Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve Memories, Part Two

2000 --- The most terrifying New Year's of all. My family and I were on a vacation in Mexico, meaning we were taking the risk of being potentially stuck in a poverty-stricken foreign land during the Y2K crisis. The Y2K virus will be one of those generational touchstones that my era will be able to look back on one day and just shake our heads, much like how we can marvel about people in the 1930's rioting over an Orson Welles radio show. Its only remnant today is in the nickname of wrestler Chris Jericho. What a bunch of nothing. The only (ONLY) thing that was affected from this 'panic' was my calculator. It was fine on the last day of term, and then boom, come January it was on the fritz. I stand by this as the reason that my OAC Calculus mark was the lowest I ever got in high school.

But anyway, at the time, we were mildly panicked about being in Mexico just in case civilization as we know it went all Terminator on us. It didn't help that we were at one of those resorts in a particularly poor village, which meant we passed street after street of dilapidated housing on the way to our luxurious digs. Damn you, liberal guilt. It was in the back of mind, however, that we'd be the ones laughing out the other sides of our mouths if the hotel's security system cut out and suddenly we were at the mercy of a town that may have had motive for wanting our various foodstuffs, drinks, worldly possessions, etc. As we all know, of course, Y2K turned out to be a dud and today those folks are probably still living in abject poverty. A happy ending for us all!

2001 --- My friend Eric and I went to the Oar House, a local London sports bar, to meet up with a variety of old high school peoples. It was sort of a semi-reunion, before those things were made largely obsolete by Facebook, given that we had all graduated just last June and it was the first time we had seen many of the old faces since. It was also where I learned that Eric, somewhat humourously, didn't remember a good 75% of the people we went to high school with. Fortunately his nodding skills were first-rate and was able to bluff with the best of them.

2007 --- It was another quiet evening at Trevor's girlfriend's place, once again with Dave in tow, but this time it was others along for the ride so as to not make Dave and I the awkward third and fourth wheels. This time, Dave brought a date, so it was Eric and I who were the awkward fifth and sixth wheels. While the two couples delivered the kisses at the strike of midnight, Eric and I stared at each other suspiciously for a moment before deciding on a manly handshake. It was...uh, magical? No Chris Farley movies this time around --- this time, it was Guitar Hero. So this time it was merely the sex and rock and roll, rather than Farley's sex and drugs. I presume it was sex and drugs for ol' Chris. A man of his fame must've gotten some action. Either that or he and Spade shared more than just manly handshakes. The night also can't go without mention of the incredible food spread provided by our hosts. Seriously, nice work, T & T. There were cold cuts, veggies, chips, dip, beverages of all kinds. So once again, Farley's gluttonous legacy was fulfilled. I really need to stop describing Chris Farley in these entries.

1999 --- This was perhaps the low point of New Year's history, at least in terms of putting any effort whatsoever into planning something to do. There's no easy way to say it, but...we went to Trev's house and watched Baseketball. God, it looks even worse in print. I think we played some pool too, but that's like saying we drank lemonade after chugging some Drano. Let's move on.

2003 --- I've already done a 2003 entry in my last post, but 2003 might well have been my favourite NY'sE of all. It was a swank house party held by some university friends renowned for their outstanding themed endeavours. Their house was also particularly well-suited for holding 40-50 drunken revelers. We all dressed up in our classiest attire and headed out for a night of champagne and (as I mentioned in my last post) McDonald's eaten at breakneck speed. The highlights included one drunken lass pinching the asses of myself and various friends to, in her words, 'see which one was the best.' Somehow it came down to me and my friend Andrew in the final two, which was the most bewildering final two given the outline of the competition since Neleh and Vecepia in Survivor: Marquesas. Andrew, by the way, was the eventual winner. Jesus wept. The other comic signature of the night came when my friend Dave was drunkenly telling someone what he did that day, which went more or less like this....

"Well, I went out for a bit, went to my strip club..."
"You own a strip club?"
"What? *confused pause* Oh wait, no. I confused my life with that of Grand Theft Auto. I was playing that all day."

