Poker, Prose and Puerile Punditry
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Rascals, Scoundrels, Villains, and Knaves
AJ's obsession with "Pirates of the Caribbean" manifests itself tonight in his Captain Jack Sparrow costume. Since he's seen the first film 237 times in the past year, I figured he'd have picked up on the conflicted nature of Captain Jack, the greed of Depp's potrayal counterbalanced with an inate sense of good and fair play. So I asked AJ if he was going to be a friendly pirate or a scary pirate. He looked at me as one might look at a three-legged puppy, with compassion for my plight, sadness and empathy for one less fortunate.
"Daddy," he said. "I'm going to be a scary pirate. I have a sword."
He kindly left the implied "DUH!" unsaid.
I've never been much of a Halloweed-o-phile. I can't even remember the last time I dressed up. I'm sure this paints me as No Fun At All, but so many costumes demand covering the face--a crime on par with shrouding the Mona Lisa--but worse, wearing something on top of the head, so as to obscure my hair. Preposterous!
That said, I'm a sucker for a $4.99 mullet wig and that's what I bought the other day at the local drug store. I splattered some spaghetti sauce on a pit-stained wife-beater and BAM! instant costume. So I'll be hitting the streets tonight with Captain Jack dressed as white trash. The wig doesn't exactly lay right on my head, so I needed a hat and the only one big enough to complete the job was Brandon Schaefer's white Mariner cap--huge...ahem...brain on Schaefer--that I somehow ended up with in my luggage post-Bash. So, I suppose I'll be from Aberdeen.
I'll thankfully not be at home to greet the local trick-or-treaters. Before you tag me a curmudgeon, note that my front door is downstairs. It's the only thing downstairs in my apartment, so there's no way I'm spending my evening trudging up and down for the little Buzz Lightyears and Fairy Princesses. In the past, I've left bowls of candy outside my front door with a sign to take only one, but that never works. So, in keeping with my costume and a desire to provide for the Boys and Girls in my Hood, I will spread an array of pork products in my absence. Raw bacon strips, brauts and Scrapple. I couldn't, for the life of me, find any chipped beef.
We carved our pumpkin last night based on a design of AJ's making. The markings in no way resembled shapes that have actual names and the "mouth" in particular was well beyond my artistic ability. Still, armed with my trusty, rusty switchblade, I managed to make it symmetrical. And it did come out looking kind of scary. I'd have posted a picture, but somebody out there would have felt the urge to mock my lack of carving moxie and I would have had to cut you.
My Main Man Jason Spaceman, Poker Writer Extraordinaire, and now proud owner of the longest capitalized title in the whole of bloggerdom, is going to be covering the WSOP Circuit Event at Caesar's Indiana. Which is not especially exciting news, since he's been doing this sort of thing for some time now and...well...it's Indiana. No, the exciting part is that his usual Bluff gig will now also be picked up by Harrah's at the official WSOP site. Drive the traffic, people. And congrats to Jason, a talented SOB who has not let his success go to his head. Much.
T-minus 14 hours 'til NaNoWriMo. I suppose I'll throw down a sentence or two at 12:01 if AJ will give me some of his candy stash so the sugar rush keeps me up late enough. The field is wide amongst my blogging breathren. Find them listed below. Give them soothing compliments and gentle caresses for the next month. Or alcohol. Whichever. Good luck and flowing prose to all of us (and if I missed anyone, just hit me up in comments, but be nice, so I don't have to cut you).
Monday, October 30, 2006
Takin' Care of Bidness
There's a weird scent in the office today. I can't quite put my finger on what it smells like, but if Regis asked me for my final answer, I'd have to go with french onion soup served in a soiled jockstrap.
Which reminds me, I got an e-mail from Bobby Bracelet. More auction items For Peyton!
Matusow signed jersey
Poker Table signed by your favorite pros
Autographed Greg Raymer t-shirt
Paul Hannum DVD
Bid now. Bid often. Bid drunk.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Call me whatever name you want, impugn my character, assault my ancestry, question my sexuality. I don't care. These new pants (dress chino, flat-front, rich camel color) I got from Banana Republic are glorious. Fucking glorious. I won't even take them off when I play online (Play Money) poker.
April has the details on the Dec. WPBT gathering in scenic Las Vegas. I'll be there. As if you need more incentive to go. Seriously, it's a simple recipe:
1) Feed me drinks for 11 hours
2) Sit with me at a NL table
Pauly has a highly amusing contest going on right now. You must play, though I'm certain I've already won.
I'll add another question to the quiz.
Which bloggger was supposed to write song lyrics about me (to the tune of Slaughter's party anthem "Up All Night") today because he lost a last-longer in a fictional HORSE tourney?
I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year. I'm cheating, though. I've already got a half-dozen chapters written in my novel and knowing my level of discipline (not high), starting over or writing a different one would be counter-productive. I will adhere to the 50K word standard, however, which hopefully will finish the thing off. Even though I hit the mark last year, I was only 2/3rds of the way through that particular story, which has been scrapped due to intolerable cruelty by a major character. I'm JoeSpeaker on the site. I see a few of you are taking the plunge, as well*. Let's be buddies, shall we? C'mon, it'll be fun.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Walking Mike Davis
I can't believe...what I just saw!"
