We're watching Lord ofthe Rings, and every time I see it I become more and more annoyed with the elves. I've never been a big elf fan in fantasy settings in general, but the Middle-Earth elves are cowards. They're all just fleeing the continent and leaving everyone else to fight Sauron. And everyone seems to be cool with this! Everyone seemed so honored when those elves showed up in Two Towers, but that wasn't even in the original book. Grr....
We now move to the reigning NL West "champs," the San Diego Padres. They won the division last year, despite barely even having a winning record. It wasn't just that there was parity in the division (all the teams were bad) but they got knocked around by everyone else too.
Their team has defnitely declined from last season. Aside from Peavy (a genuine ace) their pitching is lousy despite the fact that they play in a fantastic pitcher's park. I wouldn't take any of their non-Peavy starters on the road if my life depended on it. You're in trouble when Woody Williams is your #2 starter, and your rotation is rounded out by the incomparable (except maybe with each other) Chan Ho Park and Shawn Estes. Their bullpen is quite terrible too, with a declining Trevor Hoffman the only pitcher of note.
Offensively, they have improved. They kept Brian Giles, will hopefully have a healthy Dave Roberts this year, and have made a huge upgrade with Mike Cameron in center field. In a wash, they traded away their disappointing 3b prospect Burroughs and replaced him with the aging Vinny Castilla, who I bet will have a terrible year in Petco. They signed Piazza, who is declining but could probably reproduce Hernandez's numbers. His defense is terrible, but luckily(?) his body is so worn out that he can only catch so many games this season anyway.
This team is still better than the D-backs or the Rockies, but San Fransicso and LA are clearly the 'class' of this division, and the Padres will likely be lucky to be less than 10 games out of second place at the end of the season.
Posted by Berselius at 12:01 AM
February 23, 2006
We're watching Jurassic Park on Bravo right now. Every time I see it I remember what a great movie it is. I actually read the book before I saw the movie, years ago when I was in elementary/middle school. I actually read it (and a few other Crichton books) at the Summer Enrichment Program camp thing that I went to at UVA. I actually wasn't a big fan of the movie when I first saw it, because it was my first introduction to the movie-ization of a book a loved.
Now that I'm looking at it again, they did a pretty good job with their adaptation. Lex was pretty useless in the book, and I like the movie Grant as much as the book one, despite the fact that their personalities are completely different. Malcolm gets more hilarious every time I watch the movie too - it really is the perfect Jeff Goldblum role.
When I heard they were making a sequel with more dinosaurs, my reaction was "What the hell?" I thought that someone found Nedry's shaving cream can and made new dinos from that. The movie sequels were pretty bad...though I would give them tentative "Good Bad Movie" status, since the action was pretty good.
Posted by Berselius at 9:11 PM
The Dodgers made a few head-scratching moves this offseason. Their all-star shortstop, Cesar Izturis, went down with an injury late last year and is currently rehabbing it. He probably won't be back until mid-season. However, the Dodgers went out and grabbed Rafael Furcal (the #1 shortstop on the free agent market), and then signed another shortstop in Garciaparra. Nomar was signed to play first base, which unclogged some of the middle infield situation, but one has to wonder what will happen when Izturis comes back? The Dodgers will have 3 all-stars slated to play 2 positions (Jeff Kent is at 2B)...so someone will probably have to go either to the outfield or out of LA. The problem is that none of them (other than maybe Furcal) would make a good outfielder, especially in spacious Dodger Stadium.
As questionable as their offseason hitting decisions went, the Dodgers managed to do a nice job with their pitching deals. They acquired the underrated Jae Seo from the Mets (which the Mets will definitely regret later), and managed to shore up their bullpen with Baez, who can step in to close if Gagne isn't back yet from his surgery. They have no established super-ace (not many do) but their rotation is full of decent to good pitchers, backed up by a solid bullpen.
I'm not sure where I see this team going - they have the pitching (and the stadium to pitch in) and a slightly more powerful (and much more athletic) offense to go far, especially against the tepid NL west. We'll see how the chemistry issues play out as the season goes on. I think they probably have the best chance of winning the division (maybe 50%) but I wouldn't call this a big endorsement.
