Wednesday, April 29, 2009

There's Hope For Me Yet

Or, Why I Hope Twitter Is The "XFL" Of This Decade

In job-hunting, as in dating or life overall, you want to emphasize your strong points in the hope that you possess a desired trait. For me, that skill is the savvy use of words and the English language to convey abstract or complex concepts.

In this New York Times interview, the CEO of Delta Air Lines, a guy named Richard Anderson, confirms that dropping random words on a PowerPoint slide is insufficient to succeed in business. "It’s not just enough to be able to just do a nice PowerPoint presentation," he said. "You’ve got to have the ability to pick people. You’ve got to have the ability to communicate."

This guy is my new hero.

A selected passage:

Q. And is there any change in the kind of qualities you’re looking for compared with 5, 10 years ago?

A. I think this communication point is getting more and more important. People really have to be able to handle the written and spoken word. And when I say written word, I don’t mean PowerPoints. I don’t think PowerPoints help people think as clearly as they should because you don’t have to put a complete thought in place. You can just put a phrase with a bullet in front of it. And it doesn’t have a subject, a verb and an object, so you aren’t expressing complete thoughts.

And a lot of what we do in communication, when you write e-mail, you need to express yourself very clearly so people understand whether we’re going to L.A. today or we’re going to Boston today.

Mr. Anderson, are you hiring in Chicago?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Updating the XCT

For whatever reason I had more fun than usual putting together this year's version of the Ex-Cub Tracker (XCT). Quite possibly because it didn't take forever, due to my sobriety. And this year I'm going to try to keep it updated, every few weeks or so. Since the Opening Day release of the 2009 XCT, a lot has happened in the lives of the ex-Cubs.

A quick note on abbreviations for the uninitiated:
OOB = out of baseball, not playing anywhere to the best of knowledge
PTBNL = the "player to be named later" in trades
ML'er = minor league player, assumed to have never made it to the bigs
DL = disabled list, usually 15 days

And now, the late April update:

Eric Young (EY) is an analyst with Baseball Tonight.

Todd Hollandsworth is an analyst with Comcast SportsNet.

Don Baylor is the hitting coach for the Rockies (this isn't new, just an oversight).

Since he is somewhat in the public arena, it is worth adding Doug Glanville: he writes an occasional column for the New York Times. Seeing today's essay (a good one) reminded me of it. Here's the main page.

Kyle Loshe (Cards) is an Ex-Cub! According to Len and Bob and confirmed by the excellent Baseball Reference, we traded him away to Minnesota in 1999 to get ... are you ready for this ... Rick Gag-uliera. (We got Scott Downs too.)

Jae Kuk Ryu was another oversight: Cubs signed him in 2001 and dealt him to the Devil Rays for 2 ML'ers. His claim to fame is/was killing an endangered bird with a thrown ball. He was sent back to the Padres 40-man roster after his March 26 waiver claim was voided by Major League Baseball. Dunno why, don't care.

Sean Gallagher (Oakland) was sent to Triple-A Sacramento. They called up an infielder, which tells me they didn't want a better pitcher, they just didn't want him.

Michael Barrett (Blue Jays) went on the 15-day DL with a muscle tear in his right shoulder, probably from punching out a teammate. I made up that last part.

Will Ohmanthatguysucked got promoted from AAA to the Dodgers on Opening Day, just missing the cut to be included in my 2009 update.

The Cubs cut ML'er Esteban German, and a few days later the Texas Rangers signed him to a ML contract and assigned him to Triple-A. (We'll see if he turns into anything, thus the beauty and/or folly of the XCT.)

Scott Williamson is not OOB! He is in the Tigers organization and was assigned to Minor League camp this spring.

Penultimatley, co-patron saint Garrett Olson was sent by Seattle to Triple-A Tacoma.

Finally, I'm waiting for the awesomely named Rocky Roquet to make his major league debut. Jerrod Saltalamacchia, beware. Your days as the awesomest-named major leaguer are numbered. (aside: who is/will be the PTBNL in this deal?)

He even looks like a "Rocky Roquet" don't you think?

