Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

Archive for October, 2009

angst

Posted by flyingbk on 10/29/2009

angst 1

A feeling of anxiety or apprehension often accompanied by depression.

Yeah, I think that word aptly describes how all Mets fans feel about this World Series. In one corner, you have the team that has been ably named “The Evil Empire.” Every good Mets fan will tell you that his two favorite teams are the Mets and whoever is playing the Yankees. I cringe every time I hear Mets fans shouting  “Yankees SUCK!” at a Mets game because there’s no need for us to possess such a large chip on our shoulder, but I understand the spirit behind the chant. (I have only joined in on that chant once, when I was at this awesome game and we saw on the scoreboard that the Yankees were getting spanked by Barry Zito and the A’s. Of course, that year didn’t end all that well, so you can argue that I received my comeuppance.)

In the other corner, you have our main division rival that has now gotten the best of us for three straight years, and completely embarrassed us with their historical comeback in 2007. The Phillies have players like Cole Hamels, who brazenly proclaimed on New York sports radio that the Mets were “chokers.” There’s Chase Utley, who is probably the second best player in all of baseball, but has openly admitted that he never tries to get out of the way of a hit-by-pitch. Worst of all, there’s Shane Victorino, who looks like a five-year old with his twin ear flaps and claps his hands maniacally, vaguely resembling a chicken in the process.

So what should a Mets fan do? You can’t root for either team. One option is to stay neutral; you can just enjoy the fact that one of your hated rivals is going to lose and that their fans will have their hearts shattered. You’ve just turned your no-win situation into a no-lose delight! Brilliant!

At first, I decided that I would simply root AGAINST the Phillies. Let me give you three reasons why:

1) The Phillies have a lot more players that I can’t stand; there are a few players I can’t stand on the Yankees, but my dislike of them is nothing compared to how I feel about Jimmy Rollins, Hamels, Victorino, etc.

2) The Yankees last won in 2000, so seeing them win wouldn’t be the worst thing. But seeing the Phillies win back-to-back and having that cloud cover the Mets and their efforts to recapture the NL East? And then having to hear ad infinitum about how the Phillies are more gritty and how they just “want it more”? Ouch, those would be hard pills to swallow.

3) I have a lot of friends and youth group kids that are huge Yankee fans. While there are many insufferable and overly brash Yankee fans, most of the ones I know do not fall into this category. Meanwhile, all Phillies fans could use a slice of humble pie.

But I admit, while watching last night’s contest, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Cliff Lee shut down the vaunted Yankees lineup and seeing all those unhappy Yankee fans quietly exit the stadium. And I will be avidly rooting for Pedro tonight, even though I don’t expect him to pitch well. But then when the scene shifts to Philadelphia, I would love to watch the blank expressions on the faces of Phillies fans as their team bites the dust. I would love to see any of the top Phillies hitters fail in a big spot, and I want Cole Hamels to get hammered. Oh, what conflict! What angst!

I think this poem sums up things well. I say, if the Phillies win, let them clinch at the new Yankee stadium and let Derek Jeter strike out with the tying and winning runs on base. If the Yankees win, let them do it because Rollins and Utley made big errors and Shane Victorino knocked his head into the wall for an inside-the-parker. I’m not asking for too much, right? LGM.

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musings 10-26-09

Posted by flyingbk on 10/26/2009

Note to self: When launching a new blog, do not get sick in the 2nd week of operation. Also, do not let your computer get sick. My trusty PC encountered a virus, leading to a reformatting. It’s the first problem I ‘ve had in 3 years.

