* This Saturday on SNL, Scarlett Johansson hosts and Bjork musical guests. We can finally settle the debate over who's hotter!
* Speaking of SNL.... oh hell yeah.
I had thought about this topic for a future Listamania, but my time has been saved. GOU-LAY
* Remember a few months ago when I blogged about checking out 25 books from the library? Well, two days ago, I signed out 40. Yes, forty. It's that damn Central Library that kills me. I go to my local branch, and the resources are limited. I go the Central branch and it's a frickin' country book jambaroo down there. Let me tell you, lugging 40 books around in a book bag and one of those plastic baskets is an underrated workout. The poor librarian at the front desk went wide-eyed when she saw me approach. It was like one of those scenes in a movie when a security guard is approached by a maniac/monster/ghost/well-armed gang, and he just throws down his pistol and runs.
Anyway, I also said I was going to post mini-reviews of the books I read in order to get some blog content out of my insane library binge. Since I didn't live up to it then, I'll live up to it now!
This Time Let's Not Eat the Bones, by Bill James
James is one of my favourite baseball writers, as he manages to combine humour, insight and common sense into his work. Though he is the most influential "stats guy" in the last 30 years, he isn't one of those clowns who think that a ballplayer's total value is entirely dependant on VORP, EqA and other esoteric stats. For example, I enjoy the firejoemorgan.com site and have it linked in the blogroll, but I think the site jumped the shark when its focus changed from, "This sportswriter wrote this terrible article, ha ha!" to "This sportswriter wrote this terrible article praising this player whose OPS+ was clearly inferior to this other player, and..." James, however, is still quick to identify the value of a player beyond only his on-base percentage and his home run totals.
This book is a collection of some of James' favourite pieces from his various publications and magazine articles over the years. It combines essays, statistical analysis, observations about players and managers, and even just random one-liners. I kind of dig how when James was putting this collection together and going over his old material, he came across an old zinger, chuckled, and then just added the line instead of the whole article.
I'd highly recommend the book as a primer to James for those unfamiliar with him. All of the material was written between 1977 and 1987, so unless you're something of a hardcore baseball fan, you may not get a lot of the references to older players and events. James is a solid enough writer, though, that he's able to explain the situations so that they still seem relatable to today's game. For example, he has an essay about arbitration hearings that is just as relevant today as it was in 1984. Just pretend that instead of talking about dollar figures bewteen 400 and 600 grand, he's talking about $4 million and $6 million.
One down, 39 to go. By the way, this book binge will raise my VORR (Value Over Replacement Reader) to an astonishing 85.8
* My brother made a late-night McDonald's run the other night, and asked me if I wanted anything. I asked for a large fries and a burger.
"What kind of burger?" he asks.
"Just a burger."
"Just a burger? Not a QP or a Big Mac?"
"No, just get the regular hamburger."
So, he goes off and comes back with a large fries and....a quarter pounder.
"I asked for a hamburger."
"Yeah, but I asked the girl in the drive-thru for a burger, and she asked what kind. You didn't tell me, so I just got a QP."
"Are you slow? The regular hamburger. They have just 'hamburger' on the menu."
"You're retarded. You can't say 'Duh, I want a hamburger.' You have to say what kind."
I swear, were it not for the obvious family resemblance, I'd swear he was adopted. So I had to eat a QP, which was disgusting. Is there a more nausea-inducing food product anywhere than the cheese on McDonald's burgers?
* I was doing my usual late-night insomnia-inspired internet surfing, and I was reading some old Bill Simmons columns. I was clicking away, having a few laughs, when I suddenly realized that I had been doing this for two hours. Yes, it's true --- Bill Simmons' full column archive is once again open to the public! I've been awaiting this day with bated breath. A couple of years ago, ESPN.com made Simmons' archive a part of their premium 'insider' membership package, wherein you had to pay to get access to specialty columns, breaking news updates and added stuff like access to the site's archives. I think Simmons may have been the only writer they specifically cordoned off, since he was by far their most popular writer and they were getting so many hits off of people linking to his old material that they figured they could make some cash out of it. Now, his columns were only open for a few months before they officially become 'insider' property.
It was recently announced that Simmons signed a new deal with ESPN.com, and I'm guessing the re-opening of his archive may have been one of the perks. I seem to recall Simmons mentioning that he didn't really like this in a chat a couple of years ago, and at the time figured he was probably getting a cut of the insider money and might've just been saying that in order to keep up his man of the people schtick. But upon further review, it makes more sense that he was telling the truth. Why wouldn't he want his archives available? What better way to promote one's current material (and future books) than an easily accessible backlog of stuff that people can send to their friends with e-mail headings like "Oh man, this guy is hilarious...."?
So kudos to Bill Simmons for once again giving me reading material to keep me up later than I should be.