Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Be Safe Out There Tonight

Happy New Year's Eve, SoSG fans. And do be careful out there tonight. After all, you don't want to end up like former NBA star Charles Barkley, whose recent DUI arrest in Arizona is making for some provocative holiday break reading. From Deadspin, which swiped from The Smoking Gun's police report:

According to the officer who wrote the report, "He told me that he ran the stop sign because he was in a hurry to pick up the girl I saw get in the passenger seat."

The officer continues: "He asked me to admit that she was 'hot.' He asked me, 'You want the truth?' When I told him I did he said, 'I was gonna drive around the corner and get a b**w job. He then explained that she had given him a 'b**w job' one week earlier and said it was the best one he had ever had in his life."

The report says when Barkley was taken to the station, he told one of the employees, "I'll tattoo my name on your ass" if he helped "get him out of the DUI." According to the report, "He laughed and then quickly corrected himself and said, 'I'll tattoo your name on my ass' and then laughed again."

The report also says officers "found a handgun in the vehicle" which was immediately impounded. The report doesn't say if the handgun was legal or not, and the only thing that we know for sure was loaded...

Kids, get a designated driver. And a good attorney.

Ned Colletti Finally Snares The Big Name For Our Rotation

Dodger fans worldwide could hardly contain their unbridled elation following the blockbuster news that Dodger GM Ned Colletti, having missed out on signing CC Sabathia, today signed 30-year old Claudio Vargas, "in a move that could help [the Dodgers] restock their starting rotation." (I kid you not, this clause is taken straight from the article; I had to check the date to make sure it wasn't April 1 after I read the implausible text.)

The Dodgers, of course, are down two starting pitchers following the loss of Brad Penny and the imminent loss of Derek Lowe. Bring on the Vargas, says Ned!

What? You've never heard of Claudio Vargas? Well then maybe you've heard of his statistical peers, Paul Abbott, Jeff Robinson, and Steve Parris (the latter of which is not to be confused with the lead singer of Journey). Oh, Sherrie! But hey, let's welcome journeyman Vargas and his mediocre 4.62 ERA with the Mets last year, spanning a whopping 37 total innings pitched:

The team reportedly reached a deal with free agent Claudio Vargas, a 30-year-old right-hander known for his deliberate pace, who twice was designated for assignment in 2008 after posting double-digit win totals the previous two seasons. The agreement was reported early Wednesday morning on the Los Angeles Times' Web site.

According to the report, Vargas will earn the Major League minimum salary of $400,000, but can add an additional $1.4 million with incentives.

Vargas' best season was with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006, when he went 12-10 with a 4.83 ERA in a career-high 30 starts (plus one relief stint). He was part of a six-player trade between the D-backs and Brewers after that season and went 11-6 with a 5.09 ERA in 2007, then reported to camp in 2008 as one of five Brewers pitchers vying for three open spots in the starting rotation.

Yeah, I feel a hell of a lot better about our starting rotation now. In fact, I might as well pencil in Jason Schmidt for that last spot and call it a day.

Good hunting, Neddie.

Mets Try To Nail Down Lowe; SoSG Frets

I mean seriously. I know Carolyn Hughes is persona non grata here on the Los Angeles airwaves, but if Derek Lowe accepts the reported three-year, $36M deal from the New York Mets, this could mean the end of SoSG's "down lowe" puns. What ever will we do?!?!

New York media outlets reported that the team has offered free-agent pitcher Derek Lowe a three-year contract for about $36 million.

Agent Scott Boras would not confirm that the Mets' offer.

"Obviously, we've taken offers from a number of teams," he said, according to The New York Times.

Boras has reportedly been seeking a five-year contract for Lowe at a per season rate considerably higher than the Mets' offer of $12 million. But New York did seemingly get a bargain with closer Francisco Rodriguez. [...]

Lowe was 14-11 with a 3.24 ERA for the Dodgers last season, his fourth with the club.

Of course, the New York Post calls this a low(e) ball offer. Touche.

Hey Omar: don't you want that Jones kid instead?

Vote Now For 2008 Condiment-Athlete of the Year

Every year the media makes a hub-bub about Student-Athletes. Big frickin' deal. After all, I've never added anything to my food that sounds even remotely like 'Tebow'. In my book, it's the Condiment-Athletes who are our nation's true role models.

So please help SoSG select 2008's Condiment-Athlete of the Year among the following candidates who have set an admirable example in gracefully balancing the demands of both a professional sports career and a flavor-enhancing table spice name:

Player Highlights
Condiment Highlights
OJ Mayo
Former Trojan and current Grizzlies guard
Taken 3rd overall in 2008 NBA draft; Currently averaging 19.9 pts in rookie NBA season. In northern Europe, mayonnaise is often served with deep-fried potatoes, especially in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Texas Rangers catcher
BA dropped from 0.284 to 0.251 after 2007 mid-season trade from Braves to Rangers; Longest name in MLB history. The 'Dietary Guidelines for Americans' suggest that US citizens should consume less than 5.8 g of sodium daily, whereas the UK recommends 1.6 g daily.
Julius Peppers
Carolina Panthers defensive end
He and Donovan McNabb are only players in history to reach both the NCAA Final Four and the Super Bowl. Peppercorns are, by monetary value, the most widely traded spice in the world.
Dijon Thompson
Former UCLA Bruin and Phoenix Sun
Chosen in 2nd round of 2005 NBA draft; Has played in only 16 NBA games; Currently playing in Europe. Dijon Mustard refers to a region in central France; Grey Poupon was originally owned by the Heublein Company but is now owned by Kraft Foods.

Who is your choice for 2008 Condiment-Athlete of the Year?
OJ Mayo
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Julius Peppers
Dijon Thompson
Free polls from

Have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Love New York (Maybe)

More on that potential Andruw Jones dumping:

Andruw Jones, coming off a disastrous first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, has been the subject of trade talks between L.A. and the New York Mets, according to sources.

