Can I borrow that bloody sock?


Curt Schilling is pondering a comeback, and he’s got the Cubs and/or the Rays in his sights.

I don’t know quite how to feel about this . . . yeah, it would be nice to have someone with that much experience on the playoff roster (because he’s not starting the season with anyone). But that much experience comes in a 42-year-old package. And the way I see it, Schilling would still be the 5th starter, unlikely to see much or any starting action in the playoffs.
Of course, if any of the current aces were injured (or turned into deuces) I would majorly change my tune. I just don’t know if I could ever get used to having his blog in this town. Do we need any more built-in controversy?
If it leads to winning a pennant . . . absolutely.

Get Real

I have heard many people say how much they hate it when people are fake. Personally, I don’t know what I would do without that cultural blessing. I mean really, if everybody was “real” all the time, I don’t think I’d ever go out in public. If the people who couldn’t stand me just told me as much flat-out? I’d be devastated.

No, please, give me the fake smile, the fake laugh, the abbreviated discussions, and I’ll take the hint and pretend right along with you. We’ll both know it’s all code for “I don’t like you,” and we’ll move on without the scars of an honest exchange.

It’s the fake that makes reality bearable. Politeness is just a public acknowledgment that being real doesn’t work toward our mutual advantage nearly as much as being pleasant does. So don’t knock fake until you’ve tried it–and believe me, you have. Embrace it. Love it. Marry it and have a bunch of little fake babies.

But as much as I don’t hate the fake, I love being real . . . just in small, carefully administered doses. I try to limit my real intake to three times daily (with food, of course). OD on real and you’ll go crazy. Don’t get enough and, ironically enough, you’ll wind up becoming a reality show host.

And speaking of the real, I’ve moved my daily Bible doses (my biggest reality injection) to a new blog. This was starting to become just a little too real.

It Ain’t Me

I have two major disconnects with Job: 1) I’ve never suffered emotionally or physically like he did; 2) I have never been to the point where I can call myself “guiltless.”

In chapter 9, Job comes to the conclusion that, although he has done nothing wrong, God will find him guilty–and how do you argue with God about something like that? How can anyone stand before God and claim righteousness? Who is at the same level with God and therefore worthy and able to arbitrate a dispute between God and anyone? All great questions, capped off with the biggest doozy of them all:
If God didn’t do this to me, then who did?
Now, you could argue that Satan did those things to Job, but as we saw earlier, God seemed to assume responsibility in chapter 2 for what He allowed Satan to do in chapter 1. And, come on, does anybody really think that when bad things happen to good, mediocre, or mildly depraved people God responds, “Hey, don’t look at me. I had nothing to do with that”? No! 
But the answers to the previous questions answer Job’s toughest question–nobody is in a position to judge God’s actions. The inability to do so (and the unwillingness to accept human suffering as just) drives many to simply deny His existence. Good luck to them. But is suffering as we understand it and experience it truly a real factor? Isn’t it merely a psychological condition, an impulse in our brains . . . an experience defined solely by the negative physiological ways in which we respond to it? Does our right to pleasure and to good and happy vibes really outweigh the existence of a supreme being who is good and just and holy?
I don’t know what I could have told Job to make him feel better, but I do know that Jesus Christ is the answer to a whole lot of his questions. He makes it possible to stand righteous before God. He can argue on our behalf, not considering equality with God something He had yet to attain. And He endured suffering akin to anything we’ve experienced (and far beyond). 
Job asked a lot of tough questions about God. And within the realm of this life . . . there aren’t really satisfactory answers. We aren’t really in a position to tell God how our lives should run, and if we suffer . . . that’s the way it is. But it isn’t because God is cold or indifferent. Through the suffering of His Son, He put an end to our eternal suffering. Who am I to complain? Heck, with as easy as I’ve had it, I’d better not.

