J + B 4-28-06

I'm breaking my (probably permanent) blog hiatus to mention that I lost my wedding band in the Atlantic Ocean, off Plum Island in Newburyport, MA, this weekend. It's inscribed "J+B 4-28-06". Since I assume someone has found it by now and that the finder's first move will be to Google the inscription, I'm going to mention the inscription as many times as possible in this post.

J+B 4-28-06. If found, email jillandbryan@gmail.com for your reward. Don't expect much.

Thank you,
Bryan (the B in J + B 4-28-06).


Grading my baseball picks

In my April 5 post, I predicted the complete Major League Baseball standings. Of the eight teams that will actually make the playoffs, I picked only four, and my Indians over Diamondbacks World Series isn't looking so good, but there were some highlights:

In the American League East, I predicted four of the five teams' records within one game of their actual results. I had the Red Sox winning the division at 95-67, their exact actual record, and the Y*****s missing the playoffs at 89-73, just as they did. If only I'd given the Rays an extra 19 wins, I would've nailed this division.

On the flip side, I couldn't have been much more wrong about the AL Central. I had the Indians (who finished third) and the Tigers (who finished last) each winning 90+ games and making the playoffs, with the contending Twins and Indians winning 77 and 72 games, respectively.

The AL West was a little easier: Angels good, everyone else bad. I did, however, peg the Mariners to win 22 more wins than they actually won.

In the NL East, the optimist in me almost directly switched the Phillies and the Mets. I "knew" one of them would win 89 games and miss the playoffs by one, but I hoped it would be the Phillies.

In the NL Central, I underestimated three teams: The Cubs (who won 97 games, to my pick of 83), Cardinals (86-74), and Astros (86-73), but I saw the Brewers making the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, and somehow knew the Pirates would finish last.

I gave all the wins I took from the Central to the West division, where I saw four teams winning 88+ games and contending for the playoffs. I was right about the order in which the four finished: LA, Arizona, Colorado, and San Diego, but I gave them a collective 55 extra wins, 25 of which went to the surprisingly hapless Padres.

If the voters get the postseason awards right, I won't have correctly predicted any of them, but there's a good chance Brandon Webb will steal the NL Cy Young Award from Tim Lincecum, fulfilling my prophecy. While my MVP picks, the New York third basemen, had excellent seasons, their teams' failures will keep the awards out of their hands.


The end of the blog?

Yeah, so I joined Facebook. I'm not proud of it, as I'm sure it will stifle my creativity and keep you posted more on what I'm "doing right now" than actual events of substance taking place, but was I really that creative in the first place? Did I ever have anything going on that you just had to read about? Did I even avoid ending sentences with prepositions?

In case you need a final fix, or in case I bring back the Memorable Moments feature for one last run, a few things of note that have happened in the recent past:

Jill and I met Mike and Sarah at the Porthole on Friday, where business as usual was interrupted by a fishing boat bringing in an 8-foot, 400-pound shark. The weekly party on the dock came to a screeching halt as everyone stopped to gawk at and applaud the three fisherman and one three-year-old girl who saved countless Maine lives by reeling in public enemy number twenty-three or so. I got a picture on my phone. From 20 feet, it looks like a 6-ounce eel in the seafood aisle at Shaw's.

Today, Welcome to the Fukudome played a heartbreaking softball playoff game, losing 13-12 in nine innings (two of which were "extra") against the top seeded Orioles in the first round. After a 1-5 start, we had to sweep a doubleheader last Sunday just to qualify for the playoffs, where we very nearly pulled off the upset of the tournament. I went 1-for-4, probably dropping my average close to .500 after hitting over .800 with four homers in the first four games. Dog days of August, I suppose.

Not sure if I've written about the 18 straight days during which we accommodated guests, from Pat and Rob and Nick and Heather to Kristen and family and Mom and Dad to countless (mostly pregnant) bachelorette party guests. We had a blast hosting everyone willing to come to Maine, but we're ready for our own vacation, this week in Gloucester with the Jeffreys.

I guess that's all I've got. You know, besides my impending fatherhood and all. But you probably already know about that.


