Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Final Standings, Awards, and why Curt Schilling Sucks

Well I can admit that this little Playoff Pool idea was a little more involved than I anticipated. I apologize for all the mistakes I made while trying to do this, but I am over 86.3% sure the final results are accurate.

After a pretty lame postseason if you ask me, only one man came out ahead. He didn't lead the whole time, but as the only person to pick the Red Sox to sweep in the World Series, it gave him enough points to come out on top.

Here is his trophy.

Congratulations Haasertime!

I adjusted the mistakes I made (too many points to Mr. P, not enough to Brunner or Damerus) and here are the final results.

Haasertime - 46pts
MrP - 38pts
TW83 - 37pts
Tfrezac - 27pts
Aunt Mary - 18pts
BizMarkie - 16pts
Brunner - 16pts
Damerus - 16pts
Daymonster - 16pts
Jeff - 15 pts
Soup - 13pts
LittleJo - 12 pts
Brex - 8pts
Roy - 4pts

-------------------------

On a somewhat related note, Curt Shilling is now one of my least favorite pitchers. Today he listed about 13 teams that he would be willing to play for and guess what? The Twins were left of his list.

His list includes, Cleveland, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia, Arizona Dbacks, Chicago Cubs, Detroit, St. Louis, The New York Mets, Atlanta, the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego and Milwaukee.

What the fuck Curt?!

"There are a million little things that go into this from stadiums to school districts to travel to spring training to etc. etc. etc.," Schilling wrote, "but the list represents the teams after Boston that have some of the off the field things that are big to us, plus the potential to go into October next year."

Screw you Schilling. Minnesota has some great school districts, and you would love the temperature controlled Metrodome, you old bastard.

The only good thing about this, is there is another team Schilling left off his list... The New York Yankees.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Is Expensive

By TwinsWin83

There hasn’t been anything posted on here in a few days so I thought I would just throw something up. There was a Halloween party up here on Saturday where if you had a costume on you got in for free. If you didn’t it was 6 bucks a person. 6 bucks! I’m strapped for cash as it is so I went with the lesser of two evils and forked out the entry fee because I figured it would cost well over 6 dollars to put together a decent outfit. I immediately regretted this decision because everyone else there had a costume on and I felt like the boring dude who thinks he’s too cool to dress up. But that wasn’t the case, I just couldn’t afford it and that got me to thinking: what can I throw together for cheap next time so I won’t have to feel like a big party bummer?


All black clothes and a scream mask? Nope. I think I did that once in high school at the last moment and it wasn’t very cool.


Ripped attire, a Jason mask and some fake blood all over? Naw, way too unoriginal. Plus, when I see those masks I tend to think of old goalies.


Bed sheet toga? Too frat party-ish. I guess it would be sweet though if the song "Shout!" came on at the party you were at.


Big black wig, white face paint and a black star around my eye to look like Paul Stanley from KISS? Yeah that’d be cool but where am I going to find a sweet wig at the last moment? Plus that would probably cost like 10 bucks for the wig and another 3 for the face paint. That's just too spendy.


Wear normal clothes and carry a homemade sign that declares: “nudist on strike!” I’m not that funny. Or clever.


Then I thought about what I already had on hand, an outfit that wouldn’t cost me a cent. As unoriginal as it may seem I have all the necessary equipment to dress up as my favorite thing: a Minnesota Twin. Ah yes, an oldie but a goody. I have the jersey, the hat, the pants, socks and even cleats that don’t have metal spikes so I don’t tear up the dance floor (at least literally). Sure it might seem a little 4th grade but that’s ok, I like to show support for my favorite team even during this difficult time. And best of all, it won’t cost me a cent and I would have saved 6 dollars getting into the stupid party in the first place.


If you guys have any ideas for cheap costumes I’m more than willing to listen because I’m sure I’ll have to dress up at some point this week for some ridiculous reason or another.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Twins Find Veteran Stability In Rotation

By Soup

To the surprise of the Minnesota Twins, Sidney Ponson was available to be picked up again this 2008 off-season. The Twins were happy to offer a bullpen-dazzling talent like Ponson three million a year for the next three years. It is true the Twins have a number of young major league pitching talents in Garza, Perkins, Baker, and Slowey. The front office, however, has come to the realization that none of these pitchers will be ready in the next four to five years. This makes Ponson an undeniably valuable asset to the organization.

This move has been criticized by a minority of the Twin's fan base citing the complete ineffectiveness Ponson had last year with his two and five record and his 6.93 ERA. Pitching Coach Rick Anderson made all naysayers sound like idiots when he commented on Ponson's bullpen. He said, "He threw a great bullpen. His sinker was sinking. His velocity was up."

Manager Ron Gardenhire agreed with his pitching coach. He said, "Did you see his bullpen? He had the velocity and his sinker was sinking."

When Ponson was asked directly about his previous ineffectiveness he responded, "Did you see my F*ing bullpen?!!!"

Picking up Ponson once was a gift from God. Having a chance to sign him again is destiny. This move is an incredible sigh of relief for the Twins fans worried about losing Johan Santana. The thought of losing a multiple Cy Young winner like Santana has been greatly weathered by the signing of a bullpen dazzling veteran like Ponson. The availability of the Twin's 2008 World Series tickets, however, is unknown.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Random Thoughts

by Michael Haas


- On channel 11 at 4pm, there's this show called 'Kare OnLive' It's like a weird variety show with Diana Pierce and Pat Evans. It's cool because it's an interactive show, with viewers adding to the program by chatting online. Today, they asked one of my questions. It was so cool! My roomate requested that they shout out to our Troy who is in the hospital, and they did! It was much appreciated. (The well wishes for Troy aren't online, but you can see the lame question from Mike H by clicking here, and watching the 'your family disaster plan' segment and skipping ahead to 3:20.)

- With Halloween right around the corner, it might be time to start thinking about costumes. Here are a few ideas:

Princess Leia

Hank Aaron

Luke Skywalker

Babe Ruth

Darth Vader

Hamburglar

- Another thought: I might have to dress up in a costume three separate nights for halloween this year. That doesn't sound fun at all.

- Is there a rule that says the kicker has to run up to kick off the ball during a football game? I feel like if the kicker could just stand behind the ball and flick it with his foot and ankle, it could produce a better ratio for recovered onside kicks. Think about it.

- When time is running down, and a team is out of time-outs, they often 'spike' the football to stop the clock. Why isn't this intentional grounding? Because he's inside the tackle box? That doesn't make sense at all.

- Are the Feds and NASA doing what's best for all by withholding the results of an airline safety study? They commission a 4-year project, but then shut it down because they don't like the results? This should especially strike a chord with Minnesotans, as we have seen one disastrous result of the spending vs. public safety fight.

- There are a lot of things that make me sick during the FOX broadcast of the World Series. One thing is the fake fans holding up computer generated advertisements.

- oh my gosh did you see the Gophers get beat by NDSU? Well you heard about it right? I owe CC $15 bucks, remind me to pay him for that ticket. That game was so stupid, and there were so many NDSU fans there. I think the Gophers are cursed. We should pull a University of Chicago Maroons and withdraw from the Big Ten.

- This train was parked behind my house the other day. It's the most badass train I've ever seen. It's home is right near our house in Nordeast. Imagine our surprise when we saw this thing heating up on our way home from the bar one night. And how surprised the conductor was when I started asking him drunken questions over the roar.




- I wonder if Slug or any of the rhymesayers crew root for the Twins or anyone. Cuz they should. I'll bet Brother Ali likes them.

