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“I’m no theologian.  I don’t know who or what God is exactly.  I only know He’s a force more powerful than Mom and Dad put together and you owe him BIG.”

–Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons

I don’t quite know what possesses me to blog NOW, talk about the Mets NOW, get myself to a game on a weekday NOW, but it’s happening.  I’m going tonight.  Section 419.

One of the most fun things that can happen, at least as far as I’m concerned, is when a pastime becomes something you can turn into a hobby.  Why just watch baseball when I can also write about it?  Try and photograph it?  Analyze it?

Conversely, one of the most depressing things that can happen, (again) at least as far as I’m concerned, is when a hobby is taken away.  How can I write, photograph, or analyze baseball when I’m trying to earn a living, and that living is most assuredly NOT earned whilst writing, photographing, or analyzing?

That’s been my state since late November.  I have SO MUCH going on that I get paid for, followed by so much going on that I hope one day to be paid for, followed by so much going on that recharges me in a sense more social and spiritual (without the organized religion: I’ve not got velour burn from a church’s knee rest; I’ve got Missing The Wife Syndrome)… anyway, it’s too much to manage.

Damn it, it was so much to manage that there was no time to shave.  I grew a beard.  A pretty thick, pretty unkempt beard.  Picture Leonard McCoy on the transporter pad in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, excepting the Bee Gees jumpsuit and medallion, while including the confusion as to why “any object we don’t understand always called a ‘thing.'”

I got out to the park with The Wife on the first Saturday, however.  I was determined to be part of the crowd cheering on Jose Reyes (and, like Greg Prince of Faith And Fear, I didn’t get the whole “can’t cheer unless prodded” THING), and determined to see a game with The Wife in the event that she landed an internship which would keep her away from New York for the summer.  (She did.)  Camera battery was crying for a charge, so no pictures.  The black cap that’s carried me through the horrors of the last three years was tighter than it’s ever been, leading me to the sinking suspicion that my stupidity tumor has metastasized.  Yes, I figure I’ve got one of those.

And then, for those that saw the game:

Willy Taveras. 

Willie Harris. 

Tyler.  GODDAMNED.  Clippard.

I swear, my contribution to Twitter will be to popularize the hashtag #tylerclippard for any event, comment, or passing situation that produces an astounding, mind-bending, almost aneurysm-causing level of anger and frustration.  Yeah, I know Tyler Clippard’s not Charlie Gordon, but… but… ::sputtering:: TYLER CLIPPARD?!

Anyway.

I promised I would blog my thoughts Sunday morning on the twenty-inning farce/epic the Mets played against the Cardinals, under the banner of “If The Boys Can Sweat It Out, Then So Can I.”  However, to do just that would’ve actually meant staying up after the game to write, and I’d had a long day, and it was running into an even LONGER Sunday.  So there went that.

And, y’know, I don’t know that some of these boys are my boys.  Frank Catalanotto?  By default.  Alex Cora?  Good jump; still awful range.  Gary Matthews, Jr.?  He’s not even my favorite Gary.  There are more, but as a sometime comedian I’m governed by the Rule of Three, so I’ll leave it there.

But: some of these boys ARE my boys.  David, Jose, Jason.  Johan, Mike, Frankie.  Hell, Chowdah can hit .200 for the month of May as long as he keeps gunning guys down from right field.  And Angel Pagan I’ve had a soft spot for since Coney Island.  Which leads me to Ike Davis.

I am going tonight for Ike Davis.

Running out to the park when the team’s in the hunt and the place is electric is as easy as the money in your wallet and the recklessness of your spirit.  I’ve done those sprints and whether ultimately delightful or devastating, they’ve stuck in my memory and keep me sane when I absolutely must shut the television or radio off and focus on the work at hand.

But when your team is fighting the destructive efforts of media, fans, and plain-old reality, clinging to an idea of contention before ANYONE, ANYWHERE really begins to contend for ANYTHING, running out to the park to catch something at least intriguing and, at most, perhaps slightly, SLIGHTLY historic… well, this is hard to do.  Unless you’re a maniac, like I am (and my sister is; she’ll be joining me).

I wish I had been in the park when Keith Hernandez got his first Mets start.  Or Darryl Strawberry.  Or Dwight Gooden.  Or any number of electric players.

I don’t know what Ike Davis will be at the major league level.  It may take me two hands and a flashlight to remember his name in five years.  But I’ve seen him play several games.  And I watched some of him in Spring Training.  And, like I said, I’m a maniac.

So.  I’m no scout.  I don’t know who or what Ike Davis is, exactly.  I only know he’s got to be an improvement over Mike Jacobs and, for that, the Mets owe him a shot.

And I’ll be there to cheer him on.  Section 419, for half off the face value; those are the times we live in.  Let’s go Mets.

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The word is (from Jon Heyman of SI.com, found at Metsblog) that the Phillies got Roy Halladay, the Mariners got the Phillies’ Cliff Lee, and the Toronto Blue Jays (Halladay’s initial team) got prospects from Philadelphia and Seattle.

And John Lackey’s in Boston, getting checked out. (Same sources as previous.)

You know what this really means?

It means Cliff Lee–an amazingly dominant pitcher in this most recent World Series–has moved from the National League to the American League.  It does not mean the Phillies have both Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay as a one-two punch.

It means the Phillies have given up Cliff Lee, money, and prospects for some unspecified number of years of Roy Halladay.

