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A weblog covering the San Diego Padres.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Free Morgan Ensberg

I've been saving a big rant in my head for a while now, but I think I'm ready now to at least present the issue. It goes like this: Free Morgan Ensberg.

If you're not sure who he is, he's a good field, good hit third baseman for the Astros. He's also out of USC, for full disclosure here.

Aaron Gleeman has Johan Santana...

I have Morgan Ensberg.

Mind you I don't think Morgan is as good as Johan, but he deserves to have someone watching his back. Teammate Jason Lane, another Trojan, should get a quick nod as well. Both are better hitters and fielders than the playing time they receive, and at worst are very cheap better than replacement level players.

I first heard about Morgan reading some story on ESPN.com about Astros minor league prospects, and it mentioned how he had been doing really well at AA Round Rock while Lane was also getting hot at the same time with the AA club Round Rock. Ever since, I've been following both, and have generally liked what I've seen.

Jason is more of a versatile, outfielder type, with ok speed and decent power. Up until now, he has been a pinch hitter, and has put together a Brian Buchanan like career. He has a shot as an everyday starter, but at the worst should be taking every non-starting outfield at bat Houston can provide.

He hasn't. Instead, he's had to share with Orlando Palmeiro. Lane has just 32 AB this year, compared to Palmeiro's 44. Those are basically all of Houston's outfield at bats from the bench, so at least he's not having to watch some other scrub steal at bats as well. We'll continue to track him, but I'm getting distracted from the real star here, Mr. Ensberg.

Ensberg's career has been a steady one through the minors after being drafted out of USC in the 9th round of the 1998 draft.

1998 and 1999 were spent in high and low A ball, where he struggled with his average, but demonstrated excellent power, combining for 35 doubles and 20 homeruns over 623 at bats at the age of 23 and 24. He also showed the ability to take a walk, drawing 114 of them in that time span.

In 2000, at the age of 25, he was promoted to AA Round Rock where he really got the big club's attention, hitting .300 for the season, with 34 doubles, 28 homeruns and 92 walks in 483 at bats. That kind of hitting also got him a cup of coffee at the major league level, netting him seven at bats before returning to the minors.

In 2001, he was bumped to AAA New Orleans for a full season, and found similar results, this time inching up in age as he was now 26. In 316 at bats, he hit .310, hit 20 doubles, 23 homeruns, and walked 45 times. Amazingly, he wasn't called up to the Big Club.

That season, Houston went 93-69 to win the N.L. Central Division, but there was room for Morgan. Their starting third baseman was Vinny Castilla, who hit .270/.320/.492 in 445 at bats. Behind him, the Astros found room to play such bench greats as Jose Vizcaino, Orlando Merced, Chris freaking Truby and the rotting corpse of Charlie Hayes.

Underappreciated, Morgan Ensberg spent 2002 shuttling between AAA and the majors. He would hit .288/.401/.421 in 292 AB for the small club and .242/.346/.394 in 132 AB for the Big Club. Not bad numbers by any means. Ensberg had clearly established a very solid record in the minors and was at least passing in the majors, especially in terms of finding ways to get on base as he adjusted to better pitching. Houston would start Geoff Blum at third base, and he had a decent season, but out of character for himself, hitting .283/.367/.440 in 368 AB.

Last year, at the ripe age of 28, Morgan finally played a full season in the majors.

Sort of.

Houston and manager Jimy Williams would platoon the poor guy with Geoff Blum, a career platoon guy. This makes sense when you have two guys who are platoon types. Ensberg might be a platoon guy, but Houston had no way of knowing after just 132 AB with Ensberg, especially given his power. This was mistake number one and I think it's hurt him since.

At that point in his career, Ensberg deserved a real chance, and it just didn't happen. Blum's career year had gone by, and it was the perfect opportunity to let Morgan take over the everyday role.

Instead, Jimy Williams stuck with Blum for unknown and probably insane reasons. I liked him in Boston, but he's really annoyed me for this special situation. As expected, Blum played like his real self, going .262/.295/.379 in 420 AB. He was basically a wasted out every time up, and indirectly stole over 200 ABs from Mr. Ensberg right at the peak development age for a baseball player.

For the record, Ensberg went .291/.377/.530 in his 385 AB last year, hitting 25 homeruns and knocking out 15 doubles. His power and patience had merged and he had demonstrated his ability to play a corner infield position despite a quasi-platoon.

So what does Houston do this year to reward the guy after parting ways with Blum, Mr. .262/.326/.408 ???

It signs Mike Lamb, another career platoon guy and what Ensberg may become with all these wasted at bats. Lamb was a serviceable hitter and fielder for Texas a few years back as a hotshot rookie, but never developed much power or compensated with great fielding. Texas responded by having him block a better young hitter in Hank Blalock for a year before getting smart and parting ways. Sound familiar?

Well, Mr. Lamb is now one of Houston's hottest hitters, and has made third base effectively a platoon again for Ensberg and the Astros.

I'm having some trouble with the table html, so just scan down a bit to continue reading this post.























Player At Bats BA OBP SLG
Morgan Ensberg 132 .273 .329 .356
Mike Lamb 70 .343 .373 .571


Credit is due, of course, to Mr. Lamb for having one of the better hit streaks of his career, and I understand Houston for riding the hot hand. He hasn't taken all of Ensberg's at bats, but he has basically taken away his chance at playing everyday consistently. I bet Morgan and Mike get along, as both are LA-Area guys, Morgan being from Huntington Beach and Mike from West Covina. But that doesn't excuse his really poor timing and Houston's general stupidity.

Of course, for now, it looks like I'm talking out of my tail since Morgan is slumping, but that's just bad timing on his part.

The thing about the two is that Mike is just hitting well right now, but his career indicates his normal play is a lot farther from this current reality.

Check out these discipline numbers of the two, and see who is maybe just a bit lucky and who is making an effort to get on consistently:

Player & K/BB
Lamb 16/4
Ensberg 15/12

Yikes. Lamb's also K'd that much in many fewer ABs.

Here's one final comparison for the two (going INTO this season), both at the same position, and the same age (just 19 days apart):

At Bats
Lamb 1129
Ensberg 524

BA/OBP/SLG
Lamb .282/.336/.385
Ensberg .279/.368/.492

Why is baseball so inefficient that it gives a player like Mike Lamb so many chances in his mid twenties to establish himself and he can't do it, yet a player who shows an ability to cut it as a regular gets platooned and loses so many at bats at the same age? I think this is one of the inefficiencies that many in the SABR/Baseball Blog Blog/Moneyball crowd go crazy about.

The fact that guys like Phil Nevin, Morgan Ensberg, Scott Hatteberg, and many more fall between the cracks is astounding. There's a lot more like them out there, someone like Pittsburgh's Craig Wilson, for example. If that team weren't so bad their management wouldn't even want him on the roster because they have no clue just how good he is.

I just hope Ensberg can shake off all the lost at bats and find a way to make it real big for himself starting in his late twenties. Surprisingly, there's a similar player in recent memory, also a third baseman, also shuttled around by the Astros and undervalued nearly into his 30's.

If you guessed Phil Nevin you understand where I'm going at now. Free Morgan Ensberg!

One last thing I want to throw out real quick: BaseballReference has a cool feature called "Similar Batters" for individual players, and it does it by age and general rank. Here are some comparisons for Blum, Lamb, and Ensberg, just to further point out his potential and what chumps have been in his way.

Geoff Blum:
Melvin Mora, Rex Hudler, Scott Cooper, Tim Naehring
Mike Lamb:
Timo Perez, Doug Glanville, Alex Ochoa
Morgan Ensberg:
Hank Blalock, Austin Kearns, Craig Wilson

Hmm...

Free Morgan Ensberg!

Resources:
ESPN.com BaseballStats Page
The Baseball Cube
Baseball Reference



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YES!

Mark Prior is BACK.

Or so we hope. Looks like the big guy will be taking it easy for a few starts, but he's apparently worked the kinks out in a few rehab assigments and will pitch Friday.

Graduation and a return from the DL in one month, how exciting!

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Pre Trip Post Trip

Padres record before: 23-17
Padres record after : 28-22
Trip: 5-5

Dodgers record before: 22-16
Dodgers record after : 26-22
Trip: 4-6

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Kennedy/USC Follow-Up

I came across some pictures of the USC Baseball team by a site called The Diamond Angle. It has book reviews and other stuff on it, but I've seen them before with a lot of pictures from around college baseball, especially the Pac-10 and Stanford.

I'll give you the link in a moment, but first, the Kennedy image:



That's kind of how Ian is, always cap low over his face. I saw him once on campus and he looked the same.

To the links...

