Friday, July 31, 2009

Poll results

Last week's poll showed that most of my loyal readers think that the polar bear or the brown bear is the best kind of bear.

For the two of you that voted for koala, I am kind of embarrassed for you. While koalas are no doubt cute and cuddly (see photo above), they are not bears. Koalas are marsupials and have pouches. I appreciate you participating in the poll, but do your research next time!

Black bears only got two votes. compared to the five brown and polar bears got. I hope that Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton don't read the results (they might!). If they do they would probably appear on several shows denouncing my blog and calling it racist.

My other concern about polar bears being the best bear is that they are in trouble. The ice is melting. Pretty soon they won't be able to hunt seals and they will all die in the wild. Of course, if that continues, sea levels will rise and half the U.S. will be under water. So we probably won't be too worried about the polar bear population.

My friend Swan made a strong argument for polar bears though. He brought up the talking ones from the "Golden Compass." They were pretty bad ass and definitely give their race some bonus points.

But the brown bear made a wonderful appearance in "Anchorman," so they are no strangers to the big screen. There was also the brown bear from "The Edge," that hunted down Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. Hopkins and Baldwin won out in the end, but that bear killed one man, and tracked his enemies through the wilderness. That kind of effort can't be overlooked and he deserved better than a spear through the heart.

If I ruined the movie for you, I don't care. You should have already seen it.

Beast of Burden - Rolling Stones

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A note to Pirates fans

The Pittsburgh Pirates trades Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez yesterday for prospects. Ian Snell was also thrown in with Wilson in a move with the Seattle. The Pirates received first baseman/catcher prospect Jeff Clement, weak hitting shortstop Ronny Cedeno and three pitching prospects. The Sanchez deal brought back the San Francisco Giants' best pitching prospects Tim Alderson.

Most Pirates fans and the media are very upset about these two deals. Wilson and Sanchez were the last "stars" on the Pirates' roster. These people need to settle down, because they were good moves.

Telling baseball fans to be patient has become an annual thing in Pittsburgh, but this time they are moving in the right direction.

The moves were not straight salary dumps that former general manager Dave Littlefield was known for. Clement is a former first round pick that can hit more than 20 home runs and pitching prospects Aaron Pribanic and Brett Lorin are only 22 years old and have looked good in A ball. Yes, it's only A ball, but at least they have promise. Even if they don't pan out, do you really think Wilson was going to be a key part in a winning team. The Pirates tried that for years and look where it got them.

Alderson is only 20 years old and already in AA where he has a 3.65 ERA in 18 starts. The Pirates also don't have to send any money along with Sanchez. They sent $3 million in the Wilson deal.

So the Pirates dealt two guys that's combined for 10 home runs this season for a guy that could hit double that and three pitchers that could be on the major league roster in the next two years. They were not bad deals.

I'll go back further. If you're still upset about the Nate McLouth and Nyjer Morgan deals, you need to get over it. These were not star players. They might have been the stars of the Pirates, along with Wilson, but no other team in baseball would think, "this is a core we want to build around."

McLouth brought back a pitcher that is doing well in the bigs in Charlie Morton, and two of the Braves better prospects.

In the Morgan deal, we gave up a light hitting 29-year-old speed guy for a 24-year-old with 20-20 potential. Lastings Milledge might have some issues, but he's young and his talent is real.

These deals could be steals, or they could blow up in the Pirates' faces. But at least it's the right idea. The Pirates need to blow it up (and they have) and build from the farm and draft. In the dark times under Littlefield, the team would partially blow the team up, but wanted people to keep coming to the ballpark. Their solution? Sign over the hill veterans that no one else wanted. Please see Joe Randa, Jeromy Burnitz and Matt Morris.

Also, the prospects we got back are expected to be good. They are not Bobby Hill, who in his four-year career slugged six homers.

I know it's hard Pirates fans, but be patient. The ballpark is great, Andrew McCutchen is really fast and Zach Duke is good again. There are still reasons to go.

The Gauntlet - Dropkick Murphys

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Swimming lessons

During our time on Guam, Yigo and I hit up the beach a lot. Whether we were attending a beach party or just running, we had a grand old time. There was a problem in the beginning though. Yigo was terrified of the water.