February 27, 2009 question

It isn’t that I want you to fail; I love coming across a correct answer in the trivia inbox. But when a multiple choice question yields a singular winner . . . I’m pretty happy. So is Jessie, because she and she alone recalled that Shane Stant, otherwise known as “Who?” wielded the club that failed to put Nancy Kerrigan out of commission. Shawn Eckhardt was Tonya Harding’s bodyguard. Jeff Gillooly was her husband and the mastermind of the dumbest operation in the history of sports. Tonya Harding was the one who almost strangled the world with her boot lace. And Jeff Stone was . . . also Jeff Gillooly. He changed his name, because A) the notoriety of the incident completely prevented him from having any chance of a peaceful private life, and B) his name was Jeff Gillooly. Congratulations, Jessie! The competition is nowhere to be seen! Hey . . . what did you do? Why? Why? WHY?!?

Um, okay, time for a nice, peaceful Friday question. Here goes nothin’:

What sport did England see played for the first time at Lord’s Cricket Ground on this date in 1874?

Man, He’s Got Tight Quads

Milton Bradley left today’s game with a tight quad after legging out a walk in his first at bat. I’m really not that alarmed, especially since it would give Micah Hoffpauir a place to play for awhile if Bradley did miss his customary 50 games.

Further allaying my anxiety is the fact that Bradley’s contract is heavily laden with incentives for actually, you know, playing. I’m as excited as the next guy (overheard from Next Guy: “I’m actually kinda bored over here.”) . . . Correction, I’m even more excited than the next guy that the Cubs are playing baseball again, but Spring Training games don’t mean jack. The team results don’t mean anything, and the individual stats don’t mean anything. I still remember when Nomar set the Cactus League on fire, prompting Peter Gammons to predict an MVP year for the Cub shortstop. I think he wound up with a negative batting average in April. 
So, yeah. Not scared. Not scared. But still . . . um, let’s not lose anybody else during the intense base-on-balls drills, mkay?

Basic Formula

Bildad, you’re up!


Okay, Job, here it is: if your sons sinned, they simply got what was com . . .
Hold it, hold it. Bil. Daddio. Why did you open your mouth, compadre? Bildad’s speech in Job chapter 8 gets me a little irritated, mainly because his brand of advice is not unpopular today. If there’s something wrong with you, you must have done something wrong to cause it. And if you would simply return to a right place with God, He would fix everything. Your livelihood escaped you because you forgot God, like the short-lived green season of quickly wilting rushes rooted in unsure soil. (Super mega bonus points if you can identify the mystery MP3 at the top of the playlist and weave the lyrics into the meaning of this passage.) Buck up, if you’re right with God, you’ll be back to your laughing-happy self in no time.
Ugh. I hope to not ever talk about God like I’ve figured Him out. There are things I know for certain about Him, but not to the point that I can manipulate His nature to produce my desired ends. Bildad, you insolent slut.

Basic Formula

Bildad, you’re up!


Okay, Job, here it is: if your sons sinned, they simply got what was com . . . 
Hold it, hold it. Bil. Daddio. Why did you open your mouth, compadre? Bildad’s speech in Job chapter 8 gets me a little irritated, mainly because his brand of advice is not unpopular today. If there’s something wrong with you, you must have done something wrong to cause it. And if you would simply return to a right place with God, He would fix everything. Your livelihood escaped you because you forgot God, like the short-lived green season of quickly wilting rushes rooted in unsure soil. (Super mega bonus points if you can identify the mystery MP3 at the top of the playlist and weave the lyrics into the meaning of this passage.) Buck up, if you’re right with God, you’ll be back to your laughing-happy self in no time.
Ugh. I hope to not ever talk about God like I’ve figured Him out. There are things I know for certain about Him, but not to the point that I can manipulate His nature to produce my desired ends. Bildad, you insolent slut.

Idol Eyes, Group 2


I haven’t started watching yet, but there’s one contestant I want to see and hear more than I’ve ever anticipated anyone this early in a season: Nick Mitchell. I just . . . I know I’m gonna laugh. Okay, let’s press play on the DVR and see who shows up and who screws up.

