Saturday, March 10, 2012

Memo to young women in bars:

I understand that you just graduated from school, and probably can't really afford to be out Saturday night paying $12 each for blood orange margaritas.  You're on your own in the big city now, and you and your girls are all dressed up, so I get why you don't want to go to the same old divey college bars and drink $3 Miller Lites.  It doesn't even bother me that you don't have any cash and have to charge all your drinks on your credit card (regardless of whether it's you or daddy who pays the bill).  But what I can't figure out is this: There's four of you.  You're going to have at least four drinks tonight.  Why do you all have to pay for just your own drink on your card each time?  I'm going to let you in on something that grownups do; it's called "buying rounds."  First you find out what your friends would like, then you buy all of the drinks at once.  This way you don't have to pay anymore until it's your turn again.  Trust me, it's way easier.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My biggest concerns (or lack thereof) about the 2012 Red Sox

After last season's epic September collapse, the Sox enter this year with a number of lingering questions.  The one I'm hearing most frequently is "Who's going to play shortstop?"  After trading away Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie, Boston is left with utility men Mike Aviles and Nick Punto, as well as slick fielding prospect Jose Iglesias (whom they clearly want to keep in Pawtucket for now).  I don't see this as an issue.  Aviles hit .317 in 38 games for Boston last year.  And even if they don't get much production from him (or Punto) this year, is it really that big a deal to have a weak hitting shortstop in an otherwise fairly stacked lineup?

There is also uncertainty with the pitching rotation behind Lester, Beckett, and Buccholz.  Can Bard become an effective starter; and who will be the #5?  Again, I'm not that worried.  Last March I remember making fun of the Yankees for naming A.J. Burnett their #2 starter, and at the time it looked as if they couldn't even fill out their rotation.  However, they still managed to win the A.L. East.  Between Andrew Miller, Felix Dubront, Vincente Padilla, Aaron Cooke, and a number of other guys in camp, someone will step up for Boston and get the job done.  And there's always the option of starting Alfredo Aceves, who has put up some pretty spectacular numbers in the past.

In right field the Red Sox will most likely use a platoon of Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney (also Darnell McDonald? Ryan Kalish?), which definitely doesn't seem very exciting.  But according to, Boston right fielders batted .233 with 169 strikeouts last season.  Pretty much whatever they run out there is most likely going to be an improvement.  Over in left field there is the curious case of Carl Crawford.  Will he bounce back from last year's debacle?  Everything I know about baseball suggests that his .293 average and 42.7 steals per year, over a ten year career, is a much better indicator than what he did last season.  There's no good reason to believe he won't return to form.

At that brings me to my biggest worry about the 2012 Red Sox: Center field, Jacoby Ellsbury.  I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out.  Jacoby was a MONSTER last year.  Unless he really has become the best player in all of baseball, it's going to be virtually impossible for him to have a repeat performance.  So even if he's just "very good" this season, everybody is going to be wondering "What's wrong with Jacoby?"  That's a difficult situation to be in, kind of like how I felt about the Red Sox as a whole heading into 2005, when there was no conceivable way to top 2004.  But all in all if that's my biggest concern, I'd say the outlook is pretty good.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Awesome Old Song of the Week: "How Do You Talk to an Angel" by The Heights

There's a bonus today: you get a song, and a clip from a TV show, all in one video.  I'm also going to write this completely from memory, without using wikipedia, IMDB, or any other interweb sources.  It'll definitely be better that way, because it's impossible to take this one seriously.  "How Do You Talk to an Angel" was a number one single in 1992; I remember watching the show The Heights when I was a freshman in high school.  I think it got cancelled after about half a season.

Jamie Walters was easily the most famous of the bunch.  He parlayed this song into a little bit of a music career, and also was able to pull off the transition to Beverly Hills 90210, where he threw Donna Martin down a flight of stairs.  The black guy has a fairly decent acting resume.  I remember him being part of Jeremy Piven's non-fraternity in the movie PCU, and he's also the guy in Swingers who says "This place is dead anyway" everywhere they go.  And he definitely hung out with Ted Danson on the show Becker.

The red head I recognize as the girl who blew up her microwave in the Christian Slater movie Pump Up the Volume, and I think the blond was on Days of Our Lives in the '80s (which my mom used to watch when I was a kid).  After that it goes down hill rapidly.  The tough guy lead singer is either Kenny G or Micheal Bolton, and the guy in the Cosby sweater could be Balki from Perfect Stangers, but looks more like his role as Serge on Beverly Hills Cop.  And finally, the drummer just makes too many weird "I'm rocking out so hard" faces to figure out who he might be.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Weird stats on the streaky C's

With 5:33 to go at the Garden last night, I watched people start streaming towards the exits.  Houston had just taken a ten point lead, 80-70.  But then the Celtics turned up the defense, and held the Rockets to just 4 points in the last five and a half minutes, while sending the game to overtime.  Amazingly they even forced 24 second violations on consecutive posessions with 3:27 to go.  How often do you see that?  The biggest play of the game that nobody is talking about today was a TERRIBLE loose ball foul committed by Samuel Dalembert with 56 seconds left.  At the time the Rockets were still in control with an 82-79 lead.  But as KG pulled down a rebound, Dalembert went over the back, and all of a sudden it was just a one point game with no time off the clock (I hate the rule that a loose ball foul under one hoop leads to free throws on the other end.  But in this case, I'll take it), paving the way for Ray's huge 3.