It means John Lackey, who could’ve wound up in our local market and given Mets fans who sweat the latest Yankee move, has become a problem that’s solely the province of Yankee fans.

It means the Mets have not signed a pitcher with elbow problems or a pitcher who’s about to enter the second phase of his career–one that could be defined by increasing decrepitude just as easily as it can be defined by greatness.

I think the Mets come up aces here.  They’ve got Johan Santana; they can still hunt for Jason Marquis (unless I’ve lost total contact with the world and Marquis has moved–if so, please email me about it, ’cause that’s the only way I’ll know).  Is Garland still free?  I’ve eaten three meals in three days; please send word and a Five Guys cheeseburger.

Furthermore, two teams with relatively sensible GMs have just set the bar for free-agent pitching contracts.  Other pitchers, whose hype has not dominated the wires over the past weeks, will fall short of said bar.

Cerrone’s freaking out a bit.  And he has legitimate concerns.  But I think the Mets are astoundingly lucky here.  The Phillies could’ve managed Cliff Lee AND Roy Halladay; the Yankees could’ve had Sabathia, Burnett, and Lackey in their rotation.

Frankly, as fans we’re at the exact same number of wins and losses we were at when the week began.  As Neil Mink tells Tony Soprano at the end of “All Due Respect”: be of good cheer.

The WiFi network my hosts have here in Boston is named “Cracker bangs.”  I’ve asked them not to elaborate.

I’m on a short vacation, celebrating some good news a friend has received, and doing it with steakhouses and episodes of Mad Men I’ve missed.  There’s a cat here who plays fetch.  I’m more of a dog person, and I think she (the cat) can sense it, as my right hand has been scratched in a number of places.

I’ve also been thinking about pitchers.  I suppose I should be thinking more about left fielders, or even catchers.  But no one need is greater than the other.  The objective is to build a team here, chumlies.  Chumleys?

I have more to that point.  As has been my trademark excuse over the past few hideous weeks: later.

If you recall:

The exercise was to visit Cot’s Baseball Contracts
website, take a look at each position need, and determine who’s worth
spending time and energy on.  The assumption here is that
everyone who’s on the Mets’ case for having deep pockets and a shallow
farm pool are correct, and that it would be better to spend money than
trade prospects.

What I came to while talking first basemen is that I can find odd justifications for spending time and energy.  Chad Tracy?  Yes.  Nomar Garciaparra?  No.  Broad and moody, like a female weightlifter on steroids.

The Cot’s list for potential free-agent starting pitchers is as long as my arm (not realistically; for a true comparison, see Joe Buck’s remarkably short arms).  And as I said, I’m on vacation.  So instead of detailing EVERYONE whom the Mets shouldn’t call, I’ll pull out the most terrifying of possibilities. 

With apologies to Whitney Houston and the remarkable way she’s come back from her substance abuse problem: if any one of these guys finds himself in a Mets uniform next year, someone in the front office was smoking crack.

Brandon Backe (HOU): Not even as a reliever, which is how he was used this year, with the exception of a start against the Rangers in mid-June.

Daniel Cabrera (ARZ): Thought he was kickin’ it with the Natinals.

Jose Contreras (COL):
I’d say the bloom is off the rose, but I was never on the Contreras bandwagon, even when it was chuggin’ hard in 2005.  Don’t believe me?  Go back in time and check.  

Oh, that’s right: entropy makes time travel to the past highly unlikely, if not impossible.  Thanks, Brian Greene.

Doug Davis (ARZ):
I was calling for him in early July.  Took it back in early August, I think.

Tom Glavine (ATL): Isn’t he retired?  Can’t we do something to force that particular issue?

Mike Hampton (HOU):
It’s not the year 2000.  Ask the gentleman directly above.

Livan Hernandez (WAS):
Remember that scene in Pi where Sean Gullette trepans himself?  Exactly.

Brett Myers (PHI): James Kannengieser of Amazin’ Avenue is all over this one.

Carl Pavano (MIN): Monkey’s Paw!  He’s a Monkey’s Paw!

Odalis Perez (WAS): One O. Perez on the Mets is quite enough.

Sidney Ponson (KC): Bats right, throws right, punches with both hands.  Next.

Jason Schmidt (LAD):
When Joe “Uno Mas” Torre thinks your career may be over, your career is probably over.  Shame.

John Smoltz (STL): I’d rather have a stroke. 

I’m kidding of course.  But I’d rather the baseball equivalent of a stroke.  Which might be Tom Glavine.

…There.  I’ve just explained September 30, 2007.

Ah, single-sentence snarkiness and borrowed humor.  I am a blogger again.

As I mentioned, I’m on a short vacation, so my posting regularity will run inverse to the availability of steak and beer.  But just to show you all that it’s not all been fun and games, here are a couple of photos showing where I was yesterday afternoon:

security council 2.jpg
security council 1.jpg
We passed a measure sanctioning the American League for use of the DH.

But to the trained eye, I’m a keen and unobtrusive observer of human events.

Did I need to watch all of Game One of the World Series?  No; that would’ve been an exercise in excess.  Neither the Yankees, the Phillies, Major League Baseball, nor the FOX television network needed me to watch all of Game One of the World Series.  I won’t speak to Joe Buck’s or Tim McCarver’s need, but I get the feeling that as long as they’ve got each other, they’ve got the world spinnin’ right in their hands.