Jasmine Murray
Oh dear, Jasmine. I guess I haven’t heard enough of her from the prelims to really know where she fits, but she’s fallen into the other side of the song-picking trap for female Idols. The first (of which we witnessed plenty last week) is when the less-than-diva songstresses try to ascend to Mt. Olympus where only Whitney, Aretha, Mariah, and Celine belong. (The corollary is treading into alternative paradises like Valhalla, where Sting and Bob Marley reside.) But Jasmine, who I think has a potentially bigger voice than some of the other contestants, made the mistake of doing the casual, “strum it out in a coffee shop” song. She bottled up her genie. She’s such a cutie, but I don’t like her chances. Odds of advancing: 8:1
Matt Giraud
When I heard he was singing “Viva la Vida,” I thought, “Great choice . . . for Week 8.” I liked what he was trying to do with the vocals, but the instrumental arrangement didn’t change at all. It was like he was trying to improvise over the karaoke track–and as anyone who has ever sung karaoke knows, you can’t do that. Oh, man, it hurts, because he is so good. But this performance was in the not-so-good category. Dude. DUDE! Thank Simon for the Wild Card. Odds of advancing: 5:1

Jeanine Vailes
Somebody get Jeanine Kate Winslet’s shampoo bottle. Seriously, that would have been ten times as good if it had not been on mic. Bad sign #1: the camera cuts to a shot of your friends after your performance, and they look thankful that you’re done. Bad sign #2: the judges (and Ryan) all talk about your legs. And they were nice legs. The really weird thing is, I’m pretty sure this is the first time Jeanine has sung this season. The judges look like they’re just now meeting her for her long-overdue local audition. She just made the classic blunder of picking a song with notes that had to be sung. Odds of advancing: I think the judges covered that convincingly enough.

Nick Mitchell (a.k.a. Norman Gentile)
Okay. For the very first time I didn’t have the slightest shred of disappointment. Holy crap. I’ve laughed out loud at least a dozen times. And Simon is just playing into his hands. Nick recognizes this show is about entertainment, and Simon is playing the foil. I can’t disagree with Randy and Kara more . . . the vocals were hot. Would I plug that performance into my CD player? No. But I will watch that again. Look, the fact is, he sounded better than anybody so far. That’s what should be making these judges cry. And he is the only contestant so far tonight who has actually remained true to what got him here. Odds of advancing: 5 to 1. Yeah. They’re that good.
Allison Iraheta
A little piece of me dies every time an Idol contestant sings a song by Heart. If Allison were riding shotgun in my car while singing this song, I would say, “Girl, that was awesome. You can sang!” But if I heard that coming out of the speakers, I don’t think I would keep listening. In both instances, I’d be wondering what the hell I was doing listening to Heart. Now, Paula just credited her on her microphone use . . . but when she started, I couldn’t hear her. Kara seems to have grasped the finer points of mic management, so maybe she should dole out some lessons. There’s been some real bad mic work so far tonight. Still, Allison did sound loads better than those who came before, and I like a little raspiness.  She wasn’t terrible, but I thought she was a little out of control. Odds of advancing: 3 to 1

Kris Allen
When Kris announced he was singing “Man in the Mirror,” I yelled, “Awesome!” If I were on Idol, I would sing this song every time. But he made the mistake early on of pronouncing a few words like Michael does. Nobody sings like Michael, and nobody pronounces “I see” as “ai chi” like Michael does. BUT, I agree with Kara. I think the lackluster performances of the first half have lowered the standards of the judges. The arrangement was cheesy, and he didn’t change it enough to distinguish his vocals from those of the King of Pop. I’m sorry, Kris, but . . . I can’t see myself voting for that. Bravo for winning over the judges, but I couldn’t wait for that to be over. Odds of advancing: 10 to 1
Megan Joy Corkrey
A tattoo has never seen so misplaced as the sleeve on Megan’s right arm as she invoked the spirit of an impish five year old . . . or a doll that sprang to life. I just don’t get it. The awkward quarter twirls so perfectly mimicked by Ryan (for real); the cutesy singing that wasn’t nearly quirky enough to be considered jazzy; the inability to find the groove; the overconfidence that only seemed to translate after she was finished . . . man, I don’t get what the judges are on. A terrible start has thrown off their powers of perception. Odds of advancing: 10 to 1
Matt Breitzke
Aw man, I’m dizzy from the swirling cameras. Yet another song-choice pitfall: the song that doesn’t quite rock but doesn’t quite roll. Pick a slow heart-wrencher or an upbeat butt-kicker. But don’t pick the song that, at a concert, leaves the audience perched near the edge of their seats murmuring to each other, “um . . . are we supposed to stand up?” But he didn’t sound bad. It’s just not a “hey, look at what I can do” song. Odds of advancing: 6 to 1

