Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I hope each and every one of you have a very Merry Christmas!

Personally, I spent Christmas Eve working a half day and then spending the afternoon with my mother, sister & brother-in-law and the family pets... today I spent with mom, sis, brother, sister-in-law and my two nephews - and they had A TON of presents to open! It was also nice to catch the Lakers/Celtics game (well the first half on TV, the 2nd half on the radio) with the Lakers prevaling 92-83! A good day all the way around. God bless you!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yes, it's OK to hate the Yankees!

If you're from Los Angeles or really anywhere nearby (and also of course Boston), you've probably had a stern dislike for the New York Yankees for most of if not your entire life. Well, December 2008 has just made that dislike/hatred/whatever even worse...

Last week, the Yankees signed free agent ace pitcher C.C. Sabathia - the Dodgers were rumored to be the front-runners before they signed him. Today, those Yankees signed hitting star Mark Teixeira. The Angels (whom he played for at the end of last year) and the Red Sox were the front-runners for his services...

So yes, my three favorite baseball teams have all been victimized by the evil empire of the Bronx in the course of a week. I hate the Yankees. Always have, always will!!! Down with the Yankees!

OK, now that I've gotten that off my chest, I do feel a little better!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Grammys or the Shammys???

Yes, it's that time of year again... time to make fun of the Grammy panel and their often complete lack of touch with what really happening in the music industry.

As I peruse the site for a list of the finalists for the 51st Grammy Awards, I notice the usual curious selections and even more curious omissions. Let's start with Record Of The Year. While I have no problem with three of the nominees - "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis, "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay and as much I hate to admit it, "Paper Planes" by M.I.A., two of the nominees leave me scratching my head. Now there's no doubt that newcomer Adele has written a pretty good song in "Chasing Pavements." It's melodic, it's catchy, and I even bought it myself from iTunes about a month ago. However, at last check the song has only had very modest success - top 20 on the Hot AC chart, and barely cracking the top 100 at pop radio. Now that's tame compared to nominating Robert Plant and the extremely overrated Alison Krauss for a song called "Please Read The Letter." Has anyone that actually listens to music heard of this song? I didn't think so. Much better and more musically relevant selections would have been Sara Bareilles' "Love Song" and Estelle's "American Boy." At least those two were nominated for Song of The Year so it wasn't a complete loss for them.

Of course, in the above category, the most GLARING omission is Kid Rock's huge three format top five smash "All Summer Long." The song was the anthem of the summer and maybe the year at BOTH Pop and Country radio, so how in the world could they leave it out???? Thanks to some marketing genius (not releasing the song for individual sale) the song almost single-handedly sold over TWO MILLION copies of Kid Rock's Rock N Roll Jesus album. I'm no fan of Kid Rock, but honestly leaving that song out of the Record of The Year finalists is a COMPLETE travesty! Even more curious is the fact that "All Summer Long" actually did get a nomination for Kid Rock in Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Best pop vocal??? lol. Seriously!!! Now there's another category that is a TRAIN WRECK! Ne-Yo's smooth "Closer" (how again did that song stall at #2???) and Jason Mraz's ginormous multi-format smash "I'm Yours" obviously belong... John Mayer's "Say" is marginal, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. But did any of you know Paul McCartney or James Taylor released new music this year? Yeah, me neither!

As I continue to glance over the list, the Best New Artist nominees and those missing definitely leave me scratching my head. Jazmine Sullivan? Jazmine who? Jazmine? Can any of you name a Jazmine Sullivan song? An album by her? That nomination will live in Grammy infamy for years to come. Yes, Lady Antebellum and the ubiquitous Jonas Brothers obviously belong there, but how do you justify putting Adele and Duffy in there and not Leona Lewis??? Duffy's song "Mercy," despite having lots of international success, was a HUGE flop here in the U.S as was her Rockferry album!!! Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" not only was the most played record here in the U.S. this year, it also sold the most copies of ANY single! It even managed to sneak four weeks in at #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart despite their convoluted formula. Leona's Spirit album is one of the top selling albums of the 2008 year, and even boasted a top 3 follow-up hit in "Better In Time." Leave it to Grammy committee to truly screw up one category beyond reapir! Out of the possible nominations I expected Leona to get, this was the one award which I thought was a shoo-in win for her - and they didn't even nominate her! Crazy... Beyond dumb. I'm truly at a loss for words!

Let's see about my other favorite genre, Country... well, I see they MASSIVELY messed up in the Best Country Song category. "I Saw God Today" by George Strait, "Stay" by Sugarland and "You're Gonna Miss This" by Trace Adkins are without a doubt three of this year's biggest songs and are definitely worthy of their nominations... it's the other two though that have ZERO business being there!!! "In Color" by Jamey Johnson??? Why? I heard other Jamey Johnson songs on the radio this year, but not this song. "Dig Two Graves" by Randy Travis? Once again, why??? Yes, Randy Travis has achieved a lot in Country music, but most of that is in the distant past. Did any of you hear this song on your radio? I didn't think so. Lady Antebellum's "Love Don't Live Here," James Otto's "Just Got Started Loving You," Brooks & Dunn's "God Must Be Busy," Brad Paisley's "Letter To Me," Carrie Underwood's "Last Name" and countless other songs would have been much more worthy of those final two spots. At least those five deserving songs all managed to get nominations in other Country categories. Perhaps the most deserving Country song of all, Darius Rucker's "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" was COMPLETELY SHUT OUT tonight!

Once again, the Grammy committee's lack of respect for the industry and living in the past catches up with them. Is there any hope that someday the award show will actually become relevant? I seriously doubt it. And rest assured, I'll be back in a couple of months to mock all of the wrong selections they made in choosing the actual winners!!!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

2 Out Of 3 Ain't Bad...

... with apologies to Michael Aday (aka: Meat Loaf). I played in nine fantasy football leagues this year, and despite none of my teams having better than an 8-5 record, six of my teams made the playoffs. Three of my playoff teams finished the year at 8-5, three others finished at 7-6 including the "My Name Is Inigo Montoya" team highlighted a couple of weeks ago. In that league I started 3-6! Needless to say, none of my teams is a #1 seed, though I have a couple of #2 seeds including said Montoya team. Ironically, the team of mine which got off to the best start (6-2) managed to miss the playoffs entirely, losing it's final five games to end the season at 6-7. I had one other team finish at 6-7 and one team with some incredibly bad luck managed to end the year at 5-8.

Now if I can just take that Meat Loaf song to heart again during the playoffs, I'd be winning four of my leagues! That's not likely to happen, but then again just two years ago, only four of my teams made the big dance and three of them came out on top when the dust was settled!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to wish everyone out there a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving. I hope each and every one you get to spend some quality with loved ones today.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fantasy Football Funnies...

FYI, it's hard to see without clicking on the image...

Yes, that's EIGHT of the 10 teams (including mine) at 5-6! I would be the #2 seed right now if the season ended, leading the West with my "My Name Is Inigo Montoya" team (bonus points if you can tell me what movie that's from). Hey, I won a league two years ago with a 6-7 record (running the table in the playoffs as a #4 seed), so anything's possible.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Another Reason Why I LOVE Carrie Underwood!!!

In this week's TV Guide, Carrie Underwood explains that she refuses to say who she's backing for President going on to state:

"I lose all respect for celebrities when they back a candidate. It’s saying that the American public isn’t smart enough to make their own decisions. I would never want anybody to vote for anything or anybody just because I told them to. Music is where you go to get away .... Whether it’s from politics or just the world around you, music should be an escape.”

AMEN, Carrie!!! Given that I've ALWAYS felt the same way, it's very reassuring to me that my favorite music star shares my views on something so important.

And this is just plain old fashioned common sense, isn't it? I mean why would you want to alienate perhaps half of your fanbase by expounding on your political views and forcing them on your fans? Carrie's not a politician, she's a musician! Look at what happened to Bruce Springsteen's popularity when he got all political. The Dixie Chicks? John Mellencamp??? Same thing... they all lost A TON of fans when they decided to make politics the focus of their music and concerts. And did you hear what Madonna said about Sarah Palin at a recent concert? It doesn't bear repeating here, but let me tell you that it was so gross, vulgar and disgusting that it led me to delete every song of hers I had on my computer and iPod. And rest assured, "Madge" isn't going to listened to me again EVER unless she makes a public apology to the current Republican Vice Presidential candidate.

And by the way, did anyone notice what happened to talk show host Oprah Winfrey's ratings when she decided she was going to make a huge deal out of supporting Barack Obama? Yes folks, her talk show's ratings are DOWN by 20% since she did this!!! Before Oprah made her gaffe, her favorability rating was at 74%. Today, it stands at 55%. That's a drop of OVER 25%!!!

Someone named Forrest once said "stupid is as stupid does." Celebrities making political endorsements fit this to a T!!!

Kudos to Carrie for standing up for what's right... if only the rest of the world thought like her!!!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Should of gone to VEGA$!

For many years, I've been doing ESPN's Pigskin Pickem' game just for fun. OK, one year I did so well that I came in 4th out of nearly 200,000 entries. And what did I get for fourth place? The same thing I got for finishing in second place in many of my fantasy baseball leagues this year. ZERO! Every week, I do one "straight up" entry where you just try to pick the winners, and another where you try to pick "against the spread."

For those of you who don't know anything about "the spread" what it basically means is that Las Vegas sets a gambling "line" for football game, making team a "favorite" and the other team the "underdog." What you try to do in ESPN's game is pick the team which is either going to "cover the spread" or the team that will "beat the spread." For example, let's say the Colts are 7 point favorites over the Patriots. The Colts win 16-13, so while they won the game by 3 points, they didn't cover the 7 point spread. To get the game right, you would have had to pick the Colts not to cover.