College Pictures Page
USC Trojans I. From last year.
USC Trojans II
USC Trojans III
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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Ian Kennedy

You've heard his name before, right?

Well if you haven't, now would be a good time to learn it. Ian is a freshman pitcher at USC, and already is one of the nation's finest. He is a crafty righty playing for college baseball's most storied program.

I mention his name because the Hardball Times' Craig Burley has done some really complex math to try and figure out park factors and the like in determining the best players in college baseball. The formula is not perfect, but I don't understand it enough to criticize. His methodology is explained in the link.

What I can do is point out the results, right here. He has listed the top 100 pitchers and batters in the NCAA as determined by his math.

Check out the #41 pitcher. Yep, Ian Kennedy. Not bad for a Freshman. He's no Mark Prior (I doubt he ever will be), but he's a lot of fun to watch and wins games, he's a lot like Barry Zito in that he'll walk a few, but also strikes them out, doesn't get crazy, and only loses when guys put the ball in play a lot.
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G'Day Mates!

I'm baaaaaaaaaaack. Good to see Victor took good care of this place, how did you all like his posts? I liked them a lot and told him today he could post anytime. Hopefully he does.

Anyway, I'm back from Sydney, cleared customs and all that good stuff, didn't smuggle any Koalas or the like. Saw a few girls smuggling raisins but that's neither here nor there.

I have barely been able to check out what's been going on while away, so I don't really know too much of what happened, but it looks like Peavy's shelved for a bit, we've got Tankersley up, Germano up, and a lot of other changes. My head's spinning, but that doesn't sound encouraging. I guess Loretta's out for a bit now too? Sigh.

The good news is that the Padres are clearly in first place in the N.L. West at 28-22, a game ahead of the Dodgers. Amazing how that all works out, as a season rolls along teams tend to play more and more like themselves (ahem, Dodgers) and the divisions start to settle.

Look at San Fran, they've made a huge run and are above .500, proving you just cannot count Sabean and Bonds for dead. They're like a bad movie enemy that just can't die. Or Rasputin. Maybe we'll call them team Rasputin?

Just perusing my linked blogs this afternoon I was amused to see that Citizen's Blog's Michael was involved in the Phil Nevin potty mouth incident. We can take his word for what happened, he seems like an honest guy, so as a proud but fair Padre fan I must get mad at Phil and say he has done wrong. It may be a bit blown out of proportion, but it was unnecessary. Besides, he's in Philly, what does he expect, a bouquet upon arriving to bat? Check out Citizen's Blog for more details.

Also, I am sad to report influential baseball writer/blogger/lawyer/inspiration to many Doug Pappas recently passed away while traveling recently in Texas. By all accounts he was perhaps THE influential person in the baseball internet world, and several sites have given him brilliant eulogies. For more info, make your first stop Futility Infielder.

I will keep his blog linked for all the goodies that came from it. He was best known for butting heads with one Bud Selig and didn't back down from the interaction, and has brought a lot of baseball's economics to light.

Our condolences to his family and the baseball world.

I'll have more later, but I've forgotten all I had to comment on. Please continue to stop by, things are just heating up!

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Saturday, May 22, 2004

The bullpen is human

The arrival of Rod Beck was supposed to strengthen an already very strong bullpen. Hopefully last night's game is just an anomaly. Akinori Otsuka blew his first major league save and boosted his ERA to a whopping 1.69 as the Padres lose their first game at First Citizen. The good news that can come from this is that this is only the first blown save in 6 weeks for the Padres bullpen and Adam Eaton chalked up a quality start (his first in over a month). Looks like the Padres are now in a 6 team race for the wild card being 1/2 game back and being tied with the Dodgers for the division lead (sounds like '96).

If you saw the MLB.com website you would have seen the headline: "Mulder has no-hitter through 5." What's up with that, the guy hasn't even faced the lineup twice and MLB is already getting ready for no-hitter coverage. The Royals and the Yankee offense have to be the two biggest dissapointments in baseball thus far.

One big surprise is Barry Bonds. The guy could have sat out the series against the Expos in San Juan, but said that he'll play for the fans and put on a couple of back braces. Is this the Barry Bonds we all know? He actually cares about the fans? My opinion has to be that if you let the guy do his thing he doesn't seem that bad at all. And once again, walking Barry cost the Expos the game (but made me some cash).

I think the Lakers will sweep the T'Wolves

If you look at my picks, all of my wins were due to runs in the 7th or 8th inning. The Giants had 6 in the 7th, Anaheim had 4 in the 8th (covering the run line too) and Atlanta had 1 in the 7th.

Last night: 3-2 +$195

Saturday's picks:
St. Louis (Williams) +113 -1.5 vs. Cubs (Rusch)
Los Angeles (Weaver) vs. Atlanta (Wright) +161 -1.5
Arizona (Sparks) vs. Florida (Penny) +124 -1.5
Kansas City (Grenike) vs. Oakland (Zito) +100 -1.5
Houston (Clemens) vs. Cincinnati (Harang) +166 (Yes, this is a ballsy pick)
Baltimore (Ponson) +110 vs. Anaheim (Escobar)
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Friday, May 21, 2004

Not Brian's Page Anymore (for at least a week)

I'm Brian's HS friend Victor...you can find out more about me at http://reraise.blogspot.com (read from the bottom).

Anyways I was about to write about how Kevin Towers needs to stop this obsession with having a left-handed reliever for the longest time instead of having a guy that can get left-handed batters out. However just in on the transaction wire is that Eddie Oropesa was outrighted to Portland to make room for Rod Beck.

I'm not going to talk about Padres games because I've been in Tucson and haven't seen a game on TV other than what I see on ESPN, box scores and the U-T website.

What Peter Gammons does best is bring up rumors involving trades that he gets from his "sources." As all of you are well aware the latest rumor has the Padres trading Klesko to an AL team to dump his backloaded contract and because they don't believe that Klesko will be able to adjust to Petco due to his shoulder. Now this is a good reason to trade Klesko, who will take him? Remember that Klesko has a no-trade clause that he will most likely not waive, especially since he has stated many times that he wants to stay in SoCal and will definitly not waive unless he was probably traded to a contender especially if the Padres are in the hunt. So where does this land him? Anaheim, who is without a good DH, but I highly doubt they will take him due to their high payroll unless the Padres want another high priced contract but that will probably not be any improvement over Ryno.

Time for baseball picks a la Aaron's Baseball Blog
Unlike Aaron, I like to use the run line (team must win by 2 if denoted by a -1.5)
Lines are from Pinnacle Sports

San Francisco (Tomko) +132 vs. Montreal (Hernandez) (at San Juan)
Yankees (Brown) -102 -1.5 vs. Texas (Benoit)
White Sox (Buehrle) vs. Minnestota (Silva) +113
Los Angeles (Perez) vs. Atlanta (Ortiz) -111
Baltimore (Dubose) vs. Anaheim (Washburn) +165 -1.5
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Thursday, May 20, 2004

What's Going On

Hey all. I'm off to Australia for a few days, so I won't be around to update PetcoPadres for a while. I'm trusting it to a few friends, whether they update or not, who knows, but it's basically their forum for a few days (hopefully the topic stays somewhere close to being Padres related, although I have been known to get sidetracked).

Please keep checking back, I should be starting again around the beginning of June but there should be something here to read once in a while in the meantime.

If nothing else, continue to use the links I've provided, they're all awesome. I don't read all of them daily, but I try and hit up Aaron's Baseball Blog, The Hardball Times, Rob Neyer, DodgerThoughts, Ducksnorts, RedsDaily, PearlyGates and Frinklin Speaks on a consistent basis.

With that addressed, the Padres won tonight's double header against the Buccos 7-3/6-3, netting wins for Brian Lawrence and Jake Peavy in Peavy v. Perez I.

The teams each had several former players going today, with such names as Brian Giles, Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, PetcoPadres favorite Brian Boehringer and Brian Meadows.

Bay is a very intriguing hitter who may be a poor man's Phil Nevin in time, much as the Burgh's Craig Wilson is fastly becoming.

Giles went 3 for 8 against his former club, with 2 runs, 2 walks, three strikeouts, an RBI a stolen base and an outfield error.

Bay went 1 for 5 with a strikeout.

Meadows pitched 3 2/3 innings of relief, surrendering a run on two hits, a walk, and three strikeouts. He has a 1.80 ERA in over 24 innings of relief.

Boehringer went two innings, surrendering three hits, a run, a home run, and striking out two batters. His ERA is now 4.05.

Oliver Perez took the loss, going three innings and walking four batters. He surrendered two hits, but the walks were enough to lead to four runs. He did fan five Padres. His ERA is now an impressive 2.96.

