From The Bellyflop, originally published 4/14/09:



Boy, isnít that the truth?  Ground Hog Day.  I mentally walk in and out of that movie every year about this time.  Iím hoping that the earlier start time might shake things up a bit. Iím a morning person.  I always think better in the morning.


Iím also a ponderer.  I like to ponder things, try to figure out why things turn out the way they do.  Iíd like to figure out why my draft always turns out the way it does, which brings me to do a little pondering on myself.  How far away am I from being competitive?  Iíll give you an example.  While preparing for the draft this year I get this breath of fresh thought . . . . an epiphany--look for a starting pitcher who actually is just a reliever who you can keep in the lineup all the time.  I know, I know, Chuck does it every year, but the point is I NEVER think about it beforehand.  This year I actually did.  So I skip over to Scottís office to inform him about this life-altering change in strategy.  Scott, being the person that he is, politely nods in agreement and says ďWow, thatís a great idea, I think youíre on to somethingĒ (or on something, I donít remember exactly what he said), all the while thinking to himself, ďWow, I wonder if this guy knows about microwaves and remote controls.Ē  It all comes back to that damn 156K Tandy hard drive God fitted me with.  Weíve all kind of grown old together and, since Iím the oldest, I can give you an idea of whatís coming. You know youíre old when your wife talks you into watching Dancing With the Stars and you canít figure out who the ďStarsĒ are.  I suffer from Brimful Brain Disease and this will eventually happen to each of you at some point in your life, depending upon the size of your own internal hard drive. . . .  Well, mineís full, I canít fit anymore in it, not without something getting deleted or falling out the bottom of it.  Thatís why time seems to go faster as you get older.  You canít jam anymore life experiences into the old memory bank, so thereís this skip . . . . like on a record, it doesnít take up any space but you missed the whole damn thing.  Now each of you has something to ponder.  So while pondering on just when did mine get full, I had to go all the way back to high school.


I went to school with Kathi, Daveís sister, very beautiful, very smart.  In fact, we went through junior high and high school together, yet I never had her in a class, not one.  You would think at some point we would have had at least one class together.  This got me to pondering if there was something going on.  Granted, my locker was dangerously close to ďThe PoolĒ which in Northeast speak means ďThe Special EdĒ section, but I refuse to believe that my proximity to ďThe PoolĒ meant anymore than just a coincidence, plus my Mom assured me there was no significance to it and I hadnít shown an aptitude for the ďIndustrial ArtsĒ . . . . still havenít as far as theyíre concerned.  Looking back on my transcripts, it was pretty evident that the Fields Medal was safe and, as Iím sure Ted can attest, so was the Pulitzer Prize.  Iíll bet when he reads my posts on the Message Board and plows through the misspelled words and fragmented sentences, itís like driving down a pot-holed gravel road in his Lexus.  So it looks like the last time I was on top of my game may have been junior high.  Well, it is what it is.  Even though my Mom said I was ďspecialĒ to her, she did mention the word lazy a few times.  I can live with that.  So my hard drive is full and Iím lazy.


So how does that relate to baseball?  It means I might have to put forth some extra effort, not blowing snot bubbles effort . . . . but maybe a little more than I have in the past.  Itís no secret that I feel luck is the overriding factor in winning this thing and I can put together a pretty strong case to prove it.  Look at Ted and Big Guy.  Nobody knows more about baseball and statistics than those two guys and they are never going to win again.  Ted has decided to pursue his career as the Unablogger full time and keep us filled in on the daily, if not hourly, trials and tribulations of HIS team in a very heartfelt, intelligent and unbiased (as long as the player isnít a Red Sox, was a Red Sox, retired as a Red Sox or is planning on becoming a Red Sox) fashion and, believe me, it touches us all in that ďspecial way.Ē  Big Guy is hopelessly lost in the maze of the lower division and believe me itís no easy chore to find your way out.  Iíve been looking for that manhole cover for the past 20 years.


Iíve always felt the odds of winning the Hot Stove League are about the same as getting hit with a lightning bolt, as evidenced by the two singed chairs on either side of me at the draft.  So what am I missing?  What is the common denominator that the winning teams share?  Or should I say, what is the common denominator of the teams that havenít won?  WEíRE THE THREE SHORTEST GUYS IN THE LEAGUE.  No one would argue that God is a pretty good shot with a lightning bolt, but not even he can slip one past 6í7Ē Godzilla sitting next to me, and when he did get one past Daveís coconut, it hit Denny.  Heís also lazy and I did have a class with him but heís also two inches taller than me.