Here’s a few things concerning what’s been on my mind of late:

  • I caught an explosive report by 60 minutes last night entitled “The $60 Billion Fraud” on how easy it is to rip off Medicare and Medicaid. If you don’t have the patience to watch a 14-minute video, click on the link and then click on the link on the right called “Easy Money.” And then ask yourself if our president was either brazenly misleading us or being mind-numbingly naive when he proclaimed that the new healthcare bill will save money by slashing hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicare & Medicaid waste.
  • Speaking of Obama – when I think of him these days, I think of this iconic video game character. Our president can’t take a punch. I’ve gone through three phases since the 2008 election. The first stage was depression in which I refused to pay attention to his administration because I knew all he did and said would make me upset. Naturally, the second stage was anger as I decided that I should pay attention. But now, I’m at the third stage, and that is gratitude. Gratitude to our president for singlehandedly reviving the Republican Party and reminding us all that we live in a center-right that does not brook extreme liberalism. Perhaps Obama has some healing powers, after all.
  • The baseball playoffs have been quite annoying so far. Here’s the deal: The Yankees are the best team in baseball. There is no doubt about it, and they definitely deserve to be in the World Series. But it would sure be nice if one team actually made them play well before they win the whole enchilada!! The Twins and Angels engaged in their own contest of which team could make more mental mistakes and managerial errors (I think the Angels won by a nose). I mean, the Yankees haven’t actually played great baseball (half of their lineup is asleep and their non-Mariano bullpen has performed poorly) this October, and yet here they are.
  • Favorite quote of the hour comes from Winston Churchill. He once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”  I’ve had my share of failures this year, in my personal life and ministry, and I confess that it’s led to great disappointment and loss of enthusiasm. But I say no more! It’s time to live again with great hope and passion because as Starfield eloquently puts it, “I want to know the mystery/reach out and touch the majesty/I want to hold the hand that holds the world.” Amen.

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LCS thoughts

Posted by flyingbk on 10/15/2009

Like I wrote before, all four teams are excellent. I really don’t think there’s a point in making predictions. The Yankees are clearly better than the Angels, while the Dodgers are a smidge better than the Phillies. That doesn’t mean we’ll get a Joe vs. Joe World Series.  What I hope to do instead is give you three factors apiece to pay attention to as you enjoy October baseball.

NLCS: Phillies vs. Dodgers

1) The battle of the bullpens. Both teams boast deep, versatile lineups. But in the pen, the Dodgers have a clear advantage in terms of quality and quantity. Even more so, they have two strong left-handed relievers in Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill, which will go a long way in neutralizing the Phillies’ terrorizing troika of Utley/Howard/Ibanez. And if that’s not enough, closer Jonathan Broxton is a righty who had an awesome year vs. lefty hitters. Meanwhile, Phillies fans will be nervously chewing their fingernails regardless of which reliever is attempting to close out a game for their club.

2) Torre’s overreaction. Vicente Padilla pitched lights-out for the Dodgers in game 3 of the NLDS; therefore, Torre has decided to reward him with a game 2 start, meaning that Padilla should also start a possible game 6. This move appears to be quite the mistake; Padilla is very difficult on right-handed hitters, but he struggles against lefties. And as noted before, the Phillies’ main strength is their excellence from the left side of the batter’s box. Torre would’ve been much better off starting Wolf in game 2 (I love starting Kershaw in game 1).

3) Who will step up? The Phillies begin this series at a disadvantage because their ace, Cliff Lee, won’t start until game 3. So it’s very possible that the Phillies will be eliminated before their ace can pitch twice. Therefore, they will need their other starters to step up, especially because Charlie Manuel will be looking to avoid using his bullpen as much as possible. Hamels is dependable, but their game 2 and 4 starters will come from a trio of Pedro Martinez, J.A. Happ, and Joe Blanton. Reports are that Pedro will get the nod for game 2; can he stand and deliver?

ALCS: Yankees vs. Angels

1) The peripheral Bombers. The Yankees are a strong favorite. Their lineup is better, their starting pitching is stronger, and their closer is a juggernaut. However, some of the lesser lights in the Yankees lineup- Damon, Cano, Swisher, and Melky- have been struggling. Damon especially has fallen on hard times; I know because he carried my fantasy team before collasping late. The Yankees have always relied on a relentless lineup during their championship years, and a small showing by their peripheral hitters makes them less formidable.

