Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday Stream of Consciousness

Because I can’t really think of anything else to write about, I’m going to rip off Jamie’s columns and write some assorted musings of mine from the holiday season.

-I got a Wii for Christmas, which is totally sweet. Believe the hype. Super Mario Galaxy is “out of this world!” (Let’s see if that one ends up in a Nintendo commercial. Yes, I’m totally willing to sell out with dumb ass catch phrases if it means getting more site hits. Fuck me? Fuck you!). Even a game like Mario Party that you might be initially apprehensive about is pretty badass.

-One of the best parts about the Wii is that you can download old Nintendo and SNES games for like $5 a pop. I already have both Blades of Steel and Ice Hockey, as well as Contra III. One of the greatest thrills of the past week was playing as the U.S. in Ice Hockey against my friend Anthony, who was playing as the evil, godless Soviets. He went small with his players, while I went with 3 big fat guys and a medium-sizer. Of course, I won 17-8, then watched Miracle and sang “America the Beautiful” while eating apple pie and racking up credit card debt by buying useless shit on the internet. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Of course, there are plenty of other games I still want. Punch Out, Baseball, and Tecmo Bowl are right at the top of the list. I’m sure there are plenty of other awesome games out there, even if Aerobiz isn’t there yet (hopefully it will be soon).

-I don’t really have any plans for New Year’s yet, nor am I terribly concerned. What’s the big deal about New Year’s, anyway? A lot of people use it as an excuse to get inappropriately drunk and do crazy shit. The problem is, I don’t really need an “excuse,” per se, to do that, so it’s far less special than for a lot of others.

-I recently bought the American Pie Trilogy and watched them all. I have to say, though they’re funny, in hindsight all of the guys are huge pussies, except for Stiffler. Even though Stiffler is a bit of an asshole, he’s the only one in the movie with any kind of confidence. Instead, these guys are always giving in and never asserting themselves, yet they somehow fall ass-backwards into getting laid and “self-discovery?” Uh, yeah, that’s how it works in real life…

-Quick movie grades:

Golden Compass: C

Juno: B

American Pie: B

American Pie 2: C+/B-

American Pie 3: C+/C

-Week 17 of the NFL is here. Who even gives a shit? I guess Pats fans do, as well as the 4-5 teams that have a shot at making the playoffs. Other than that, I’m stuck rooting for Kurt Warner and the Cardinals to beat the Rams so that they get the second overall pick in the draft, which they will inevitably squander on some no-talent asshole who will either be chronically injured, inconsistent, or just plain bad. Did I mention our clueless head coach will be coming back for another year of shitty football? What a great time to be a Rams fan!

-These bowl games are getting to be kind of ridiculous, too. How the hell are we supposed to have a pick ‘em pool if half of the goddamned players are academically ineligible, in jail, or found to be on the take from boosters? It’s ridiculous. It almost takes some of the shine off of the premier, after New Year’s match up this bowl season. Of course I’m referring to the GMAC Bowl. I mean, come on! How are we supposed to know which football powerhouse involved in that one is truly the better team? Bonus points to anyone who can name one GMAC Bowl participant without looking (answer at the bottom of this column).

-The hot stove has kind of cooled down in baseball, too. Not that it matters, because the Cardinals are pretty much fucked no matter how you slice it. Although not impossible to obtain a frontline starter and two bats while refusing to give up what few talented prospects you have, and instead trying to exclusively deal above-average relievers, it ain’t easy, either. Damnit…

-Finally, headed to the Blues game tonight. Even though that last sentence probably caused most people to jump to another site already, I still like the Blues to bump back from the 5-0 drubbing they took at the hands of Detroit the other night. Let’s say 5-3 Blues, with two goals for fellow…uh…Big Green? Big Greener? Keggy? At any rate, fellow D ‘05 Lee Stempniak.

Questions? Comments? Forgot what question above “Tulsa” and “Bowling Green” are the answers to? E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Crystal Ball

I’ve been watching the Back to the Future trilogy a lot recently, partially because it’s on HBO all the time, and partially to dissect every minute of every film to build a stronger argument as to why it would have been better for Doc Brown to let Marty take the sports almanac back to 1985 so that he could win tons of money gambling on sports. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

-First of all, Marty is supposed to be Doc’s friend. If one of my friends wanted to bring a sports almanac back in time with him, I wouldn’t stand in the way. Rather, I’d hope that he would allow me to use it, too, even if he charged for a percentage of the profits. I mean, come on, there’s enough money in Vegas to go around, right? And who better to enjoy it than you and your buddies? The only reason Biff got the almanac in the first place was because Doc so cavalierly threw it in a public trashcan—what an asshole.

-Also, I noticed that in the first movie, Doc Brown mentions something about “seeing who the next fifty World Series winners are.” Gee Doc, why would you want to do that? Looks like someone is pissed off that Marty found a much easier and efficient way to do what he wanted to do. Jealousy is an ugly mistress, sir…

-Let’s take a look at what Doc has brought back in time: a copy of USA today—from thirty years in the future. Last time I checked, they had a “Money” section which contained ALL OF THE STOCK QUOTES ON THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE FOR THAT DAY! Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that almost more useful than a sports almanac? Unlike the casinos, if the NYSE suspects that something is fishy, they don’t send out guys with names like “Moose” and “Rocco” to “have a talk with” and “play shin baseball” with you. Knowing where Microsoft’s stock price would be in 2015 back in 1985 might allow you to make even more money than off of gambling. I mean, it wouldn’t be as fun or sexy, but we’re talking legitimate billions here, aren’t we? Man…

Anyway, the reason why I’m writing this column isn’t to continue to harp on the whole sports almanac debacle. Rather, it’s to lament all of the cool stuff that they show in the future in those movies that we aren’t even close to developing. I mean, look folks—we’re only seven years away here. We should start to see flying cars and hoverboards any minute, right? So I thought that I would go through and try to pin down when I think we’ll get some of these marvelous inventions.

Flying Cars: This is a tough one because they talk about getting “hover conversions” in Back to the Future II, which would imply that the technology is relatively new at that time. That said, all of the U.S. car companies are spiraling around the bowl as we speak, so we might have to rely on the Japanese for this one anyway. For all I know, they have Hello Kitty robots assembling the things in downtown Tokyo, flying them around to be used as commercial billboards. Or they don't. I don't know. Whatever.
ETA: 2020

Hoverboards: I always thought that these would be pretty bad-ass to have. I even remember as a kid that I would even settle for the pink one that Marty stole from the girl, which has less to do with…um…er…let’s just say that it says more about how the hoverboard is cool and leave it at that. Unfortunately, we still don’t know much about gravity, or at least in a practical way that makes cool things like hoverboards and space travel accessible, and right now scientists are more focused on crazy, academic concerns like “global warming” and “alternative fuels” rather than outlandish experimental physics, so this one might be a ways off.
ETA: 2035

Mr. Fusion: Basically, this thing turns trash into energy. Though this would be the most useful invention ever, with the most potential implications for society, it is also probably the furthest off. Not only do we have to figure out how to create a controlled fusion reaction that gives off more energy than it takes in, but we also need to figure out how to fit the equipment required (currently the size of a warehouse) into a stylish, modern-looking food processor that fits on the back of a DeLorean.
ETA: Wednesday. Okay, okay…2065? Maybe?