No, once I saw Jimmy Rollins push a bunt on the first pitch, I had this game pegged: hassle C.C. for the Phillies; outlast Cliff Lee for the Yankees.  From what I saw while flipping in and out and while talking over a video project with a friend, C.C. was behind all night and never got comfortable. 

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee lasted longer than expected, and the triumvirate of Cano, Swisher, and Cabrera were striking out and making weak contact most every time I caught a Yankee at-bat.  That was, literally, ninety-eight percent of my Yankee viewing experience.  The other two percent consisted of Derek Jeter hacking up a lung.  Get that man a lozenge.

Did not need to watch that whole game.  Not at all.  And I can also say with a straight face that spending this morning with Cartman’s rendition of “Poker Face” in my head is a lot better than trying to get McCarverisms out of there.

P-p-p-poker face.  P-p-p-poker face.

Adam Rubin’s calling Chip Hale, of the Arizona Hales, the Mets new third base coach, thus depriving the sports world of yet another paycheck-drawing, marginally-relevant Steve Smith (actually, the Giants’ Smith is not a bad wideout; I have no idea how Steve Smith of the Miami Heat has been doing and checking would be a bridge too far).  My baseball thoughts are less consumed with who’s at third base and more with who’ll be in left field, at first base, and whether Chowdah will learn not to swing at garbage.  But good luck, Chip.  Don’t get snookered into any half-baked Flash web promotions

aquafina2.jpgKeep your eye on the ball, Mr. Hale.

**

Something I thought about on the ride home last night, after finding, through Amazin’ Avenue and Mike Silva’s NY Baseball Digest, Andrew Marchand’s coverage of Jimmy Rollins’s World Series prediction: there’s no shortage of chutzpah or lack of forethought here.  From different groups on either side.

I’ve been extraordinarily critical of the Philadelphia fan base, so I’ll spread the wealth and the “What the what?” to Rollins.  Five games?  You’ll win in five? 

Who, then, do you think will be the weakest link on your team the night you lose?  The pitcher?  The fielders?  Do you get the sense that, in that loss, you guys won’t score enough runs, or that you’ll get jobbed by the umpires?  Will the mighty hand of Thor come down with his godly hammer, and wreck the team bus before it gets to the stadium?

Are these questions not obvious?

I don’t get it.  Either predict total domination, or enter a fantasy world where you’ve predicted your own triumph over adversity.  Better yet, make zero predictions and leave confessed neurotics (hand raised) alone with their spinning-wheel questions related to the apparent and baffling appeal of Ashton Kutcher.

And speaking of fantasy world: I’m sure that out of the four readers that I have, I alienated two last week in my steadfast rooting for the New York Yankees in this Series, ignoring the semantic talk of “rooting for” a team versus “rooting against” a team, and focusing solely on the need to stop dynasty talk in Philadelphia before it starts.  If they wander back to this particular post, this might perk them up.

Ran into a pack of folks heading to the game yesterday, and saw them on the uptown 4 platform as I waited for my train downtown.  A great many of them were wearing T-shirts announcing the Yankees’ twenty-six championships throughout their history, and declaring that to be the trump card in this year’s battle of the wills.  Loudly declaring.  Perhaps drunkenly declaring, but this site makes no judgment on that last point.  Would that I could’ve been so tanked yesterday.

Regardless, these gentlemen were/are in error.  The Yankees won three titles in the ’20s, five in the ’30s, four in the ’40s, six in the ’50s, two in the ’60s, two in the ’70s, and four in the ’90s (cheating here with the 2000 title for ease of discourse).

Now, if Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Spec Shea, Mickey Mantle, Tom Tresh, and Goose Gossage were some sort of immortal and joined the current ragtag group of intergalactic rebels, then certainly, a case could be made for Yankee history playing a part in a series win this year.

Otherwise, your team’s got a very talented group of players, but the institutional memory only goes back to 1996.  Thirteen years, four titles.  Not bad by any means, but think before speaking, and dial down the rhetoric.

Click here for numbers 1-25.  Click here for numbers 26-50.  Click here for numbers 51-75.

This week, numbers 76-101.

76. John Olerud never used pine tar on his bat. He preferred to hit “au naturel.”

77. John Olerud maintains that the best defense not only consists of a good offense, but also a sparkling defense.

78. For John Olerud, honesty is not the best policy.  It’s the ONLY policy.

79. John Olerud never hangs a picture without first sinking an anchor for safety.

80. The following textiles have not, nor will ever be, “with” John Olerud: burlap, denim, lace, silk, satin, or leather.

81. John Olerud is a fierce competitor, but is glad he was never an Aztec warrior.  Those guys drank the blood of their enemies, for Pete’s sake.

82. John Olerud has never told a “yo momma” joke.

83. John Olerud finds the capitalization rules of the German language straightforward and easy to comprehend.

84. Every night, John Olerud polishes his sneakers to a high shine.

85. For John Olerud, baseball is ninety percent mental; the other ten percent is physical.

86. John Olerud has never had “bed head.”

87. No, John Olerud knows exactly what you mean by “that thing with the
cherry stem.”  He’ll thank you not to do it, especially in this diner,
where there are families present.

88. John Olerud had his Achilles’ heel surgically removed in April, 1992.

89. John Olerud never check-raises; that’s bush league.  

90. There are no skeletons in John Olerud’s closet; only things he keeps in there are shirts, slacks, suits, and a replica Fonzie jacket someone gave him as a joke for his thirtieth birthday.   