Jones, who turns 32 next spring, hit .158 with 76 strikeouts in 209 at-bats for the Dodgers in 2008 -- just two years after he mashed 41 homers and drove in 129 runs for the Braves. There is a perception within the industry that Jones, who played the first 12 years of his career in Atlanta, was just never comfortable with the Dodgers.

As part of the two-year, $36.2 million deal with L.A. signed before the 2008 season, Jones was paid $9 million last season, and he is due to make $15 million in 2009. He also received a $12.2 million signing bonus, $2.1 million of which is due in 2009 and $5 million in 2010. But presumably, the Dodgers will be willing to eat a lot of what remains on the contract to facilitate a move out of L.A. for Jones, who has 371 career homers and five seasons of 100 or more RBIs.

The Mets' intention, if they were to conclude a deal for Jones, would be to play the 10-time Gold Glove center fielder in right field, flanking Carlos Beltran. Ryan Church played most of the season in right field for the Mets last season.

New York also has been trying to move a player who has fallen out of favor -- second baseman Luis Castillo, who is coming off a poor season and is owed $18 million over the next three seasons. But it's unlikely that the Dodgers would have interest in Castillo, because they have a young second baseman in Blake DeWitt, and Castillo does not play a lot of different positions. If the Mets were to move Castillo, they would be in a position to then pursue the top free-agent second baseman, Orlando Hudson.

I'm not that psyched on Castillo. But anyone is better than Andruw as a Dodger in 2009.

Let's Go, Mets!

Dodgers Hot Stove Cornucopia

Sorry I've been out of the loop for a while now, but here's a quick post to update Dodger fans on recent moves, and non-moves, by the Blue:

Dodger sourpuss Brad Penny, who packed up his team locker early rather than hang out with the team following his 6-9, 6.27 ERA record in 2009, has apparently signed with the Red Sox for a one year, $5M deal. Sounds like a steal for a pitcher a year removed from being a pretty solid contributor for the Dodgers, for a couple of years. But after the way he left the team this past year, can you blame us for passing on Brad, despite the gaping hole in the rotation caused by his (wide girth) departure?

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have sat on the sidelines and watched Randy Johnson go to the Giants, for a one year, $8M deal. Do we care about a 45-year old grizzled vet like Johnson, pitching for a non-contending team? Given the two holes in our starting lineup, we might.

But fear not, Dodger fans. Ned Colletti is on the offensive beat, first looking to hedge their Manny Ramirez bet by contacting former Diamondback and Red Adam Dunn, the free-agent slugger who has hit 40 home runs four years in a row. The last Dodger to hit 40 in a season? SoSG favorite Adrian Beltre:

The Dodgers, meanwhile, need to infuse power into a lineup that finished 14th in the National League in home runs last season. And with no certainty that they can re-sign Ramirez, they seem to have decided that Dunn represents their best alternative.

Bill Shaikin over at the LAT says we're also in the hunt for discarded Yankee Bobby Abreu, as another potential option should Ramirez not materialize in Dodger Blue:

The market for Ramirez apparently has not heated up even after Mark Teixeira, the most coveted hitter available in free agency, signed last week with the New York Yankees. General Manager Ned Colletti said Monday the Dodgers have not heard since then from Scott Boras, the agent for Ramirez and Teixeira. [...]

Ramirez, Abreu, Dunn, Garret Anderson and Pat Burrell are among the corner outfielders available in what has become a buyer's market, although the Dodgers are not believed to be interested in Anderson or Burrell.

And since we're thinking of Christmas (vacation) turkeys, check out this nugget at the end of the Shaikin piece:

The Dodgers found a possible taker for center fielder Andruw Jones in the New York Mets, but the talks apparently went nowhere after the Mets asked the Dodgers to take second baseman Luis Castillo in a swap of bad contracts. Jones has one year and $22 million left on his contract, Castillo three years at $18 million.

Wow. A 2009 season without Andruw Jones, one of Colletti and McCourt's many Waterloos? That would be a holiday present indeed.

Chime in, Dodger fans. It seems like there are so many holes throughout the Dodgers' lineup, it's hard to tell what chasms represent the highest priorities...

Friday, December 26, 2008

That's Our Shortstop!

Dodger SS Rafael Furcal "sparkled" in his first game in the Dominican:

Shortstop Rafael Furcal had two hits in his first game Sunday, leading Aguilas Cibaeñas to a 9-5 win over Gigantes del Cibao and propelling his team into the semifinals of the Dominican Winter League playoffs.

Aguilas joined Gigantes, Toros del Este and Tigres del Licey among the teams that will play in a round-robin playoff that will start on Dec. 26. Leones del Escogido and Estrellas Orientales were eliminated.

Playing at home, at the Estadio Cibao in Santiago, in the northern part of the island, Aguilas came from behind led by Furcal's solid offensive performance after right-hander Johnny Cueto allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings in his season debut.

Hey, it's a slow news day. We'll take the story. Way to go, Raffy!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Congrats to Camille Johnston

Camille Johnston, in her Dodger days.

From Diamond:

Ex-Dodgers exec doing well

Camille Johnston, the Dodgers' former senior vice president of communications, has been named special assistant to President Barack Obama and director of communications for First Lady Michelle Obama. Before working for the Dodgers and having to issue statements like "Grady Little is our manager," Johnston was the director of communications for Tipper Gore.

Go Camille!

Merry Christmas from the Sons

SoSG Steve Sax is here in the cold wintry north, coming off his morning coffee buzz and watching children play with enough toys to single-handedly defy this year's dour retail sales projections. Christmas is about family, and the warmth from this scene makes the chill outside the window seem distant.

Dodger fans haven't opened their stockings yet, but we'll keep them hanging on the mantle for a couple more months, in the hopes that we'll find Manny Ramirez along with the presents of Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, and Mark Loretta (all of which we've already opened; some of which we're already looking to see if we need to replace batteries).

We've been very, very good this year. We deserve a nice present for 2009!