- Joke of the Day: On the first day of college, the Dean addressed the students:

"The female dormitory is out-of-bounds for all male students, and the male dormitory to the female students. Anybody caught breaking this rule will be fined $20 the first time. The second time you will be fined $60. A third time will cost you a fine of $180. Are there any questions?"

A male student inquired, "How much for a season pass?"






Wednesday Notes

By Michael Haas

Today is Wednesday, and it's late October. There's really not much to write about. We write about sports a lot here at Alright Hamilton!, but sometimes I wonder if there's anything else worth writing about. I doubt it. I mean, I could tell you about the things I think about or the things I do each day, but that would even disgust me, and I'm me.


Prince is awesome. I swear that two of the best videos on the internet feature Prince.

Purple Rain in 1985
. The crowd is just going crazy the whole time.

Prince with Tom Petty and some folks performing at George Harrison's induction to the RocknRoll Hall of Fame. Watch the whole thing. Harrison's son can't believe his own eyes.

Lately, I've been thinking about how great it would be if I were able to witness the turning off of the lights in the Minneapolis skyline. They turn the three main buildings off around midnight, so tomorrow night, I'm going to sit on my back deck and watch. I'll report back how awesome it is on a scale of one to ten.

I feel like no one actually enjoys Joe Buck and Tim McCarvers analysis during baseball games on FOX. Why do they (specifically McCarver) still have jobs?

I think Casey Blake deserves almost as much criticism as Joel Skinner for the Indians game 7 loss. After Skinner held up Lofton, there was still just one out with two men on - a great opportunity to score at least that one run. But Blake bounced into a double play. Then he promptly makes an error in the bottom of inning, opening the door for Bostons massacre.

Monday, October 22, 2007

World Series Preview

By TwinsWin83


Two months of Spring Training, 162 regular season games and three rounds of playoff baseball all come down to this: the Colorado Rockies against the Boston Red Sox for the 2007 World Series title. If you had the Rockies as your pre-season pick to win the National League you’re probably out buying a new car or boat with your winnings. The Red Sox aren’t quite the Cinderella story that the Rockies are with their 143 million dollar payroll and World Series title three seasons ago but this squad has taken a much different path to reach baseball’s biggest stage this year then it did in 2004. Will nine days off between the NCLS and Wednesday nights World Series opener cool off the white-hot Rockies? Can Beckett continue his October mastery on the mound and does Schilling have enough left in the tank to recreate his 2004 magic? Stay tuned over the next week and half for the answers.

Rockies vs. Red Sox

Season Series: Rockies 2-1


What you should know: All bets are off. No matter what you might think about Colorado’s recent hot streak or Boston’s October-savvy starting pitchers it’s hard to peg this year’s World Series winner just by looking at the stats. The Red Sox are 2-1 favorites if you’re placing bets in Vegas but even that doesn’t necessarily make them the safe pick here. If you think the new-kids-on-the-block Rockies don’t have a shot against the October-tested Red Sox please see recent articles on 2001, 2003 and 2006 in your World Series guide.


Why the Rockies will win: Because there has never been a hotter team heading into a World Series then Colorado is right now. They have won 21 of their last 22 games and have been playing in playoff-like games for nearly a month and a half now. Just when everyone thinks they are about to return back to earth and fold to a team more experienced than them the Rockies simply bang out another win even more impressive the last. Their pitching staff has been great over the teams historic run, from 17-game winner Jeff Francis to the suddenly lights-out bullpen. The Rockies showed that they could play in Fenway Park earlier this season when they took two out of three games there in an interleague matchup. If Colorado can pull out at least one win in Boston before heading back to Denver for Game 3 they could grab the upper hand in the series. With a defense that doesn’t make mistakes, an offense that seems to manufacture runs every time it needs to and a pitching staff that has been the backbone of the team’s amazing run there is little reason to believe the Rockies can’t compete with the Red Sox in this World Series. I’ve said it before each round this October but it begs repeating: this team seems to have a bit of magic about them this postseason and that could mean trouble for the Sox just like it did for the Phillies and D-Backs.


Why the Red Sox will win: Boston has only seven players on their roster that won a title with the team in 2004 but that doesn’t mean they aren’t equipped for this Fall Classic. Ace Josh Beckett has a history of pitching his best games on the biggest stage and Curt Schilling already owns a place in playoff lure for his bloody sock masterpiece during the Bo Sox last postseason run. Daisuke Matsuzaka seems to have found his fastball again after a solid outing in Game 7 against the Indians and Tim Wakefield always seems ready for some big innings if called upon. The bullpen has been strong with rookie Hideki Okajima setting up Papelbon and fellow newcomers Dustin Pedrioa and Jacoby Ellsbury provided a spark for the offense late in the ACLS. Thanks to yet another All-Star Game win for American League Boston will begin the World Series in the friendly confines of Fenway Park which could play a big role if the series makes it to a sixth game and beyond. If Beckett can cool down the Rockies in the opener it could knock Colorado off Cloud 9 and set the tone for the series.


What to watch for: Rockies staff vs. Dustin Pedroia. The Red Sox leadoff hitter finally got his bat going late in the series against the Indians and the rookie could be the wild card in the series if he can continue to get on base and set the stage for Boston’s powerful middle of the lineup.


Who will win: The Rockies are one of the best stories baseball has seen in a long time but nine days off is a long time to remain as hot as they were without playing an actual game. Colorado only had five days off total in over the previous month before the NLCS ended, and as last year’s Detroit team will tell them, the time off isn’t always a good thing. Beckett will be tough to beat and if Boston has to they can start him three times in the series. The Rockies should play well in Denver but will struggle out of the gates in Boston. The Red Sox use the home field advantage to their benefit one more time and win it all for the second time in four years, ending the Rockies magical and amazing run. Red Sox in 6.


My World Series Champion Pick: Boston
Your Pick?....

MLB Play Off Pick 'Em Update

This is not today's post. It's just a quick update.

Ten out of the 14 predictors scored points this round. MrP, TwinsWin83 and Haasertime have taken a commanding lead by being three out of the five people to pick both the Red Sox and The Rockies to advance.

Here is how it scored this round:
TW83: 18pts
MrP: 18pts
Haasertime: 12pts
Brunner: 12pts
Damerus: 12pts
Soup: 6pts
BizMarkie: 6pts
Jeff: 6pts
Tfrezac: 6pts
Brex: 2pts
Daymonster: 0pts
Roy: 0pts
LittleJo: 0pts
Aunt Mary: 0pts

But it's still anybodys game (except for Roy; who, not-so-coincidentally did not make any picks this round.)

Here are the standings going into the World Series
MrP - 30pts
TW83 - 25pts
Haasertime - 22pts
Aunt Mary - 18pts
Brunner - 16pts
Damerus - 16pts
Jeff - 15 pts
Tfrezac - 15pts
Soup - 13pts
BizMarkie - 12pts
LittleJo - 12 pts
Daymonster - 9pts
Brex - 8pts
Roy - 4pts

Friday, October 19, 2007

If Manny Wasn't Manny, Who Would He Be?

By Michael Haas

A lot has been made of Manny Ramirez being Manny Ramirez lately. He throws his arms up triumphantly when bashing homers, and acts unpredictably at other times. All of this confusing behavior is explained by an all encompassing theory. The Manny Being Manny Theory. But it's not so much a theory as it is a law.
The Manny Being Manny Law states that whatever Manny Ramirez does, it is because he is, in fact, Manny Ramirez. Manny's behavior is Manny, and Manny is his behavior. No one has ever dug deeper than this. I assume that people have tried, but they can't come up with any proper explanations for his actions, nor any adjectives to describe him.