Kudos to Jake Alabama Peavy, winner of four games and posessor of a sterling 2.01 ERA. He struck out nine Pirates in six innings of work, handing out just one free pass and one run.

Today's game also marked the return of Jeff Cirillo, who went 1 for 3 with a run, a walk, and an RBI. Way to go Jeff!

With the wins, the Padres are now 23-17 (.575), dead even with the Dodgers (22-16) and just a hair behind them in overall win percentage.

The .575 win % puts the Padres on pace for 93 wins.

Tomorrow the resurgent Ismail Valdez (3-2, 3.89) matches up against Ryan Vogelsong (1-3, 6.16) in the clincher. It is a 4:05 PST game, airing on Channel 4.
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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Trojan Family Love And San Diego Love

I'll get to my day in a moment, but first off, BIG congratulations to Randy Johnson, ye of the perfect game today. Fittingly, it was against Atlanta just a few days after Ben Sheets melted them for 18K's.

I'm going to throw some links at you now:

Big Unit By The Numbers

MLB Perfect Games. What are Mike Witt, Tom Browning, and Kenny Rogers doing on there?!

The Box Score. Poor Chipper Jones, he struck out three times.

The Story. 40 years old, wow.

In case you haven't caught on, Randy Johnson went to USC and thus, he gets lots of praise here. Trojans have each others' back, unless they're homicidal. So if you're thinking about going to USC, I'll tell you now it is a wise decision.

Come to think of it, I just added my "USC Alumni" license plate frames yesterday, they look awesome. The few. The proud. Trojans.

School spirit aside, it's time for some San Diego love. Let's just list things here for simplicity: Sombrero. Hooter's. Anthony's Fish Grotto downtown. Rockin' Baja. Casa De Bandini.

I hit 'em all today. I'm more than stuffed with booze and food, so don't pilsbury my belly. Sombrero's is relevant because Blink 182 mentions them in a song and they're right down the road from me. They have terrific breakfast burritos and much more. People often leave food for the band there, what happens to it I don't know, but that's the story.

Inbetween Hooters and Bandini was lots of booze and a little food. I survived somehow, thanks to the loving support of my family. And the nightcap was a margarita at Bandini, probably the best margarita in town, plus some yummy fried ice cream.

I could fill in a lot more details, but if you live here you know and if you don't its just hard with local biases and other things to really make the effort of convincing.

And if you think San Diegans as people aren't also great, check this story out about a San Diego man returning Danny Graves' missing wallet and the hassle he went through doing it. The Link.

Now, to the Padres. Tonight's game was postponed due to rain, and will be made up in a doubleheader tomorrow starting at 2:05 PST. The Dodgers lost to Philly 8-7, so some ground has been made up in the division race.

Lastly, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a story on former Padre Oliver Perez, who has been outstanding for the Buccos so far.
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Monday, May 17, 2004

Just A Bit More News

Stop posting already, right? Well, Mr. Wells lacerated his hand and will miss an outing or two. This says so.

Also, the trip to Philly will be the first meeting between teams with new ballparks this year. Not that anybody cares except the media who play these kinds of things up, yours truly included.
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The Bad

Do roses really smell like ...?

Just two of the "bad" things for Los Padres this season, Eddie Oropesa and (lack of) home runs.

First, the lack of doozies. The Padres have 22 home runs, dead last in the Majors behind even the hapless 'Spos who managed to somehow hit 27 and listless Seattle with 24. The Cubs hit seven AT Petco this series alone.

Now, for the doozie.

Eddie Oropesa.
9 IP
6H
12R/12ER
1 HR
6K/12BB
12.00 ERA

Kids, this is not how to go through life.

Eddie has taken an absolute beating for two months strong. In 15 appearances, he's surrendered runs in seven of them, including three of two or more runs. Remember, kids, he's a lefty reliever who is asked most of the time to record an out or two then leave.

He's also walked a batter in nine of those fifteen appearances.

Check out his heroic sixth inning against Arizona on April 25:

L. Gonzalez walked
L. Gonzalez stole second
L. Gonzalez to third on wild pitch by E. Oropesa
R. Sexson walked
S. Finley walked, R. Sexson to second

Antonio Osuna came on to inherit that mess and also failed, but at least he's had a pulse in his other outings.

One fun part of my stat-searching right now is checking out ESPN's Padres pitching page and seeing four relievers with sub 2.00 ERAs right now.

To know that Peavy, Eaton, Wells, Lawrence and Valdez have 74 innings of sub-2.00 ERA support is comforting.

Look at this murderer's row:

A. Otsuka (19.0 IP/0.95 ERA)
T. Hoffman (13.0 IP/1.38 ERA)
S. Linebrink (23.0 IP/1.57 ERA)
J. Witasick (19.1 IP/1.86 ERA)

66K/16BB combined.

Now, that was GOOD stuff, and this post was titled THE BAD, so I've messed up and disgressed, bad me, but since I run the blog I can do what I want and today I pull rank.

That's all I have for now, enjoy.

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Some Draft Stuff

It's June 7-8, the Padres have the first pick, and it won't be televised as far as I know (and why would they?!).

Baseball America brings us three interesting items to take a look at:

*Draft Primer

*Draft Order/Compensation List

*Pitchers: Polish Versus Stuff. Who Wins?

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What Have I Been Saying About The Dodgers?

The Futility Infielder (now linked to the right) has similar thoughts:

"The Dodgers' outperformance of their Pythagorean projection, success in one-run games, and off-the-charts boost from some of the hitters all suggest that they may return to earth before too long, and indeed, the current losing streak may represent the beginning of the elevator ride down."

The Dodgers, like the Angels, are good teams playing above themselves. Teams like that tend to come back to orbit. Remember the Padres' 14 game winning streak during a bad season a few years ago? Same thing.

Now, to be fair, I was being selective with that quote. This is a little trick a lot of media people do and are not honest about, ripping things out of context. So here's a lesson of sorts, as I provide the rest of the context of that quote, as FI wasn't knocking the Dodgers so much as providing an outlook after some long and thoughtful analysis of how the Dodgers have done what they have done. Here's the rest, to see where he was actually going with what I used-

"But in a weak division, with last year's champs reeling, the Dodgers actually have a fighting chance, particularly if a pair of highly touted rookies deliver on their promise. Twenty-year-old starter Edwin Jackson, who went 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 22 late-season innings last year, has needed some seasoning at Las Vegas, but even his his 10th percentile PECOTA projection of a 4.17 ERA looks mighty tasty next to the likes of Nomo and Weaver, and he may be back in the majors by mid-summer. If new GM Paul DePodesta can provide the kind of in-season upgrades that helped make his mentor in Oakland famous, this team has a real shot at going to the postseason for the first time since 1996. With my MLB.tv package, I'll be keeping an eye on them."

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And The Brooms Came Out

Series sweep, ouch. I'm beginning to think Petco Park has seriously repressed the Padres' offense, but I haven't done the research to prove it yet, maybe I'm just making this up, I don't know.

Anyway, I made it to the park yesterday, it looks terrific. I had a monster headache and it was loud so I wasn't in the best mood during the game, but right away I can tell the park was designed in part for people to walk around and look at it. It's very visual and interactive, much like San Diego county. There's a lot to see and do and I'll leave that up to you for now to observe, but if I catch another game this year I'll have some better observations.

The one interesting thing is that as I was into my own thoughts somewhere in the middle of the game I thought it pretty cool that I was attending a baseball game in Downtown. I could see the city skyline from my seats in right field and knew the Gaslamp was just a few blocks away. I don't think all downtown ballparks are capable of incorporation into a downtown area, but Petco Park has clearly fit in. It is an expensive gift to the people of San Diego... FROM the people of San Diego, bribery and corruption be damned ;o).

Quick observations:

Khalil Greene is fun to see in person. He turned his own double play and just does everything effortlessly. He had the loudest cheers during game introductions, so he might just be a fan favorite at a very young point in his career.

Sammy Sosa disappointed all in attendance by what I was told was an incident involving sneezing and back spasms.

Right.

The Cubs gift wrapped Sunday's game, starting without Sosa and middle infielders Todd Walker and Alex Gonzalez, and trotting in Glendon Rusch to close a road series. The Padres messed this one up.

The Padres are now 21-17 (.553), 2 games behind the Dodgers (22-14) in the N.L. West and 1.5 games back of Chicago/Houston (22-15) for the N.L. Wild Card. They have the sixth best record in the National League.

Next Series:

At Pittsburgh (17-18)
Tue 5/18 through Thu 5/20
All games on Ch. 4, 4:05 P.M.