Holographic ads: Apparently they are the movie trailer of the future. The one in the movie for Jaws 13 would scare the living hell out of me. With 3D technology getting better and better all the time (you laugh now, but wait 3 years until all of your favorite movies are fully 3D at the local multiplex…), I think we’ll see this one sooner rather than later. The movie might have actually nailed this one on the head.
ETA: 2015

The Cubs win the World Series: This, more than the time travel or any of the other crazy gadgets in the movie, is the one thing that really makes it a fantasy. Not only do they rely on the outlandish plot device of throwing in something so improbable that you have to think at the time “man, that IS far in the future if THAT can happen…”, but they also seem to think that somehow this impossible win will come against “Miami.” This little nugget has to be extra-painful for Cubs fans, who may or may not remember that the Marlins thwarted the Cubs’ efforts to make a World Series for the first time in ages in 2003 thanks to the efforts of one Mr. Steve Bartman, whom every St. Louisan is indebted to for all eternity. Oh well, that’s why we have movies like the Neverending Story, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Rookie of the Year, and Back to the Future; they allow perennial losers to dream…
ETA: 5 billion years. No, just kidding—NEVER

Hanging Dot Matrix Printers in Every Closet: They show these when Marty gets fired for stealing from his company. Apparently, not only will the dot matrix style make a comeback, but there will be a need to have a printer in every closet, just in case you need to...well, shit, I can’t even think of a good reason why you would need, or even plausibly want a printer in the closet. Come to think of it, that just seems like something that a guy like Donald Trump would have so that he could brag about having it. “This is the finest dot matrix printer money could buy, completely refurbished, in the greatest and most opulent closet in all of New York.” So what, Marty? You think you’re better than us or something?
ETA: Uh, 1985

Sports Almanac 1950-2000: I know what you’re thinking. Come on? Really? I know, I know, it was obviously made in 2000, so this one doesn’t really count. Also, it would be useless now anyway. I don’t give a damn what Mo Vaughn hit in 1998. I do care about the outcome of every bowl game this year.
ETA: 2000


That’s about it for now. More to come.

Questions? Comments? Worried that I’m more addicted to Back to the Future than I could ever be addicted to gambling (you’re right)? E-mail the BlogMogger team at Blogmogger@yahoo.com.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Site Update

Now that finals are finished and I'm on a fairly normal schedule again, you ungrateful bastards that have been bitching at me are going to get your wish: more columns. I know, I know, like Commodus throwing free bread to the masses, I know how to keep a crowd happy. OK, OK, simmer down...

Just a couple quick housekeeping matters before we fire things up again:

-Jamie, Grant, Billy and I have created a bowl pick 'em pool where we're picking games against the spread, which is provided by the good folks over at sports.com. Of course, this definitely IS NOT for money, because that would be gambling and, thus, illegal. I've posted a running tally on the right side of the page right below the "contributors" box so that everyone can see how much better I am at picking college games than those other three jokers.

-I have a few ideas for upcoming columns, including another couple Vegas TravelMogs, and some additional sports/movie related bullshit. But since I'm going to have a pretty decent amount of time here, if anyone has ideas for additional columns, go ahead and leave them in the comments. If they're funny or interesting enough, expect to see it up on the site in the near future. How's that for being a "man of the people?" Castro has nothing on me...

-Finally, if anyone has any suggestions for the layout of the site or changing the color scheme to make it easier to read or whatnot, please leave those suggestions in the comments, too. We're always looking for ways to make things easier, better, or more accessible for Friends of the Mog.

That's all for now. Expect more columns soon.

DJGel

Questions? Comments? Good! E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com. Or just leave a comment, you lazy bastard.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Winter Meetings Recap 2007

Baseball’s Winter Meetings have finally come and gone, and despite the pre-meetings hype, they were more “Last Episode of Seinfeld,” and less “Superbad,” with one notable exception. Be that as it may, and because I don’t really have anything else to write about in the lead-up to exams here (unless you want to hear a 10,000 word diatribe on how to succeed at law school exams without even trying), here’s a recap of some of the big events in baseball over the past week.

-Johan Santana is still a Twin. This isn’t all that surprising. Once the Yankees imposed a deadline to make a deal to force the Twins’ hand, this trade was dead. If the Yankees and the Red Sox were the only teams in on Santana from the start, once the Yankees were out and the Twins had no leverage, why not hold on to Santana until the trade deadline, when some team will be truly desperate for starting pitching? I mean, come on, the best pitcher in baseball has to be worth more than a top-shelf pitching prospect (Phil Hughes), a defense-first outfielder (Melky Cabrera), and two more middling prospects. And if the Twins would have even taken a package from the Bosox centered around Jon Lester…ugh. Now the Twins can bide their time and wait for the opportune moment to strike. Well played, guy who’s succeeding Terry Ryan. Well played…

-The big news of the meetings involved the massive, 8-player trade between the Marlins and Tigers that saw the only guys making more than $5.50 an hour on the Fish (Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera) head to Motown for top CF prospect Cameron Maybin, LHP Andrew Miller, and four more mid-level prospects. It’s a huge deal for the Tigers, who now roll somewhere around 9 deep in their lineup, and who have a solid rotation to boot. Their only weakness as far as I can tell is their bullpen, but they have a trade chip in Brandon Inge who could possibly help address that deficiency.

Though it’s a sad development for Marlins fans (I’ll let Jamie address that in a separate column if he wishes), they have no choice but to trust their management, who have guided the franchise through this perilous path to contention once before. Just out of curiosity, though, what would these fans be thinking if they had lost the 2003 World Series? Should one additional championship after a fire sale that, by all accounts, alienated most of the fan base inspire such blind confidence in the “powers that be” in Miami? We shall see…

-Carlos Quentin to the White Sox for low level prospect Chris Carter (no, not the Hall-of-Fame wideout). Great move for the White Sox—getting a former top OF prospect who should go .280-20-100, and who’s ceiling is probably north of .300-30-120. All they waste is a low-level, potential power-hitting 1B who’s absolute ceiling is somewhere around Chris Duncan. Quentin should play everyday in the OF somewhere for the ChiSox, and he’ll have a chance to prove that 2007 was just an aberration.

-Rick Ankiel is vindicated (along with Grant). Not enough evidence to suspend him for hGH use. I’ll chalk that one up in the “W” column. Of course, Troy Glaus also was exonerated, so I’m not entirely sure how “in-depth” this investigation was, but we’ll take it.

-Finally, an extended piece on the Tony-LaRussa-Scott Rolen feud:

One of the first posts on this site concerned the Cardinals’ 2006 World Series victory over the Detroit Tigers. It was a fantastic experience here in Charlottesville, especially since the hometown hadn’t experienced a championship since the Rams’ improbable run in 1999, and a World Series title since this writer was present in utero at Game 7 of the 1982 World Series. I enjoyed the euphoric drinking of the finest Andre and tears that rivaled the thunderstorm outside while my friends kept telling me to "stop being such a pussy." Ah, memories...

However, in that post, I mentioned briefly with regard to Rolen that “I can stomach the rest of your contract as a Cards fan. Congratulations!” In hindsight, I was drunk with either euphoria or three bottles of Andre—you be the judge. After this crybaby routine, which he has already pulled once in Philadelphia, Rolen must go. Here’s an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that made me gain a lot more respect for Tony LaRussa. He’s not going to put up with a prima-donna 3B who hits .220 with 6 HRs before needing shoulder surgery.

If you all need further background on that issue, Rolen injured his shoulder playing in the 2002 playoffs for the Cards. After Cards surgeon George Paletta cleaned it up for him, he somehow ran into Hee Seop Choi and re-injured the same (non-throwing) shoulder. Again, Paletta performed the surgery. After he enjoyed some isolated success at the major league level, Rolen again complained of an injury and decided to have surgery. However, instead of letting Paletta perform the procedure, Rolen wanted Cincinnati Reds’ team doctor Tim Kremchek to perform the procedure, to the point that he threatened legal action against the Cards if they forbade him to do so. This is the same Dr. Kremchek who appeared on Real Sports to decry the practice of giving Tommy John surgery to 15-year-olds, yet who will still perform the procedure once the parents and the patient “know all of the risks.” Apparently, Kremchek screwed this surgery up, but now Rolen went to him again to have it cleaned up. Hmm…so your employer’s allegedly bad doctors aren’t good enough for you, but your own allegedly bad doctor is? Ridiculous…

At any rate, Scott Rolen is a snake. The only time I’ve really seen him perform at a high level for the Cards was after LaRussa benched him in the NLCS in lieu of Scott “I just have the sniffles, officer” Spezio, who was on an absolute tear at the time, and I don’t mean at the Hustler Club in Sauget, Illinois, where a couple of my friends saw him before Game 4 of the NLCS. This benching is the subject of the feud between Rolen and LaRussa, and actually lit a fire under Rolen’s ass, as he was narrowly edged out for World Series MVP by David Eckstein.

