A Life Sentence on Planet Earth

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Baseball Projections: NL West

Much of the National League West has the same décor, only many of the centerpieces have been moved around. The in-house shuffle was only begun by Bruce Bochy, the manager of the two-time division champ Padres who shifted north to the Giants. Eight prominent players also changed uniforms within the division (Jason Schmidt, Greg Maddux, Luis Gonzalez and Dave Roberts to name a few), and even a head trainer (Stan Conte, who left San Francisco for Los Angeles) didn't go far.
This will make things interesting, especially considering how bunched the 2006 final standings were. Two teams (Padres and Dodgers) won 88 games, and the other three each won 76. The 2007 formation may be as tight, but the order could change quite a bit.

Los Angeles appears to have separated itself from the scrum with a series of moves designed to build on the torrid momentum generated by the last two months. The Dodgers are poised to spoil the Padres' dreams of being the NL West's first three-peater since the Braves; that's right, no team has copped three straight titles since Atlanta (1991-93) was confounding geography students by being in the West.

The Diamondbacks got much younger on the field, while the G-Men hardly did, remaining on AARP's mailing list. And the Rockies stayed the course, hoping their bumper crop of 2005 rookies is ready to conquer the hump.

However the race is settled, every NL West-head will be burning candles in October. Since San Francisco's win in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series, division teams have compiled a postseason record of 3-17. They're tired of the West being the land of the setting sun and of one-and-done.


The Los Angeles Dodgers

The volume of the Dodgers' changes (six front-liners in, seven out) should not be surprising, given how hastily the '06 crew had been assembled following general manager Ned Colletti's December hiring. More stunning is how well Colletti was able to adjust to being blind-sided by J.D. Drew's opt-out. Drew withdrew on Nov. 9; within a month, Juan Pierre and Gonzalez re-stocked the outfield. Colletti kept at it, adding an ace (Schmidt), a high-upside lefty (Randy Wolf) and a savvy backstop (Mike Lieberthal).

The Dodgers have to come up with the new batting order, with a 50 percent overhaul of the starting lineup (including Andre Ethier moving into Drew's spot in right field). For starters, who's better to lead off, Pierre or incumbent Rafael Furcal?

The position battles are Left field -- only with a major collapse can Gonzalez play himself out of the position, but there is a long list of standbys (Jason Repko, Matt Kemp, Marlon Anderson). Set up man -- Yhency Brazoban isn't likely to return from elbow surgery until midseason, so the spot is up for grabs. No. 5 starter -- Chad Billingsley is penciled in, but more experienced arms are available in the bullpen pool (Brett Tomko, Mark Hendrickson, Elmer Dessens).

Wilson Betemit commandeered the third-base job with his dynamite performance following his late July acquisition from Atlanta, but he has never played a full season of more than 373 at-bats. If the pace gets to him and if age had more to do than injuries with Jeff Kent's decline, the Dodgers will take on water in the holes in their lineup and sink.

The Arizona Diamondbacks

General manager Josh Byrnes has made over (Doug Davis, Livan Hernandez) and re-made (Randy Johnson) the rotation -- a nice feat with a reigning Cy Young Award winner (Brandon Webb) able to greet the newcomers. But remember what drove Johnson out of the desert in the first place? Lack of run support. It may be déjà vu all over again.

The biggest Spring Break challenge is don't overreact to how the team looks/performs. The kids in the overhauled lineup (four projected regulars have started a combined total of 113 Major League games) may come out like young bucks or be toned down by new pressures. Either way, just let them settle in.

The biggest position battles are Left field -- coming off the first 25-25 season in club history, Eric Byrnes would seem up to filling Gonzalez's shoes, but prospects are crowded behind him and the club already has shown a tendency to go with youth where warranted. Set up man -- Luis Vizcaino was sacrificed to the Yankees for the Unit, so a couple of Brandons (Lyon, Medders) and Tony Pena will fight over the eighth inning. No. 5 starter -- this will be a cattle call.