First game:
Brian Lawrence
5-2 (4.57)
vs.
Kris Benson
3-3 (4.64)

And then it's off to Philadelphia (19-16) for back to back series in Pennsylvania. Check out Citizens' Blog linked to the right under Friends for info on the Phillies and the annoying but very interesting Honest Wagner for info on the Pirates, linked under Other Team Blogs on the right.



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Sunday, May 16, 2004

If It Looks Like We've Been Away... We Have

My apologies. I'm in that hectic two week period of pregraduation and postgraduation. I basically haven't had a moment to sit still for a few days and it's burning me up that I haven't been able to get to here and even look at the site stats or anything, read all the other wonderful blogs, etc.

I probably won't update for another day or so, but I will try. What is of note is that I will be AT Petco Park for MY first visit to the stadium to see the revamped 2004 San Diego Padres in person today (Sunday) against my beloved Cubbies. The game should be a blast and if I can find my battery charger and transfer some pics from graduation and the Nixon Library onto my laptop wherever the heck it is among the luggage, I'll be able to take a few pics and try once again to have some images on here. The Dodger game pics appear to be a failure, but to the few that did see them, weren't they cool?!

Also, I've added Rooftop Report to our links. It's a really cool Cubs blog, so check that one out when you get the chance.

Quick standings check:

21-16 (.568)
2.0 Games Behind Los Angeles

0.5 Games Behind Chicago for N.L. Wild Card

So I'll leave you with that.

One last thing...

Go Trojans!



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Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Aftermath

Well, last night is over and today is a new day. But for many at that game, it was something special to remember into today and the next. For some other reviews and thoughts, check out Dodger Thoughts, especially the game comments in the comments section, as well as 6-4-2, The Cub Reporter and Cubs Now!. If still intrigued, just surf around for other Dodger or Cub related blogs. Everyone was impressed or befuddled.

Right now my pics aren't showing, so if you don't see anything, my apologies, I just signed up for the image hosting thing last night in a rush to get the images up. Apparently they were showing for a while but not this morning. If anyone has any image host suggestions that allow me to link just the image URL to this page and it will still show, let me know in email or the comments section.

I'm about to step away here, but I'll try and do 2-3 small items on here today, there are some things I want to gloss over, and they should be interesting quick reads if nothing else, so check back later tonight maybe?

The Lakers are on tonight, so hopefully I'm in front of the TV and hopefully the energetic, shotmaking, inspired Lakers show up and not the old ones. It's been a frustrating series for me because the Spurs guards are doing whatever they want. The Lakers have about seven guards on their roster and none can even stay with Hedo Turkoglu, let alone Ginobili or Parker. Imagine if Bruce Bowen could play offense?

Kobe cannot guard them all, and Shaq had needed a lot of help when Duncan draws him high or posts him up. I'm not joking, watch the game, Kobe's literally watching all five guys on every play, cheating over to try and give a lot of help D. It's not fun for him right now because he's gotta save his energy for offense and his inept teammates just aren't good enough to play against the Spurs.

The game was won the other night just as much by Kobe going off as the Spurs guards missing their shots late in the game when they had the opportunities. Will they miss them a second time around? Not likely. Either way they'll be open, and its difficult to see that.
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What A Day

Advanced warning, this could be long.

Let's see, I started out really early this morning going to a senior breakfast with a friend who showed up real late. That was fun though, the food was good, they did a SoCal Spellout, which is the school's one lame tradition, and otherwise it was relaxing.

From there I got a little rest and did some cleaning up before heading out to Santa Monica to meet with the same friend and a few others, kind of a last hangout thing before graduation. Said friend again showed up late. That's a pattern with her now. But the three hungry men ditched said girl to go eat at this expensive deli called Broadway Deli. Said friend eventually shows up after the boys have already finished eating. We stay to socialize a bit.

While simply relaxing there on a beautiful California afternoon in May, I notice two minor celebrities. For what it's worth celebrity sightings are pretty exciting, no matter how big or small, and I'm not one to brag because mine are very rare, especially for this town.

In a span of a few minutes I saw NFL linebacker, face-spitter, pill-popping hothead Bill Romanowski and an actor from the pilot episode of FX's Nip/Tuck. Needless to say I didn't ask for Romo's autograph and didn't bother the other guy. For those that follow the show (I haven't gotten past the pilot) he's the guy who injects the botox into the slimy doctor when trying to interrogate him. He had this big tattoo on his kneck that was a dead giveaway, and he was really skinny. That gave me some excitement for my day, actually more than enough to carry me through it, but I wasn't through by any means.

So then we part ways with the friends, with site co-author Matt and myself heading off back to the USC area and the other two friends going their ways. But before we could split one of Santa Monica's infamous homeless/street persons serenaded us to an awesome "day-o!" that echoed throughout the outdoor walkway and then scolded us for not taking the arm of our "princess". He convinced our friend Troy to grab said friend's arm and they awkwardly walked away, but not before the entertainer requested we treat him to a burger.

That's kind of how it goes in Santa Monica.

I've had other interesting experiences there with the city's more mobile but permanent residents. Today one of them walked right to me, said "gimme a hundred dollars" and then walked right away. That's tame.

I've been there with friends as we've been followed by a guy on rollerblades, dressed in what I think was tinfoil, playing a mini electric piano. Again, pretty tame. I do try and avoid being there as it's not the most fun destination. The most interesting and most repeated story told from there is how a certain friend of mine who is a magnet for that kind of attention was approached and asked, "sir, what is the greatest nation in the world?"

To which he stuttered around in thought for a moment, still walking away, "uh, I don't know... the USA?".

To which one of Santa Monica's finest residents replied, "no, it's a do-nation!".

You got me there. I've got other stories from San Diego and New Orleans, too. Not that these were the most informative or entertaining, but moving along...

So we leave, and return to the USC area, I go home for a second, and then pick Matt up so we can head to the aforementioned Dodger game. Along the way we need to pick up our friend Carlos from his work in Downtown, and then head to the Glendale Galleria to pick up Matt's ladyfriend before making our way back to Dodger Stadium.

Anyone who has ever lived in Los Angeles knows what kind of nightmare that kind of venture is at 5:30. It's hard enough just to get to Dodger Stadium. But we're young and brave, so we push forward without complaint. Well, Matt was mad because I picked him up 10 minutes late.

Downtown traffic gets difficult because it's nearly doubled with a mess of people in and around the Convention Center because of the E3 Electronics convention. This is THE event for the nerds of America, it's where all the big videogames and computer games are revealed and discussed. It's the perfect location for Triumph, the Comic Insult Dog, basically. And people pay upwards of $50 to get in. Amazing. Laker game parking in the nearby lots isn't as expensive as today's parking was. I saw lots going for $30. That's insane.

Anyway, we fight through that traffic to grab Carlos, and then I almost get stuck getting onto the Freeway at Third Street instead of near an area farther North. Ship righted, we deal with the mess that is getting onto the 5 from the 110 somehow, get into Glendale with the directional skill of Matt and Carlos (they sarcastically call me Magellan), and pick up the ladyfriend.

Foursome reunited, it's off to Dodger Stadium and we arrive just in time (and after just under two hours of driving) to see Sammy Sosa single in the Cubs' first hit.

I'm going to try and tell the game in pictures now, so if you've kept awake through my L.A. traffic madness this should be a bit more interesting.

Wilson Alvarez, not Kaz Ishii, started the game for the Dodgers, and did really well. I think he had 8Ks and brought out the handcuffs.

The Dodgers got their first two runs off a very bizarre defensive inning for the Cubs.

Here's how it went...

-Alex Cora flies out, out #1.
-Wilson Alvarez muscles a single to left, runner on first. What the heck?
-Cesar Izturis then flies out for out #2. Inning's over if Clement had gotten the stinkin' pitcher out.

-Now it gets weird. Paul LoDuca dribbles a slow grounder to third base. Aramis Ramirez waits on it to go foul, but it never does. He had a chance for a play at second, but sat on the ball. It stayed fair, Dodgers have runners on first and second. It was a tough call, and just a weirdly hit ball. But that's OK, the Cubs only need to get an out...

-Milton Bradley singles just to the left of pitcher Matt Clement. The play is an easy out, but Clement strangely throws from his knees and space lobs the ball to first. Bradley beats the throw on one of the worst throws by a pitcher ever, and suddenly the bases are loaded. If you're keeping score at home we're up to three unreal plays in one inning.



Here's an image to make a little more sense of that. Look at Milton's second at bat. Single to pitcher. Sigh.

-Shawn Green then softly singles to Aramis Ramirez, who gets to the ball a little slow and cannot make much of a play on it. Another weirdly hit ball, one of those that you might see once in every few games the Dodgers have their second of in an inning. The pitcher scores, bases again juiced, Dodger up 1-0.

