Coming Out of Left Field

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Baseball blather

My EA Baseball fantasy team just lost another guy to the disabled list, pitcher Ben Sheets, who supposedly has a viral infection. Sheets himself said he isn't sick, he just has some "cobwebs". This is the first time I've ever heard that particular medical term -- learn something new everyday, I guess.

I moved Sheets to the DL and picked up Jose Mesa. Normally I wouldn't keep three relievers, but Mesa has been really sharp for the Pirates, and he might help me catch up in the saves, ERA and WHIP categories. I also shuffled some of the hitters around, though having only one multiple-position player limits my options.

What's even more depressing is that I'm ahead of only one other team, which happens to be composed of all Sox or recent ex-Sox players. I wouldn't mind my fantasy team finishing last if it meant the Sox could avoid debacles like last night's 7-2 loss. The wife and I were listening to the game on the radio and cheered when they went ahead, then moaned and (in my case) swore when the wheels started coming off. Well, at least they're ahead of the Yankees -- though since Boston's third in the division and New York is fourth, that's not saying very much, is it?

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Friday, April 29, 2005

Safe to be out?

There's an interesting story in today's Globe, prompted by Richard Greenberg's play "Take Me Out". The reporter asked several baseball-related folks what they thought reaction to a gay ballplayer would be. To their credit, no one seemed to have a personal issue with it (though Varitek gave a non-response). I found it intriguing that the consensus was that the better the player, the more acceptable he would be. I guess it does make sense, though the Red Sox passed on many, many talented African-American players, including Jackie Robinson, before finally integrating in 1959. I look forward to the day (in my grandkids' future or their kids' future, maybe?) when it won't be an issue for anyone, anywhere.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Actions for equality

Just received from MassEquality.org:

~~snip~~

Dear xxx,

In a few short days, gay and lesbian couples married in Massachusetts will begin celebrating their one-year anniversaries.

During the month of May, we ask you to join us in celebrating these historic anniversaries, to share your stories from this past year, and to take meaningful action to defend equal marriage rights.

Here's how you can take part:

1. Sign the Equality Petition. Add your name to our petition urging legislators to reject any effort to amend the Commonwealth's 225-year-old Constitution to discriminate against gays and lesbians by taking away their constitutionally-protected right to marry. With your help, this petition will be the largest show of support for equal marriage rights in Massachusetts yet assembled. Please add your name, then ask your friends and family members to do the same. Visit www.MassEquality.org to read the petition, sign on, and tell your friends.

2. Share your Story. Whether you got married or not, whether you are single or partnered, gay or straight, last year was a dramatic, history-making year. Let's share with one another, and with the world, what marriage equality has meant to us. There is nothing more moving, or more convincing, than the personal stories of our experience with marriage equality. So please, visit www.MassEquality.org to write a short piece on what marriage equality means to you and to include up to three photographs. We will post many of the submissions on our website and compile some of them into a book to give to legislators.

3. Celebrate. Starting on May 17th, thousands of couples will celebrate their first anniversaries. As these couples mark the occasion, each in their own personal way, we ask you to join them in celebrations around the state. At parties large and small, we will rejoice with newly-married couples and other supporters of equality. For a full list of anniversary parties and to register for the May 17th celebration at Boston's Copley Fairmon, please visit www.MassEquality.org.

4. Volunteer. There is much work to do as we prepare for the next legislative vote on rolling back equal marriage rights. Find out how you can get involved in our office, at the Democratic State Convention in Lowell, and at festivals and Town Meetings throughout the state. To see a full list of upcoming volunteer opportunities, please visit www.MassEquality.org/volunteer.php.

5. Contribute. At MassEquality, our goal is simple - to celebrate not just the first anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts, but the seconde, third and fourth. To do that, we must win this year. We have an ambitious program that we believe will enable us to win when legislators next consider equal marriage rights, but it will be costly to pull off. Please visit www.MassEquality.org to make a secure online contribution today.

It is incredibly exciting to be passing the one-year anniversary of equal marriage rights in Massachusetts. I look forward to reading your stories and seeing you at one of our anniversary celebrations or volunteer opportunities.

Thank you for your continued commitment to equal marriage rights.