Now I'm not much of a gambler - OK, I really don't like to gamble at all actually though a friendly small stakes game of "Texas Hold 'Em" amongst friends is always fun. Anyways, this week I correctly picked 12 of the 14 games against the spread in Week 9's NFL games! That's pretty good... ok, that's REALLY good! So which two games did I get wrong? The Jaguars were tied for the third biggest favorite this week as 7 1/2 point favorites against the "Bungles" in Cincinnati. An underrated Jaguar team, a winless Bengals team without their starting QB and #85 playing more like "Ocho Stinko" than Chad Johnson... it seemed like the Jaguars were a good bet to cover. So what happens? "Ocho Cinco" makes a surprise appearance scoring TWICE and the Bengals not only beat the spread, they win the game outright 21-19!!!... My only other misstep this week was taking the Texans to lose by less than 4 1/2 points against the Vikings in Minnesota. The Vikings behind three touchdown passes from QB Gus Frerotte (not to be confused with "Gus Frerotten") won 28-21 to cover the spread by 2 1/2 points.

Yes, I was thisclose to perfection this week.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Life Can Be So Random...

... it seems like lately I'm running into people I know in the most unexpected places. I don't know about you, but this kind of thing always puts a big smile on my face, especially when it's someone who has in some way (even if it's a small one) had a positive impact in my life.

A couple of months ago I ran into a friend of mine from my church (Cornerstone Community) in Simi Valley at my gym in Thousand Oaks. Given it takes about 15-20 minutes to get from one place to the other, seeing her pretty smile at the gym was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise as I just assumed she lived in Simi. Apparently, there are many of us who live in Thousand Oaks and happen to make this particular church in Simi our home.

And then there's tonight. I went to church in Simi and after the service I noticed a girl who looked very familiar. The problem was that I was having trouble placing where I knew her from. After a few minutes it finally clicked with me - she worked at my local Best Buy in Thousand Oaks! The main reason I rememered her (asides from her stunning looks) was that she had outstanding customer service skills and always gave me service with a smile. I have to admit I thought so highly of her that I even filled out one of those customer service surveys one time, giving her a glowing review... So, I walked up to her and recounted a fond memory of there for both of us - the in-store Lifehouse concert from June of last year! What's funny is that I haven't been to Best Buy in literally forever. I actually thought about going there yesterday while out shopping to get a new memory card for my camera, wondering if she still worked there. It turns out she's not, but she's simply moved across the street to my favorite local sporting goods store - Big 5.

Speaking of concerts, this week I'm going to THREE Carrie Underwood shows in the course of five days starting Wednesday. It's gonna be fun!!! As per usual, lots of pictures will be coming provided I purchase that new memory card!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

What does Billboard's Hot 100 measure?

In it's current form, just what does Billboard's Hot 100 truly measure?

While it does sometimes happen to coincide with what song is truly the most popular in the nation at a given time, more often than not, it doesn't. Songs such as Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" were multi-format #1's and sold lots of singles and albums over a long period of time and obviously were worthy of the peak position...

Other songs have only reached the #1 position on that chart thanks to the repression of downloads (i.e: Rihanna, Mariah Carey), while still others have peaked at #1 there thanks to lots of downloads/sales by a fanbase (i.e: multiple American Idol artists).

Other artists, such as Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers have had new songs sell a lot of units the first week and then drop off dramatically in the following weeks, often resulting in a top 10 debut and a drop outside of the top 40 within a week or two. Was it a song's popularity that made these songs sell a lot, or was it fanbases?

Still other artists such as Kid Rock are victims of the chart's methodology thanks to the chart having a bias against songs that aren't available for individual sale. Kid Rock's recent hit "All Summer Long" peaked at #23 on the chart despite being top 5 at three different formats. Since there was no single available for download it received ZERO Hot 100 sales points. The latter despite the fact that people were flocking to stores to buy his Rock N Roll Jesus album to the tune of over 100,000 units a week at the song's peak.

We also have a special case with Estelle's recent hit, "American Boy." This song was at #11 on the Hot 100 when the label decided to pull the single in an effort to move albums. The song dropped to #37 on the Hot 100 the next week. Did the song suddenly lose popularity? I think not. Shortly thereafter, "American Boy" became available again and voila, it ended up "rebounding" into the top 10 of the Hot 100.

The above said, what does the chart actually measure? If you know, please respond with a comment!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lakers DISMANTLE Clippers...

... 115-77. I mean seriouly they really should have a mercy rule in some NBA games. It was more like a pro team playing a high school team. These Lakers truly look to be on a mission this year...


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's KOBE time!

Nothing like the start of the NBA season to take the sting off a heartbreaking baseball and fantasy baseball season. Yes, the 2008-2009 NBA season started tonight. My Los Angeles Lakers had a very easy time disposing of the Portland Trailblazers 96-76 in front of a sell-out crowd at Staples Center. As usual, Kobe Bryant led the way, scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Pau Gasol added 15 points and seven rebounds. It was such an easy win for the Lakers that no one played more than the 33 minutes both Kobe and Pau put in.

And for those interested, the "World Champion" Boston Celtics didn't need the help of their sixth man (i.e.: referees) against the Cleveland Cavaliers in their 90-85 win tonight at Boston Garden. The "zebras" actually called a very fair game tonight, but the key to the Celtics winning was actually the Cavs all-everything Lebron James missing four of five free throws at one point in one sequence down the stretch. As I've said before, the main difference between Kobe and "King James" is that one makes their free throws during crunch time, while the other doesn't. Perhaps one day, Mr. James will get that part of his game on a par with the rest of it.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Rule #1 of Fantasy Football...

... don't spend any time studying for your draft! Seriously, why bother? With draft cheat sheets and average draft position tables just sitting there at your disposal, what's the point in studying? So, were you fortunate enough to land the #1 pick in any of your leagues and go with the consensus top pick, L.T.??? Or how about other stellar running backs like Joseph Addai or Larry Johnson with your first round pick? Wide receivers? Did you take the always reliable Torry Holt, rising star Marques Colston or the irrepressible Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson with an early round pick? Tom Brady? Fellow Patriot Lawrence Maroney? If you drafted any of the above players early, more than likely you're a little disappointed at this point of the season for one reason or another.

Now raise your hand up high if you had Clinton Portis of the Redskins as the number one point producer amongst all non-QB's as week 8 of the season ended. We always knew he had it in him as long as he could just hold onto the ball! Five straight 120+ yard rushing games. Impressive stuff, Mr. Portis! If a draft were being held today, you would be hard pressed not to take him at #1.

Yes, folks. The bottom line is that players are going to underperform and/or get hurt. It happens! Conversely, for every player who underperforms, there are players that will perform beyond expectations. And yes, there are still guys out there who are doing pretty much exactly what you thought they would be doing when you picked them - the Drew Brees and Philip Rivers types for example. The reality is that the fantasy football draft is just a crapshoot. Yes, this is why I don't study for football drafts.

The above said, you can help your chances out a lot in leagues by thinking ahead and drafting smart. Avoid the guys on the downside of their careers and focus on drafting guys with upside and opportunity. How about Kurt Warner? With All-Pros Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald along with a young up-and-comer named Steve Breaston to throw to and a nearly non-existant running game, what was not to like on draft day other than a lazy ex-USC Trojan quarterback standing in his way? Warner was the 22nd QB taken on average in ESPN drafts. Hardly to my surprise, he's been a consistent top 5 producer all year. Breaston was a great receiver in college and was a natural fit in the Cardinals offense. Yet he went undrafted in pretty much all non-keeper format leagues. Boldin got hurt and look who's stepped up BIG TIME? Or how about the latest rookie causing waves, the Rams' Steve Avery? With the aging Isaac Bruce in San Francisco, someone needed to step up and complement the aforementioned Holt. Why pick a backup running back with little upside with your 15th or 16th round pick when someone with blazing speed, ability and LOTS of upside is out there and available? Avery hardly got a look on draft day, not even in keeper leagues... No, I didn't draft either Breaston or Avery in my non-keeper leagues, but I must confess I did draft them BOTH in a contract keeper league this past summer - and they're locked up for me through 2011! :)


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why I Want the Phils to Win in 5...

...sadly, the main reason I want them to win (OK, I admit I still root a little for ex-Dodger Jayson Werth) is because I don't want any game of a World Series delayed because of an inconsiderate politician. Baseball is America's pasttime. Senator Obama should have shown a little more respect for it than he did. For those of you who don't know, if there is a Game 6, it will be delayed until 9 PM ET/6 PM PT thanks to Obama buying network time on the major networks.


Monday, October 20, 2008

It's Been Awhile...

Yes, I know it's been forever (well almost 2 1/2 weeks) since I last blogged. I'm not sure if it was just life catching up with me, or a combination of baseball-related disappointments that killed my typing fingers and creative mind... whatever it was, I guess I needed a little break.

So, for those disappointments. Well, first off I lost one of my fantasy baseball leagues this year by a single home run. Yes, ONE, UNO, 1! 278 home runs led this particular 10 team league. Alexei Ramirez' grand slam against the Detroit Tigers on September 29th gave me 277 of them for the season. Three other owners also had 277 home runs, giving me 7 1/2 points in the category. I lost that league by 1 1/2 points - the leader finished with a total of 70 points, I finished with 68 1/2. Another home run would have given me a tie for first (9 1/2 points) in the category. Those two points would have given me a total of 70 1/2, and the title by a mere 1/2 point.

I've been playing this fantasy baseball game for 10 years now, and this was definitely my most heartbreaking loss ever! I mean, I also could have tied for winning that league with just two more wins from my pitching staff. A special assist from the Mets bullpen must be noted for blowing six of my staff ace Johan Santana's games this year!!! I also could have also won that league with just two more stolen bases! The number of different ways I could have won that league is practically countless, and yet I somehow lost! It's now three weeks since the regular season ended and honestly I'm STILL not over it! Perhaps by this time next year, I'll be over it. Yes, it was even worse than losing a league last year thanks to my pitching ace, Jake Peavy being forced to start game 163 for the San Diego Padres against the Colorado Rockies. I went from a tie for first in a league at 79 points to 2 1/2 points back after he predictably got torched by the eventual 2007 World Series runner-ups. With what's happened to me the past two years in those two leagues, I'm almost afraid to see how my heart is going to get broken in 2009. At least last year, I had the solace of winning one league going away and knowing nothing was going to take that away from me as September started.

In my other four leagues, I was in it right until the final weekend. I had two teams finish in third, one 2 1/2 points out, the other 4 points out. My other two teams came in fourth, one 3 1/2 points out, the other 8 1/2 points out. Combined, I lost the five leagues by a total of just 20 points! With just a few breaks in any direction, I could have won every single one of those leagues... Needless to say, I will be playing my fantasy baseball leagues with more than just a little chip on my shoulder next year...