So he's just Manny. And whenever he acts in his allegedly inimitable style, Manny is being Manny.

Does this make sense to anyone else?

Manny Manny Manny. I swear to god if I hear that phrase explain away his behavior once more, I am just going to snap.

Rather than explain his behavior by using brain busters, let's think of some adjectives.

Idiotic

Lazy

Goofy

Bush league

Egotistical

Unmotivated

Rich

Funny

Oft-injured

Smiley

Dumb

Content (in some cases)

Argumentative (in other cases)


So maybe journalists, sportscasters and fans know these things, but they don't want to bring him down. For all his negative attributes, it's hard to hate on a spacey, funny, pure baseball masher. Especially from Boston. Especially in our baseball world of non-personalities like Derek Jeter and Joe Mauer. I'd much rather be debating Manny's homerun celebrations than Bond's steroids and tainted records. Baseball!

.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Common Language of Beisbol

By Jeff

Stepping out of the taxi in the middle of Havana with no place to stay and no formal currency was an adventurous (or idiotic) way to begin my travels. However, my fear of the unknown quickly subsided with one loud cheer. The taxi had dropped us off in the heart of Havana, since we had no destination and did not speak enough Spanish to communicate with the taxi driver. There in the middle of the plaza were two giant movie theater scr
eens with thousands of Cubans gathered. It was the middle of April and for Cubans that meant one thing… World Series time. The league is very different from traditional American standards. There are only six teams that compete while the league has somewhere around twelve teams. We happened to be dropped off in the middle of Havana’s Industriales (the Yankees of Cuba) section. Havana has two teams, but the favorite by a long shot are the Industriales (where both Livan and Orlando Hernandez played). It was an amazing site to see, since many do not own televisions they had gathered at town square to watch their team. The game was being played in Santiago de Cuba, and traveling to another city is next to impossible for many, so this was the place to be. Industriales took an early lead and the crowd erupted with excitement as if we were sitting right there at the game. Feeling the energy of the crowd that night was indescribable, as they were laughing, singing, dancing and cheering; I had goose bumps and I knew this forbidden world was about to take me on an experience of a lifetime.

Skipping ahead to strictly the baseball side of the trip is something that I should probably do on a public website. We found a family that was willing to take us in and stay in their apartment. A few households have agreements with the Cuban government to use their places as a sort of bed and breakfast for a monthly fee. The family had the grandmother, mother, son and his wife all staying under one roof. It is normal to have three or even four generations of family living under the same roof. The son’s name was Alex and he was in his early 30’s. After watching a game with Alex one evening he convinced us to go to the stadium the next day. At first, I was a little skeptical because of some past experiences we had with large crowds in Cuba, but we decided to go for it anyway. “They reserve seats for tourists behind home plate,” Alex told us, “you should have no problem sitting there.”

We arrived at the stadium by ten for a one o’clock game, walking through narrow alleyways and dodging the occasional scooter that would come zipping by. Every family on the way to the stadium was outside their homes dressed in all blue (for the Industriales), waving flags and cheering on their team. Kids were playing baseball anywhere they could find a spot. Even the capital of Havana had many broken windows from years of serving as the right field wall. They used broomsticks and whatever they could find for a ball; one ball I examined was nothing more then a rolled up bunch of tape. The occasional kid would have a glove, but most used their bare hands.

As we approached the stadium the noise was growing louder and louder. What started off as a dull roar now sounded like a deafening frenzy of absolute chaos. Entire streets around the stadium were jammed packed with people and there was barely an inch to squeeze through. Porta potties (more like shacks with holes in the ground) were overflowing on corners and running into the gutters letting out a distinct odor. Every ten feet there would be a band of five to six people playing salsa with a group in front dancing. Let me tell you there is nothing more attractive than a Cuban woman dancing salsa. The general admission section for Cubans already extended several city blocks and was growing longer by the second. The tourist seats also had a long line and tickets were all sold out. This was what I was really hoping for, a chance to sit in the stands with the true fans and see what a real game is like. Tickets were equivalent to 5 cents American, we had to pay a Cuban citizen to buy our tickets because we were not allowed. After a lot of negotiating, we found someone who was willing to buy the tickets for a buyer’s fee of $1. We had to get in line which had almost doubled in size since we first arrived.

I felt the energy again that I felt that night in the town square, the rush of emotions running through me was something I had never felt before. Three Americans standing in line with thousands of Cubans, we stuck out like a sore thumb; right away we could tell this probably never happened. No tourists sit in the stands with the Cubans, they all sit behind home plate in their padded chairs, not the cement bleachers around the rest of the stadium. We stood in line for two hours before the line began to move and when it did it was mayhem. It truly became every man for himself, as we desperately tried to stay together it was easier said then done. Squeezing through, stepping around, ducking under, avoiding the occasional ass squeeze by the Cuban girls laughing hysterically after each pinch; we were finally able to make our way to the front gate. We were filtered in through a set of barricades and then pushed back several times by a military soldier ruining ten minutes of dodging your way through to make it five feet. After a quick pat down for illegal contraband and a few awkward, “what are you guys doing at this gate glances,” we made our way through.

Instantly, we were approached by a group who seemed to be around our age, three guys and three girls, because we had no idea where to go next. Our tickets said nothing on them and it was just as much chaos inside as outside. They were very nice and spoke excellent English, which made communication much easier, considering my broken Spanish. They brought us through the stadium and down to some great seats almost field level in right.

The first three minutes we were there was the only sitting we would do the entire game. People brought whatever they had for instruments and there was music throughout the entire game. Kids would wear cardboard cutouts of hats on their heads, and the slightest breeze would blow them off never to be seen again. Many people enjoyed meat on a stick and some type of juice out of a small can. Instead of balloons or beach balls being hit around in the crowd, they would blow up condoms and knock them around (no joke). At first I tried dodging the condoms, because I really didn’t want to touch them. By the end of the game I was catching them and letting them bounce off my head. The singing and dancing is what impressed me most about the game. The entire game, over two and a half hours, no one stopped dancing around, cheering and enjoying life. They only used the scoreboard for night games, but anyone in the stadium at any time could tell you the score, what inning, how many outs, how many strikes and how many balls. Most could probably even tell you how many pitches had been thrown by the starters.

It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had at a baseball game or any other sporting event for that matter. The energy in that stadium could be felt from your head to your toes, and the feeling I had walking out that day is something I will never feel again and never forget. I have a deep appreciation for Cuba, their culture, their people and their lifestyle; it has been untouched and unchanged. They have a special way about themselves; their positive attitude and resolve is contagious to anyone that comes across them. They have a true love of life and make the most of every opportunity. People are all the same no matter what walk of life they may come from. We are all trying to survive in a world that no one understands. War, hate, greed, crime, pollution and poverty are all man made problems that can be solved by men. For all people truly want the same thing, we all want to enjoy life the short time that we inhabit this planet. We can send people to the moon, but not figure out how to co-exist. I do not believe that the world is tough and only the strong survive. A new echelon of evolution has been established, that now favors evolution of the mind. Our species is unlike any other to inhabit this planet and we are in a unique situation to change and adapt unlike any other in history. Nothing is inevitable and nothing is just a part of life. The human race is in a situation to not only better ourselves, but better each other. For the first time in history, a species has the ability to live as one with each other and our planet; start to find answers to the real questions of life and what we are a part of… Why are we here, Where did we come from and Where can we go?