Friday, December 28, 2007

Alien vs. Predator vs. My Sanity

Some of the year's more critically-acclaimed films are (finally) starting to open up in London*, so of course on Christmas night the boys and I went out to see....Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. Sigh. On the bright side, going to a movie like this with seven other people is fun since it guarantees a MST3K-esque experience of everyone just ripping the movie to shreds, and rip it we did. The thing was even worse than expected. The script was an upgrade on the previous AVP, which was written at about a third-grade level (AVPR was fourth-grade). The acting was uniformly terrible, with the pseudo-exception of Reiko Aylesworth as a soldier --- as I called her, Lt. Not Ripley. In all honesty, Reiko didn't bring much to the table either, but she has some residual goodwill built up from her days as Michelle on 24. The funniest inclusion in the cast was John Ortiz, who plays the inept sheriff. Ortiz is one of those classic 'that guy' actors who has a pretty impressive resume. His credits include films like Carlito's Way, American Gangster, Before Night Falls, Amistad and Narc, and now he's finally gotten a semi-starring AVPR. Ouch. He might've been better off doing porn. John "Orifice Tease" Ortiz has a nice ring to it.

My friends were equally unimpressed. My buddy Trev's brief overview was "one word...awful." Matt liked it better than No Country For Old Men since AVPR had an ending, which is so fucking stupid I'm not going to dignify it with a counter-argument. The best response came from Eric, who was confused as to which one was the predator and which was the alien. Eric doesn't get out much.

It's obviously clear that those behind the franchise have given up on keeping up the quality of the originals and are just cashing in on the names. I can just hope that they release a DVD with commentary from Sigourney Weaver, Lance Henriksen, Schwarzenegger, Danny Glover and/or Carl Weathers. Actually, I'd like to see a commentary track with those five on virtually any movie. This is presuming that Carl Weathers actually acts like he does in Arrested Development. "Baby, you got a stew going!"

Actually, that's not a bad idea for the next installment of the series. Bring back Weathers' character from the original Predator, along with Gary Busey from Predator 2. Alien vs. Predator vs. Carl vs. Busey --- AVPVCVB. Forget Xmas night, I might go see that one on Christmas morning.

* = one of these acclaimed films is Love In The Time Of Cholera, which has to be the funniest title of any serious movie in film history. I was reading a winter movie preview a few months back, and this film was listed next to Walk Hard, yet the write-ups were mistakenly switched. So I read the description of this wacky comedy with John C. Reilly as a country star that had the somewhat weird but funny title of 'Love in the Time of Cholera.' It wasn't until I read the 'Love' entry that I realized the mistake.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Le Nordiques

This Quebec Nordiques toque was my best clothing purchase in a while. Since I picked it up for the super-low price of $9.99 at a sports store in Masonville Mall, I've gotten about a dozen compliments on it, most of them from strangers. None were women, unfortunately, but still, it's good to know I've got street cred with the average Canadian male. Everyone loves the Nordiques. They represented a better era in pro hockey, back when Quebec and Winnipeg were still in the league and Gary Bettman was just a twinkle in the NHL's eye. How does he still have a job? The league is undisputedly weaker today than it was when he took over, and yet Bettman's tenure seems unchallenged. NHL owners are apparently easier to please than a Maple Leafs season-ticket holder.


Westmount Mall is the new Smuggler's Alley. Long-time Londoners will get this reference. Smuggler's Alley was a downtown mall that in its last few years, was literally nothing more than a movie theatre and empty stores. It was an eerie feeling strolling past blank storefront after blank storefront on the way to the theatre, the one source of life within that entire godforsaken building. It even made the Galleria look bustling by comparison.

Westmount, however, used to be arguably the busiest mall in the city. I had a streak going at that mall for literally about 5-6 years that every time I went, I ran into at least one person I knew. Today, it's rapidly moving towards the Smuggler's theme of a bustling theatre and nothin' else. A Sears and a Zellers bookend the mall, but the top floor is almost otherwise stone dead. Even the food court is clearing out. My patented Westmount meal of New York Fries and an A&W burger is only barely still valid. My Mr. Sub backup is gone, gone forever. And when I asked a guy if it would be coming back anytime soon, he said he didn't know. *sob*

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

201st Post Spectacular!