Another top fifty

One weekend. Two Moynihans. Two McDowells. One list (and some dingers, and a new Nameburst record). Without further ado, the top fifty:

a woman scorned
blaze of glory
bloodless revolution
bum bag
colaborating (sic)
diaper dandy
established since
exit only
free love freeway
Jenkins' ear
ladies who lunch
loose morals
mnemonic device
mons pubis
nautical mile
news chopper
stiff upper lip
Texas leaguer

And the top 25, in order:
25. death tax
24. inner ear
23. agism
22. castrati
21. be kind to your behind
20. hourglass figure
19. war profiteering
18. soft underbelly
17. clambake
16. triple word score
15. Yeah! Yeah! God is great
14. Moh's hardness scale
13. stool boom
12. fire retardant
11. Joey Lawrence's career
10. snow day
9. ribbed. for her pleasure
8. no fly zone
7. furtive glance
6. bubble wrap
5. owse cream
4. back-alley abortions
3. Tricky Dick
2. mufffin top (sic)
1. t-shirt tucked into windpants


Acadia, Tiger, and Miscellany

I took last Friday off and went exploring with Jill. Not having experienced the Maine coast, we took our time driving up and enjoyed the scenery that Route 1 had to offer in Bath, Camden, and Belfast before descending upon Mount Desert Island, home to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

I've seen a lot of trees and a lot of hills and a lot of water in my life, and I'm not easily impressed by any of the lot. From the top of Cadillac Mountain, every tree and every hill and every square foot of Atlantic Ocean is like the first you've ever seen. A panoramic montage of glistening water and untrodden islands is enough to make the land ends, ocean begins mantra of your local beach feel obsolete.

After a short trip through Acadia, we checked out Bar Harbor, an ice cream and antiques village reminiscent of Lake George, if you replaced the lake with miles of the most spectacular ocean shoreline in the country. We enjoyed a few Bar Harbor Real Ales with dinner, stayed at a cozy B&B, bid a slow adieu to MDI in the morning, and headed inland.

The next stop was the Marston cottage on Lake Cobbosseecontee in Manchester. We helped the cousins pick up sticks and install windows and put the dock together before settling in for more Bar Harbor Real Ales and some US Open golf.

That brings us to Tiger. I watched several holes of golf this weekend, and for the first time every, found myself rooting for Tiger. Just about every sports rooting interest I've ever had has been based on the idea of sharing the wealth. I hate the Yankes and the Cowboys and the Lakers becuase they always win (or at least, over some extended period of my life, they always won). I can't root for UCLA basketball or Notre Dame football or the USA basketball team in international events. If one unexpected championship in the face of decades of adversity can bring more joy than five $200 million championships won with all the best talent and all the best luck, and I truly belive it can, what's the point of rooting for the favorite?

I've always applied this philosophy to Tiger, the world's most dominant athlete (ever?), but I'm starting to change my mind. Here's what sets Tiger apart: golf is rarely played one-on-one. The idea of throwing 156 players onto a golf course for a long weekend is almost immune to dominance. Groundskeepers make the courses as difficult as possible and essentially eliminate golfers as they make a few mistakes. Two double bogeys on Thursday and you probably won't be around on Saturday. One drive into the water on Sunday afternoon and all of a sudden you're off the leaderboard. Everyone goes into a tournament with something in the vicinity of a 1 in 156 chance to win.

Everyone, that is, except Tiger. This guy is so good and so consistent that majors have essentially been reduced to Tiger against the field, with each having a fifty percent chance to win. Now slice up Tiger's knee, don't give him much time to heal, and pit him against a mob of 155 able-bodied golfers, one on one, over 72 holes, and who's your underdog? Not ready to root for him yet? Put him over par and a few strokes off the lead on Thursday. Start him with double bogeys on the first hole on three of four days. Put him a stroke behind the leader heading onto the 18th green on Saturday (eagle) and Sunday (birdie). Make him play an additional 19 holes on Monday to break a tie, and put him a stroke behind after 17 again (another birdie!).

I rooted for Tiger, and I'm not apologizing. And I'll root for him again, if he ever recovers.

In other news, I don't watch much NBA basketball these days, but I watched a few games of these finals, including last night's delightful romp of a clincher, and while it wasn't the ultimate good vs. evil story, there was certainly plenty of evil to overcome. I've never rooted for the Celtics, but I like Garnett, and I took a shining to Rondo and Big Baby and Leon Powe, and I was thrilled to be up well after midnight celebrating with them.