Oh, and the Industriales won that game but Santiago de Cuba won the series.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lost Posts: Terrible Haircuts

Editors note: There's nothing else happenin on this Wednesday, so we figured we'd post this old story by Bizmarkie507. Perhaps commentators can help finish this post.


why is it that humans never learn? the sixties had terrible bee hive disasters such as:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Nine Things the Rockies do Before the World Series

By Haasertime

The Colorado Rockies are in the midst of a historic streak. They have won 11 in a row and 21 out of 22. But in sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Rockies will have nine days off before the World Series. Will they practice until then? Do they go home and visit family? After the game Monday night, Todd Helton revealed a list of their plans:

9. Perform full production of the musical Grease. Draw straws for the part of Sandy.

8. Go to a water park. The Rockies are notorious for their love of water parks.

7. Try out for The Next Great American Band. They can't lose playing baseball, I'd imagine they can't lose at stuff like television talent shows. And Yorvit Torrealba plays a mean keytar.

6. Edit their Wikipedia pages. Todd Helton explained how they would like to change all references to the 'Colorado Rockies' to 'The Breathtaking Colorado Rockies' and add "the magnificent" as the prefix to their names. Like "The Magnificent Ryan Spilborghs"

5. Embark on a savage journey to the heart of the American Dream. Head to Las Vegas. Pack some cars with two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.

4. Contest: See which player can get the most dates by posting personals on CraigsList. My money is on Ramon Ortiz.

3. Play North Dakota State University in football. In place of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

2. Catch up on missed episodes of "The Office" They probably don't even know about Jim and Pam.

1. Pretend for a day that they lost. Clean out lockers, say goodbye to teammates, and then laugh and yell "JK!"

Kinda Obscure Musical Instruments I Think You'd Like

By HaAsErTImE

Folks often ask me, 'hey haas, what other elements can I add to our rock n' roll band' or 'hey haas, is there anything in music besides a bass guitar, a 6-string and some drums?' I'm asked those kind of questions, that I've decided to write a blog post about it. It also gives me an excuse to talk about AH! every time one of the following instruments is mentioned in a conversation. It also gives me a chance to write about something, as opposed to nothing, as I have bloggers block these days, what without the Twins to write about and all.

Pedal Steel

I myself didn't know the name of this instrument until lately, but I'd certainly heard it before. It's used in damn near every country song, but it's starting to break away from just that genre. The pedal steel is a 10-stringed instrument that's laid horizontally and plucked, pedaled and slid into neat sounds. Robert Randolph uses his as the lead instrument, often with virtuostic solos and lots of distortion. But traditionally, the pedal steel is used as a clean sounding way to add some decoration to a song.

Link: Ryan Adams' backing band, The Cardinals, features a pedal steel player.


Keytar

A keytar is basically just a keyboard with a strap. And some buttons to change the sound at the top. It rose to prominence in the 1980's, but quickly lost it's appeal. If I ever saw a band with a keytarist, I would go "hmmmmmm."

Link: Some guy playing a Keytar. Wow.

Flute

This isn't an obscure muscial instruement, but it's a fairly obscure instrument in rock music. Men at Work used one for their hook in "Land Down Under" and the Marshall Tucker Band used one in their hit "Can't You See" but no one brought the flute to such rock prominence as did Jethro Tull. Their mixture of hard rock and flute was really something. Link: Jethro Tull Flute Solo

Double Bass Guitar

Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin made famous the double guitar. He needed two guitars at once - a 12-string to pick and a 6-string to rip. But Derek Smalls of the seminal rock band Spinal Tap made the double bass famous. The guitar was invented by Smalls during the recording of their 1982 album Smell The Glove. The track 'Big Bottoms' featured three bass guitars, but Smalls felt the need for another, so he had his double bass custom made just in time for their infamous co headlining tour with a puppet show.

Link: Big Bottom.





Friday, October 12, 2007

Gilbert Arenas Cheats at Halo

By Daymonster

[Disclaimer: This article was written for an audience that is familiar with the Halo games and Xbox Live. I try to explain as much as possible to the lay person.]

In an age when sports and controversy have gone hand-in-hand, it seems like the sanctity of video games would be spared. However, Wizard's Guard Gilbert Arenas has disturbed this peace and his reputation cold be forever tarnished.

Apparently Agent Zero has been making custom and social games with dummy Xbox Live accounts and racking up massive amounts of kills to raise his experience points. [Custom and Social games are different from ranked games in that you can choose the people you play against]

He even admits to it.

Reporter: "Gilbert, people say you're cheating at Halo 3."
Gil: "I'm cheating? How am I cheating?"
Reporter: "Are you creating dummy games with two fake friends and using the wins to rack up experience points?"
Gil: "Yeah," he said, laughing. "Yeah."

Check out his service record here. [This is where Bungie, the creators of the Halo series, keeps track of everything you do while in the video game]

This is the same guy that personally sponsors team FINAL BOSS in the MLG (Major League Gaming) league. Seems kind of like he would rather be a professional gamer than a basketball all star.

The real question is, will this forever change our views of Arenas. When his NBA career ends, and he faces possible induction to the Hall of Fame, will his Xbox controller be branded with an asterisk?

As for his gaming set up? I thought for sure he would have a wireless controller.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Glen Mason Fired!

By Michael Haas

Editors note: This is what would have been written if Alright Hamilton! was operating in December of 2006.

The Mason era ended yesterday, just one day after another jaw-dropping defeat for the Gopher football team. Old Bob and Joe finally had enough of the Monson and Mason duo of broken promises .

This past season was a microcosm of the whole Mason era. He took a bad team into mediocrity, but couldn't win a big game. Glen Mason will probably be remembered - whether it's fair or not - for the numerable epic collapses his teams seemed to perfect. Fridays loss in the Insight Bowl came as no surprise to the Gophers fanbase. Mason's teams have such a history of squandering leads, that not one person vomited after the catastrophe in Arizona.

Let's take a look at some possible candidates for the coaching position:

Mike Grant: The son of legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant has always been too afraid to coach at any level but high school. If he could grow a pair, he might be a good fit for the U. He obviously has many connections with high school coaches in the state, and he's a true Minnesotan.

Tony Dungy: The former Gopher quarterback and Vikings assistant coach is currently the head football coach for the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts will probably blow it in the playoffs yet again this year, which could put some pressure on Dungy. The U would give him quite a bit of money to work for his alma mater.

Flip Saunders: Another U alum, Flip currently coaches the Detroit Pistons. He has many schemes for basketball that would presumably transfer seamlessly to football.

Lou Holtz: Lou is a legendary college football coach, and has always had a warm place in his heart for the Golden Gophers. Last season, just before the Badger-Gopher game ended, he explained that he was happy to see Paul Bunyans Axe going back to Minnesota. For those who don't know, Lou coached the Gophers for just one season, 1985, before moving on to coach Notre Dame. I assume that he would drop his TV gig to finish what he started.

Sid Hartman: Close personal friends with a lot of coaches in the state, and could really get the program on the map by motivating those genius's in the marketing department. He's been easily the biggest proponent of Gopher football in the post-rose bowl era, so he might as well seal the deal and run the team. But the Star Tribune and their readers would likely beg to make him stay in the fish-wrap business.