2) Don’t pray for rain. Joe Girardi has been clear that he would like to use a 3-man rotation in which C.C. Sabathia starts on 3 days rest in game 4 (he would start on regular rest in a potential game 7 because of the insane amount of off-days instituted by MLB for the LCS). However, if game 1 or 2 gets rained out (the forecast in NYC calls for lots of rain all weekend), he would have no choice but to start either Joba or Gaudin in game 4. The Angels would get the edge there; while the Yankees’ frontline starters are better, the Angels have a slightly deeper rotation.

3) Where’s the relief? Be careful what you hear as you watch the games; these Angels are built differently than their past editions, including the ones that took down the Yankees in the past. Their lineup has more power (and still lots of speed), but the prime change is in the bullpen. In their previous playoff runs, the conventional wisdom was that if the Angels had a lead in the late innings, it was game over. That is definitely no longer the case. The Halos’ pen is shaky at best, and the Yankees should have plenty of opportunities to forge comebacks, regardless of the inning and score. If the Angels are going to pull the upset, they’ll need at least two relievers (Oliver? Bulger?) to come up big.

OK fine, I’ll make predictions. Dodgers and Yankees, both in 6 games.

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affirmation

Posted by flyingbk on 10/14/2009

(first, an administrative note: you no longer need to submit your email address in order to comment. i hope to see more comments and discussion!)

A couple days ago, I spent time with my mom and stepdad. We were talking about my need for a wife, and my mom said something to me that completely blind-sided me because she had never said anything along those lines before. She said, “Bob, you know I always tell you how handsome you are. But let’s face it, you’re kinda short and fat, and lots of girls are not attracted to you.” Whoa! Now, I wasn’t offended at all. And she is right; I had previously arrived at the painful conclusion that when girls picture the man of their dreams, they don’t envision a Korean dude who is 5’6″,  mildly athletic at best, and doesn’t like shaving his facial hair.

You see, all my life, while growing up, my mom always told me how handsome I was. She said it everyday and multiple times a day, and usually with unbridled enthusiasm and appreciation. So as I entered puberty and junior high, I would be shocked when my counterparts of the opposite gender did not agree with my mom’s infallible judgment. It took me quite a while to realize that she was just doing her motherly duty, and/or she was operating out of her maternal bias. Unfortunately, she had no influence whatsoever on the greater female population-at-large.

But, I am eternally thankful. I am thankful for her constant affirmation of me, and I have no doubt that her flurry of complimentary words have aided in shaping me as a man who has healthy self-esteem (then again, maybe she is the reason that I can be vain and enjoy looking at myself in the mirror..). Reflecting on my mom’s affirmation reminds me how powerful positive words can be in someone’s life.

We all desperately seek affirmation. After all, Jesus received affirmation before he began a ministry that would turn the world upside-down. The baptism of Jesus is one of my favorite Gospel passages, and I’m always reminding my youth group kids about its effects. Matthew 3:16-17 states:

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

I love saying the Father’s words to Jesus over me, and over others. Following that episode is Jesus’ 40-day fast and the 3 temptations of Satan. Surely, the affirmation of the Father armed Jesus with much needed protection against the silver tongue of the devil.

Likewise, we all need to be affirmed. Hopefully, God can use me (and you!) to affirm many, just as I was affirmed over and over whenever my mom greeted me as I returned home from grade school.

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surf’s up 10-13-09

Posted by flyingbk on 10/13/2009

I love the internet. From time to time, I’ll post the best of what I’m surfing. Here’s the first entry.. enjoy!

  • Take a look at the second-to-last paragraph of this Washington Times editorial. And ask yourself honestly: Would not President Bush have been endlessly ridiculed for each of these actions? But I bet that you didn’t even know about most of these gaffes. Hmm, I wonder why that is?
  • Gregg Easterbrook is one of my favorite columnists. He writes the indispensable Tuesday Morning Quarterback on ESPN’s Page 2. The football content is very well done, but he also mixes in a variety of non-football nuggets. In last week’s column, he wrote the following:

TMQ has always been an enthusiast for cooling autumn weather — not just because this signals football — and for sweaters. In 1982, I penned for the New York Times’ op-ed page an ode to autumn that included these passages: “Fall is what summer pretends to be, the best of seasons. Fall is as glorious as summer is tedious; as subtle as summer is obvious; as refreshing as summer is wearying. Crisp fall air blows as welcome as the day’s first smell of coffee. Fall’s brilliant colors remind us of the glory of nature and the multitude of things that are possible. Foremost among its qualities, fall is the season of romance. Take an informal poll, and you are nearly certain to find that a high percentage of the world’s precious supply of lasting relationships dates to the fall. Most people attribute this phenomenon to leaves falling, school starting and fireplaces being lit. The real reason is simpler. The real reason is sweaters. Everyone looks better in sweaters.” The year 1982 having been a more composed, less grab-by-the-lapel media period, the Times titled the piece with the ornate pun, “SUMMER, ONLY SKIN DEEP, YIELDS TO SWEATERED WOMEN, MAN’S FALL.”

I found myself nodding while reading this excerpt. I agree, I think I look better in sweaters! I stopped by my old house yesterday, and picked up all my sweaters. I admit, I am excited to rock ’em.

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get ready for fall classics

Posted by flyingbk on 10/11/2009

To say that I am not a Yankees fan, or a Phillies fan, would be quite the understatement. However, as a baseball fan, I am glad that both teams emerged victorious in their respective Division Series. How can this be?

To answer this question, let’s look at Game 163 between the Twins and Tigers played a week ago. During and after the contest, fans across the internet raved about the drama. And no doubt about it, there was plenty of back-and-forth action, and the importance of the game only added to the excitement. But there was one major problem that kept me from calling this game an all-time classic: It featured two very mediocre teams, and they played accordingly. Whoever won that contest was going to become the worst postseason participant that I can remember since the Wild Card era began. Both the Twins and Tigers would have finished fourth, AT BEST, in the AL Central. In fact, you can make a good argument that the 4th-place Blue Jays were better than either team; Toronto (+27) finished with a better run differential than Detroit (-2), and was only slightly worse than Minnesota (+52) while facing vastly superior competition in its division.

As expected, the Yankees made quick work of the Twins. It actually wasn’t that easy as Minnesota had its chances to capture Games 2 and 3, but the better team prevailed. And with the Angels, Phillies, and Dodgers all winning, we have the teams with the best four records squaring off in two League Championship Series. For these results, all baseball fans, whether you are impartial toward one of the teams or not, should rejoice. That’s because we can expect some heartstopping drama provided by teams of high caliber. In addition, there are four World Series scenarios, and all of them are delicious. FOX Sports must be salivating.

We all love the underdog and the upset. But in this case, we should be glad that teams like the Twins and Rockies did not play the part of David vs. Goliath. Because now, the best is yet to come, from the best teams in the game.

*By the way, I am so glad that the Twins lost partly in due to poor fundamentals. Hopefully we can put to rest the meme that the Twins succeeded because they play the game “the right way.” No, you fools, they made the playoffs because a) they played in a garbage division, and b) they had the best player in the American League, who made up for a bunch of lineup stiffs. They made the playoffs in spite of guys like Nick Punto, not because of them.  Best Twitter I read this past weekend from my man Keith Law: ‘They play the game the right way’ is the baseball equivalent of ‘she has a great personality.’)

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instant replay

Posted by flyingbk on 10/10/2009

I was at church tonight with my wonderful youth group kids, so I missed the thriller in the Bronx as the Yankees topped the Twinkies in dramatic fashion.

I did watch the highlights, including the most controversial play of the game. In the top of the 11th inning, with the game tied, the best player in the 2009 American League, Mr. Joe Mauer, sliced a line drive down the left field line off Yankee punching bag Damaso Marte. Replays showed that the ball was clearly fair as it glanced off Melky Cabrera’s glove and landed 10 inches inside the line. However, left field umpire Phil Cuzzi called the ball foul, even as he was less than 10 feet from the play! His blown call robbed Mauer of a double, and the Minnesota catcher would have to later settle for a single. The Twins would fail to score, causing many to protest that this injustice cost the Twins lost a run, and possibly the game, because of the umpire’s blunder (quite the erroneous conclusion, which I will touch at another time).