And to all the SoSG readers, Merry Christmas and have a safe and happy holiday break, with both your family, and ours.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Why the Phils Won it All....

And Why the Dodgers Could be NEXT!!!

Artistic Rendering, courtesy of Natalie R.

Never underestimate the power of photo-realistic drawings. Like Dorian Gray, the picture gets older while the man himself stays young.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Poll: Who Else Is Least Worthy?

You may remember when we posted what went on to become the world's closest 6-way poll ever. Well, again playing off the inarguable truth that a man's value to society is determined solely by his athletic prowess and a woman's solely by her physical attractiveness (that's sarcasm, folks), let's move on to round two of the least deserving athlete poll. To review the criteria for candidacy and rules for voting:

  • Don't make a snap judgment based on the hotness of the wife/girlfriend. The crappiness of the player must be given equal weight in the decision.
  • The athlete has to be currently active.
  • The wife/girlfriend has to have obtained some level of celebrity not related to being with the athlete.
  • The relationship has to be more than a brief hookup.
  • To avoid systematic bias, current or former Dodgers are not included (sorry Julia Shultz).

Here are the candidates in random order:

1) Marko Jaric, Grizzlies Guard (fiancé: Victoria Secret model Adriana Lima). Where to start? His NBA career has redefined the losing paradigm: He went from the Clippers (.369 win % during his 3 years there) to the Timberwolves (0.354 in 3 years) to Memphis (0.346 in 26 games). And it's not like he's contributing in spite of the losing. While I won't kick a man while he's down and mention his exact stats, let's just say that this year I'm averaging only 1.1 ppg and 7.6 mpg fewer than he is.

2) Jeff Garcia, Buccaneers QB (wife: Playboy Playmate Carmella DeCesare). Granted, Garcia has had a good if unspectacular career. But just take a look at the girl on the left below. Then take a look at the guy to her right. Then repeat after me: WTF??

3) Hank Baskett, Eagles Receiver (fiancé: Playboy model Kendra Wilkinson). How did a guy who's never topped 35 catches or 500 yards in a season manage to net the Girls Next Door vixen? Hint: on the football field, he's not competing with 82-year olds.

4) Macaulay Culkin (girlfriend: actress Mila Kunis). Ok, so he's not an athlete. But he's been dating the überhot Mila Kunis for 6 years (and counting) thanks to one successful movie almost 20 years ago. So I had to include him. But judging from the photo below, at least he seems to know his place in the relationship.

So there are your choices (if there are other undeserving athletes out there that we've missed, let us know!).

Who's least worthy?
Marko Jaric
Jeff Garcia
Hank Baskett
Macaulay Culkin
Free polls from

Manny Happy Returns?

Looks like your opinions are split. I guess the next question you want the Dodgers to sign Manny?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

ESPN Merges with Hallmark

As our loyal reader(s) knows, the Delino grew up in DeDelaware. And back in the day, nobody was bigger in the tri-state area (in our minds, Delaware, Jersey, and Pennsylvania) than Mike Schmidt's moustache and Dr. J.

G. Love and Special Sauce even immortalized the man in their smash single "I-76." (EDITOR's NOTE: Youtube won't let us embed the video. So you've got to click on over.) But times are tough for the modern Sixers fan. Mo Cheeks is pounding the pavement. Elton Brand is pounding the Codeine. And ESPN's coverage of Julius Erving is pounding the cheese.

Apparently ESPN hired the designer of the Schindler's List poster for this tale of love's labour lost.

There's no manual for this. There are no instructions for: Basketball icon meets female sportswriter, has extramarital affair, gets sportswriter pregnant, misses childbirth due to game against Pacers, asks for separate lives, reads about the child 18 years later in the newspaper, has a broken heart, wishes for a way to reconcile, spends nine years thinking about it, can't pull the trigger.

There's no way to fix all that. Is there? There can't possibly be a happily ever after. Can there? There's no phone call that can heal everything. Correct?

Unless the picture of hands is a lie, I assume father and daughter are together again. I'd be happy for them, but am still trying to figure out where his afro went, and how the Sixers are 12.5 games back after only 25 games played.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Furcal Erases Scantron, Chooses Option (A): Dodgers

Dodgers, Furcal agree on 3-year deal (

Braves management sounds pretty ticked off, and maybe for good reason. You never like to see teams jerked around like that, but the end result is all that matters. And the end result is that the Dodgers have a potentially great shortstop for the next three years. On to Manny and pitching!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Furcal Chooses Option (E): Atlanta Braves

Despite not being mentioned as part of the final four teams vying for Rafael Furcal's services, the Atlanta Braves have apparently picked up Furcal, according to

Amid media reports that free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal has reached agreement on a multiyear contract with the Atlanta Braves, agent Paul Kinzer told that a deal has yet to be finalized.

The proposed deal with Atlanta would be for three years and a base salary of about $30 million. It includes a vesting option for a fourth year. A source close to the situation confirmed to that Furcal has reached preliminary agreement with Atlanta pending completion of a physical exam.

Oh, well.

UPDATE 10:41p PT: Looks like this one isn't over just yet, and the Dodgers are strangely back in the fold. Let me say this: if you're gonna pull this sort of act of desperation at the eleventh hour, Ned, you'd sure as hell better close the deal. And the Red Sox ain't gonna pay Raffy's salary next year, either. I hope to see good news in the morning.

Chan Ho Park: WBC Highlight?

Heard a radio commercial for the upcoming World Baseball Classic event, and almost drove off the road when the commercial got to the end and listed some of the players that fans can come see:

Derek Jeter
Ichiro Suzuki
Jorge Cantu
Chan Ho Park

Chan Ho Park? I mean, it's not like people came to see him at Dodger Stadium last year (despite a reasonably above-average performance, I admit)! Wow, the WBC is pretty desperate.

Meanwhile, Josh Hamilton has declined his invitation to play.

