Friday, December 31, 2010

Meineke Car Care / Sun / Liberty / Chick-fil-A Bowls Thread

Holy smokes! There's a giant football coming out of the stadium!

And now the football has eclipsed the sun!

Wait a second, now it's gone again...

Argh! It's back! And now there's a giant chicken head, too!

Meineke Car Care: Clemson vs. South Florida, 9a

Sun: Notre Dame vs. Miami, 11a

Liberty: Georgia vs. Central Florida, 12:30p

Chick-fil-A: South Carolina vs. Florida State, 4:30p

Only the late game has two ranked teams playing (#20 South Carolina and #23 Florida State), and the only other ranked team playing today is Central Florida, squeaking in at #25. (The only other notable thing is the fact that the Sun Bowl is the first bowl this season NOT to be televised on ESPN (it's on CBS). But given this slate of matchups, I'm going to be out having champagne, then. Even at 6am.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Truth In Advertising

Print ad from the 12/29/10 LAT:

More value than ever. With this lineup, all I can say is: exactly.

Chukkers Keep Popping Up All Over

Wine bought 12/29/10 at K&L in Hollywood. I kid you not. After Pistol Pete Reiser's story earlier this week, how could I possibly have passed this bottle up?

The Bigger The Bowl, The Weaker The Wrist-Slap

From ESPN denies playing favorites in its shielding of Auburn and Ohio State from serious punishment, despite the seriousness of the transgressions. But the NCAA denied that it's playing favorites.

Well, that's settled, then.

Armed Forces / Pinstripe / Music City / Holiday Bowls Thread

Armed Forces: SMU vs. Army, 9a

Pinstripe: Syracuse vs. Kansas State, 12.30p

Music City: North Carolina vs. Tennessee, 3.30p

Holiday: Nebraska vs. Washington, 7p

If we took a holiday (oh yeah, oh yeah), we'd probably be sitting on our couch all day watching FOUR--count 'em, FOUR--bowl games. I, however, am just happy that we're getting some better bowl logo treatments (although the note sitting in the football of the Music City Bowl logo is a little creepy). I'm going to be out of action today, so fire away.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Washington State Cougars @ UCLA Bruins, 8p

Tonight's game kicks off Pac-10 conference play for UCLA (USC duels Washington this evening as well, but that game isn't televised). This year probably won't be a twelfth NCAA Championship title, particularly with a squad this young (no returning seniors); however, a strong conference record might yield the Bruins a NCAA bid. Go Bruins!

Dodgers Install Revolving Door on Front Office

Bill Shaikin of the LAT also reported Tuesday that the Dodgers' apparent dismissal (or at least removal from their website) of three more front-office executives brings the total to 22 employees in the last 15 months. And the ongoing McCourt soap opera isn't supposed to be affecting the team, right?:

The Dodgers have parted ways with three vice presidents, the latest in a series of front-office departures over the last two off-seasons.

The executives let go include Ray Maytorena, a former Secret Service agent hired as head of security two years ago. The Dodgers had expanded Maytorena's duties last season to include oversight of ushers, ticket takers and parking attendants.

The Dodgers also cut ties with Steve Spartin, who was in charge of developing corporate partnerships, and Joe Walsh, who oversaw human resources and fan service initiatives.

Baseball sources who required anonymity confirmed the departures to The Times, and those executives no longer appear on the employee directory on the team website. Josh Rawitch, Dodgers vice president of communications and the authorized spokesman for the club, said he could not comment on personnel matters.

The marketing department has three employees listed in that directory, down from eight in last spring's media guide. The Dodgers plan to retain an ad agency to handle some marketing responsibilities, according to one of the sources.

Before I get into trying to interpret the tea leaves here, let me at least acknowledge sympathy for all three of these folks, as losing one's job during the holidays really has to suck. That's a pretty cold move; but to be fair I admit I have had to fire someone during the holidays as well and it's not a fun conversation to have. It's never a fun conversation, for that matter, but during the holidays it seems especially bitter.

That said, I'm intrigued by the departures of the last two folks, and what reflection it may (or may not) have on their respective departments' performance the last couple of years. As a fan, I've noticed that the corporate sponsorships that the Dodgers have seemed to grab in recent years seem to be at the middle-tier at best; San Manuel Casino, Claim Jumper Restaurants, and Hyundai all seem to be sponsors more suited for Petco Park rather than a demographic with proximity to Hollywood and its glitz and glamour (to be fair, we do have the movie trailer invasion each game as well). And I suppose I should be thankful that we haven't given naming rights away to Dodger Stadium...yet...but surely there have to be some other potential sponsors who want to be associated with a blue-chip sporting franchise. (Perhaps all of those candidates already give to the Lakers.)

As for the fan service initiatives: I don't know. On the one hand, I applaud the Dodgers for amping up their publicity of the Stadium code of conduct as well as the phone number to text if one is seated around disruptive or threatening behavior. But I don't know if that compensates for an apparent decrease in the number of ushers--or at least the visibility of ushers in each aisle--in the past couple of years.

Finally, for the apparent outsourcing of marketing responsibilities, considering alternative marketing techniques is all the rage today for consumer-facing companies, so I'm not surprised the Dodgers are taking the leap as well. The question is whether all of these alternative mechanisms yield a reasonable return, and particularly in the case of social networking, I'm not wholly convinced yet. But hey, alternative channels are worth exploring...just don't expect much (see the recent Tron Legacy campaign as an example of a swing and a huge miss).

From a creative perspective, however, there's no place to go but up. The multi-year "This Is My Town" campaign banished the Angels' billboards out of Los Angeles, but once it devolved into utilizing c-level celebrities (Tara Lipinski? Really?), it really was impotent and absurd (and of course, we Sons (and some of you readers) all got in the mockery back in 2009 about this very point).