The dog was born and raised on an island, yet he was afraid of water. That was not going to work. Not only did I want to be able to throw a tennis ball in the ocean and have Yigo retrieve it, I thought swimming was a necessary survival tool on an island.

At first, he ran away from the water every time a small wave broke. The waves were small because Guam has a coral reef that makes the water very calm inside the reef. So when I say small waves, I mean they were less than a foot high.

I solved this problem by tricking Yigo. I got him to chase me around the beach, then I made a break for the water and he followed. Once Yigo got a few steps in, he realized where he was and instead of turning around and sprinting out of the ocean, he slowly backed out. It was like he did not want to turn his back on this giant, sneaky and wet thing.

The next attempt was me picking Yigo up and carrying him to where he could not stand. I stayed to grab him if he struggled, so do not think I am cruel. The result was not pretty. Instead of keeping his front paws under the water, which is how every dog I know swims, Yigo's front paws were splashing around crazy. He eventually made it to shore, but he was not going back in.

The lessons paid off though. A week later, Yigo was happy to jump in the water. He swam better, but he never went out to deeper water by choice. His biggest problem was he always tried to touch the bottom with his back paws, leading to a very unbalanced dog. But he no longer feared the water, so I count it as a win.

Now a new problem arose. Yigo wanted to lie down in the water. I should not have to tell you this did not work. He tried to lie down, realized his head would go under water if he did, so he went back to the sitting position. But Yigo is stubborn. A few seconds later, he would try to lie down again.

Yigo might not be Michael Phelps, but he also does not smoke pot.

Night Swimming - REM

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Let Vick play Week 1

The title of this blog should tell you that I am a dog lover. Dog fighting disgusts me. It is a sick display that should always end in jail time.

With that being said, Michael Vick did his time and deserves a second chance.

In case you missed it, National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally reinstated Vick earlier this week, which will allow Vick to sign and practice with a team. As long as he does not do anything stupid, he can play by Week 6.

He should be able to play in Week 1. If Goodell wants to make it a conditional reinstatement, why not let him come back right away, and just suspend him if he breaks any league rules or laws?

Vick missed the past two seasons and was sent to a federal prison. Now his chances to get back to work in the NFL are hurt because teams might be unwilling to sign a player that can not compete until Week 6. It does not seem right to me.

Goodell has done a great job for the most part in his time as commissioner. I fully support cracking down on athletes that break the law. But Vick has already been punished. Let him show that he is no longer a sick man.

I Fought the Law - The Clash

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thoughts on traffic

Let me first make this disclaimer. I understand that traffic jams are caused by accidents, weather and general congestion.

Now let me tell all of you the thought that immediately comes to me when not moving on a highway with a 55 miles per hour speed limit.

It is all the fault of one or two people that, for some reason or another, are going very slowly. Never mind the open road in front of their cars, they feel going 30 is the right way to go about it.

That is right. I picture a posse of senior citizens or idiots on cell phones that are backing up traffic. And when I get moving again and do not see an accident, I just know one of these posses is to blame.

Am I the only one that wants to be at the front of a traffic jam where an accident is not involved? I just wish I was right behind the culprits to prove my theory right. Or maybe right in front of them and I can see them pulling off their diabolical scheme in my rear view mirror.

With the ability to take video with cell phones, and just about everything else, I am shocked there are not countless videos proving my theory.

Well, back to obsessively checking YouTube for my proof.

Miss Sweeney - Weezer

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Phillies should trade for Halladay

Reports say that the Philadelphia Phillies balked at what the Toronto Blue Jays wanted for ace Roy Halladay. The Jays wanted pitchers J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek and outfielder Dominic Brown.

The Phillies should take this deal. They will probably still end up with Halladay, but if they do not, they are going to regret it.

Apparently the dealbreaker is the pairing of Happ and Drabek. I do not care how promising they are, the chances they become comparible to Halladay are slim.

Right now, Happ has eight career wins in 17 major league starts. Drabek has not pitched in AAA ball, let alone the majors. Halladay has 274 career starts, 144 wins and 44 complete games.

What is the hold up, Phillies?