91. John Olerud asked that his third Gold Glove instead be dipped in less-ostentatious bronze.

92. Whenever asked to find a needle in a haystack, John Olerud breaks out his case of magnets.

93. John Olerud dots his “i”s with a baseball.

94. John Olerud eats his Pez with a fork.

95. John Olerud decorates his home for all major federal holidays, including Presidents Day.

96. Yes, John Olerud agrees: Greedo shoots first.  (If you say so.)

97. John Olerud has never gone off half-cocked, fully-cocked, or any such position on that scale.  This is like mentioning the thing with the cherry stem, and he’s starting to get peeved.

98. John Olerud never cancels without calling first to explain his situation, and offer a rain check for a specific date and time.

99. John Olerud would never take a victory lap.  Victory is its own lap.

100. John Olerud often sleeps the sleep of the satisfied.  Then there’s the occasional Burrito Night, when he sleeps the sleep of the dyspeptic.

101. John Olerud hopes you’ve had a good time.  Now get the hell off his lawn.

My God, what a day.

**UPDATE: As always, deep thanks to Ted Berg of SNY and TedQuarters, and Joe Budd of Amazin’ Avenue for the link propers.  And no way!  I broke the Cerrone Barrier

Hell, I may have a beer with lunch!

Click here for numbers 1-25. Click here for numbers 26-50. 

NEW: Click here for numbers 76-101.

This week, numbers 51-75:

51. During his playing years, John Olerud’s nickname was “John Garrett Olerud.”

52. John Olerud has no comment on blown post-season umpiring calls.  He won’t even grant the premise.

53. After games, John Olerud always insisted on doing his own laundry.  Occasionally, he would also do Edgardo Alfonzo’s.

54. John Olerud avoids using the word “moist,” because it sounds so inappropriate.

55. John Olerud isn’t really afraid of anything.  But spiders do kinda give him the creeps.

56. Before each game, John Olerud always took some time to himself: a steaming cup of cocoa, a slice of pound cake, and the “Arts & Leisure” section.  He recommends this to “anyone looking for ways to, uh, dominate.”

57. John Olerud enjoys the utility and versatility of the paper clip.

58. John Olerud placed third in the 1994 National Skip-It! Competition.

59. One word: boxers.

60. John Olerud splits a timeshare in Palm Harbor, Florida, with Joseph and Russell Simmons.

61. Like Keith Olbermann, John Olerud has six lumbar vertebrae and thus too much backbone.

62. When the going gets tough, John Olerud develops a step-by-step action plan to get going in a smart, straightforward, and efficacious manner.

63. Bobby Bonilla and John Olerud once had to share a hotel room.  Olerud woke up the following morning with a Spanish word scrawled on his forehead in black magic marker.  Bonilla maintains to this day that he was just submitting his breakfast order.

64. There exists a Bizzaro John Olerud.  He’s a journeyman relief pitcher, and closed out the year with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

65. John Olerud’s actually always found a pretty broad line between Love and Hate.

66. In the past, John Olerud has been involved in several real-life dramas seemingly pulled from the pages of an action-thriller screenplay.  Once, he was trapped in an L.A. high-rise with a group of European thieves pulling a high-stakes con and robbery.  He called the police and informed them of the ruse in short order. 

All hostages were released without incident.  The criminals are awaiting trial.  John Olerud has since declined to ride in limousines driven by young men named Argyle.

67. John Olerud can grow facial hair.  He just prefers not to.

68. Someone once called John Olerud “the alpha and omega.” He replied, “I’d rather be known as the Mu and the Nu.”  They didn’t get it.  [Hell, I wrote it, and even I don’t get it.]

69. John Olerud invented toe socks.

70. John Olerud’s never had a cavity.  Separately: two years ago his dentist suffered a nervous breakdown.

71. John Olerud once experimented with putting his pants on both legs at
the same time.  It wasn’t for him.  He’s since returned to the
“one-leg-at-a-time” method.

72. Message left on Derek Jeter’s voice mail the morning of October 18th, 2004:

“Hey, Derek, it’s John Olerud.  Been playing first base for the Yankees for a while this year.  Listen, I know it’s kind of a shame that I hurt my foot during Game Three, and Game Four wasn’t so hot.  But Tony’s gonna get it done.  I’m… yeah, I’m actually pretty confident in Clark.  I mean, I was no great shakes in Game Three.  And if he somehow doesn’t get it done or Dougie doesn’t get it done, I’m sure Alex and Jorge and Gary’ll provide some pop for you.  Anyway, no way that Game Four business happens again.  With the batting and the fielding and the pitching the team’s got, it’s golden.  Anyway, I know it’s three games to one, but I don’t wanna count my chickens.  Here’s just hoping Game Five’s a good one, right?

“Oh, heck: by the way, I didn’t see Tom or Mariano at the hotel before I left.  Tell them I ran into Esteban, and he’s looking not so hot, so they gotta lock it down.  Just have a bad feeling; if it goes into extra innings, don’t count on him.  Okay?  All right.  See you later.  It’s John Olerud, by the way.  Okay.  Bye.”

73. John Olerud fills his car with mid-test gasoline.

74. John Olerud is an avid songwriter, publishing under the pseudonym Michael Bolton.

75. John Olerud is man enough to cry.

Got a comment from “daled@optonline.net” that I didn’t see until today:

A new comment has been posted on your blog Section Five Twenty-Eight, on entry #1252431 (One Hundred And One Things You Didn’t Know About John Olerud: Part One).
 