Much of the D-backs' hopes ride on their new set of lefties, and Johnson and Davis indeed bring lush credentials. Last season, however, was a weed bed. In fact, Johnson (5.00) and Davis (4.91) ranked last and third-to-last in ERA among all Major League left-handed starters. Unless those numbers go on a crash diet, the D-backs crash.

The San Diego Padres

The division's lowest-scoring team (731 runs) has lost about 30 percent of its offense without matching replacements, and old guys David Wells and Maddux don't seem enough to make up for it on the pitching end. Getting Marcus and Brian together is nice, but while the J. Giles Band sang "Centerfold," barring a lot of good breaks, the Friars' Giles Band will be humming a different kind of fold.

Hold onto Scott Linebrink. Aaron Rowand is out there for the asking, but GM Kevin Towers shouldn't react rashly to any early troubles by Terrmel Sledge. Rowand wouldn't be a defensive improvement in center, where the Padres already have Mike Cameron, and new manager Bud Black showed in Anaheim he can do wonders with a stacked bullpen.

There are two big position battles: Third base -- the Padres thought enough of Kevin Kouzmanoff to get him from Cleveland for Josh Barfield even before Marcus Giles was in place, but Russell Branyan is an available veteran fallback, and Catcher -- Josh Bard did a standout job as Mike Piazza's top reserve, but Rob Bowen has comparable experience and is in line to at least share the job.

If Jake Peavy can stay away from freak injuries, Chris Young remains the best 6-foot-10 pitcher in the division and Maddux has one more 15-win season in him, the Padres can remain in the Black.

The San Francisco Giants

There's been little renovation around the centerpiece (Barry Zito). The Giants shed 40-somethings Steve Finley, Moises Alou and Mike Stanton, but they kept the Gray in G-Men by retaining Barry Bonds among other vets and loading up on guys in their mid-30s (Rich Aurilia, Ryan Klesko, Dave Roberts).

There is one big Spring Training battle, dealing with, and making good use of, the Barry distractions. While Bonds and Zito will be centers of attention, Bochy will be able to mold his new cast into a unit.

The major position battles are Closer -- Armando Benitez still is in the house but inspires little confidence, and both substitute closers (Stanton and Tim Worrell, who has retired) are gone. Kevin Correia and Brian Wilson will get shots, as well as first base -- Aurilia is penciled in to start, but Klesko looked reborn at the end of the season and Lance Niekro still is on hand.

Giants fans gulped when Schmidt went south, but Zito will take over a rotation that has a high ceiling. If Matt Cain consistently shows the goods he flashed last season and Matt Morris rebounds from his career-worst year, the Giants can be a force.

The Colorado Rockies

Ownership quickly decided against shaking up things by dealing Todd Helton, but general manager Dan O'Dowd already had made a splash by turning one pitcher (Jason Jennings) into two potential starters (Jason Hirsh, Taylor Buchholz) and one center fielder (Willy Taveras). Part Coors, part sea-level talent, this young team will have the division's best offense, but the pitching staff could be just as scary.

It isn't in Helton's nature to be a vocal leader, but as the team around him has gotten younger, he has grown as its obvious anchor. Happy that his long-shot move to Boston fell through because it meant he could keep striving to bring a winner to Denver, Helton must now learn to speak up.

There are position battles here as well: No. 5 starter -- in addition to Hirsh and Buchholz, the field includes Byung-Hyun Kim, Oscar Rivera, Ubaldo Jimenez and Brian Lawrence, who will try to resurrect his career after major shoulder tears in both the labrum and rotator cuff. Keystone -- the Rockies would love for Kaz Matsui's work the last two months (.352) not to have been a mirage, but Jamey Carroll is shadowing second just in case, and Clint Barmes will fight to keep Troy Tulowitzki from taking his job at shortstop.

Yes, we've read and heard enough about how changes in certain conditions have made Coors Field more pitcher friendly, but the ERAs posted by incumbent starters Aaron Cook (4.23) and Jeff Francis (4.16) still were darned impressive in the context of the place's history. With Josh Fogg, Rodrigo Lopez and the survivor of heated competition for the final berth, they give the Rox the makings of an over-the-top staff.