Another reason I would take this deal in a second is that Halladay is under contract through next season. He is not a rent-a-player. If the Phillies get him, they are going to be the favorites to win the World Series for the next two seasons.

If that is not enough, here is another factor to think about. Philadelphia is not a small market like Toronto. The Philles could give Halladay an extension and lock him up for his career.

Wait, there is more. Halladay has such an effect on his team's pitching staff. Every pitcher in Philly will benefit from having him around. His work ethic is second to none, he gets to the stadium before anyone and he is a professional. Have you ever heard Halladay complaining about his run support, his coaches or his contract in the media? No, you have not, and you will not.

Promising prospects are nice, but pitchers like Halladay do not come around very often. The Phillies better pull the trigger or they will be kicking themselves later.

Sun City - Artists United Against Apartheid
Tell me Bono does not look like a werewolf in this video.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Madden 2010 "controversy"

In case you did not know, T.J. Houshmandzadeh made it public that he is boycotting Madden 2010. He is upset that his rating is not higher, specifically his speed and yards per catch.

Let me repeat this in case you were as stupefied as I was. A professional athlete was so in need of attention, he went to the media and told them he was upset with his rating in a video game. What made it worse is the media ran with it, reporting the "story" on several platforms.

A quick glance at Houshmandzadeh's stats last year should explain it. He pulled in 92 receptions for 904 yards, four touchdowns and a whopping 9.8 yards per reception. Those are not superstar numbers.

The former Bengal has an excuse though. The poor yards per catch and off year was a result of the offense he was in last season. He as playing hurt and his starting quarterback was out most of the year, but how can he be surprised his rating went down after a poor season? And there is that one really important thing to keep in mind. We're talking about a video game!

Houshmandzadeh then confronted the game developers on ESPN's First Take. He kept telling them how wrong they were, that it was not his fault, and that he will not play the game until they fix it. Then he claimed he did not take it personal. I'm going to have to call shenanigans on that statement, T.J.

As if having Houshmandzadeh complaining was not bad enough, First Take then let Dallas Cowboys' receiver Patrick Crayton question the game developers. He was not happy he was ranked an 86 or 87. Crayton only had 550 yards last year to go with four touchdowns. For his career, Crayton has never reached 700 yards in a season. And he thinks he deserves a higher rating?

At least Houshmandzadeh has been a top 10 receiver and pro bowler. I am not sure anyone outside of Dallas or fantasy football are quite sure who Patrick Crayton is.

Rickel's ratings:
Houshmandzadeh - 80. Would have been a 90, but he lost man points for making a big deal out of a video game rating.
Crayton - Who?

I'm a Man - Spencer Davis Group

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reilly got it right

Short blog today. I am heading to the Phillies game tonight. I am curious to experience Philly fans up close and personal. Who knows, maybe I will be spit on.

If you have not read Rick Reilly's most recent ESPN Magazine column, I highly recommend it. He calls out Tiger Woods for all of his childish temper tantrums on the golf course.

I loved it. Woods is a professional and acts like it, except when he stinks it up on the course. I'm glad someone in the media spoke out against these immature outbursts.

Woods' celebrations are fine. They are not over the top. I give a fist pump when I spell check this blog and have no errors. But to throw a club because you hit a ball in the rough is ridiculous. Maybe a missed putt for the lead calls for some anger, but flipping out after every other bad shot is terrible etiquette. Especially in golf.

Media and fans alike have been questioning the column, but it is right on. And Reilly is much more qualified to talk about the subject than just about any one. He has been covering golf's majors as long as I have been alive and respects the game a great deal.

The column was also fair. Reilly pointed out all of the great things Woods does. He just does not appreciate Woods' tantrums, and neither should we.

Glad Girls - Guided By Voices

Replay in baseball

Major League Baseball should expand its instant replay review rules. Right now they can only go back and see if a home run is a home run. But this weekend's game between the Minnesota Twins and the Oakland Athletics proved that it needs to change.

If you missed it, the Twins' Michael Cuddyer was called out at home when it was obvious he was safe. It was the last out of the game and the Twins were down 14-13.

Baseball will probably fight this. The argument is it would slow the game down too much. That is a necessary sacrifice to get the call right.