I guess my point is, if this guy needs to be benched to find the competitive fire to play through his “shoulder injuries,” and perform at a higher level, why shouldn’t LaRussa question his commitment to the team? I mean, the guy is being paid like an All-Star. Why shouldn’t he play at an All-Star level? If he doesn’t want to, then fuck him. As Col. Nathan Jessup might say, I have neither the time nor the inclination for someone who lives under the blanket of freedom that LaRussa provides, then has the audacity to question the manner in which he provides it.

If Rolen wants to play this A-Rod game with LaRussa, that’s fine. All I’m saying is, you better be ready to be treated like A-Rod. Get Carrie Underwood ready for the Radio Shack commercials where Rolen acts like an effeminate hoosier. Match that purse to those shoes, just like A Rod does! Otherwise, grab a bat and man a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!

God I hope they trade his ass…

Until next time…

DJGel

Questions? Comments? Confused by the irrational hatred of Scott Rolen? Watch a Cards game. Or e-mail us at Blogmogger@yahoo.com. Either way, we don’t give a fuck.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The All-New BlogMogger Movie Grading Scale

Here is the new-and-improved movie grading scale, revised to reflect some of the movies that we’ve reviewed over the past year (has it really been that long? Yeesh.) The original scale can be found here, but it’s essentially the same thing with worse writing, more typos, and probably a couple more “fucks” thrown in there for no reason. Oh well…

The BlogMogger movie grading scale is based on a strict “C” curve, meaning that the average movie that comes out should receive a “C.” Grant and I came to this conclusion a couple of summers ago when we were giving seemingly every movie we saw an indifferent “B+.” After one particularly mediocre movie (not sure that I remember what it was. Maybe “Fun with Dick and Jane?”), we decided to get rid of all of the grade inflation and re-center the curve. The result has been a golden age of movie criticism that is simultaneously accurate, entertaining, and informative.

Though it’s not an exact science (even if our grades are so accurate that it can be unnerving, even a little uncomfortable at times), here are some of the criteria that we use to grade films:

Genre Appropriateness: Basically comedies have to be funny, dramas should move you, action movies should be badass. Where do romantic comedies fit into this whole scheme? NOWHERE YOU WEAK BASTARD! FIND A DATE MOVIE THAT HAS SOME FUCKING REDEEMING ENTERTAINMENT VALUE AND WATCH THAT INSTEAD OF THE 287,645th CONSECUTIVE FUCKING MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY-REESE WITHERSPOON MOVIE ABOUT THE SAME FUCKING THING! CHRIST!

Writing: Crucially important. It can turn a run-of-the-mill bank heist film into a damn good flick (Inside Man). It can also single-handedly sink a franchise as storied as the James Bond films (Die Another Day), then resurrect it several years later (Casino Royale). It all starts with the words on the page, no matter how much the director tweaks them.

Directing: I used to downplay the role of a good director in making a great film, but after comparing the performance of Matt Damon in a Scorsese film (The Departed) and in a movie directed by some guy named “Paul Greengrass” (if that’s not a name he picked up directing pornos, I’d be shocked) in the steaming pile of shit that was The Bourne Ultimatum, the director obviously plays a huge part in how good a film is. Remind yourself of this the next time you’re three hours into a Peter Jackson movie in the theater with no end in sight, bored out of your mind, and wondering if there’s any way you can fashion a noose from an empty soda cup, a straw, and a popcorn bucket.

Acting: Again, vital. This is why The Departed keeps going up in my book every time I watch it. There are just too many good performances to isolate any one actor as being above and beyond. You aren’t going to get the same film if you have Keanu Reeves playing Bill Cositgan, Colin Farrell playing Colin Sullivan, and Kathy Bates playing Frank Costello. Not gonna happen…

One-Liners: Some might put this under “writing,” but it’s very possible to write a great script without many one-liners at all. That said, it’s much easier if a movie gives you and your buddies lines to use in day-to-day bullshitting. Again, not to beat a dead horse, but The Departed has so many good lines that you can quote to death in many, many situations. For example, if somebody fucks up, you can give them the “Dump the body IN the maash,” speech. If somebody is working especially hard or has a new girlfriend, you can use the “Oh yeah, it’s working…overtime!” line. Guys need to have a certain level of these chestnuts to fall back upon during lulls in the conversation.

Replay Value: Can you watch the movie about 8 different times in a five day span on HBO and still come back for more? If so, you have a winner. If not, it’s not necessarily a loser, but it’s probably not in that “A” range of great films.

Creativity: Is this a revolutionary new plot/concept/idea/format? Does it actually break new ground in some way that we haven’t seen before?

Expectations: Does the movie exceed your expectations going in? Does it fall short? Though this one is a little subjective, the true greats should surpass even the loftiest of expectations going in.

Basically, we sort of throw all of these things into a mental blender and somehow assign a grade that conveniently corresponds with the grading scale used in elementary schools throughout the country. Here is what each grade means:

A+: An absolute masterpiece of a film. A+’s should only be given to movies that are somewhere in your Top Ten. Upon viewing an A+ movie, you come out of the theater thinking, "Wow, that was fucking incredible!"...and the feeling continues upon subsequent viewings. A movie that never gets old, has amazing acting, and is incredibly enjoyable from start to finish. High innovation abounds—there should be at least a scene or 2 where you find yourself saying "whoever made this is a genius". If someone asks you, "Oh, I haven't seen that movie before--is it good?", you immediately plot your exit from the conversation because that person obviously sucks. There also has to be a little something extra that pushes an A to an A+, though I can’t really put it into words. Like pornography, you’ll know it when you see it.

Examples: A Few Good Men, Dumb and Dumber, True Lies

A: A great film—basically an A+ without the little extra intangible something that pushes it over the edge. It must get very high marks across the board, and be incredibly solid from start to finish. When someone says "Hey, let's pop in __________", there is not only no hesitation on your part, but it also elicits a "Yeeeaaah!" or "Fuck yeah!" Your group of friends can recite multiple lines from the film and know exactly what you’re talking about, other people be damned. Fuck them anyway—if they were cool, they would know what you’re talking about.

Examples: The Departed, Crimson Tide, Back to the Future (I and II), Miracle, American Psycho, 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad, Kingpin

A-: Still a very, very good movie, but there’s maybe a blemish or two that prevent it from becoming the prom queen that is an A or an A+ movie. There’s maybe an extended stretch where the pacing is off, or a bad acting or directing job at a fairly important part of the movie. Despite these blemishes, the movie survives over time as a source of great entertainment for your group of friends.

Examples: Super Troopers, Made, Office Space, Ace Ventura (I & II), Total Recall, Wedding Crashers

B+: A very good movie that you’re glad you saw in theaters. It also could be a nice gem that you found at the video store that exceeded low expectations. There are maybe a few more problems than in an A-. Maybe one actor really mails it in, the writing isn’t top-drawer, or there’s an extended rough patch that slows the movie down. Still, overall a solid flick.

Examples: Beerfest, Harold & Kumar, Major League II, Private Parts, Bottle Rocket, A Clockwork Orange, Sicko

B: A good film. Not great, but good. Maybe it’s a bit less than what you were expecting based on what you had read/heard. Good acting, dialogue, directing. There are maybe a few too many awkward moments, kind of like a movie version of a Jay Leno interview with an otherwise entertaining star. These are the movies that you can see once in the theater and think "It was good, I’m probably glad I saw it here instead of on DVD." You don't want to see this movie again until it comes out on HBO. That said, when it finally does come out on HBO, you find yourself getting a little excited, thinking, "Oh good, I've been wanting to see that again with my buddies at home so that we can do some commentary on it."

Examples: Dave, The American President, Casino Royale (B/B+), Tango & Cash, Little Big League, The Prestige, Knocked Up

B-: I liken a B- movie to a videogame that you talk yourself into buying at the store because everyone is raving about it, only to come home and realize that the levels are repetitive and the gameplay is dull. Many people like this type of thing because they’ve played it before, but you were hoping that it would be better. Well, that’s a B- movie—often the “but-a-face” offspring of high expectations and a derivative plot, with maybe some bad direction to grease the wheels. Still a decent film, but you’re starting to get into dangerous territory here.