In Johnnyís case, he was more than likely sitting in a puddle of beer, which would explain the water and electricity theory.  In fact, heís been hit so many times Iím sure his ears are still ringing.


Mouse is kind of an enigma; heís a cross between Mr. Rogers and Charlie Scheen, with a little more Scheen than Rogers, which may be the rub.  Although, I have to tell you, after seeing that paisley shirt that you wore at Blongoís shindig, Iím starting to lean towards Jon Cryer.  If thatís the case you might want to think about some platform heel shoes to get a little more height.  Iím not here to judge, Iím here to help.


Jim, what can I say?  They donít call you the Crimson Chirpper for nothing, as evidenced by your red complexion and numerous second place finishes.  Youíve had lightning bolts flying all around you, probably for a myriad of reasons.  You might want to lube up with some more Butch Wax and wear a tinfoil hat or, if youíre in that same puddle as Johnny, try standing up.


It all comes down to how liberal God is at flinging those bolts.  Even though Chuck is one of the shorter league members, he obviously ďelevatedĒ his position by recharging his faith, a feat that didnít go unnoticed by the real ďBig Guy.Ē  This is going to require a little more work on my part. Just attending church is not good enough and evidently staring at my shoelaces and thinking about what Iím going to do later in the day and generally being fussy during the sermons didnít go unnoticed either.  Thank God, Jody would always have a baggie full of Cheerios and Trix in her purse to take the edge off.


The only fly in the ointment is Jeff.  He doesnít have the losing longevity that the rest of us have, so he gets a pass for a couple of more years, plus he seems to be grounded in some way or another.  He might have scoliosis or something causing him to stoop down.  Trust me, sitting next to Scott and Dave at the draft isnít doing you any favors.  You want the opposite effect of laying in a ditch when a tornado goes over.  Plus, he may be a poser, especially after the great team he drafted this year and after last yearís second place finish.


This year I was planning on scooting my chair over next to Mitch.  Heís always in the hunt no matter what kind of a team he drafts.  But you know what?  As soon as I would start thinking about moving over by him, the sky would cloud up and lights would dim and the room would get cold, very cold . . . . that damp, chill-to-the-bone cold and I was immediately reminded of that quote, ďThe greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didnít exist.Ē  I think it was from Danteís Divine Comedy or Vrbal Kent in Usual Suspects.  And all this time we have been blaming poor, old, soot-covered, ears ringing, singed, drunk Johnny.   Hmmmmmmm?


Jim, Mouse, Iím going to bring old phone books for us to sit on next year to even the playing field.






From The Bellyflop, originally published 4/30/08:





Is that really Earl Weaver in the picture? It looks more like an old Charley McCarthy with Daveís arm up his back.


This kind of snuck up on me, so it wonít the longest Bullpen youíve ever read. Scott has implemented a new computer plan at work and Iím trying not to be the first dinosaur voted off the premises. When you hit fifty you should be able to get a Grandfather clause to guard against these situations. There are only so many candles still lit in the attic.


Doesnít it seem like weíve been getting Skipper Lite these past couple of years? I miss the old Skipper. God knows Iíve given him enough ammo; the Tribe hasnít been relevant for years. The old Skipper would never pass up a shot; I use to be so afraid of writing anything for fear of spelling a word wrong and getting my paper sent back to me corrected, that it actually kept me up at night. Now, I just fire these Bullpens off without giving it a second thought. They look like my Granddaughter got a hold of them with a green and red crayon, but you know what, I donít care. The teacherís gone, heís stepped out for a while, thereís no one guarding the hen house, the Keeper of Grammar is on sabbatical (by the way, the computer just inserted an extra b in sabbatical all on its own, one looked good enough for me) and now all I feel is sad. I feel like a two year old who canít get anyoneís attention. I miss the old Skipper.


Here are just a few of my thoughts on the teams and owners:




In a word: Hieroglyphics (yup, spell checker)


There are pictures of Smoltz, Martinez, Griffey, Jones, Wagner and Frank Thomas on the walls of caves in France. If Tejada has anymore interviews with ESPN heíll be 45 be the end of the month. If the Cubs win, Iíll join a monastery. (Linda, could you erase this from the archives, I donít want Ted throwing this back in my face if Iím wrong)?




In a word: Puzzling (Iím really getting tired of these red squiggly lines, thereís no e in puzzling)? Really?


OK, Iím a little biased by his 11th place prediction of the Tribe. Iíll try to live up to his lofty expectations. Mitch reminds me of Dick Chenney, he does a lot of work off camera, sinister work, but work never the less. Heíll mold this team into a contender. He always does.




