Monday

7-20-09: Notes

Hello again everybody...

Let me begin today's column with an apology. Not an Official Sports Take Apology mind you, but an apology none the less.

Though I warned you that it might happen, I still want to apologize for not posting on Friday. As I feared/hoped, I found enough to keep me busy that I wasn't able to find the time to put up the usual Friday column. I know you DFTU fans out there are desperately disappointed. All three of you.

But never fear. Even though you won't get a full-fledged DFTU today, I've got some notes about my two favorite baseball clubs as well as a surprise note that I promise you won't see coming!

No dilly-dallying... let's do this.

"It is bad luck to be superstitious."
- Andrew W. Mathis


A cursory Google-search yielded no information as to who Andrew W. Mathis is. But the quote seemed awfully applicable, since over the summer, I'm mostly talking about baseball.

(Although, I'm starting to see more and more coverage of college football worming it's way into our sports consciousness, and I'm starting to get the itch for some gridiron goodness!)

Baseball is a game of superstitions. And as a baseball-nerd, I'm filled with superstitions about it. Yes, I'm the guy who changes up his wardrobe when his team is on a losing streak. Yes, I'm the guy who'll change where he's sitting in his living room if things seem to be going poorly in a big game. Yes, I'm the guy who won't allow anyone around him to use the word "no hitter" while one's in progress for fear of messing with the vibe.

No, I can't prove that any of this stuff really works. But neither can any of you prove that it doesn't. And I can't afford to take that chance!

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Enough with the magambo. Let's get to some...

Notes...

Something's wrong with the Baby Jesus... speaking of superstitions, apparently the "SI Jinx" and the "Homerun Derby Hangover" combined to put a whammy on Mauer over the weekend.

Joe was 1-for-the-series against Texas and included in there was a 0-6 day yesterday. 0-6?! Baby Jesus doesn't go 0-6. Ever.

Mauer's average is now down to .358. That's 5 points behind Ichiro for the league lead. That MVP award I wanted to give Joe last week? It's slipping away in a hurry.

Okay, okay, there's no reason to panic. One bad series does not a long-term slump make. But ever since it was announced that Mauer would be participating in the Derby, he hasn't been quite the same.

His swing is so simple, so natural, that I'm less worried about him breaking out of a slump than other Twins I might mention. But even if it's a shallow slump, it's still scary to see a phenom like Mauer not be able to buy a hit.

2B Filipe Lopez goes from the Diamondbacks to the Brewers... in exchange for minor leaguers Cole Gillespie (outfielder) and Roque Mercedes (right-handed pitcher).

Gillespie is a 3rd-year minor-leaguer who hit .349 in advanced A-ball this year before be promoted to AAA Nashville where he struggled to a .242 average with 7 HR and 27 RBI in 236 at-bats. Not mind-blowing numbers, but Gillespie was a guy the D'backs liked the year he got drafted, so clearly they think he's got upside.

Mercedes was playing for Milwuakee's advanced-A club in Brevard County (I have a ST spy there, hopefully he has some intelligence on the guy). He's been used exclusively out of the bullpen this year, compiling a 1-1 record with a 1.08 ERA in 29 appearances. His 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio doesn't knock you over, but it's not terrible.

Both of these guys are projects, and neither of them are going to help Arizona in the near future. But as I mentioned in the past, Arizona's going into "Fire Sale Mode". So any pieces they have that are of value to other clubs are going to be dealt in an effort to re-infuse the club with young talent. That doesn't bode well for Dan Haren in his quest for a Cy Young Award. But it's the reality of the situation.

As for Milwaukee, they get a solid second baseman to finally replace the hole left when Ricky Weeks got hurt. Plus they get a guy who can easily be inserted in the 2-hole in their line-up and be very productive. It certainly doesn't address the Brewers' most glaring need, starting pitching, but it's a solid move and they didn't have to give up a ton to get him.

Michael Vick is a free man... hide your pooches.

Okay, that was a cheap joke, but I think it's been long enough since the incident that it's not in poor taste.

The question that's being debated is whether or not he should be reinstated into the NFL. In my opinion, of course he should. The man made a series of extraordinarily poor decisions, for which he served his time and paid his debt. If you don't give him the opportunity to resume his career, where's the incentive for anybody else to take responsibility for their mistakes?

That being said, if I was an NFL GM, would I sign him? Of course not. There's no way he can spend that amount of time away from football and come back at the level he was at when he left (and that quality was debatable at the time). Why on earth would you want to take that PR risk when the upside is so questionable?

My guess is that Vick spends at least a year in this new UFL. It's set to be a new minor-league of pro football, and it should be a perfect place for him to show NFL GM's whether he still has the skills to compete or not.

But he should at least have his NFL eligibility re-instated. Yes, it was horrible what he did. But no, he shouldn't have his ability to make a living denied. The federal government made the point that what he did was wrong. The NFL gains nothing but a petty, vindictive image by trying to re-make that point. The guy paid his debt folks. It's time to move on.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is really, really good... and you should go see it!

I saw it twice this weekend. Yes, twice. I'm one of those people who wants to see movies multiple times to pick up details that you miss on the first viewing. And there are plenty to be had in this movie.

The "teenage love" story lines are done well enough that they don't get as tedious as you might think. And the climax (I won't describe the plot point for those of you who aren't familiar with the story - but those of you that are know what I'm talking about) is extraordinarily well done. If you get weepy during movies, pack a few tissues. I definitely got something in my eye during that scene. Funny how that happens.

The only criticisms of the movie I have are very minor ones. First off, there's no sense of resolution what-so-ever at the end of the film. That didn't bother me so much, since I'm familiar enough with the story, that it didn't feel like I was left hanging. My brother, on the other hand, was so agitated by the ending that he ran out and bought book 7 which he hadn't read yet, just to find out what happens. I'm not sure that's a bad thing. But if you were one of those people who were supremely annoyed by the ending of "Empire Strikes Back" and it's lack of resolution, then prepare yourself for a similar feeling at the end of this film.

The other criticism is hard to describe, because I don't want to give anything away. But the reveal of who the "Half Blood Prince" is, was kind of abrupt and lacked any kind of depth or explanation. I know that movies can't go into the kinds of detail that books can, but I think there was a little more they could have done with that.

Again, these are minor criticisms, and overall the film was absolutely worth seeing. I can't recommend it enough. If you liked "Order of the Phoenix", you'll enjoy "Half Blood Prince". But again, I can't stress enough, read the books first. It'll help. Trust me.

Told you that you wouldn't see that one coming!

That's it for today. I'll be back on Wednesday with more Sports Take goodness.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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