Examples: Bruce Almighty, Ocean’s 13, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (though Jessica Biel gets an A+ for her…err…”performance”), the Third Lord of the Rings Movie

C+: Barely above average. Generally good, formulaic fun that somehow does things a little bit better than the average movie. No stand-out performances, the acting and directing are maybe slightly above average. Still entertaining, though as you're leaving the theater, you wonder if it was worth the $9, or if you would've been better off renting it on DVD. Still a decent effort at a movie, if a bit disappointing. It maybe has some novelty value for re-watching--after a couple of years, and only if you and your buddies are sufficiently hammered to make an outrageous commentary.

Examples: You, Me, and Dupree, Snakes on a Plane (when drunk), Passenger 57, Devil Wears Prada (I know, I know, but it’s surprisingly good to do commentary on due to Vinnie Chase’s role), Stuck on You.

C: The average movie. Average directing, acting, and writing. I guess it can be enjoyable to some people, but if you've seen a lot of movies, it's pretty formulaic and dull. Most romantic comedies fall at this level or below, even though every time a woman sees a new romantic comedy, the “filmmaker” (if you can even call the director of a romantic comedy that) is able to dress up the same old schlock to trick the woman into thinking that she’s never seen it before. A lot of times these end up being "borderline" theater movies--you really don't want to go see it in theaters, but you have nothing else to do, so you see it anyway. Consequently, most of the time you feel ripped-off. Often a tough grade to assign because you want to give the movie either a C+ or C-.

Examples: Along Came Polly, The Terminal, War of the Worlds (because of the shitty, original book ending), The Mask, Kate Hudson's BEST work.

C-: A below-average movie. Something about it is just not good enough to give it a "C". You generally don't even think about going to see these in the theater. However, if you do go to see it in the theater, even with low expectations, you'll end up disappointed. You probably don't want to see this movie again. Like McDonald’s, Cartoon Lunchboxes, and Rene Russo, you like them less and less as time goes by.

Examples: The Simpsons Movie, Contact, Rush Hour 3

D+: A bad movie. You really have to be desperate to watch this in theaters. If you do, when you get up at the end, you wonder if the pain in your ass is that it has fallen asleep, or that the theater-owner has just finished railing $9 out of you. There’s only one bright spot to a D+ movie: if you watch it in theaters, you're guaranteed at least one unintentionally comedic scene where everyone laughs at what is supposed to be a serious or heartfelt moment. However, that doesn't come close to the shame you feel when you casually drop that you've seen the movie in conversation, followed by one of your buddies saying, "Are you serious?", to which you can only muster a weak "...yeah...", before they start giving you shit. Maybe acceptable if it's the only agreeable movie out and you're on an early date (Ed’s note: in hindsight, not true), or if it's showing on an airplane, but otherwise total garbage.

Examples: Panic Room, Many other Jodie Foster movies, Coyote Ugly (the hot chicks save it from being lower), Summer Catch, Superman Returns, Bad Company

D: A movie that you can barely sit through. If you see it in the theaters, by the end you feel like Malcolm McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange.” You think about getting up and leaving at least 3 times before it's over. Also known as “the baseline where all Peter Jackson movies start,” much like Jackson himself, the D movie is a terrible creature that should be avoided by all.

Examples: Die Another Day, Cheaper by the Dozen, Father of the Bride (I and II), Rat Race, Twister, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana

D-: Unbelievably bad. Even if you see it at home, you think about getting up and leaving at least 3 times before it’s over. It’s often better to watch D- movies in theaters, if only because of the lack of availability of potential suicide implements, and the potential proximity of an arcade to better spend your time. Early signs of physical pain, fatigue, and nausea can actually result from prolonged exposure. Just an utter disaster of a film.

Examples: The Bourne Ultimatum (Nothing happens, people!), Shrek 2, Shrek 3, 16 Blocks

F: An absolute train wreck of a film. No redeeming qualities about it. You stand on a tall ledge for five minutes contemplating whether or not to jump after seeing it. There is no way in hell you could finish the entire movie, even if someone offered you $20 to do so. The DVD's fast forward can't go fast enough to make this movie bearable. No opportunity even for unintentional comedy. You wish you could hit whoever made this movie in the face with a sack of wrenches, then force them to burn every remaining copy of this movie while you put them through the same torture they just put you through. Whenever someone mentions, "Oh, have you seen ________? It's, like, so awesome!", you feel the anger welling up in you and your fists begin to clench. You immediately know that you can never be friends with that person, ever. Just an absolute abomination.

Examples: Stealth, Zardoz, Napoleon Dynamite, The Benchwarmers, Mr. Brooks

Questions? Comments? Enjoy the fact that we’re heavily editing and re-running old columns? E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.

Friday, November 23, 2007

College Football Update

A few gin-fueled observations from the college games today, and a few notes in anticipation of The Big One tomorrow in K.C.:

-Darren McFadden is awesome. He’s a damned good running back, and he played quarterback better than that Dick they have back there half the time (seriously, the guy’s name is Dick. Check it out.) I thought he was Adrian Peterson Lite, but now I don’t see any way this guy isn’t the first pick in the draft next year. Let’s go ahead and set up the board as I currently have it:

1. Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas.

2. Umm…

OK, fine, I have some work to do. Still, this guy is badass…

-The carriage finally turned into a pumpkin for LSU. Les Miles has been playing it fast-and-loose all year long, and he finally got bit…on a two point conversion…which would have tied the game…in the third overtime. It was apparent by the end that Arkansas could score at will with McFadden lining up everywhere but at center. LSU looked up to matching them for a while, but never underestimate Matt Flynn’s penchant for sucking.

-What the fuck does this game mean for everyone else? I’m not sure. All I know is if Mizzou beats KU tomorrow and West Virginia somehow ends up #1, I will not be a happy man. I guess it means that it brings us one step closer to a potential Mizzou-Ohio State championship game, which is fine by me. Of course, it could also set up a much anticipated rematch of the 1998 insight.com bowl, which featured Mizzou’s Corby Jones trading passes with some guy named Marc Bulger for the Mountaineers (by the way: Mizzou won).

-Not impressed by the Pac 10. I watched the ASU-USC game for about 2 ½ quarters. I stopped because I really don’t care about two programs that are dirtier than a Hustler in a mud puddle. Still, Booty is awful, ASU was overrated, I mean, not much to like.

-Much less impressed with the Big Ten. OSU looked AWFUL against Illinois, which Mizzou beat in week 1. All the more reason to want them to play Mizzou in the title game.


-The SEC title game just got a little more important. Now Georgia or Tennessee will be able to go in for the KO against LSU, who almost certainly wouldn’t make a BCS bowl if they lose the SEC title. It will be an interesting week next week, to say the least.

-Prediction for tomorrow: Mizzou 41, KU 21. You heard it here first.

Questions? Comments? Sick of random drunken ramblings (talk to Jamie) about sports (talk to me)? E-mail the BlogMogger team at Blogmogger@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Quick Movie Reviews--Thanksgiving Eve

I'm bored right now watching every movie that's on HBO on Demand, so here's another edition of "Quick Movie Reviews." As usual, the grading scale is explained here.

The Departed: A. An incredibly solid, entertaining movie. Even though Matt Damon has played a brilliant smart-ass from Southy dozens of times, it still works. Also, there are more headshots than the trash can at the William Morris talent agency. Good flick.

Half Nelson: D+. Grant loves this movie. I hate it. Where's the fucking story? Listen, if you're a film snob, you'll probably love this movie because it "raises important social issues," "has no point," and "makes you want to kill yourself." I say stay away.

Mr. Brooks: F. Flat F. I think it got the record for quickest hook we've ever given a movie. You think it can't get any worse, then Dane Cook shows up 15 minutes in. What a disaster. Let's move on...

Miracle: A. What a great film. If you're a hockey fan (and if you're reading this, you're probably not) this is a fucking awesome movie all the way around. I still get chills even when I watch it on DVD on my buddy Jimmy's TV with the sound turned down. Now THAT'S saying something.

American Gangster: C+/B-. Admittedly a pretty good movie, it just tries too hard to paint the dichotomy between and "bad ass crime boss who is the consummate family man," and, "noble cop who's a shitty family man." Even though the ending is true, it also seems a bit implausible. To be fair, the 2:40 went by very quickly.

