Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dicen que no es tan grande Papi?!

Breaking news! It has come to our attention at Stars and Slights that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez both tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003.

Wait, I thought we had breaking news?

Manny Ramirez has been on the list of pariah’s since early this season when baseball suspended him for using estrogen, commonly used by steroid users coming off a use cycle.

Let’s be fair to David Ortiz, before he came to Boston, he was terrible.

More accurately he was injured. His best season came in 2002 when he totaled 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 75 RBIs in just 125 games. Despite that outlier, in 6 seasons with the Twins Ortiz hit just 58 homers.

Ortiz next landed himself in Boston, where he met a young slugger named Manny.

Manny is the player everyone loved (loves) to hate. He played with a cavalier sense of urgency. There is no left field aside from the cramped short porch provided by Fenway Park’s where Manny could have carried on his parade of follies as long as he did.

There is literally no foul territory in left field and any hit that managed to launch over his dreadlocked head would either be a home run or it would slam into the wall and carom off the Green Monster back in his general direction.

In between his underwhelming fielding efforts, Manny would disappear into the Green Monster to do what we can only imagine. I’m sure he just made phone calls and checked his e-mail, but one never knows.

And indeed, no one wanted to know what Manny was doing in there. Just like no one wanted to question how a career role player was suddenly setting major league records for homeruns by a designated hitter and being named to all-star games left and right.

“It’s because he hits behind Manny,” everyone would say. I like most sports fans accepted that for years. I ignored his irregular heartbeat in 2006, ignored his crumbling meniscus and wrist and chocked them up to just more Ortiz injuries.

I even ignored his unbelievable slump to start this season when Ortiz went pretty much 0 for the first two months.

“Manny’s gone now,” everyone said dejectedly. Of course he had the white hot Kevin Youkilis to protect him this year. Even amid the whispers of ever-increasing volume about steroids, no one wanted to believe it.

I as a Yankee fan even managed to give Ortiz the benefit of the doubt. I thought there was no way such a feared power hitter who came out of nowhere at the height of the steroid era could be cheating.

"Here you go buddy! I don't want the awkward attention anymore!"

Well it turns out I along with everyone else was wrong. The Yankee killer to end all Yankee killers was no better than Manny being Manny. He was no different than Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire or less known drug abusers like former National League MVP Ken Caminiti who now not coincidentally is dead.

As a baseball fan, I’m not shocked but I am a little saddened that one more face has to be chipped off of baseball’s mountain of immortality.

As a Yankee fan, I’m mildly amused that the Red Sox broke their 86-year curse with one of the best tandems of 3-4 hitters ever, and they both cheated. I’m also amused that Manny and Ortiz were able to find steroids that worked in the postseason while A-Rod clearly settled for the bargain basement variety.

Baseball had better be glad that it’s a dull, boring, time-consuming sport that has long been surpassed by football as America’s pastime, because that’s all it has going for it.

Hmmm the future isn’t too bright is it?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dude I'm So Yammered

Repeat after me: "I, state your name, will not twitter or tweet. I shall only yammer or yam." If you think you're confused put yourself in the shoes of my company's employees earlier this week.

We are by no means an "old" company - the average age is probably somewhere in the lower 30s - but the concept of "yammering" certainly seemed foreign to many of our employees.

During a professional development session earlier this week we were all instructed that we were about to embark on a 60-day pilot program within our company using twitter's business companion: Yammer.

Founded by former executives and early employees of PayPal, eGroups, eBay, and Tribe Yammer aims to loosen ties, kick off shoes, and let employees kick back in their chairs while answering one simple question: "What are you working on?"

I find it pleasantly ironic that the very day Justin posted his anti-Twitter article was when I was introduced to Twitter's sibling. In its most literal sense Yammer is Twitter for corporations.

Just as Twitter users can customize their homepages so too can companies on Yammer.

According to Yammer's homepage, more than 40,000 businesses worldwide use the program including Adobe, Hill & Knowlton, Starcom MediaVest Group, and Deloitte.

Below is an interview with Yammer CEO David Sacks. While the video is a tad outdated (September 2008) it does provide a solid outline of what the product is all about.

Yammer is available online in web browsers but also has a desktop application (my personal preference), an iPhone app (also handy), and more.

With all that said, I remain firm that the only Twitter interaction I will ever have is the occasional glance at what Charlie Weis is up to.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Twitter and The Death of the American Dream

I would like to go on record officially as saying that I fully believe Twitter to be a useful waste of time.

The whole concept essentially boils down to a network that proliferates glorified away messages. Cooping up the brains of our youth in the context of 140 characters (including spaces) is hardly conducive to catching America up to the rest of the world.

And yes, I assure you we are squarely behind the eight ball as a nation. Just turn on the news once in a while.

So my point returns to the damn Twitter. Instead of a "Hey! Follow us on Twitter!" we will be putting a non-twitter logo on the right side to ward off greedheads and illiterate bums.

Thank you, and enjoy your continued travels around the Internet.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Seventeen is number 87!

Confused? Don't be. Today's song of the day, "Seventeen" by the band Winger, was rated as the 87th best hard rock song of all time by VH1.

Headed by frontman Kip Winger, the band gained popularity throughout the '80s and early '90s before fading quickly to grunge. Kip Winger and Kurt Cobain likely were not great friends. While Kip went on to a brief solo career after the band broke up in 1994 he has stayed true to his comrades from his original band, Blackwood Creek, hoping to release a new album in 2009.