As bad as the 2008 fantasy baseball season turned out for me, at least I had the solace that maybe that Freeway World Series I'd been dreaming about since I was little would finally come to fruitition. The Angels had the best record in baseball. The Dodgers, well they were team that NO ONE wanted to face as they were on a complete roll thanks to Manny Ramirez being in a Michael Jordan-like zone in his two months with the Blue Crew.

Well, it's October 20th and as I type this, we have a World Series coming up between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The best laid plans... :( The Angels went out meekly (save the heart of the lineup) against the Boston Red Sox for the second year in a row... But hey at least the Dodgers swept the Cubs in their first round series! Unfortunately, the same guy (Rafael Furcal) who planted the pivotable bunt to send Carlos Zambrano and his Cub teammates reeling, also was the man most responsible for the Dodgers exit against the Phillies, committing a key error in game one of that series to get Derek Lowe into trouble, and three more errors in one inning in game five, putting a 3-1 game all but out of reach at 5-1.

And now for the reality of it all. Presumably, K-Rod has saved his final game as an Angel and D-Lowe has started his final game as a Dodger. Those guys basically aren't replaceable, and unless something REALLY crazy happens, they will be playing baseball elsewhere in 2009. Don't be surprised if both don't wind up on the once again heartbroken New York Mets. Sorry, Dave! And what about Manny? It will probably cost an arm and a leg for the Dodgers to re-sign him, but I really think they should. There's no doubt he put people in the seats and energized the Dodger team and fans like no one else since a guy with two bad legs hit a home run off "the Eck" twenty years ago to spur them to their last World Series crown. Has it really been twenty years since Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershisher did all of their magic? Wow, how time flies!

So what else have I been doing? Well, watching lots of football both college and pro. Yes, those were my UCLA Bruins who lost 59-0 to BYU back on September 13th. Conversely, my crosstown rival USC Trojans put a 69-0 lashing on Washington State this past weekend. Ah yes, is it time for basketball yet???


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dodgers Sweep Cubs!

In an improbable upset, the Los Angeles Dodgers finished up a 3-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the National League Divisional Series for their first post-season series win in 20 years. James Loney's two run double in the first inning off of Cubs starter Rich Harden was all of the offense the Dodgers would need as starter Hideki Kuroda shut the opponents down in his 6 1/3 innings of work. Cory Wade pitched a strong 1 1/3 innings, giving up a run. Jonathan Broxton came in to get the final four outs of the game, striking out three including Alfonso Soriano to end a 3-1 Dodger victory. The Dodgers now await the winner of the series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers to see who they will be playing for the National League pennant. GO DODGERS!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dodgers Clinch NL West!

For the first time in four years, the Los Angeles Dodgers have won the National League West. St. Louis Cardinal reliver Chris Perez got Augie Ojeda to fly out to end a just completed 12-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium, mathmatically eliminating the D-Backs from playoff contention. Congratulations to the Dodgers on winning the division and keeping alive that "Freeway World Series" that I've always hoped would happen!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dodgers Cut Magic # to 3!

Chad Billingsley survived a shaky outing and Nomar Garciaparra and Blake DeWitt each hit 3-run homers to give the Dodgers an easy 10-1 win. In combination with the Arizona Diamonbacks losing to the St. Louis Cardinals behind Randy Johnson, the Dodgers cut their magic number from five to three yesterday. Any combination of three Dodgers wins and Diamondbacks losses between now and the end of the regular season on Sunday will clinch the NL West division title for the Blue Crew. GO DODGERS!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In Search Of...

... Jermaine Dye's bat. If anyone has seen it, could you please return it to him ASAP. His power outage this month is just killing some of my fantasy teams.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fantasy Football: More Luck Than Skill

We are two weeks into the football season and since I've been sooooooo involved in trying to win my fantasy baseball leagues and making all of the possible moves to give my teams the best chance at winning, I've paid very little attention to my football teams. In fact, up until a few minutes ago, I had not even looked at my football teams since last Sunday. So how did I do last week? Well, every one of my seven ESPN fantasy football teams WON!

And now it's confession time. I will admit now that I did not study AT ALL for my fantasy football drafts. Every one of them I "winged it," picking my players on the fly and looking at average draft lists while the drafts were happening and going with my gut on a few players. I also made my "Favre Pledge" and avoided any and all Packers players at all costs... My main draft day targets this year were an up and comer named Anthony Gonzalez along with his teammate Reggie Wayne of the Indianapolis Colts and any receiver wearing an Arizona Cardinals uniform. On these same teams, I avoided stalwards Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James.

While the trend has always been to focus on the "next big thing" at running back on draft day, I tend to look the other way and focus on the receivers. Rarely do I target defenses, but I had a gut feeling this year that the Chicago Bears D would rebound in 2008 after being so disappointing last year.

The season has a long ways to go, but it's nice to see that my teams are doing so well so early on with next to no preparation.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

K-Rod Saves Record 58th!

For the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the hits have kept on coming even after they clinched the American League West crown three days ago. Two nights ago, Francisco Rodriguez tied Bobby Thigpen's 18 year-old record for saves in recording his 57th. Last night catcher Mike Napoli hit a walk-off two run homer to give the Angels an exciting 5-3 win against the Seattle Mariners.

Tonight though, the focus was all on "K-Rod" as Rodriguez has come to be known. A strikeout of the Mariners' Raul Ibanez closed out a 5-2 Angels win and with it K-Rod recorded save #58 to set a new record. With 15 games to go, there figure to be many more opportunies for K-Rod to extend his mark and make more history. Congratulations to K-Rod on setting this new mark!


Hacking The Hackers...

One of my spare time (and that's a very rare commodity for me these days) hobbies is working on and maintaining a few Wikipedia pages. My personal favorite is my first page, the one I created on my friend, 2006 Miss District of Columbia, Kate Michael. Now while my Wiki page on Kate hasn't had many attacks of vandalism, I cannot say the same for some of the other pages I help maintain. Often these attacks are anonymous with the user's IP address showing on Wikipedia. Needless to say, it's a little frustrating to find that an anonymous person has messed with your work. Well now, there's a way to actually find where the IP address originated from! It's an IP address locator tool courtesy of

Click on this link IP Address Locator to find the actual city and state that is supplying the IP address. If you find the address you can put a little note on the user section of the Wikipedia IP Address page for the user telling them their city and state in addition to giving them their requesite first warning. Needless to say, this kind of note usually spooks the hackers and makes them go away. :)


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Angels Clinch AL West!

The New York Yankees may own a lot of World Championships, but there is one team they certainly do not own - the 2002 World Champion Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels are the only team in all of baseball to sport a winning record against the Yankees over the past 10 seasons. Since Mike Scioscia took over As their manager before the start of the 2000 season, the Angels owned a 44-36 record against the pinstripes going into today's contest.

This afternoon, the Angels and Yankees played the rubber game of their three game series at Angels Stadium. Dustin Moseley pitched a strong five innings and Francisco Rodriguez struck out Hideki Matsui to record his 56th save in a 4-2 Angels victory. With the win, the Angels clinched a tie for the American League West crown. They then watched in the lockerroom as Seattle Mariners closer J.J. Putz struck out Texas Rangers shortstop Michael Young in a 4-3 win to clinch the title for the second straight season and 4th time in the past five years.

Congratulations to the Angels on clinching, and here's hoping that the crosstown Dodgers (who lead the N.L. West by three games as of this writing) can join them in the post season. Maybe that Freeway World Series isn't such a farfetched thought after all!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Liberal Media Attacks on Palin...

I'm not one to speak on politics here very often, but what the left wing blogs and the liberal media have been trying to do to Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin these past few days is just outright sickening! Here is a family woman with values, integrity and class (even a former beauty queen), and they're trying to run her into the ground.

John McCain trumped Barack Obama and the Democrats by picking a woman who many women can actually relate to, and the response of the liberals tells me that the reason they are trying to smear Sarah Palin is that they are running scared. It is sad and pathetic what the liberal left is doing at the moment.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Not One, but TWO Cycles in One Night!

Hitting for the cycle is a VERY rare feat - so rare in fact that even a no-hitter is more common. Last week, Cristian Guzman of the Washington Nationals hit for the cycle against the Los Angeles Dodgers in our nation's capital. Tonight, for only the second time in Major League history, TWO players hit for the cycle in the same day - the only other time it happened was on September 17, 1920!!!

Tonight in Arizona, Stephen Drew went 5-for-5 against the St. Louis Cardinals in an 8-6 Diamondbacks victory. Drew singled in the first, tripled in the third and homered to right in the fifth inning off Cards starter Joel Piniero. He completed the cycle with a ground-rule double to center off Kyle McClellan in the seventh. Drew then added another double in the eighth off of Brad Thompson. Drew scored three runs on the night.

In Texas, Adrian Beltre hit a home run on a two strike pitch off Rangers starter Matt Harrison in the second inning. Beltre singled in the fourth and again in the sixth off of Harrison. In the seventh inning, he doubled off of Luis Mendoza. In the eighth, Beltre completed his cycle, mashing his first triple of the season into right field corner off of Josh Rupe. He had a chance to collect six hits, but grounded out in the 9th inning against Warner Madrigal to end the night 5-for-6. Amazingly, Beltre scored all five times he reached tonight (and also drove in three) in the Mariners 12-6 win.

And FYI, Beltre was back in my Thrasher's team lineup (as is Jimmy Rollins) for this week's games, so I got to enjoy his cycle even more!


5 Down, 1 To Go...

As Labor Day 2008 winds down, it also means that five months of the 2008 baseball season have come and gone and that there is just one month left to go. For those of us that play the fantasy baseball game, these final four weeks are the most crucial ones of the year. Though many of you may now be focused on your fantasy football leagues, I for one am really focusing on doing what it takes to win my baseball leagues.

With the close of August, here's how my teams in my five most important leagues stood:

Angels: 1st place - 70.5 pts, 4.5 ahead
Crusaders: 2nd place - 72.5 pts, 4.5 back
Crushers: 2nd place - 69.5 pts, 3.0 back
Thrashers: 3rd place - 60.5 pts, 5.0 back
Waves: 3rd place - 64.5 pts, 3.5 back

Yes, I'm in a position to possibly win each of my leagues! This is a far cry from the midpoint of the season when most of my teams were struggling just to stay in the middle of the pack.