Besides, there are a lot of ways we could speed the game up to make up for the extra time taken to review plays. Baseball could stop letting relievers throw more warm up pitches once they get to the field. They throw so many pitches in the bullpen, why do they get more on the field?

Umpires could stop letting batters fiddle with their gear after every pitch.

We could stop managers from arguing for five minutes on calls they disagree with. First, replay would help with this. If managers can just throw out a red flag, they will not have to come out and look like idiots.

Second, why can managers do this in the first place? Do you ever see NFL, NBA or NHL coaches run onto the playing surface without being penalized? Coaches are usually penalized in football and basketball if they go too far onto the field or court. Hockey coaches would just fall if they tried.

MLB managers risk getting thrown out of the game, and if they are really silly, they might be suspended a game or two. Why not penalize the team with an automatic out the next time they come to the plate?

Do not tell me that the arguing motivates a team. If you need a guy like Bobby Cox yelling at another man to pump you up at this level, I am not sure you should be in the game in the first place.

Another argument baseball and purists will use is tradition. Baseball is about tradition more than any other sport. But the sport should change with the times if it helps the games. Especially where technology is concerned. I'm pretty sure they only played day games until stadium lights were developed and allowed for night games.

I do not want every ball and strike challenged, that is more of a judgment call. Different umpires have different strike zones. But any call at the bases, home runs and foul balls should all be fair game for replay review.

If you are still not sold on the idea, imagine Joe Buck and Tim McCarver debating if the right call was made. Wait, that would be torture.

Use Somebody - Kings of Leon

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yigo's other side

Yigo is the most gentle and timid dog I've ever owned or encountered. He is a snuggler that I have never seen growl or show his teeth in aggression before.

That changed yesterday at the dog park.

It was a beautiful day and Yigo, Sydney (parents' dog) and I went to the no-leash dog park to play. Sydney loved it. He was running around trying to herd all the other dogs and then steal treats from their owners. Yigo was not as outgoing.

At first, he played with some of the other dogs and followed Sydney. Then he decided to hide under a picnic table, and that is when it happened. If any dog other than Sydney approached him in his spot, Yigo showed his teeth and acted aggressive.

I was in shock. My gentle boy was not being very gentle. At first he took exception to a yellow lab that got too close, then all the dogs that got too close.

Now I may not be a dog expert, but I am pretty sure Yigo was scared of being in a new place. So he did what anyone would do, he found a safe place and kept strangers out.

Do not hold this against him! He did not act aggressive or growl at any humans. In fact, the other dog owners were petting Yigo while he was in his safe place and he was fine.

I guess I need to take him back more so he can get acclimated. We kind of had to leave anyway. Sydney had rounded up most of the other dogs into a corner, and I am pretty sure their owners were not entertained.

Blog is being funny and will not let me upload a cute picture of Yigo! Sorry.

Wild Night - Van Morrison

Swan 2, hobos 0

I would like to share a phone conversation I had with my best friend a few weeks ago. He will be referred to as Swan to protect his identity. It is also the name of the main character of "The Warriors." An older flick that shows what it's really like to be in a New York City gang. Watch it, love it and thank me later.

It was the middle of the work day, so receiving a call from Swan seemed odd to me. But I was so happy he called. It might not be word for word, but you will get the idea.

Swan: Dude. I did it again?
Me: You killed a prostitute?
Swan: What? No. I've never done that!
Me: Worth a shot. What did you do?
Swan: I was walking downtown with some of my coworkers and not looking where I was going. Then I booted a homeless man's cup of change.
Me: No way! Again?
Swan: Yeah! We were just talking, and then the next thing I know is a cup of change is flying through the air.
Me: Wow. What do you have against homeless people?
Swan: It was an accident!
Me: Was he pissed?
Swan: No, he was cool about it and I helped him pick it all up.
Me: That was nice of you. Did you give him anything?
Swan: All I had was a twenty.
Me: (Just laughing.)
Swan: My coworkers were laughing pretty hard. Then I told them it wasn't the first time.
Me: (Laughing too hard to respond.)
Swan: I have to go. I figured I had to tell you.
Me: Thank you for making my day.

The other time Swan kicked over a cup of change was at a Pittsburgh Penguins game several years ago. A group of us were walking around the the arena and when we turned a corner, Swan struck.