Sincerely,

Marty Rouse
Campaign Director

~~snip~~

If you can, please act (in any of the above ways), and pass it on. Thanks!

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Red Sox quote of the day

"Lose two starting pitchers, gain two babies."

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein (as quoted in the Boston Globe, 4/28/05). The pitchers are David Wells and Curt Schilling, who landed on the DL within days of each other; the babies are Kashten Charles and (probably) Kylie Faith, born to Jeanna Millar, wife of first baseman Kevin Millar.

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Playing catch-up

The advantage to being in a four-team league is that you will never be more than three places out of first. The disadvantage is that it's harder to overtake people, both because of the limited number of points you can earn (4 max per category) and because you can't make up ground as easily. I spent some time looking at my roster and saw only a few obvious changes to make:

Dropped: N. Garciaparra (SS, on disabled list)
Added and activated: C. Delgado (1B)

Nomar's going to be out for a couple of months, so it's not worth hanging on to him. Thome's batting average was poor last week; hopefully Delgado will pull up the team average.

That's it for now. I'm going to keep an eye on Abreu, who always seems to do well when I don't have him, but poorly when I do.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Belgium blogging, continued

The wife and I are back in the States after a fun but very active vacation (so active that I didn't get a chance to do a second post from Belgium). Rather than go into a blow-by-blow account, which would take too long even if I weren't jet-lagged, I'll just cover the highlights:

Brussels -- we took two trips into the city. The first time was to visit the Musées de Beaux-Arts. We spent our time there looking at the Flemish Primitives and some of the Belgian moderns; the museum has a particularly fine collection of Magrittes. It was an enjoyable few hours, but we did wish that the artwork had been more clearly labelled (most did not have explanations). Also, whole sections would close down at certain times, so every couple of hours museum staff would come along and quietly but firmly usher us out the doors.

The other time we went into Brussels, we wandered around the city for a bit (tried to find a certain church, but couldn't), then gave up and went to the Comic Strip Museum instead. There's lots of wonderful material there, way too much to see in one visit, so we concentrated on Tintin and the animated films. The latter section had a Steenbeck on display. Just looking at it made my fingers itch, which is probably a good sign, seeing as I'm probably heading back to film school in the fall.

L'Abbaye de Notre Dame d'Orval - This required several hours in the car, but was worth the trip. Orval is famous for its beer, and its brewery is open twice a year for tours. Unfortunately, because of deadlines (picking up kids, dropping off traveling companions), we didn't have time to see the rest of the abbey. We did take home a huge loaf of bread, which helped provide breakfast for the next several days.

Chocolate: Mmmm, mmmm. Enough said.

Walking: Not exactly an exciting activity back home. But when you're trying to navigate down cobblestoned streets that have a) very narrow sidewalks, b) many eye-catching ornaments, sculptures, etc. and c) several cyclists hurtling in all directions, putting one foot in front of the other becomes quite a challenge.

Seeing an American government official: This was something I forgot to mention in my previous Belgium entry. When we were walking around the day after we arrived, we noticed a number of policemen hanging around the town hall. It turned out they were waiting for this gentleman. The ambassador arrived shortly thereafter and did the standard meet-and-greet pictures with town officials. He didn't talk to any onlookers, but did direct a wave in our general direction.

Overall it was a good trip, though tiring, and it did end on a sour note, which I won't elaborate on here. Let's just say that yes, a rose by any other name does smell as sweet, but it's still a rose, damn it, so call it one and have done with it.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Belgium blogging

It's been a good visit in Belgium so far, and a busy one (this is the first time I've been online in the past few days). It took a couple of days to get over the jet lag, thanks in part to a couple of people in front of us who chatted away incessantly. Apparently they thought they were the only ones on the plane; the next morning, one of them was blithely chatting away to a seatmate while standing in the aisle, thus blocking one of the flight attendants. Maybe he felt that since he'd already gotten his breakfast box, everyone else could wait for theirs. Silly, silly me to actually want to get fed.