Apparently that bit of nonsense I posted about the New Year's parties was my 200th post on Blogspot. I have so many people to thank. There's Thomas Blogspot, the founder of Blogspot. And that's it.

To celebrate, I've decided to allow you, my belovedly loyal and small audience, to select what you feel are the best posts in Polivision history. Search the archives if you must (or use the handy-dandy 'search' feature at the top of the page if you just remember key words of a certain post) and then tell me what your favourite was in the comments section of this very post. If you need a cheat sheet, refer to this post of my personal 'greatest hits' I made last July.

How many comments will I get? That's the beauty of it. If there's a pathetically low amount, that's part of the joke. If there's a pathetically high amount, then I can bask in popularity not seen since my ninth grade drama class when I won the 'make the other person smile' game by doing a running somersault and landing hard on my back. My pain is apparently hilarious.

The Polivision 201st Post Spectacular --- Screw You, Emily Post.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New Year's Eve Memories, Part One

1998 --- Gathered at a friend's house, we end playing a game of Trivial Pursuit. OMG WHAT A PARTY. I end up finishing second due to mispronouncing 'Tiananmen,' and since we were playing under stickler rules, I didn't get the point. What garbage. This was also back when I still stuttered, so it's quite possible I said something like Twpetgogjsghogjfgjgfjmen. Actually, I think the Twpetgogjsghogjfgjgfjmen are also Thailand's top super-hero team.

2003 --- On our way home from a party, we walk through the drive-thru at the Wharncliffe-Oxford McDonald's. I think it was due to us that they issued a cars-only policy, but anyway, we made our food order then went back to another friend's house to eat and call the cabs. My usually non-gluttonous pal Trevor ordered 20 McNuggets, and in the time it took us to pick up the receiver, call U-Need-A-Cab and hang up (a span of maybe 45 to 60 seconds) he had somehow eaten them all. It was amazing. This was in the era when a group of us would order a massive three-figure amount of Nuggets and plow through them --- our record was 280 McNuggets split among 17 people. It basically turned into a scene from Caligula, except with eating McDonald's instead of the gross sex stuff --- one guy was lying on the ground with his back arched, with his girlfriend holding a McNugget aloft and dripping honey sauce into his mouth. Trevor's contributions to these binges were no more than 10 Nuggets tops, so to jump to 20 was a major achievement. But the time! My God the time! In a single minute! Trev was pretty drunk, so perhaps it was a situation like Jackie Chan in the Legend of Drunken Master. Perhaps alcohol is what fuels Ted Kennedy's senatorial powers too.

2002 --- It was another example of gluttony, if somewhat more low-key. We settled in for a quiet evening at Trevor's girlfriend's place (not me and Trevor's girlfriend by ourselves, that would be pretty backstabby) and watched TV. The always-entertaining Tommy Boy was on --- it's hard to believe that it has been 10 years since Chris Farley died. It was hard to believe that it had been five years since his death back in 2002. Anyway, the gluttony came in when Trevor's girlfriend's well-prepared snack platter ended up being plowed over like snow on a main road. My friend Dave ended up passed out on the living room floor due to drinking, I ended up eating so many vegetables that I felt oddly ill, and Trev and his girlfriend sat awkwardly on the couch as if waiting for me to pass out as well so they could start making out. In fact, wait a second, perhaps that was the cause of my stomach ache. Those cucumbers were laced with roofies. That's what knocked Dave cold (well, that and his comically low tolerance for alcohol). I only stayed awake because I have a cast-iron gastrointestinal system. I have the Wolverine of stomaches. And this is like that X-Men comic when Wolverine tagged along on Colossus and Kitty Pryde's date to keep them from getting their swerve on. You know what, I said that as a joke, but there's a good chance there actually has been an X-Men comic where Wolvy was all overprotective towards Kitty and thus cock-blocked Colossus. That poor Russian.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

(More) Live Music!