Swan tried helping the man pick up the change, but he was not happy. He might have thought Swan was trying to steal the change, or he was just really angry. So he started chasing Swan. Meanwhile, me and another friend were about 50 yards in front of Swan and not looking back. We knew something was up, but we did not want to get involved or chased!

We are good friends.

Police On My Back - The Clash

Monday, July 20, 2009

Winning is not everything

I was watching Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN 2 this morning and Cris Carter was filling in for Mike Golic. Little kids probably do not listen to the show or watch it on television, but Carter's perspective on losing rubbed me the wrong way and could have a bad effect on young athletes.

He basically said that winning is everything, and guys like Andy Roddick and Tom Watson should not be proud or happy with their second-place finishes.

They surprised everyone in their respected sports and played great. Yeah, they lost, but I have been taught that winning is not everything ever since I began playing sports.

Hearing Carter declare that winning is everything and everyone must "maximize their abilities," just gets me mad. Sports are friggin games and games are meant to be fun. I am a very competitive person, but after a soccer game or tennis match is over, I move on. As long as I had fun, I'm satisfied. I might talk about the event a day later, but I'm not going out and punishing myself. Actually, last tennis match I lost, I rewarded myself with the greasiest pizza I've ever seen.

As a former pro athlete, Carter is a role model to young athletes. If they had heard this, they would think winning is everything. That kind of attitude leads to lots of tears and is not healthy.

I think Carter deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He was one of the best receivers to play the game and has the numbers to get in. But he has no championships in his career. By his way of thinking, should he decline his invite to the Hall of Fame when they come calling because he did not "mazimize his abilities?" Would he be a hypocrite if he accepts?

My issue here really is him going on the air and telling people that athletes fail unless they are champions. He can have that opinion, but I wish he kept it to himself. Now I feel like a loser.

But greasy pizza is only a phone call away.

You're the Best - Joe Esposito (It's from the Karate Kid. Yeahhhh, now you recognize it!)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pop or Soda?

Growing up in Pittsburgh, I was raised on using the word "pop" when I was talking about soft drinks in general. That is just what people in Pittsburgh call it, and it was great not feeling like an outcast.

My cousin from Milwaukee would occasionally visit and try and make me feel stupid for my use of "pop."

"You say pahp? It's so-dah," she said. Please excuse my attempt to try and show her Wisconsin accent. They are Americans up there, yet they try to speak like Canadians. Weird.

"Why can't we agree to disagree," I tried to explain. But she still laughed every time I said "pop."

This did not bother me too much because I stilled lived in Pittsburgh, where I fit in and was accepted for my vocabulary.

Then came college in North Carolina. No longer was I in the majority. Now it seemed like the whole campus was against me. I could not say "pop" without at least one person laughing, or making fun of me.

I stopped going to dining halls, or out in public really. I was sick of being a joke, but I could not bring myself to say soda. It did not feel right.

OK, so I did not stop going to the dining halls or anything like that, but it was getting really annoying. The worst thing was they acted surprised every time I said "pop." Maybe they had terrible memories and forgot, but I doubt it.

Guam was not as bad as college. While soda was the common term there, the people I worked with only questioned my use of "pop" once and then moved on.

The experience leads me to ask why we soft drink consumers can't just compromise and let each other use the terms we know? Both terms are just shortened versions of soda pop. So really, we are like brothers and sisters that are squabbling over nothing. We need to unite against those that use really stupid words for pop/soda.

We need to destroy "cola." it had it's time and that was 50 years ago. Fortunately, I have not heard anyone in my generation use it. Hopefully it stays that way.

Our biggest adversaries are the people who call every kind of soft drink "Coke."

These folks are usually from Atlanta or nearby areas because the Coke Factory is in Atlanta. I recommend going and sampling every kind of pop they have. Your stomach will protest, but your taste buds will love you. Just stay away from Beverley.

Imagine my surprise when someone offered me a Coke, and then handed me a Sprite as if nothing strange had just happened. They're not even the same color!

We can't let this spread. If I get another Dr. Pepper when I asked for a Coke, I'm going to headbutt the person.