Inside Man: B+/A-. I thought this movie was just OK the first time around, probably because I was tired and blasted out of my mind. On a re-viewing, it is one of the most well-written scripts I've ever watched, with plenty of fantastic one-liners. No wonder so many big-time male stars (Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster) were lining up to be in this one.

American Psycho: A/A+. A fantastic social commentary that many people don't even get. Because of this, people look at you like an asshole when you're laughing most of the way through the movie. Do me a favor, don't take yourself so seriously, then watch it again and get back to me.

Talladega Nights: C+. I really didn't like it half as much as Anchorman. For some reason, that John C. Reilly really pisses me off, yet most people love him. Oh, and, note to Will Farrell--it's not funny to prance around acting like a hoosier for 100 minutes. If you need proof, I'll give you a tour around certain parts of South St. Louis County sometime.

Kingpin: A. Upon a re-watch, there are so many funny/good lines in there that people should quote more often. One example: after Munson cleans up before the big tourney and is throwing up in the john, Ishmael asks him, "Have you been drinking again," to which Munson replies, "No, I don't get sick when I drink. I get sick when I don't." Also, Bill Murray's portrayal of "Big" Ernie McCracken is probably his finest performance. And finally...

Dumb and Dumber: A+. One of the all-time greats. Jamie and I re-watched this one recently, and about 15 minutes in, Jamie says, "I bet there are 50 lines in this movie that people still quote." After finishing it, that estimate is clearly low. There are so many lines that people don't even realize that they're referencing in it that it astonishes me. All I have to say is watch it again. It is a tutorial in comedy.

Questions? Comments? Think I'm just some pimply-faced projection jockey at the local AMC? E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Airing of Grievances: Vol. 1

As you may have gathered from my Random Ramblings posts, I can get easily agitated at times with certain aspects of our society and certain assholes who live in it. My Mom has always told me that expressing my emotions is healthy so I figured I'd share with the loyal Mog audience some things that annoy, pester, irritate and generally vex me. Here it is, the initial edition of "Airing of Grievances" (a Festivus tradition):

- Tip jars next to the register at places where you have to stand in line. Tips are meant for those who provide good personal service. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for rewarding a job well done by waiters/waitresses, valets, and bellboys, I just don't think that the burrito guy at Chipotle is in the same category.

- people that use the word "chillax"

- anyone who mentions how much they have to pay to fill up their gas tank or how many miles per gallon their car gets. I don't think anyone has ever walked away from a conversation thinking they are better off for having acquired this information. (exception if you are considering buying the same car).

- gumball machines that have all the same color gumballs. Where's the fun in that?

- people who take the first bite of my food or the first sip of my drink. Same for those who take a sip of my mixed drink, make a face and say "that's disgusting!" (unless you respond "that's disgustingly strong, how can you drink that?" which sadly I take as a compliment.)

- anyone who uses IM slang when actually speaking to another human being, such as lol or ttyl

- fortune cookies that contain advice instead of actual fortunes. For example, "Life is short. Approach each new day with a smile." It's a nice sentiment but after a bowl of Hot&Sour and a plate of General Tso's chicken I'm looking for a prediction, not inspiration or observation.

- people who say "that's life" after you tell them a story of how you got fucked on something. I don't mind "shit happens," at least that has some anger behind it.

- people in doctors' offices who don't flip the magazine they were reading back to the front cover. It takes two seconds and allows those who are still waiting for the "call-up" to assess their options much more easily. Be a good citizen, flip to the front. (Side note: You gotta love the people that leave the crossword half finished. For some reason when I use their clues to get the blank ones, I feel better about society.)

- people who say they aren't hungry but then ask for a slice of pizza when it comes. Everyone has a friend like this, and they are almost always the one vote that causes that extra pie not to get ordered. I know this sounds insane, but just wait until the next time you plan on getting 3 slices during a football game and you only get 2. Just wait.

Misery loves company so if there is anything you want to get off your chest, feel free to post a comment or email blogmogger@yahoo.com

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fuck the Writers' Strike

For all of you loyal Friends of the Mog who have been following the only kind of news that seems to matter these days—entertainment news—you might be aware that those fat-cat Hollywood writers are apparently now on strike.

Now, normally, I’m all for the age-old American tradition of ruining entertainment options over petty labor squabbles between millionaires. Shit, I am a baseball fan, after all. Unfortunately, in my 3L year, watching TV is probably priority number two on my list, sandwiched comfortably between “softball” and “sleeping,” so any disruption in the schedule will cause holy hell to erupt in our apartment.

What was most troubling was an article that I read on ew.com that went through and stated which shows were “safe” for their midseason returns. The headline mentioned something about “Lost” being safe from this ugly strike business. For those newcomers aboard the BlogMogger bandwagon, some of us are fairly big “Lost” fans, so this was a bit of a relief for me.

Then I read the article.

Apparently, they only have 6 episodes of the next season “in the can” right now. 6 episodes? Out of 18? How then, good sir, is “Lost” in any way “safe” from the strike? Sure, we might get 1/3 of a season, but that’s not good enough, damnit! I ALREADY WAITED THIS LONG, MOTHERFUCKERS! I NEED MY PRECIOUS LOST! THE THOUGHT OF LOST COMING BACK IS THE ONLY THING THAT WARMS MY COLD, DARK HEART AT NIGHT! DAMN YOU WRITERS!

Sorry about that. At any rate, I decided to come up with a list of things to do in case this strike cancels the upcoming TV season.

-Study

HA! Next!

-Play more videogames

This is somewhat more appealing. Jamie and I are in about year 15 of an epic NCAA Football franchise on Xbox 360 right now. I’ll spare you the details for fear that we might come off as “frightening” or “lunatics,” but needless to say, we’re pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty good. Halo 3 was fun, but way too short. That game where you can slow down time and shoot bad guys with their own guns looks kind of cool. Other than that, I might have to buckle down and finally buy a Wii, if I can ever find one of the little bastards…

-Play Board Games with Friends

A fine alternative, though I’ve seen few things that can turn a nice, friendly, amicable relationship sour than a contentious game of Monopoly or Risk, especially when one of your buddies tries to break out the old, ‘well, that’s how we play the game in MY house…” Yeah, well, guess what, asshole? I don’t see your mommy and daddy here to let you win like they always did “in YOUR house,” so shut the fuck up and play like a fucking adult WITH THE REAL FUCKING RULES!

-Take up a Hobby

Another fine alternative. I tried to play the guitar once and failed miserably. Maybe if I tried again with more intensity and dedication, I could make it work this time. Of course, it is actually far easier and more fun to play “Guitar Hero,” which gets me back to the videogames thing again. Whatever. Fuck it.

-Write More Columns for This Site

Hey, come on! I’ve been busy, people! Fu Man Wu wrote some excellent hockey columns. What more do you want from me?

But hockey sucks!

You know something? YOU SUCK.

-Go on a DVD Shopping Spree

I’ve strongly considered this, especially with the complete “Seinfeld” collection coming out. If Larry Sanders Season 2 is out, then this option could get expensive in a hurry…

-Really Get into UVA Basketball

We’re supposed to be pretty good this year, and hey, it IS the ACC. Still, I really can’t get into college basketball until tourney time.

-Get a Life

HA! Next!

-Enjoy the Company of Friends While Discussing Important Social and Political Issues

Too sappy/serious.

-Well…then…um…what was that thing about videogames again?

Yeah, I liked that one too.

Questions? Comments? Think all work and no play make DJGel a dull boy? E-mail the BolgMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

NHL Preview - The Northeast Division

Boston Bruins – The Bruins have a few nice pieces in centers Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron, winger Phil Kessel, D-man Zdeno Chara, and goalie Manny Fernandez. But the Bruins are a mediocre team out of the gate, and a complete lack of depth on defense and in net will plague this team down the line. Hockey might as well be a year-round sport, and if any one of the aforementioned contributors goes down, this team will be devastated. Decent start aside, these loveable bears will be 10th in the East and 3rd in the Northeast.