My last post featuring live music clips found on YouTube was a huge success (two responses!) that it's time for a sequel. Once again, all credit must be given to the dearly-departed Ten Cent Freeze Pops, which was the only blog in internet history to ever YouTube clips. Ever.

Stevie Wonder, Superstition, Sesame Street, 1973

When I saw the title of this clip, I figured it would've been something like Stevie singing a re-worked version titled 'Monster-stition' to Grover. While this would've also been awesome, I was surprised to find an actual live performance, and a sick one at that, with no tomfoolery about except for that hilarious shot of the one kid on the balcony totally rocking out. That child at age seven had a thicker head of hair than I ever had or ever will again. Dammit.

U2, Mysterious Ways (w/Sexual Healing snippet), Irving Plaza in New York, 2000

To promote the All That You Can't Leave Behind album and to warm up for their full-out world tour in 2001, U2 did a handful of small theatre shows in late 2000 and early 2001. This particular gig was broadcast live on the radio, and I remember tuning in on a cold, wintry night almost exactly seven years ago. It was my first direct (not a video, not a concert film) taste of live U2. Mysterious Ways is one of my favourite of their songs, and despite it being a big hit and well-known the world over, it's kind of underrated. You don't really hear it mentioned in the same breath as U2's other classics, in spite of the fact that it holds as well or better as any song they've ever recorded and sounds wicked live. Whassupwitdat?

George Harrison and Paul Simon, Here Comes The Sun/Homeward Bound, Saturday Night Live, 1976

Quite possibly the greatest of all musical performances in SNL history. Is there any doubt Art Garfunkel was somewhere watching this and taking stiff shots of whiskey from a rapidly emptying decanter? I think this was also the episode that featured Harrison trying to collect Lorne Michaels' famous $3000 cheque for the Beatles to reunite on SNL ("You can divide it up any way you want --- if you want to give less to Ringo, that's up to you").

As a bonus link, here's an account of a live sketch comedy show performed by most of the current SNL cast and 'hosted' by Michael Cera. This show took place a few weeks ago at a small Manhattan theatre due to the fact that SNL isn't running due to the writer's strike, and yet given the description, it sounds like it was good or better than any SNL episode in several years.

The Breeders, Cannonball, The Jon Stewart Show, 1993

This clip is wonderful for many reasons, only a few of which have to do with the song. First of all, good lord, check out 1993 pre-Daily Show (and apparently pre-puberty) Jon Stewart! Listen to his energetic plug of Sinbad as tomorrow's guest! Look at that hair!

Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven, O2 Arena in London, 2007

Well, this one is more or less the inspiration for my reviving this post. When one of the legendary rock bands of all time reunites for a one-off performance, that's cause for celebration. Apparently Led Zep didn't film the concert because they were afraid it would suck and didn't want to be obligated to release something that would tarnish their good name. As it happens, however, the show went off without a hitch. I've got to believe that Zep at least did a soundboard recording for a future live album, but then again, perhaps it fits better with their mystique that this show lasts forever in people's memory and in fuzzy YouTube clips. It's also kind of funny that in the controversy over Robert Plant singing everything in a lower register, people forgot that he's actually a way better singer (in terms of actual singing) today than he was 30 years ago. Frankly, if Led Zep can reunite after all these years, it gives me hope that we'll still see that Beatles reunion. Come on, John, Paul, George and Ringo! 'Come together' for one more show!


......what? Really? Wow, when did that happen? 2001?? And 1980?! Good lord, where was I?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Random Idiocy

How does Marlee Matlin react when she hears of a hot new deaf actress on the scene? Does she give her a, meet her in person and try to become a mentor, or does she try to ruin the girl's career to protect her own turf? I have the same question about Peter Dinklage and any other dwarf actor. For example, I haven't seen Danny Woodburn (Mickey Abbott on Seinfeld) in several years, mysteriously since Dinklage came on the scene. Did Dinklage kill Woodburn in some kind of a Highlander-esque, 'there can be only one' scenario?