I'm sure I'll think of more candidates, but Mason was just fired yesterday and these were the big names that popped out at me.

Whoever Maturi chooses as the next coach of the Golden Gophers, he'll have a great chance for success at the U. Mason lead the team from futility to mediocrity, and there's a new stadium coming in just a couple of seasons. The new coach will have to thank Glen Mason for laying the groundwork for a championship program. No one is expecting a Rose Bowl in the direct future, but at the very least, we expect no more 4th quarter collapses or near-losses to NDSU.


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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

LCS Preview

By TwinsWin83


Well folks, the first round of the playoffs are over and as we head deeper into October there are important questions surrounding each of the remaining teams. How long can the Rockies keep this up? Will anyone be able to beat the Red Sox starters? Are the Diamondbacks that good or were the Cubs that bad? Is Fausto Carmona for real? No one knows the answers to any of those questions yet and that is why playoff baseball is so great. Here’s a preview of the LCS match-ups as the final four teams battle for a spot in the 106th World Series.


Indians vs. Red Sox



Season Series: Red Sox 5-2


What you should know: The Curse of Rocky Colavito. Sure the Billy Goat and the Bambino get all the press when it comes to curses but the fact remains that the Indians haven’t won a World Series title since 1948. Prior to opening day in 1960 the Tribe traded right fielder and fan favorite Rocky Colavito to the Tigers for would-be flop Harvey Kuenn. What followed was a string of the worst three and a half decades of baseball ever played by a Major League team. From 1959 to 1993 Cleveland managed one third-place finish, five fourth-place finishes and ended in the last place every other season. Now that's a slump. So while the Red Sox and White Sox have slain their demons over the past few seasons with World Series titles the Indians have not, possibly clearing the way for another franchise to reverse a curse this October.


Why the Indians will win: The Indians made it clear in the Division Series against the Yankees that they have a pitching staff to be reckoned with. Sabathia proved he could anchor the #1 spot in the rotation while Carmona showed he could carry his regular season success over into October. Paul Byrd shut-up the critics with a Game 4 victory in New York Monday night and the bullpen was lights-out yet again. If the offense can provide the two-out hits with runners in scoring position that they did in the Division Series the Red Sox are going to have a hard time staying with this confident Cleveland bunch.


Why the Red Sox will win: As solid as the Indians looked in the first round the Red Sox appeared even more impressive in their match-up against the Angels. Boston looked like they are finally clicking after a rocky couple of weeks near the end of the regular season. Beckett and Schilling were at the top of their games and with them scheduled to start the first two games of the ALCS the Red Sox could jump out to a quick advantage. Manny Ramirez is swinging the bat better than he has all year and David Ortiz is his typical self in October. All of these factors, coupled with home field advantage, make the Red Sox very dangerous.


What to watch for: Indians pitching staff vs. Manny Ramirez. Manny is being Manny again and if he continues to hit like he has over the last week it could be a short trip to the ALCS for the Indians.


Who will win: I bet against the Indians in the first round even when I was rooting for them to knock off the Yankees. I think these two teams are incredibly even and the series will eventually come down to how well the bullpens respond to the pressures of October. In the end I think home field advantage wins out and the Red Sox take a nail-biting series. Red Sox in 7.



Rockies vs. Diamondbacks



Season Series: Rockies 10-8


What you should know: Batting averages are overrated. The Diamondbacks were the first team since 1906 to win their division while sporting the lowest batting average in the league, but don’t underestimate them, they led the N.L. with 90 wins.


Why the Rockies will win: Can you say 17 out of 18? There have been few teams in the history of baseball that are hotter than the Rockies are right now, regular or post season. Colorado won 14 of their final 15 games to grab the final N.L. playoff spot and October didn’t cool them down one bit as they blew right by the Phillies in three games in the Divisional Series. The country is finally getting to know some of the Rockies stars as Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton lead the teams potent offense. The question in this series for the Rockies will once again be the pitching. Colorado has a clear-cut ace in 17-game winner Jeff Francis but after him it gets sketchy. Game 2 starter Ubaldo Jiminez was 4-12 this season with a 4.28 E.R.A. and the bullpen (excluding the preceding 3 weeks) has been shaky at best. Coors Field could play a big role in this series as the mile-high stadium tends to boost teams offensive output. But just like I said heading into the ALDS, the Rockies seem to have a bit of magic about them right now and that can spell trouble for their opponents. October is when you want to be playing your best baseball of the year and that is exactly what Colorado is doing right now.


Why the Diamondbacks will win: The Diamondbacks proved in the Divisional Series that it is no mistake they are still playing in October. For as young as this team is they showed an incredible amount of maturity in defeating Chicago in a very workman-like fashion. Manufacturing runs and getting solid pitching is the name of the game for Arizona and they didn’t stray from the formula that helped them win 90 games during the regular season. Brandon Webb was nasty as usual in the first round and would present a daunting task for the Rockies if they have to face him three times should the series go seven games. If the Rockies can pull out a game that doesn’t involve Webb they will grab a clear leg up in the series. Home field advantage usually comes into play this time of year and the D-Backs should be able to use that to their benefit when playing in the desert, the question will be how they respond to the hostile and hitter-friendly atmosphere in Denver. Stephen Drew and Chris Young have emerged as future-stars and need to perform at the plate in this series in order to carry the D-Backs usually weak offense.


What to watch for: Diamondbacks staff vs. Matt Holliday. Colorado’s M.V.P. candidate hit .361 in 18 games against the D-Backs this season with 2 homers and 13 R.B.I.’s. The Rockies are going to need to score some runs to support their pitching staff and Holliday has been the team’s offensive spark plug all season. If Arizona can shut Holliday down they might be able to manufacture enough runs to stay a step ahead.


Who will win: It would be crazy to pick against a team that has won 17 of their last 18 games and despite what some might say I’m haven’t completely lost it quite yet. The Diamondbacks great season comes to an end and the Rockies move on to their first ever World Series. Rockies in 6.



So……
My World Series picks: Red Sox vs. Rockies
Your picks?.....

Round 1 Standings and Results

As I am sure you all know the Divisional Series' of the MLB Playoffs are over and starting Thursday the Championship Series' will get underway. Here is what happened in case you missed it.

The Indians finished off the Yankees last night in four games, the only series that didn't feature a quick three-game sweep. The Red Sox handled the Angels easily, as did the Diamondbacks with the Cubs. The young Rockies beat the Phillies in three games as well.

Here are the standings after this first round. Aunt Mary (If that is your real name) was the only reader to pick all four teams to advance. Picking two of the four with the correct amount of games she takes a somewhat commanding lead into the next round. [Correction: LittleJo also picked all four teams to advance, but did not pick the correct number of games in any of the series'. MrP correctly picked three out of the four series' and the correct number of games in the Rockies Phillies series, earning him a tie with LittleJo.] The top three memebers posted their guesses after the first 3 games had already started. (I'm just saying...)

Aunt Mary - 18pts
MrP -12 pts
LittleJo - 12 pts
Haasertime - 10pts
Jeff - 9 pts
Tfrezac - 9pts
Daymonster - 9pts
Soup - 7pts
TW83 - 7pts
BizMarkie - 6pts
Brex - 6pts
Roy - 4pts
Brunner - 4pts
Damerus - 4pts

Luckily for most of us, this next round is essentially a fresh start. Please post your predictions for the NLCS and the ALCS in the comment section below. Feel free to make predictions in paragraph form but make sure you say which team will win, and in how many games (remember these are seven game series' now).