Once we got here, things took a turn for the better. In the last couple of days we've settled in, with lots of help from our wonderful in-laws, who have shown us around and fed us lots of yummy food. We've also done a lot of walking and looking around. Right now there's a town-wide show dedicated to a local sculptor, Constantin Meunier, who worked during the late 1800's - early 1900's. We learned today on the tour that his art, mostly of the working class, didn't receive much critical acclaim at first, since the wealthy art-lovers didn't think much of his choice of subject. (Which is a shame -- these were strong, well-articulated pieces that must have required lots of observation and work on Meunier's part.) Some of that might still be in effect today; yesterday, we happened upon a lovely antique shop that had several of Meunier's pieces. Apparently the owner asked the town if he could be part of the exhibit, and was told that he would not or could not be included, it's not clear why. Apparently politics and art still don't mix very well.

Tomorrow we'll be off touring somewhere, destination TBD -- preferably somewhere with chocolate!

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Leaving on a jet plane

The wife and I are off to Belgium tonight, to visit with family (one of my brother-in-laws, his wife and their kids are spending a year there on sabbatical) and to do some sight-seeing. I predict lots of excellent eating, a good amount of walking, and very little Internet time for the next several days. While this will mean falling behind on fantasy baseball and other things, I think it's a more than fair trade-off. The only tricky thing will be cleaning out my e-mails once we get back. At least spam doesn't take up any physical space.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Sports survey

A recent Sports Illustrated survey on homosexuality in sports (thanks to fellow blogger Random Words for the link) turns up some very interesting data. Of course this is a relatively small sample of the population, but I found the numbers encouraging. It seems like many respondents basically said, "I'm fine with gays in sports, but society as a whole is not." Get enough people who feel likewise, and that'll put society on the way to becoming fine with it.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

EA fantasy baseball: changes for Week 3

Only one add/drop this week:

Dropped: V. Martinez (C)
Added: P. Lo Duca (C/OF)

Martinez was pretty highly rated coming into the season, but isn't doing that well so far; Lo Duca is hitting .387. No contest.

Benched: N. Garciaparra (S, in Util spot), C. Crawford (OF)
Activated: C. Beltran (OF), M. Giles (2B, in Util spot)

Nomar hasn't gotten in a groove yet, so he gets to rest for a bit. Crawford is doing OK, but Beltran is doing better. Giles's injury status is still iffy, but he's putting up good numbers so far.

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Bush book-burning

Received via e-mail:

Tragic fire
Crawford, Texas (not AP) - A tragic fire this morning destroyed the personal library of President George W. Bush. The fire began in the presidential bathroom where both of the books were kept. Both of his books have been lost. A presidential spokesman said the president was devastated, as he had almost finished coloring the second one.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Tax tip

Tip for any same-sex couples who are married in Massachusetts: you have the option of submitting one state return as a married couple, or two state returns as "married, but filing separately". It might mean more work, particularly if you're doing taxes on your own, but it might save you a little money and ensures that your legal status is on record. (Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do about the federal return ... maybe our kids will.)

Neither my wife nor I thought of it until her tax preparer at H&R Block brought it up. After some number-crunching, she determined that doing two state returns would save us the grand total of $17 -- probably enough to cover our pre-appointment dinner. :)

Technorati: , LGBT, taxes

Monday, April 11, 2005

Funny sign of the week

Seen yesterday while driving: a sign for the office of Dr. Peter Zucker, dentist. "Zucker" = sugar in German.

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Friday, April 08, 2005

Yankee or Dixie?

People often share fun quizzes on Easily Addictive. Today, someone posted one about dialects -- answer 20 questions, and the quiz will give you a score. 0% is pure Yankee, 100% is pure Dixie.

Even though I've never lived in the South, I scored 60%. My guess is that my nearly-Midwestern bringing artificially inflated the numbers. Even odder is that when I change some answers and retake the quiz, my score goes up! I momentarily wondered whether my parents had lied to me and really raised us in Georgia instead of Pennsylvania, but dismissed that thought. I may be bad at reading maps, but I'm not that bad.

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

The West Wing: "2162 Votes"

What a great end to the season. Even though Santos' nomination (as far as viewers are concerned) is a foregone conclusion, the show managed to inject a lot of suspense into the convention chaos. Jimmy Smits did a wonderful job with Santos' speech, which was both rousing and intelligent, a combination not often found in campaign politics. It was nice to see Bartlett finally backing Santos. If he'd done that earlier, maybe things wouldn't have been so fractured come convention time ... but then the VP would've thrown a fit, which may have split the party anyway.

