Monthly Archives: June 2009

A Debate of History

I got involved in a debate today through my Facebook status that was unintentional, but it got me thinking.

After I made a comment about how the Cubs needed to maximize the value of Jake Fox by trading him to an American League club to become a DH, a friend of mine made a claim in so many words that the National League is better than the American League because the American League uses the designated hitter. After further prying, I find out he thinks the designated hitter is bad for baseball because it’s not part of the old school tradition of the game.

I could not disagree more.

Since when does something that is not traditional automatically mean it is bad? Why is innovation always wrong? I understand that baseball, more than any other sport, thrives because of its history and legend, if that weren’t the case we wouldn’t have seen months and years of debate before the league decided to implement instant replay.

But when a change is made that makes the game better, you stick with it, and just because it’s not traditional and not part of the history of the game, doesn’t make it bad.

How is it good baseball that a team is almost automatically out of a big inning if their pitcher comes to bat? Where is the fun when a team has runners on second and third with two outs and their eighth place hitter, batting a whopping .230 is up, but the pitcher chooses to intentionally walk him to face a guy who has no more business in the batter’s box than Billy Crystal or Garth Brooks?

I understand that a pitcher in the lineup might bring about a little more strategy with the double switches and whatnot, but I would much rather see nine professional-level hitters in every lineup than eight guys and a pitcher. It becomes a snooze-fest. It’s not fun to watch and it’s flat-out bad baseball.

Sure, there’s always a few pitchers who take their hitting seriously. The Carlos Zambrano’s, Micah Owing’s and Mike Hampton’s. But 95 percent of these guys are just looking to get in and out of that batter’s box as quickly as possible. And during the few games a year where American League pitchers have to take their swings, it becomes downright horrid.

I won’t make the argument that the designated hitter helps keep pitchers healthy, because injuries happen regardless of what you do, and that’s not a reasonable explanation. But one argument I will make is that the designated hitter has helped prolong the careers of some hitters who would have had to retire long ago it it weren’t for the designated hitter. The two greatest DH’s of all time, Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines, both lost their legs a good 10 years before retirement, but were able to keep playing and keep hitting — at an incredibly high level — thanks to the DH. And if you look at the number of DH’s today who would have no business in the field (Jim Thome, David Ortiz, the recently retired Frank Thomas, Mike Sweeney, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, pretty soon Vladamir Guerrero), it’s nothing but good.

Pundits often argue that we need to get rid of the DH. Go back to baseball’s roots. All that crap that makes zero sense. But I say do the opposite. Put the DH in the National League, something that would give the Mets something to go with Gary Sheffield, something that would allow the Cubs to keep hot-hitting, no-fielding Jake Fox, something that would make baseball a better sport to watch on a daily basis.

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The Dear Hunter – Act III: Life and Death

One of the many albums I’m highly anticipated this year leaked yesterday and I found it to be pretty much what I expected out of the fun, prog rock band I discovered less than a year ago.

The Dear Hunter, for those not familiar, is a progressive rock/experimental rock band from Boston that is the project of former Receiving End of Sirens frontman Casey Crescenzo.

Act III: Life and Death is (obviously) the third part of a trilogy the band put together that tells a strange story that I have yet to look into so I’m still not quite sure what it’s about.

But what I do know is that their music rocks, and while Act III doesn’t necessarily take the kind of leap Coheed and Cambria did with their first Good Apollo, it still offers everything a fan would expect out of the band after listening to Act I: The Lake South, The River North, and Act II: The Meaning Of, And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading.

Anyway, Act III is just the start of a year of albums that includes the new Mars Volta project Octahedron, and new albums from the Avett Brothers and the aforementioned Coheed and Cambria. Should make for a pretty rockin’ summer, and (money pending) I may be seeing the Avett Brothers on June 26 in Chicago and Dear Hunter July 5, also in Chicago.

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“The Hangover” – A Riot, If That’s Your Cup of Tea

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I knew before going into The Hangover what I was going to get.

Yeah, I’m a film nerd who loves all the “artsy-fartsy” films about love and other sophisticated shit.

Well newsflash, that’s not quite The Hangover.

But I didn’t care. I wanted to laugh ’til I pissed myself. I wanted scene after scene to continue to shock and appall me. I wanted the type of humor I’ve seen in Old School, Superbad, 40-Year-Old Virgin, etc. That’s what I wanted out of The Hangover, and that’s what I got.