You’re an idiot
 
Commenter name: daled@optonline.net
Commenter email address: daled@optonline.net
Commenter URL:
Commenter IP address: 69.123.221.94

Now, Dale from Oceanside, NY–ran a search on the IP address–is correct.  I am an idiot.  I’ve known for some time.  As a matter of fact, I declared as much to my fellow college seniors during our graduation dinner.  “I will graduate Bennington College in five days, secure in the knowledge that I am an idiot.”  There’s tape of this.

I figure part of what led Dale to call me an idiot is all this list-making, and while I won’t stop making the list (unless the Mets or John Olerud give me a call, but really, I feel it’s quite complimentary), I will refrain from listing the reasons why I’m an idiot.

What I will do is offer the same explanation I offered those at Bennington: I’m an idiot because I don’t know much about much.  I know how to write a screenplay; I’ve got that locked down.  I know how to perform various administrative tasks, ranging from the mundane to the complex and intricate. 

Contrary to popular belief, I know when to keep my mouth shut.  Some who know me well might disagree strongly.  Reality is I speak up in those moments when waiting will just be too tedious.

Your blogger knows how to play the flute and the harmonica.  He also knows the lyrics to hundreds of songs, including Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice.”

But there’s a whole world I don’t know about and can’t access.  Sabermetrics?  No dice.  I really want to understand it, though.  I have no idea what got into Hideki Kuroda last night, and I sort of don’t want to know–whatever he’s got, I don’t wanna catch.  I read and watched the saga of Jose Reyes, and I feel like an idiot because while I think I know what went on, I can’t say for certain.

This is becoming a list, and I promised I wouldn’t start listing.  Let’s just leave it at I don’t know much about much.

The beauty, as I explained to my fellow morons five and a half years ago, is that we can rely on each other to solve our idiocy.  While I still don’t want to know much about Kuroda and whatever his problem is, I can speak with others and come to an understanding of why one doctor said Reyes tore a tendon and another doctor said it was just the effect of a rough night of voodoo.  I can certainly seek out reference material drafted by bright, incisive minds, and come to understand how UZR is computed.

Note that I said “solve our idiocy.”  For as much as I’m an idiot, I’ll put dollars to doughnuts on the probability that Dale from Oceanside is a Class-A Fool as well.  The difference between us is some nuanced level of self-control–see comment left with little supporting data.  Perhaps it’s more incomplete or short-sighted than dumb to leave such a criticism without defending it, but this is a blog whose mission is to make me feel better, not provide much at all in the way of probing analysis.  Really, my point here is: why split hairs?

I don’t know what I can teach others about baseball besides the rules and some anecdotal history.  I’m compelled, in a search for more pervasive idiocy, to take a look at some of the things I’ve advocated: a Mets video program to coexist with a museum; the hiring of a sharp, savvy communications director to be the public face of the business; the nixing of sponsored fan giveaways in exchange for sponsored reductions in ticket prices.  I imagine this’ll happen during the off-season as well.

I’m still flummoxed by Kuroda, really.  How do you… well.  They can’t all be winners.  But stating that is, in part, what led to my being called an idiot in the first place.

Kudos, Dale.  Keep callin’ ’em as you see ’em.

My thanks to Ted Berg of SNY, through his blog TedQuarters, AND Joe Budd out at Amazin’ Avenue, for linking to this post and thus destroying the curve on my site analytics.  Cheers, Messrs. B, and a hearty “How ya doin’?” to the folks at Brookdale Senior Living, in Milwaukee, WI.

For those who’ve made their way here for the first time, click here for numbers 1-25, click here for numbers 51-75.  Keep reading; tell your friends.  Email me at omniality [at] gmail [dot] com if you think I should be hung by my toenails.

NEW: click here for numbers 76-101.

More on the upcoming League Championship Series, how the quest to complete the GQ photo spoof is going, and other assorted and sundry tonight.

But for now, numbers 26-50:

26. John Olerud enjoys the game of checkers.

27. John Olerud also knows these can’t all be winners.

28. Bo knows baseball.  Bo knows football.  John Olerud doesn’t claim to be an expert in anything.

29. John Olerud would never violate the sacred trust that is the HOV lane.

30. John Olerud sends Joe McIlvane a Christmas card every holiday season.

31. John Olerud’s fine with boneless Buffalo wings, if everyone else at the table is.

32. John Olerud applauds the platypus for its originality.

33. When he was nine, John Olerud built a tree house all by himself.  It included a laundry room.

34. John Olerud has a normal, everyday sneeze.

35. John Olerud reads his junk mail.  If they took the time to send it, he can take the time to read it.

36. There’s no “i” in “team.”  There’s also no “i” in “John Olerud.”

37. John Olerud needs only about six-point-seven hours of sleep per night.

38. Yes, John Olerud knows who Chuck Norris is.  He doesn’t get why you’re laughing, but he’s glad you’re happy.

39. John Olerud doesn’t understand why Geico insists on picking on cavemen.  They were a necessary step in Man’s evolution, and should be celebrated.

40. The first rule of John Olerud is “You do not talk about John Olerud.”
There is no second rule; he trusts you to get the message the first
time.

41. Yes, John Olerud also knows who Matt Wieters is.  Now he’s really confused.

42. John Olerud is proud of his humility.

43. Boats aren’t for John Olerud.  Boats make waves.

44. If the answer is “John Olerud,” the question is probably, “Won’t anyone help me move this weekend?”

45. When John Olerud gets steamed–REALLY steamed–he could just hit something.

…But he doesn’t.