Fields of Fire - Big Country

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Rags to Riches Tales, Part Three

While our time on Guam was fun, the call of home was too strong and I decided to move back to the mainland in May. There was no way I was leaving Yigo behind, so I booked him a ticket a few weeks ahead of me. And yes, I got miles for his ticket.

The night before he was to fly out, I went a little crazy with labeling his transport crate. Continental requires that every side of the crate say, "live animal," and, "this side up," with an arrow. Well, I wrote all that stuff at least twice on each side. I also put his destination and my parents' phone number in about three different places, just to be safe. I duct taped food and medical records to the top and threw in a pair of socks because Yigo always takes them anyway.

"So this is what being a mom feels like," I thought to myself.

Yigo had to arrive at the cargo gate three hours before his flight, so we made our way to the airport at 3 a.m. We almost didn't make it. I had already sold my car, leaving me stuck with my roommates piece of crap truck. The thing had no suspension, one mirror and practically no brakes.

He forgot to inform me about the brakes.

Approaching a red light, I was not slowing down, despite pushing the break. In panic, I slammed them and Yigo almost knocked his teeth out on the dashboard. Thankfully, the airport was only three minutes away and we made it without further incidents.

Check-in went smooth, but I felt like a jerk. My dog was about to be in a dark, loud and strange place for the next seven hours. On the bright side, he got to spend a night in Honolulu. That's one more night than I have ever spent there. I knew he would be stuck in a kennel for that evening, but I could not help but picture him sitting on the beach and sipping on some fruity beverage.

I was obsessively tracking his progress the next two days. I can't begin to describe the relief I felt when my parents called and said he was home.

After two days of being alone, Yigo now had my parents, brother and their dog, Sydney, to hang out with.

I followed him a few weeks later. Yigo was so excited when he saw me that he lost control of his blatter and peed with reckless abandon. Fortunately we were outside and no one fell victim to the stream.

Now, Yigo is my softball team's mascot, arguing balls and strikes with umpires and greeting me after every inning.

That is the tale of Yigo's rise from the streets of Guam to one of the nicest places in the United States. Don't believe me? He calls the No. 1o place on this list home now.

And his journey is not close to being finished.

Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Rags to Riches Tale, Part Two

Before I officially adopted Yigo, I had to be a approved by one of the shelter's volunteers. it makes sense, as they want to make sure you're not going to fight or abandon the dogs. However, the guy interviewing me made me incredibly uncomfortable. There were no smiles or small talk, just an unyielding stare.

"How long have you lived here?" the teenager asked.

"Since March," I replied.

That's when he started writing something down and made a disapproving face. It felt like I had lost 20 adoption points.

The judge approved me after 15 nervous minutes, but seemed like he regretted what he was doing. Now I just needed to wait a day for Yigo to get neutered and vaccinated and I had my own boonie dog!

When I picked Yigo up at the vet's the next day he looked scared, stoned and in pain. The little guy did just have his privates snipped and they were quickly shriveling away. What an awful way for them to go.

At first, Yigo was frightened of every doorway. He refused to leave the vet's office, get in the car, get out of the car, enter my building, get in the elevator, get out of the elevator, and go into my apartment. Once I got him in his new home, he fell asleep on his food dish and passed out as I went back to work.

So he had gone from living outside for five to eight months, to living in the penthouse with an ocean view.

The first few nights I did not go out, I just hung out with my boy. The poor thing was infested with ticks and fleas from living outside for so long. I must have plucked 50 ticks off him in the first two nights, which I then took to the bathroom sink and popped. Suck on that, PETA.

He became one of the most popular people in my complex. Little kids and adults alike would call out his name every time we walked the perimeter. More people knew his name than knew mine.

Rather than running the streets looking for food and water, Yigo was running along the beach next to me trying to meet every person he could. I recommend all of you guys out there get a dog and run the beach. I always thought it was fiction that they attracted the ladies, but I was wrong. Women that would normally not glance twice at me were stopping me and asking all about Yigo. He did not know I had a girlfriend, but I appreciated his effort to help me with the ladies.