More importantly from a marketing effectiveness perspective, however, it would be helpful if the Dodgers had someone on the team they could market for 2011. And it's not Juan Uribe, Juan Castro, Dioner Navarro, or Tony Gwynn Jr. So maybe there are other ways we could skin this cat (since you've already cut the headcount anyway)...

Military / Texas / Alamo Bowls Thread

Military: East Carolina vs. Maryland, 11:30a

Texas: Baylor vs. Illinois, 3p

Alamo: Arizona vs. Oklahoma State, 6:15p

Three, three, THREE BOWLS IN ONE DAY! Yes, the gluttonous holiday season starts in earnest with three games who (as of December 18) had point spreads of no more than seven points. The Military Bowl will of course be interesting to see if the turtle is really worth being feared (line is Maryland by 7), and the Texas Bowl will see if the Illini have any fight left in them (Baylor by 1). There's a third bowl, too, but I can't remember the name.

Feast away!

If You Listen Closely, You Can Hear Millions Of Nerd Hearts Breaking

Natalie Portman is engaged and pregnant.. Well, that is indeed a holiday downer for the rest of us guys.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

For Hu, The Bell Tolls

(Yes, I know that pun is grammatically incorrect. Ask not.)

Taiwanese Dodger fans wept yesterday as Chin-Lung Hu was dealt to the New York Mets for minor-league pitcher Michael Antonini:

The Dodgers on Monday traded middle infielder Chin-lung Hu to the New York Mets for minor league pitcher Michael Antonini.

Antonini, a 25-year-old left-hander from Pennsylvania, has a 25-26 minor league record with a 4.04 earned-run average in 96 games, including 84 starts.

Hu, 26, has spent most of his career in the minor leagues after signing with the Dodgers in 2003. He was the Dodgers' minor league player of the year in 2007.

Hu appeared in 96 games with the the Dodgers over the last four seasons, including 14 games during two stints in 2010. He has a career batting average of .191 at the major league level.

It's too bad for Hu, who kept trying to break through with the Dodgers but couldn't hit worth a lick in the Show. As Jon Weisman noted:

Hu hasn't shown any potential with the bat since 2007, when he had an on-base percentage of .364 and slugging percentage of .507 in Double-A and Triple-A combined. In his major-league career, Hu has a .241 OBP and .283 slugging over 191 plate appearances. Nonetheless, he could be Juan Castro for some team, and I always thought the Dodgers could be that team.

Ultimately, Hu was out of options and there were doubts he'd make the Opening Day roster, so this is a way of salvaging something for him, given the odds against him.

Hu leaves Los Angeles with the most plate appearances (191) of any Taiwan-born player in major-league history, ahead of Hong-Chih Kuo (36) and Chin-Feng Chen (25).

It's interesting that Weisman brings up Castro, alluding to Ned Colletti's penchant for picking up aged veterans with declining skills batting around the .200 level. If not Castro--whom we did pick up this offseason--why not Hu? Perhaps in 10 years, we'll pick him up again anyway.

Kemp Back To Playing The Field In 2011

Thanks to SoSG Dusty Baker for passing on the US Weekly news that Matt Kemp and Rihanna are reported to have broken up; might this portend a more focused centerfielder for the Dodgers next year?

Rihanna and Matt Kemp have split, according to Us Weekly.

The singer and Los Angeles Dodgers star had dated for nearly a year; they first got together in Mexico in January. Unfortunately, their hectic lives made it impossible to stay together.

"He just can't keep up with her crazy travel schedule," one source the magazine.

"Matt's sick of always following after her like a puppy dog all over the world. He wants something more normal," the source adds.

Apparently, the break is relatively recent; "It happened over the last few weeks," the source said. "She basically was just over it."

That may not be the truth; on December 10th, it was reported that the relationship had already ended, due to cheating on both sides.

Sorry to hear about this for Kemp. However, we're still there for you, Matt!

UPDATE 11:34p: Steve Dilbeck of the LAT blog says it's all on you now, Matt (with Larry Bowa and Rihanna both out of the 2011 picture).

Lakers @ Spurs Game Thread, 5.30p

The Lakers followed up a disappointing loss to Milwaukee with the excuse that they were looking forward to the Christmas Day showdown with the Heat. And all of us who watched that train wreck know that their focus on Christmas was sorely lacking, as well. So what should we expect from the Lakers, as they go up against the West's best team tonight? I have a bad feeling one team will have the Duncan, while the other night have more donuts.

Vikings @ Eagles Game Thread, 5p

Are you ready for some Tuesday night football? Well, the NFL finally is, having succeeded in hiding behind weak "wuss-like" excuses in its thinly veiled plan to take over all prime-time programming. Congratulations, NFL! Sucks to be you, Biggest Loser and Parenthood! Still love you anyway, Monica Potter!

Champs Sports / Insight Bowls Thread

Champs Sports: NC State vs. West Virginia, 3:30p
Insight: Missouri vs. Iowa, 7p

I just realized that I missed yesterday's Independence Bowl (which I guess Air Force took over Georgia Tech). I don't think I have been to many Champs Sports in my life, though there are stores at the Glendale Galleria and the South Bay Galleria. I don't think I've ever procured goods or services from

I can, however, say with conviction that both of these bowls' logos are fugly. I mean, really. If you're going to be an apparel retailer (among other categories), you can't use dated colors like those; and the pixelated football thing hearkens back to Atari 2600 days. Come on, dudes.

I'm sorry, I know I should get more fired up for a dual-bowl day. Maybe tomorrow, with three bowls, will be more inspiring.