…And then the moment passes.

46. During Career Day at his son’s elementary school, John Olerud showed the kids how to turn a potato into a battery.

47. John Olerud pees standing up.

48. John Olerud wanted this list sorted into discrete categories, and indexed for reference.

49. Brown sugar on oatmeal?  Heck, John Olerud will try anything once.

50. John Olerud does have a pulse, but he appreciates the humor of the sentiment.  He would, however, not mind it if you unhooked him from the EKG machine.

I’ve read a few things, from several sources, about how October is a great month for sport.  I can understand it, but I can’t tap into it.

Given the choice between college football and nothing, I will watch college football.  But I went to a college where the only organized team–playing soccer–allowed a drum circle to break out on a corner of the playing field.  So understand, there was no NCAA affiliation.

I’ve never been much of a fan of hockey, and that’s my fault, not hockey’s.  I can’t get behind the three periods, the power plays.  Some of the rules seem beyond arbitrary.  I relished in the lockout a couple years back; also my fault.  But that was Dolan-related glee at misery; I figured with the Knicks gagging, the Rangers idle, and boxing losing ground by the yard to mixed martial arts, the Dolan family would soon back out of poor investments, and stick to duping people with their shoddy cable service.

I used to be a basketball guy.  I was a Bulls fan for twelve years, starting in 1988, and lost track of them and basketball when I went off to school.  (Friends of the blog will know that Bennington doesn’t provide rooms with cable hookups; antenna reception ranged from laughable to starkly impossible.)

I love football, and though I’ve made a pact to root for the Jets this year, I’m looking forward to being unaffiliated next year; I don’t know why I was fighting it–it’s the place to be.  However, football mainly occurs on Sundays, with a game played regularly on Mondays.

What the hell am I supposed to do with my Tuesday night?  Or my Wednesday night?

I sorely needed baseball tonight.  Making a creative breakthrough in the wee hours of the morning only to have to leave that work and spend the day digging through eighteen months of expense reports was enough to make me put my head through a brick wall; coming home to a corrupted DVR copy of an early episode of The X-Files and… well, that’s it.  That’s all I had for fresh entertainment.  I can’t sink into a movie after a frustrating day; that’s not where my mind goes.  My mind goes to athletic skill.  Plays at the plate.  Monstrous catches and cannon-fired relay throws to third.  Busting heads, in a manner more gentlemanly than hockey.

(Speaking of baseball and gentlemen, you know that remote Conan O’Brien did once upon a time, where he played at being an 1860s baseballer?  It was his all-time favorite bit for his old show, and he presented it again during the last week of Late Night With Conan O’Brien.  Remember the woman he was so fond of–Nell?  He called out her name before managing a hit?  I went to college with her.  Nell Stewart. 

It wasn’t an act.

So now, if I ever run into Conan O’Brien on the street, I have something to say.)

Baseball returns tomorrow, in the Russian nesting doll form of the League Championship Series.  Tonight, on the eve, I’m caught up in the anxiety of impending loss.  There’s this, then the World Series, then three or four months of The Barren Wastes.  This glass of scotch is helping, sure, but scotch is not an appropriate long-term coping mechanism.  Writing?  I’m red-lining on my maximum daily output as it is.  Holidays?  Bogus. 

I think I’m stuck, until the return of Lost and Chuck.  If I mix in a night out for dinner; I think I can cover the week quite nicely, until the return of warmer weather.

If you’ll all allow me another tangent, let me say that ABC’s Flash Forward is like heroin.  It makes me tired, disoriented, and violently sick to my stomach, and as much as I plead with my body to avoid it, I wind up back with it.  Dollhouse, at least, is like cocaine, in that for a couple of seconds each episode, it makes me feel sexy.

…That sound, by the way, was me losing half my audience.  If the remaining two persons would care to move to the front, I can turn off this microphone and keep from having to shout.

Your League Championship contenders are:

Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim
Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies

They are not only presented alphabetically by city, but in my general order of preference, descending. 

I need to see more of Torii Hunter to know why he’d be a bad idea for the Mets, or a good idea for the Mets, or a middling idea for the Mets, or a decent understudy to Jude Law in the umpteenth version of Hamlet, or the guy I want making guacamole out of those tasty Haas avocados I just picked up.  Mmm, Haas avocados…

Besides, if the Angels win, I say we get at least two made-for-TV movies out of it.  I demand casting against type. James Marsden as John Lackey!  Horatio Sanz as Scott Kazmir!  Danny Glover as Mike Scoscia!

Having watched most of the Dodgers-Cardinals series, I find the Dodgers have all of the fight and most of the skill of the Philadelphia Phillies, without the studiously obnoxious fan base and odious, miserable town-as-home.  I’ve made my feelings (scroll to near end) on the Phillies plain; as soon as they learn not to throw up their hands in despair but punch people in the back of the head as those hands come down, they will earn some measure of respect from me.

The Yankees are still New York and they were not the ones who hosed the Twins.  The Twins hosed the Twins, with a little assistance from Phil Cuzzi, who, as reported by Steve Politi of the Star Ledger, was “too close to the [Joe Mauer hit]” to call it right.

I’ve been too close to a burger before shoving it in my mouth, but I have years of training in food consumption.  I’ve always made split-second adjustments and brought medium-well beef, cheese, lettuce, onion, and bun to my chomp-chute without incident.  Even when there were more dinner guests around than usual.