FINAL RANKINGS:
1. LA Dodgers
2. San Diego Padres
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Francisco Giants

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Baseball Projectiona: AL West

The American League East is quite possibly the most up for grabs division in all of baseball. Last Year Oakland ran away with it because of superior pitching, but with the defection of Barry Zito across the bay to San Francisco, will Oakland recapture the title or fall again?

Before Spring Training can reveal what GM Billy Beane might have up his sleeve this time, Oakland's title appears up for grabs. The defending champs lost their top pitcher and most productive hitter, and their closest pursuers (the Angels) have been laid-back -- so far -- about leaping through the window of opportunity.

The Mariners have overhauled their rotation into potentially the division's deepest -- a wonderful asset in expansive Safeco Field. The Rangers tread a little closer to being a sideshow, with Eric Gagne and Sammy Sosa -- but imagine the return if the two waylaid veterans furnish more steak than just sizzle.

Agendas litter the fields. Jeff Weaver's issues aren't with kid bro Jered, who took his job, but with the Angels, who gave it to him. Jose Guillen, Mike Scioscia's old headache, now is in right field for Seattle. Ron Washington, the beloved A's coach who couldn't get a managerial gig with them, now has it in Texas. Angels righty John Lackey and A's catcher Jason Kendall still aren't exchanging birthday cards.

Obviously, these guys play hardball with hard feelings. It's a lot to look forward to for fans, who will just have to temper their enthusiasm.

The drama looks to be interesting here.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem

General manager Bill Stoneman dealt all offseason with owner Artie Moreno's well-documented "we will get an impact bat" vow/edict. In the view of many, he fell short with Gary Matthews Jr., whose signing for $50 million caused eyes to roll. But Stoneman was rolling the dice that Matthews' breakthrough season at 32 wasn't an aberration, but the onset of a late-breaking, high-level career. Otherwise, Stoneman continued to focus on a team strength, adding another layer to the bullpen (Darren Oliver, Justin Speier).

One can only hope that the Angels management doesn't tear out their hair when Bartolo Colon is the usual train wreck he is during Spring Training. The man is a slow starter. Colon is critical to the Angels chances, however, so their reaction will be understandable.

Their biggest position battles will be at first base and left field. Casey Kotchman's healthy return from a year taken by mononucleosis would improve the lineup. Scioscia would then have the option of playing Shea Hillenbrand at third, which would keep Chone Figgins as a super sub, and the Angels would be thrilled to see Juan Rivera (broken left leg) by July, so Reggie Willits and Tommy Murphy will contest the chance to fill the position in the meantime.

The Halos will start out with a lot on their plate at first, Colon has to prove to be a good healer, Jered Weaver and Matthews have to prove their 2006 was genuine, they have to break in a new right side of the infield (Howie Kendrick and the eventual choice at first).

If any of these flop is could spell disaster for then 2002 World Champs.

The Seattle Mariners

The King and his court ("King" Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn, with newcomers Miguel Batista, Horacio Ramirez and Jeff Weaver) could form a good rotation. Jose Guillen and new DH Jose Vidro won't carry the lineup, but will be nice accessories if Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre and, of course, Ichiro Suzuki do their things.

Vidro, however, needs to be productive as the DH and fast especially after last seasons' disastrous experiment with a DH by committee that ranked last in offense. Vidro has had leg problems in the past so hopefully staying off the field will help more then hurt.

One of the bigger challenges for the M's is settling their middle relief. Arthur Rhodes and Aaron Small. among others, will be competing for spots behind setup man Chris Reitsma and closer JJ Putz.

Ichiro and Guillen are two diverse players who have never really been clubhouse leaders, but have shown a tendency to be clubhouse drains. After three straight last-place finishes, the M's will open the season with fragile psyches and can't afford any snits regarding Ichiro's contract status, Guillen's playing time, or whatever.

