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Yankees picked a great time to stop hitting

October 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Well, the Yankees are off to a rather inauspicious start to their first trip to the World Series in six years since they lost in six games to the Florida Marlins. Phillies starter Cliff Lee, last year’s American League Cy Young Award winner with the Cleveland Indians, held the Yanks to just six hits in a 6-1 rout that was a shutout going into the bottom of the ninth.

And Yankees pitchers gave up a total of six walks. That’s a lot of 6’s.

Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia was decent last night, giving up only two runs (both earned on solo home runs by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley), but didn’t pitch anywhere near as well as he had in his earlier postseason games. He barely escaped disaster in the first inning when he loaded the bases on a walk to Utley, a double by powerhouse first baseman Ryan Howard and a walk to right fielder Jayson Werth (who looks remarkably similar to WWE superstar Edge) after a quick first two outs before getting designated hitter Raul Ibanez to ground out to second baseman Robinson Cano.

By comparison, Lee’s half of the first inning consisted of a strikeout to shortstop Derek Jeter, a groundout on a bunt attempt by left fielder Johnny Damon and a strikeout to first baseman Mark Teixiera.

This was a sign of things to come as Lee continued to dominate the Yanks through the rest of game. Only Jeter had any real success against Lee with three hits, and he happened to be the player who scored the Yankees’ single run when shortstop Jimmy Rollins went for a double play and ended up throwing the ball away.

Sabathia pitched decently (you can’t really complain when the starting pitcher gives up only two runs), but unfortunately Lee pitched brilliantly. Throw in a second straight poor outing from reliever Phil Hughes, who has not been the reliable pitcher in the postseason that he was in the regular season, and a *gasp* horrible outing from craptastic reliever Brian Bruney (he posted a 54 ERA for that appearance), and you get the dreadful results of last night’s game.

Speaking of Brian Bruney, I’m rather curious why manager Joe Girardi bothered sending in Phil Coke to relieve him in the ninth inning since bringing him in during a World Series game that was still, if ever so slightly, plausibly winnable at 4-0 pretty much indicated that Girardi had given up on the game (Bruney was “lights out” during the regular season – as in “somebody turned the lights out on his talent” – pitching worse than only the even more worthless Damaso Marte). At that point, he really should have just left Bruney in there and not wasted Coke’s arm, but maybe that’s just the clouded thoughts of a dejected and disappointed fan.

Many people will no doubt say that “it’s just one game with six more to go” and “there’s always tomorrow,” and they would undoubtedly be right.

However, it’s hard to ignore the realistically irrelevant stat about how the team that won the first game won the World Series in each of the last six years that last night’s broadcasters brought up.

It’s hard to overlook tonight’s starting pitcher A.J. Burnett’s last outing where he got pummeled by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for four runs in the first inning or his decidedly less impressive than Sabathia’s pitching throughout the year.

And most importantly it’s hard to escape just how similar Lee’s performance last night was to Josh Beckett’s performances as a Marlin in the aforementioned 2003 World Series.

Go Yankees.

Source: My own personal Hell.

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If you’re going to quit, go out in style

October 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Acclaimed film director Paul Haggis parted ways with the Church of Scientology in mid August by sending a letter that was rather critical of the Church, its practices and in particular Tommy Davis, the head of Scientology’s Celebrity Centre. The letter was posted on a blog about Scientology and has since found its way all around the Internet, really hitting the mainstream news circuit over the weekend.

The award winning director, who wrote the screenplay for the James Bond franchise reboot Casino Royale, whose screenplays for Million Dollar Baby and Letters From Iwo Jima were nominated for Academy Awards and whose film Crash won the Academy Award for Best Picture (he personally won an Academy Award for his original screenplay for this film), wrote in the letter that he “could not, in good conscience, be a member of an organization where gay-bashing was tolerated,” referring to the Church of Scientology’s official backing of California Proposition 8, which in November 2008 amended the California Constitution with a new section that states “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

What surprises me is that Mr. Haggis seems genuinely shocked that the Church of Scientology would support such legislation.

L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction novelist who founded the Church of Scientology in 1953 in order to make money, according to noted science fiction author Harlan Ellison in an interview in Issue 332 of the U.K. edition of Time Out, even wrote in his 1951 book Science of Survival, still referenced today as a core text by the Church of Scientology, that “perverts,” as he classified homosexual, bisexual and transgender individuals, were “intensely dangerous in the society since aberration is contagious.”