It's been 18 years since Mr. Buck uttered the words above in describing Kirk Gibson's shocking homer against Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. For a long time, re-airings of that moment cause me to quickly turn the channel or stomp angrily from the room. The enormity of his achievement, yanking one out while standing on half a leg, had obscured what occurred before. The A's 104-win season, leading the division from stem to stern, the sweep of the arrogant Red Sox, the Bash Brothers. All goodwill vanished in an instant.
I went to church this morning. I go occasionally, less in the past couple months with my soccer games (seven wins on the trot, two goals conceded in that time), jam-packed work weeks crying out for a Sabbath spent on the couch. I almost didn't make it today, either. After I saw the Sermon Notes, I nearly turned right around, grabbed AJ from his Sunday School class and laid a squealing G35 scratch in the parking lot.
Marriage and Family: Winning Where Others Fail
Um, too late.
Mike Davis, Michael Dwayne Davis, was, in every sense of the word, a journeyman. He broke into the majors in 1980, a fourth outfielder on Billy Martin's A's, backing the mighty triumverate of Rickey Henderson, Dwayne Murphy and Tony Armas. After less than 100 starts, he replaced the popular Armas in RF in 1983, after the Venezuelan slugger was traded to Boston (mainly) in exchange for Carney Lansford. In '85, Davis's OPS went above .800 for the first and last time. He was above-average defensively, with a fabulous arm befitting his position. In fact, after he logged 16 assists in '83, people stopped running on him.
But he still sucked. He had moved to center by '87, but remained strikeout-prone. So when he was let go in favor of free-agent signing Dave Henderson, nobody batted an eyelash. He was signed by the Dodgers for whom he would amass 281 ABs in 1988 and put up a batting average of .196.
As the pastor got into the meat of his message, he stressed how what he was talking about didn't concern ONLY married couples or families. How the way we conduct ourselves in regard to every relationship--friend, lover, brother, sister--carries not only a responsibility to give, but also not to take more than our share. It's like depositing your bi-weekly paycheck. If you put two grand into your local branch, but could only withdraw a grand, you'd feel unsatisfied, wouldn't you?
People talk about being the "head" of the relationship, the Decider or, in the parlance of George Costanza, "having hand." I always felt like the head of my family. All the responsibility for their well-being was on me. And, almost universally, X was happy to let me take that role.
The problem with that is it created in her a passivity, a feeling of being dominated, where her wants and needs did not penetrate. She never stood up for how she felt. And I continued on my path because that was simply the way it was. I was in charge because I thought it was best for all of us that I was.
There were two outs, none on, in the bottom of the 9th in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Tommy Lasorda, with a gimpy Kirk Gibson on the bench, sent up Mike Davis to pinch-hit. Michael Dwayne Davis, carrying the weight of a horrid year at the plate. He promptly fell behind The Eck 1-2. That he was gonna K was a foregone conclusion. That Dennis Ecklersley, he of the 45 regular-season saves, with four more in the sweep of Boston in the ALCS, would send this journeyman sulking back to the dugout, send the Dodgers back to their home clubhouse with a loss. And then, impossibly, Eck let him get away. Three tailing fastballs, all of them bending outside, and Mike Davis was on first via walk, bring up Kirk Fucking Gibson.
It was a 3-2 slider he hit and Gibby later said he knew the slider was coming. The swing was all arms and upper-body torque. In replays, you can almost see him throw his entire torso into it. No doubt. Two-run homer. Dodgers win 5-4 and Jack Buck's words forever implanted in my skull.
Later that evening, over beers--many, many beers--with Donny, we talked about the REAL disgrace. Not allowing the walk-off, but giving Gibson the chance in the first place, by Walking Mike Davis. The end result is what everyone focuses on, but it was the events leading up to the result that framed it. There can be no end without a beginning and middle.
X cheated on me. We all know that. The unkindest cut of all. The end result. But how did we get there? How did our marriage find itself in a state where such a cruelty could occur? Those questions have haunted me these many months. I've grasped at every available straw, every hurt and missed opportunity. It's true that I've blamed myself, found my behavior lacking. Especially early on, I seized on dozens of moments where, had I done one thing, one small thing, I might have prevented it.
I know now--Today--that's not true. We were fucking doomed from the start.
I have a question for you. If you were to identify one thing that poisons a marriage--any relationship--what would it be? Lack of trust? Dishonesty? Finances is a big one, a chart-topper in many of your finest studies. I would have absolutely went with one of these if queried.
The pastor went through a list of "divorce predictors," all of which would have you nodding your head saying, "yeah, that makes sense." But then he came to the nuts. The #1 Reason. And it blew me away.
Habitual Avoidance of Conflict
I've talked to people about my situation and many times I said, "But we never argued!" And it's true. But, sadly, it wasn't because we didn't disagree. It was because she never stood up, never made her needs forcefully known. I've written about it before, this so-called "black stomach," but never have my suspicions been so totally validated. Nor would I have ever embraced this theory. Until it was presented so clearly, so obviously, that I have no choice.
When that ball sailed over the right field wall, nothing else mattered. It was a seminal moment, a shocking October surprise. The Dodger Stadium bedlam, the signature Gibson fist-pump, the A's trudging disconsolately to their dugout. All indelible, dramatic images, so other-worldly as to block all that came before.