The Oakland Athletics

Never underestimate Beane's genius for seeing more than is apparent to others, but the mirrors with which the A's have done it for years seem to be cracking. He may be the only GM who could feel comfortable about handing a new manager (Bob Geren) a rotation topped by a guy seen for fewer than 12 innings since early June (Rich Harden, who missed the heart of the 2006 season with a strained elbow ligament). Compiled with a forward-looking perspective, the team's 2006 highlight reel excluded Barry Zito's 16 wins and Frank Thomas' 39 homers and 114 RBIs; they won't be in '07 box scores, either.

Mike Piazza is another career NL-er who will try his hand at DH-ing, except how he adapts is far more crucial to the A's.

The A's are locked in at few positions, flexibility having been one of the keys to their successful run, but most open are the corners of the outfield and infield. A comeback by first baseman Dan Johnson, a major '06 flop, would allow Nick Swisher to take over in left field.

Esteban Loaiza came up huge in a supporting role last season, for long stretches ranking as the team's most dependable starter. If he can do as well with greater responsibility on him now, it will be a major step toward sustaining the rotation excellence that has been the A's signature. If Beane's sudden fascination with hard-throwing relievers (Kirk Saarloos' trade brought the latest proof) pans out, the bullpen will shorten games. They'll need that; they won't pack the comeback punch they had last season.

The Texas Rangers

Time will tell what Matthews gives the Angels, but he was undeniably huge for the Rangers, who replaced him with a human talisman (Kenny Lofton, who has appeared in 10 of the last 12 playoffs with six different teams) lacking comparable tangible tools. Talking the White Sox into giving up right-hander Brandon McCarthy may prove to be a coup. Barring a supreme rebirth by Sosa, however, the offense will remain spotty in a ballpark that absolutely demands it.

Get a read on Gagne will be a big challenge for the Rangers. His recent breakdowns have been sudden, so even the good signs may be misleading. But if he is convincing enough for the Rangers to consider moving incumbent closer Akinori Otsuka, they could turn him into a major upgrade in the outfield.

If Vicente Padilla, who has an alarming track record for doing his best when pitching for a contract, actually lives up to the latest deal he earned last season, it will go a long way toward legitimizing GM Jon Daniels' decision to make the Rangers more pitching-oriented than has been customary.

FINAL RANKINGS:
1. Anaheim Angels
2. Seattle Mariners
3. Oakland Athletics
4. Texas Rangers

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Baseball Projections: NL East

Today we're going to stick with the east coast and switch over to the National League. Last year the Mets got a running start and didn't stop until they'd earned themselves a playoff spot and unseated the Atlanta Braves for the NL East crown.

But what will happen this year?

The New York Mets

They relied on a makeshift rotation that carried them all the way to a Game 7 of the NLCS where they lost to the Cardinals (mutters "Get the bat off your f***ing shoulder next time Beltran.") the Mets took only some low-profile measures to compensate for Pedro Martinez's expected half-season absence. It's a big load to lay on the offense -- especially with uncertain production from new corner outfielders Moises Alou and Shawn Green.

Green may also have to battle with Endy Chavez during Spring Training to keep his spot in the lineup.

If general manager Omar Minaya guessed wrong on the available starters' ability to stay the course, the Mets may already be off course by the time Pedro gets back in gear. But if Martinez does return with the health and stamina to go six innings every five days, they should have a better finishing kick than last season.

The Philadelphia Phillies

This team made a late season surge, but just fell short of the playoffs. With the problems the Mets have had this off season, if the Phils can make all the right moves at the right times the division is theirs for the taking.

GM Pat Gillick brought in a proven big-game pitcher (Freddy Garcia) and a project (Adam Eaton), but is Eaton (13 starts due to a finger tendon injury) convincing enough to provoke the trade of Jon Lieber? There is also a problem with the setup replief pitching as well. Gillick's willingness to swap Rowand to San Diego for Scott Linebrink betrays his discomfort with in-house candidates Ryan Madson, Antonio Alfonseca and Geoff Geary.

If the Phils want to have a shot at the NL East crown they need to have their starters eat a lot of innings and cannot reply on the bullpen at least until they get to the end and hand the ball over to closer Tom Gordon.