After back to back OT wins, Boston heads to Philly with a chance to take over first place in the Atlantic Division, an idea that seemed crazy just one week ago (when they trailed the Sixers by 4 games).  The Celtics are 5-5 on the second night of back to back's this year, but they are 5-0 at home, and 0-5 on the road.  In the midst of their wildly inconsistent season, only 6 of 37 games played have not been part of either a winning or losing streak of 3 games or more.  I need to set up a LucidSportsFan research department, but lacking that I asked Celtics radio play by play man Sean Grande, who confirmed that Boston is the only team in the league with a pair of both 5 game winning and losing streaks.  None have extended beyond five games though, so the trends suggest that the they are due for a loss to the Sixers tonight.

I've got a feeling the old guys are going to surprise us.  When it looked as if the C's were about to fall to the Knicks on Sunday, my buddy turned to me and said "These are the games they used to win."   But they pulled that one out, and then last night they gutted out another with suffocating defense late in the 4th quarter, reminiscent of 2008 (and the fact that they managed to beat Houston despite being out rebounded 57-38 is particularly impressive).  I'm hoping they've turned a corner.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What's wrong with reenacting scenes from "Platoon" with Charlie Sheen?

Directv has a series of commercials running right now that tell you all the bad stuff that might happen if you keep watching regular cable television, instead of switching over to their service.  They explain how one thing leads to another, and eventually you end up in an ugly situation.  Obviously I understand why it's no good to have a grandson with a dog collar.  But this other one has me a little bit confused:

What's the problem with reenacting scenes from Platoon with Charlie Sheen?  You lost me on that one Directv; I think that sounds like a pretty good time.  I'm fairly sure if you asked the average American if that's something they'd do given the opportunity, more often than not they would say yes.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Man, Celtics-Knicks games are NUTS!

When I left the Garden back on Feb. 3rd, I was certain that the Celts/Knicks game I had just witnessed was the most entertaining of the year so far (Boston won 91-89).  And then Sunday happened.  As Paul Pierce pulled up for that off balance three with seven seconds left, I figured it had no chance, and that the game was over.  But somehow it rattled in, the building exploded, and the home team went on to pull out a victory in overtime.  Boston and New York have now played three times this season, the first two decided by just one basket, and Sunday's OT thriller by a score of 115-111.  The Celtics have never lost to the Knicks in Boston during the "New Big Three" era.  They are now 12-0 at home vs New York since 2006.

Rajon Rondo put up the greatest triple double the league has seen in 44 years; and it happened just two games after his previous triple double added his name to a short list of all time Celtics greats.  It was Rondo's 4th of the season in just 26 games played (he missed 10 due to injury).  The entire rest of the NBA has 6 triple doubles combined!  Maybe I should create a "Rajonmeter" (similar to the Tebometer) that would measure what percentage of the total triple doubles in the league are owned by Rondo.  Right now it would stand at 40%.

Lost among the exploits of Pierce and Rondo on Sunday, was Kevin Garnett's 18 points and 10 rebounds.  That's now 6 straight games that KG has scored 18 or more, something he hadn't done since March of 2008.

And finally, I can't leave out my impression of Jeremy Lin.  A little over a week ago I predicted that Lin was due to struggle in upcoming games against some of the better point guards in the league.  Rondo obviously destroyed him statistically (18 PTS, 17 REB, 20 AST, 4 TO vs 14 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST, 6 TO), but I also noticed tendencies from Lin which confirm my belief that he doesn't have the skill set to be a successful NBA point guard.  He frequently picks up his dribble and drives into the lane (while covering the ball like an NFL running back), then is forced to make extremely difficult shots or passes because he is trapped with nothing else to do.  When they work, it looks spectacular; but on the other hand, you often see something like this:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

How much information do you need to provide to buy socks?

The other day I stepped into a Payless shoe store to buy some black socks.  I grabbed a package off the rack and walked up to the register.  It cost $6.99 for six pairs, a pretty good buy I think.  As I pulled a twenty out of my pocket the guy behind the counter said "Can I have your zip code?"  No big deal, I know they like to do research on where their customers come from.  Then he said "Phone number?"  I was slightly put off, but again I thought maybe they just want to know what area codes are shopping in the store, so I told him.  Now here's a transcript of the rest of the conversation:

Payless guy: "Name?"
Me: "Um...(long pause) Mark?"
Payless guy: "Last name?"
Me: "Vandeusen (getting irritated, still holding out the twenty dollar bill)."
Payless guy: "Address?"
Me: "Why do you need all of this (while glaring at him like he's lost his mind)?"
Payless guy: "They want to send you coupons.  You can just give me your email address."
Me: "No, I don't want to do any of that (probably now looking like I want to stab him)."

Finally he took my cash and I left.  Here's what I don't get: It's not like I was buying a 72 inch flat screen at Best Buy.  It's freaking PAYLESS.  I don't think anything in the store even costs more than $30.  And don't they have a permanent buy one get one 50% off sale?  Do they really think I want their coupons; in the mail no less?  That's like ten times worse than the Trader Joes Flyer.  And I was paying cash, for one $7 item.  The next time a guy buys a drink from me at the bar, when he holds out his money I'm going to ask him for his name and address.  We'll see how well that goes over.

Recently I wrote a post ripping a Wall Street Journal article entitled "How Waiters Read Your Table" because I thought everything in it was just common sense.  Maybe I was wrong.  Maybe I am giving humanity too much credit.  Because this Payless guy was clearly not reading me at all.  The whole interaction made me feel a lot like Jonah Hill in The 40 Year Old Virgin:

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