Elster's World

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hakoras Hatov and Some Scattered Thoughts

Last night had the pleasure of attending Shea to watch the Mets beat the Dodgers, courtesy of MOC. The lineup featured MOC, MOC's Israeli son and the infamous Joe Schick (who, by the way, is eagerly awaiting this post so he can use it as fodder of his own this morning).

First special thanks to MOC who (i) snagged us a field box halfway between first base and the right field wall (extra special because the right field corner also doubles as the Place Where You Can Get Kosher Food At Shea) on what was just a perfect night for baseball and, even better, (ii) provided door to car us transportation from the game. Once again proving the tried and true rule - It's totally cool to have connections to well connected guys, no matter how tenuous those connections may be).

Some highlights of the evening:

- Game-wise, David Wright hit 2 home runs and Carlos Delgado showed he still gives a crap by making a nice diving stop on a ball for an out. And yes, the ground shook when he hit it. Endy Chavez chipped in with a great throw out at home plate AND brought his rbi total for the season up to 2. Big win for the Mets, matching the season's longest winning streak at a whopping...three.

- It seems Joe keeps 120 days of sefirah - or at least he's machmir with regards to getting haircuts. It appears as though his last one was some time in 2006. I would wonder if he was still mourning Beltran's strikeout in the final game of the playoffs, but he swears that season never took place.

- The Met fans showed they have no loyalty when they stood and cheered for Joe Torre during a pitching change in the 7th, prompting me to ask "Joe Torre is still alive?" Joe was incensed enough that I feared we were about to have a brawl in my section.

- MOC is like a Met starting pitcher. He attends about 400 games a year but has trouble lasting into the 7th. Last night was a breakout performance - we managed to stay until the middle 8th - leaving only because of the fear of watching Aaron Heilman surrender back to back to back home runs to blow the game.

- Joe's favorite section in Shea is the loge - right behind home plate. I mention this because he did - about 35 times. In his defense, we were sitting in "crappy" field level box seats so I totally get his issue. And yes, I'm being sarcastic.

- High point of the evening - listening to MOC and Joe snarkily ripping on bloggers I have never heard of who stopped writing in 2004. Low point - paying $354 for food at the stadium. UPDATE - THERE WAS NO RIPPING - JUST SOME GOOD NATURED RIBBING.

All in all, a good time was had by all - courtesy, once again, of MOC.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekend Thoughts and Secrets Revealed

- So after a two-hour meeting with management and ownership where he clears the air and learns his job is not in (immediate) jeopardy, Willie's Mets go out and get trounced by the Marlins at home behind awful defense and poor pitching - pretty much all of the reasons Willie's job was in danger to begin with. When Santana flames out tonight (I'm prediciting a 7 inning, 4 run, 11 hit, 2 strikeout gem), can we start the Willie Watch all over again?

- I spend a pretty nice weekend doing pretty much nothing. Which, by the way, isn't necessarily a terrible way to spend your holiday weekend. My daughter finally got untracked in little league, getting off the schneide by reaching in the third on an error, then scoring her first run of the season. She also hit a line shot in the last inning which was snagged by the clearly over aged robo-boy playing shortstop. Good times. All my home tutoring is finally paying dividends.

- Had a very nice BBQ with some old friends last night. Discovered that not only does DB catch Elster's World, but so does Mrs. DB. I was actually flattered. This also expands the count on my "known readers who don't comment" list to at least 5. Therefore, I think I have surpassed. It also means that I will probably try to once again focus this blog on life more and sports less. But I've said that, and failed at that, in the past so we shall see.

- Joe update - So we were invited to good friend of ours for first day Shavuous lunch - they will actually be hosting some other really good friends of ours who will be in from NJ. After my wife accepts the invitation from Hostess, Hostess mentions she will be having one other couple with us - wouldn't you know it, it's couple that feels the need to constantly make fun of my boy. My wife has already put me on notice that if he makes one comment, shes going to turn it into the most uncomfortable Shavuous lunch in history. And I told her I don't blame her. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Open Letter To My Friend, Roger Ebert

Dear Ebert (and yes, even though we have never met, never spoken or conversed in any way, I feel comfortable enough calling you simply by your last name, the way I have referred to you countless times over the years):

I just wanted you to know you are the only film reviewer I have ever trusted. You are the only person whose opinions on movies I actually care about. You are the only person who, when I'm on the fence, you can sway me spend the 10 bucks or wait until it hits On Demand.