So, what is the most awesome thing about him?
  1. his full name is Rocky R. Roquet (I hoped it was "Rocket" but my Cubs media guide claims it is "Roh-KAY." But still. )
  2. he went to four different colleges in three states
  3. he graduated from Cal Poly SLO!
  4. his home and road ERAs are identical (as of April 20)
  5. seriously, that name...Rocky Rocket!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009



If you missed it, last night a cat ran onto the playing field, juked around for a while, and got captured by this guy. He had the cat cradled safely in his arms, but then the cat wriggled away, and the dude did ... that.

Just for the record, you do NOT pick up a cat by the tail. If you ever come across a cat, even a cat who shouldn't be where he is (like a major league baseball field), you still must treat the animal with kindness and basic decency.

One would be tempted to give the guy the benefit of the doubt--perhaps he panicked with 40,000 people watching him trying to corral a cat. But then I read this:

Of course, the security team at Wrigley hasn't undergone much in the way of emergency cat apprehension training. Cubs spokesman Peter Chase said he felt the employees did well under the circumstances.

El Wrong-o. I have seen a different cat in the neighborhood, running through the alley and ducking into Wrigley Field via Gate L. This cat is orange-yellow all over; last night's cat was white with black and orange spots. (Ours, since Finley asked, is black and white all over.) So yeah, you ARE going to need to learn how to handle cats if you work at Wrigley Field.

Being nice to cats: it's part of your job, and it's part of your life.

This mistreatment of my fellow cat makes me disgusted.... I need a beer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rockies 5, Cubs 2

I've decided to take advantage of the potential, the promise of Internets/blogging stuff by writing about something that actually happened today*. We went to home game No. 2, aka Opening Day-ja vu. We think it's just as good as the first opening day, just as cold, and the tickets are significantly cheaper.

And, we got to see something that hasn't been seen in a couple years: Jason Marquis pitching well in Wrigley Field. Of course, he did it in a Colorado Rockies uniform.

There wasn't much to cheer about, since Harden gave up runs early and as usual the bats couldn't support him. And besides: it was Frickin' Cold. My face is still warming up, hours after returning home. I will say, I think this is the first time I've ever seen a guy (Harden) get eight strikeouts in nine outs, and then get pulled.

The scorecard:

The scorecard is incomplete, partially because every player and coach wore No. 42. Sixty-two years ago today Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and so this is Major League Baseball's way of honoring him. I think it is much more meaningful when a single player from each team, someone particularly affected by Robinson, wears the 42, rather than confusing the fans, players, scoreboard operators and public address announcer.

If you click the image, you can see the "42" on the hitter's and Soto's jerseys. (Everyone else has one too.) On a side note, I was pleasantly surprised by these section 218 seats. Other than the 20 mph wind in our face, of course.

Regarding that asterisk on Harden's earned runs: the official scorer gave Harden 4 earned runs. I gave him only three, and here's why. On that Atkins single, if Sorry-ano had fielded the ball cleanly, the runner on second (Helton) would have stopped at third and never scored. That run shouldn't be on Harden just because Sorryano can't pick up a rolling baseball. That might not be literally following the rules, but you can't punish the pitcher for Sorry-ano's crapitude.

You can check out the box score here.

* -- instead of waiting a couple weeks to craft something well-written, just throwing some shit online right away.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Michigan Needs a Copy Editor

Yeah, football is five months away. So what. Remember this?

Those morouns have outdoune themselves:

Looks like they need a coupy editour. Preferably one from America.

This guy compares Michigan to Worlds of Warcraft nerds. No idea where he got that idea.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Tournament: I Are the Champions

No, no, that's alright. Please sir, do not cue up the Queen.

What's that? Etta James? Yes, that sounds just fine, thank you.

(Play the video, ignore the pictures and sing along)

At last, my picks have come along
My losing days are over
And life is like a swish

Oh yeah, at last
The winner I can now see
The shade of blue was powder
The night I picked UNC

I found a team that I could root for
A bracket that I can call my own
I found a thrill that comes with winning
A thrill that I have never known (since 1991)

Oh, yeah when you win, you win
Oh, and then the die was cast
And here we are in first place
For I did win
At last

Ahhh, thanks Etta. I did indeed win this year's pool ... at least the two smaller pools I entered, one of which scored me thirty bucks. I was a little harsh on my bracket in the early days, but the final rounds pulled me through: 12 of 16, 5 of 8, 3 of 4, 1 of 2, and the correct champion, UNC.