ALCS:
Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians

NLCS:
Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

Get the predictions in by Thursday at 2pm CT, so we can compile them and have them ready by the start of the NLCS game.

Monday, October 8, 2007

To Be a Sports Traitor

By Michael Haas

LeBron James plays basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron went to high school in Akron, Ohio. Despite his heavy Ohio connections, he has chosen to root for the New York Yankees. He even went so far as to sport a Yankees cap at the Indians - Yankees playoff game the other night. The move caused a fracas in the city of Cleveland. Sports fans couldn't believe that their great hometown basketball player could be rooting for the enemy.

In an ideal world, a kid from Ohio would root for the Indians (or Reds, I guess.) But the fact is LeBron James can cheer for whomever he chooses. I know a lot of people who chose to cheer for the winners rather than the hometown team. But why? I believe a persons lack of interest in the local team can be explained in three categories.

1. Growing up

Family connections are a big part of sports fandom. No matter where one lives, if the parents root a specific sports team, the son or daughter will likely emulate.

2. lack of connections to local team and people

If the parents or family of the fan in question are uninterested in sports, it becomes the responsibility of the local teams fans, marketing department and performance to sway a potential fan. If there is no general excitement toward a team in the media or the general populace, it becomes hard to entice the common man. The Minnesota Golden Gopher football team is the perfect example of this. They don't have the excitement on the field, nor the people and the media. And since it's been 45 years since there has been excitement, there are no parents to even pass along any sense of fandom.

2b. If one is not an original fan of the sport, it usually takes a good team to become a fan. And often, the good team is not the local team. I can imagine people (girls and adolescent boys) watching the Yankees between 1996 and 2000, and thinking how great baseball is and how great the Yankees are.

3. Agitating others

Some people enjoy breaking away from the crowd. If everyone loves a team, why would an original, intelligent person love that same team. If one could anger many by simply wearing a cap, why not do it? Gaining attention is always fun.


So, in conclusion, why does LeBron from Akron root for the Yankees? First of all, I would think that he is not a true baseball fan. Secondly, LeBron probably enjoys attention, publicity and good-natured controversy. And lastly, LeBron is a terrible person.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Future of Military Armor

Troy Hurtubise is a Canadian inventor. He is probably most famous (I use the term famous very loosely) for his suit that can withstand the attacks from grizzly bears. He has now focused his efforts on making a suit to help protect military personnel overseas.

Here he is demonstrating the "Trojan Armor" (get it, his name is Troy) he has developed.



The armor is made from high-impact plastic lined with ceramic bullet protection over ballistic foam. The Trojan suit also features storage for morphine, salt, a knife, and emergency light. Plus, a recording device, pepper-spray gun, and detachable (and swallow able) transponder are built into the forearms. There's also an in-suit fresh-air system, drinking tube (attached to Camel Pack type device), head mounted laser pointer, and some hip LED face lights. But my favorite device is the crotch mounted clock.

For some reason this reminds me of a sweet combination of RoboCop and Master Chief (from the Halo Series).

What do you guys think? Tony as a All-Star in the armed forces could you dominate in this suit?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Breaking News: Morneau to propose to his gal

An Alright Hamilton! exclusive

This evening, Twins first basemen Justin Morneau and his girlfriend are scheduled to do the "let's play hockey!" thing before the start of the Wild game. He plans to propose marriage to her around that time, right in front of everyone.

You've been scooped, C.J.

AH! wonders how this will affect his performance in 2008, and if Joe will be the Best Man.



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Building Your Winning Strategy

By Michael Haas

This world is a fast, cut-throat minefield of scum bags and their tricks. It's sink or swim out there, and if you don't have a game plan going in, you'll waste your time, money and health. But with a few tips and a go-get-em attitude, you could really get ahead in this world. The world of McDonalds Monopoly.

History of the Game

First, it's important to know the history of the industry. I'm guessing it started in about 1996. Yeah, we'll go with that. Originally, one would receive two game pieces with each purchase, but that soon changed so that only certain items carried game pieces.

In 2001, the firm that was contracted by McDonalds to run the promotion was accused of fraud. It was discovered that some of the top brass in the firm had given the most important and rare game pieces to friends, and then split the profits. McDonalds received considerable negative publicity for the embarrassing situation, and halted the game until 2003.

How to play

The goal in the game of monopoly is to (surprise surprise) collect a monopoly. Monopolies consist of 2 or 3 properties. Do I really need to go through them all? Okay, fine.

Purple: Baltic and Mediteranean Avenues - $50
Railroads: B&O, Short Line, Pennsylvania and Reading - $100
Light Blue: Oriental, Vermont and Connecticut Avenues - $500
Fuschia: Virginia and States Avenues and St. Chucks Place - $1,000
Orange: New York, Tennessee Avenues and St. James Place - $5,000
Red: Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky Avenues - $10,000
Yellow: Marvins Garden, Ventor and Atlantic Avenues - $25,000
Green: Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Pacific Avenues - $50,000
Blue: Boardwalk and Park Place - $1,000,000

There are also instant win prizes and other coupons.

Now that you (sorta) know the history and the basics of the game, you need to know what to do to succeed.

Tips

The products that have Monopoly pieces are as follows:

(1) McMuffin breakfast sandwiches
(2) Medium or Large Drinks
(3) Hash Browns
(4) Big Mac sandwiches
(5) Large French Fries
(6) Premium Chicken sandwiches
(7) 3-piece and 5-piece Chicken Selects

Based on this list, you now know what to buy. If you normally get a McChicken sandwhich, you should get a Premium Chicken Sandwhich, if you normally get McChicken Nuggets, you should get Premium Chicken Strips, you cheap skate. Good thing they have a breakfast item on the list, or you'd be forced to have just a medium Coke for breakfast everyday.

Now here is the real inside information: presenting the Rare Pieces. If you get any of these pieces, you're basically guaranteed to win. So REMEMBER these - this message will self destruct eventually.

Mediterranean
Shortline Railroad
Vermont
Virginia
Tennessee
Kentucky
Ventnor
Pennsylvania
Boardwalk

But that's not the only way to win. A couple of years ago, McDonalds introduced a new and exciting way to play: online. When you get a game piece, you may notice a funny 10-digit code near the bottom. Enter this code at playatmcd.com, and you have the chance at even more prizes. With each code, you get to roll the virtual dice and move your virtual game piece around the virtual gameboard. When you login to the site, it will remember the properties acquired and your tokens position. You can win lame prizes such as cell phone games and stuff.

Other tips for winners:

- You'll be surprised to find out when, digging through the garbage, how many people forgot to peel their game pieces. If no one claims the pieces after you notify the patrons in the McDonalds, I'm sure it would be fine if you kept them for yourself. Nice!

- Send a self addressed stamped envelope to McDonalds, and they'll send you two pieces. But seriously, who would do that?

- On the commercials, some dudes rub the bald head of their boss guy for good luck. I'm not sure if this would work, but it would certainly be worth a shot.

- There's a code on your to-go bag as well, but you can only use bag codes one time.

- Do you tear the pieces off before or after you eat? That is the question. I recommend doing a trial. Tear before you eat and compare that with your next visit when you tear after you eat. Whichever method gets an instant win, you should go with.


The game ends on October 29th. It'll be a sad day, and you'll probably feel like shit for spending so much money at McDonalds, gaining so much weight and not winning anything at all. Luckily, November is Nutritional Wellness Month, so you could, uh, get back into shape?