NFL Causes Pennsylvania Governor's Head To Hurt

There's jingoism, and then there's Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who used a weak attempt at a Red Scare to protest the NFL's decision to reschedule a football game to Tuesday night:

The city of Philadelphia is set to host the NFL's first Tuesday night game in 64 years, and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) couldn't be more upset about it.

"It goes against everything that football is all about," Rendell said Monday on radio station 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.

Rendell was rankled by the league's decision to move the Philadelphia Eagles' home game against the Minnesota Vikings from Sunday night to Tuesday evening.

The NFL cited the winter storm that wound up slamming most of the East Coast as the reason for the change, but elected to postpone the game before any snow had even accumulated. About a foot of snow fell on Philadelphia, though less than 5 inches was on the ground before the scheduled kickoff at 8:20 p.m. EST Sunday night.

Rendell viewed the NFL's decision as a referendum on the toughness, or lack thereof, of the United States.

"My biggest beef is that this is part of what's happened in this country," Rendell said. "I think we've become wussies."

"We've become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything," Rendell added. "If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down."

As most of you know, I'm not a big pro football fan. But I have to assume that even if NFL fans aren't doing integrals at their pre-game tailgate parties, I'm guessing that they are still working on their verbal skills and even practicing some SAT-prep analogy questions.

I also think that if this game were to be held in Namibia, Trinidad and Tobago, or Ghana, they probably would have also shifted the game out as well due to weather concerns. So you see, we're not alone.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have more calculus to which I need to attend.

Beltre Still Unsigned; Dodgers Amazingly Still Mentioned In The Hunt

While Adrian Beltre lingers out there without a home, ESPN mentions the Giants as a potential dark-horse suitor. Might competitive fires be the trick to get the Dodgers to finally enter the fray?

Beltre's supposed asking price -- somewhere north of $70 million over five years -- could scare off the A's who reportedly offered $64 million last month.

A dark horse for Beltre's services? How about the San Francisco Giants, who aren't sure Pablo Sandoval is the answer at the hot corner. The price is clearly the key, however, as there are few clubs that can afford to offer what Beltre is looking for, which leads to the Rangers and Angels as the favorites.

And what the heck, why not the Cardinals, despite David Freese's positive medical outlook?

If the Halos and Rangers -- who would likely have to move Michael Young to make room -- fill the position with another long-term answer, Beltre's market could fall into the price range for the Giants, or even the Atlanta Braves or Toronto Blue Jays who have no clear answers at third, especially if Chipper Jones' return to the Braves is delayed longer than expected.

The White Sox are a fit on paper, but they appear to be out of payroll space. The Cardinals seem to be in the same boat, and the Dodgers would have to move Casey Blake to the outfielder, where he does have some experience, but it's unknown how much more money they can spend considering their current ownership situation.

Come on, McCourts. Pick up Beltre. We need him!

Dodger Day Games

The ESPN the Magazine "New Rules" issue (Dec 27, 2010) had a short piece in which the staff proposed different changes to rules or protocol in various sports. For baseball, their point was this:

There a few human endeavors more satisfying than playing hooky to catch a ball game. Even those too responsible to know that bliss have to have fought back the monotony of the workday by stealing a moment to check the stats of their fantasy team. So in the hopes of raising workplace morale everywhere, we propose MLB schedules include at least one day game every weekday between Memorial Day and Labor Day. In 2010, only 28 days in that prescribed span were without day baseball. Essentially we're asking for about two additional afternoon matchups per team per year. Full disclosure: the players we unofficially polled didn't love this idea. Screw 'em. This one is for us.

I totally agree; like chewing tobacco and the luxury of being able to snort cocaine without getting fired, there are certain parts about baseball that I would feel happy to override players' wishes. And day games are one of them. I can't recall the exact number--I think at maximum it was three--but in 2010 there were few opportunities to get away from work and watch a "businessperson's special" afternoon game at the Stadium.

I just checked the Dodgers' schedule, which appears to have populated a bit with some times. There are no fewer six mid-week day games at Dodger Stadium next year (not all gametimes appear to have populated in the calendar; and, I'm not counting Friday April 1 Opening Day):

  • Thu April 21 vs. Braves, 12:10p
  • Wed May 4 vs. Cubs, 12:10p
  • Wed June 15 vs. Reds, 12:10p
  • Wed June 22 vs. Tigers, 12:10p
  • Wed Aug 10 vs. Phillies, 12:10p
  • Wed Aug 31 vs. Padres, 12:10p

Mid-week day baseball at Dodger Stadium is glorious and beautiful and patriotic. Not to mention the getting out of work part. And I'm always struck by how many people are in attendance--real attendance, that is--when I'm there. (What the hell do these people do, anyway? I also wonder this when I pass by cafes in Los Angeles and every table is filled with someone on their phone/device/laptop.)

I'm hopeful for more slates full of mid-week day games like 2011. How about you all?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Giants 1, Dodgers 5

Welcome back to work, folks. And let me pass among some Christmas cheer, courtesy of SoSG reader Pistol Pete Reiser, who sends us this heart-warming holiday story:

The company I work for is pretty tight with the Chuckers organization.  Luxury box, special days at the Chucker Park, you name it.  Anyway one of the perks to keep the masses happy was to bring the Chuckers recent WS trophy on-site for a viewing.

To that end, a posting went out for a raffle to allow a select few (I hesitate to use the word "lucky" for obvious reason) employees to approach the trophy for a photo-op.  I was among those chosen.  As Fate would have it, it really wasn't such a select group at all, I'd estimate it to be about 100-150 people chosen to get their pictures taken, with another 300 or so relegated to the nether-regions beyond the velvet rope some 20 feet from the trophy.

The venue selected was basically an empty warehouse spruced-up with a couple videos being played on walls, showing "highlights" of the Chucker season (aka "Even a Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut Once in a While").