Mistakes are made. Hearts broken. Away from the emotion, 18 years and 9 months respectively, I now, finally, know what happened. And if I ever get Mike Davis down 1-2, I'm going right after him.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Here I Go Again On My Own
News and Notes from around the solar system revolving around me:
Tossing the 'Dise
One of my favorite donkey farms is shuttering its doors due to the Forces of Evil in DC. No more Special Re-Buys on Paradise. I logged on this weekend to check the fields in these formerly guaranteed tourneys to find those guarantees gone and the prize pool totalling a third of the previous $30K or so. These, both the $10 and $25 version, have been my biggest moneymaker this year, with three Final Tables and 70% cashes, so I was mighty disappointed. Though I did have a nice chuck to withdrawl, an act I'm happy to report went smoothly.
The positive implications on Poker Stars and Full Tilt are evident, as a quick perusal of their guarateed tourneys showed a marked uptick in prize pools, including the Crazy $11 Re-Buy which went over $80K, the highest I've ever seen by a large margin. Lots of people taking shots, playing like maniacs.
Green and Gold Lining
The next best thing to winning the World Series is Ken Macha getting his feckless ass fired. Let's hope he stays fired, unlike last year. Oddly enough, the reason was basically a full-scale mutiny in the clubhouse, not his total inability to manage a ballgame. This is irony at its finest since Macha's defenders (seriously, there are some) consistently pointed to his "leadership" as a positive, so positive, in fact, as to cancel out his idiotic in-game "strategy." Turns out he sucked all the way around.
Not that the sweep at the hands of the Tigers was his fault. The A's simply got out-played. Even so, one can blame him for leaving Loaiza in too long in Game 2, for not giving Kielty, he of the .985 OPS v. lefties, a start against southpaws (he didn't get a post-season AB at all until Game 3 of the ALDS, when, of course, Macha sent him up against a righty), his unnatural love for all things Joe "The Gascan" Kennedy and, while this might be conjecture on my part, I believe he's responsible for all the pain and suffering in the world.
As a result of the A's failure (and credit goes to the Tigers, they were way better), I will be forced to wear a "puffy" shirt at the next WPBT event (actually, the next, next one, since Bobby won't make the Winter Classic). I've also graciously offered to top the ensemble with a Magglio Ordonez wig (call it a bonus for sweeping), which would make me look a bit like a member of Whitesnake, a fact with which I'm suprisingly cool.
I was not in the right frame of mind to participate in Pauly's Spice Girls Contest this weekend, but if I had been, I'd have chosen Mrs. Dash. She's always been my favorite, if more of a Spice Lady than Spice Girl, specifically her immeasurable aid in grilling lemon chicken. Yes, she's a bit matronly, but the old bitch can bring it in the kitchen. I just don't see Posh or Ginger being able to whip up a passable Shepherd's Pie.
If the contest was "Which Spice Girl would you most like to sleep with?" the answer, then, now and forever more is Ginger. The red boots, the Union Jack bustier, the grace, the flowing robes...stunning.
Speaking of the Doctor, he's hit his second straight Truckin' Deadline in a row. This is a rare accomplishment, along the lines of Bobby winning at blackjack or me being good at Fantasy Sports. It's an excellent issue, despite the presence of my drivel, so I encourage you to check it out.
1.October Subway Stories by Paul McGuire
A hunched-over bum slowly navigated his way through the crowded car and sat down in an empty seat next to me. He carried a big black bulky garbage bag which happened to be the standard issue for every homeless person in the city along with the same pair of sneakers four sizes too big and a ratty grey winter coat... More
2. Roots - Part II by Doog
To soothe the ache deep in his soul, Leo G took solace in the welcoming arms of lovely young nubile chickadees, sometimes several sets of arms at the same time. After all, when you’ve got dashing good looks, a mercury-silver tongue, and the willingness to use the above in a less-than-moral manner, why not?... More
3. Gummy by C. Anderson Guthrie
This woman wasn't the kind of woman you bring home to momma, oh no -- she was the kind of woman that takes out her teeth before giving an alleyway blowjob. You know, the considerate type... More
4. Total Recall by Joe Speaker
I was grilling another young co-ed, flirtatious pressure amidst the stench of spilled beer and rampaging testosterone. The scene was cliched, she said, and she marked me down as a typical frat boy, interested only in getting drunk and getting naked... More
5. Until I Am No Longer Needed by Sean A. Donahue
My back felt the brunt of the pain and as the dust settled I examined my predicament. I was ten feet down in a hole of an ancient volcano with my right arm broken and my left leg shattered... More
Wearing the Daddy Pants
I've not had much time for poker lately, mainly because I have AJ more often, a fabulous development. X's schedule, both professional and social, has given me two more days/nights with him each week (that's why I haven't played The Mookie, Al, now get off my back.
I've been beating myself up lately because I've fallen short of some of the changes I intended to make in the wake of my divorce (quitting smoking, writing more), but I've had no such concerns about single Daddyhood. I think I'm kicking ass and AJ is (mostly) adapting very well, near as I can see. I honestly have no idea WTF is going on at X's house, beyond the fact her and the Douchebag are apparently joined at the hip. He's there every time I go over (usually hiding in the bedroom), so I'm glad AJ is getting more time with me, where he has my undivided attention.