Clam Dip put together a gutsy short-handed win last week, and we stand 3-4 going into the regular season finale tomorrow. Meanwhile, Welcome to the Fukudome, my softball team, is 0-2 despite batting .565 collectively through two games.

Off to Kim and Matt's wedding this weekend. Congrats to the happy couple.


No more Hummers?

GM has announced that it may stop manufacturing and selling Hummers. Decisions this big aren't made without a careful analysis of relevant numbers. I wonder which numbers factored into GM's decision...

8-13 miles/gallon?
91,889 bodies?

Did somebody say 39 cents?!


Cooperstown Revisited

I spent the long weekend in Cooperstown with Kim, Matt, and Jill. It hadn't been long since our last pilgrimage, but enough had changed to warrant a return trip, and the town is still magical in its quaintness. One major change since our last visit was the induction of several negro league greats in 2006, which kept the following list brewing in my head all week. I gave up trying to limit the list to ten, and had to cheat to get it down to twenty-five.

Best Hall of Fame names:

25. Goose Goslin and Goose Gossage
24. Harmon Killebrew
23. Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Nap Lajoie
22. Addie Joss and Amos Rusie
21. Hack Wilson and Zach Wheat
20. Wee Willie Keeler and Pee Wee Reese
19. Ferguson Jenkins and Gaylord Perry
18. Pud Galvin and Kid Nichols
17. Biz Mackey and Bid McPhee
16. Ducky Medwick and Chick Hafey
15. Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown
14. Jud "Boojum" Wilson
13. Yogi Berra
12. Grover Cleveland "Pete" Alexander
11. Tinker to Evers to Chance
10. Dizzy Dean and Dazzy Vance
9. Old Hoss Radbourn
8. Catfish Hunter
7. Elmer Flick
6. Burleigh Grimes
5. Cool Papa Bell
4. Al Kaline
3. Turkey Stearns, Mule Suttles, and Devil Wells
2. Cum Posey
1. Heinie Manush


Doin's a-transpirin'

Another Sprummer kickball season is underway. My team, Clam Dip, is off to a 1-1 start after an 8-0 victory in week one and a 5-3 loss yesterday. I pitched a complete game and homered in last night's losing effort, but couldn't recreate the magic of Jarrett's near-perfect game last Thursday.

I'm experimenting with a new fantasy baseball format- the baseball survivor pool. Each participant drafts one pitcher and one hitter, and is eliminated if:

-the hitter fails to record a hit, walk, hit by pitch, sacrifice walk, or sacrifice fly in a game in which he has four or more plate appearances
-the hitter does not start for two consecutive team games
-the pitcher fails to pitch six full innings in a start
-the pitcher gives up five or more runs in a start
-the pitcher fails to record a strikeout in a start
-the pitcher does not start for nine consecutive team games.

The last participant with his or her pitcher and hitter still active wins the pool. I'm debuting the format with a beta group of nine people this weekend, and if it's successful, plan to expand it in the future, perhaps with amended criteria for eliminating players. If you're interested, let me know.


Best. Songs. Ever.

You've been reading my album, movie, and song lists for five years now. Here's the last (best?) one ever.



Saw Justin Masterson, the top Red Sox pitching prospect, in person last night at a Portland Sea Dogs game. He didn't impress, but he had some valid excuses. On a night that started around 42 degrees and ended long after Jill and I went home to thaw, Masterson encountered as much resistance from Mother Nature and an eerily quiet Hadlock Field as from the Connecticut Defenders.

His line: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3K

Masterson left with a 4-2 lead but didn't get the decision in the Sea Dogs' 5-4, 11-innings win. Two of the hits were doubles, and all were well-hit. He was behind in a lot of counts, but managed to get a lot of ground ball outs. He never broke 86 on the radar gun, though to be fair, the gun registered many of his pitches at 41 or 42, as if it were more impressed by the temperature than by his arm strength. Masterson's most impressive throw of the night was a pickoff move that nailed a runner straying from second base to get out of some trouble in the fourth.

Much more impressive was Masterson's sixth-inning replacement, Chad Rhoades, who struck out five in two innings, breaking 90 on almost every pitch. Rhoades walked two and gave up a hit, and may not have fooled anyone with an arsenal of fastballs and fasterballs, but on an April night in Maine, I'd rather take my chances with Masterson's junk than Rhoades's lightning.