In a word: Persistent


If you settle for what you got, you deserve what you get. Denny will work this team like a rented mule, heíll get every inning, and every point that he can out of them. Now that he has a job that he gets off work at 1:30, it gives him ample time to plot his strategy for the day. In fact, the only person I know who has had more free time on his hands is Wesley Snipes tax advisor. Heíll have triple digit transactions by the end of the year. Donít count him out.




In a word: Clairvoyant


Scott has an uncanny ability to read people. The team he started the season with will bear no resemblance to team he ends the season with. He proved it last year that he knows what buttons to push and when to push them. Like rust, he never sleeps. He does more early morning transactions then a drug dealer or paper boy. I wish I could read between the lines as well as he does.






Ted knows more about baseball and statistics than anyone West of Big Guy. Heís not as active on the waiver wire list as I would expect him to be and this may hurt him. But, there is always a well thought out reason for everyone he drafts and this makes him a threat.


We start life out like an over zealous defense lawyer, weíre anxious to defend the downtrodden and stand up to the uncaring establishment. Then we drift into middle age and become jaded by the realities of bucking the system and become more self aware of our own lot in life and devote our time to acquiring and keeping our wealth, while keeping our younger ideals on our mental backburner. As we pass into our older years and we are comfortable in what weíve achieved, we grant ourselves the luxury of looking back and wondering, what if? Democrat, Republican, Democrat. I just prefer to cut out the middle man.


Any Whoooooooooo




In a word: Prepared


In my humble opinion, the 2008 HOTSTOVE CHAMPION. I canít find a flaw. I want to find a flaw, but I just canít. Those countless nights of burning the midnight oil have paid off for Jeff. You can slowly introduce yourself back into the family now. Jeffís greatest attribute is his attention to the waiver wire and free agents, which rivals Dennyís and Scottís in thoroughness.




In a word: Porcelain


I hate this team more than a cold toilet seat. Heís like a pin oak leaf, he not going anywhere. (I donít think those damn things are even biodegradable, if you donít rake them up, there yours forever).




In a word: Fog


This team is going to creep up on us in the middle of night like a student loan officer and we wonít see it coming.




In a word: Thankful


Thanks for taking Jimmy Rollins; I told Scott before the draft that my greatest fear would be seeing Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes going right before me and that I would get stuck taking someone coming off a career year. You, more than anyone, should know what that means in this league.




In a word: Redundant


Iím bored with myself. What is it about a "Wet Paint" sign that makes us touch the wall anyway? I just had to draft Travis Hafner again to make sure that all the success that he achieved in the past was due solely to the use of steroids. Suspicions confirmed. Along with half of baseball. So my strategy this year was to take the natural equivalent of steroids. Youth.




In a word: Passion


If it were passion alone that fueled the Blues he would run away with the league. Jon has some top tier talent waiting in the wings for their chance, if heís patient they will pay off for him in the long run. Jon, itís my hope that we will have an epic battle like last year, only this time for a top half finish.




In a word: Luck


There are only 4 of us left who believe in luck or the lack of it and Iím not sure Jeffís heart is in it anymore. After this year, it might just be you, me and Buser. Who needs that dumb ole trophy anyway? QuickÖ whosí the biggest scumbag, Clemens or Rose? If the internet reports are true, it looks like the Rocket was into the youth movement too.. Who would have thought that Rose could come out on top of any character comparison? With anbody?




In a word: Nostalgia


Really, everyone has a fighting chance in this thing; it just all comes down to how much time you can devote. Itís too bad all those remote baseball venues that Dave encounters arenít equipped with a computer link to Yahoo Sports, so Dave could run his team while heís there. Evidently, the walk down the hall to his home office is further than St Paul, Ne. As of todayís standings it looks like the Senators are beginning to right the ship, a competitive Skipper is good for the league. What has always made this league, this club or ours, special, is Dave. I think that is the one thing we can all agree upon. Just promise me this. If I ever pass out on a subway ride at 2 am in the morning in Chicago, youíll care enough to lean over and put my sunglasses on me backwards and jam business cards in mouth. For old time sakes.




From The Bellyflop, originally published 4/4/06:



Iím sure by now you are all aware of what happened to me the last time we visited the mean streets of St Louis. Somewhere on the subway ride to our hotel while I was chumming for deadbeats, someone pick-pocketed my wallet and the 300 hundred dollars of fun money that I brought along for the trip, so I had to rely on Dennyís good nature and his ATM card to make it through the trip and get back home (this might be the reason that Denny isnít making the trip this year, heís probably afraid the trip will cost double again).