I've had some stronger-than-usual tilt moments in the past month regarding X. Without going into detail, let's just say she continues to act in ways directly opposite to what she says to my face. It's always how important I am as AJ's father and how wonderful and what a great fucking guy and then when I'm not around her every action undermines my position. It's sickening, really. Pathological, even.
I don't know that it will ever change. I don't know that whatever Karmic Day of Reckoning is in store for her will alter this defect. I don't know whether her behavior is simple cruelty or abject naivate. I can only guess, 'cause she'd never tell. What I have figured out is that she doesn't just lie to me. She lies to herself.
I don't know that I ever fully mentioned this particular event, but it might provide some illustration. You might recall how she told AJ to lie to me about a trip to the movies to see "Curious George." This was in the middle of all the shit and less than a day after she agreed (to my face) not to bring the Douchebag around my son, as it would be irresponsible and detrimental. Well, she did it anyway, the three of them going to a Monday matinee and trying to hide the fact by a) giving the Douchebag a fake name and b) telling AJ "not to tell Daddy because Daddy wanted to see 'Curious George' and he would be sad he didn't get to go."
The next day, AJ told me that "Matt" went to the movies with them. "Matt" is the name of one of X's colleagues, one with four young children of his own. I expressed surprise at this knowledge and reiterated again that bringing random men around AJ at that point in time was incredibly stupid. X defended bringing "Matt," 'cause he's just a friend, defended it vociferously for a couple days, even as I tried to point out how irresponsible it was.
Of course, the more I thought about it, the more things didn't add up (like why a guy with four young kids of his own would go to a kid's movie without them) and I figured out it was actually the Douchebag who went with them. So, there was not only further deceit, but I spent two days arguing with someone who ardently defended a fictional occurance.
It makes me think of OJ, who has very clearly convinced himself he did't kill Nicole. I think X has convinced herself that nothing she does carries any ramifications toward AJ, like...you know...bringing the Douchebag and the Douchebag's sister to AJ's soccer game when I was in Philly, despite the fact my Mom, sister, brother-in-law and niece were there. Again, I don't know if this is an insidious trait or one simply borne of ignorance. Either way, there's nothing I can do to change it. Except to happily accept AJ every time she needs to run off toward whatever shiny thing catches her attention.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Have You Checked the Children?
I tucked AJ into bed and settled down on my luxury sectional for the final episode of "The Shield" (Season 4), the last I possess on DVD. That will apparently be the case for an unknown period of time as Season 5 has not been released and no date is announced. I'm not confident the folks at FOX will jump to fill my jones before Season 6 starts in January based on the fact Season 4 was released on Dec. 26th last year. How was the entire marketing department not fired over that one? Maybe they were going for the "Return Your Crappy DVD Gifts for Season Four of The Shield!" crowd.
Anyway, I settle in when I hear a scream. It sounded thin, like a little girl's. There are plenty of kids in my little corner of the gated apartment community, so I let it go and settled back. A few seconds later, I heard it again. Then another. As a concerned citizen, at least one who doesn't live in a 'hood and must fear witness retribution, I grab a weapon (spatula) and walk out on my balcony to attempt to discern its location. I hear the scream a few more times, but don't see anyone or anything. Nor is the scream accompanied by any other voices or sounds of struggle. Then it hits me. Halloween.
I check my watch and the screams are exactly 20 second apart and last two seconds each. Same pitch, same volume. Somebody's got a holiday squawk box they're trying out. Surely they'll turn it off soon because it's annoying the shit out of me.
I get into my episode and still hear it. I close the sliding glass door, but it fails to quiet the noise, doesn't even seem to lessen it. I try to ignore it, focus on Mackey and Co., but after 15 minutes I'm ready to strangle someone. I put my shoes on, go downstairs with my spatula and head out into the courtyard. I shut the door behind me, light a smoke and listen for the scream. But I can't hear it. One minute...two minutes...nothing. When it dawns on me...
IT'S COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!!
At this point, your finer movie scorers will cue the ominous music as I sprint up the stairs, fear radiating on my face to check on AJ. Being that this is my real life, however, the only background should have been clown or circus music. The scream was coming from my laptop, specifically, a pop-up ad for Halloween-themed California Lottery scratchers.
Obviously, devouring the entire Shield canon has not improved my detective skills.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I could write now. The A's, Cory Lidle, AJ's latest shenanigans, me, The Drizzle and on_thg cashing in a HORSE tourney last night (with brdweb missing the money by three spots). There has been no shortage of interesting material lately. But I'm in a black hole, one of those moods where I question myself, my attitude, my actions. On top of that, there is a Real Life Situation that has me feeling both helpless and inadequate.
My grandmother is dying. Has, in fact, lost the will to live. The stroke she suffered in March has left her a shell of herself and though she survived, has resisted rehab in recent weeks. My mother told me to make sure I call her frequently, because The End will come soon. A self-sufficient woman her whole life, she doesn't want to live depending on others to walk, to eat. I can understand that.
This whole thing has made me think about something that happened earlier this year. In the immediate aftermath of X's confession of betrayal, I experienced a panic attack. It wasn't my first, but it was intense, with massive anxiety, chest pain, shortness of breath. I went to the patio of our house, afraid and needing fresh air. I stood there watching, listening, trying to find calm in the sounds of the night. When it hit me that I didn't care if I died. At that moment, with the pain I was feeling, I was content to let go, to give up.