-Adrian Beltre then hits another ball to Ramirez, who gets cuffed by it as it bounces off of him and to the hands of the shortstop who manages to make a throw to first but does not get the out. At this point I'm stunned, the crowd is going nuts on all the cheap stuff, and Aramis wants to see his mommy. Dodgers up 2-0.

Somehow the Cubs get out of that one, but the madness is not over.

We shuffle now to the bottom of the 7th. Jason Grabowski walks to set up one of the more interesting things I've ever seen at a live game.

The light-hitting Alex Cora steps to the plate and the following happens:

Ball 1-0
Called Strike 1-1
Ball 1-2
Foul 2-2
Foul
Foul
Foul
Foul
Foul
Foul
Foul
Foul
Foul
Foul
Foul
Foul
Foul

Somewhere around the 10th foul ball I started to take pictures of the scoreboard, deleted them with each ensuing foul, but this image should help



The tension was high at this point, if you ignore the oblivious fans doing the wave and tossing the beach balls. Everyone else is standing up, getting antsy or annoyed. Dammit, Alex, put the ball in play!







Dodgers 4
Cubs O

Game over for all intents and purposes. Amazing.

As an aside, like any Cubs road game, there were tons of Cub fans in attendance, not that the locals were any good with them. One guy was pretty hilarious, making fun of the Cubs and their fans, it was pretty tame and all, one lady was coming back with some good ones or at least just being positive for the Cubs.

But then the Dodger fan slipped. He started talking about how Cubs fans aren't from around L.A. and should not be at the game, or something like that. Talking about the Windy City, what have you.

I don't hear the full exchange, but somehow he admits he's from Whittier, and the lady cracks up.

"That's not even Los Angeles!"

D'oh.

If you've seen Swingers there's a scene where one of the guys brandishes a gun for some silly skirmish outside a bar that didn't need the weapon. All the other guys are transplants from New York and are like, what are you doing?!

The guy, Sue, responds, "you guys don't know what it's like around here"

Another goes "you're from Anaheim!"

Sue meekly shoots back, "whatever".

That exchange was nearly identical to what happened behind me and I was cracking up as it happened.

Anyway, it was a really great game, Dodger Stadium was beautiful as always, the fans were fun, we had some good seats, just an overall great time. But boy was I tired afterwards.

If you've read this far, thank you, not all of this may have been interesting but I like to detail what I'm up to sometimes, and all the side stuff associated with it. Of course, this is a Padres blog, so I will say that I was scoreboard watching and biting my fingernails as the Padres held on for a 2-1 win over the Reds tonight.

Brian Giles hit a 2-run HR and Brian Lawrence got the win, and this Brian didn't see any of it, but the Padres are now 20-14, a full three games back of the Dodgers.

N.L. West Standings as of Wednesday, May 12:

Dodgers 22-10 (.688)
Padres 20-14 (.588)
Giants 15-19 (.441)
Diamondbacks 14-19 (.424)
Rockies 13-18 (.419)

In other Padre news, the Friars placed reliever Antonio Osuna on the disabled list with some kind of groin injury, and recalled bullpen righty Brandon Puffer, a sidearmer.

Sterling Hitchcock is getting closer to coming back, as he will throw a simulated game Saturday.

There's also a note about Rey Ordonez and Jason Szuminski in this link where all the above information can be found.

Tomorrow Jake Peavy (2-2, 1.94 ERA) will match up against the Reds' Jose Acevedo (2-2, 4.54 ERA). Gametime is 7:05 PST and can be seen on Channel 4 Padres.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

In: USC Out: MIT

The Padres have returned Jason Szuminski to the Cubs to make roster room for Jeff Cirillo. This is probably a good move as Vazquez has done nothing with his bat and a shakeup might be needed on the bench.

Here's the story.

In other news, I'm watching my Rose Bowl DVD of the 2004 USC/Michigan game. Great game.

Pac10 > Big10

There is a USC preview right now on the front page of collegefootballnews.com. The cover page of the site says: The Trojan Dynasty. I love it.

Here's their USC Preview. It's not bad, there are some errors in spots (Lenny Vandermade graduated!), but overall it's fair and recognizes some of the team trends. What's funny is how many good players are not mentioned (Sedrick Ellis, Keith Rivers, Josh Pinkard off the top of my head).

Guess who the 2004-2005 Heisman frontrunner will be?



The season is just a few months away, and I absolutely cannot wait. The defense should be just short of outstanding (as it has been the previous two seasons), and the offense won't miss a beat. I'm not kidding on that second one, Matt Leinart has such great command of the offense, the offensive line is just ok but will get a lot better as the season rolls along and the skill players are second to none.

Lose Mike Williams, you say? So what! Whitney Lewis, Steve Smith, William Buchanon and a host of other talented WRs are coming back. Then there's the hammers in Hershel Dennis and LenDale White. USC also has three great tight ends and the ultimate weapon that nobody has been able to figure out, San Diego native Reggie "Bush in 2004".



Good times, good times :o). ByTheWay... In the above image I was on the sidelines literally five feet from Reggie when he held his finger up. A great moment in my life, really, I was standing there as the play developed and saw Bush go to the outside and I almost jumped out of my pants because the entire field was open for him to cut back literally on a b-line in my direction. Reggie did just that, and got a highlight reel touchdown.

Looking back it made me realize what superb vision he has as a running back, he basically saw what I saw, from the other side of the field. That takes some major skill to visualize like that and Reggie has that kind of vision. I'm kind of not making sense here, but I'll try an analogy.

Pretend you're standing in a crowd of people on the busy New York sidewalks looking towards a goal 60 yards away, there are all these people and cars each moving at their own rate, some fast, some slow, and you have to slow things down in your mind to try and grasp their velocities and expected movement while trying to get to your goal untouched.

Pretty tough.

Well, a football field isn't filled with hundreds of people, but it has twenty or so very big and fast people in a very small space.

Now imagine a friend of yours is sitting near that goal and has a perfect view of the only possible route for you to get to that goal untouched.

Now, it's impossible to see what that friend is seeing, you can guess a little, but it's just a difficult thing for the human mind to grasp.

On that specific play, Reggie Bush literally saw what I was seeing, a clear route for a touchdown on a field of moving defenders and teammates in various spots. He had to know not only that there was a lane, that each player was going to move at a certain speed and either make it to a spot or not make it to a spot, but had to trust in his own vision and speed and creativity to get that touchdown.

Reggie Bush did that, saw that, and got the touchdown because of it. Amazing. Only a special few have that kind of vision and instinct, and Reggie's got it. What a blessing for USC.

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Today, Wednesday

This weirds me out. I'm probably going to tomorrow's Cubs/Dodger game (repeatedly noted below, can you tell my excitement?) here in Los Angeles, so I'm reading DodgerThoughts and John's Dodger Blog (both run by guys named Jon/John), prominently linked to the right, and I check the pitching matchup:

Clement v. Ishii.

I don't go to many Dodger games. I think this will be my fourth in four years here. It's also the second time I will have seen Ishii start against the Cubs. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Although there is. Ishii likes to dilly-dally. He throws 3-0 counts like they're going out of style, and then tries to pitch out of them, letting batters foul everything off until either party gets tired.

And as I've said, I've already had the "Kaz Ishii experience" once before. I understand he's one of five regular starters and the odds of seeing him pitch again are very good. But it's still odd, and a touch ironic considering he was going against the Cubs the second to last time I saw the Dodgers in person.

And I'm NOT complaining. It's just a situation similar to where you show up at the theatres with friends or a date, not knowing what you're going to see, but when it's decided, it's something you've either already seen or seen something drastically similar to it. You're not upset, but you know a fair amount of what's going to happen already.

The cool thing is my friends are doing that whole Coca Cola family pack thing, with parking, tickets, a Dodger Dog and a soda included. It's a really good deal especially given stadium prices and ticket prices. Dodger Stadium also happens to be a very underrated baseball experience, I've had a blast each time I've gone and this time should no doubt live up to that.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The Infamous Box Score

Read post below. It wasn't one year to the day, but rather two years, plus or minus a few days. Kaz Ishii got the win, and Sosa got his HR in the first.

Eric Gagne also got a save, one of many that season. I was seated in the outfield bleachers, which is a great seating area in Dodger Stadium.

Anyway, here's the box score.