Pardon Our Dust we try out a new look.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Casey At The Bat, In Cardboard

Hat tip to Cardboard Gods for saluting The Baseball Card Blog in its final entry, a baseball card version of "Casey At The Bat." Worth a look for the font replications alone--and I'm not just saying that because I'm in there, too!

Finally, Major League Baseball Gets Piece of Summer Spotlight

Long overshadowed by the dominance of the ratings bonanza and attendance juggernaut that is the Arena Football League, MLB is getting its chance to shine in 2009, following the AFL's decision to cancel the entire 2009 season. The AFL hopes to return for the 2009 season, but for now, baseball is looking to take advantage of another league's misfortune.

"Finally, perhaps fans across America will discover the excitement and spectacle that is Major League Baseball," said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. "Sure, we don't have goofy looking nets at both ends of the stadium, or fields the size of portable sandboxes. But like the Toronto Blue Jays, we too play some of our games on indoor turf. And like the AFL, balls that go into the crowd are the fans' to keep!"

Both AFL fans were devastated by the recent news, but one of them vowed to give MLB a shot. "I'll always be a Philadelphia Soul fan, but maybe I'll try out that Phillies team now," he said. "And unfortunately I'll have to wait until 2010 to debut my clever 'RUSH / CRUSH' sign that I devised to support both the Chicago and Colorado teams in their titanic showdown. Oh, well."

Final SoSG 2008 Dodgers Standings

We're about to go through some pretty heavy construction here at SoSG, so before the sidebar gets destroyed like Tokyo after a Godzilla-like rampage, here (for all posterity) are the final records of SoSG at 2008 Dodgers games:

SoSG Staff Member W-L Record (Playoffs) Pct.
Lasorda ("undefeated") 1-0 (0-0) 1.000
Steve Sax ("omnipresent") 8-5 (1-0) .615
Alex Cora ("road warrior") 6-5 (0-1) .545
Orel ("playoff master") 4-4 (2-0) .500
Eric Karros ("even steven") 1-1 (0-0) .500
Delino DeShields ("the plague") 1-5 (1-1) .167
Pedro Guerrero ("on the DL") 0-0 (0-0) .000

SoSG at 2008 Dodger Games: 16-13

3/31 Sax: W, 5-0
4/2 Delino: L, 2-1
4/11 Delino, Orel, Sax: L, 7-5
4/23 Lasorda: W, 8-3
4/27 Orel: W, 3-2
5/7 Delino: L, 12-1
5/9 AC, Sax: L, 7-1
5/14 AC: W, 6-4 (@ MIL)
5/15 AC: W, 7-2 (@ MIL)
5/21 Sax: W, 5-2
5/27 AC: L, 3-1 (@ CHC)
5/28 AC: L, 2-1 (@ CHC)
5/30 EK: W, 9-5 (@ NYM)
5/31 EK: L, 3-2 (@ NYM)
6/6 Sax: W, 3-0
6/8 Sax: L, 3-1
6/14 Delino: L, 12-7 (@ DET)
6/22 AC: W, 4-3
6/24 Orel: L, 6-1
6/25 Sax: W, 5-0
6/26 Sax: L, 2-0
7/9 AC: W, 2-1
7/30 Sax: W, 4-0
8/13 Orel, Sax: W, 7-6
8/14 AC: W, 3-1
8/20 AC, Orel: L, 4-3
9/7 AC: W, 5-3
9/19 Orel, Sax: L, 7-1
9/24 Sax: W, 12-4

SoSG @ Home: 13-9
SoSG on Road: 3-4

Postseason (2-2):
NLDS Game 3 (10/4) Orel, Sax: W, 3-1
NLCS Game 3 (10/12) Delino, Orel: W, 7-2
NLCS Game 4 (10/13) AC: L, 7-5
NLCS Game 5 (10/15) Delino: L, 5-1

SoSG Baseball Championship

(click image to enlarge)

Due to travel schedules, the subsequent holidays, and to maximize television revenue, the Finals will begin January 5.

Friday, December 12, 2008

SoSG Baseball, Day 10: RISPy Business vs Sweeney Sour Pork

Here's how the tiebreaker panned out (again, I'm revealing scores!):

RISPy Business Score Sweeney Sour Pork Score
J. Hibbard 20 Dr. Geek 26
John G 28 R. McGowan 21
Pablo 38 Steve 33
Ryan 16 A. Bastard 25
Total 102 Total 105

Another nailbiter, but...congratulations, Sweeney Sour Pork! The extra-inning hit/run is being awarded to Steve, for his team-leading tie-breaker score. And Ryan - you gave up the run, for your team-trailing score. So here's the box score:

(click image to enlarge)

For his game-winning hit, and for his 0.2 hitless innings pitched, Steve is the series MVP. Congratulations Steve and Sweeney Sour Pork, you move on to the finals against GSoSG!

P.S. Due to my travel schedule and the subsequent holidays, the Finals will not begin until January 5.

SoSG Baseball, Day 10: Rancho Ardiendo vs GSoSG

Aaron Boone's game-winning bomb in the '03 ALCS. Luis Gonzalez's walk-off hit in the '01 WS. Randy Johnson shut-down of the Yankees on 1 day of rest in the '95 ALDS. And, of course, Kirk Gibson.

Well, make room for one more, fellas.

Let's review the situation: GSoSG vs Rancho Ardiendo. Clinching game of the league championship series. Bottom of the 9th (well, technically bottom of the 1st, but that just sounds lame), down one run, two men on. And as the gods of sports drama would have it, the face off involved each team's respective titan: at the plate, GSoSG's Loney Fan, who had won both his previous matchups. On the mound, Rancho Ardiendo's Bryan, who was also undefeated. And neither is, shall we say, averse to a little smack talking:

"Loneyfan better start heading back to the dugout."

    -Bryan, in the comments section

"I'm sending in my score now as I am confident I can't be beat."

