • Fergie Jenkins (1974-1975 & 1978-1981)
  • Nolan Ryan (1989-1993)

Relief pitchers:

  • John Wetteland (1997-2000)
  • Francisco Cordero (2000-2006)
  • C.J. Wilson (2005-2011) *
  • Neftali Feliz (2009– )
  • Jeff Russell (1985-1992 & 1995-1996)

For a franchise famed for futility, this dream team is notable for the players who are not in the starting nine (or even on the roster). Julio Franco was great, but Ian Kinsler is on his way to greatness. Jim Sundberg was an excellent catcher in every respect, but Ivan Rodriguez was exceptional. Alex Rodriguez produced 50% more WAR in his three years with Texas than Toby Harrah did in his three best years with the Rangers, but career longevity gives Harrah the edge. Sadly, that means there’s no room for Michael Young, who had more plate appearances than A-Rod and Harrah combined. Mark Teixeira will have to apply to another all-time team.

A solid offense and a “mature” starting rotation make this group competitive, despite the paucity of playoff appearances in Rangers history; but they need to retire more numbers than Nolan’s, I think.

Texas-Rangers-Baseball-History-Wallpaper

Swamplandia in Bad Decline

March 24, 2013

Pocket Review: Civilwarland in Bad Decline, by George Saunders

I purchased this collection of short stories impulsively a few weeks back at City Lights. It was a pleasant diversion during my ongoing odyssey through my main book of the season, The Big Screen, by David Thompson. So it was nice tight writing, dark, satirical, etc. Each story was set in the near future (or in an alternative reality) in a different dystopian theme park or service industry. While reading (maybe especially the story “The Wavemaker Falters”), it occurred to me that it’s a shame I read this so soon after Swamplandia! because the stories are so … similar. Hmm … you could almost say Mr. Saunders is ripping off Ms. Russell to a degree. Oh wait … it would have to be vice versa, because these stories are from almost 20 years ago and Swamplandia just came out a year ago. Huh.

And in fact, when I looked up George Saunder’s Wikipedia page, I saw:



The Dream Team Project: Montreal Expos

March 22, 2013

In order to deepen my appreciation for baseball and its history, I have embarked on an effort to create a “dream team” for each franchise in the American and National Leagues, from the time it began play in its current location, or from 1947 (whichever is earlier). I present each team in batting order (the starting pitcher bats 9th), and include three more starting pitchers, five relief pitchers, as well as the best player, hitter, and fielder not in the starting lineup.

* = Left-handed batter or pitcher. # = Switch-hitter.

Montreal Expos (from 1969)

  1. Tim Raines, LF (1979-1990 & 2001) #
  2. Andre Dawson, CF (1976-1986)
  3. Vladimir Guerrero, RF (1996-2003)
  4. Gary Carter, C (1974-1984 & 1992)
  5. Jose Vidro, 2B (1997-2006) #
  6. Ron Fairly, 1B (1969-1974) *
  7. Tim Wallach, 3B (1980-1992)
  8. Orlando Cabrera, SS (1997-2004)
  9. Steve Rogers, P (1973-1985)

Player: Larry Walker, RF (1989-1994) *; Hitter: Bob Bailey, 3B (1969-1975); Fielder: Rondell White, CF (1993-2000)

Other starting pitchers:

  • Dennis Martinez (1986-1993)
  • Pedro Martinez (1994-1997)
  • Javier Vazquez (1998-2003)

Relief pitchers:

  • Tim Burke (1985-1991)
  • Mel Rojas (1990-1996 & 1999)
  • Jeff Reardon (1981-1986)
  • Dan Schatzeder (1977-1979 & 1982-1986) *
  • Ugueth Urbina (1995-2001)

Montreal has a rich baseball history that predates the Expos (cf. Jackie Robinson, etc.), and despite that franchise’s almost total lack of post-season success, this dream team is “pleine de grands joueurs.” Who wouldn’t want that outfield, hitting 1-2-3, for starters? And “the Kid” hits clean up. Marquis Grissom didn’t make this team; that’s how good it is. But notice how the starting pitchers’ dates align; that’s the vrai histoire des Expos. “Plenty of great players,” but not enough of them at the same time.

Bons temps ...

Bons temps …

The Dream Team Project: Minnesota Twins

March 19, 2013

In order to deepen my appreciation for baseball and its history, I have embarked on an effort to create a “dream team” for each franchise in the American and National Leagues, from the time it began play in its current location, or from 1947 (whichever is earlier). I present each team in batting order (the starting pitcher bats 9th), and include three more starting pitchers, five relief pitchers, as well as the best player, hitter, and fielder not in the starting lineup.