The Atlanta Braves

Unlike other perennial forces who are only comfortable reloading with veterans through free agency and trades, the Braves have never been afraid to tie their fortunes to prospects. That was evident two years ago, when 17 assorted rookies helped them to their 14th straight division title. And so they roll the dice again with a green right side of the infield.

The Braves need to gain confidence in a couple of left elbows that can make-or-break the season. Mike Hampton missed all of 2006 following reconstructive surgery, and new setup man Mike Gonzalez sat out the last five weeks with tendinitis in the joint.

GM John Schuerholz and skipper Bobby Cox are committed to planting former outfielders Scott Thorman and Kelly Johnson at first and second, respectively. But there will be enough veteran options in camp (headlined by Craig Wilson and Chris Woodward) to shorten the rope.

Tim Hudson spent the offseason rediscovering his desire. If he now rediscovers the stuff and attitude that made him virtually unbeatable in Oakland (183 starts, 39 losses), he joins forces with John Smoltz and Hampton for a formidable trio. Cox could make up the other two days as he goes along, all the way to a return to October.

The Florida Marlins

This team was projected last year to lose 100 plus games, then proceeded to content until late September. It was all due to mamager Joe Girardi who won NL Manager of the Year, then was (very stupidly) let go by the Marlins.

Florida had the league's only rotation with five double-figure winners and four of them were rookies, an MLB first. Can they repeat this year? Who knows.

New manager Fredi Gonzalez, who essentially lost out on this job a year ago to Joe Girardi, and new pitching coach Rick Kranitz have to earn the trust of the young team.

There is going to be a major position battle in CF with versatile Alfredo Amezaga is penciled in, but Alex Sanchez, Reggie Abercrombie, Eric Reed and Cody Ross will all crowd him.

There is a major question mark with the new closer Taylor Tankersley. If he proves as sharp at the end of games as he was in the middle of them (2.85 ERA in 49 appearances), the staff may not have a ceiling. If offseason arm problems for Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez linger into the season, the team may not have a prayer.

The Washington Nationals

The very definition of a work in progress. They lost Alfonso Soriano to the Cubs and have not replaced him. This is the projected 100 game loser this year.

A team that didn't replace some important pieces who left may seemed to have regressed, but the Nats are now following the long-range vision of club president Stan Kasten. In his first four years at the Braves' helm, they averaged 98 losses, then won 14 straight division titles. It's called laying a solid foundation.

During Spring Training the Nats need to unleash the energetic optimism of Manny Acta, the youngest manager in the game, and let it inspire a blend of young, castaway and recycled players who will check in expecting to lose. If they buy into the program, Acta II should be a crowd-pleaser.

The biggest problems are that neither Nick Johnson (broken right leg) nor Cristian Guzman (torn labrum) will be ready out of the gate; by the time they step in to fill two holes, the Nationals could already be buried in a deep one.

Final Rankings:
1.Philadelphia Phillies
2.New York Mets
3.Atlanta Braves
4.Florida Marlins
5.Washington Nationals

Monday, February 05, 2007

Baseball projections: AL East

It's that time again kids. The grass is being cut, the fields are being re-sod and pitchers and catchers are reporting for Spring Training.

Over the next few days I'm going to take my cues from the MLB website to break down the teams. Division by division, team by team, in order to give what I hope can be insight into the upcoming baseball season.

I'm going to start with the most competitive division: The American League East.

There are 5 teams in this division: The New York Yankees, The Boston Red Sox, The Toronto Blue Jays, The Tampa Bay Devil Rays and The Baltimore Orioles.

So let's get to it.

The New York Yankees:

The Yanks have realized over the years that money cannot buy championships, as evident by the fact that there have been no repeat champions since 2000. They've actually been shedding talent lately with the trade of Gary Sheffield to Detroit, the trade of Jaret Wright to Baltimore, and the trade of Randy Johnson to the Diamondbacks.