Some pictures I don't get sick of ... this appears to be one of them.

I set a personal record in the JQMCBP, with 107 points. That tops my total in 2006 and 2008 combined. My 43rd place finish (out of 680+ entries) is also a new PR in four years of JQMCBP competition.

I also made a side wager with my co-author, the loot being a six-pack of beer of the winner's choosing. After careful thought, I have selected my victory brew:

Why North Coast Blue Star? Well, I tried to find a beer from North Carolina, but that state's microbrews don't really have northern distribution; I settled on one with the initials "N.C." Carolina wears powder blue; this beer is named "blue." And the Tar Heels are the "stars" of the college basketball world. Plus, I like wheat beers and it looks tasty.

I confirmed this morning that this beer is not totally obscure; it is available here on the North Side at two different retailers, one being less than a mile from home.

Thirty bucks and a six-pack of beer? I'll take it. Thanks to Carolina for making this the best tournament since 1991.

(click to enlarge)

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Ex-Cub Tracker

It started several years ago with the question: Which would be better, a team of ex-Cubs or a team of ex-Expos? It turned out to be a pretty simple answer, because the ex-Expos included Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Andres Gallaraga and just a ton of other talent. The ex-Cubs had, geez, I don't even remember, probably Mark Clark and Mark Guthrie and Kevin Orie, schlubs like that.

But of that parlor game was born an idea: The Ex-Cub Tracker. Whatever happened to all those guys we let get away? That trade a couple years ago, where we gave up promising talent for an aging veteran, did those kids ever develop into anything?

Gratuitious photo of one-time Cub Rich Garces.

I loosely started keeping track of the ex-Cubs in 2006. Players kept the juvenile nicknames they'd been assigned during their sucking days (Moises Alou was called Moises A-Loser, Juan Cruz became Juan Crap, etc.). The spreadsheet was sloppy, filled with poor typing and lazy abbreviations. As well it should: this idea almost certainly started while drinking. In honor of that, the sheet is still incomplete, amatuerish and only partially researched.

This year since I was curious and had the time, I decided to get back into the Tracker. I tried to look up how guys became Cubs (draft vs. trade vs. free agent signing) and how they left, to see if the general manager had any idea about the guy's relative talent.

Before we get to the full sheet, here's an update on the 18 guys who left the organization between last year's Opening Day and this year's:

Neither one of these guys is an ex-Cub, but we were talking about this photo earlier today and damn do I love this pic of Pedro.

Eric Patterson, Matt Murton, Michael Wuerst, Sean Gallagher: shipped to Oakland to get Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. (Murton ended up in Denver. Maybe he got lost?)

Speaking of Gaudin: gone. Cubs released him yesterday.

Bobby "Call Me Robert" Howry: caught on with the Giants.

Kerry Wood: signed with the Indians.

Mark DeRosa: traded to Indians to keep Wood company.

Ronny Cedeno: sent to Seattle to get Notre Dame alum Aaron Heilman. (By the way, in that deal was a guy named Garrett Olson, whom* the Cubs had acquired 10 days earlier. This makes Olson the patron saint of the Ex-Cub Tracker, along with fellow long-timer Jody Gerut.)

Casey McGahee: never heard of him, but apparently the Brewers got him off waivers.

Jon Leiber: I won't be an active Leiber Believer this year, because no one picked up Jon after his injury. I salute an excellent career for this native Iowan.

Felix Pie and Rich Hill: traded to Baltimore in separate deals.

Hey, it's Guapo again ... Damn he got fat.

Henry Blanco: Hank White landed with the Padres. Guess he can catch Mark Prior there.....

sorry, I've stopped laughing now. Continuing on....

Jason Marquis: traded to Rockies.

Scott Error: traded to Philadelphia.

Daryll Ward and Jose Ceda: MIA. could be out of baseball.

Click here to view the Ex-Cub Tracker (opens in new window). The data are* sorted by this year's team. You can also view by player name using Tools, then "sort by". The second tab lists the details of two multi-player trades, the Harden deal and the Nomah deal.


* -- Occasional proper grammar use is at the sole discretion of the blog proprietor.

1000 Words: The Joy of Opening Day

Our niece Kaitlyn is ready!