Sure, this may not seem like such a big deal. Movies are, after all, just movies. Silly flights of fancy to eat up 2 or so hours every once in a while. But to me, movies have been about more than simple escapism. They have have been one of the great ingredients that have fueled my imagination.

So yes, perhaps Deep Blue Sea isn't exactly On The Waterfront, but still the image of those terrifying sharks means more to me than "Rosebud" does. And while it may not be for all, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was captured by Peter Jackson so well, it was almost like he made the movie using the images from my head.

And you, Roger, understand that perfectly. Movies serve not one pompous purpose, but two totally distinct purposes. Yes, some movies shoot for greatness, for the level of "art". But others simply want to entertain you. Roger, you always seem to understand that. It's why you gave Aliens (my favorite action/alien shooter movie of all time) three and a half out of four starts which probably had poor Janet Maslin rolling in her bed (she isn't dead yet so no grave rolling allowed). It's why your fantastic, 4-star review of Pan's Labyrinth made me grab if from Blockbuster (I no longer go there, fear not) despite my hatred of all films foreign.

You saved my marriage by giving such a favorable review to Juno, that I allowed myself to make it my "one movie in the movie theater every six months or so" when I had great concerns that it was a total girl movie. But hey, if Ebert said it was good, that was good enough for me. (It goes without saying that it was great, we both loved it, and Ebert was right).

On a whim we watched Superbad. It was hilarious. After the fact I read your review, assuming you would have disliked this sophomoric tale of two high school seniors trying to get laid. Nope, three and a half stars. You found it as funny as I did. Why should I be surprised Roger? You and I are always of like mind. You want movies to amaze you, to thrill you and show you art - but sometimes you are simply happy with a movie that lets you have fun.

The thing I like about you is that you write it like you see it. You don't have to impress me with your intelligence, instead you let your intelligence come out in the down to earth review that makes sense. AO Scott bludgeons me over the head with fancy text and allegory, and when I finish reading the review I have no idea whether or not he liked the freaking movie!

But I always understand you and I trust you. When you gave Son of Rambow three and a half stars, I was excited. But when I read that the film disappointed you, I put it on the back burner. Hey, we will eventually get to it on Fios.

I just read your review of the latest Indiana Jones flick. Some early reports leaked that it was terrible. But you have restored my faith in humanity. Thanks.

I know you have had a lot of health problems recently. it's gotten so that you cannot even speak anymore. I cannot even imagine what that must be like. But just know that hundreds of thousands (millions) of people still hear you each week. We listen to you and we trust you. You shape our movie plans.

And we hope you continue to do so for many many years.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Reverse Jinx

- I have a really bad feeling about the lottery tonight. There's no way in hell the Knicks will get the number 1 pick. The cries of "fix" will be heard from Miami all the way to Seattle. And really, do the Knicks deserve anything good to happen to them after all the misery of the last five years?

- I'm also concerned about John Maine. He's a stopper, sure, but the Mets have a 2 game winning streak going. I think that may affect his confidence.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Live Blogging - D'Antoni Presser

Listening to the D'Antoni presser on WFAN.com. Some impressions:

Just got on - missed Donnie Walsh comments - they were short and sweet.

MD speaks for 30 seconds and then throws it open for questions:

- Addressing Knicks personnel (or the lack thereof) - Having Donnie is great asset (presumably talking about Walsh, not Wahlberg) - I can adjust my style (good times). We were 7 seconds or less, but we have 24 seconds or less. At least he SAYS he's open to changes as necessary.

- It's Warner Wolf! - He kills the roster - asks if the Knicks will be overhauling 50% of the roster. D'Antoni is diplomatic. If put in the right position they will succeed.

- MD laughs when asked about defense. - Answer we average 58 wins a season, so 58 times a season we had the better defense on the floor. Well, at least he handles the pres well. Can laugh. Not as stone faced as most coaches.

- Bruce Beck - How long until the team is "respectable"? - He jokes that he heard the press will give him "plenty of time" to get it turned around.

- The Post asks about Marbury - He deflects it.

- Well, we may not be seeing 7 seconds or less at MSG after all.

- The Star Ledger asks is the Knicks will run. Yes, will also play defense, rebound, etc.

- Newsday - what traits does he like to see in players? Shooters, defenders, rebounders...blah blah generic.

- Question about changing the culture - Only way to do it is to win. True dat.