They've still got Bobby Abreu in Right Field and they've also signed two left handed pitchers: Kei Igawa from Japan and former Yankee Andy Pettite. They also have a logjam in the bullpen behind Mariano Rivera.

Chris Britton, Alberto Gonzalez, Ross Ohlendorf, Humberto Sanchez and Kevin Whelan have been added to the Yankees' future, along with the developing likes of Philip Hughes, Tyler Clippard, Jeff Karstens and more.

The Yanks have also added Doug Mientkiewicz to play first base (a shot at the BoSox if anything, since Doug played for them when they won the World Series in 2004) and this move allowed Jason Giambi to focus solely on being the Designated Hitter.

There is also a logjam in the outfield with Hideki Matsui (left), Johnny Damon (Center) and Abreu (right) along with Melky Cabrera (backup) which could put Yankee legend Bernie Williams in the minors if he signs the deal offered.

The problems the Yankees have are was this off season enough? Did they make enough moved to keep their hold on AL East Champions, which they have had for the last 9 years?

There was no major "October Suprise" signing like there was in previous years with the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson and Johnny Damon, unless you count Andy Pettite, which I persoanlly do not.

There is another problem as well. A-Rod's contract has an opt out clause at the end of this year, so if he struggles during the first half I see one of two things happening: Either the Yankees seriously consider trading him or he opts out of his contract at the end of the year and becomes the hottest free agent in all of baseball.

Only Time Will Tell.

The Boston Red Sox

While we are on the subject of moneyball, the BoSox spent loads of cash this off season, but they're not the only team to do so.

They signed JD Drew to replace Trot Nixon in the outfield. Julio Lugo to be the latest in a long line of Short Stops and Japanese sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka from Japan.

Drew opted out of his remaining contract with the Dodgers and is a health concern for the Sox as he hits behind David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Lugo will most likely hit leadoff and will be the teams stolen base leader.

But all the attention will be around Matsuzaka. The Japanese import who in all cost the Sox $103 million to sign from the Seibu Lions in Japan.

One thing they need to worry about is keeping Manny Ramirez happy, he basically bailed on the team at the end of last year when they finished third behind Toronto after an embarassing five game sweep at Fenway by the Yankees.

There were many injureis that plagued the Sox last year: Ortiz, Crisp, Papelbon, and Jon Lester who should be fully recovered from cancer treatment in time for Spring Training.

There is also a backlog and an open job for the closer role. Thrre likely candidates have emerged: Brendan Donnelly, who came over from the Angels in a trade, Joel Pinero who came over from Seattle and veteran Mike Timlin. The two kids, Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen, are not ready for the job yet.

The biggest worry in Red Sox Nation is Matsuzaka. He hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors yet and until he does he's an unproven commodity. The investment is steep and financial, mediocrity is not an option.

The Toronto Blue Jays

Attempting to build off of their second place finish, the Blue Jays made a big signing with Frank Thomas to be their DH.

The biggest concern for this team is pitching. They have Roy Halladay who always seems to get injured when he is about to have a breakout season, AJ Burnett who is going into his second season with the Jays, it would be perfect to get a full seaosn out of Burnett.

There are other pitchers that the Jays have signed Tomo Ohka and John Thompson. Building into season-ready shape a rotation each of whose cogs -- Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Gustavo Chacin, Ohka and Thomson -- coped with arm injury in 2006; accepting 32 as a full season, that quintet missed a total of 57 starts.

Josh Towers, who in 2005 had the lowest ERA (3.71) among all AL East starters, comes to this camp as a fallen, non-roster invitee to try to take advantage of any letdown by Ohka or Thomson. So will Shaun Marcum, Casey Janssen and Dustin McGowan. Vet shortstop Royce Clayton tries to keep Russ Adams out of the picture.

The Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore's baseball dynasties were always built on pitching and, following a record ninth straight losing season, the Orioles have again embraced that model. The big offseason project was an overhauled bullpen, at a cost of $42 million for four relievers, to support the young, high-upside rotation. Leo Mazzone is on the spot to make it click.