Janet Gaynor and Emil Jannings, the first-ever winners of the Best Actress and Best Actor Academy Awards in 1927, won their Oscars not for one role, but for a cumulative accounting of three roles. Gaynor was nominated for her role in three different films, and Jannings for two --- not three and two separate nominations in the category, respectively, but just one nomination that listed all of their cited films. They both won in essence not for one particular part, but because since they had given strong performances in several films, they were the actors of the year. This was the only year such a nominating procedure resulted in a win, and the rules were soon changed so that each nominee could only be nominated for one specific role. This didn't stop unofficial 'actor of the year' Oscars from being awarded, i.e. Jessica Lange winning best supporting actress for Tootsie in 1982 when pretty much everyone considered it to be an overall award given she also starred in (and was nominated for as Best Actress) the film Frances.

In this crazy-deep movie year, the Academy might want to think about re-adopting this tactic. There are lots of stars with multiple notable performances that may end up getting the overall shaft if Academy members split their votes. To name just a few...

Amy Adams (Charlie Wilson's War, Enchanted)
Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone, Jesse James)
Christian Bale (Rescue Dawn, I'm Not There)
Javier Bardem (Love in the Time of Cholera, No Country For Old Men)
Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, I'm Not There)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Charlie Wilson's War, The Savages)
Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah, No Country For Old Men)
Denzel Washington (American Gangster, The Debaters)

That's not even counting people like George Clooney or Johnny Depp, who had both an Oscar-ish role (Michael Clayton, Sweeney Todd) and a hit popcorn movie (Ocean's Thirteen, Pirates III). I dunno, doesn't the old way kind of make more sense? I guess there would be a gray area since a person could have multiple roles that spread over categories, like how Hoffman is the lead in Before..., and Savages but is supporting in Charlie Wilson. But isn't that more impressive in a way since he is able to both carry a movie by himself and play a supporting role?


My dad on last week's Giants-Bears game..."They're both playing like they're on their periods." And I picked Chicago to make the NFC title game in the preseason. Yikes.


What's your preferred sports-related, made-up term?

("Todd Helton's home run traveled a guess-timated 385 feet.")


("Ohhhh! Vince Carter just posterized Fredric Weis!")


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Blue Jays rumours

I love the MLB winter meetings. Every major GM, team executive and agent (and even players themselves) in the same place and the same time trying to make moves and signings that will set them up for at least the next season and perhaps years or decades to come. I've been told by some of my sportswriter friends that it's hardly as exciting as it sounds -- one memorable recounting of the winter meetings was simply, "I spent three days in a hotel phoning the same three people over and over again without ever going outside." Hey, that's no skin off of my back. I love being indoors! I'm indoors right now! I have dark circles under my eyes that no doubt come from both a lack of direct sunlight and an erratic sleeping schedule. I'm evolving into a raccoon.

A few major moves have already been made, including a massive deal between Florida and Detroit that will no doubt have my Tiger fan pal Kyle just about ready to name his first-born Dontrelle and tattoo orange-and-black stripes down his right leg. Boston and the Yankees are exchanging offers with Minnesota about Johan Santana with the Angels, Mets and Dodgers also perhaps joining the bidding if the Cold War franchises can't come up with a package that satisfies the Twins. Star aces like Erik Bedard and Dan Haren may also be on the move to one of these teams that can't land Santana. Two more Japanese stars (Hiroki Kuroda and Kosuke Fukudome) are on the market and will be coming to North America in 2008.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays... are getting new throwback uniforms for some home games! Sigh.

Ok, those power-blue retro jerseys are actually pretty awesome, and I will almost certainly be getting one. But it's a little disheartening to hear that for the second straight offseason, Toronto management isn't planning on doing much to improve a team that clearly was not good enough to contend for the playoffs last year. The party line is that the Jays were crippled by injuries last season (which is true, almost half the roster spent time on the DL) and now that everyone is back healthy, the bats will get hot again to go along with the seemingly improved rotation, and Toronto will be in the hunt. This is a good idea in theory. But, as Homer Simpson said, in theory, communism works. If nothing else, last season answered the question of which is more frustrating: a team that can hit but can't pitch (the 2006 Jays) or a team that can pitch but can't hit (the 2007 Jays). The answer is clearly B. You always have a puncher's chance in a slugfest, but man, it is soul-crushing to watch a pitcher like Halladay or Marcum throw a gem just to see the lineup turn in yet another four-hit, one-run outing against some journeyman right-hander.