I approached the throngs of people (I'm guessing 300+ headcount at that point) and immediately had the sensation, in some small way, of what it must have felt like for Tommy to walk out onto the Chuckers old digs at the 'Stick, getting booed, heckled, and sworn at by 30,000 people (the only times in the Chucker's seasons when they could draw that big were when the Dodgers were in town - and half the people in their stands were wearing blue hats, but I digress).  I decided to play along.

The cat-calls and booing began the moment I came into their lines of sight.  There I was, wearing my hat and Dodgers windbreaker, smiling my ass off at their foolishness, goading them on a bit, wishing them a wonderful holiday season, telling them I felt the love - basically, everything I always saw Tommy do (and loved watching him do).  One fool actually tried starting the mindless "Beat LA" chant.  Not a single person joined in.  Not one.  Way to nut up, Chuckers.

I made my way to end of the line for raffle winners and waited my turn, chatting amicably with the fellow in front of me (an Indians fan).  Got to the spot with some minor ribbing from the staff, and stood next to the trophy.  First impression was "how cuuuuute".  It's so damned small, much smaller than you'd expect.  Stanley Cup, it ain't, not by a long shot.

At this point, the booing was absurd.  Squinting from the photographer's lights, I decided to play along again.  I let the booing go on for a while, the photographer screwed around, clearly taking longer for me than all the people before.  I let the booing continue a bit more.

Then, I reminded them of some history.  I smiled, a nice big grin, then slowly and clearly, replied "We have 5 of these," while holding up my hand, all five fingers showing them their comparative inadequacy.  "Five".  "Yep, five."  We've got five".  Smiling the whole time, exuding calm smugness and confidence, the booing increased in volume, they didn't want to hear the truth.  

Smiling, the picture was snapped, and I walked away slowly, relishing the moment despite their continued, pathetic attempt at yelling me down, clearly having left with the upper hand, taken the high road, while making them look foolish.

I think Tommy woulda been proud.

To their credit, of those fans not booing and heckling who came over afterwards, all of them said it was funny as hell (it was), and that I was fucking crazy (I'm not).

I'm just a Dodgers fan.  And we own the West Coast.

The Giants' unlikely World Series victory has caused us to retire the "empty world series trophy case" joke, which is a pity. However, it also forces us to sharpen our rapier wits and come up with new material. Glad to hear that Pistol Pete Reiser is already setting the pace!

SoSG Sax's note: I didn't understand the "Chuckers" reference, so here's a postscript, from Pistol Pete Reiser himself: "Chuckers" = short-hand for "Battery-Chuckers", a reference to a give-away the Giants had years ago when they gave the crowd batteries, I believe D-cells, upon entry.  The crowd started chucking them at the Dodgers on the field.  Hence, they became battery-chuckers.  It's a nickname they particularly despise in NoCal.  Far be it from me to deprive them the experience of feeling embarrassment... No worries, PPR--except I thought battery chuckers were Philly fans? I don't think SF fans could lift a D-cell battery, certainly not with a glass of Chardonnay in the other hand.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

It's a pizza bowl. Get it?

Toledo vs. Florida International, 5:30p.

I think the most interesting thing I've learned about this bowl is that Little Caesars does not have an apostrophe in its name. Maybe Beef 'O' Brady's stole it.

In any event, the whole idea of pizza in a bowl is pretty unappetizing to me to begin with. Adding toppings doesn't seem to really work, and once you subract apostrophes, it gets all fouled up. I don't think I'll be watching this game. But I am indeed hungry now.

And, regarding that missing apostrophe:

SoSG Fantasy Football Thread

Are there still playoffs? I'm confused.

On the flipside, I don't want smacktalkers to be without a home.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Heat @ Lakers, 2p

The super-hyped matchup between Matt Barnes and James Jones is finally upon us. What a Christmas present, indeed; I believe the MSM is calling this the "Collision Corpses", but I'm a little confused why they're tapping into the necrophiliac demographic like that. I believe there are a couple of other supporting cast players that may contribute a bit to scoring in today's game, but this Barnes/Jones showdown definitely sounds intriguing.

Xmas Cheer, "Andre Delivers Again" Style

Andre Ethier from Dream Crazy on Vimeo.

Need to start feeling good about the Dodgers again? This is a good place to start.

Xmas Cheer, 90210-Style

Via Yahoo, the 90210 cast says 200 Christmases In 2 Minutes. Original link from Cinefamily on Vimeo.

Xmas Cheer, SoSG-Style


Epale, mofos! Although the 2010 MLB season was like getting knofed in the robs by an MSB (hatehateHATE!), we hope Santa still left gifts Rancho Ardiendo'ed under your tree this year. UJTD? Not today!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Hawaii Bowl Thread

Hawaii vs. Tulsa, 5p.

One more bowl game before Christmas Day, this one pitting two teams with strangely similar climates and city landscapes. Does Tulsa, the home of the Drillers, have a shot against a home team favored by 10? Do you care, except for the fact that sitting through this game to escape wrapping presents might compensate for having to see this guy run around the field?

"Using the whole fist there, Doc?"

Holiday Wishes From The Dodgers

Got a cool Christmas card in the mail from the Dodgers (I'm assuming the effervescent Amy Summers and the indefatigable Josh Rawitch were behind this). The front of the card has the words "Starting The Holiday Season Right...", and the inside has the same five pitchers

It's a good thing this is Jon Garland's second tour of duty, or we wouldn't have a picture of him in a Dodgers uniform at the ready. But it's clear we're betting on pitching for 2011 (as if our lack of offensive signings didn't also state that point loudly enough).

Nonetheless, cool card to get (I like the perspectives of all five guys, gunning at you). Thank you Amy and Josh, and Merry Christmas!