The Waves team had a truly amazing week 22, making up 14 points on the lead! That team went from 54.0 pts to 64.5 (a 10.5 pt gain) as the leader lost 3.5 pts from the 71.5 he started the week with. Jason Werth with a .500 BA, 4 HR, 9 RBI's, 8 runs and a steal paced my hitters, while Jake Peavy's 20 K's and Bronson Arroyo's two wins led my pitchers. And I would have made up even more ground in that league if I hadn't benched a slumping Jimmy Rollins for Orlando Cabrera in that league. I benched Rollins (along with Adrian Beltre) on the Thrashers team as well. Combined they did this on my bench for that team: 25-54 for a .463 BA, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 9 R, 7 SB. OUCH!!! I can only hope that this doesn't come back to bite me come the end of September. Regardless, it's been an incredible roller coaster ride this year for me in my leagues... it definitely should be quite the finish in all of them.

Last year, things were quite different. I did three of these leagues and had one won by now coasting with a 15 point or so lead. In another I was hopelessly out of it, in 7th place and playing only for pride. In a third, I was in the runner-up position and made a mad dash to vault into a tie for the lead as the regular season closed. Unfortunately for me, Jake Peavy had to pitch that extra game at Coors Field for the Padres and I ended up losing 2.5 points and finishing second after a valient run from 17 points down...

What will the final month for me hold? Only the man above knows, I just hope He's smiling upon me and my teams!


Friday, August 29, 2008

Estelle Latest Victim of Billboard Hot 100's Bias

If you've been following the pop music charts recently, you've noticed the invasion of acts from across the Atlantic including Leona Lewis, Duffy and now Estelle. While Leona has already had a multi-format U.S. #1 smash here with "Bleeding Love" and a follow-up in "Better in Time" about to crack the top 10 on the pop chart, the other overseas acts have struggled to get widespread acceptance here in the states until recently.

Surprisingly, Estelle has been able to hold off Leona's latest hit on the pop chart, currently sitting at #13 with her hit "American Boy" ("Better in Time" is at #14). With nearly 90,000 downloads in the previous week, "American Boy" was the #6 most downloaded song in the U.S. With airplay from other formats thrown in, Estelle's song was just about to crack the top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. As of last week, it sat at #11.

Personally, I'm not really a huge fan of Estelle's hit (though the song is growing on me), but still what has happened this week is just more fuel for my argument that the Billboard Hot 100 should go to a rolling six week sales average to determine the sales component on the chart. This past week, Estelle's label pulled "American Boy" from all of the digital download sites including iTunes. With that, the song experienced a 75% drop in sales this week to just over 22,000 units. Despite the continued airplay gains, the song plummeted to #37 on the Hot 100 chart as a result of the label suddenly repressing downloads!

Did Estelle's song suddenly drop in popularity? No. Did the Billboard Hot 100 just lose even more relevance? Of course.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Guzman Puts Dodgers In Complete Slide Cycle

A week ago today, the Los Angeles Dodgers were tied with the Arizona Dimondbacks for first place in the National League's western division... The Dodgers headed to Philadelphia to start a 10 day road trip to hopefully take control of the division... such though has not been the case at all... Greg Maddux got pounded by the Phillies as did Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers losing the first two games by a combined 17-3 score. The Dodgers then wasted a great outing by Derek Lowe, blowing a 2-1 lead and eventually losing 5-2 in extra innings. In game four of the series, the Dodgers reached base a staggering 17 times (13 hits and four walks), and yet failed to plate a run in losing 5-0.

While being swept by the playoff contending Phillies on the road is hardly embarrassing, what happened to the Dodgers in the nation's capital the past three days was beyond bad... In game one of the series, another strong outing by D-Lowe was wasted as the Dodgers could only manage a single run off Collin Balester and four Washington Nationals relievers. A throwing error by Greg Maddux led to two unearned runs - the margin of defeat - as the Dodgers lost again to the Nats last night, 5-4.

Game three of the series was a complete rout almost from the outset. After Manny Ramirez gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead with a home run which also plated Andre Ethier in the first inning, the Nationals offense exploded. Clayton Kershaw gave up five runs in just 2 1/3 innings, including a solo home run Cristian Guzman and a three-run blast from the just returning Elijah Dukes. Dukes would homer again in the 7th inning... it was Guzman though who stole the show, singling in the second inning and then doubling in the 6th inning. In the 8th inning, Guzman drove a ball deep and over center fielder Matt Kemp's head for a triple to complete the rare cycle. In the four year history of the Nationals, Guzman's was only the second cycle, the first being by Brad Wilkerson on April 6, 2005. At the end of the night, the Nationals had an 11-2 win and an improbable three game sweep of the quickly fading Blue Crew.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks have been losing as well but their losing streak is only four games. With a day off today, the Dodgers loss increased the D-Backs lead to 3 1/2 games in the National League West. Tomorrow, the Dodgers start a crucial three game series in Arizona. Needless to say, something's got to give. Realistically, the Dodgers really need to take at least two of the three games to have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs. Of course, if the Dodgers lose two of three or (gasp!) extend their losing streak to ten games, it will look like my hopes of a "Freeway World Series" will be all but dashed once again.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Update...

With completion of tomorrow's games, there will be exactly five weeks left in the Major League Baseball season. For those of us that play Fantasy Baseball, it means the six month daily grind of managing your teams is soon coming to an end. If you've done well, you're still contending for some titles.

As for me, I'm in 18 leagues total this year, and I still have a chance at winning 13 of them. Most importantly, I'm still very much alive in almost all of my five money leagues! At this very moment, I'm in first in one (by 6 points), in second in one (5.5 points back), fourth in one (only 8.5 points back), and seventh in two (but only 9 points out of first in one and 18 points out in the other).

Come September 1, the goal is to generally be within 10 points of the lead in a standard 5x5 roto ML universe league if you want to have a chance to win... to be in that position in four of my five leagues, tells me that I've at least done something right. All you can hope to do is draft well, manage your team well and put yourself in a position to win. What will happen to me over the final five weeks? I have no idea, but I can only hope that the guys who have been most instrumental in helping get me to this point such as Aramis Ramirez, Jermaine Dye, Brian Roberts, Geovany Soto, Chris Snyder, Aubrey Huff, speed demon Willy Taveras, Johan Santana, Jake Peavy, James Shields, Tim Lincecum, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Ricky Nolasco and the ageless Randy Johnson can keep it going another five weeks. If so, chances are I'm going to be very happy come October 1!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fixing the Billboard Hot 100 chart: Part V

So how do we fix the Billboard Hot 100 so that it has meaning again? Before I get into that, we have several more examples of the chart's irrelevanace this week's chart. This past season's American Idol runner-up David Archuleta debuts at #2 on the chart this week with his first single from his upcoming debut album called "Crush." Taylor Swift's "Change" debuts at #10 and Chris Brown's "Dreamer" debuts at #16. Have you heard ANY of these songs yet? I didn't think so. Meanwhile, Kid Rock's mega-format smash "All Summer Long" inches up to #25 on the chart despite moving up from #6 to #4 in Hot 100 airplay! Thanks mostly to the aforementioned hit, his "Rock N' Roll Jesus" album sold over 101,000 units this week, good for the #3 spot on the Top 200 albums chart. Are the three debuts more popular songs than Kid Rock's hit? Of course not.

Once again we have cases where a formatically popular artist (an A.I. winner, a Country star and an R&B/Pop star) released a song to the online sites for download and it debuted high on the Hot 100 chart based almost exclusively thanks to sales. Do big week one sales make a song popular? As I've said before, the answer to this is an EMPHATIC NO! Big week one sales on a new release, whether it be of an album or a single mean the ARTIST is likely popular. As for the song, it's sales over time and how it does on the airplay charts are what determines whether or not it indeed is popular.

So how do we fix what is broken with the Hot 100 chart so that it once again has some sort of semblance of meaning? Following are my three main suggestions:

1. Change the sales component to a rolling six week sales average. As I've mentioned before, sales tend to run quite a bit ahead of airplay, so by getting the sales in sync with airplay songs will more naturally go up and down the chart, rather than having the jagged up and down style that is prevalent today. Also, by making the sales a rolling six week average, you eliminate the biases which currently exist on the chart thanks to the practice of "repressed downloads" and new releases by popular artists and/or American Idol contestants.

2. Factor in album sales for all charting songs, most especially for those which there is no physical single available. Should Kid Rock (or anyone else for that matter) be penalized on the Hot 100 chart just because he doesn't have a physical single available? I think not. The purpose of the Hot 100 chart has always been to reflect the songs that are most popular in the nation. Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" is definitely much more popular than the #25 position currently shown on the Hot 100 chart. For the album sales component, again use a six week rolling sales average, and award 75% of those sales to the current biggest hit track on the airplay chart. If this were done, Kid Rock's hit would be in the top 5 of the Hot 100, which is reflective of it's true popularity today.

3. Change the airplay component back to just pop radio airplay. Songs peak at different times at different formats. Those who are in the business and/or follow the charts religiously are very aware of this. Indeed, it's very common for a song to peak at Pop or Hot AC and then not peak for another six months to a year at Adult Contemporary. A country song may similarly cross over to pop radio or Adult Contemporary in a similar way. When Billboard combined the airplay of all formats, this resulted in unnatural jagged runs on their airplay chart. While the intention may have been good, this was not a well thought-out change. This change was also made with the assumption that all formats move sales units fairly equally. From what I've presented previously, this is not at all the case. Urban and Urban AC in particular don't move units. The three main formats which sell singles today are Pop (Top 40), Hot AC and Rhythmic in that order. My suggestion here would be to weight the airplay component so that it's based on 50% pop airplay, 35% Hot AC airplay and 15% Rhythmic airplay. The reason for the lower weight on the rhythmic side is that the format is not open to playing "all of the hits" as are Top 40 and Hot AC.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

MLB Finally Getting Replay!