But hey, no team is really 'inactive' at the winter meetings as long as there are other teams that can make unexpected and promising offers. Here's my take on some of the rumours swirling around the Blue Jays and the likelihood of any of them actually happening.

* San Francisco sends Matt Cain and/or Tim Lincecum to Toronto for some combination of Alex Rios, Adam Lind and/or Troy Glaus

First of all, I have a hard time believing this deal is anywhere close to happening. The Giants aren't going anywhere next season with their ancient roster, and severing ties with Barry Bonds is the first step towards getting rid of some of the veteran dead wood on their team and rebuilding. Dealing two young aces of the future who have already shown skills at the major league level would therefore be the dumbest thing that San Fran could possibly do. Then again, J.P. was already able to somehow get Jeremy Accardo from SF in 2006 for Vinnie "Chulkamania is Runnin' Wild on You" Chulk and noted team player Shea Hillenbrand, so maybe the Jays are Giants GM Brian Sabean's bogey team. You know how some teams just seem always seem to beat other teams or some players just always seem to dominate against certain opponents? Maybe it works that way with general managers, too. Perhaps Sabean is fraught with nightmares about being attacked by a pack of gulls a la Tippi Hedren in The Birds, except these birds all have thick New England accents and are squawking "Five-year plan! Awk!" Or perhaps the universe is doling out some karma after the Giants franchise teased Toronto with a move back in the mid-1970's. Every other deal between the Giants and Jays in history has landed squarely in Toronto's favour. Look at the January 26, 1985 swap that sent Augie Schmidt, Jack McKnight and Jim Gott to the Bay in exchange for lefty Gary Lavelle. A slam-dunk steal for the Jays in that one. Gary Lavelle made the Hall of Fame, built an orphange with his bare hands and saved Toronto from a crime wave headed by the evil Poison Ivy.

Anyway, it's unlikely that Lincecum and Cain will be moved, and if they are, it won't be for the package of Rios/Lind/Glaus. Rios is money, but a young pitcher is overall more valuable than a young hitter, especially one like Rios who will be on the open market way sooner than Lincecum or Cain will. Lind has shown flashes of talent but probably won't end up being anything to write home about. Glaus might end up being a victim of the Mitchell report, but more directly, he simply can't handle the rigors of playing 162 games at third base. One of the central reasons why last winter's Frank Thomas signing was a boneheaded move (apart from reason #1, that the Hurt apparently thought you couldn't start hitting for a Canadian team until Canada Day) is that it really clogged John Gibbons' ability to juggle his lineup. In 2006, the Blue Jays actually had a pretty good thing going with Overbay the nominal first baseman, Glaus at third and Hillenbrand at DH. The Jays could put Glaus at DH on some days to give him some rest while Shea played third, or give Glaus days off altogether while Shea played third, Overbay stayed at first and someone like Reed Johnson, Frank Catalanotto, Bengie Molina, Gregg Zaun or even Eric Hinske DH'ed. It was a good mixture that kept everyone fresh, though it did lead to some harsh feelings from Molina, Hillenbrand and possibly Frankie Cat over playing time. With Thomas locked in at DH, however, Glaus was locked in at third, and his body just couldn't take playing a full season on the Rog's turf. He'd be on grass on San Fran, but still, it would be risky for the Giants to take on an injury-prone guy and expect him to play the field every day without even the fallback of stashing him at DH.