    -Loney Fan, in his score submission email

So, did the matchup live up to the hype? Well, I don't usually reveal scores, but this, my friends, is what happened:

Loney Fan beat Bryan by 1 measly point. Nonetheless, it meant he came up with SoSG Baseball's first extra-base hit - a bases-clearing, game-winning, series-clinching double (knocking himself in from 1st to boot!). So for the series, Loney Fan went 2-for-2 with 1 run scored and 2 RBI's at the plate, and had a 0.00 ERA with 1 K in 0.1 IP on the mound. Thus, Loney Fan is named unanimous series MVP. Congratulations, Loney Fan and GSoSG!

To all the box score junkies out there, this is for you:

(click image to enlarge)

So GSoSG moves on to face Sweeney Sour Pork in the finals. Game on!

P.S. Due to my travel schedule and the subsequent holidays, the Finals will not begin until January 5. Time to rest up, folks!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Attention Matthew, DanGarion, Jackie, Baseball Cynic, Rob, or Neeebs!

Update: The open spot has been claimed by Matthew. Will post full update soon...

Due to circumstances beyond her control, Rancho Ardiendo third baseman (and team name-er) Karina is unable to continue. So Matthew, DanGarion, Jackie, Baseball Cynic, Rob, or Neeebs, please send us an email if you want to take her place* (you have been selected because of you expressed interest in this thread and this thread). First one of you to email us is in!

*Disclaimer: If Rancho Ardiendo gets eliminated this round, you might not get a turn.

SoSG Baseball, Day 9

Yesterday's Results: In the purple game, Loney Fan singled off Karina to create a frightening 2-on, no-out situation for GSoSG.

In the maroon game, Ryan struck out R. McGowan to end the inning, which's time for extra innings! Here's how extra's work: All eight members of both teams will play the tried-and-true whack-a-mole game (for those in the purple game, you're playing a different game), and whichever team's total cumulative score is highest wins. Just in case some of you weren't expecting to play today, I'll send you all emails.

Today's Matchups and Game: In the purple game, it's Loney Fan vs Bryan, and you're playing this game (not the whack-a-mole game, which is only for the maroon game).

So Loney Fan and Bryan please submit a screenshot of your high score in the Cutie Quake game, and Pablo, John G, J. Hibbard, Ryan, A. Bastard, Dr. Geek, R. McGowan, and Steve, please do so for the whack-a-mole game (only your first submission will count). All before midnight PT tonight, include your screenname somewhere in your email, and don't reveal your score to anyone but SoSG. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sabathia Wants Money; Dodgers Can't Play Ball

Word this morning is that CC Sabathia is very close to signing with the Yankees for $161M / seven years. The Dodgers had coveted Sabathia, and of course tried to appeal to Sabathia's fondness for California. BIll Shaikin over at the LAT echoed TJ Simers' earlier call that the Dodgers HAD to sign Sabathia.

Alas, it came down to money (if the news reports are true), and of course, the cheap Dodgers can't, or won't, come to the table. I don't know why I expected more from the team, given how we got the steal of the year for Manny Ramirez' services last season. No, we only throw ungodly riches after players who have no hope of performing on the field (see: Schmidt, Jason; Jones, Andruw). If you're a quality player, forget it: we expect you to play for us for a discount.

Guess you'd better try and sign Manny now, "Neil."

Great Speeches Throughout American History

Sure, everybody knows the four great orations depicted above. But what about the next tier? Prove your knowledge by matching the five historical figures below with their iconic quote about Proactiv solution acne treatment. The historical figures are listed in alphabetical order and the quotes in random order. No googling allowed!

Historical Figure 1:
Jennifer Love Hewitt

Quote A:
“They had to go in and digitally fix my chin”
Historical Figure 2:
Kevin Kaspar

Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver
Quote B:
“Now I have my brother on it, my babysitter on it. If only we had it sooner!”
Historical Figure 3:
Jessica Simpson

Actress, Singer
Quote C:
“Pimples were part of my reality”
Historical Figure 4:
Serena Williams

Tennis Player
Quote D:
“You don't want to have red spots and blemishes. But I did, and it was really frustrating.”
Historical Figure 5:
Vanessa Williams

Actress, Singer
Quote E:
“It's better to be celebratory of really good skin than to be embarrassed of not so good skin”

SoSG Baseball, Day 8

Yesterday's Results: Still no extra base hits. But in our closest matchup to date, Julie Hibbard barely beat out Dr. Geek - and I mean barely - thus inducing him into a flyout. In the other game, Fanerman singled off QuadSevens as GSOSG tries to mount a rally to tie up the game. Since Bud Selig won't let these games end in a tie, I'll explain how extra innings works if either game gets to that point.

Today's Matchups and Game: Karina vs Loney Fan, and Ryan vs R. McGowan. And this is the game for today.

So Karina, Loney Fan, Ryan and R. McGowan, please submit a screenshot of your high score (only your first submission will count) before midnight PT tonight, include your screenname somewhere in your email, and don't reveal your score to anyone but SoSG. Good luck!

An Open Letter to Rafael Furcal

Dear Rafael Furcal,

We have really enjoyed your tenure here in Los Angeles, including your tireless rehab last year to make it back to the team in time for the playoffs. You provide a great sparkplug at the top of the lineup, hitting for average and for power, and are a marvel on defense at shortstop. We would love to see you come back.

Now, your agent has said that there are four teams left in the hunt for your services, the Dodgers vying along with the Blue Jays, A's, and Royals. The Dodgers are apparently offering three years, one fewer than you'd prefer (the A's have reportedly offered $35M / four years). But come on, you're coming back after missing an entire season--you have got to understand our prudence.

You don't want to live in Toronto. The turf of the Rogers Centre would worsen any of your lingering back pain, and probably cause you to break down faster everywhere else. You don't speak French. Its natural climate is about as far from the Dominican Republic as you could get. And it's the equivalent of falling off the radar so far, that no one might know you even exist and are playing every day. When's the last time you remember seeing a nationally-televised game from Toronto? Joe Carter's WS HR, perhaps?