It was just over a year ago when I wrote my blog entitled A Case For Instant Replay In Baseball. Well today, I finally got my wish as Major League Baseball along with baseball umpires signed an agreement to institute instant replay. Now while replay won't encompass all controversial situations, it will be used in the so-called "boundary calls" such as determining whether a ball is fair or foul and whether or not a flyball cleared the outfield fence.

Baseball has finally attempted to follow the NFL's innovative lead. All I can say is it's about time!!! Getting the call right is what it's all about, and this long overdue change should help revolutionize and popularize baseball as it did football. Heck, baseball umpires (like NFL officials) will likely now become more popular... Half the excitement of an NFL game these days is seeing the official go to the replay booth to correct a missed call. This should be fun and it should help make baseball games more enjoyable for the players, coachers, managers, umpires, and most especially the fans!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dodgers reacquire Maddux!

Two years ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Greg Maddux for the stretch run, and he helped lead them to a playoff appearance going 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 12 starts. Some may question the acquisition of the now 42 year-old future Hall of Famer, but Maddux is still going along strong, posting a 3.99 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 26 starts for the San Diego Padres this year. His 6-9 record is very deceiving as the Padres offense has been all but nonexistant in 2008.

The Dodgers definitely now have a nice blend of veteran presence and youth, and Maddux should definitely help take some of the pitching burden off of co-aces Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley, while helping out rookie sensation Clayton Kershaw. Indeed Kershaw was sitting next to Maddux in the dugout tonight in the Dodgers 8-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies, so it looks like he is already making an impact.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Phelps Wins Record 8th Gold!

Amazing, unbelieveable!!!... what an accomplishment for U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps as he broke the Mark Spitz record for most Gold medals in a single Olympic Games, winning his eighth tonight as a member of the 4x100 men's relay. Congratulations to Michael on breaking this record that was set by Spitz 36 years ago.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Fixing The Billboard Hot 100 chart: Part IV

Most of you are probably very familiar with the show American Idol. In it's seven years, the singing talent show has uncovered many great stars in a variety of music formats including Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Jordin Sparks and Kellie Pickler. Idol will always be associated closely with it's season one winner, Kelly Clarkson. On September 4, 2002, Clarkson was crowned the champion and did a tearful rendition of her soon-to-be released single "A Moment Like This." The song was released to radio almost immediately, debuting at #41 on the R&R pop chart just nine days after Clarkson's crowning moment. Four days later, on September 17th, 2002, the single for was made available for purchase.

Due more than anything to the show's amazing popularity, "A Moment Like This" sold a staggering 236,000 copies in it's first week. I still remember purchasing this song myself at my local Best Buy and noticed that it was the ONLY song out that was available at the time as a single. Needless to say, since there really wasn't anything out at the time readily available as a single, it had a HUGE advantage saleswise over anything else charting on the Billboard Hot 100. Due to the strength of it's Pop (Top 40) and Adult Contemporary airplay, the song had already climbed to #52 on the Hot 100. Needless to say, with it's huge sales advantage, the song had no problem leaping 51 spots to number one on the Hot 100 after the first week sales were tabulated! Was this fair or right? Hardly. Eventually, the song would climb to #4 on both the Pop and AC charts, while also peaking at #27 on the Hot AC chart. So yes, the song did turn out to be a pretty significant hit, but was it deserving of being called the "number one song in the U.S." at any point during it's chart life? No.

Sadly, Billboard did nothing to fix this inherent flaw on the Hot 100 chart methodology. As bad as the Kelly Clarkson example was, it was nothing compared to what followed. Since Clarkson won, a string of songs which hardly anyone outside of fans of the American Idol show would become "number one hits" on the Hot 100. On May 21, 2003, Ruben Studdard narrowly won the second American Idol title over Clay Aiken. Three weeks later, both Studdard and Aiken released singles. On June 28th, 2003, Aiken's "This Is The Night" debuted at #1 on the Hot 100 chart, while Studdard's "Flying Without Wings" was right behind at #2. As per the Clarkson example, nothing else was readily available as a single at the time. Aiken's song would go on to become a VERY minor pop radio hit, peaking at #48 on July 18, 2003, while Studdard's song never even charted on the pop chart! American Idol as a show was definitely popular, but were these two songs the two "most popular songs in the nation" at the time? Heck no!

And so it went... Fantasia won season three of the show, released a song called "I Believe" which flopped on U.S. radio, but managed to sell enough to reach #1 on the Hot 100 chart. Carrie Underwood won season four of the show and released a song called "Inside Your Heaven" the her first single. Season four runner-up Bo Bice also released a version of the same song as a single. And once again, both Idols would be at #1 and #2 on the Hot 100. While Carrie's song would eventually peak at #10 on the R&R AC chart, and also barely crack the Top 50 at Country and Top 40 radio, Bice's song never charted on a radio chart. Once again, we had songs ruling the Hot 100 which were hardly relevant outside of American Idol's audience.

In season five, Taylor Hicks won Idol in what most to this day still consider a HUGE upset. Anyone who watched the show that year knows that the guy with all of the talent that year was one Chris Daughtry. Daughtry only took fourth place that season, but he would end up having the last laugh as I'm sure you know. Taylor's coronation song, "Do I Make You Proud" flopped at pop radio as did most of the previous winner's songs. The song did manage to eventually peak at #20 on the Adult Contemporary chart - not much of a feat, considering it usually takes less than 200 spins in a week nationwide to get to that position. Sales in excess of 228,000 copies though ensured yet another illegitimate #1 Hot 100 debut. Not even two months after release, the song was off the Hot 100 chart as sales for it dramatically fell after the first two weeks.

Jordin Sparks won season six of Idol. Unlike the previous winners, her coronation song, "This Is My Now," was not released as a physical single. The main reason for this is that Billboard had FINALLY come to the realization that physical singles were no longer relevant. Even if a song sold 150,000 physical copies, it wasn't going to have a significant impact on the Hot 100 chart now. Like Hicks' song, Jordin's song was available for digital download though. The song did not receive signficant airplay and also didn't sell all that well as many people were probably looking to buy a physical copy. As a result the song "only" reached #15 on the Hot 100 chart. Jordin's first "official" release from her debut album, called "Tattoo" was released to radio on August 27, 2007. Despite her label, Jive, repressing downloads of the song for four weeks, the song would only manage to get to #8 on the Hot 100. "Tattoo" would turn out to be the second most successful pop radio Idol winner debut hit to date though, reaching #5 on the Mediabase pop chart. It would also crack the top 10 at AC and hit #12 at Hot AC.

With Billboard's realization that digital was now the preferred method of single purchase, you would have thought that some sense of accuracy would be applied to the chart... However, as seen with the Mariah Carey and Rihanna examples in Part III, this was hardly at all the case. With season seven Idol winner, David Cook, the Hot 100 chart would arguably reach it's all-time low. Prior to Cook's winning of Idol, Billboard decided to attempt to "tweak" the chart again in 2006. Digital sales became a HUGE component of the chart. So much so, that it was now common for songs that no one had heard of to chart. Miley Cyrus had SIX songs debut on the Hot 100 with the release of her Hannah Montana album. Cook would have 11 songs debut on the Hot 100, including four in the top 30, when his album came out earlier this year! Cook's first single, "The Time Of My Life" debuted at #3 on the Hot 100 on the strength of 236,000 sales in it's first week. The song has gone on to become a decent-sized hit, reaching #30 at Top 40, #6 at Hot AC and #3 at AC. Since radio airplay is now a bigger component of the Hot 100 chart, the song did not make it to #1 despite it having the second largest week one sales for an Idol winner's coronation song. Lil' Wayne's "Lollipop" and "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis - two singles which have sold more than 5,500,000 units to date combined - prevented it for hitting the top spot.

I bring up the sales figures for "Lollipop" and "Bleeding Love" for many reasons, but first and foremost is that huge sales over a long duration (rather than a few weeks)are usually a sure sign of a hit record. Additionally, sales usually run ahead of airplay on the charts today. In other words, a song usually will peak in sales before it has peaked in radio airplay. If the people at Billboard realized this, it would go a long way towards fixing the Hot 100.

In part five, I'll explain the above statement along with asking the agelong question - why can't Billboard find a way to incorporate album sales into the Hot 100, especially in cases like Kid Rock's??? In case you don't know, Kid Rock currently has the #5 pop song in the nation with "All Summer Long." It's also #4 at Hot AC and even #13 at Country! It's a bona-fide multi-format smash! Even in Billboard's much-maligned airplay component, the song is in the top five at the moment with nearly 90 million in estimated listening audience. Kid Rock's current album Rock N Roll Jesus is selling in excess of 90,000 copies a week. Yet, Kid Rock's HUGE current hit sits mired at #28 on the Hot 100 chart!!! Why is it sitting so low, despite the fact that over 1,500,000 copies of the song have been sold to date? That's to come, along with me finally recommending some solutions to fixing the chart.

Next: Part V - The Fix


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fixing The Billboard Hot 100 chart: Part III

As I mentioned in Part II, Billboard revised their Hot 100 chart formula in the mid-1990's to include all major types of popular music in the airplay end of it, rather than just pop (top 40) radio airplay as it always had been. The very erroneous assumption that all formats of music move sales units equally was made in doing this, an error which to this day Billboard has failed to recognize. This assumption couldn't be further from the truth! Formats such as Rock, Country, Alternative, Urban and Urban AC were figured into the Hot 100 formula instead of just pop stations. And while there may be many of these kinds of stations around, the fact of the matter is that these formats (no matter how much they play their format's hits) DO NOT SELL singles!

Since it's heyday in the early 1980's, the pop radio format has fragmented somewhat. And while Mainstream Pop (top 40) is still the dominant format, the Rhythmic format was birthed out of it in the 1980's, and in 1994, we saw the debut of the Adult Top 40 charts (also known as Hot AC). When you study the sales charts of the top selling singles of today, the popular songs from these three formats tend to dominate them. For all it's popularity, the Country format as a whole does not move singles units. However, Country crossover artists such as Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift (who both hit the top 10 of the pop chart last year) tend to sell very well.

As a result of the revised Hot 100 policy, the chart began to slant toward the Rhythmic end of things in the mid-1990's and has continued to do so to this day. Straight ahead pop hits, or pop songs with a rock edge rarely had a chance to hit the top of the chart anymore because formats such as Rhythmic, Urban and Urban AC effectively were not "mass appeal" enough to play a mainstream pop record, no matter how big of a hit it was nationally.