I’ve said my piece about the Phillies.  I can only add that I implore their fan base to chill the hell out.  I would like not to have to think of this ridiculous rivalry anymore.  The Braves are the Mets’ legitimate extended rival in the division; I would like to go back to altering The Chop chant to suit my hilariously vulgar needs without twinges of nostalgia and good feeling.  I’d like to go back to thinking I’d sooner spit on Larry Jones’s grave than applaud him during his last at-bat ever.

…I actually will still applaud Larry Jones’s last at-bat ever.  Part of me will be sad to see him go: he’s been a workhorse for the Braves and for baseball, and quite the serviceable villain.  Part of me will be enormously glad that he’s gone.

(In the nesting doll tradition, let me speak to a certain thing about Larry Jones. It is perfectly acceptable to call the man “Larry” as loud and as often as possible.  It is not, as I’ve seen occur, proper cricket to call the man out for an affair he had over ten years ago.

I’ve been holding that admonition in since 2005.  Hopefully the fan I meant to chastise read this, and is sufficiently chastened.)

So there you are.  Postseason special.  I’ve programmed my television to emit a high-pitched whirring sound whenever Tim McCarver speaks.

**

As for this:

profilewright2.jpgI’m missing the appropriate tank, the sneakers, and the bat.  The bat I’m buying.  The sneakers I can borrow.  But the tank top?

I’d almost rather Reyes beat me with his bat.

10:35p: And there it is.  Brendan Harris grounds out to first.  The obligatory rhythmic hop on the field.  The second sweep and subdued celebration on an away field that I’ve seen.

The end of Twins baseball at the Metrodome.  Horrible base running by the Twins.  No, Carlos Gomez, I feel sorry for YOU.

Play me off, animated Orson Welles!


10:33p
: And Delmon Young takes another swipe at a ball.  This time, he manages not to make contact.

Trust me, the offline jokes have been much better.

10:30p
: Why, random fan?  Why are you trying to escape by climbing over the right field wall?

I have to think Gardenhire sent a message upstairs.  The fan is a decoy.  A decoy!  Delmon Young just needed a couple of minutes to clear the mechanism!

10:27p
: Michael Cuddyer with a hit to shallow right.  Gives Chip Caray another chance to push his 2009 postseason trademark term: “fisted.”

10:22p: Finally.  How long did that inning go?  My unofficial timer says twenty minutes.

Final three outs of the year coming up for the Twins, as prefaced by the swelling American orchestral music played before the break.

10:16p
: Kubel goofs.  The Yankees play it safe despite the two boots; score is now 4-1.  Bases are still loaded, still one out.  Minnesota dead quiet, except for random shouts of “You suck!”

Phillies are on the board in Colorado.  That’s all you’ll hear from me on that.

10:14p
: Nathan allows a two-out single to Posada and the air goes out of the Homerdome. 

10:10p
: Three walks, three relief pitchers.  Bases loaded.

Mr. Gardenhire, just leave a guy in.  See if they just need to settle into the mound before making some magic, huh?  Whattaya say?

10:05p
: Gardenhire plays Kitchen Sink with the Yankees.  Rauch walks Rodriguez, and Gardenhire pulls him for Jose Mijares.

Seriously, how can this be good?

“I met her in a Kingstown bar
We fell in love I knew it had to end
We took what we had and we ripped it apart
Now here I am down in Kingstown again…”


10:01p
: Ron Mahay out for Jon Rauch to face Alex Rodriguez.

I think it’s a bad omen that the Twins P.A. crew chose to play “Hungry Heart” during the pitching change.

9:57p
: Johnny Damon has struck out four times tonight? Yipes.

Honestly, I donm’t think it’ll matter.  The Twins have run themselves out of this series thus far.

9:48p
: Mariano Rivera comes on for a four-out save, with Mauer up to bat.

Separately, a note to anyone who has the “problem” demonstrated by the Playstation 3 commercial: if that “problem” involves your hot girlfriend excited to watch you play an awesome-looking video game, you’re unqualified to determine what is and isn’t a problem.

Mauer grounds out to first.  Top ninth.

9:42p: Nick Punto’s picked off third on a Denard Span hit.  Thank you for obliging, Nick.  I now think you’re a tool.

9:34p
: Good God,  I forgot about the Phillies-Rockies game tonight.  No way am I live-blogging that; the fury I have for some Phillies players would serve to set my laptop on fire.  And I’ve been drinking.

Uneventful top of the eighth.  Lots of jokes about “The Language Of Baseball” and more Delmon Young cracks.  Some chants about Jeter sucking, which is neither true nor fair.  I know I’m burning the corneas of some Mets fans by typing that, and believe me, I’ve little joy typing it while my mind floats to stills of his dumb smirk.

Punto hustles for second on a well-hit ball.  Damn you, Nick Punto!  You cannot do this to me!  You’re too awful for me to like!

9:28p
: Jose Morales strikes out swinging, just as Joba Chamberlain was having difficulty finding the strike zone.

Shoulda consulted with Delmon Young about taking a base on balls.  Ha!

9:19p
: Delmon Young knocks a hit to right center.  He’s on second.

I have about fifteen more “Delmon Young hits himself in the junk” jokes.  Please, Delmon, do something else fantastic!

9:17p
: Lordy.  Delmon Young takes one in the grapes.  Always awful when you do it to yourself.  Think Radiohead said that first.