Los Angeles Dodgers 3, Chicago Cubs 2
Day
Game Played on Saturday, May 4, 2002 (N) at Dodger Stadium
CHI N 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 - 2 4 1
LA N 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 x - 3 11 0

BATTING
Chicago Cubs AB R H RBI BB K PO A
Lewis cf 2 0 0 0 1 1 3 0
Brown ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Bellhorn 2b 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 2
Sosa rf 3 1 2 2 1 0 1 0
Alou lf 4 0 1 0 0 0 2 0
McGriff 1b 4 0 0 0 0 2 7 0
Gonzalez ss 3 0 0 0 1 2 1 1
Stynes 3b 2 0 0 0 1 0 2 1
DeShields ph 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Machado c 3 0 1 0 0 1 7 3
Bere p 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Hundley ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Osborne p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Zambrano p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Patterson ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Totals 28 2 4 2 6 10 24 7

FIELDING -
DP: 1.
E: Bere (1).

BATTING -
2B: Alou (2,off Ishii).
HR: Sosa (13,1st inning off Ishii 0 on, 2 out).
SH: Bellhorn (1,off Ishii); Machado (1,off Gagne).
HBP: Lewis (1,by Ishii).
IBB: Sosa (4,by Ishii).

BASERUNNING -
SB: Stynes (1,2nd base off Ishii/LoDuca).

Los Angeles Dodgers AB R H RBI BB K PO A
Roberts cf 4 1 4 2 0 0 2 0
Izturis ss 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 4
LoDuca c 3 0 1 1 1 0 11 0
Green rf 3 0 1 0 1 2 1 1
Jordan lf 4 0 0 0 0 2 0 0
Karros 1b 4 1 2 0 0 0 9 0
Bocachica pr 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Gagne p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Beltre 3b 4 1 1 0 0 0 2 0
Grudzielanek 2b 4 0 2 0 0 1 1 2
Ishii p 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 3
Carrara p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hansen ph,1b 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Totals 34 3 11 3 2 7 27 10

FIELDING -
DP: 1.
PB: LoDuca (3).

BATTING -
2B: LoDuca (10,off Bere); Beltre (6,off Bere); Green (7,off Bere).
IBB: LoDuca (1,by Osborne).

BASERUNNING -
SB: Roberts 2 (8,2nd base off Bere/Machado 2).

PITCHING
Chicago Cubs IP H HR R ER BB K
Bere L(1-4) 5 9 0 3 2 1 4
Osborne 1.2 1 0 0 0 1 2
Zambrano 1.1 1 0 0 0 0 1
Totals 8.0 11 0 3 2 2 7

Los Angeles Dodgers IP H HR R ER BB K
Ishii W(6-0) 7 4 1 2 2 5 7
Carrara 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Gagne SV(10) 1 0 0 0 0 1 2
Totals 9 4 1 2 2 6 10

WP: Bere (2), Ishii (1).
HBP: Ishii (2,Lewis).
IBB: Osborne (1,LoDuca); Ishii (1,Sosa).

Umpires: Charlie Reliford, Kerwin Danley, Lance Barksdale, Dana DeMuth

Time of Game: 3:02 Attendance: 47381

Cool! Thanks to retrosheet for the box score. That's my first time using retrosheet and it was fast and easy. Now I know why everyone raves about it. A big pooh on you to ESPN.com for providing only a tiny amount of data for games just two years ago and promising a nonexistent box score.
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Quick Preview, Too Much Posting

Are you dizzy yet? We went all over the map tonight. Call it free time, plus TV and internet. I love technology :o).

Tomorrow, it's game two of the series, Brian Lawrence and his 85 MPH fastball against Corey Lidle and his 5.15 ERA. Time to start closing that gap on the Dodgers.

7:05 PST start, Channel 4 AND ESPN 2!

I might be at the Dodgers/Cubs game, in which case I'll update about that when I get back. In case you haven't followed PetcoPadres through our initial two months, I'm a big Cubs fan, they're my "other" team. I caught a Cubs/Dodgers game almost a year to the day here in Los Angeles, and it was Ishii against I don't know who. But Sammy Sosa hit a homerun not more than 30 feet from me, a very exciting moment for me. I'll see if I can't dig up the box score from that game as proof.

And I've got at least one more Cubs game in me this year, which I've probably hinted at on here and if I haven't, you'll know soon what I mean :o).
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Not Too Early To Think About That Draft

MLB.com has a 3-part "first-person" series with Kevin Towers about his preparations for the upcoming amateur draft. The Padres hold the first pick, so that's the storyline. I haven't read it yet, but I'm about to right now.

Towers And The Draft: Part I
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Ko-Beeeeee

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are seeing one of the alltime great playoff performances tonight"
-Marv Albert 5/11/04

No, we're not. What we did see was one of Kobe's better playoff performances. If you build up enough of those, your playoff resume starts to get fat and people start talking about you being one of the greatest of all time. Kobe just padded his resume in a very entertaining way, especially given the circumstances of having sat through an important hearing in his rape case just hours before the game.

What he did do was lead the Lakers, with help from an excellent performance from Shaq, to a 98-90 win, evening the series at 2-2 after the team looked dead in the water after two late losses in San Antonio.

Bryant's final line:

42 points
15-27 FG
2-4 3P FG
10-13 FT
6 Reb
5 Ast

Performances like that remind me how fun a game basketball can be, and I can't help but look back to what Michael Jordan used to do on a regular basis as I was growing up.
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Pads Lose

Defeat at the hands of the Reds, 6-3 at Petco.

Flashing to the Laker game, Kobe Bryant is having a ridiculously good game. It's still close with 4 minutes left in the 4th, but he's hit all kinds of shots, played great defense, and been doing a lot of smart things.

Rapist? Maybe.

Best player in the game? You bet.

And he just hit another beautiful J off the screen. It's not even a doubt these shots aren't going in. Spurs call the timeout with 3:18 remaining, Lakers up 96-84.

Love or hate the Lakers, they mean a heck of a lot to the people of Los Angeles. And no, I'm not talking about the people in the stands, because the people of Los Angeles are priced out of Laker games. Actually, the rich people of Los Angeles are priced out of Laker games too. But if they win another title, check out the championship parade and attendance figures, then you'll know.
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Bad, Bad, Bad

Bases loaded for Cincy, top of the 8th, Osuna comes in for relief. Strikes out Javier Valentin to get the second out. Tim Hummel gets a 2-RBI single, Reds lead 6-3.

Right now Giles is 0-3 with 2 Ks. He's left runners on to end an inning twice and also has a fielding error out in the tricky right field that led to a run.
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Padre Update

Pads go up 3-2, the usual suspects Burroughs, Greene and Loretta.

The Reds play a little Athletics-style baseball the next inning, as Griffey walks and Dunn drives him in with the 2-run jack.

Reds lead 4-3.
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This Isn't Good

The Pads aren't on TV here so I'm watching the Cubs/Dodgers game. First off, I love Vin Scully. Best announcer in the game, by far. Now that we've got that homage aside, the game has gone like this:

Ramon Martinez doubles Marty Barrett home, Cubs up 1-0
Beltre solo shot off Kerry Wood, Dodgers tie it 1-1
Jason Grabowski hits his first career homer off Wood to the same spot in right field, driving in Juan Encarnacion, Dodgers up 3-1

Kerry Wood finishes the inning and gets yanked. Arm troubles, anyone? Argh.

Padre update:

Padres down 2-0. Ken Griffey solo shot and Aaron Harang doubles, advances to third on error by Giles, Barry Larkin gets an infield single (?!) and Harang scores.

Oh, and Loretta got caught stealing second as Giles was caught looking.

RIGHT. Not a good start. All of this courtesy of ESPN gametracker.
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Monday, May 10, 2004

Off Day, My Topic of Choice

And that topic... is USC.

Graduation is Friday. If you're a Mark Prior fan you can see him in person (as I have on campus from time to time) as he graduates with his class in the Business School. Just don't bother the poor guy. Congrats Mark!

Congratulations are also directed towards the women's water polo team that won the NCAA Championship on Sunday, beating LMU 10-8 and finishing with a perfect 29-0 record. That means USC has won its 4th National Championship this year.

Onward to USC Baseball. It's been a disappointing season, and I don't want to get into it right now other than to take a look at two of my favorite players in Michael Friedman and super frosh Ian Kennedy.

Friedman:
2-0/3 SV
2.17 ERA
22APP/2 GS
29.0 IP
28K/11BB
.198 BAA

Ian Kennedy:
6-2/1 SV
2.58 ERA
13APP/12 GS
73.1 IP
100K/26BB
.238 BAA

These guys are basically USC's only successful pitchers at this point in the season. The best ERA by a regular player outside of these two is Clayton Wentworth's 4.72. The next best ERA is 5.18 and the rest of the players are walking over a cliff. Sigh.

I hadn't noticed until now, but football backup QB turned starting third baseman Billy Hart is now the team's best hitter (what!). He trails Jeff Clement by just a fraction in slugging (.537 to .556) and is second to Cyle Hankerd in OBP (.443 to .454).