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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Playoff Pick 'em Challenge

Generally we try not to double post on the same day, but today is an exception (so please continue on down to read the nice playoff preview written by TW83). But in the mean time, with out further ado, let us introduce the First Annual AH! MLB Playoff Pick 'em Challenge.

Here are the rules:
Everyone post their picks in the comment section. Pick the team you think will win and the number of games you think it will take them to win (example, Yankees in 5). But don't pick the whole shebang, all we are looking for is the first round. After we get all of the picks we will compile them into a master list for everyone to see (and ridicule).

Scoring? I am glad you asked.

1st round:
Correct Team: 3pts
Correct Number of games: 1pt
Bonus for both correct: 2pts

Total Points Possible in round 1: 24pts

LCS:
Correct Team: 6pts
Correct Number of games: 2pts
Bonus for both correct: 4pts

Total Points Possible in round 2: 24pts

World Series:
Correct Team: 12pts
Correct Number of games: 4pts
Bonus for both correct: 8pts

Total Points Possible in the WS: 24pts

Total for all Rounds: 72pts

After it is all said and done, the person with the most points will be crowned AH! MLB Playoff Pick 'em Champion. A picture of a trophy will most likely be posted next to your name and picture for all to see. And for the person who gets last? He or she (most likley he) will be banished from AH! forever.

So post your picks, and like I said before, read the playoff preview below.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

MLB Playoff Preview

By TwinsWin83

Ah yes, it’s the best time of the year. No, not Christmas, it’s October and that could only mean one thing: the MLB playoffs. Before we make our picks here is a preview of the first-round matchups.


Yankees vs. Indians




Season series: Yankees 6-0
What you should know: It’s all about A-Rod. If Rodriguez doesn’t produce this year in the post-season everything he did during the regular season (.314, 54, 156) will mean nothing in the eyes of New Yorkers and that could lead to his exit from the Bronx this offseason.

Why the Yankees will win: The Yankees have been the best team in the American League since the All-Star break and are going up against a team in Cleveland that has little post-season experience. Yankee Stadium can be a daunting place to play for visitors any time of the year but especially in October. New York has two pitchers (Pettitte and Clemens) who live for October and another (Wang) who has been one of the best in the league over the past two regular seasons. If their newly-revived bullpen can support Clemens, who isn’t much more than a 5-inning pitcher now, and if the offense hits like they are capable of this team is going to be tough to beat.

Why the Indians will win: The Indians have played great baseball over the past month, running away in the Central from the Tigers and Twins. They survived a subpar first-half of the season by Travis Hafner who didn’t find his swing until September. If Hafner is hitting the Indians have a dangerous offense to go along with several solid starting pitchers and one of the better bullpens in the American League. Fausto Carmona was one of 2007’s breakthrough pitchers winning 19 games to go along with an impressive 3.06 E.R.A. and could be the wild card in this series.


What to watch for: Sabathia vs. A-Rod. The pressure is on the soon-to-be AL MVP Rodriguez and Sabathia needs to prove he can lead the Indians pitching staff. The Yankees haven’t faced Sabathia since 2004.


Who will win: As much as I would like to see the Indians prevail in this one I think the Yankees have too many weapons and are too October-tested. Yankees in 4.

Angels vs. Red Sox

Season Series: Boston 6-4

What you should know: Neither team has played a meaningful game in a while. Even though the Bo Sox nearly let their A.L. East lead dwindle away they spent the majority of the season comfortably in first and the Angels, following a late-August collapse by the Mariners, were never threatened again in the West. Both these teams need to step up their level of play if they want to advance past the ALCS.


Why the Angels will win: The Angels might have the best all-around team in the league with great pitching, solid defense and an offense that can be overpowering at times. If the Angels win it will be on the backs of their starting pitchers and defense, a formula that should sound familiar to Twins fans. The Angels have been a force when they’ve reached October recently and the 07’ squad might be their most talented yet.


Why the Red Sox will win: The Red Sox have seemingly breezed through this entire season, up until the last couple weeks when the Yankees put some pressure on them. They have three starting pitchers (Beckett, Schilling and Matsuzaka) who can be lights-out on any given night and an offense that can be scary when healthy. David Ortiz is magical at Fenway in October and if they bring a lead into the 9th odds are Papelbon will slam the door on the opponent. The questions will be how will Matsuzaka respond on the big stage and how healthy are Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling.

What to watch for: Beckett vs. Lackey. Two Cy-Young front runners go head-to-head in the series opener and after watching Beckett against the Twins last week I give the edge to Lackey at home in Game 1.


Who will win: The big issue for L.A. right now is that Vlad is not 100% healthy. He might be a major part of the team’s offense but I believe the Angels are well-rounded enough to win even if Vlad is forced into a limited role. Angels in 5.

Cubs vs. Diamondbacks


Season Series: Arizona 4-2

What you should know: Arizona has the best record in the NL. Who would have thought when this season began that the Arizona Diamondbacks would enter October with home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs? The Cubs appeared very talented coming out of Spring Training but struggled out of the gates before finding a groove after the All-Star break. In a wide open NL field either of these teams could get hot at the right time and breeze through this side of the bracket.


Why the Cubs will win: Because it’s about time. With visions of Billy Goats dancing in their heads the Cubs will try and break a 99-year curse while relying on ace Carlos Zambrano and two lefties in Ted Lilly and Rich Hill. If the starters can keep Chicago in the game they have a chance with an offense that can explode at any time, especially at home. Even in an injury-shortened season Alfanso Soriano led the team with 33 home runs. He, along with Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, need to put a charge into the Cubs offense. The Cubs won a mediocre Central Division but if their stars step up and play like stars Chicago could sneak by again, this time in a weak National League field.


Why the Diamondback will win: The D-Backs have defied the critics all year, winning with a young team and what was one of the worst offenses in the National League. Arizona has the reigning Cy-Young winner in Brandon Webb who has a wicked sinker and can beat anyone in the league when it’s working. Eric Burns is a spark plug, stealing 50 bases this season, and if the D-Backs can get runners on and move them around the teams pitching is good enough to keep them in any game.

What to watch for: Brandon Webb vs. The Cubs. Webb is nasty and had a streak of 42-consecutive scoreless innings this year which included a game against the Cubs. If Chicago can get to Webb it could put the D-Backs in a big hole for the rest of the series.


Who will win: It would be great to see the Cubs win it all this season and we could cross one more “cursed” team off our list (i.e. White Sox, Red Sox) but I just don’t think this is the Chicago team to put the Billy Goat to rest. The Diamondbacks are scrappy and will ride Webb and home field advantage to a series win. DiamondBacks in 5.


Rockies vs. Phillies

Season Series: Rockies 4-3

What you should know: Two Cinderella’s don’t get to go to the ball. The Rockies and Phillies are the two feel good stories of this year’s playoffs but one of them will be heading home after this first-round matchup. The Phillies won the East despite a less-than-average pitching staff and the Rockies have stormed into the playoffs by winning 14 of their last 15 games.


Why the Rockies will win: The Rockies are the hottest team in baseball heading into the playoffs and if the Cardinals taught us anything last year it was that the best team doesn’t always win, the team that’s playing the best at the time does. Many people don’t know much about the Rox but Colorado is stocked full of potential stars. Matt Holiday should be the NL MVP (.340, 36, 137), Troy Tulowitzki, who anchors a solid defense at shortstop, should be rookie of the year and Todd Helton is always dangerous at the plate. The Rockies have a high team E.R.A. but it is seemingly offset by their top ranked offense, shown by their franchise record 90-wins this season. Jeff Francis quietly won 17 games pitching in a home stadium infamous for hampering pitchers careers. This team seems to have a bit of magic about them as October gets under way and that could spell trouble for opponents.