Funny thing, the very act of surrender cancelled the attack. Why panic over something if you welcome it?
My grandma wants to die, wants to surrender, give herself over to the celestial afterlife which she firmly believes exists. Who among us is selfish enough to resist that wish, to force her to stay?
Yet, I don't want her to go. From 2000 miles away, I feel her. I hear her voice echoing in my head. I see her joy and tears when we surprised her in January by flying in for her and Grandpa's 65th wedding anniversary. Sixty-five years. That says everything you need to know about my Grandma. Nothing is more paramount to her than family. She has spent her life as the sun around which the rest of us orbit, the spiritual and emotional head.
So, we're left with nothing but a morbid countdown. This strong woman, who has endured a husband off at war, the premature death of one of her daughters, has made her final decision. I've spend several days trying to figure out what to do, sorting out my feelings and grief.
One thing I can do is to honor her memory with my behavior. It's hard, you know, because I've already failed my family. I preside over nothing but the tattered remains of the unit I once headed. Insufficiently. My attempts at compensating for that failure have come up woefully short lately (which is a post for another time).
But I suppose the best thing would be to make sure she knows how much we all love her, how much we all needed her and how much we've learned from her example. I've laughed at her across the generations, rolled my eyes at our different ethics, but I am not so different. I have her blood coursing through my veins. I have her lessons etched in my DNA. I have her eldest daughter, my mother, repeating her words for as long as I remember. We are products of our past, better and worse, glorious and despairing, and all we can do is exalt in the times we've had, be thankful to have possessed her as long as we have and never forget her strength and radiance.
If you want to go Grandma, it's okay with me. If it's okay with you, I'm going to keep as much of you as I can.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Bobby and I have tentatively settled on a bet for the ALCS. As of right now, it involves humorous garb to be worn at the next WPBT live event. Terms are still being debated. Anyone have Joe Seebok's phone number?
I've been wondering if the Ewing Theory (a team makes an inspiring run after losing a superstar player) applies to X? A's were 0-9 in clinching games during our monogamy. Since she went free agent and started dating, they're 1-0. And the Douchebag is a Dodger fan. The Curse of the Trampino?
I'm working from home today because of other circumstances, but it's serendipitous that I'll be on the couch when the first pitch flies. Still trying to get a ruling on what time it's kopacetic to hit the bottle.
Daytime television sucks. I happened across a show called "Naked Science" that totally didn't deliver on it's title. I'm down to PBA Bowling on ESPN Classic or Punk'd.
I'm in the embryonic stages of planning a Vegas trip. The surprising thing is, it wasn't my idea. Looks like the weekend of Dec. 8-10. Not going to be my usual decadent assault on the city, as I will likely be taking in a show. Yes, you heard that correctly. Is it considered bad manners to offer prop bets during "Phantom of the Opera?"
I just finished my first pot of coffee of the morning. That should help with the jitters. One more cup and I'll be sweating like a drug mule.
For those of you who might consider placing a fictional wager on the ALCS, you'd be wise to remember the early West Coast start means twighlight baseball in Oakland. The hitters will be in shadow and the pitcher in sun for the first few innings which means it'll be tough going at the plate. Forecast says partly cloudy tonight, so the effect might be lessened somewhat. Did I just aid and abet?
I have a parent/teacher conference today. I expect glowing reports on my boy, but considering past events, I hope the words "Omaha" and "Jackass" don't come up.
Is it 5 oclock yet?
Monday, October 09, 2006
Speaker Loves Chachi
We're now four games into AJ's fledgling soccer career and while he's improving, it's becoming apparent he might be more suited to be the next Vin Scully than the next Ronaldinho. At every stoppage in play--and there are a lot at this age--he turns to the crowd and narrates what just occurred on the pitch, as if all of us sitting over there are blind and dumb. At one point on Saturday, he was dribbling down the sideline near me and paused in his run to make eye contact and give me a face that obviously said, "Daddy! Do you see what I'm doing?!?" an act that had me bursting at the seams with laughter, but also allowed the chasing pack to catch up and overwhelm him. And the dancing? Oh man. It's possible he's watched a few too many goal celebrations on the tube and not quite enough actual play.
That was just a single highlight of one of the better weekends I've had in a while. Naturally, I've been over the moon with the A's sweep of the Twins. It's been 16 years since they've won a playoff series and just writing that makes me feel ancient. It doesn't really seem like that long ago. I've not suffered too much in the interim. But it WAS a long time ago. A different lifetime even. I was at work during that clincher, too, watching TV in the newsroom while Clemens (in EYE BLACK!) sprained a brain muscle and got tossed in the second inning, ensuring the sweep.