- Some dumbass asked if MD wants to bring Nash into NY - Can you say tampering?

And that's a rap. Short, sweet and a waste of time.

Why Don't Sportswriters Factor In Contracts?

The Times had an article this morning on Mike D'Antoni and players on the current Knick roster that might fit his system. The two players named as the worst fits for the system were Jerome James and Zach Randolph (huge surprise). So, says the Times, Randolph is now officially trade bait. (Note, all numbers and years come from ESPN's Trade Machine)

Um...huh? Did the Times forget that Randolph has three years remaining on his contract starting at 13 million a year? Did they forget that the Knicks tried to unload Z-Dolph last year only to find no takers? Did they forget that it's hard to find a good fit for an out of shape malcontent who hogs the ball and doesn't play defense? Did they forget that the only way to trade Randolph was to take on additional salary - the absolute antithesis of everything Donnie Walsh and the Knicks say they will (and should be) do(ing)? I guess so. Sloppy reporting.

On point though:

The Knicks have a few pieces for a higher octane system - Crawford, Lee, Robinson, Chandler and Balkman. Let's also not forget that Q-Rich had his finest season under D'Antoni (however that was before his back surgery and subsequent gaining of 50 pounds. Oh and he can't shoot anymore either. Oh and how the hell does he still have two more years on his contact?). The Time suggest that surprisingly nimble Eddy Curry can be effective in the new system since D'Antoni doesn't care about defense anyway.

In short, the Knicks need to stay the course, hope to land Derrick Rose, try to unload Randolph, Marbury, James and Malike Rose without adding salary (Rose, Marbury and James may at least have some value as expiring contracts at the trade deadline - though they also have value to the KNICKS as expiring contracts at the deadline - to the tune of some 30 million dollars), keep reducing salary, hire a defense coach and start teaching the players to be the complementary pieces Lebron needs to win a championship on the biggest stage, New York.

On the bright side, I think the Walsh/D'Antoni combo will be enough to keep David Lee from bolting next year as a restricted free agent.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Non-Sports Weekend Thoughts

- I have the extreme pleasure of hearing Rabbi Lau speak this past Shabbos at the Young Israel of Woodmere. He was fantastic. He told a very interesting story of a meeting he had with David Ben Gurion in 1972. Sadly, I only got to hear him speak once. If ever he returns, I will try to hear him as many times as he speaks.

- After about a month of taking my eldest daughter to little league, the smartest thing I have heard about the experience has been "don't you know, little league is for the parents, not the kids". A more poignant statement I have not heard. What a mess. I'd go into detail about how awful the experience is for me (it's by far the lowlight of my entire week) but quite honestly, it's too painful.

- One of the problems with "coming out of the closet" on this blog is that, now that people know who I am (and a few of them read here as silent lurkers), I can no longer write everything I want to. I had an incident take place with me over Shabbos that I would have liked to have vent about but now I can't. Alas. Suffice it to say, We know these people from the neighborhood who, for some reason, feel the need to pump up their own child in their eyes by talking negatively about my poor four year old boy. The whole thing is so asinine. Why on God's Earth would anyone turn their children's friendship into a competition of who has the better kid? And the worst is me, sitting their and taking it, because don't feel like getting into a fight about it. (And I won';t even mention the fact that their kid is a bit wild, to the point where his teacher had to mention something to his parents recently. They, of course, were proud - proving once again that most people are blind when it comes to seeing faults in their own children.)

Am I wrong for keeping my mouth shut? Am I wrong for not defending the "honor" of my family because some jackass feels the need to tear them down? I think not. Instead, my wife and I came home, processed what happened (this is by no means the first time we have had to do this with this particular family) and decided we simply won't put ourselves or our kids in that position anymore. No more playdates, no more meals together, etc. Very simple.

Hey look at that - I was able to vent about it after all. I'm so artful.

- Ok I lied, a little sports. The Mets had a successful weekend against the crappy Reds. Beltran and Reyes look like they are waking up - 2 very key pieces for the Mets. as much as Beltran says no one player can carry a team, he can carry the Mets for a month if his bat wakes up. His 8 RBI in 2 days is a nice start. Even Carlos Delgado seems to be hitting is a bit better. All in all, what a difference A lou makes. Get is? Alou?