* = Left-handed batter or pitcher. # = Switch-hitter.

Minnesota Twins (from 1961)

  1. Chuck Knoblauch, 2B (1991-1997)
  2. Rod Carew, 1B (1967-1978) *
  3. Joe Mauer, C (2004– ) *
  4. Harmon Killebrew, 3B (1954-1974)
  5. Kirby Puckett, CF (1984-1995)
  6. Tony Oliva, RF (1962-1976) *
  7. Bob Allison, LF (1958-1970)
  8. Roy Smalley, SS (1976-1982 & 1986-1987) #
  9. Bert Blyleven, P (1970-1976 & 1985-1988)

Player: Kent Hrbek, 1B (1981-1994) *; Hitter: Cesar Tovar, OF (1965-1972); Fielders: Greg Gagne, SS (1983-1992) & Gary Gaetti, 3B (1981-1990)

Other starting pitchers:

  • Johan Santana (2000-2007) *
  • Brad Radke (1995-2006)
  • Jim Kaat (1959-1973) *

Relief pitchers:

  • Joe Nathan (2004-2009 & 2011)
  • Rick Aguilera (1989-1999)
  • Eddie Guardado (1993-2003 & 2008) *
  • Al Worthington (1964-1969)
  • Matt Guerrier (2004-2010)

The first of three franchises with capital connections, the Minnesota Twins have been the most successful, and it shows on this dream team. The lineup is a procession of familiar names and well-liked players, all of whom played in the post-season for the Twin Cities (seven of nine played in a World Series). A Cy Young award winner and an excellent relief corps round out the roster, and given the current state of the team that plays in Target Field, it will not see much change in the near future.

Like most dream teams, this one required some positional adjustments; Harmon Killebrew played twice as many games at first as he did at third, but Rod Carew had more success at that bag. Carew himself played twice as many games at second as he did at first, but Chuck Knoblauch out-performed the Hall of Famer in the middle of the diamond. The result? Kent Hrbek is on backup duty. We should all be so lucky.

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Also: “That Time Kirby Puckett Was on David Letterman.”

The Dream Team Project: San Diego Padres

March 15, 2013

In order to deepen my appreciation for baseball and its history, I have embarked on an effort to create a “dream team” for each franchise in the American and National Leagues, from the time it began play in its current location, or from 1947 (whichever is earlier). I present each team in batting order (the starting pitcher bats 9th), and include three more starting pitchers, five relief pitchers, as well as the best player, hitter, and fielder not in the starting lineup.

* = Left-handed batter or pitcher. # = Switch-hitter.

San Diego Padres (from 1969)

  1. Bip Roberts, 2B (1986 & 1988-1991 & 1994-1995) #
  2. Brian Giles, CF (2003-2009) *
  3. Tony Gwynn, RF (1982-2001) *
  4. Dave Winfield, LF (1973-1980)
  5. Ken Caminiti, 3B (1995-1998) #
  6. Gene Tenace, C (1977-1980)
  7. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B (2006-2010) *
  8. Garry Templeton, SS (1982-1991) #
  9. Jake Peavy, P (2002-2009)

Player: Gene Richards, LF (1977-1984) *; Hitter: Ryan Klesko, 1B (2000-2006) *; Fielder: Benito Santiago, C (1986-1992)

Other starting pitchers:

  • Andy Ashby (1993-1999 & 2004)
  • Andy Benes (1989-1995)
  • Randy Jones (1973-1980) *

Relief pitchers:

  • Trevor Hoffman (1993-2008)
  • Heath Bell (2007-2011)
  • Scott Linebrink (2003-2007)
  • Greg Harris (1988-1993)
  • Mark Davis (1987-1989 & 1993-1994) *

Unlike the previous two franchises, which built long-term dynasties, the Padres have had only sporadic success, and that’s evident from this dream team. Only three of the starting nine played a prominent role in San Diego’s two World Series appearances, although two of the other eight pitchers played in the Fall Classic. This team is stacked at first, third, and right; in fact, all three starting outfielders were mostly right fielders, but I’ve placed them in positions they also played. Nate Colbert, Phil Nevin, and Terry Kennedy deserve to be recognized for putting in their time as Padres, even though there’s no place for them on this roster. On the other hand, Ozzie Smith and Roberto Alomar could both be in the starting lineup, but their stardom came elsewhere. Trevor Hoffman is one of the rare relievers who leads a team’s pitchers in career Wins Above Replacement.

He's on the team, too.

Another all-time great.