I TiVo'd the game and watched the celebration and big moments several times over the past three days. The chants of "Marco! Scutaro!" (whom we've now affectionately nicknamed "Chachi" due to his resemblance to Scott Baio), the overwhelming relief when his crushing double landed just fair, the phantom tag on Hunter (seriously, I've seen it frame by frame and there is NO conclusive evidence Kendall got him; in fact, simple laws of physics would dictate the chances were pretty slim considering the speed of the runner and the angle of approach, but I'm not apologizing for that since the A's have had MANY calls go against them in recent years like that jerk Scott Brosius pretending to get hit by a Mulder pitch), the awakening of Eric Chavez in a big game who, though I don't know him, feel very satisfied for after all the heat he's taken (some warranted, some not) for his occasionally soft-headed approach, the absolute calm I feel when Duchsherer is on the hill (contrasted with my mortal fear when Street's out there) and lastly, spurred and saddened at the memory of Bill King, who was, in many ways, the anchor of this franchise for a lot of years. I'd love to think his passing gives the players another reason to fight, to honor his legacy, and maybe hear his voice in their ears...still...crying "Holy Toledo!"
I've had several moments the last couple days where it just pops into my head from nowhere that they won and I let out a scream or throw in a fist pump. I haven't even let myself think about what's ahead. That'll change soon, methinks. I hope they can keep it up. If they play like they did last week, no worries. Maybe they'll win; maybe they won't. But if they're at their best, they'll get no complaints from this quarter.
Congrats also to the Tigers. I enjoyed their unbridled celebration on Saturday (and the bitter text messages from NYC). I'm not a petty man, but I hold a life-long grudge against one Jason Giambi, who is a two-faced douchebag weasel. I won't go into the litany of specifics surrounding his departure from Oakland, where he perpetuated his outlaw image, one that disappeared as soon as he donned the corporate Yankee pinstripes. I'm always wary of people who can change their personality based on circumstances; you never know who the real person is or what their price is to sell you out. And G, the gutless wanker made sure to twist the knife on the way out. He went on Letterman and insulted the Oakland organization, city and fans. He dropped inane quotes like "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" and "I went to New York so I could get a ring."
Well Fat Boy, it's five years and counting now, two years left on that bloated contract, and you still ain't got no ring. Karma willing, you won't get one unless you buy Canseco's off e-Bay. I hope you get another intestinal parasite.
You can guess that I was positively giddy this weekend and celebrated for pretty much three days. Went out Friday night and gorged on a big ass steak washed down with some whiskey and an Italian red. Stayed in on Saturday night with a fridge full of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a poker machine tuned to Paradise, where I final tabled the Special $25 Re-Buy AND got called a donkey in the process. On Sunday, I pulled on our new kit (think Argentina blue and white stripes) and helped to dispatch a team of over-heated Latinos 3-nil. And then last night, I went to a wedding.
I'm happy to inform that I did NOT cry during the vows, partly because that emotion didn't come, partly because it was the funniest wedding I've ever been to. The gentleman who officiated was a family friend, specifically licensed to carry out this wedding (and this wedding only!). He wore a white suit and joked he was not Mr. Rourke and that this blessed union was indeed real and not Fantasy. The bride was gorgeous, the groomsmen sported a tasteful slacks/sport jacket/mock turtleneck ensemble in brown and rust that had my fashion sense spiking with jealousy. I was thinking of slipping one of the groomsmen a roofie and rolling him for his threads in the parking lot. The food was fabulous, the weather and scenery beautiful, the alkeehal plentiful, my date absolutely gorgeous and definitely out of my league. But that's how I roll.
The bride did say one thing that hit me, a fabulous philosophy that I share. She said (roughly):
"I've had a lot of highs and lows, a lot of trials and pain. I'd re-live them all again if I had the assurance I'd end up here, at this very moment."
Nice hand. And congratulations.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
FOX, MLB and Joe Buck Wept
Friday, October 06, 2006
Alright A's, you've got your spikes on the Twinkies neck. From here it's simple:
Don't even think about contacting me until you do.
Your humble, panic-stricken servant,
Congrats to the DonkeyPuncher Family on their new (apparently Irish-Catholic) addition. Pauly wins comments.
I remember the day AJ was born. Tim Hudson threw a complete-game shutout against the Tigers.
I've rented my Fine Ass out for a wedding this weekend via my side-project Arm Candy Inc. Should be a good time if you base the entertainment potential on the dress my date will be wearing. My Gawd. One look at her and it makes a man wonder what the hell she'd be doing with me. And she'll probably be asking herself the same question if the A's blow a potential Game 5 the morning of the festivities, resulting in a certifiably morose companion who'll be into at least two flasks of pain-numbing whiskey by the time they get around to "I Do."
And let's hope my reaction to the vows is a little less sandy vaganistic than the last time.
On the creepy scale, where does a little Indian (dot, not feather) guy surreptitiously sketching attractive women on the train rank? Especially if most of them come out with faces more equine than John Kerry's?
You know that scene in "Searching for Bobby Fischer" when Josh takes Poe's queen and sticks the knife in with a "Trick or treat?" (one of my favorite underrated movie moments). I'd like to think that's what the braintrust at Full Tilt is feeling today with their big FU to Fristy the Snowman and Co. Sure, Josh soon had HIS queen taken, but he triumphed in the end. If you recall, Josh also offered a draw, even when he knew he had the game. Oh to hope for such conciliatory behavior from the principals in our Internet Gaming fight.