You don't want to play for Kansas City. They are, and will continue to be, a reclamation project, hampered by their small market budget and miserly payroll. Sure, you'll live like a men among boys in a town where the nicest department store is owned by a greeting card company. And you'll dig the fountains. But how many barbecue meals at Bryant's can you possibly eat before it starts getting old?

You don't want to play for Oakland. They play in a cavernous football stadium, with tarped-over seats exacerbating the lack of fan noise from the already small crowd. The last game I saw at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, there was only one vendor open for business on the top deck. Now, you can hope that in the later year(s) of your contract, you will be playing in a brand-spanking new Cisco Field facility. But it's in Fremont. And Cisco's stock has dropped by 50% this year, reflecting the economic ills of the Bay Area. I wouldn't count on this park happening. And in the meantime, you'll be playing for a team that its best years stumbles into the playoffs only to be swept in the first round (kind of like the Dodgers, until this year, to be fair). And in its worst years? You're playing on a triple-A team.

Pop quiz: Can you name more than three players on ANY of these three teams?

Look, you know you love it here in LA, with the large Latino / Hispanic population, the diverse culture, the bright lights of a big city, and the loyalty of a fan base unparalleled by your other three suitors. Come on back, Raffy. We'd love to have you.

And we would hate to never see you again in anyone else's witness protection programs uniforms.


SoSG Steve Sax

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Welcome Back, Casey Blake (And Hello Mark Loretta)

Late-season 3B pickup Casey Blake will return to the Dodgers, signing a three-year deal worth $17.5M.

"We are excited to bring back a player whose performance on the field and leadership off the field contributed so much to our division championship this year," general manager Neil Colletti said. "Our club changed when Casey arrived, and we are thrilled that he wants to continue his career with the Dodgers."

Blake's deal is worth approximately $17.1 million. It's believed the Minnesota Twins had offered him a two-year contract in the neighborhood of $14 million.

This of course heralds the way for Blake DeWitt to start at second base next season, filling the hole formerly occupied by Jeff Kent. Given DeWitt doesn't use a walker to take the field each inning, this is a defensive upgrade. But we'll see about DeWitt's bat, which was mercurial in the 2008 season.

The same article goes on to say that the Dodgers picked up Mark Loretta with a one-year, $1.25M deal. Loretta will play utility backup in the infield, sort of like Wilson Valdez except Loretta once had a bat. No official announcement has been posted yet by the Dodgers, pending Loretta's physical.

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SoSG Baseball, Day 7

Yesterday's Results: In the purple game, Dusto Magnifico killed the Rancho Ardiendo rally by striking out Cigarcow for the 3rd out. In the maroon game, John G got the leadoff hitter, Arrogant Bastard, to popout. Still no extra-base hits or double-plays!

Today's Matchups and Game: Rancho Ardiendo now takes the mound. They give the ball to QuadSevens, who faces Fanerman. Julie Hibbard faces Dr. Geek in the other game. And this is the game for today. I had to fit a math game in there somewhere after the last one went awry.

So Quad, Fanerman, Julie, and Dr. Geek, please submit a screenshot of your high score (only your first submission will count) by midnight tonight PT, include your screenname somewhere in your email, and don't reveal your score to anyone but SoSG. Good luck!

Monday, December 08, 2008

SoSG Baseball, Day 6

Yesterday's Results: In the maroon game, Steve coaxed a grounder out of Julie Hibbard to end the inning. And in the purple game...we have our first run scored! Bryan lined a 2-0 fastball off Tony into right field for a run-scoring single, putting Rancho Ardiendo up 1-0 and resetting the 1st and 2nd with 2 outs situation.

Today's Matchups and Game: In the maroon game, it's now Sweeney Sour Pork's turn to swing the bats. John G takes the mound to face Arrogant Bastard. In the purple game, Dusto Magnifico tries to stop the bleeding, while Cigarcow I guess tries to continue the bleeding. And this is the game for today. It's actually somewhat relevant. Sorry about that.

Also, I've updated the upcoming matchups so you can plan your week.

So John G, Arrogant Bastard, Dusto, and Cigarcow, please submit a screenshot of your high score (only your first submission will count), include your screenname somewhere in your email, and don't reveal your score to anyone but SoSG. Good luck!

Baseball Videogame Memories: Chapter 1 / Mattel Intellivision MLB

All the cool kids in school had the Atari 2600. Which is why it made sense, in a cosmic sort of way, that I was the one kid on the block who had the Mattel Intellivision.

While the more popular and ubiquitous platform had the far superior game library and larger installed base (allowing friends to trade cartridges at school), my family opted to adopt the videogame platform whose spokesperson was an erudite 50-year-old man in a wool sportscoat and tie. Because what says "cool video games" more than 50-year-old men? Back in the days before E3, when companies figured out that scantily-clad busty women attract more men to booths than pipe-smoking pretentious pricks, it seemed reasonable that my father was compelled to buy the option that appealed to a higher level of consciousness.

Except that owning an Intellivision meant that one couldn't join the social network of Atari owners, trading games and developing aptitude handling one's joystick. Heck, even the Intellivision's controller was a foreign agent--a telephone keypad-like 3x4 matrix of puffy buttons, positioned atop a direction disc, complemented with two nubby buttons on the controller's sides. It was the kind of controller that was impossible to handle intuitively or smoothly, and required tons of practice, such that mastering the controller meant gaining non-transferable skills, sort of like taking German language in high school rather than the more useful Spanish or more romantic French. Intellivision owners were like German exchange students wearing lederhosen to class--they just didn't fit in.

The Intellivision game library wasn't as deep, and until the later wave of games that included some Activision games, Dungeons and Dragons, and early voice-replication technology, there were few standout cartridges. But the one that stood out among all others was Major League Baseball. As clumsy as that Intellivision controller was, MLB was the perfect game to adopt. The overlay (a piece of plastic that slid into a slot over the 3x4 matrix, assigning roles to the 12 keys) allowed one to switch to that defensive position with the touch of a button. The direction disc set up the pitches and also moved the defensive player being controlled. And the side controller buttons allowed one to swing or bunt without giving away the stroke until the last second.