This bad call looks even worse from multiple angles. First, the point of having left field and right field umpires in the playoffs is to make these kinds of calls easier! One can easily imagine a third base umpire being forced to hustle down the left field line, but then actually getting the call correct! Second, the bevy of poor umpiring the last four days (Tuesday’s Game 163 between the Twins and Tigers included) is exposing MLB for its lack of accountability regarding its umpires. Why are so many of these umpires who are working this October considered to be among the worst? (Check out Cuzzi’s Wiki page and take note of his prior record.) It’s very possible that the worst umpire in baseball could be calling the balls and strikes in a most important contest for your favorite team! Can you imagine if a respectable company did not put forth its best representatives for crucial business meetings? And yet, that’s what MLB does with its umpires! Finally, the postseason is every major sport’s bread and butter; the audiences are at their largest, and it’s a chance for baseball to shine on the national stage. Instead, the sport is being ridiculed as umpires continue to blow important calls.

Which brings me to the point of this entry. A bad call like this brings back the age-old question: Should there be instant replay in baseball? Now, there already is instant replay for home run calls, which should be applauded. But what about the fair/foul and safe/out calls? We’ve already seen about six woeful miscues by the umps. So why not institute a system similar to the NFL, in which coaches can throw a cute red flag and challenge certain outcomes?

After all, isn’t the point to get the call right? On one hand, I agree. In fact, I would have no problem if we ditched home plate umpires and installed robots equipped with Questec technology to call balls and strikes; baseball hitters and pitchers (and fans!) deserve a uniform strike zone. If you watched the Tuesday game, you know what I’m talking about; Randy Marsh’s strike zone morphed into a new shape every couple innings.

But here’s the main problem with instant replay: It slows down the game. My biggest beef with the NFL is its awful sense of pace: there are way too many TV timeouts (check out reasons #49 and 50 for my 2nd beef). This defect leads to the humorous scene that takes place in every NFL game in which both teams are just standing on the field, waiting for the go-ahead to take their positions. If you’ve been to a game in person, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Trust me, it’s worse when you’re shivering on a below-freezing December night as you wonder when the HECK the next play will take place! (not that I’m bitter about that experience!) So on top of that fatal flaw, you have the wonderful world of instant replay, where coaches don’t even know what calls they can challenge, and referees then take an interminable amount of time looking at ten different angles. Therefore, I cannot advocate new forms of instant replay for my favorite sport. We’ll just have to live with the dreaded “human element.”

So while I desire for correct calls to be made 100% of the time, it just is not possible because of the time factor. But look back at my robot idea; it would not slow down the game. In fact, it would speed things up immeasurably since no one could argue with them, because they’re robots!

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hello world!

Posted by flyingbk on 10/09/2009

Hello, and welcome to the Bob and Weave blog! I am so excited to have you aboard. I look forward to sharing with you a myriad of coherent and wonderfully intelligent posts, and hopefully some of them will actually originate from me.

Why this blog? Well, why not? Actually, there are two poignant reasons:

1) I used to be a sportswriter, pumping out an average of five stories a week. But my writing has become terribly rusty. I still journal often on my computer, but I must admit that my journal entries have become more shallow and inwardly focused (it’s true what they say- “The more inwardly focused you are, the more miserable you become.”) And writing public entries creates an accountability that will challenge me to revive and improve my writing skills.

2) Recently, I tried resuscitating my Xanga. But as we all know now, Xanga is dead. Therefore, I am now dancing with WordPress. We’ll see how it goes; we’re still getting to know each other.

So please read and comment! Check out the “about” page for more stimulating factoids about yours truly.

A note about the title and subtitle of this blog: Yes, it’s wordplay, and I like it. If you don’t like it, tough. (Yes, that’s all I’ve got..)

Finally, I’d like to thank my esteemed friend Rich Lee for encouraging me to start my new blog. It’s been a long time coming. Do yourself a favor and check out his blog as well.

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