Why the Phillies will win: The Phillies were nearly as hot as the Rockies over the final weeks of the season, apparent by their ability to catch the sinking Mets who they trailed by 7 games with 17 games left to play. They have defied the odds by winning 89 games this season with an offense that carried a patch-work pitching staff. There are two potential MVP candidates on the Phillies roster in Ryan Howard (.268, 47, 136) and Jimmy Rollins (.296, 30, 94), both of whom can ignite this team with one swing of the bat. Although the pitching staff has struggled this year Cole Hamels and 44 year-old Jamie Moyer won 15 and 14 games this season, respectively. They, along with the bullpen, will need to pitch well to give Philadelphia a chance this post-season. Former Twins pitchers Kyle Lohse and J.C. Romero have come onboard for the Phillies this season and helped spark the teams late season run.


What to watch for: Colorado’s pitching staff vs. Chase Utley. Howard and Rollins might be the most talked about right now in Philadelphia but no one is more important to the Phillies than Utley. Chase leads the team with a .332 average and drove in 103 runs in a season where he missed 30 games with injury.


Who will win: After watching the tie-breaker game on Monday night the Rockies are too hard to pick against. The Phillies luck runs out. Rockies in 4.

So that means……
My ALCS Picks: Yankees vs. Angels
My NLCS Picks: Diamondbacks vs. Rockies

Your Picks?...

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tuesday Notes

By Michael Haas

- I was probably more excited to watch the one game play-off between Colorado and San Diego than I will be for any more of the post-season. There's something magical about games that aren't on the schedule, or when baseball is played when it shouldn't be. A super important game that wasn't on the schedule until 24 hours before the first pitch. Very cool.

And the game delivered - eventually. I won't bore you with the whole game story, but the big thing that happened was when Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader, gave up 3 runs in the bottom of the 13th inning to lose the game. It sucks for Hoffman, as he blew two saves in the last three games of the season. But then look at the Rockies - they won 14 of their last 15 games. I'll repeat that - they won 14 of their last 15 games. That is historic, and I'm not sure what I would have done if I were a Rockies fan the past two or three weeks. I'd have probably gone nuts.

Other notes:

- Barry Bonds record breaking 756th home run will be branded with an asterisk and donated to the Hall of Fame. I applaud Marc Ecko for his vision and his intestinal fortitude. It's pretty funny, and it pisses Barry Bonds off, so that's even funnier. It's not a real classy move, but neither is Barry Bonds.


- A statewide smoking ban went into affect on Monday morning in Minnesota. That means no more puffing heaters in bars and places like that. It has already been that way in Minneapolis and St. Paul for a couple of years now, but now when i go to classy joints like the Rueb, Bumpers and Renegades, I won't have to be as grossed out. I understand the 'I don't think the government should be able to tell private business owners what they can do' argument, but this benefits me, and I'm selfish.


- When people asked me who got the Win for the Rockies on Monday night, I tell them Ramon Ortiz. Ramon was dealt to the Rockies in mid-August for some prospect with a French sounding name. He didn't want to leave. People wondered what he'd look like winning a game for the purple in October - well look at him now, look at him now.

Other ex-Twins making a difference during the pennant race:

Kyle Lohse - starting games for the Phillies, in bend but don't break fashion. Watch for him in October.

Jeff Cirillo - I saw him drenched in champaigne on sportscenter the other day, wearing a diamondbacks jersey. I mean, I had always figured he was a big alcoholic, but I wondered why he was such a big Diamondbacks fan. Then I realized he played for them. Weird.

J.C. Romero - 7th and 8th inning specialist for the Pheel Good Phillies.

LaTroy Hawkins - pitched a scoreless inning for the Rockies in the one game play-off.

Luis Castillo - He didn't want to leave the Twins either, and now I understand why. The Mets would not have been a fun team to play for down the stretch.

Doug Mientkiewicz - came back from a broken wrist to play first base for the Yankees late in the season. Great guy, disgusting team.

- My Uni Watch:

The Golden Gophers sported an all gold look against the Buckeyes on Saturday. They were ugly as hell and I'm more embarrassed for those uni's than I was for their play.

Both uniforms in the Monday playoff game were stupid. There's something yukky about that color of the Padres uniforms. They should be gray. And the Rockies have historically bad uni's, but it's basically inexcusable to wear a vest-style jersey with the same color shirt underneath.

The Vikings wore throwback jerseys on Sunday against the Packers. They looked great.

Somewhat obscure movies you might not have seen but probably have. But if you haven't, you should.

By Tony F. Rezac

Introduction!
I understand that some, if not most of these films are not obscure; some are even very well remembered and popular. But, I don't hear them being talked about, or see them being watched nearly as much as they deserve, so in that way they are forgotten and I hope to bring them back into the limelight.

Flatliners: With this star studded cast no one is fooled into believing this is obscure in the least, but it was released in 1990, so its possible some readers of AH may not have seen it. Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platz, Kevin Bacon, and Billie Baldwin star in this physiological thriller that deals with life after death.

The Last Castle: When Robert Redford is in a movie you know its going to be good, and this jail house drama is no exception.

PCU: A staple of the Comedy Central weekday morning movie. Usually on at odd times so I'm sure all of us have seen at least parts of this one. Jeremy Pivon stars in your typical college house party movie. But this one is actually pretty funny.

Scrooged: Bill Murray stars in the 1988 adaptation of Charles Dickens a Christmas Carol. It takes place in a TV studio where Murray is a surly executive who makes the cast work on Christmas. Hilarity ensues.

Willow: Midgets, Val Kilmer and witches hell bent on taking over the world who wouldn't enjoy that? It’s Lord of the Rings with a humorous, if not more entertaining twist.

Star Wars: Clone Wars (1 and 2): These animated one hour blocks made by Cartoon Network do a brilliant job bridging Episode II, The Attack of the Clones and Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. If you find yourself at all confused to what is happening in the beginning of Episode III, check these out.

Mulan: I know, Disney movies are never obscure, but this one is probably, at least over the past 15 years or so, the least known. Very well made, and Eddie Murphy is a pretty funny guy.

Airheads: Again not all that obscure, but people fail to remember that this is easily Adam Sandler’s best movie.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape: A young Johnny Depp plays a small Iowa grocery store stock boy. Leo plays a retard, and they have an insanely obese mother. What’s not to love?

The Fifth Element: Made at a time when Sci-Fi was considered old hat and lame, this action packed Bruce Willis film delivers mile a minute thrills with some well placed laughs. It doesn't take itself too seriously which is the problem of most Sci-Fi fantasies, it just tries to entertain, which it does fabulously. And I'll just go right out and say it. Bruce Willis is hands down the best action star of all time.

1941: Dan Akroyd and John Belushi star in this satirical film about the terror and insanity war can instill in people.

The X Files Movie, Fight the Future: The film is basically a 2 hour long episode of the show of the same name. Being a huge fan of the show helps, but if you aren't you can still enjoy the movie.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Not obscure at all, but quite possibly the pinnicle of cinematic achievement. I absolutely love this movie.

That’s all I have time for tonight maybe I'll have write up another list some other day. Hopefully I've helped someone out next time they are wondering what movie to rent.