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Sunday, May 09, 2004

What A Good Blogger Looks Like

Vintage Gleeman.

Heeeeee's baaaaaaaaack.

This site, on the other hand, needs a lot of work ;o). I've got email though if you ever feel like commenting/complaining. I'm like one of those 12-step bloggers, I recognize I have a problem and am working on getting better.

I interviewed Jon at Dodger Thoughts for a side project of mine recently and he said he tries to lay off the personal anecdotes, or at least not go heavy on them. He's a pro. I'm not.

One of these days I'll learn. Until then we get to read about books and USC Baseball and somewhere in the mix is stuff about the Padres.
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Pads Lose, Pads Lose

Marlins 7
Padres 4

Another day, another Cabrera home run, his 11th. Eaton got chased in the second. So much for the Eaton/Beckett matchup.

Here's the details over at MLB.com.

The Padres are now off to Cincinnati for a 3-game series starting Tuesday. Check out J.D. Arney's Reds Daily for all the starter matchups.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Harang a former SDSU pitcher? If not, he went somewhere like Fullerton or Long Beach State, somewhere out here on the Left Coast.

That reminds me I should do an update soon on PetcoPadre Trojan favorite Michael Friedman and also Ian Kennedy, the frosh phenom.

Lastly, I've added a little thing to the right to track the Padres' run output this season. Hopefully I can keep it updated semi-regularly. It's self-explanatory and mostly in jest. We like Kevin Towers here. We thought he had gone batty last year, but the Payton/Hernandez/Giles pickups have returned our faith.
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Pads Win, Pads Win

Padres-6
Fish -3

The visiting Friars bopped an amazing 17 hits in 10 innings against the Marlins. Jay Payton went 3 for 4 with 2 walks and is heating up. Burroughs drove in the winning run with the bases loaded. Ismael Valdez shockingly drew a walk. The prodigal Miguel Cabrera was the Marlins' offense, going 3-3 with 2 runs and an RBI, hitting his 10th homerun in the process.

Check out this relief chain:

Valdez hands off to...

Osuna (4.02 ERA) who hands off to...

Linebrink (1.50 ERA) who hands off to...

Otsuka (1.06 ERA) who hands off to...

Hoffman (1.50 ERA).

Game over. Five scoreless innings of relief.

The line

5IP
2H
0R/0ER
6K/1BB

The record now stands at 19-12 (.613). Not bad.

The problem is the Dodgers are playing out of their minds. They are now an amazing 19-10 (.655), a full game ahead of the Padres. Someone derail that express, please!

Today's game is the highly anticipated one between Adam Eaton (1-2, 3.54 ERA) and World Series hero Josh Beckett (2-2, 3.57 ERA).

I'll be out somewhere doing the whole Mother's Day thing, and you should be too, but if you get the chance sneak a peek at the TV, game starts at noon on Channel 4.
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Interesting New "Site"ing

Sports Amnesia mentioned PetcoPadres recently. Lots of links, and a good mix of baseball news and other stuff. Looks like a Notre Dame fan also, which is cool because the Irish and the Trojans are my teams in CFB.

All because of the "street taco".

It's an odd term, but it makes sense if you've been down to Ensenada or any other Mexican town, hell, L.A. even. They're being sold out of these portable carts on the street. Of course, they're $0.65 for delicious fish street tacos and $0.70 for the cold beer in Ensenada.

That reminds me I really want to head down there this summer, just kick back for a day and have fish tacos, ceviche, beer, and just walk around.
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Saturday, May 08, 2004

The Hardball Times Turns The Corner

Back in March when the Hardball Times got started, I was excited. It looked like something in the vision of the All Baseball network, with several prominent bloggers and writers making their contributions. But after the first few weeks I was underwhelmed. Worse, I declined to stop by everyday.

Whoops.

I think they've found their sea legs, it took about a month but The Hardball Times has arrived. Not all the writers have made a dent yet (wags finger at Padre fan Vinay Kumar), but it's very readable, entertaining, and informative. Best of all, their stats function that baffled me before has come to life. It's still young but they're updating pretty regularly and it is very useful.

So to use a cliche, hat's off to them. I really like the site now, and I'm betting it's a lot closer to the vision of its creators than when it started, when the best word to describe it was: amalgam.

Why did I spend a few paragraphs of space to tell you all that? Well, it was a roundabout way to tell those that read this far that their stats thingy says Padre second baseman Mark Loretta is currently 10th in the National League in runs created with 24. Oddly enough, Padre castoff and game winning grand slam hero Rondell White is 5th in the American League with 25. Way to go Rondell!

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Friday, May 07, 2004

Lovely San Diego

I am in San Diego. It's just for a day or two, but I love this town. Living in Los Angeles is incredible, but an urban lifestyle has its challenges. I'll save the comparison between cities for another day to get to my other ramblings...

I heard on the radio while driving down to SD that Rubio's is selling "street tacos" for $1.00. They're those miniature tacos with corn shells, stuffed with carnitas. I love carnitas. Easy sell basically. Just went in and ordered one. It tasted good, not great, basically what I expected. But while waiting I was staring at the menu---Good Lord how expensive that place is. I don't know who continues to eat there but whoever you are you're getting overcharged.

The prices must be right, because they're still in business long after I stopped being a regular. I'll usually go to Fins now for my fish tacos, but that is another story altogether. Rubio's lost me as they made this ridiculous transition from reasonably priced, clean, friendly restaurant with good portions to the opposite of each previous condition.

expensive? Check.
dirty? Check.
Unfriendly? Check.
meager portions? Check.

Unreal. I'm not joking when I tell you I've had several fish tacos from them just to see if they'll ever improve where the fish fillet is not even half the size of the smallish tortilla. Everytime I'm paying $2.00 for way too much salsa and cabbage. Their cheese quesadilla costs a whopping $4 plus.

Waxing nostalgic can be annoying, but it used to be Rubio's had two large fish fillets extending beyond the tortilla, at around $1.19, without all the salsa.

USED TO BE.

Rubio's aside, I love San Diego. But please excuse me while I knock down my microwave dinner that's getting cold.
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Doug Christie, Disgrace to MANkind

I can't get over this guy. GAHHHHHHHH.

I've read several similar articles, but this one's recent and just as annoying. The author was trying to paint a nice picture too, it's MUCH worse than he paints it.

Anyway, here's the story:
-------------------------

By TOM KNOTT

WASHINGTON, D.C., May, 1 – Doug Christie sends 50-60 hand signals to his wife a game, with each signal conveying the same three-word message: “I love you.”

The repetitive act is considered voluntary, in a way an obsessive-compulsive type might voluntarily spend an hour fiddling with a door handle to confirm it is locked.

There is Stepford Wife-like quality to all this, only Christie is a Stepford husband, obedient and submissive to a fault.

The unique love between Doug and Jackie is stuffed with labor-intensive actions and an all-knowing command structure.

The wife is in charge of monitoring the deportment of the husband, especially when he is in the vicinity of other women.

Female reporters are not allowed to interview the husband unless the wife is present.

When Christie was a member of the Raptors, the wife once made a fuss with a female fan who was seeking an autograph and a kiss from him.

The wife runs the family like a police state, starting with a husband who apparently could be susceptible to the charms of another woman.

So the wife, just to be on the safe side, flies on the team’s charter to 25-30 road games a season. She tails the team bus, from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the arena, with a cell phone stuck to her ear and the husband on the other end.

They exchange handwritten notes to one another before each game, with the help of a team attendant.

They have three children and a marriage ceremony each July 8, the date of their anniversary.

The husband thinks it is odd that anyone would think their marriage is odd.

It is how he wants it to be, he says, right down to the 50-60 hand signals a game.

Christie is allowed to look at other women, although preferably in a business-related activity.

Both husband and wife make allowances if a woman is serving them a meal at a restaurant, which is mighty considerate of them.

Even then, a woman trying to do her job around the husband and wife is urged to be careful, if the claims of a former female publicist with the Kings are credible. She says she lost her job after leaving a work-related message on Christie’s answering machine. She felt strongly enough to file a lawsuit against both the Kings and the husband and wife last year.

The ex-publicist probably erred in not sending hand signals to the husband and wife.

No one disputes the stress the NBA lifestyle imposes on a marriage.

Temptation is usually lurking in the hotel lobby on the road.

Yet Doug and Jackie Christie, in attempting to address the temptation, have removed trust from their environment. The wife only trusts as long as she is able to verify. That approach was fine in the arms race between two nations, but hardly a sustaining prescription for a successful marriage.

Doug and Jackie Christie are attempting to prove otherwise, the skeptics be darned. The same with those who snicker from afar.