So, as we entered the 2000's, the Billboard Hot 100 continued to be very inaccurate on both the airplay and sales fronts. When digital downloads began to be incorporated into the Hot 100 formula in 2005, there finally was some hope on that end of things. For the first time in about 15 years, you could purchase practically any song you heard on the radio for a reasonable price. Whether it be via iTunes, Walmart, Rhapsody or some other source, the digital download now ruled the singles marketplace.

Unfortunately, Mariah and the evil minds at her new label, Island, figured out a new way to manipulate the sales component of the Hot 100 chart. It was basically the same thing Sony did with the physical singles back in the mid-late 1990's and early 2000's - they repressed sales of a new release until it had racked up enough of an estimated listening audience (airplay) to ensure a #1 hit on the Hot 100 chart. And while in early 2005, Mariah had her huge comeback hit, "We Belong Together" - a song which no one can dispute was a legitimate MASSIVE #1 hit on the Hot 100 and otherwise, a lot of funny stuff happened in the two years after that.

On October 11, 2005, Mariah and her label officially released a song called "Don't Forget About Us" to pop radio. Although a huge hit at several formats, including Pop, Rhythmic, Urban and Urban AC, it "only" managed to reach #2 on the Hot 100 in it's first 9 weeks of official airplay. It would have reached #1 and probably would have had a very long run at the top of that chart if they had released a single for purchase. Island decided to repress the song, and didn't make it available for download until December 13, 2005. Not surprisingly, the song sold A TON of units in the weeks that followed, and ended up spending two weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 chart.

Fast forward to 2008. In the two years that passed, other artists such as Rihanna repress singles to purchase a #1 hit on the Hot 100 chart... Mariah in the meantime has completed a new album entitled E=MC². The lead single, entitled "Touch My Body," is released to radio on February 12th. Since Mariah was coming off a huge 6x Platinum album in The Emancipation of Mimi , it figured that no matter how good or bad the song was, that it would have no problem getting airplay or adds at the formats where her previous hits had been successful. The reception to the song though was VERY lukewarm at pop radio after the initial hype died down. After reaching the top 10 in only five weeks, it was out of the top 10 just six weeks later, peaking at #7. Low callout scores (as with "Honey") doomed this song's chances from the start. Quite frankly, the song just wasn't anywhere close in quality to Mariah's early albums or her comeback hits from the last album. While a #7 song is nothing to sneeze at, most expected Mariah's first single to do better.

Which brings us back to the Hot 100 chart. While Rhythmic, Urban and Urban AC stations played "Touch My Body," it wasn't as huge as any of the three hits off the previous album either. Yes, it reached the top 10 at all of these formats, but not number 1. As a result, it was stalling in the mid-teens on the Hot 100 chart. Island figured they could get Mariah another easy #1 if they repressed downloads. What the label didn't expect was the lukewarm reception to the song on all levels. On March 24, 2008, the label finally released the song as a single to all of the digital outlets. Of course, when you build up demand for a song for six weeks, you would expect that when the song was finally released in it's seventh week on the radio that people would buy it. Think of it as compressing seven weeks of sales into just one. It's not exactly rocket science here... Sure enough, the 48 days of sales compressed into a week were enough to sell 286,000+ units. "Touch My Body" moved from #15 to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, knocking off a legitimate number one song in "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis. Mariah would spend a second week at #1, before being replaced on top by Leona.

Just five weeks after Mariah's shenanigans, Rihanna's label bought her another Hot 100 #1 by repressing downloads of her hit, "Take A Bow." The song entered the top 40 chart on March 23, 2008, but wasn't available for download until six weeks later, on May 6, 2008. Unlike Mariah's song though, this song turned out to be a legitimate hit, reaching #1 on the Pop chart the first two weeks of July, 2008.

NEXT: PART IV - American Idol uncovers a new Hot 100 flaw, and Kid Rock exposes the BIG flaw which the Hot 100 had even before the problems of the past two decades...


Leona Hits #1 Again!

After 10 week runs at number one on both the Pop and Hot AC charts, there really was only one music chart left for Leona Lewis to conquer here in the U.S... and after waiting seemingly forever, she finally has reached the top of the Adult Contemporary chart. With this morning's update, "Bleeding Love" reached the #1 position, knocking off another song to reach #1 on all three charts, "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles.

Top 5 by spins:
Date: lw TW Artist Title TW lw Move aud
2 1 LEONA LEWIS Bleeding Love 2149 2071 78 17.543
1 2 SARA BAREILLES Love Song 2086 2240 -154 16.629
4 3 DAVID COOK Time Of My Life 1926 1829 97 14.613
3 4 JOHN MAYER Say 1810 1873 -63 14.110
6 5 TIMBALAND/ONEREPUBLIC Apologize 1497 1335 162 9.699

Leona is now ascending the pop chart here in the U.S. with her second single, "Better In Time" which has already reached the #20 position and is also the biggest airplay gainer on the entire chart the past week. While it would be crazy to think that "Better In Time" would be able to be as massive a hit as "Bleeding Love" was, it's not out of the question for the song to duplicate her first hit's success and hit #1 on the pop chart. Congratulations to Leona on another #1 and her continued incredible success here in the U.S.!!!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dodgers Dunn in?

The Arizona Diamondbacks traded yesterday for one of baseball's premier sluggers, acquiring Adam Dunn from the Cincinnati Reds. Despite a low .233 batting average, Dunn is leading the National League with 32 home runs and also has driven in 74 runs. The move definitely is in direct reaction to the Los Angeles Dodgers acquisition of Manny Ramirez. While the Manny trade probably made the Dodgers the favorite to win the divison, this latest move probably evens things back up, or even swings the ball back into the D-Backs court.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Harrington Gets Double-Major!

Padraig Harrington is doing his best to take the place of one Tiger Woods while the world's #1 player in the world recovers from surgery. Harrington holed long putts on the final three holes in a very Tiger-like performance to outlast both Sergio Garcia and Ben Curtis to claim his first PGA Championship by two strokes yesterday.

Congratulations to Padraig on winning his second consecutive major and third career one. He definitely has taken full advantage of Tiger being gone, hasn't he?


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Carlos Lee Out For Season! :(

As many of you know, I'm an avid fantasy baseball player, and a less avid fantasy football player. I still play the latter, but I honestly believe it takes little to no skill to win a fantasy football league - it's usually about luck. Anyways, being a fan of fantasy baseball, I participate in nearly 20 leagues each year. Some or more casual, others are more important - particuarly the money leagues I play in every year on CBS Sportsline. When I tell you the prize for winning such a league is in the four figures, you'll probably understand why I'm a little upset at what is going on right now.

In case you missed the news, Carlos Lee of the Houston Astros was hit by a pitch from Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo last night. The pitch broke Lee's left pinkie and he's going to be out 6-8 weeks. In other words, he's all but done for the year!!! Just how big of a loss is this? Lee was leading the National League in RBI's with 100, and was 4th in the league in homers with 28, to go along with a .314 batting average. Yes, this is a major jolt to not one, but TWO of my five teams!!! And it could have been worse as I traded him for Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon a couple of weeks ago in a third league.

Players such as Carlos Lee are deemed by Sportsline and most other fantasy sites as "too valuable to drop," so they are typically put on the respective site's list of Undroppable Players. In other words, even if you want to drop these players, you can't drop them. Albert Pujols, A-Rod, Johan Santana and other players that would typically be picked in the first five rounds of a fantasy draft are usually on these lists. Anyways, as of early this morning, Carlos Lee was STILL on the undroppable list for CBS Sportsline even though he's done for the year! Given that lineups freeze on Monday and I need to get a decent substitute to replace him with, you can probably understand my frustration. It would be awful to lose a league as a result of something being there to protect the integrity of leagues. Hopefully, I will be able to drop Lee VERY soon!

** EDIT **

After some going back and forth with a representative at Sportsline this morning for a bit, I was able to get him dropped from my teams and he is now off the Undroppable List. Mission Accomplished! I only can hope that my fill-ins Mike Cameron and Jason Kubel will perform decent for me in the coming month and a half.


Note: Fixing the Billboard Hot 100 chart: Part III will appear tomorrow... ran out of time today as I was celebrating my hephew Jason's birthday.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fixing the Billboard Hot 100 chart: Part II

By the early 1990's, physical sales singles were no longer a very accurate way to measure a song's success. Billboard in their infinite wisdom, decided to mess with the one part of the chart which didn't need fixing - the pop airplay component. Pop radio stations (also known as Top 40) were known as such because they played the songs that were popular regardless of format. Whether it be pop, rhythm and blues, country, easy-listening, etc. a song had a home at top 40 radio if it was truly a hit. That's always been the beauty of top 40 radio - it's the "melting pot" of POPular music so to speak. Instead of just tracking pop station airplay, Billboard would eventually combine the airplay of EVERY other popular format into one chart: The Hot 100 airplay chart. This created a whole new monster, one which I will explore in Part III.

In the meantime, while the "airplay only" hits were finally allowed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, they still faced a serious disadvantage to any song actually available as a single. The very first song that was #1 in pop airplay after Billboard revised it's chart policy in late 1998 was "Lullaby" by Shawn Mullins. Despite spending five weeks on top of the Radio & Records pop airplay chart, it only made it to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. And this handicap was the norm for #1 pop hits without an avaiable single - they rarely ever cracked the top 5 of the Hot 100. Billboard would later revise it's formula from 60% airplay/40% sales to 80% airplay/20% sales, but the reality was even this wasn't good enough as for all intents and purposes, the single was dead.

There were so few singles available by this time, that even a song that didn't get much pop airplay could chart VERY high on Billboard's Hot 100 chart if it sold a lot of units, so the record companies decided to start the practice of deeply discounting CD singles to the point that they were actually losing lots of money on them. Typically, a deeply discounted single sold for only .49 cents.