Cleveland Rocks!

Courtesy of Deadspin - From a 1970's correspondence between an angry fan and an even angrier member of the Browns staff. In a word, brilliant.

It could happen.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Poinsettia Bowl Thread

San Diego State (8-4) vs. Navy (9-3), 5p.

Yet another bowl game of unranked teams hits the table tonight in San Diego. The San Diego State Aztecs should be the home team, except for the fact that the Midshipmen also have a San Diego home that is the largest base on the west coast. So everybody's a winner, right? (Except for the two television viewers, that is. Am I going to be influenced by the razor-edge (51.8%) margin of victory that Accuscore gives SDSU? I think I'll be playing CoD:MW2 instead.)

As it turns out, the Aztecs have a much longer history with Poinsettias:

In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the plant is called Cuitlaxochitl (from cuitlatl=residue, and xochitl=flower) meaning "flower that grows in residues or soil." The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication.

Koufax's Perfect Game...In Gingerbread

Via TBLA and Curbed LA, here's a hilarious gingerbread memorial to Sandy Koufax's perfect game in 1965. You've gotta click through to see the photos of this work in progress, and all the meticulous care in construction:

Gummi bears vs. Santas; why not?

Dodgers Seventh in Off-Season Spending So Far

According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Dodgers are seventh in off-season spending so far this off-season. What's more noticable however is the dropoff to the #8 team, the Cardinals...which means that the Dodgers are the least-spending team of the top tier (which inlcudes the Nationals, White Sox, and Tigers, if one can call them the "top tier" without snickering):

Here are the details on each team's spending so far this winter:

1. Boston Red Sox - $172M ($142M contract for Carl Crawford, $12.5M option for David Ortiz, $12M contract for Bobby Jenks, $3M contract for Dan Wheeler, $2M contract for Jason Varitek, $455K option for Scott Atchison)

2. Washington Nationals - $128.5M ($126M contract for Jayson Werth, $1.5M contract for Rick Ankiel, $1M contract for Chien-Ming Wang)

3. Philadelphia Phillies - $125.5M ($120M contract for Cliff Lee, $5.5M contract for Jose Contreras)

4. Chicago White Sox - $120.25M ($56M contract for Adam Dunn, $37.5M contract for Paul Konerko, $13M contract for Jesse Crain, $8M contract for A.J. Pierzynski, $3M option for Matt Thornton, $1.75M extension for Omar Vizquel, $1M option for Ramon Castro)

5. Detroit Tigers - $99.25M ($50M contract for Victor Martinez, $16.5M contract for Joaquin Benoit, $11.5M extension for Brandon Inge, $11.25M contract for Jhonny Peralta, $10M contract for Magglio Ordonez)

6. New York Yankees - $93M ($51M contract for Derek Jeter, $30M contract for Mariano Rivera, $8M contract for Pedro Feliciano, $4M contract for Russell Martin)

7. Los Angeles Dodgers - $90.18M ($33M extension for Ted Lilly, $21M contract for Juan Uribe, $12M contract for Hiroki Kuroda, $12M contract for Matt Guerrier, $5MM contract for Jon Garland, $3.5M contract for Rod Barajas, $2M contract for Vicente Padilla, $1M contract for Dioner Navarro, $680K contract for Tony Gwynn)

8. St. Louis Cardinals - $42.35M ($16.5M contract for Jake Westbrook, $16M option for Albert Pujols, $8M contract for Lance Berkman, $1.1M contract for Gerald Laird, $750K contract for Brian Tallet)

The Angels are 14th, at $23M.

And might I add that all we need to do is pick up Adrian Beltre, whose offer from the Angels has been pulled off the table--and we too could be #1. NUMBER ONE, baby!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

MAACO Bowl Thread

#19 Utah (10-2) vs. #10 Boise State (11-1), 5p

Finally, a bowl game with a ranked team! Two, in fact!

Boise State is still smarting from being left out of its BCS bowl bid, after botching two late field goal attempts over Thanksgiving weekend. Boise State, favored with a 86% Accuscore victory percentage, plays a Utah team who lost to TCU and Notre Dame, but is most noted for playing its last game tonight as a Mountain West member. And this all goes down in Las Vegas, which looks to be 52 degrees and rainy with 100% chance of precipitation. Man, kicker Kyle Brotzman has to be feeling pretty poor right now.

But let's face it, what America really wants to know is, Which is better for my vehicle — overall or spot painting? The answer, of course, depends on the age of your car.

Overall painting is often a great choice for restoring the surface of older vehicles. An older car has undergone significant depreciation, and a complete repainting can actually increase its value. Spot painting is the best way to protect the value of newer vehicles.

Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery

But this is just weak sauce, St. Joseph's School.

Unless, of course, this is an upcoming signing event for us Sons that our PR department hasn't yet mentioned. (Like I need to be around more rain.)

Leach Ripped From Dodgers' Skin

Brent Leach was designated for assignment, in order to make room for Matt Guerrier:

Leach, 28, pitched in 38 games in relief for the Dodgers in 2009, but he regressed in '10 and never reached the Major Leagues, splitting the season between relieving at Triple-A and starting at Double-A. He was 3-2 with a 6.35 ERA at Albuquerque and 7-3 with a 4.57 ERA at Chattanooga.

Leach was a sixth-round Draft pick in 2005 out of Delta State University, missing the 2004 season with Tommy John surgery.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Thread

Louisville vs. Southern Miss, 5p.

When the BCS fatcats tell you that the collegiate bowl season is critical to the fabric of college football, and necessary to keep college athletes and their fans invested in the drama and spectacle of the college football season, you need only to point at the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl as a counter-argument.