Jesse Langseth
Bette Davis eyes? The best part of the song was the rhythmic clapping during Kara’s critique. I don’t know who to blame for the abysmal band arrangements that have haunted this competition, but they really have been horrendous. It’s this bad lounge act vibe, and it’s not doing anybody any favors. Back to Jesse, though. I think she lacks the ability to connect with songs that anyone but her misunderstood art-house clique will appreciate. Don’t pick a song because of its story when you only have 90 seconds to sing it. Odds of advancing: Infinity to nothingness

Kai Kalama
The dude wins the name competition hands down, but the “how bad do you want me” look on his face makes Enrique Iglesias look understated. He sang alright, but yeah . . . he was old fashioned. He was boring. He is nice enough to make you want to apologize whilst ripping his performance to shreds, as all the judges did. . . . And he looks 40. Odds of advancing: 40 to 1.

Mishavonna Henson
Misha-V broke her promise not to disappoint America before she made it. Drops of Jupiter is just not an Idol song. It didn’t cooperate at all with the massive Idol reverb. It doesn’t work all too well being sung about a guy. It doesn’t capitalize on the fact that she’s at least 1/4 elf. But she has a great voice. I wish she had chosen a song that showcased that with more than “Eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh.” Aw, man. I really like this girl. I didn’t hear much from her, but, crap. I wish she was sticking around. Maybe she’ll get wild-carded. Odds of advancing: 15 to 1

Adam Lambert
He was accused of being too dramatic, musical theater, and disconnected. I’ll never forget what he suggested as a remedy to that: “Believe,” by Cher. If your problem is theatrics, the solution is not Cher. Dear boy. Fortunately for Adam, his problem is also his strength. He’s very theatrical. He’s very, uh . . . Freddie Mercury, but with the mustache enlarged and draped across the top of his head. You can love it. You can hate it. But the dude has the wow factor. Compared to the competition, he kicked serious Aztec warrior. Odds of advancing: Even money
Whew. Ugh. This was a terrible week IMIO (in my irrelevant opinion). I actually think this is gonna be a tighter race than last week, because there are fewer “definitely not’s” and fewer “definitely’s.” My prediction: Adam, Allison, and . . . Nick. Call me crazy.
UPDATE ***AND SPOILERICITY***
Adam. Check. Allison. Check. And Kris? So far I’m two for two on giving that last guy to make it 10-1 odds. I found it hilarious how poorly the contestants from this week hid their disgust at the material for their group performance. What was that? I did like hearing from Brooke again . . . she’s kind of the anti-Idol. And, yes, I posted a picture of Jeanine because it is the last we’ll be seeing of her. . . . Unless they come out with Leg Idol. Or Lips Idol. Or Holy Crap, What Did I Just Hear? Idol.

I Promise

. . . and this isn’t just based on his grand slam to open up spring training, Micah Hoffpauir will steal the starting first-base job from Derrek Lee. He won’t win the job based on his performance in the spring, but Lee better pray for his own health. If Lee spends any time on the DL this year, Hoffpauir won’t be giving the job back to him. And if the double-play parade continues for #25, he’ll be grabbing some bench before the All-Star break.