The first artist to habitually exploit this loophole in Billboard's Hot 100, perhaps ironically, was Mariah Carey. As this GREAT article entitled "Hot 100 Blues" by Jon Cummings points out:

"Labels began playing more overt games with the Hot 100 as well during those years. More and more frequently, beginning with Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone” in September 1995, they delayed releasing a single until airplay was cresting – and then often put the singles into stores at a huge discount – so that a song’s combined airplay and sales figures would result in a Number One debut. Sony employed this strategy with Mariah Carey three times between ’95 and ’97."

Up until the early 1990's, the Hot 100 had always been a chart that a song would naturally rise up and down based on it's popularity. As per the above, Michael Jackson's song was the first song to debut at #1 on the Hot 100. "Fantasy" would do the same for Mariah four weeks later, on September 30, 1995. Sony then began to even more blatently manipulate the chart starting with Mariah's duet with Boyz II Men, "One Sweet Day." And while "One Sweet Day" indeed was a huge radio hit, spending eight weeks at the top of R&R's pop chart, the record label manipulation (i.e: deeply discounting the song), to go along with the fact that so few songs were now available as singles allowed it to spend a ridiculous 16 weeks at #1 on the Hot 100!!!

In the modern era (1965-present), The Beatles were the first act to spend as many as nine weeks at number #1 on the Hot 100 with their hit "Hey Jude" in 1968. Debby Boone broke that record in 1977, scoring 10 weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 with "You Light Up My Life." Olivia Newton-John tied that record four years later with "Physical." With the single getting phased out in the early 1990's, it became easier and easier for songs to have long runs at the top of the Hot 100. In fact, from 1992 to 1994, FOUR songs spent 11 weeks or more at #1! Those four songs would be "I Swear" by All-4-One (11 weeks), "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston (14 weeks), and the Boyz II Men hits "End of The Road" (13 weeks) and "I'll Make Love To You" (14 weeks). Clearly, even prior to Mariah's first two chart manipulations in 1995, something was VERY wrong with the Hot 100 chart.

In 1997, Sony employed their shady chart tactics a third time as the song "Honey" was released from Mariah's Butterfly album. Unlike all of her previous releases, "Honey" was not accepted well either by pop radio or Mariah's huge fanbase. Indeed, at the time I was such a fan of Mariah's that I would buy her albums the day they came out. Well, Butterfly marked the first time that I was disappointed with a Mariah album. "Honey" was a very highly anticipated single, and within two weeks of relase, it had already reached #18 on the R&R pop chart. It struggled mightily after that though, peaking at #10 just four weeks later. Callout scores (numbers which measure a song's popularity amongst radio listeners) were also very low for the first time with a Mariah release. Seeing all of this, Sony rush released "Honey" to the record stores just in time to get it three weeks at the top of the Hot 100 chart, again discounting the song to .49 cents just to ensure that it got there.

Over the next three years, Mariah's label would continue this practice of chart manipulation. "My All" reached only #15 on the R&R pop airplay chart in 1998, "Heartbreaker" reached #21 in 1999, and "Thank God I Found You" peaked at #28 in 2000. Thanks to Sony stalling the release of the deeply discounted singles until the songs were peaking at radio and thanks also to perhaps only 5% of songs at that time even being available as singles, all three of these songs managed a #1 peak on Billboard's Hot 100. Have any of you out there even heard of these three songs? I didn't think so. None of these songs was a radio hit, nor the "most popular song in the nation" as the Hot 100 would lead you to believe.

While people could shell out .49 cents for the few singles that were available during the late 1990's/early 2000's, the fact of the matter was that for most popular songs, you usually had to purchase a full length CD to get the one song you wanted. So out of public frustation more than anything, the file sharing site called Napster came to prominence as more and more consumers became fed up with having to shell out $10-$11 for a full length CD for their favorite song. By 2001, many other sites, including Kazaa had sprouted up and tried to get a piece of the "illegal file sharing" marketplace. Several years after the illegal sites came into prominence, the record industry finally figured out a way to tap into this source of potential revenue. The single was re-birthed (for the most part) via iTunes, Walmart and many other online sites where you could legally download popular single songs to your computer for .99 cents or so. Unfortunately, Billboard didn't start using digital downloads in the Hot 100 formula until 2005. With this change, it finally looked like there was hope for the Hot 100 chart...

WEDNESDAY: Part III ... Just when things were looking better, Sony finds yet another way to manipulate the Hot 100.


Friday, August 8, 2008

And why is Facebook???

Putting on ads by giving out a million Obama buttons??? If they're going to be promoting Obama stuff, they better start doing the same with McCain... it's only fair, right?


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fixing the Billboard Hot 100 chart: Part I

As many of you know, when I cite the positions of popular songs, I rarely even mention the word "Billboard" here in this blog. Usually, I will use the radio airplay charts from Mediabase (old Radio & Records), and occasionally, I will cite sales figures from iTunes or Soundscan. For those of you that don't know the reason why I don't care for Billboard, it's because I don't recognize their main chart, the Hot 100, as being realistic or even close to resembling what is truly popular.

Once upon a time - think back about 20 years - you could buy pretty much any song you wanted to that you heard on the radio in the form of a physical single. Singles were pretty cheap back then, ranging from .99 cents to $1.99 depending on where you went to buy them. If you liked a song, it was much better for the consumer to spend a couple of bucks on a single instead of $9-10 or more on a full-length album. And for the real music fan like me who actually collected singles, it was a GREAT hobby. If I really liked an artist or multiple singles from the album, then I was more likely to buy the album in addition to the single.

At that time, Billboard's Hot 100 chart was comprised of Pop radio station airplay and physical sales, unlike today where they combine the airplay from stations of all formats (more on this inherent problem later). For a very long time, this method of combining pop airplay and sales produced very reliable and informative charts which represented what was truly popular. Sometimes you'd have songs not be such huge airplay hits such as Golden Earring's "Twilight Zone" (which never even cracked the top 30 in pop airplay) be such huge sellers, that they would end up in the top 10 of the Hot 100 chart. Conversely, there were songs such as Billy Joel's "Allentown" which were huge in pop airplay (#3), yet only sold well enough to get to #17 on the Hot 100. And of course, you had other songs that did well in both areas such as "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, which was #1 in airplay for eight weeks and also #1 on the Hot 100 for the same eight weeks as a result of it's dominance on the sales front.

In the late 1980's though, the first signs of true corporate greed within the music industry began to take hold. Record companies were looking at ways to generate more revenue. Short-sightedly, they inferred that sales of singles cut dramatically into album sales. As a result, the physical single started to become harder to come by in 1989 as record labels began to limit their releases. By 1991, this trend got to the point that even releases by very popular artists such as Mariah Carey were affected. Mariah's hit "Emotions" reached #1 on the pop airplay chart for four weeks late in 1991, and #1 on the Hot 100 for three weeks. However, due to the fact that the label didn't release a ton of copies of the single, it only reached #10 in sales. Songs that weren't even reaching the top 40 in either sales or airplay were becoming top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. For example, Nelson's "Only Time Will Tell" reached #28 on the Hot 100, yet only reached #42 on the airplay chart and #51 in sales. Cher's "Love and Understanding" reached #17 on the Hot 100 on the "strength" of reaching #38 on the pop airplay chart and #45 in sales. Clearly, the once reliable Hot 100 chart had some major problems... and it only got worse! 17 years later it's STILL trying to recover!

The main reason the Hot 100 lost it's accuracy in the early 1990's is that Billboard was slow (and I mean VERY slow) to react to the fact that the record companies were phasing out the single. "Airplay only" hits became more and more prevalent as a result. In 1994, the Counting Crows had a HUGE #1 pop radio hit called "Mr. Jones." Their follow-up single, "Round Here" also cracked the top 10, peaking at #9 on the Radio & Records airplay chart. Not surpringly, their debut album August and Everything After was a huge success here in the U.S., eventually going 7x platinum. If you were watching the Billboard Hot 100 chart during their 1994 run though, you would have completely missed out on the Counting Crows. Since neither song had a physical single released, neither was eligible to chart on the Hot 100.

Remember the T.V. show Friends? Of course, you do!!! And yes, it's true that I've been known to recognize Courtney Cox-Arquette just from seeing her amazing blue eyes on a magazine cover. Anyways, a band called the Rembrandts had a song called "I'll Be There For You" which turned out to be used as the theme for the show. The song spent eight weeks at #1 on the R&R pop chart in mid-1995, but once again didn't chart on the Hot 100 while it was huge on the radio. Over 3 1/2 months after it peaked at radio, the song was finally released as a single. By that time, most of us had shelled out $10 for the Rembrandts' LP album and didn't need a copy of the single. As a result, it only reached #35 in sales, and a #17 Hot 100 peak.

In 1996, a band from Southern California called No Doubt was gaining national prominence... Their debut song, "Just A Girl" hit #22 on the R&R pop airplay chart. The follow-up, "Spiderwebs," hit #11 on the chart. Late that year, the song which probably more than any other single song caused Billboard to FINALLY start to rethink their Hot 100 chart policy, "Don't Speak," spent nine weeks at #1 on the R&R pop airplay chart. As with the Counting Crows, none of the No Doubt songs was available as a single and of course none of them charted on the Hot 100. By the end of 1997, their Tragic Kindgom album was 11x Platinum here in the U.S...

To further add insult to Billboard's injury, the Cardigans came from across the Atlantic to have their hit "Lovefool" spend six weeks at #1 on the R&R Pop airplay chart in early 1997... once again, no single available, so no Hot 100 chart appearance. The next year, Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" would spend 11 weeks at #1 on the Pop airplay chart. Later that year, "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls would spend four weeks at #1 and an amazing 28 weeks in the top 10 of the R&R pop airplay chart. On December 5, 1998, Billboard FINALLY made the change to their Hot 100 chart which had been many years overdue - they allowed airplay only hits to chart... but did that fix the problem? No. In fact, the colective record company greed of the 90's decade finally caught up with them, creating it's own "piranha" so to speak the very next year in the form of a little thing called NAPSTER.



Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pujols FINALLY Gets To D-Lowe

The St. Louis Cardinals have always owned Derek Lowe - OK, everyone but perhaps superstar Albert Pujols. As I told a few friends and family over the weekend, I had a VERY bad feeling about this game for Lowe and the Dodgers. I told them that I think Pujols is long "overdue to have a good game against D-Lowe." Coming into last night's game pitting the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols was only hitting .235 in 17 career at bats against Lowe with no home runs. Overdue, you bet!