For those of you who don't know Beef 'O' Brady's, the superfluously apostrophed restaurant chain (with unnecessarily animated "locations" map over on the left hand side of its website!) is a 25-year old chain of franchised Irish pub-themed family-friendly restaurants. What is a family-friendly Irish pub, you ask? Try, one that doesn't serve hard alcohol.

Isn't that sort of like a soy-patty burger? What's the point?

According to their store locator, there are no locations within 250 miles of Los Angeles, which is unfortunate since I'm dying to try the Super Sampler: 10 mini corn dogs, 4 loaded potato skins with sour cream, 4 chicken fingers, a full order of crispy chips with queso dip and salsa served with honey mustard and BBQ sauce for dipping (no substitutions, please).

Anyway, the most redeeming thing I could find about this game was the fact that, according to ESPN the Rag (Dec 27 2010 issue), the players' swag bag includes Oakley Fuel Cell sunglasses and a Xbox 360. If any of you Louisville or Southern Miss players want to try and take me on in CoD:MW2 (I'm at level 66 now), just leave me a message in the thread with your gamertag. In fact, I'll probably be playing at around 5pm today. I assume you'll be busy.

Back to the game at hand, however. After the clamor demanding last Saturday's bowl thread, I'll keep putting these bowl threads up if you guys want 'em. I'm there for you. (Even if Beef 'O' Brady's isn't.)

VSIMH Meets Steve Sax

This post is supposed to be about Roberto Baly, proprietor of the blog Vin Scully Is My Homeboy, who took time out this past rainy weekend to go see Steve Sax at one of his book signings. Roberto's write-up is here, and it's neat to read how Roberto was interested in meeting Sax, and how he bought his book, but how he also was hoping that Sax would sign his Seat of Dodger Immortality (which Sax did).

But heck, it's Christmas, and it's time to reflect upon the year and give presents. So I also wanted to give a quick shout-out to Roberto himself for being not only a timely and frequent Dodger blogger, but also for how he approaches his Dodger fanaticism with such pure passion. There isn't a Dodger signing or public appearance that VSIMH doesn't attend, which is even more amazing given he's just one guy. I don't know if Roberto works. I don't see how he possibly can, given all the events this guy attends. I do know that he has had some health issues (to which he's alluded on his blog) which have put him on the DL this past year, and yet overall, this guy is just the energizer bunny of Dodger events. And whenever myself or one of the other Sons meets him, he's always very approachable and interested and polite.

You can see Roberto's Dodgers passion on his face, on his blog. It's really inspiring, even for fans like me who have to cleanse our doubts and frustrations with the caustic abrasiveness of sarcastic humor. I applaud his devotion.

Anyway, thanks Roberto for heading out to see my doppelganger, the "other" Steve Sax! Hope you commended him on what a great job he does blogging with the rest of the Sons!

How Colletti Let This One Slip Past Is Beyond Me

Let's see: Washed-up major leaguer? Check. Former Dodger? Check. Former Dodger with MULTIPLE tours of duty? Check. Sub-average career ERA+? Check. Discarded by a small-market team after coming off an overall bad year? Check.

So it must have been the fact that he's never played for the Giants, to explain why Ned Colletti let Chan Ho Park slip away to the Orix Buffaloes, instead of picking him up for the 2011 Dodgers:

Japan's Orix Buffaloes agreed to a one-year deal with pitcher Chan Ho Park, according to the team's Twitter feed. The contract is worth just over $1MM, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. The 37-year-old Korean righty posted a 4.66 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9, and 48.7% groundball rate for the Yankees and Pirates this year in 63 2/3 relief innings.

Park still had enough left in the tank to function as a National League middle reliever, but he's chosen to play in Japan instead.

I've never been a fan of Park Factor, so I'm not entirely surprised we passed. Between this and the Mota news, however, I'm pretty stoked that we're letting a couple of dishes pass us on the conveyor belt as we sit at the sushi bar* (looking at the timestamp, in both cases, is a critical step). Is there a spider roll about to turn the corner and head our way? I sure as hell hope so.

Note: (*) This metaphor is in no way supposed to allude to Park's Asian roots--he's not even Japanese, for pete's sake, nor is Mota for that matter. But it did seem like an appropriate analogy to reference. Or maybe I've been frequenting Yo Sushi a bit too much lately. I should go back to wagamama.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Poll: Choose The Next Off-Season Competition!

So I have two potential competition concepts under development. Both are somewhere in the Phase III clinical trial stage, but limited resources are requiring us to choose which one to try to get over the goal line.

Thus, I'm asking the actual competitors (you guys) which one we should pick. But...I'm not sharing anything about either concept except its name. All else will be revealed in time.

Which SoSG off-season competition would you rather play?
"The Gauntlet"
"My Broheim"
Free polls from

PS The competition will probably begin in January.

Two Gifts from New York

Hello SoSG-a-maniacs. Sorry for the radio silence. Been getting ready for a new DeShields arrival and trying to get the taste of my fantasy football playoffs out of my mouth.

Thankfully, my NY teams sent me a couple of gifts via email.

After two MISERABLE Septembers in the past three years, the Mets found the perfect solution to keep my Fall considerably more relaxing.

No longer will I feel the need to check the scores or standings every day. I'll be free of the burden of this team, living the peaceful life of a Royals or Lions fan. In fact, I can already call it: Phils - 1st. Mets - 15 games behind.

The Giants on the other hand sent me their gift one day too late.

The waiting list for season tickets. Think I'm going to wait till hell gets a little colder.