The standout of the film is Zach Galifianakis (and yes, I had to look up how to spell that). The stand-up comic who has become quite popular with the college crowd over the past couple of years is best known on the big screen for 2001’s “Out Cold.” But after this, he’s primed for a Will Farrell-esque career leap. (Also, according to IMDb the dude turns 40 this year. I would’ve bet he wasn’t a day over 30).

It’s likely if you’ve seen the trailer, you don’t need my advice to go see the film, but if you do, trust me. Go see it. The comedy is raunchy yet fresh, and while the one setback is that so many hilarious moments are shown in the trailer, there are still plenty more that aren’t (including a montage of pictures in the end credits that made a friend of mine laugh so hard he nearly fell out of his chair in the theatre.

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“Drag Me to Hell” Hilariously Scary

I saw the horror film “Drag Me to Hell” last weekend and was thoroughly amused.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew it was from Sam Raimi, the master of the over-the-top horror genre (The Evil Dead franchise and Army of Darkness). But it’s been roughly 17 years since Raimi did Army of Darkness, and since then, he’s been morphed into the blockbuster world of the Spiderman franchise. So the question remained: Does Raimi still have it?

The answer is an emphatic “yes.”

The only real difference between Drag Me to Hell and Raimi’s previous cult classics is simply that he’s got millions of dollars to work with. He wasn’t afraid to let the audience know when they were about to be scared, and after the heart-pounding scare accompanied by the loud, shrieking music, you’d find yourself laughing so hard you nearly fall out of your chair.

Yes, it is that funny.

Without giving away too much, here are some of the amusing horrors you’re in store for if you see Drag Me to Hell:

A demonized man with a wispy mustache spitting out a kitten, a nose bleed from the lead actress that becomes so bad it spews blood all over a bank manager, a woman getting covered in mucus spilled from the mouth of a dead gypsy, and a demonized goat calling someone a bitch.

At the risk of sounding like a promotional took for the film, there’s much, much more.

The film appeals to horror freaks and film freaks alike. The horror film buff will like it because, despite it’s ridiculousness, it still scares the crap out of you. The film fan will enjoy it because it has about everything you need. It makes you laugh, it scares you, and it’s flat-out well made.

So I urge you, plead with you, see Drag Me to Hell. As long as you enter the film with the right mind, you won’t be disappointed.

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What To Make of These White Sox

I’m sitting here watching the White Sox uninterrupted for the first time in quite a while and find myself wondering what to make of this team.

I denounced them a few weeks back when they were off to a 15-22 start. It’s not often that I give up on a White Sox season so early, and it’s not just the record that led me to give up. It had to do with a lot of things.

I still had faith – and still have faith – that the likes of Gavin Floyd and John Danks will turn in stellar seasons, my angst had mostly to do with the lack of any semblance of talent at three positions: third base, second base and centerfield. Likewise, the lack of a quality fourth and fifth starters gave me flashbacks of the days when our fifth starters went something like 200 consecutive starts without recording a victory.

Those factors, not to mention nobody on the roster proving their worth as a leadoff hitter gave me little hope. I already had little hope entering the season, and for those who know me, I’m one of the most optimistic White Sox fans around.

So now that the White Sox have rode the hot 1-2 duo of Scott Podsednik and Alexei Ramirez (what?) to a 10-3 record over their last 13 games and back to a .500 record, I can’t help but wonder what the chances are that this team can still find the ability to contend.

I’m fairly confident that the combination of Danks, Floyd and Mark Buehrle will be a force to be reckoned with all year. But can the team really contend with Bartolo Colon and Clayton Richard/Jose Contreras at No. 5?

Can Podsednik continue to do his best 2005 impression and provide a spark at the top of the order?

Can Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome and Paul Konerko collectively avoid any extended stays on the disabled list?

Can the White Sox continue to survive with the cluster of Josh Fields, Chris Getz, Jayson Nix, Brian Anderson and Dwayne Wise clogging down the bottom of the order?

The optimist in me wants to quote Kevin Garnett: “Anything is possible!” But the realist in me knows its unlikely.

It’s unlikely Colon will stay both healthy and effective.

It’s unlikely Richard will keep pitching like he’s Johan Santana.

It’s unlikely Podsednik will keep hitting at a .300 pace.

All the odds seem to be against the White Sox. They aren’t a good team on paper. They have flaw after flaw after flaw, and seem destined to finish with a .500 record at best.

But the optimistic in me can’t help but continue to find hope. This recent hot streak has suckered me back in.

So you never know.

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