The strangest thing I noticed about Yigo is the dude did not bark. OK, he sometimes barked at the boonie dogs that lived next to our complex, but I've never met or owned such a quiet dog. Other dogs will yipp their heads off at him, and Yigo will just look back at them or try to play. He's never growled or bitten anyone. The latter is probably because he has no bite force. He's not the best tug of war player.

I'll save the rest for tomorrow.

Hunger Strike - Temple of the Dog (are you seeing a pattern here. Yeah I'm lame and I don't care.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Rags to Riches Tale, Part I

This might take two tor three parts, but I am going to tell you a true rags to riches tale. In sports, rock 'n' roll and and every other occupation, there are always great stories of how people have risen up from nothing to become very successful. Bruce Springsteen used to sleep in a bathtub, Kurt Warner bagged groceries and Roy Hobbs was shot by some crazy bitch. But these people (and fictional character) have nothing on my dog, Yigo.

Born on the streets of Guam, which are 75 - 85 degrees every day of the year, Yigo struggled to survive by eating garbage, roadkill and probably lots of stuff we don't want to know. As if finding food and water wasn't hard enough, he had to battle countless packs of other strays.

For those of you who have never been to Guam, they have a stray dog problem. In my 13 months of living there, A day did not go by where I didn't see at least three homeless dogs running around a parking lot, or along the road.

Sometimes these pups are in packs that are very territorial and if other boonie dogs (the local term for strays and mutts) came into those areas, barks and growls filled the air and a battle ensued.

Not only did Yigo survive these turf wars, but I, and everyone who has met him, believe he also survived an abusive owner at some point. In Guam, there are lots of great pet owners. However, they also fight dogs there and some people just feed boonie dogs so that they can use them as security. Yigo is very friendly, but is afraid of any household item, leading me to think he was beaten by a few of them.

When I met Yigo, he was on death row at Guam Animals in Need in the village of Yigo and was going by the name Bob. It was late November and I went to the shelter thinking I would adopt a greyhound. The racetrack on Guam had just gone under and all the dogs were up for adoption, so I thought I would do my part and save one. Unfortunately for the greyhounds, the racetrack did not give the shelter any medical records or ages of the greyhounds. They were also in pretty bad shape, which led me to looking at the other dogs.

Let me tell you, it was one of the saddest sights I have ever seen. Dozens of dogs in cages, just wanting to be taken away, or wanting to hide because they were previously abused. That's when I came to the cage holding Bob and Holly. Just approaching the cage sent them into a fit of joy. They jumped over, body checked and did whatever they could to get closer to me. It was pretty clear one of them was going to be my new friend.

Now I faced a new decision. Which one was I going to take home? Bob was mostly brown with some white and black, while Holly was mostly black with a little bit of white. Both were around 25 pounds and could have been siblings. I wanted both, but my roommate squashed that idea. In the end, Bob was the lucky dog because he came centimeters from urinating on my roommate. He also had an all-white paw that I thought was very cute.

Bob was not going to be his name, though. Bob is a terrible name for a dog. I renamed him Yigo in homage to Vito Corleone changing his name to village he came from.

Yigo could not come home with me that day, the shelter requires all of their animals get neutered and vaccinated before they can be taken. So tomorrow that's where I will pick up.

Joy to the World - Three Dog Night

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All-Star Game

I did watch the entire All-Star Game last night, but I just can't figure out a good way to blog about it. It was a sloppy game that was fairly boring.

The camera work on Obama's opening pitch was terrible. Maybe that was the idea. Don't give a us a clear picture of where the ball went so we can't criticize the man later if it was bad. Solid job, Fox. By the way, he throws like a girl. I also thought he had better things to do than hangout in the press box and talk baseball. Although, he is a much better announcer than Joe Buck. But isn't everyone?

Innings three through seven had nothing exciting going on, and then the game winning run was scored on a sacrifice fly. Snore.

The only thing that was entertaining in that span was noticed by my friend, R.J. Detroit Tigers' Edwin Jackson was pitching, and announcer Tim McCarver said Jackson was glad to be back in the AL. Jackson has been in the AL for the past four years. He was a Tampa Bay Ray for three seasons before being traded to Detroit last offseason.

Gotta love McCarver. He is good for one of these every game.