Buffalo Sabres – There must be something in the water in Buffalo. That or it’s proximity to Canada is in some way rubbing off on this backwater New York town. The Sabres lost two of their best forwards last year in Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, but still seem to be able to score at an unbelievable clip. Youngsters Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, and Derek Roy make a potent top line, but that’s not all. With speedy wingers Maxim Afinogenov and Ales Kotalik, and even more youth in Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford, the Sabres have a bright future. However, they’ll need a strong showing from their relatively unknown defense and a strong campaign from netminder Ryan Miller if they want to go deep in the playoffs. The Sabres will be 5th in the East and 2nd in the Northeast.

Montreal Canadiens – The Canadiens are an underwhelming team on paper. I hate to speak ill of cancer survivors (seriously, even though I have no problem speaking ill of the dead), but Saku Koivu and winger Alexei Kovalev don’t impress me as a top line duo. Even worse, the Canadiens roster is filled out with young 20-somethings and Bryan Smolinski. And as an aside, I don’t think I’ve ever met a Bryan I liked. Michael Ryder has shown he can chip in as a solid second-line winger, but it’ll be up to the kids, Andrei Kostitsyn, Tomas, Plekanec, etc, to take this team to the next level. Cristobal “Rasberry” Huet has shown solid career numbers with a .918 save percentage, but the Canadiens better pray that rookie Carey Price comes around quickly, as Huet hasn’t managed more than 46 games in a year. The Canadiens will be 4th in the Northeast, and 11th in the East.

Toronto Maple Leafs – Mats Sundin is playing like he did 15 years ago when he broke into the league, and this combined with Nik Antropov’s hot start would seem to bode well for these pointy blue leafs. But then you take a look at the rest of the team, where you’ll find Darcy “F*$!tard” Tucker, Chad Kilger, and Bates Battaglia, rounding out an unimpressive group of forwards. Tomas Kaberle is a stud on D, and Bryan McCabe will continue to put up points, but the controversy in net between the awful Vesa Toskala and seemingly bipolar Andrew Raycroft will be the Leafs’ downfall. They’ll round out the bottom of the Northeast, and finish 12th in the East.

Ottawa Senators – The Senators have been really good for a few years now, and they appear to be getting better. Daniel Alfredson, Jason Spezza, and Dany Heatley make up the hottest line in hockey right now. They give the Sens a chance to score every time they touch the puck, and with a solid defense anchored by Chris Phillips and Wade Redden, the Sens won’t even need to score that much. What’s better, is that Ray Emery’s in the middle of a rehab assignment in the minors while Martin Gerber has done more than enough to pick up the slack. They say a starter shouldn’t lose his job to injury, but at 6-1 with a .936 save percentage and 2.13 GAA, Emery might be a backup until Gerber goes cold. Mark it down now, the Sens will win the East, and lose in the second round of the playoffs…I couldn’t tell you why, but I don’t see this team winning a cup.

NHL Preview - The Atlantic Division

Atlantic Division

New Jersey Devils – The new rule changes in hockey were supposed to open up the scoring, and force teams to abandon the trap. I actually thought that watching the Devils play would be fun again…then I remembered that they don’t have anyone who can score besides Patrick Elias and Brian Gionta. So Devils hockey still makes me want to die, and newcomer Zach Parise and vet Daniel Zubrus won’t be enough to make Martin Broduer the winningest goalie in NHL history. The demonic ones will finish 4th in the Atlantic and 8th in the East.

New York Islanders – I once saw Bill Guerin streak down the left wing, slip the puck between his legs, and rip one top shelf for a goal. Once. Now the old fart is on the top line with fellow underachievers Mike Comrie and Ruslan Fedotenko, and the Islanders are without a true scoring line. Rick DiPietro’s job security and 100 year contract made me think his play would drop off, but I was wrong, and the netminder gives this underwhelming team a fighting chance every night. It won’t be enough though, to make the Isles a playoff team, as they’ll be last in the Atlantic and 9th in the East.

New York Rangers – With the arrival of highly touted pivots Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, everyone figured the Rangers would be a true Cup contender. But Jaromir Jagr is still without a goal, and the Rangers are off to the textbook definition of a mediocre start (2-2). The Rangers are still short on young talent, with Petr Prucha and Henrik Lundqvist the only two young starters of note, and Jagr and Brendan Shanahan are honorary members of the octogenarian club. The Rangers will be a 2nd in the Atlantic behind the well-dressed flightless birds, and 4th in the East.

Philadelphia Flyers – The Flyers sucked. Past tense. And with the addition of a premier center in Daniel Briere, the Flyers have a legitimate scoring threat with him, Simon Gagne, and anyone else who can skate (Mike Knuble). Kimmo Timonen and the once great Darien Hatcher bring some credibility to the defense, but the Flyers still have a Titanic question mark in net, with Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki. A solid start at 2-1 leaves me thinking the Flyers have taken a good step forward toward mediocrity. The Flyers should finish 7th in the East and 3rd in the Atlantic.

Pittsburgh Penguins – I loathe penguins, abhor them even. They’ve developed a society where the men stay home with the kids while the women go out and hunt. In any case, the Pittsburgh Penguins are beginning what should be an 80’s-like Edmonton dynasty. Their top three centers are Sid “The Kid” Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal. Their goaltender, Marc Andre-Fluery, won 40 last year. And I’m not even sure any of them can drink yet. They’ve even got a decent group of veterans that can still contribute, with Mark Recchi, Petr Sykora, Sergei Gonchar, and Darryl Sydor. If the old men can stay healthy, the young ones could bring home the cup. The Pens will be 2nd in the East and 1st in the Atlantic.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rules for Watching “The Game” at Your Friend’s Place

I’m sure that after the recent epidemic of hockey posts you guys have had to endure the past few days, you’re probably getting a bit restless. It’s okay. I understand. Not everyone can be cool enough to be an NHL fan in this day and age.

Regardless, after attending a football/baseball extravaganza at my buddy’s house last night, I thought that I would write out a little PSA about what you should do if invited over to watch a game or two.

Rule #1: Always bring beer

I don’t care if you’re going to Orrin Hatch’s house to watch History Channel DVDs of the temperance movement of the 1920s—you still should bring a few cold, frosty ones. The question then endures, should you go for quantity or quality? You know your friends best, so you should be able to make that determination. My friends and I prefer quantity, for sure, but if you appreciate the subtle nuances of hops and barley, or whatever the fuck that delicious taste is in beer, then maybe some higher quality stuff is in order. Just bring some fucking beer over.

Rule #2: Sometimes bring food

This one is important if you’re either going to be over there during a pre-designated meal time or for more than one game. “Food” can range from a bag of chips to all-out BBQ supplies. Bonus points if you bring the necessary accouterments to have a truly badass barbecue (sauce, cheese, spices, etc.)

Rule #3: If your buddy’s team is playing and you have no allegiance, don’t make fun of him if his team loses

A crucial rule. The guy is nice enough to invite you over to watch the game. The last thing he wants to hear is how his team is terrible after a heartbreaking loss. Besides, what are you, a fucking hoosier? Don’t be an ass. That said...

Rule #4: If your buddy’s team is playing your team, and he invites you over anyway, you get more leeway

Obviously, if your teams are facing off, you have room to cheer for your team and make some snide comments about the other team over the course of the game. That said, if your team wins, don’t be a Red Sox fan and rub your buddy’s face in it. Act like you’ve been there before. It’s okay to cheer. It’s not okay to deride the other team for a half-hour after the game is over.

Rule #5: Be entertaining or shut the fuck up

In a large group of people, there might be some people who either don’t understand what’s going on or don’t give a fuck. That’s totally fine. However, for those people who enjoy talking about the game and making commentary of their own, don’t ruin it by asking some dumbass question about the rules or “which color is _______ team?” Just go in the other room and talk about whatever the fuck you non-sports fans talk about.

Rule #6: Let the real fans have seats

In a large group, there’s going to be limited seating. That said, if you’re a fairly big sports fan, you shouldn’t feel obligated to give up your seat to a lady or someone who’s going to ruin the atmosphere in the room. I know it’s kind of a dick move, ladies, but that’s how it is. However, if there is a downgrade in seating available (i.e. you can switch to a chair without a back), you should be a gentleman and make the switch.

Rule #7: Thank the host for having you over and don’t overstay your welcome

Once the game is over, if the host is giving you hints to leave, thank him politely and make a graceful exit. He was nice enough to have you over—you shouldn’t take advantage of your host’s hospitality.