This is not to say that I think all or even most Scientologists support this belief any more than I think all or most Christians hate homosexuals, but to say that when one of the books written by the founder of your “religion” as an early foundation for what would eventually become Scientology espouses this kind of hateful ideology, you really shouldn’t be surprised when the Church gets behind legislation that would support those ideals.

Mr. Haggis goes on to chastise Mr. Davis for claiming in an interview that the Church does not follow a policy of “disconnection,” by which members are instructed to sever all ties with a friend or family member who is against Scientology, citing that his own wife was ordered to “(break) off all contact with” her parents simply because they resigned from the Church (they did not criticize the Church and were actually the people who introduced her in the first place). Davis and the Church obviously deny this and state that it is always a personal choice by the member to engage in this behavior.

I’m personally elated that a more high-profile celebrity member of the Church has finally recognized the serious flaws in the Church of Scientology and actually took action to distance themselves from it. I remain hopeful that more celebrities will realize what they got themselves into and do the right thing by denouncing the Church even if it means risking friendships.

On the other hand, I feel bad for the majority of Scientologists who I believe, like Mr. Haggis, are actually good people for whom the beneficial teachings of Scientology have actually helped and who simply want to make the world a better place. I believe that Scientology, like any other religion (I am wary of classifying it as a “true” religion although for simplicity’s sake I refer to it as such here), at its core can really help people but is too often warped and twisted by “the organized” into a tool for control, fear-mongering and money-making and is too often misrepresented by the more “entertaining,” for lack of a better word, individuals in the group.

There’s no doubt in my mind that many Scientologists will unfairly come under fire for being like Mr. Davis, Mr. Hubbard or any of the other more extreme members of the religion. To those people who would subject them to this kind of treatment, I can only caution that you don’t want to become the type of people you accuse Scientologists of being.

Microsoft leaves Family Guy high and dry

October 27, 2009 4 comments

Microsoft signed up to be the exclusive integrated sponsor of the upcoming “Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show” special in which Windows 7 would be pitched directly in the show rather than through advertising spots. Once they viewed the show, however, they decided to pull out, citing that “the content was not a fit with the Windows 7 brand.”

No, really?

I don’t have a business degree from a fancy school and I could have told them that.

The thing is… you don’t advertise on a show like Family Guy because its content compliments your brand identity unless you happen to be a supporter of Proposition 8 or MFX Media.

You advertise on the show because you want to get the word out to the ever-desirable 18-25 male demographic who loyally watches a 3-time Primetime Emmy Award-winning show that’s been hailed by The New York Times as having “an outrageously satirical family” with “plenty of comic possibilities and parodies” and described by The Associated Press by way of The Seattle Times as a “breathtakingly smart… blend of the ingenious with the raw.”

Apparently, someone in Microsoft’s marketing department didn’t do their research and actually watch an episode of the show to see first hand the type of deliciously crude humor that makes the show so popular. What’s more, nobody else in the company spoke up about the sponsorship being a bad business decision (probably because everyone realizes how smart a business decision it is to advertise on such a hit show) such that it took a viewing of the taping of the special to get the marketing department to pull the plug on the deal.

The problem is that this leaves Seth McFarlane and crew to figure out what to do about all the mentions of Window 7 that have already been integrated into the program. Microsoft didn’t decide to renege on their deal until after they had seen the essentially finished television product, and now Fuzzy Door Productions (McFarlane’s production company) and Fox have to clean up the mess.

This is a, for lack of a better term, dick move by Microsoft. I don’t criticize them because they don’t want to associate with Family Guy’s style of comedy. It’s not for everyone and it’s understandable that a major corporation like Microsoft may be wary of how such an association would be perceived by the more conservative members of our society. However, they should come to this realization before they signed the sponsorship deal or at least before McFarlane and friends went through the trouble of actually finishing the program.

Microsoft has to be thanking their lucky stars that most of the fans of the show probably haven’t heard about this development, although one has to wonder how hard it would be for those fans to figure out what happened when the special airs on November 8 with all those strange, out-of-place mentions for Windows 7.

Source: Reuters