Please God. Let the A's win just one more, verifying once and for all that you love me more than drizz.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I cashed out some of my mythical online poker bankroll today from the sites I feel are below the 100% Certain To Honor My Cashout Request line. Small, random amounts, plus a couple ad revenue infusions and my balance in Neteller currently reads:
I'm not sure what it means, but if I read the tea leaves in a general manner, I think I'm safe in assuming I should drink some beer and play cards this weekend.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
We Have a Situation
"Let's not start sucking each other's dicks just yet."
--The Wolf, Pulp Fiction
Suppose you're an overwhelming chip leader on the Final Table bubble of a major poker event (live poker, of course; We here at The Obituarium, a blog about dead people and rodent fetishes, would never advocate playing socially useless online poker). You've played perfect poker for five days, have all of your opponents' backs against the wall and are dictating the tenor of the whole shebang.
Now let's suppose you turn into someone completely different, start to feel a little pressure, make a dozen idiotic moves, each more impossibly surreal than the last, and you bubble, heading to the rail before the klieg lights and Vince Van Patten get switched on. Hard to believe, huh?
Well, the Oakland Athletics Baseball Club has pulled a similar feat before. TWICE. Which is why I sit here today, even after they won the first two games of the ALDS on the road in The Metrodome, that marvel of modern industry and annoyance, scared to death of what happens next, what monumental fuck-up will fuel the collapse this time around.
The team is different, I'm told. Indeed, only two position players remain from the 2003 team that coughed up a 2-0 lead to the Red Sox. I'ts the Twins who are making the mistakes, they say. And so they have, Torii Hunter doing his best Terrence Long impression not only by not catching the ball, but by playing it into a two-run inside-the-park home run. The A's Game 3 starter, Dan Haren, shut out the Twins last month in the Dome to avert a sweep and will be opposed by Brad Radke who just happens to be pitching with a broken shoulder socket, making the line on him having a "Dravecky" moment at -240. The Big Ouchy Man (tip o' the cap to Randy G for that one) anchors the lineup and the clubhouse, seeming to will the A's to victory with his ferocious presence. Justin Duchscherer is so awesome that I'd have man-on-man sex with him right now if he simply asked. Even Milton Bradley cracked a smile today.
But I'm not convinced. Will not be until they stop the skid. Let me repeat: The A's are 0-9 since 2000 in ALDS clinching games. Oh-and-fucking-nine. Do you have any idea what that does to a psyche?
Nope. No happiness here. No visions of pitching mound dogpiles. All I see is me crying in the bathroom after Melhuse and Long took called third strikes with the tying run on 3rd to end the '03 season. Some people might be loading up on celebratory champagne. Me? I'm off to Costo for some tissue.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Welcome to Thunderdome
Hi. Thanks for stopping by my humble baseball blog. I have been advised by my team of legal experts to refrain from using the 'P' word ("Black Ops will snatch you out of bed before you can wipe the drool from your mouth, Funny Boy"), so we're going to focus on the playoffs today. Though, it bears mentioning that if I WERE to play okerpay on aradisePay last night, I would have found a similar size field in the ecialSpay e-buy-Ray, and, if you can believe it, the play was even more manic than usual, as if everyone was spending their last day on Earth.
So, the A's head into Minny today facing a steep test. My boys made it this far mostly on pitching and defense, two areas in which the Twins are more than capable. Throw in the Dome and the Macha Factor and I'd set the line at -160 Twins for the series. Oh, there's our first shot of Macha today, wearing that perpetual expression that looks like he's recently been pithed.
Usually I'm highly stressed this time of year and the A's last four trips to the playoffs have ended in humiliation and disbelief. People talk about the unusual events that have surrounded Red Sox collapses in the past (Bucky Fucking Dent, Billy Buck), but I'd put the A's misfortunes right up there with 'em. My heart can't take listing them all here, but the bottom line is their 0-9 record those four years when they had a chance to clinch a series. That is Epic Failure. Only one of those years can you even make a reasonable case that the A's weren't the better team. It's sickening.
This year, however, I don't think they have the horses and this first round matchup is the worst they could have drawn. (I'd like to give a big shout out at this point to the fantastic Gag Job by your Detroit Tigers. 19-31 to finish up, capped by a sweep at the hands of the Royals. Excellent work, guys. Has anyone checked Leyland for a pulse lately?) So I'm just gonna try and sit back and enjoy some post-season baseball and root only for my boys to give it their best effort. If it's not good enough, them's the breaks.
Well, so much for relaxation. Macha has decided to sit Bobby Kielty today, despite his nearly 1.000 OPS v. lefties. Sure, Santana is no ordinary lefty and we're better defensively with Kotsay in there, but !#%$^&*$$. Bad Decision #1.
I was thinking of live-blogging the game, but I don't think that'll be entertaining for anyone, so instead I'll tell you about how I had sex with Jeri Ryan this morning. In my head, of course. When I emerged from the subway, I was smack in the middle of a shoot and had to reverse field from my normal path to the office. It was an elaborate set-up, encompassing about two blocks. I was held for a moment, then I, and others, were allowed to walk through the scene while they finished setting up and that's when I marked Ms. Ryan. I played it cool (that's how I roll) and gave her a quick appraisal behind my sunglasses. Hawt. She was dressed in some type of military uniform, but the wardrobe department still made it fetching on her. Not sure about the hat, though.