OK Go on the Future of the Music Industry

Longtime readers know that we're fans of the band OK Go and their crazy one-take videos. This weekend, lead singer Damian Kulash had a thought-provoking piece for the WSJ on the future of the music industry...and how it will be key to have corporate sponsors underwrite content generation (link may be insider only; I'm not sure):

My rock band has leapt across treadmills, camouflaged ourselves in wallpaper, performed with the Notre Dame marching band, danced with a dozen trained dogs, made an animation with 2,300 pieces of toast, crammed a day-long continuous shot into 4½ minutes and built the first ever Rube Goldberg machine—at least that we know of—to operate in time to music. We are known for our music videos, which we make with the same passion and perseverance we do our songs. Our videos have combined views in excess of 120 million on YouTube alone, with countless millions more from television and repostings all over the Internet.

For most people, the obvious question is: Has this helped sell records? The quick answer is yes. We've sold more than 600,000 records over the last decade. But the more relevant answer is that doesn't really matter. A half a million records is nothing to shake a stick at, but it's the online statistics that set the tone of our business and, ultimately, the size of our income.

We once relied on investment and support from a major label. Now we make a comparable living raising money directly from fans and through licensing and sponsorship. Our bank accounts don't rival Lady Gaga's, but we've got more creative freedom than we did as small fish in her pond.

I was not aware that Land Rover, Samsung, and State Farm all helped sponsor/fund OK Go's antics. Hmm, maybe we should think about that as a new revenue model for 2011...any of you readers have ideas as to whom we should solicit?

photo: Daryl Peveto/Luceo for The Wall Street Journal

After Receiving Hall Pass, Dodgers Considering Tufts of Hairstons

MLB Trade Rumors also noticed that gaping abyss in left field for the Dodgers, and they said the Hairston brothers (Scott and Jerry Jr.) are potential considerations, along with Marcus Thames.

The Dodgers have now turned their attention to three other left field candidates according to's Ken Gurnick, making contact with Marcus Thames and the brothers Hairston: Scott and Jerry Jr.

Thames, 34 in March, hit .288/.350/.491 in 237 plate appearances for the Yankees in 2010, his best offensive season since 2006. He's a disaster defensively, with a -27.4 UZR/150 in left over the last three seasons. Jerry, the older of the two brothers, played primarily shortstop for the Padres last year, hitting .244/.299/.353 in 476 plate appearances. He dealt with a stress fracture in his tibia at the end of the season. His brother hit .210/.295/.346 in 336 plate appearances for San Diego while battling hamstring issues.

Both Thames and Scott excel at punishing left-handers, with .264/.333/.505 and .278/.331/.498 career batting lines against southpaws, respectively. That would be useful in a division that features lefties Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez, Joe Saunders, and Clayton Richard, among others.

A "disaster defensively" in left field wouldn't be all that foreign to the Dodgers after the last two years. But adding yet another punchless player to this lineup could be damning.

Dodgers Win Mota Sweepstakes By Allowing Giants To Pick Him Up

I am ecstatic that one of the many minor-league invitation deals we signed this off-season will not include Guillermo Mota, who was signed by the Giants yesterday:

The Giants have agreed to sign Guillermo Mota to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training, tweets Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes. The Dodgers and Rays were also considered finalists for his services.

Mota, 37, appeared in 56 games for the World Champion Giants in 2010, pitching to a 4.33 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9. He then chipped in another 2.1 scoreless innings in the postseason. According to PitchFX, he was still flirting with the mid-90's with his fastball.

Yeah, and according to my imagination, I'm still flirting with Olivia Wilde. Mota was awesome in 2003-2004 for the Dodgers (ERA+ of 205 and 192) and even somewhat servicable in his second stint in 2009 (ERA+ of 116). But ever since he was associated with steroids back in 2006, he hasn't been as effective--in fact, since we dished him to the Marlins in 2004, he has had only one season besides 2009 with us which topped an ERA+ of 100. I'm glad we're passing on a third stint (for now).

He's all yours, Frisco.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Don't Like What We Write?

Then do something about it. Go to this page and bookmark the link to destroy our webpage asteroids style. Boy those Swedes are clever. Tip from

Get your 2011 Calendar Now!

I was at a local Dick's Sporting Goods and at the checkout register were a bunch of Dodger 2011 calendars. Get 12 months of Dodger pictures - with 3 months of ex-Dodgers - Martin, Torre, and Ramirez. Buy it and reminisce about days of yore when we had some marquee players which brought us some playoff experiences. Buy now before the calendar, more familiar players, and the memories disappear!

SoSG Fantasy Football Playoffs Continue!

At least, that's what Mr LA Sports Swami tells me (I'm new to all this):

Still in first round of semis; scoring takes place over two weeks.

But we can still smacktalk our way through this weekend's games, right?

UPDATE 10:53a: thanks Dusty for re-sending this...

SoSG Fantasy Football Playoffs Update  

Week one got underway with some high-powered offense and some downright Garret Anderson-like lack thereof.  

In the Winner’s Bracket, Mr. Customer only managed 41 points in total offense, dwarfed by P Ditty’s 70. If you only get -2 from your QB, you know you’re going to have a bad day. Ditty’s own QB only managed 1 point before being knocked from the game with a concussion. He’ll have to replace Aaron Rodgers for tomorrow if he hopes to keep his distance from Mr. C. Due to injuries and the vagaries of the playoff gameplay, it’s still anybody’s game with everything on the line coming into Sunday’s and Monday’s games. ESPN fantasy wizards predictions of the scoreline show that P Ditty can be caught.  

In the other Winner’s Bracket, Dusty Baker featured a potent offense that brought him a convincing 132 points. Paul trotted out his team’s QB, Michael Vick, which will surely lead to karmic retribution for the callous dog killer (Vick, not Paul). Will the 132 – 97 scoreline be too much for Paul to overcome? ESPN fantasy wizards say it will be so, and so did the Magic Eight Ball I just consulted for this report.  