If you follow these rules, you can have a fun and enjoyable viewing at your house or somewhere else. Enjoy the baseball playoffs, football season, and the NHL (hey, I can dream, right?)

Questions? Comments? Disagree with some of these largely arbitrary rules? E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

NHL Preview: The Pacific

Pacific Division

San Jose Sharks – The Sharks would appear to have it all. A power forward with hands (Joe Thornton), a strong second line center/captain ( Patrick Marleau), young wingers with cannons (Jon Cheechoo, Milan Michalek), a budding group of blue liners (Matt Carle et. al.), and an outstanding netminder (Evgeni Nabokov). But then again, they seem to lack that one thing that every good team needs: chemistry. Look for the Sharks to lead the West…and lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Blues.

Anaheim Ducks – I served coffee to one Chris Pronger a few weeks ago, and I have to say I’m not impressed. I suppose his Cup win gives him enough leeway to be a dick…but without Scott Niedermeyer and Teemu Selanne, this young and incredibly talented hockey team will sputter at times through the season. Matthew Schnider's injury doesn’t help maters. Expect the Ducks, not to be confused with the former Mighty Ducks of the same city, to limp into the playoffs, 2nd in the Pacific and 7th in the West.

Los Angeles Kings – I like the Kings. How could I not, as they’re apparently using the Larry Pleau formula for success? Sign a bunch of has-beens for way too much money while the young guns lose ice time and a chance to develop their talents. Ladislav Nagy had a promising young career in St. Louis before he was traded to Phoenix for fatass…I mean Keith Tkachuk. Then injuries decimated his career. Michal Handzus had a promising career in St. Louis before he…well, I'm not totally sure, to be honest. Alexander Frolov, Anze Kopitar, and Michael Cammalleri will be stars for a while, and Rob Blake, the perennially disappointing Brad Stuart, and Lubomir Visnovsky will serve as a decent blue line for the hopelessly young Jonathon Bernier. Look for the Kings to be streaky, but finish 3rd in the Pacific and 11th in the West.

Phoenix Coyotes – The Coyotes suck. I wrote earlier that the Blue Jackets would finish last in the West, but the ‘Yotes are going to give them a run for their money. They’re saving grace is The Great One, whom I’m sure has an inspirational speech or two in him to help his team when they’re down at the 2nd intermission. Last in the Pacific and 14th in the West. (Ed's note: this could change as Janet Gretzky's tastes in gambling dictate-DJG)

Dallas Stars – I consider Marty Turco to be the poor man’s Roberto Luongo: A good goalie that’s not being given the opportunity to be great because he’s stuck on a mediocre team. Mike Modano, despite being one of the greatest American players to have played the game, needs to hang up the skates. And after Modano, the Stars don’t have a whole lot of scoring touch. They have a decent top two on D, with Sergei Zubov and Philippe Boucher, but after the pickings get slim. The Stars will fall…to 4th in the Pacific and 9th in the West.

Questions? Comments? Unsure why the fuck they're playing hockey in places like Phoenix and Dallas anyway? E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

NHL Preview - The Central Division

New contributor Fu Man Wu is an old friend of myself and 1/2 Man 1/2 Am-Asian's from High School. He's going to be providing some insight into the weird, unknown world of the NHL and maybe even some "Lost" stuff down the road. He's new at this stuff, so any feedback you guys have for him surely would be appreciated. -DJGel


The Central Division

Blues – I’ve been a Blues fan since the Brett Hull days…and even worse, I was the one begging his friends to go to games during their last two abysmal seasons. Young guns like Brad Boyes, Lee Stempniak, and some unknown, Erik Johnson, show the Blues have a bright future, but injuries to Manny Legace, Eric Brewer, and oft hurt Jay McKee threaten present successes. Fortune cookie say: Blues finish second in the Central and 8th in the West.

Red Wings – The dynamic duo of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk return to lead a mediocre cast of forwards, aging defensemen, and near-dead goaltenders. Nick Lidstrom will have another Norris trophy year, and newcomer Brian Rafalski will help bolster the D and power play, but all will be for naught if Dom Hasek goes down and the Wings have to rely upon Chris Osgood and the youngin’, Howard, in net. I hate to say it, but the Wings will win the Central, and be 3rd in the West.

Blue Jackets – I can’t believe there’s still a team in Columbus. Rick Nash tied his career high 57 points last year, but can’t do it alone. It appears that Nicholai Zherdev is a complete bust, and despite my obsession with everything hockey, I don’t think I’ve heard of half of the players on Columbus’ roster. They’ll be last in the Central and the West.

Predators – The Preds are stuck in hockey Limbo. Literally. Ownership can’t seem to find a healthy buyer, and the team lost its big names in Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg, and biggest contributor in Tomas Vokoun. It’s unclear whether or not Chris Mason can shoulder the load on a team that’s suffered such a reduction in offense, but a quick start shows that there’s still a big bite left in this squad. The Preds will be 3rd in the Central and 10th in the West.

Blackhawks – RIP Bill Wirtz. Apparently speaking ill of the dead is taboo. I actually don’t care, and think that Wirtz’s death marks a rebirth in Chi-town. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes - I should probably have saved that for the ‘Yotes, but they still suck – the Hawks will show great improvement behind Johnathan Toews and Pat Kane. A healthy Martin Havlat and the version of the Bulin-Wall that led the Lightning to the Cup could take Chicago to a new level…but it’s not going to happen this year. 4th in the Central and 12th in the West.

Questions? Comments? Want to know what this "NHL" is? E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Keith Law (Unfortunately) Lives

For those Friends of the Mog who have been here from the beginning, you are all well aware of my disdain for a failed MLB GM/ baseball "columnist" at ESPN named Keith Law. He is awful, and he voiced his opinion of the recent Walt Jocketty firing in his "blog" on espn.com. I commented on it, but doubt that he will respond. So it goes... Here is his initial post, followed by my response (in bold):

JOCKETTY GOT A RAW DEAL

By (douchebag) Keith Law

What exactly does a GM have to do these days to keep his job?

Walt Jocketty
spent 13 seasons at the helm of the St. Louis Cardinals. In that time, they racked up seven playoff appearances, three National League pennants and a World Championship (an unlikely one, but still, the flag looks the same). Their seven-year run of winning seasons was snapped this year, due in no small part to injuries to Chris Carpenter, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds, and 2007 marked just the fourth losing season in Jocketty's tenure. Jocketty was let go due to non-baseball reasons, but sometimes the baseball reasons need to win out. His track record at the major league level includes some outstanding moves:

• He picked up Rolen for a young Placido Polanco back in 2002. Rolen was a star at the time (Ed's Note: he is no longer, yet we signed him to a 34 year extnsion [perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but it feels that way]) having a down year, with Dallas Green killing him in the press at every opportunity; Rolen hit 15 homers in two-plus months with the Cardinals, finished fourth in the MVP voting in 2004 as he had his best year and the Cardinals won the pennant, and had another excellent year in 2006 before injuries wrecked his season this year. Polanco became a great hitter for average starting in 2005, but the value Rolen provided in the short term made this a slam-dunk for the Cardinals.

• He acquired Edmonds for Kent Bottenfield and then-prospect Adam Kennedy. Bottenfield was out of the majors for good inside of 15 months and Kennedy eventually developed into a fringy regular, but Edmonds became a star, hitting 172 homers with a .410 OBP over the next five years, with great defense in center.

• He picked up a broken-down Carpenter after the 2002 season (Ed's Note: there is a good chance that Law himself let Carpenter go. Fucking moron), and while Carpenter needed another shoulder surgery before he was able to pitch for the Cards, he turned in three fantastic years, winning a Cy Young Award and coming in third the following year. While Jocketty eventually gave Carpenter a huge contract extension, the cost of the initial pickup was minimal; Carpenter came to St. Louis because the Cards offered him a spot on the 40-man roster and Toronto wouldn't.

• He traded an underachieving and soon-to-be-free-agent J.D. Drew to Atlanta for Jason Marquis and Adam Wainwright. Marquis gave the Cardinals two solid years before one awful one, while Wainwright became the closer on the 2006 championship club before becoming an above-average starter this year. Drew spent one year with the Braves before leaving as a free agent.