And the graphics! For those times, in that era, George Plimpton was right. Intellivision MLB blew doors over the limitations of the 2600 based on both graphics (even if the defensive stance made each player look like a house). There was a real diamond on the television screen. Players ran smoothly with pixelated but effective animation. Add in an umpire screaming "YER OUT!", which wasn't really intelligible, but who the hell cared, it was a good sound effect. While other baseball games forced you to use imagination to envision a real game being played, Intellivision MLB was advanced enough to make the game recognizable (despite the fact there were no fly balls). It felt like baseball, rather than the feeling of someone telling you it was baseball, but only if you squinted real hard and looked through a straw. And my appreciation of the real-life sport grew as I played Intellivision MLB obsessively.

As MLB was only a two-player game, I played many a game against my brother until he just gave up, given I slaughtered him with regularity. Tricks like pushing "dead" (unused) buttons right before the pitch allowed one to hold runners on first (since the "click" noise would sound like one was about to throw to first rather than pitch). And there was one slow pitch with the right angle / speed combination that made it infuriatingly difficult to hit. But as I started to widen a playing gap over my brother, we had to resort to other handicapping techniques, such as having me look upside down at the screen, as I laid on my back on a couple of chairs and hung my head over the edge of the chair. This warped perspective served to put both of us on more equal footing, as my gameplay would deteriorate as the contest progressed and the blood rushed to my brain (much like a starting pitcher's strength deteriorating in the latter innings). But without a one-player option, I needed my brother to play ball too, so the upside-down state was worth it.

Because remember, there was no one else on my block with whom I could play.

(Addendum: as pointed out by avid SoSG reader Felix P., this image is from the second-generation "World Championship Baseball", which had among its added features "sliding" animations for runners stealing bases. Thanks, Felix!)

The postscript to all of this was a post-college discussion that I had with one of my college roommates, who revealed that he too was the town videogame pariah when his family bought an Intellivision rather than the Atari 2600. He grew up 3000 miles away from me, and yet his childhood videogame experience was eerily similar, even more so when I found out MLB was his game of choice for this platform.

Nostalgic talk with my roommate soon drifted into competitive trash-talk, and the next thing I knew, he had bought a used Intellivision console over ebay and had set it up in his office (his job at the time involved reviewing videotapes, so he was one of the privileged with a television in his office). We went into his work one weekend day for the showdown.

My roommate ended up being a pretty good opponent on Intellivision MLB, surprising in that while I continued on from Intelivision to be a rabid gamer, while he sort of drifted off the videogame circuit from there. One thing we did learn from playing MLB again, over a decade later, is that the home run function (triggered by any ball that reached the outfield fence, which would usually bounce off the wall and come to rest) appeared to be a random variable; I won the game in extra innings when a lazy slow-moving ball hit down the third-base line barely touched the wall, but resulted in a surprising home run. Apparently, that function was a random occurrence regardless of the ball's velocity; and this time, it was just random enough to give me the victory and bragging rights.

Intellivision MLB was not only the sole redeeming cartridge in the original lineup, it also helped spark my loves of baseball and videogames, both loves which I still have today. If baseball could be this much fun on even the most clumsy and bizarre platforms as the Intellivsion, surely there must be something inherent in the game of baseball itself (the real game, not the videogame) which makes it so special and intrinsically appealing.

Friday, December 05, 2008

SoSG Baseball, Day 5 Update!

Steve pointed out a scoring glitch on the add-like-mad game where the final screen shows cumulative score of all games played instead of just the score from the most recent game played. So Tony, Bryan, Julie, and Steve [insert New Edition lyric joke here], for today we're instead going back to the whack-a-mole game instead. And the deadline is extended to midnight saturday night. I'll send you each an email. Thanks again for the heads up Steve.

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SoSG Baseball, Day 5

Yesterday's Results: Both games continued down their parallel paths, with some clutch RISP pitching. Tony showed up and cooly struck out Karina, while Ryan fouled out against Steve. So now some clutch 2-out at-bats are coming up in both games! Here are the updated game boards:

A few notes:

  • Since the subject of missing turns came up, let me say that I'd like to replace players only as a last resort. So as long as you send us something, even just an email saying you can't send in a score, you won't be replaced (though you'll still forfeit that at-bat). I just need to know you're still out there. This is especially true with first-time commenters - not that I intend to give preference to anyone, but regular or even semi-regular commenters I feel more comfortable that even if they miss their turn, they were just temporarily incommunicado and haven't disappeared forever. When I replace a team member, the purpose is not to punish anyone, but rather to try to ensure that a team doesn't have a recurring hole in their lineup.
  • Better yet, let us know ahead of time if you're certain there's a particular day you can't make it, as some of you already have. I will try my best to accommodate, but if I receive too many such requests I may not be able to handle them all. Thus, please only do so if you're certain.
  • FYI we will probably take a pause over the holidays as many people including myself will be traveling.
  • Keep in mind this is all experimental and new to me too; I'm just making it up as I go...

Today's Matchups and Game: Both pitchers from the previous at-bat stay on the mound, with Tony facing Bryan, and Steve facing Julie Hibbard. And this is the game for today. And one more new rule: Since there are no at-bats on weekends, for Friday games (like today) you have until midnight PT on Saturday night to submit your score.

So folks, again please submit a screenshot of your high score (only your first submission will count), include your screenname somewhere in your email, and don't reveal your score to anyone but SoSG. Good luck!

Update: There was a scoring glitch in the addition game, so I changed the post (and extended the deadline) to go back to the whack-a-mole game for today. I've sent the 4 competitors an email. Sorry for the inconvenience and if I've made any of you do math unnecessarily.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

SoSG Baseball, Day 4

Yesterday's Results: In the Purple Game, QuadSevens grounded out against Loney Fan; in the Maroon Game, Pablo (a.k.a. Matt) singled off R. McGowan. This means that both games find themselves in the same situation: 1st and 2nd with one out.