Delmon Young’s hit twelve homers this season.  And one johnson.

9:14p
: Pettitte is out after striking out Kubel.  He’s in line for the win.  I’m mildly surprised there’s been any scoring.  Going to the bullpen can only mean the opening of the floodgates and the pushing back of the game’s end time to 2:30 Monday morning.

9:04p
: Posada homers, and there are no chants of “Steroids!” now.  Maybe some snarky comments about the lack of identifiable chin, but certainly no chants about performance enhancers.

Pavano may or may not be gassed.  2-1, Yankees.

9:01p:
Rodriguez homers.  Tied at 1.

Also, Spassky versus Fisher, Ronnie? We get it; you went to college.

I think the Twins crowd is chanting “Steroids.”  But I can’t be sure. 

8:55p
: And the rumbling sounds of a “Yankees suck!” jeer rises from the home of Minnesota Nice. 

One out for Alex Rodriguez (still no sign of the star of Fool’s Gold, Kate Hudson).

8:52p
: Michael Cuudyer: when the ball is nowhere near the strike zone, it would behoove you NOT TO SWING AT IT.

1-0, Twins, top seventh.

8:48p
: Joe Mauer gets his first RBI of the series, and it’s brought to you by Haas Avocados.

When you’re thinking of dinner, a snack, or a natural way to keep frown lines from commanding your face, try Haas Avocados!

8:44p
: Denard Span with a hit up the middle, with Cabrera up.  Somebody, for the love of Pete, do SOMETHING.

I mean, I love a great pitching duel as much as anybody, but Padilla yesterday was mesmerizing.  This is just… not the same.

8:37p
: And Pavano strikes out Damon.  Goddamn.

Cheers to Buz from Yesterday’s Hitter for the comment mid-live blog, by the way.  I owe you some reciprocal comment love, Buz.  My apologies; I get caught up in writing this thing and hardly get the chance to make the rounds on MLBlogs.  It’s a failing.

8:33p
: “My name is Cleveland Brown/And I am proud to be/Right back in my hometown/With my new family…”

Jeter chops one right on the right field line for a double with two out.  If Pavano gets out of this particular “jam,” I think it would be fair to say that he’s done more than his job.  Where’s the Twins offense?

8:25p
: After the unassisted double play, Cuddyer singles to left, and Kubel manages a force-out of Cuddyer at second
on a shot to right.

The Metrodome plays tricks with my ability to judge balls to the outfield.

Also, if you’re wondering,  when I drink Scotch, I prefer any of the Johnnie Walker varieties, but I’m no snob.

Brendan Harris grounds out.  Top of the sixth coming up.  No score.  If they finish in time for me to catch Californication as it airs, then delightful.

Ashton Kutcher is a waste of time.

8:19p
: Delmon Young with a great grab and Michael Cuddyer with an unassisted double play.  Apparently karma wants me to drink Scotch.  The match is well and truly joined.

8:16p: It’s 8:16 and the game’s halfway done.  Matsui’s just gotten on base, and we’re on schedule for the game to start crawling along.  Should Pavano manage to get out of the game without putting on another base runner, I’m going to switch to Scotch.

Happy Columbus Day, everybody!

8:02p
: You gotta think that, if Old Man Steinbrenner was still able, he’d light into Carl Pavano after this game.  Six strikeouts in three innings?  After a year in which he pitched more games (33) than he did his previous four years with the Yankees (26)?  I can absolutely imagine a good, old-fashioned, foaming-at-the-mouth, golf-club-snapping, cigar-chomping… I’ve lost my train of thought.

Also, I really want to hate that Captain Morgan commercial with the dance party, but that robot/alien kills me every time.
 
7:56p: Dull, dull, dull.  Reading about the Metrodome on Wikipedia.

7:47p
: Melky Cabrera breaks up Pavano’s perfect game as Punto tries to re-take my heart.  Jeter grounds out on the next pitch.  Time for ice cream.

By the way, I’m not on Facebook, but apparently there’s a Craig Sager fanclub on there.  I leave it to you to discover it.

7:45p
: Nick Swisher can’t count.  Tries to take first on a 3 and 2.  Strikes out next pitch.  Least he was a champ about it.

7:32p
: If this follows the script, the Twins will come out to a lead and the Yankees will stomp on it.  as there’s not yet been a hit recorded (1 1/2 innings), it’s time for a dinner break.

I look forward to laughing at more Foster’s commercials.  Seriously, how great is it that they’re back?

7:25p: Does Kate Hudson love Alex Rodriguez enough to travel to the Metrodome?

7:16p
: Chip Caray shows his brand loyalties: not Wite-Out, but Liquid Paper. 

A post found while researching Sager’s wardrobe declares:

“In an interview with the The Washington Post, during the
Beijing Olympics, Sager was forced into wearing the uniform that all
reporters for NBC had to wear: khakis and a blue polo. Sager did manage
a festive belt that matched his blue polo and claims to have worn a
matching thong. Mercifully, there is no proof of this.”

Yes.  Mercifully.

Swisher books it to grab a Cabrera fly-out.  Mauer grounds out to end the inning.

7:12p: Watching Twins-Yankees, by the way.  Pavano gets out of the first inning early, but that’s the Yankees m.o. against the Twins.  Currently trying to determine where Craig Sager gets those jackets, and whether a video tech has quit over them, yet.

7:10p: I have no idea what was up with the band prior to the game.  Carl [Pavano], too, was perplexed.