Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Around the Internets

Day After The Real Opening Day of Baseball Edition

It's the time of year when the only thing appearing faster than buds on tree branches is predictions by talking heads. And Jon Stewart is no different:


And, while Mr. Stewart may be a tad bit too optimistic about the upcoming Mets season, there are many, many reasons why distinguishing and classy ladies around the country are looking forward to some baseball. Well, aside from the dreaminess of David Wright and Jose Reyes.

Switching from dreamy to nightmarish, the Chicago Cubs are going on 100 years without managing to win a World Series. They've got a curse and everything too. Though livestock related curses are generally less popular than those involving Hall of Famers.

A much more visually stimulating view at some (recent) baseball history (if you count construction sites) can be found at the website of the company that built brand-spanking new Nationals Park. They've got an awesome time-lapse view of the entire building process and a calendar so that you can see snapshots from every single day since the construction process started. And, the calendar goes up through today meaning you can check out stadium shots from the home opener on Sunday night. The 8:10 PM shot shows the teams lined up for the national anthem. I couldn't find a picture of George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch, but I suspect it has been sequestered for the sake of national security. Heaven help us if Al Queda knew what his fastball grip looked like.

It was in this very stadium on Sunday night that we were all treated to the first of many forced intersections between baseball and politics that will take place this election year. Our lame-duck Prez took the field to toss out an Opening Pitch he was treated to a hearty, loving round of boos by the crowd.
Perhaps most upsetting as a citizen was W's acute case of idiocy on display when he visited the broadcast booth later in the game.

And, lastly there was a really weird and entertaining interview/article detailing what on earth Lenny Dykstra has been up to lately in a fancy magazine to which fancy people often subscribe to yet rarely read. And, no. I don't mean Hustler, which they do, in fact, read.

Tuesday's Starting Five

1. Baseball. It's back. For real. Not like in Japan at 6 AM EST. But for real. Well, except for the games which were rained out. But, either way baseball is back. If you're a fan then you'll be out to the park some time in the next two weeks. You'll be looking at the standings as early as next week and you might even think about throwing in some chewing tobacco and breaking out your glove.

2. Johan Santana. It was just the second inning of his first-ever start in a New York Mets uniform and I got a text message that read: I can already tell that there is going to be a no-hitter today. This message shows how very good Johan looked and how ridiculously confident he makes Mets fans when he is on the mound. It makes us so very confident that we are able to shed the weight of history (and I don't just mean last September) from our collective shoulders. Not only have the Metropolitans never ever had a no-hitter in franchise history (in spite of sending out pitchers like Tom Seaver, Doc Gooden, David Cone, Al Leiter, Mike Hampton all in the primes of their careers, not to mention a young Nolan Ryan, an old-ish Pedro Martinez and an older Tom Glavine), but there has been only one no-no tossed on Opening Day in the history of the game. Bob Feller did it in 1940. Yet, after Johan cruised through the lineup perfectly in the first three innings you couldn't help but think about it. Every day that he takes the ball in his hand and steps onto that slightly raised mound he has a legitimate chance to make Met history. He pitched seven strong-to-quite-strong innings against the Marlins, striking out eight and surrendering just three hits on exactly 100 pitches. And, yes, one of those three hits was a two-run home run. Yes, it is worth noting. But it is not worth getting upset about. Because what is equally worth noting is the way that Santana flat-out dominated the next at-bat after Wilingham knocked that high change out of the park. After the longball, Santana bore down on Cantu and embarrassed him. He was throwing harder (not faster but harder) and he crossed him up and struck him out. It made me realize that with Santana it's really all about focus. Which for him is not supposed to be a problem in the slightest bit. When your go-to pitch is a change-up there is almost no room for error. It's not like a fastball insofar as you can still have people whiff on your A-heater even if it is a little off target. But if you miss with that change...

3. Amare Stoudamire and the Phoenix Suns. When I fell asleep it looked like the Nuggets were going to be in this spot this morning. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Starting Five. The Suns came back from a mammoth 19-point halftime deficit to top the Nuggets, 132-117, in Phoenix. The Suns scored 81 points in the second half of the game. 81 points in one half of basketball. The Knicks have scored fewer than 81 points in an entire game on five different occasions this season. So far. Anyway, Amare led the way for the Suns scoring 41 points and pulling down 14 rebounds. The presence of Shaq has unleashed him as the most devastating power forward in the game. That is a big statement. Think about it.

4. C.J. Miles. That little guy? I wouldn't worry about that little guy. Well, except for last night when he scored a career-high 29 points against the visiting Wizards. Led by Miles 4 three-point makes the Jazz canned 15 from behind the arc last night. They are now 33-4 at home on the season, which is almost bizarre in a league where home-court advantage hasn't seemingly played a role since the tightening up of the defensive rules moved the game away from the Knicks/Heat/Pacers/Bulls heyday of the 1990s and early 2000s.

5. Stephen Curry. THE player of the 2008 NCAA tournament (unless Rose stills that honor from him in the next two weeks) says that he is returning for his junior year at Davidson next year. I'd like to think that he will though you can't really ever believe a guy who says he's going to come back. Unless its Brandon Rush from Kansas who has kept coming back to Lawrence for the past 15 seasons.

Benched. Me. Where on earth have I been? What are these mysterious technical difficulties?