Posted by Berselius at 5:37 PM
February 21, 2006
I'm watching PTI, and they just mentioned that the Daytona 500 telecast outdrew the World Series and the NBA finals. What the hell? Anyone who trivializes baseball down to "a bunch of guys standing around scratching themselves" could do the same to Nascar with "a bunch of guys driving in circles." I don't like Nascar, but I can see how others can find it interesting (though if I ever got into following racing, Formula 1 would be much more interesting). I just find this depressing, since it's another reminder that baseball will never become America's Pastime again (football passed it long ago, after the '94 strike).
On another note, I booked it home early today to catch Dom (from Megatokyo on Jeopardy today, only to find that it was pre-empted by the (usually) incredibly boring Winter Olympics. Like I care about the Nordic Combined? It would still have been on except for the fact that our NBC affiliate keeps the mind-numbing Wheel of Fortune on in prime-time and shunts the more intelligent show into the much less prestigious "daytime" hours. I say boooo to you NBC. Boooo.
Speaking of the Olympics, the Winter Olympics are at least somewhat more interesting than the Summer Olympics, mainly due to curling. A competition with a strategy other than "be fast!" makes things far more interesting. Though I could really do without them, at least other non-sports like ice dancing justify the existence of other non-"athletic" sports. It would be great if they added other strategy-type stuff like chess, bridge, or poker to the Olympics too.
Posted by Berselius at 4:37 PM
February 20, 2006
Continuing our trend of lousy teams, we now look at the Diamondbacks. They have some real players on their team, and some highly touted youngsters that probably won't break through until next season. They have no superstars on their team, but they do have a bunch of good (or formerly great) players in Green, Gonzalez, and Estrada. Their defense is much better with Hudson at second base and should make Brandon Webb a great pitcher this year.
However, after Webb they don't have anything worth mentioning. The rest of their rotation consists of underachieving and overrated, over the hill pitchers like El Duque, Batista, and Russ Ortiz. Their bullpen should be okay, but only Valverde is lights out. As for the rest, it will likely be hit or miss (figuratively and literally) as to whether they stick around.
This team will likely suprise people, and will probably finish with 70 wins or so due to its offense. You can only go so far with crappy pitching.
Posted by Berselius at 8:37 PM
I'm going to start with the NL West because it's by far the least interesting division...the only interesting question is which of the teams suck the least. So, I'm going to start with the team that definitely sucks the most: the Rockies.
Bizarrely, for a team with a great hitting park the Rockies seem to be flush with scrub hitters. Helton is the only blue-chipper in the bunch, though Barmes might be someday barring any more grocery carrying incidents. As far as pitching goes, they seem to be focusing on so-so sinkerballers. If their GM was smart, they'd be trying anything to get groundball machines like Derek Lowe or Brandon Webb on their team. At least their closer is pretty good. Rob Neyer (I think) pointed out a few days ago that moving their fences in would do them a lot of good, as their whole humidor-ball program has limited the number of home run balls...however the massive size of the park is still allowing tons of doubles and triples. If they ever found the rest of the formula to nullify the Coors effect, then they might be in business to actually compete without radical personnel strategies. Until then they will remain perennial losers as always. This feels like another 100 loss team this year.
Posted by Berselius at 12:43 AM
February 19, 2006
I was talking to Jennie the other day, and I decided that I shouldn't inflict my baseball-related ramblings on a single person. Then again, as not many people will likely be reading this blog, it's not like the punishment will be spread around very much.
My plan is basically to put any of my baseball-related thoughts (and maybe other stuff) somewhere where others can read them later. Prepare to be amused and confused, I'm usually not very coherent. It will likely soon be obvious that I am a Cubs fan, and once the season starts a large part of my blogging will be related to them and to my perennially underachieving fantasy teams.
For now though, I'm going to further fuel my excitement by writing my own team previews/thoughts/etc, hopefully for all 30 teams in the league before Opening Day, followed by my own predictions.
Posted by Berselius at 9:59 PM