Seventeen was released in 1988 and hit #26 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was featured as a song on the video game Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s.

If you're a fan of glam rock or 80s hair bands you'll enjoy this gem from Winger.

Monday, July 20, 2009

We Went To The Moon!

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon and Neil Armstrong setting foot on the lunar surface.

There are of course a few crack pots out there who believe it was all a hoax. There are even those who are convinced it was all filmed in Area 51, directed by Stanley Kubrick who was fresh off his classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some have also claimed that famed science fiction writer and visionary Arthur C. Clarke wrote the script.

That's all nonsense as far as this reporter is concerned. For one thing NASA's LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) took pictures in 2009 showing several of the Apollo landing sites before it reached its mapping orbit. There are plenty of other compelling reasons to believe it happened, so I won't waste any more time in unnecessary debunking.

This anniversary marks one of the more impressive achievements in the history of man. The lunar lander had less computing power than my graphing calculator and actually, the Eagle almost never landed at all. Moments before they were supposed to touch down, Neil Armstrong noticed they were in a boulder field instead of the flat ground they were expecting.

He deftly steered the craft out of harm's way with just seconds of fuel to spare and saved the entire mission and quite possibly the lives of he and "Buzz" Aldrin.

It's just one of the many amazing things that had to go right for the guys that had "the right stuff" to become modern day American heroes.

So while NASA can certainly mess some things up on occasion nowadays, and there have been some pretty epic failures, the 1960s and early 1970s were a time when they were challenged everyday, and each time they rose to the task giving us something to be extremely proud of.

As President Kennedy said when proposing the idea:

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

George Carlin

Here's another vintage Carlin routine, one that rings particularly true even today. He was talking about the first Gulf war, but since they're essentially the same thing his points remain quite relevant. Strange how many of the other problems he mentions are still the case today too.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Play Like A Champion Today

I came across the following clip today on ESPN and was presently surprised by the nice job that Mike Greenberg did in expressing the feeling generated by one of college football's greatest traditions: touching the Play Like A Champion Today sign before running out onto the field at Notre Dame.

I must say that the segment isn't 100% accurate. Greenberg notes that 1986 was the first year that the sign was hung in the locker room, though Lou Holtz's recollection suggests it was in use before that time.

According to Lou, he saw the sign in a book - he doesn't remember which one - and thought it was a neat tradition that he should revive. Not a bad thought for his first year on the job at ND and with or without the sign Lou would still have his place in ND coaching lore.

One of the best memories I have from my years at Notre Dame was during my senior year when I was able to take a tour of the stadium press box, locker room, and of course touch the Play Like A Champion Today sign.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

George Carlin

I've been checking YouTube recently and watching lots of great comedy routines. I'm going to start posting some of my favorites, sort of like the songs of the day just..different. Today's selection comes from the late great George Carlin. This one is all about "stuff".

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Song Of The Day- Richard Thompson

You probably don't know the name Richard Thompson, but you should. The Englishman is considered to be one of the best guitarists, being listed in the top 20 of Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

"1952 Vincent Black Lightning" is a track off Thompson's 1991 album Rumor and Sigh. This particular tune has become Thompson's most well known and to this day is the most requested song on NPR.

It's a tale of star-crossed lovers that utilizes a traditional English melody and structure. It's played in a very folksy way and has come to be a favorite song of bluegrass fans and is a standard in that genre.

Special thanks to Loran Bush who posted this acoustic version on the Facebook for me to find. That thing is useful once in a great while.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Song Of The Day- Flight Of The Conchords

This is just an absolutely brilliant song from Flight Of The Conchords' self-titled HBO series. This particular cut is both laugh out loud funny and somewhat serious thoughts on love. I too feel that love is the very strongest adhesive.

For reference and randomness, "sellotape" which is mentioned in Jemaine's part at the end of the song is a European brand of adhesive tape. Us Yanks wouldn't be aware.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

An All-American Rant

There are plenty of wonderful things about America and I've extolled this country's positives on many occasions. Today though, I feel the need to rant on something so typically disgusting and American.

The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is held annually on the 4th of July in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York.

It's about as American an event as you can imagine, and I don't mean that as a compliment.

Contestants spend 10 minutes soaking buns and shoving them and hot dogs down their gullets at a dizzying rate.

This year's champion and two-time defender of the crown, American Joey Chestnut sent 68 1/2 hot dogs and buns down his attention-craving gluttonous throat. For this feat, he wins $10,000 and presumably a day's worth of the most frightful indigestion on record.

The fine irony here is that for some reason these people feel that continuing this warped tradition is a good way to celebrate the 4th of July. The tradition started with four immigrants in 1916 who wanted to settle a bet as to who among them was the most patriotic.

Apparently, intestinal fortitude is an intelligent and accurate way to determine one's allegiance.

In a world where people are starving and struggling to get by everyday, we in the U.S. watch and applaud a group of "competitive eaters" as part of our celebration of freedom. It's entirely fitting that the nation with the most obesity and the least motivation for being healthy acts in such a way.

But no no don't stop your festivities on my account. I just wanted to rant until I was red, white and blue in the face. Now I'm ready to get out there and eat excessively, light things on fire and blow things up because I'm an American and damn it, that's what we do when we really screw it on.

What a country. Go U.S.A.!!!


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