Monday

8-10-09: Notes

Hello again everybody...

Well I was having a solid start to my week. Right up until immediately before I started writing this.

See, a friend of mine had grown a full beard for a play he was acting in, and asked the other day for opinions on whether he should keep it or shave it. And being the smart ass that I am, I immediately suggested that he go for a handlebar mustache look. He said that he'd do it if another mutual friend and I followed suit. Only I physically can't grow one, so I'd have to draw one in.

I agreed, never figuring he'd actually do it. I underestimated him. Just now I got a picture emailed to me of my friend with a handlebar 'stache saying that he's waiting for a return picture. So since I stupidly made the suggestion in the first place, I'm now committed to coming up with something.

Yes, sometimes my mouth engages prior to my brain, and this is the result. And I'm sorry, but that picture will not be posted here for all to see. I have a feeling it may show up on someone's Facebook page sooner or later, but it won't be mine!

Oh well, lesson learned.

Speaking of lessons, there were several taught over the weekend. I'll discuss in today's Notes column!

"A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin."
- H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956), American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a student of American English


Okay, I'm not quite that cynical. But I'm not that far off. Which brings us to some...

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Notes...

Minnesota Twins lose another series on the road...
First Cleveland, then Detroit. The Twins' road woes continue.

If I have to look for positives, and I guess as a fan I do, Carl Pavano pitched a gem in his Twins debut on Saturday. He went 7 solid innings, scattering 5 hits and giving up no runs. The offense gave him a big cushion, jumping out to a 5-run lead by the 6th and pouring it on in the late innings. Pavano had been good against Detroit all year, and continued that on Saturday.

As for the other two games? Well, they were both emblematic of the Twins' season: shaky starting pitching, the line-up battling to get back into the game, and the bullpen being unable to hold down the opposing hitters in the late stages.

That's how you lose 2 out of 3.

And yet, I can't put the fork in Minnesota yet. The only other +.500 team the Twins play in August is Texas (Chicago comes to town on the 31st, so they count too I guess). So they've got a shot to get on a run. Then again, the Twins are sub-.500 too, so it's entirely possible that the opponents will be thinking the same thing.

As of today, the Twins are 5.5-games out. That's a tough deficit to make up, but it can be done. The Twins haven't won more than 4 games in a row all year, so they're due for a hot-streak, right? Hell, the Nationals have won 8 in a row!

It's still possible people, it's still possible!

Big Papi threw a press conference and nobody cared... The media showed up, but no one was particularly surprised by what was said.

First of all, the fact that this press conference was held on a Saturday, when most of America is distracted by a fine Summer's day was telling. Why have it on a Saturday? Because by Monday when most people are back and work and paying attention, the stories and columns have already been written and the news has moved on.

But that's why you come to me, right? So I can fill you in on the absurdity of some athletes.

Basically, what Ortiz wants us to believe is that he was "careless" with some "supplements" and "accidentally" took something that was spiked with a substance which caused his positive test. But he never bought or used steroids.

Yeah. Right. Whatever you say David. Never mind the fact that your career path will be considered the quintessential "steroid user" arc from here on out. And we'll just set aside the lie you've already told about not knowing you tested positive, when it's been confirmed that MLB informed all the players on that 2003 list that they'd tested positive.

It was the typical, silly, athlete-denial. If they just say that they didn't do anything, then everyone will just believe them and it'll be okay! That's the world they live in. Unfortunately for them, the rest of us don't.

ESPN.com's Howard Bryant said it far better in this article than I could, as he compared Papi's denials, to Josh Hamilton's mea culpa. Hamilton fell off the wagon on his road to recovery from alcoholism, and took time on Saturday to apologize and admit his fault.

Papi could learn a lesson from that.

The AFL, er, NFL began their pre-season last night... and I found it terribly difficult to care.

To me, there's very little that's less useful in sports than pre-season football.

Unlike baseball, the games are held in the same locations as regular season games, and are priced equally. In fact, most NFL teams now require ticket buyers to purchase a pre-season ticket as part of the cost of buying a regular season ticket to a premium game.

The starters play no more than the first half, and after that, the games get boring in a hurry. Not that they're all that spectacular to begin with. Coaches don't want to reveal all their wrinkles in the pre-season because they don't want opposing teams to get a good read on what their plan is for the regular season.

I watched about 3 minutes of last night's game. And that was only because my dad wanted to know why the referee's uniforms had orange stripes (it was an AFL throwback night). Once I figured out why, I immediately went back to Sunday Night Baseball.

Because...

The Yankees/Red Sox (whom I hate) game last night was part of a Twitter experiment by ESPN... and as you might have guessed, I enjoyed it.

ESPN was testing software last night that allowed some of their reporters and columnists to tweet in their thoughts and reactions, which were then displayed in a chronological chat-box where viewers could also submit their thoughts and reactions.

Not all viewer comments were actually posted. In fact, I think I entered something like 10, and only 1 made the cut.

But it's a solid idea. And with a little tweaking, it can be a lot better.

It'd be nice if people had the option to use Twitter to join the conversation as well. I understand that it would complicate the process, but allowing people to comment using their Twitter ID's would allow viewers to interact with each other on an on-going basis in addition to that night's coverage.

It'd also be nice if there was a way to make the whole process more conversant. As it was last night, there were a few responses to viewer comments by the ESPN folks, but it still didn't feel like much of a conversation.

I understand that you don't want to turn it into an open forum where anonymous Internet users are screaming obscenities at each other. But I'd hope there could be a way where more comments of a thoughtful, responsive nature could make the cut next time.

If you want to take a look at how it went, ESPN.com still has a replay of it here.

It's an interesting concept, that should be interesting to follow. Especially as we move forward into the NFL season and ESPN's Monday Night Football kicks off.

That's going to do it for today folks. I'll be back on Wednesday with more Sports Take wonder for you.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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