If I'm the Jays and there is any chance to get Cain and Lincecum for the aforementioned trio (or a deal like Glaus/Lind for either pitcher, or Rios straight up for either), I'd take it in a heartbeat. J.P. would be doing Frank the Bell Mobility Beaver's yes-yes-yes dance if Sabean offered him this trade. It makes Toronto's 2008 rotation into Halladay, Burnett, Lincecum, McGowan, Cain, with Marcum, Janssen, Litsch and maybe even Chacin as other starting options in case of injury. Good lord. In a league where young pitchers are blue chip commodities, teams would be lining up to send offers Toronto's way. Burnett (who has an option to leave after 2008 and almost certainly will if he has any kind of a good season) could be traded early. There were whispers that the Jays weren't sold on Marcum long-term and were planning to sell high, so if those were true, they could afford to move him. The bottom line is not only that the Jays would have a sick rotation, they'd also have more than enough pitchers to move for a big-ticket outfielder and/or third baseman that could make up for the loss of Rios and Lind. Toronto would afford said OF/3B with the money they'd save on Glaus' contract.

However, like I said, this deal isn't likely to happen unless Sabean knows something we don't know about Lincecum's arm that we don't know --- the combo of his velocity, arm movement and slight frame has long been targeted as an injury waiting to happen. I guess if this deal happened and Lincecum ended up hurt, it would suck on a Mike Sirotka-esque level, but who's to say that Brad Arnsberg couldn't work some of his magic and turn Lincecum into the animal that most scouts say he can be. I mean, 150 K's in 146 1/3 innings?? A K-to-BB ratio of roughly 2.5 to 1? A 111 ERA+ in his first season? Lord have mercy! AL East hitters will tremble at the sight of the, wait. Yikes. Ok, first step, we've got to think up a better nickname.

* San Diego sends something to Toronto for Josh Towers

If 'something' is anything more than a bag of baseballs, the Jays should probably take it. If J.P. is somehow able to convince a team to give up something of value for a pitcher who has either totally lost it or simply isn't able to pitch in Toronto any more, Ricciardi might have made the sharpest move of his tenure. Honestly, though, I can't help but wonder if Towers might actually return to form if the Jays just stuck him in the pen and left him there instead of constantly jerking him between starting, relieving and the minors. Then again, when the name 'Josh Towers' becomes synonymous among Jays fans for crappy pitching, you know the bloom is off the rose.

* Baltimore sends Erik Bedard to Toronto for....wait....

Yeah, this one isn't happening. The O's should work harder to get their star pitcher signed to a long-term deal, not put him on the market at the first hint of stalled negotiations. If they do end up moving Bedard, it almost certainly wouldn't be to a division rival unless the Jays offered a jaw-droppingly ridiculous offer that would probably end up leaving the Toronto roster and farm system worse off than it currently is. It's likely that the Jays wouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as Bedard trade rumours were it not for the fact that Bedard is Canadian. Yeah, that would sure bring the fans in. Who can forget the 50,000+ crowds that packed the SkyDome in the early 90's to watch Denis Boucher and Rob Butler?

* Cleveland sends Franklin Gutierrez and Cliff Lee to Toronto for Alex Rios

Remember when I was listing off all of those Toronto pitchers earlier? None of them (save Chacin, who's a longshot to even make the roster next year) are left-handers. Now I don't think this matters as much as some people think, but it would be nice to have one strong southpaw to wreak havoc on one of the powerful left-handed bats in the AL East like Big Papi, Abreu, Matsui and notorious Jay-killers Carl Crawford and Jorge Posada. Cliff Lee is NOT that pitcher. He has badly regressed from his breakout 2005 campaign and hit rock bottom last season. Lee is like a higher-profile version of Josh Towers at this point. If the Tribe are interesting in moving Lee, he might be worth a mild offer as a reclamation project to see if Arnsberg can fix him, but he isn't nearly valuable enough to deal Rios for him. Gutierrez is a well-regarded prospect, but again, you would need a lot more than he and Lee to get Toronto's best offensive player in return. Ricciardi flatly denied any sort of deal like this was actually proposed, so hopefully this one was just a product of the rumour mill. I think it may have been started by my friend Cliff Lee, who would love to see his namesake pitch for the Jays. Sorry, Cliff. If you feel like changing your name to Dan Haren, we can try this one again.