Other notes:
-- Hated, hated, hated the handheld camera. I know they were shooting for a documentary look, but shaky does not automatically equal real. Also, in case no one told them, WW is a fictional TV show.

-- Bit of a shocker, Santos choosing Leo to be his VP. I guess it makes sense if they want to keep John Spencer on the show in the event Santos is elected (Josh would probably end up as chief of staff). The question will be if Leo's ticker is up to the stress and media attention.

-- Wonder what Donna will do now? To say nothing of Will and Bingo Bob.

-- I also wonder who leaked the space shuttle thing. Some people think it was CJ, others think Toby was responsible. I'm leaning toward Toby being the culprit. Although CJ at one point expressed disillusionment with having to conceal things, that was back when she was still press secretary. Now that she's chief of staff, it's hard to imagine her being the leak. Toby, on the other hand, has been getting increasingly depressed and bitter about the state of the party. In a way, he's already leaked stuff before, in Drought Conditions. Would he go as far as to give away classified information to the press? Maybe, though I'd hate for Richard Schiff to leave in that way.

Guess all these questions won't be answered until next season. Good thing baseball's started, so I have something to tide me over until then ...

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EA fantasy baseball: changes for Week 2

Only two adds/drops today:

Dropped: R. Freel (2B/3B/OF)
Added: J. Kent (2B)

With Giles day-to-day, I needed someone to take over at 2B. Since Freel is dealing with an arrest for DWI (short for Dimwit, maybe?), he won't be that guy.

Dropped: F. Cordero (RP)
Added: M. Batista (SP/RP)

It wasn't on the scale of Smoltz's meltdown, but Cordero's blowup didn't impress me at all. I'd rather not be third in ERA if I can help it.

My overall rank (second) is pretty misleading -- there are already huge gaps in batting average and ERA. Too early to panic, but it does bear watching. Stay tuned ...

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Quote of the day

"I'm happy to be back here and see that life goes on as usual. People are not losing their long-term heterosexual relationships ... All appears to be under control."

New HRC president Joe Solmonese, making a tongue-in-cheek comment about Massachusetts (the first state to legalize same-sex marriage), as quoted in today's Boston Globe.

Technorati: , LGBT, marriage equality, Massachusetts

Friday, April 01, 2005

Google Gulp

First, Google comes up with a great search engine. Now, they're making smart sport drinks. What on earth will they think of next?

P.S. Yes, this post is backdated, and for a good reason too. :D

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Doing the waive

Finally had a little free time to mess around with my fantasy baseball rosters. I did only a few adds and drops with my Blogshares squad, but my EA team needed a lot more work. I usually like to split my reserves between batters and pitchers, but the autodraft used all my bench spots for batters, with some position duplication.

Dropped: C. Jones (3B/OF), E. Chavez (3B), J. Reyes (2B/SS)

With S. Rolen and M. Mora, I really didn't need two more third basemen on the roster, even if Jones could play outfielder too (and I seem to remember that he's injury-prone). Reyes is versatile, but I already have Nomar Garciaparra as a backup shortstop, and I wanted a second baseman with more pop.

Added: R. Harden (SP), M. Clement (SP), R. Freel (2B/3B/OF).

Harden and Clement were added to give me the ability to rotate in pitchers (Roto Times will be a popular site for the next several months). Plus, Clement is a strikeout guy (and a Sox guy). I added Freel to both of my squads for flexibility. He came in particularly handy when I was setting up the lineups for the EA squad, since teams don't really get in full swing until mid-week, leaving some of my regulars off the field.

A sort-of-related aside: the other day I was browsing a local magazine, which had an article about Sox GM Theo Epstein and his twin Paul. It was not a well-written piece -- it had promised a focus on their special relationship, but didn't deliver -- but one particular error stood out. At one point, the article discusses some of Epstein's moves, and highlights the trade of then-Sox superstar Norman Garciaparra. The author is probably not a baseball fan, let alone one of the Fenway Faithful.

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