In the Sloppy Seconds Bracket, MRLASC put the sword to Karina, outscoring her 114 – 52. Karina had to invoke her safe word finally as the beatdown continued. Looks like it may be the end of the run for an otherwise Cinderella season for Karina, who came into the league knowing next to nothing about American football but acquitting herself more than adequately all season.  

Meaniebreanie and Spanky went at it……….in one of the other Sloppy Seconds Bracket games, which seems appropriate given their similar season records and their ongoing banter brimming with sexual innuendo and extraneous apostrophes. The scoreline currently shows Spanky with a three point lead, 95 - 92. This one is anybody’s game and figures to feature high drama and spanking references.  

Finally, Nic and Jason are going at it like two teenagers behind the junior high gym after a dance. Jason has a 97 – 71 lead at this point; comfortable, but never a sure thing. Trivia fans will note that each team had one of its players not score a single fantasy point. Tough time in the season with injuries piling up and teams desperate for a playoff spot stepping up their game.  

Stay tuned as we continue the quest to crown the first-ever SoSG Fantasy Football Champion and as we reach new lows in gametime smack talk.

Sorry I got to this so late, DB!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New Mexico / Humanitarian / New Orleans Bowl Thread

Dusty Baker, this is for you!


HUMANITARIAN BOWL: Northern Illinois vs. the State of Fresno

NEW ORLEANS BOWL: Ohio vs. Troy, 6p. I'm rooting for the one that wasn't a bomb of an epic movie.

From Bakersfield to Mannywood to Unknownsville

When I was growing up, left field in Dodger Stadium was Bakersfield, named for Dusty Baker. And more recently, of course, left field has been dubbed Mannywood. And what now besides an area for a platoon of no-names? Steve Dilbeck wonders...:

The Dodgers have been busy stockpiling their pitching staff, but their daily lineup has been improved only at second base with the addition of Juan Uribe.

They currently have no left-field starter and lost out on another prime candidate Friday when Bill Hall signed with the Astros to play second base.

It’s not like Hall was going to be a major acquisition, but at least he was right-handed and offered some pop (18 home runs in 382 at-bats for Boston last season).

But according to’s Ken Rosenthal, Hall just signed a one-year deal with Houston for approximately $3 million.

Which leaves the Dodgers where, besides with a black hole in their lineup?

Man, this is looking bleak for 2011. I can't believe I'm actually regretting missing out on Bill Frickin' Hall, but at this point...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Get Your Red-Hot Dodgers Trade Rumors (Swirling Around Room-Temperature Players)

First, MLB Trade Rumors reports that the Dodgers are among the finalists for Guillermo Mota, and when they say "finalist" I hope they mean "the party furthest away from any possible chance in hell of signing:

Guillermo Mota has been offered minor league contracts from five clubs and the "finalists" for his services are the Dodgers, Giants and Rays, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes on Twitter [Sax's note: I can't read Spanish so I hope this is right]. Mota, 37, signed a $750K minor league deal with San Francisco last winter, but it paid off in the form of his first World Series ring. Mota posted a 4.33 ERA in 56 relief appearances last season, including 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the Fall Classic.

The well-traveled Mota has pitched for seven teams in his 12-year career, and it would be his third stint in Dodger blue if he were to sign with Los Angeles.

Luckily for us, we know that Ned Colletti never signs former Giants who are hoping for an additional tour of duty with the Dodgers. Nosiree, Bob.

MLBTR goes on to say that the Dodgers, along with the Yankees, are among the front-runners in a four-team frenzy for the services of Bill Hall:

The Yankees and Dodgers are the "most aggressive" of the four teams interested in Bill Hall, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe [Sax's note: this tweet, I can read]. We heard about the Yankees' interest in Hall last month, and the Astros and Pirates are probably the other two clubs in the hunt.

Again, lucky for us, Colletti never chases a .240-ish hitter (admittedly with 18 HR for Boston last year, mostly playing left field). Yep, we're safe.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Frank McCourt: Under Pressure?

Buster Olney thinks Frank McCourt might feel the squeeze from other owners, as the Dodgers' paralysis persists (link insider only):

The lords of the realm, to borrow the title of John Helyar's incredible book, smartly handled the Texas Rangers' situation last year. Rather than punish the team's baseball operations department for Tom Hicks' financial misdeeds, the lords gave the Rangers the wherewithal to make the team better during the 2010 season, to add Cliff Lee, to feed into the value of the club.

And by season's end, a franchise that had been listing because of Hicks' debt was revitalized by its first World Series appearance.

Now, one of the sport's signature franchises is having major trouble. The Los Angeles Dodgers should be baseball's West Coast jewel, but the divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt has largely paralyzed the club during the past 15 months save for some nice second-tier moves by general manager Ned Colletti in this offseason. The club is coping with debt, and at some point, it might behoove Frank McCourt -- as he tries to hang on to his ownership -- to draw in other investors and perhaps the same kind of line of credit that the Rangers got.

But by now, McCourt probably knows this: There isn't much interest in extending a financial lifeline to him.

In fact, through inaction -- by not approving of possible partnerships or credit lines -- the other owners could put a tremendous squeeze on him in an attempt to force him to divest himself of his Dodgers ownership.

It's something worth watching in the months ahead.

Robbie Van Winkle approves of this post.

Steve Sax Speaks

This one's for you, Meaniebreanie...

Steve Sax is doing the book tour for his book, "Shift: Change Your Mindset and Change Your World". This weekend, he will be doing two signings in the LA area: at Canter's Deli on Fairfax (Friday, December 17, 6-9p) and at El Cholo on Colorado in Pasadena (Saturday, December 18, 2-5p). More information on the events can be found here.

Come by and say hi!