With a 1-5 career record, a 5.24 ERA, 1.63 WHIP and a .325 batting average allowed in six career starts against the St. Louis Cardinals, it was clear going into tonight's game that Lowe was going to have his work cut out for him. The good news for him was that Rick Ankiel and his career .500 batting average against was out of the starting lineup again for the Cards. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, known "Lowe killers" Ryan Ludwick (.571), Adam Kennedy (.379), Yadier Molina (.308) and Troy Glaus (.300) were all in tonight's starting lineup for the Cards. The writing was certainly on the wall...

Lowe and the Dodgers though got off to a quick start tonight, taking a 2-1 lead after two innings thanks to Manny Ramirez's third home run in four days, and an Angel Berroa run-scoring triple. Ramirez would score Matt Kemp with a single in the third inning to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead. Lowe gave up four hits in the first two innings, so he was already looking shaky, but got bailed out by overanxious Cards newcomer Felipe Lopez in the bottom of the second. Lopez tried to score from second on a Cesar Izturis single with two out in the second inning, but was cut down easily at the plate to thwart the rally... A Pujols double, a Ludwick single, a Glaus single and a Molina single in the third quickly tied things at 3-3.

Things went from bad to worse for Lowe in the fourth inning. Opposing pitcher Joel Piniero opened it with a single, Izturis followed with a one out single, and then Kennedy singled. The bases were now loaded and Mr. Pujols was coming to the plate. You probably can guess what happened. Pujols unloaded on a fastball, driving it high and deep into the left field stands for a grand slam. Ludwick followed with a home run of his own and Lowe's night was done for. The carnage: 3 1/3 innings pitched, 13 hits allowed, eight earned runs allowed - the kind of performance that can severely hurt your fantasy team... The Dodgers would try to rally, but it would come up short as they would lose 9-6.

As for Pujols, he certainly got well quickly against Lowe and now owns a robust .350 career average against him with his 3-for-3 effort tonight. He also walked in the sixth inning and added a fourth hit in the 8th inning to complete his perfect night at the plate. With the 4-for-4 hitting barrage, Pujols upped his batting average to .352 on the season.

Being an owner of Lowe in four of my five most important fantasy baseball leagues, I'd ordinarily be very upset about his poor start and how it negatively affected all of my fantasy teams... But, it didn't affect me in the slightest as I had the foresight to bench him in EVERY ONE OF MY LEAGUES this week! Yes, I dodged a BIG bullet!


Favre Traded To Jets! :(

I'm in a state of shock and sadness with this news. Brett Favre is the Green Bay Packers, or make that WAS... It's a sad day to be a cheesehead for sure. While I'm sure Brett will have some success as the QB of the New York Jets, it's certainly not going to be the same seeing him in that uniform. An era has ended, a legacy is over... it's very sad to see what the Green Bay Packers brass has done to ruin the great thing they had... I guess it goes to show that you're truly only as good as your last pass. For those that forget, Favre's last pass as a Packer was an interception.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

My iPod is OK after all! :)

Good news on the iPod front... after telling a few of my friends at work what happened with my iPod the previous day, many told me just to wait a while and it would start working again on it's own. Skeptical, I said "O.K., if you say so" to all of them, expecting the worst. Well, these friends of mine obviously knew something that I didn't from past iPod experiences as sure enough I plugged it into my computer after work last night and the "charging" sign came up!!! It appears to be just fine this morning. I guess Leona didn't bleed it dry after all! :)


Friday, August 1, 2008

iPod Bled Dry???

... at least that's what my friends are telling me. My iPod, which I only have had since Christmas last year suddenly stopped working yesterday a little before 10 a.m... Perhaps appropriately, the last song it played before it ceased function was "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis - far and away the song I had played the most on my iPod. My friends have told me that perhaps it will start working again if I let it sit for awhile. I did drop it a few times - the worst one being at the gym about four weeks ago when it somehow fell out of it's protective case while I was doing some arm curls. That was about a three foot fall right onto the hard gym floor. I just hope it starts working again soon and/or that it isn't too expensive to repair. I'm missing it A TON already!


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dodgers Get Manny Ramirez!

In dire need of a power hitter, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Andruw Jones in the off season. As we all know, that free agent signing has not at all worked out. Jones has all of TWO home runs and 13 RBI's to go along with an abysmal .167 batting average in 192 at bats this season. Where did the guy go who hit 118 home runs in the previous three years with the Braves? We're still wondering. Today, the Dodgers decided to acquire a disgruntled Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox as part of a three team trade. With the move, it's expected that Jones' role on the bench will be firmly cemented.

In Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers get an aging superstar who still has some life in his bat. If Dodger fans were not familiar with the phrase "Manny being Manny" before, I expect over the next two months, they will become very familiar with it. Manny has battled some injuries the past two years, hurting his production somewhat. After only hitting 20 home runs last year in 483 at bats, Manny already has that number in 365 at bats this year to go with a .299 batting average. With 510 career home runs, the sure-bet future Hall of Famer is definitely a welcome addition to the Dodger line-up. I assume he will hit in the clean-up spot, taking the place of second basemen Jeff Kent.

With a 54-53 record, one game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the N.L. West, the Dodgers now become the favorite to win the division. With the Angels acquiring Mark Teixiera earlier this week, the local teams here in Los Angeles have certainly come out smelling like roses! It should be a fun next two and If we're lucky) three months here in L.A. Maybe that "Freeway World Series" that I've dreamed of since I was little isn't such a far-fetched notion anymore!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Parcells, Packers & Pierce : the Killer P's...

... and there certainly is no penalty box large enough to contain all three of these "Killer P's" after what has transpired over the past couple of weeks... yes, it's time for a rare rant from me, er make that three of them all in one blog entry!

Bill Parcells has a big ego, and yes we all have known it for a very long time. Christmas came early in our nation's capital this past week as Parcells shipped the best player on the 1-15 Miami Dolphins team he took over, Jason Taylor, to the Washington Redskins for basically nothing!!! Parcells didn't approve of Taylor missing a couple of weeks of training camp time due to his time spent on Dancing With The Stars. Seriously! I still can't believe that coach Parcells is so full of himself! While the Dolphins were not nearly as bad as their record last year indicated, losing six games by three points, this "move" certainly did nothing to improve the "Fins" for 2008 and beyond. And by the way, I hear noted leader Tiki Barber is interested in playing for you, Bill!

The Green Bay Packers brass REALLY needs to man up and do what is best for the organization and for the fans of their organization. I personally have nothing against QB Aaron Rodgers, however, he's no Brett Favre. Let's go back in time a little here. The Packers won the first two Super Bowls. Over the course of the next 24 seasons (1968-1991), the Packers made the playoffs all of two times! Only five of those seasons did they have winning records. Yes, they were HORRIBLE! In 1992, guess who became their starting QB? Favre helped guide the Packers to a 9-7 record, and though they missed the playoffs that year, the Packers would make the playoffs six straight seasons (winning Super Bowl XXXI) and 11 of the next 15. Only once in Favre's 16 years as a starting QB have the Packers had a losing record. Last year, of course, Favre nearly guided the Packers to the Super Bowl. If Favre had been bad last year, perhaps I could understand them not welcoming him back with open arms, but clearly he still possesses the skills to guide this team. The Packer brass needs to swallow their pride and do what is best for the team and their fans. Do you people NOT understand what Brett Favre has done for your team? Your city? GROW UP! With Brett Favre, the Packers have a good shot at getting to Super Bowl 43. How many rookie QB's have led their teams to Super Bowl wins? Exactly.

And what is the deal with Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce? Here's a quote from him when asked about Kobe Bryant being the best player in the world: "I don't think Kobe is the best player. I'm the best player. There's a line that separates having confidence and being conceited. I don't cross that line but I have a lot of confidence in myself."

Hmmm... Mr. Pierce, have you checked your Webster's lately? You might want to make sure your picture isn't in there illustrating the definition of the word "conceited!"


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Angels Land Big Teix!

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won the "Big Teix Sweepstakes" this afternoon, landing superstar Mark Teixiera from the Atlanta Braves for first baseman Kasey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Steve Marek. The Angels have baseball's best record at 66-40, but at have times have struggled offensively. The addition of "Big Teix" assures Vladimir Guerrero some protection in the three spot, while it should also give Torii Hunter and Garret Anderson lots of RBI opportunities behind him.

Well known as a big second half performer, Teixiera already has 20 home runs and 78 RBI's to go with a .283 batting average. The Angels celebrated his acquisition by polishing off defending World Champion Boston Red Sox for the second straight night in Fenway Park, 6-2. Angels starting pitcher John Lackey took a no-hitter into the ninth inning. Dustin Pedroia broke up the no-no with a one out single. Kevin Youkilis then followed with a two-run homer to take away the shutout.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Leona Scores Rare Double-Double!

Six months ago, if you said the name Leona Lewis here in the U.S., it's very likley you would have had no idea who she was. Fast forward to present day, where Leona has a number one and platinum debut album in Spirit, along with a single in "Bleeding Love" which has sold over 2.6 million downloads in America this year. FYI, it's the most downloaded song of the 2008 calendar year so far.

While Leona's sales achievements are impressive, the accomplishments of "Bleeding Love" continue to mount. It recently set all-time records for spins and estimated listening audience on the Mediabase CHR/Pop chart during it's 10 week run at the top earlier this year. This week, Leona moves into some truly elite compnay as "Bleeding Love" spends it's 10th week on top of the Mediabase Hot Adult Contemporary chart. In doing so, it becomes the second song EVER to spend double-digit weeks on top of both charts! In 1998, Natalie Imbruglia's #1 hit "Torn" spent 11 weeks on top of the CHR/Pop chart, to go along with 13 weeks on top of the Hot AC chart. Yes, this is a VERY rare accomplishment... In fact, no other song has ever spent nine or more weeks on top of both charts (though several have spent eight or more on top of both).

Congratulations to Leona on yet another incredible accomplishment! By the way, her follow-up single "Better In Time" is doing just fine, already at #33 less than two weeks since it went for adds with over 3/4 of the reporting panel playing it. Today alone, "Better" gained 162 more spins. Yes, Leona's got another HUGE hit on her hands here!