Today's Matchups and Game: Ryan vs Steve, and Karina vs Tony. And this is the game. This one took a little time for me to get used to (when you pick up a cookie or the flyswatter, you don't click and hold, as I intuitively thought. You single click to pick up the cookie, then single click to drop it).

So Ryan, Steve, Karina, and Tony, please submit a screenshot of your high score (only your first submission will count), include your screenname somewhere in your email, and don't reveal your score to anyone but SoSG. Good luck!

Update: Thanks to the heads up from Sweeney Sour Pork's Steve, I now realize today's particular game scores in multiples of five only. Thus, instead of the last digit determining a home run/double/double play, it will be the second-to-last digit. But for this game only (and any future ones I so indicate).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

SoSG Baseball, Day 3

NEWSFLASH: RISPy Business has announced the free-agent signing of Julie Hibbard to a $36-million/2-inning contract. To make room for Hibbard, RISPy Business has released E. Stephen.

Yesterday's Results: In the "Purple Game," Cigarcow singled off Fanerman, setting up a 1st and 2nd with nobody out situation. In the "Maroon Game," John G singled off Dr. Geek.

The Game Boards have been updated accordingly and also show today's matchups (as well as upcoming at-bats, with some reshuffling after the first time through the order). And let me just note that Rancho Ardiendo's last-minute lineup switch has produced an intriguing matchup between trash-talkers Loney Fan and Quad (see comments at 1:32pm and 2:05pm in this post).

So to honor this intriguing matchup, I've gone against the grain and picked a game that actually requires competence at deductive reasoning, a robust knowledge of Russian history, and the ability to skillfully maneuver the labyrinths of game theory. Click here for the game. And you only submit your score through Level 1 (in other words, the first 60 seconds, or the "400 Points to Win" Level). Subsequent levels are not part of this game.

So again, Pablo, R McGowan, Loney Fan, and QuadSevens, please submit a screenshot of your high score (only your first submission will count), include your screenname somewhere in your email, and don't reveal your score to anyone but SoSG. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"I Don't Want To Start Any Blasphemous Rumors..."

One of the benefits of having L'il Lasorda is that we get to go places like Disneyland (which I hadn't visited since an alcohol-fueled Grad Nite back in the late '80s). In any event, last week the Lasordas packed up the Family Truckster and headed down the 5 to Carlsbad, where we had a day of fun exploring the wonders of Legoland. Lego Batman. Lego Giraffes. Lego Vader. You get the drift. While waiting in line for the Royal Joust, I overheard a couple of other fathers talking. They apparently had graduated from the same high school just a couple years apart (small world, this Legoland). One of the fathers had been drafted out of high school by the Astros and was now one of the Northern California area scouts for the Dodgers. He mentioned that they had just wrapped up some organizational meetings (presumably in preparation for the Winter Meetings) and here are a couple of highlights:
  • Manny: He thinks the Dodgers will find a way to get him signed. Torre "loves" him and wants him.
  • Pitching: The scout said that the Dodgers were looking to sign Andy Pettitte. Again, Torre "loves" the guy from their time together on the Yankees. Presumably, he'd take Lowe's slot in the rotation.

While these rumors have been circulating in the blogosphere over the past few days, I thought it was interesting to hear it substantiated by an actual Dodger insider. At least it made waiting in line marginally more tolerable.

Off-Season Competition Prize

As a key Dow component, Sons of Steve Garvey (NYSE ticker symbol: SoSG) and its tanking share price have done their part to bring down the economy. This means our prize budget has been slashed, and we can't afford to send out four physical items to the members of the team that wins the SoSG Off-Season Competition. But fear not! You will instead each get something far more valuable. Besides priceless bragging rights, the 4 members of the winning team will be featured in their very own SoSG Pop Culture Grid, in the model of the one below (see original post here, as well as other examples here and here):

(click image to enlarge)

So if you haven't already been taking this competition seriously, I am sure this will jolt you into action. Don't miss your turn!

Off-Season Competition Day 2

New Rule: If you miss your turn, not only do you forfeit your at-bat, but the next person on the waiting list (currently Julie Hibbard) takes your place the next time through the order. That means you, E. Stephen.

So yesterday's results are in! Bryan of Rancho Ardiendo smacked a leadoff single off Dusto Magnifico. And thanks to his no-show, RISPy Business' E. Stephen was retired by A. Bastard. Game boards have been updated below, and they also show the matchups for today, and this is the game you're competing in.

So Cigarcow, Fanerman, John G, and Dr. Geek, please email us the screenshot of your high score before midnight tonight. Also, when it's your at bat/on the mound, please submit only one email with your highest score. Please don't send multiple emails/screenshots as you improve upon your score - only the first one will be accepted. Also please include your screenname somewhere in the email.

Thanks. Read the full rules here. And Julie Hibbard, if you're out there reading this, let us know if you want in.

Good luck!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Take a Quick Peek Downstairs...

...and please let us know what you find:

What is your gender?
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Earlier: Who Are You?

Let The Games Begin!

Time to work off your Thanksgiving calories. Here are today's matchups:

Rancho Ardiendo vs GSoSG: Dusto Magnifico pitching to Bryan:

RISPy Business vs Sweeney Sour Pork: Arrogant Bastard pitching to Eric Stephen:

And this is the game you're competing in (you may have to sit through an ad before the game begins). To review the most important rules:

  • You can play as many times as you want, but you have until midnight PT tonight to take a screenshot of your highest score and email it to us.
  • Please include your screenname somewhere prominent in your email.
  • Do NOT reveal your score to anyone except SoSG - in other words, do not state your score in any comments you might post.
  • If the game has different difficulty levels, you are to compete in whatever level the game defaults to.
  • The results will be revealed in the next day or two.

And any questions please post here, and good luck!