One thing that always strikes me about celebrities is that they're always smaller in person (except for Wheaton who is 8-feet tall and built like a Mack Truck made of granite). I had a few inches on Jeri (can I call you Jeri?) who always seems Amazonian on the screen.
Easy first for Santana and Zito walks the lead-off hitter. Here we go. Now seems like a good time to point out that whoever secures Zito's services this off-season is going to be grossly over-paying. With Oswalt's $75 million extension, that will be the starting point, now that Barry has hired Scott Boras as an agent. Zito's only advantage over Oswalt is his durability, but even that might become an issue soon as Barry has been at, or near, the top of Pitcher Abuse Points for several years now, which is what happens when you constantly nibble. To Zito's credit, he has adapted, relying less on his curveball now that nobody ever swings at it, perfeccting his change (which is a very underrated pitch) and adding a cutter. But he's less an Ace than he is an innings eater who can dominate every once in a while.
BOOOOOOM! Head Shot!
There's your X-Factor. Big Hurt has nice career numbers against Santana and he absolutely carried the A's in September (before slumping a bit toward the end). The team feeds off him and he's more than capable of putting them on his broad back.
There's your Y-Factor. You can't stop Marco Scutaro. He's from Venezuela, too. He just might go crazy on you for no reason, call you a "devil." There's this misconception that he's "clutch," because he's had several game-winning hits in his A's tenure, but he's really not. Solid bench player, not so much the guy you want playing every game at short in the playoffs.
Hear that? That's the sound of drizz's and Bloody P's testicles rising into their stomachs.
Tight, tense, playoff baseball. Twenty minutes after the final out and my breathing is finally regulated. Some thoughts:
Mr. Gardenhire, the check is in the mail. Thank you for pitching to Frank Thomas in the 9th. Yes, I know you never really wanna put the lead-off man on in a tight game, but this particular lead-off man can't run, so it would take three hits to score him and if the A's pinch-run for him then he's out of the game if you tie it up. Please give 10% to Jesse Crain for trying to sneak a fastball in on the Big Fella.
The Huston Street Experience is more frightening every day. He's not healthy, that much is obvious by the lack of finish on his pitches. He escaped today thanks to hard-hit balls right at people. It would be an unprecedented move, but serious consideration should be given to putting Duchscherer into the closer role. Duke's been the better pitcher all year anyway. We're the A's, right? The unconventional thinkers? So do it already.
Give it up for Barry Zito. Knowing he had to be nearly perfect against Santana, he was. The A's were a clear underdog on paper and played better baseball today. As much as the result gives them a momentary advantage, we A's fans know that Fresh Hell awaits around every playoff corner. So good on ya, boys. And don't fuck up tomorrow.
Monday, October 02, 2006
I'm not impressed. With the legislative perversion of Bill Fucking Frist. With the immediate and total capitulation of PartyGaming and others. With the Land of the Free saying it's okay to subjugate simple human rights in the nebulous War on Terror while simultaneously removing personal choice.
I'm worked up, but I also firmly believe, in the end, we'll all be back on the online poker horse in an environment reasonably similar to the one we previously enjoyed. Why? Because if you take something away from people, something they love and crave, they will find a way to get it back. War on Drugs? I can get seven kinds of drugs in the next five minutes if I want. Free downloads of music and movies? What happened when the Jackboots shut down Napster? Dozens of other options sprung up almost overnight. Some of you are probably Bit Torrenting your ass off right now. Prohibition? That worked well. I'm certain there is an army of computer geeks and poker afficianados hard at work right now finding a simple work-around. And the people who desire to continue to play poker will have the means to do so almost entirely without fear of reprisal because how the hell can this ban be enforced? Once the shock wears off, the major sites will turn their collective heads and embrace a "see no evil, hear no evil" policy as they accept deposits from my Tijuana PO Box (Donde esta el banque?) while ignoring my US ISP.
It's all so stupid. Not just for the backdoor Frist Fucking, for the hyperbolic societal effects of online gaming, for the political shenanigans and campaign pandering. But because online gaming should be seen as an OPPORTUNITY for the government. An opportunity to get their hands on a ton of tax revenue, while also addressing some of their stated concerns (some of which contain a modicum of validity). I wrote about it almost 18 months ago here.
Now, some of that is past it's "sell by" date thanks to this perfect storm of hysteria, politics and apathy, but that was a solution. What happened over the weeekend is not.
We're in for interesting days. As I watch the tumblers to fall, one thing's for certain: I'm not cashing out and running just yet. I'm gonna gamble a little.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
...your five-year-old barging into the bathroom while you're showering to update you on a collegiate gridiron contest upon which you may have (fictionally) wagered with a screaming "Daddy! The blue team with the 'F' on their helmet is hugging each other! I think they scored a touchdown!"
...having that same five-year-old mimic your own mimickry of Farley, Wendt et al by cheering each positive Chicago play with a hearfelt "'da Bears!"
...daytime playoff baseball. Outside. In the sun. Not in a giant blow-up-doll monstrosity. The Twins should start every game down 2-0 for inflicting that abomination on the God Fearing Baseball Fans of America. Make it 3-0 to even things up since Gardenhire's a cheetah to Macha's wounded antelope.
...taking a (slight) step up from the Special $10 Re-Buy on Paradise to the $25 version and finishing a not-entirely-unlucky 13th.