If Jocketty has had a major failing, it's that the Cardinals' farm system was not especially productive during his tenure, but that area of the business was taken away from him over the last two years, and the team's drafts in that time have not been particularly strong. And that leads into the real reason for the friction that led to Jocketty's departure: the rise of Jeff Luhnow, hired by owner Bill DeWitt and handed increasing amounts of responsibility within baseball operations, to the detriment of several of Jocketty's longtime lieutenants. This situation, where the general manager did not have full authority over his team's scouting and player developments, appears to be unique within the game, and it's all the more unusual given Jocketty's track record and reputation.

St. Louis is now in a difficult spot. If it's true that Luhnow -- who apparently won't be a candidate for the GM position -- is untouchable due to his relationship with the team's primary owner, many GM candidates with backgrounds in either scouting or player development will balk at the position because of how limited their control will be. They may be forced to fill the position from within (John Mozeliak, their former scouting director and now the interim GM, would be a solid choice), or to accept a candidate whose interest in being GM supersedes his concern at the lack of control. Jocketty, meanwhile, should have his pick of positions, as many teams would be thrilled to obtain a GM with his reputation and track record, and you can bet that one of his first questions for a prospective employer will be, "Can I pick my own scouting director?"

I'm sorry Keith, but I have to disagree with your take on this one.

Sure Walt was a great GM for the Cards for quite some time, and sure you cite last year's World Series in your article, despite your outright disdain for the Cards throughout last year's playoffs. Unfortunately, he has been unwilling to pull the trigger on the "big deal" the past few years.

I think that's what most frustrates Cards fans. He wouldn't dare try to make a stretch run trade for an impact player over the past three years. And yes, I realize that, in the past, he has turned miracles with guys like Will Clark and Larry Walker. Heck, even throw in Ronnie Belliard if you want.

The bottom line is that he was upset that his lieutenants were fired over the Luhnow situation. And, as unfortunate as it may be, Luhnow has overseen the Cards' rise from a bottom three farm system to a middle -of-the-road farm system--no small feat considering what kind of a bottomless pit Jocketty's cronies had dug for us over the previous decade.

The problem is here, Jocketty felt Luhnow was some kind of a threat to him, and he felt no restraint in voicing his displeasure to the media, which, as a loyal Cards fan, was downright unprofessional.

I mean, come on now, Keith. You're certainly familiar with front office politics. I find it hard to believe that you take a strictly objective view here without offering your "inside analysis" as to how this all went down, especially if you were present in Toronto when the Dave Stewart debacle went down (I’m not sure if you were, but even so, I think your role on ESPN is to try to “pierce the veil” a bit between Joe Fan and management. Give us some insight, for crying out loud!

Ultimately, Walt Jocketty was a phenomenal GM for the Cards, and I will agree that he put some amazing trades together in his day. Combined with the respect that he receives from fellow front office types, I can see why you would contest his firing. That said, I’m not surprised at his firing given the unrest in the front office, Walt’s open discontent, and the toxic work environment it created for those involved. For once, I think Bill DeWitt has greater insight than the fans do as to the inner workings of the Cards organization, and, even as a DeWitt skeptic, I actually trust his judgment on this one.

Go ahead, make some pithy joke at my expense. Still, I don’t think you’re really getting to the guts of this one like ESPN is paying you to do.


DJGEL

Questions? Comments? Think we're being too hard on the asshole? E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The BlogMogger MLB Playoff Preview 2007

Some of you out there might think that this article is not even worth reading. It’s hard to blame you given my season previews for the NL and AL. Fortunately for you, I just linked to them so that you could see how wrong I was, unlike, say, Buster Olney or (in the NFL) Sean Salisbury, who make about 156,723 predictions over the course of the season so that they can cover their asses by the end of the year. That’s not my style.

Still, I consider myself an expert because…uh…er…MY TEAM WON THE WORLD SERIES LAST YEAR, MOTHERFUCKER!!! Isn’t that really enough? Without further adieu…

National League

Colorado Rockies v. Philadelphia Phillies

Man, that play-in game was something, wasn’t it? I don’t want to hear any bitching from Pads fans, either. First of all, the homerun earlier in the game that they only counted as a double was clearly gone—I remember hearing a metallic “ping” on the live broadcast, which was, apparently, the ball hitting a railing behind the wall. That said, the umping was just deplorable throughout. This is the best that you can do, MLB? Yikes…

Still, if you like offense, this series is the one for you. The Rocks and Phils both have unbelievably solid lineups and fairly shitty pitching staffs, outside of Jeff Francis and Cole Hamels, respectively. There aren’t enough fireworks made in all of China for this series. Let’s give it to the Rocks in 5.

Chicago Cubs v. Arizona Diamondbacks

Another good NL Series, but for far different reasons. This series should solve the age-old dilemma of whether it’s better to have a deep, above-average pitching staff in the playoffs (the Scrubs), or one hot shit Ace who can go twice in a five-game series (The D-Backs with Brandon Webb). The offense tilts slightly to the Cubbies, but the two W’s the D-backs have in the books already from Webb starts might be able to overcome it. In a tough one, I say Cubs in 5, if only because the longer they go, the sweeter the loss will be at the end.

Cubs-Rockies

In an incredibly odd NLCS match-up, I expect it to be plenty cold out. And snowy. Really, really snowy. I can see it already—Game 7, Carlos Zambrano taking the hill in 45 degree weather at Wrigley, the Cubs jumping out to a 6 run lead, then blowing it all in the eighth on a freakish play…oh wait, I’m sorry, that was 2003. This time, the Cubs will lose in 6, allowing the Colorado Rockies to (somehow) squeak into the World Series.

American League

New York Yankees v. Cleveland Indians

This is where things start to get interesting. The Yankees miraculously rose from the dead in mid-summer to claim the Wild Card. The Indians finally put it all together to win the AL Central by about 35 games. More importantly, this series will probably determine whether Derek Jeter or Grady Sizemore gets a greater combination of thinly-veiled homoerotic puff pieces by sports writers and ridiculous “men’s magazine” photoshoots in the off-season.

Seriously, though, the Yanks lineup is phenomenal. There’s something about the Tribe, though, that I really like. No matter what, I think this one goes the distance. Let’s say Indians in 5.

Boston Red Sox v. Anaheim Angels of Greater Los Angeles City and Orange County

EVERYONE is picking the BoSox here. And they might be right. I’m just blinded by my undying hatred of them. Everyone says, “They have the pitching, they have the lineup.” I dunno—without a full-speed Papi and a declining Man-Ram, I think that they’re eminently beatable. Plus, the Angels aren’t afraid to play well-known steroid users, like oft-injured CF Gary Matthews Jr., which should help them out. One thing is for sure—with K Rod and Papelbon closing these games out, they’re playing a series of essentially eight inning games. Call it a gut instinct, call it spite, call it immaturity. I call it Angels in 4.

Indians-Angels

In a turn of events that is sure to cause half of Bristol and Bill Simmons to swallow the barrel of a revolver, it will be the Tribe and Halos in the ALCS. Sure the Halos have some experience being there before, but I think this Indians team really is putting together something special here. Plus, even though the Angels will be able to make up for their pathetic lack of power by playing some games in the ALDS at Fenway, Jacobs Field is far less forgiving. Let’s give this one to the Tribe in 5.

World Series

Indians-Rockies

If you can bet on potential World Series match-ups like you can potential Super Bowls, then I am going to bet the shit out of this one on my upcoming trip to Vegas. Wouldn’t it vindicate Bud Selig and the new CBA to see two mid-90’s contenders be able to build themselves back into contention with homegrown talent, and in the case of the Indians, by releasing Ryan Ludwick so that he can hit .245…against only lefties…for the Cards?

As for the actual Series itself—what are you, fucking nuts? The Indians are going to kill the Rockies. I’m tempted by all of the “experts” making all of the “Tigers in 3” predictions last year to give the Rocks a fighting chance, but…you know what? On second thought, let’s just say Tribe in 6, bow respectfully at the altar of the baseball gods, and thank them again for 2006.

Questions? Comments? Worried that I'm a bigger homer-hoosier than Al Hrabosky? E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.