I loved Justin Upton's route on Curtis Granderson's triple. There is nothing like seeing a professional baseball player just run blindly at the wall, stick his glove in the air and hope the ball lands in it. He is is a right fielder that was playing left field at the time, but that's not an excuse. You're an All-Star.

So let's come up with ideas to make the All-Star Game more fun to watch.
  • Take away the winner gets homefield for the World Series. This game should not mean anything, especially considering some of the other ideas I am going to throw out there.
  • Opposite hand inning! Managers from both teams can pick one inning to make the other team play with their opposite hands. Pitchers and catchers can use their normal hands. There would be a lot of walks otherwise.
  • Let infielders play outfield and vice versa. How great would it be to watch Prince Fielder try and shag a fly ball down the line? Just give him an oxygen tank, and he should be good.
  • Hire some sort of comedian to announce it. Buck has to go.
  • Matching uniforms designed by a local kindergarten class. I feel like there is no loyalty when the All Stars just wear their regular jerseys.
  • Let two lucky fans manage an inning. Maybe we'll get lucky and it will be a Pirate fan. Might be the only way a Pirate will get to play.
  • Every home run hit in the game will raise money for charity. They do it in the home run derby, why stop there?
  • Have the teams go at it in a dance off during the seventh inning stretch.
  • Let Kevin Costner play in the game. He's made about 20 baseball movies
I realize these would anger baseball fans and destroy the tradition of the game. But I don't care.

Tomorrow I will introduce you all to Yigo, the world traveling dog.

Voodoo Child - Jimi Hendrix

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Home Run Derby Thoughts

I surprised myself and watched the entire Home Run Derby last night. It was fairly boring and I don't know what kept me watching. There was no big star like last year's Josh Hamilton, and I think the most anyone hit in one round was 11.


On to the the thoughts:
  • Nelson Cruz has a sweet beard.
  • Brandon Inge with the goose egg made Jason Bay smile somewhere.
  • Is this the first year they showed guys warming up in the the batting cage?
  • Who saw Joe Morgan going for the fist pound and Joe Buck shaking it? Get with the times, Buck.
  • It seemed like Albert Pujols was taking it more serious than the others. Home field pressure?
  • I think Pujols would have dominated had Brad Lidge pitched to him.
  • If I coached the youngsters in the outfield, they would be running laps next practice for all the drops.
  • They should put giant balloons filled with prizes throughout the stands for the batters to hit. There just are not enough targets out there.
  • As Ryan Howard was batting, little kids were wrestling behind him. So not a good idea.
  • Prince Fielder crushed one over 500 feet, and he does not eat meat.
  • The derby is way too long. I think you should only get five outs for first two rounds and then get 10 for the final. The big rounds are usually the first and end up meaningless. Let's leave the batters' some more energy to go nuts in the final round.
High Time Baby - Spencer Davis Group

Monday, July 13, 2009

Welcome to the Blog

Here's the deal. My name is Jeff and I am young journalist currently between jobs. I worked in Guam for a year as the assistant sports editor of the Pacific Daily News. Bonus points to those of you who can tell me where Guam is. If you think it's near Guatemala, time to take another geography course.

In this blog I will post my random thoughts about sports, my dog Yigo (pronounced gee-go) and pretty much everything that I find interesting, funny or stupid. There will also be posts about what is going on in my head, which might scare some now, but 10 years from now people will be talking about what a great idea it was and they wish someone had done it 10 years ago. OK, so that last part is probably not true. I also will try to end the blog with a song and artist that I think you should listen to.

So here is one of those ideas. In baseball, there is the dropped third strike rule. If the catcher does not catch the third strike, the runner can try and get to first base if no one on his team is already there. It is scored a strikeout, but could end up with a runner on first.

I like this rule, but I want to go a step further. Why is it only a dropped third strike? I think a batter should be able to make a dash for first on any pitch. I get annoyed when I see a pitcher put a breaking ball in the dirt three feet in front of the plate and the catcher just watches it roll by. A runner should be able to take advantage of this mistake no matter what the count is. Of course, first base would still have to be open.

This new rule would create a new stat that we'll call base on passed ball, or BPB for short. it will be scored like a walk and will not count as an at bat for the batter.

Baseball purists will hate this idea, but I think it will make the game more fun to watch.

Athena - The Who