Blow up a loser's complex and develop a new attitude. Very few of the players in camp have ever played on a winning team in the Majors. It's your move, Sam Perlozzo, to sell that losing is not inevitable.

Jay Gibbons, who lost his spot in right field while battling a right-knee injury, is an unhappy DH and will contest Nick Markakis for his old job. Newcomer Aubrey Huff and Kevin Millar both play multiple positions, and this'll be the time to assert their preferences.

The offense will be very spotty -- only Kansas City, with Mark Teahen's 18, had a lower AL team-leading homer total than Miguel Tejada's 24 -- but the staff's best-case scenario lands the Birds right in the chase.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays

The perennial basement dewllers. And I don't see much changing here either.

Overcome a buildup of cynicism and negativism to realize that B.J. Upton and Delmon Young don't just represent a new wave, but a new day. Show enough pitching promise to keep a quite-potent lineup focused.

It'll be a free-for-all once again in the bullpen, where six different relievers combined last year to save 33 games (and blow 21 others). Scott Dohmann came under the radar from Kansas City, but he's got the power arm to take charge.

With Scott Kazmir heading the rotation and ample firepower, the D-Rays just need some eighth/ninth inning people to hold leads; they lost an AL-record 60 games in which they had a lead last season.

FINAL RANKINGS:

1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Fox News slanders Barack Obama

I was going to use this week’s column to extol the virtues of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and talk about how his speeches against the Vietnam war are relevant in today’s war in Iraq.

That is want this column WAS going to be about but after seeing what I saw on Fox News. Fox News featured a segment highlighting a right-wing report that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) attended an Islamic “madrassa” school as a 6-year-old child.

Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy pointed out that madrassas are “financed by Saudis” and “teach this Wahhabism which pretty much hates us,” then declared, “The big question is: was that on the curriculum back then?” Later, a caller to the show questioned whether Obama’s schooling means that “maybe he doesn’t consider terrorists the enemy.” Fox anchor Brian Kilmeade responded, “Well, we’ll see about that.”

The Fox hosts failed to correct the false claim that Obama is Muslim. One caller, referring to Obama, said, “I think a Muslim would be fine in the presidency, better than Hillary. At least you know what the Muslims are up to.” Anchor Gretchen Carlson responded, “We want to be clear, too, that this isn’t all Muslims, of course, we would only be concerned about the kind that wants to blow us up.” Obama is Christian, a member of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ since 1988.

As a child, Obama spent four years in Indonesia with his step-father, a non-practicing Muslim, and his mother. Between ages 6 and 8, Obama attended a local Muslim school in Jakarta; after that, he was enrolled in a Roman Catholic school.

Please allow me to make something perfectly clear: Madrasah is the Arabic word for school. He went to a school. Barack Hussein Obama is not, as far as I know, a Muslim, nor does he want to "blow us up." And yet, lo and behold, our friends at Fox News are here to tell us that there is a 97% chance that Barack Obama has taken suicide bomb lessons and want nothing more than to win the Presidency so that he may kill us all. Thanks, Fox. What would we do without you?

It’s good to see that the GOP has their “swift-boating” ducks in a row, but if I were Sen. Obama I would file a defamation lawsuit against Fox News, this is defamation in its purest form.

And by the way, is this the best that Fox News could come up with, calling a devout Christian a closet Muslim.

Also, about the “reports” that Hilary Clinton’s camp leaked this, or reported it, or whatever. If a wing-nut publication says that Hillary Clinton is questioning Obama, and only Fox News reports it, (as of press time only Fox News has reported this) then it is most probably a subterfuge, kill two birds with one stone: sow dissension among Democrats and swiftboat Obama.

My goodness, if its this bad that he attended a Madrashah, I wonder how nuts Fox is going to go when they find out he’s black. Note the sarcasm.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Dr. Martin Luther King's speech on why he was opposed to the war in Vietnam

I know its a couple days late but his words resonate now more than ever.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Keith Olbermann's latest Special Comment

I'm not even going to try to set up this speech, Olbermann pretty much knocks it out of the park, so here it goes...

Keith Olbermann on Bush's speech

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