Shaquille O’Neal, the social lug who has a lot of clown in him, caused a momentary stir in Sacramento in 2002, when he pronounced his big toe to be in good shape after “I had Doug Christie’s wife massage it for me.”

Christie can understand how his subservience could be interpreted as wimpy. But as he points out, he does not pull on his short leash. He has no objections with the relationship at all.

Give Christie this. He is hard-nosed competitor between those ubiquitous hand signals to his wife.
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Thursday, May 06, 2004

Music Choice Says

Mando Diao-Sheepdog

Back to your regularly scheduled blogging...
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Update

Grrrr...

The Dodgers are toying with the Marlins right now, 8-2. Greene and Encarnacion just went back to back. Greene has 2 HR tonight.

Let's do the math...

17-10=.630

Back to second place.
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Did I mention

The Padres WON today!

7-3 road defeat of the Braves.

Lawrence gets the win, 7IP, 8K/1BB.

HRs by Greene and Payton, both in the first inning off Mike Hampton.

The record is now 18-11, a .621 winning percentage that temporarily places the Padres in control of the N.L. West over the hated Dodgers and their 16-10/.615 clip.
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Grease Lightning

Padres base thief Freddy Guzman, the former Pedro De Los Santos, is profiled in Baseball America. Check the May 6 entry.

Guzman UP
Barfield DOWN

Inconsistency with Padre farm hitters, what else is new? The system has been dry for a while, with such burn the doors down stars like Mike Darr and Xavier Nady. And Khalil Greene doesn't count, he was drafted to SPEED through the system, as he has.
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Hooray for Peavy!

Apparently he's third in the majors among pitchers in VORP at 15.7.

This link says so. Yeah.
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Plate Discipline

Check out these Padres BB/K totals

10/11 Loretta
7/10 Burroughs
20/14 Giles
12/11 Payton
11/5 R. Hernandez
8/10 Klesko
5/7 Long(!)
4/5 R. Vazquez

I wonder if that pattern will hold?
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This And That

ESPN's power rankings are out, and the Padres are 10th. Not bad.

Right now the Padres are 17-11, playing at a .607 clip (third best in the NL). The odd part is they still trail the Dodgers, who are 16-10 and playing at a .615 clip. It is early in the season, but teams tend to sort themselves out over the next few weeks, so that time will be crucial in determining how realistic of a shot both teams have. I'm not even close to being ready to count out the Giants or D-Backs yet, as both have started to play better but aren't advancing much in the win column.

Check out the Padres' home/road split so far-
Home: 11-5
Road: 6-6

Hoooooooome cookin!

I have a hard time believing the Dodgers can continue what they are doing. I've seen a few of their games and are getting a lot of timely hits from the Izturis/Cora/Beltre/Roberts group. That won't last. Neither will Paul LoDuca's impressive hitting. Dodger fans will also note their pitching hasn't been terrific, and it should improve, but I think they'll realize how hard it is to win with 3 holes in their lineup over 162 games.

The Padres should know, they had about 5-6 holes in the lineup at any time last year. This leads to another point. None of the Padres are really playing out of their minds right now. Well, maybe Eaton and Peavy are doing a little better than expected, but overall some of the better hitters aren't even doing all that well. The good thing is Brian Giles just woke up from his monthlong slumber and is raking, but Nevin and Klesko are still sort of cruising along and Payton and Hernandez are tepid at best. What makes me enthusiastic is the play in the field and at leadoff of Sean Burroughs. The guy isn't a terror or anything, but he works the count, gets a walk, runs the basepaths, and gets timely hits. Not bad for a leadoff guy.

Oh, and Khalil Greene hasn't been too bad either. Winning NL Rookie of the Month doesn't mean a lot, but it does say he did play pretty well in April.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Moneyball... The Movie!

From Athletics Nation...

Sony rounds bases with 'Moneyball'

Chervin to pen adaptation about Oakland A's Beane


By MICHAEL FLEMING

Sony Pictures has acquired the Michael Lewis bestseller "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game."

Book is based on the life of Billy Beane, the Oakland A's general manager who has assembled a contending ballclub despite having a payroll much lower than other teams.

Stan Chervin has been hired to write the script.

This is the first deal Michael De Luca has put together since joining SPE. He will team with producer Rachael Horovitz on the pic.

It is SPE's second major recent nonfiction purchase, following Richard A. Clarke's White House memoir "Against All Enemies."

De Luca, who's about to move into SPE office space, sparked to a story of a guy who gets a second chance to excel in the game he loves.

"Sports movies make great metaphors about life, and Billy Beane's success is a great underdog story," De Luca said.

That Beane became a success in baseball wasn't unexpected -- the surprise was that he didn't make it on the field. A first-round draft choice by the New York Mets, Beane was a touted outfielder who didn't pan out.

"I sobered up pretty quickly, right when they started throwing sliders down and away, and I couldn't hit them," he said. "But I had never seen playing baseball as the end goal. I always thought that building a team was more interesting than being part of one."

Beane seemed a bit bashful at the prospect of becoming a matinee idol, probably because his canonization as a world class dealmaker by Lewis has made other teams wary of trading with him, for fear they'll look like suckers.

"It's frustrating that so many people didn't realize that this was Michael's book and not something we solicited," Beane said. Horovitz, who will produce through her Specialty Films shingle, reteams with De Luca after they worked together as New Line execs on such projects as "About Schmidt."

Horovitz also enlisted Longfellow Pictures principals Andrew Karsch and Sidney Kimmel, for whom she works as a producer, to be exec producers.

"This is not going to simply be a baseball biopic," she said. "Billy is a larger-than-life character like a Jerry Maguire or Randall Patrick McMurphy, and there will be a lot of humor in the film."
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Underwater Basket Weaver

Here's a brief piece on potential Padres draft pick Jered Weaver.
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Steinbrenner on Lucchino and Moores

SI's Tom Verducci snagged The Boss for two lengthy interviews, and some of the excerpts are in this week's SI as well as their website.

The Padres-related excerpt:

On Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino: "I have nothing against him except I wouldn't want him in my foxhole. Look at Lucchino's history. In San Diego, he ruined that guy out there [owner John Moores]. He ruined Eli Jacobs [in Baltimore]. He's not my kind of guy. Not a good man."

What does that mean? Somebody clue me in. Was he talking about the Petco Park mess?

To the batcave comments section...
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Cornucopia of Pics

Humbug Journal comes through again with well over 100 pics of Petco, organized neatly and taken with a lot of attention to detail. Check the May 5 post.

Enjoy!
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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

The Bonds Walk

Apparently Barry Bonds is on pace for 280 walks this season. Or somewhere around that total.

So how much have the Padres contributed to the crime of walking such a great hitter?

11BB
25PA
-----
.440 Walk %.

Bonds Total Walk Rate

44BB
98PA
-----
.449 Walk %.

Right on!

Mind you this is WITH Bonds having played three games in "Bonds-Proof" Petco Park where maybe the Pads would risk walking him less if he can't knock it out of the park.

Anyway, here is his walk rate against the Padres at Petco this year compared to against the Padres at PacBell Park.

Petco
4BB
14PA
-----
.286 Walk %.

PacBell
7BB
12PA
-----
.583 Walk %.

Evidence!

Wow that was fun.
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Saturday, May 01, 2004

Books

Borrowed from Frinklin Speaks, which he borrowed from someone else I'm too lazy to credit.

Bold the books you've read:

Beowulf
Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice(I think)
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Brontë, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Brontë, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno
de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel García - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
Morrison, Toni - Beloved
O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find
O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales
Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin

Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard - Native Son

I'm surprised how many I've read. Maybe the American public education system is working :o). Lots of Brit Lit/American Lit and a few random classes with lots of African American and Gothic works. Throw in a little outside reading and there you have it.

Ahhhhhhh books...
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Follow-Up

Well... I partied a little too hard last night and wasn't in a great condition for much of today.

I did manage to catch the Derby, and it was a muddy one. Favorite Smarty Jones won on a terrific ride from jock Stewart Elliot. I wish I had read up more on all the horses, because it was an intriguing field.

The race itself wasn't so hot, basically just a big pack until that last turn when Lion Heart took a lead and was headed for the roses when Smarty Jones roared out of the pack, taunted with a brief neck and neck, then toasted the show-horse. Jones could be a super horse, but I've thought that almost every year the last five or so about the Derby winner.

I'm still enamored with War Emblem, a beautiful sprinter from two years ago.

Jones also earned a $5 million bonus for winning the Derby and two other races and remains undefeated at 7-0 heading into the Preakness. Gotta love horse racing!

And for Padres news, they had a nice comeback win last night, surviving Brian Lawrence's shaky first to overwhelm Mets young gun Tyler Yates. They now have a nifty 15-9 record.

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