After I got home I had to deal with humiliation and inconvenience of replacing everything of importance that had been stolen, canceling credit cards, getting a new drivers license and all that fun stuff. On that following Monday I called the DMV and told them the story and asked them what I had to do to get a duplicate of my driverís license. The lady asked me if I had a copy of my Birth Certificate, which I did and told me that should do it. So I grabbed my Birth Certificate and headed for the DMV, of course there was a long line and of course the line I picked ended up being 3 times slower than the other one. When I got to the front of the line I repeated my sad tale and she asked me if I had a copy of my Birth Certificate which I immediately pulled out, this is where it starts to get weird. She said she needed another form of ID with my signature on it, so I pulled out a credit card that I had not taken with me on the trip, Nope, she said it couldnít be a credit card. So, I pulled out a medical insurance card. Nope, she said that technically that was the same as a credit card. By now, the line is about 12 deep behind me, and if you think being turked scares me, I could feel 12 sets of eyes burning a hole through the back of my head.  She asked me if I had any cancelled checks. Sure, Iíve got lots of them, but I failed to pack them in my shorts for my trip to the DMV. So she asked me if I had a Hollywood Video card.  Really. So I straightened my hat, checked to see if my fly was unzipped and asked her if I was on camera? (The guy behind me loved that line). Camera?  No, why would you be on camera? Because this has got to be a joke, are you telling me that I have to have a Hollywood Video card to validate my Birth Certificate? I guess Iím attacking this from the wrong angle, I thought I would replace my credit cards first and work my way down.  My Hollywood Video card ranks between my Andy Griffiths rerun watchers membership club card and my laminated card of the Klingon alphabet.  Donít you have a record of my license with my picture on it? Yes, but thatís not the way we do it here. So I told her to get her supervisor who pretty much told me the same thing. So I did what any other red blooded American male would do. I gave up. I told her I didnít have to get my license renewed for another 2 years, so I would try to wing it without a license until then.


After about 2 months it got the best of me and I knew I was going to be in the area of the other DMV on West O Street, so I went there loaded for bear. I had my Birth Certificate, my passport, cancelled checks, Hollywood Video card and a Blockbuster card just to be sure. I went up to the counter told the lady my story and she asked me if I had a Birth Certificate. Yup, right here. She said great, just take a seat over there and weíll take your picture and get you on your way. What the? It took about 10 minutes. Does this stuff happen to any of you guys? I swear Iím going to write a book.




From The Bellyflop, originally published 4/12/05:



If you take your car someplace like Jiffy Lube or Texaco to get your oil changed because (A) You donít want to do it yourself or (B) If youíre like me and canít do it yourself, then I have a canít miss tip to make this as painless as possible. When you pull up and the attendant comes over to take your information, ask him to send over the guy who will be doing the work on your car. Give the guy a ten dollar bill and tell him you donít want to see him again until the next time you have your oil changed. Tell him you donít want to be bothered while your drinking your cup of coffee and reading the box scores by someone showing you a bent wiper blade or a dirty air filter or two brown dots on a sheet of paper of God only knows what, from God only knows where. This is a win-win for everyone involved. He gets a nice tip and you wonít appear to be uncaring about the condition of your car to all the other housewives in the waiting area. Believe me, this is tried and true.




From The Bellyflop, originally published 7/6/04:


Horror of all horrors: Ordering at the drive-through window at Burger King or Mac Donalds with my family in the car. Just about the time the 16 year old malcontent gets on the horn to ask me for my order, I'm blindsided with a barrage of special order requests, ranging from. Hold the onions, mayo on only one side of the bun, could you scrape off the sesame seeds, to hold the cheese on the cheeseburgers. This is especially mortifying to me because I have a completely different take on fast food. I've even been tempted to drive up and say "I've got 5 bucks, give me what you think I should have, because that's what you're going to do anyway." If I order a hamburger, fries and drink and get 2 apple pies, a shake and a chew toy, I don't care, what's the difference? The hamburgers taste like the shakes and the fries taste like the salads, as long as I don't get stiffed, I don't care. Evidently it's a big deal to everyone else, because I'm not allowed to leave the vicinity until the bag has been checked by at least 2 different independent sources for accuracy. Now, when we get in the car to go out to eat I claim backseat, so after they're through pissing off the kid at the window I bark out my "No. 2 with a coke, thanks". See how easy that is?