* Toronto has shown some interest in free-agent catcher Paul Lo Duca

The idea here is that Lo Duca and Gregg Zaun would split time at catcher while the club waits for Curtis Thigpen or Robinson Diaz to develop. I don't mind this move provided that PLD signs for a reasonable price. Zaun, god bless him, is a team leader and calls a good game (and probably deserves some credit for the development of these Jays pitchers last year), but he can't hit, can't field and he throws out fewer people than I did in my year working as a bouncer. In my defense, it was a pretty calm bar. The only person I had to physically remove was a drunken girl that threw her beer at another drunken young lady in a minor melee near the coat-check area. This, er, menace was an imposing 5'1 and maybe 100 pounds in size, but I managed to remove her from the premises by simply picking her up around the waist and carrying her to the door, as she screamed obscenities over my shoulder at the victim of her beer-toss. The way I see it is, if I had been a really good bouncer, my livelihood would've been threatened by the town millionaire that lived across the pond from me, and my mentor Sam Elliott would've been murdered. That was my favourite of the many hilarious parts of Road House --- that Swayze and Brad Wesley lived literally 50 damn yards away from each other. Road House is perfect as it is, but it would've been even more perfect with more scenes of Swayze and Wesley shaking their fists at each other across the pond.

Anyway, I seem to have gotten way off-topic. Lo Duca would be an upgrade. I might argue that he isn't necessary and that it's time to just elevate Thigpen into a full-time platoon with Zaun, except the Jays have talked about moving Thigpen to first base or the outfield. Also, given Toronto's recent history at developing catchers, I'll believe Thigpen and Diaz are good when I see it. Kevin Cash! Angel/Sandy Martinez! Guillermo Quiroz! Josh Phelps!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Slap Bet #1

Well, it had to happen eventually. I was hanging out with Kyle over the weekend, and received slap one of five. Just as I was putting on my coat and getting ready to leave, I turned around and caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. Kyle was raising his hand in my direction, I blocked, but his other hand came across for the inaugural slap. I should note that my block wasn't a direct avoidance of the oncoming slap --- such an action is punishable by more slaps, as per the edict of the slap bet commissioner. But it's just human nature to react when you see a hand coming towards you. Also, after reading so many Spider-Man comics as a kid, I think I developed my own spider-sense to warn against danger. Kyle's slap wasn't very hard, certainly not one of those overblown comic backhands that Marshall lays on Barney, since it's difficult to actually slap someone in real life when you're not trying to punch them. Try it sometime! Preferably not on Grandma!

Here's the best part of the whole thing, as well as insight into the insidious nature of the slap bet. I had totally forgotten that a slap could be coming until Kyle's brother casually mentioned it as one point in the evening. You'd think that a slap could be on my mind, but that's the beauty of it --- when you see a friend of yours, you think "Oh, there's good ol' so-and-so," not "Oh, there's that guy who might slap me." Your normal feelings of good tidings towards your friend override your suspicion that a slap could be coming. Lousy common human decency! It wouldn't be nearly as fun losing a slap bet to a casual acquaintance of an enemy, since then you'd always be presuming a slap could be just around the corner.

Now that Kyle has gotten the ice-breaker slap* out of the way, I fully expect to not receive another until roughly 2010. His slaps can be used throughout the rest of our lives, and it would be just like him to wait. We were joking that conceivably he could slap me while we're in our nursing homes, even if I'm hooked up to a machine and literally at death's door. I might end up being slapped to death, folks. There's a Law & Order plot for you.

Unless...Kyle slaps me four times the next time we hang out. That would be truly unexpected, and thus perhaps the most evil plan of them all. Damn you, Wasko! DAMN YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

And I didn't even get a song out of it!

* = Usually the term 'ice-breaker slap' only applies to the slap I receive from women I'm trying to pick up at the bar. My opening line is "How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice. Can I have your number?" I realize this is stolen from those Glomobi ads on the CBC, but since my tax dollars pay for CBC programming, I figure I have the rights to borrow liberally from its advertising. Also, the guy saying that line in the ad sounds exactly like my pal Hayes. It's uncanny.