- Finally - I wrote last week how I was against trying to merge D'Antoni's run and gun style with the crappy Knicks. I have since read a few reports at least that he is, in fact, much more of an innovator than he has been given credit for and can merge his style to fit his pieces. Also, it appears he will hire a defensive coach. If the Knicks can get a Rose in the draft, who knows?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Some Sports Musings For A Rainy Friday

- The Knicks are reportedly about to offer silly money to coach Mike D'Antoni to be their next head coach. Something in the range of 6 years and 30 million dollars. Now, obviously we have have seen the Suns have a lot of success under D'Antoni's reign, but let's take a deeper look at that. The Suns had a tremendous nucleus of talent, including all-world point guard Steve Nash, the Matrix and Amare Stoudemire. It's easy to have success with players like those on your roster. The Knicks counter with Zack Randolph, Eddy Curry and Nate Robinson. See the difference? The Suns played created the modern "Seven Seconds or Less" era. The Knicks are full of mismatched plodders who can't run and have no point guard to lead them.

Also, let's not forget, the Knicks are going to suck for at least 2 more season while Walsh holds onto his crappy, expensive players in order to clear cap space for the 2010 Lebron Sweepstakes. If D'Antoni's teams suck for the next few years, the Knicks will just sour on him anyway, tune him out, and he will be useless by then.

Whey not just hire a less expensive option and basically say "screw it, we are going to suck for the next two years, but we are going to develop guys like David Lee, Wilson Chandler, Renaldo Balkman, Mardy Collins, Nate and Lottery Picks 2008 and 2009 (one of which better be a point guard by the way) into great role players for our Lebron-dominated 2010 team". Wouldn't this be the logical thing to do? Doesn't that make more sense than watching D'Antoni try and make guys like Curry and Z-Dolph into 7 seconds or less players?

Maybe I'm wrong here - maybe Walsh is thinking he needs to have a great coach in place first to lay the groundwork for what comes next. Maybe he feels D'Antoni is the guy who, along with a good assistance coach for defense, mold the young players into solid complimentary pieces. If so, I hope he is right.

- I was going to do a whole post-mortem on the Rangers but Game 5 really sucked the wind out of me so instead just a few thoughts. I agree with Joe that the Rangers need to let Steven Valiquette play more next season or find a reliable back-up who can. Lundqvist clearly ran out of gas in the Penguin series - the result of being overworked, especially down the stretch when he had to play every game as the Rangers fought for playoff position.

The Rangers should let Shanahan and Straka go, find a better scoring winger to play with Gomez, and re-sign Jagr for a fair price. The problem is Jagr is a primma donna who will want superstar money or else go play for his father's team in Europe. The truth is, if the Rangers lose Jagr as well, they will have to do major reconstructive surgery on their top line (only Dubinsky left). I would absolutely LOVE to see a third line of Dubinsky, Callahan and Dawes flying around next year.

After watching a Rangers legends show on Jeff Buekeboom last week, I am more convinced than ever that the Rangers need a physical, stay at home defenseman who can really stand people up and intimidate. They have not had that for years. If Rozseval wants superstar money, I'd let him walk, bring in a physical defenseman, and maybe try to fill a hole from within. If Bobby Sanguetti isn't ready, maybe Michael Sauer or Ivan Baranka is.

- With Hank Poteat back in the fold, the Jets now have not one (Barrett), not two (Coleman), not three (Lowery), not four (Miller), not five (Woolfolk) but SIX crappy or not ready cornerbacks to start opposite Reevis. Sometimes I guess the theory is you can stop a sprung leak but dropping enough dead corpses on it.

- John Maine - clutch stopper. Even without Pedro the Mets are fine at the top of the rotation. It's 3, 4 and 5 spots that are a concern. and the bullpen. Oh and Beltran, Reyes and Delgado. Oh and now Wright as well. and now Pagan hurt his shoulder. On the bright side, Castillo is slapping that ball to left real well. And el Duque took of his boot. Word from Florida is that he will be ready to go by June....of 2009.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Proof That YouTube Is The Greatest Invention Of The 21st Century

- The Battle At Kruger. This is a masterpiece

- Man Surfing A Tsunami - Insanely cool surfing video

- Amazing video of a shark attack. I can't help it, I love this stuff

- Video of mudslide destruction - either in Japan of California

- The effing Matt Damon video - if you haven't seen this yet, I don't know what to tell you

- Guillmo's version of Bourne Ultimatum

In other news, I've finally gotten a major writing gig! A very well know baseball player has asked me to ghost write his book about hitting. It will be out by September. It's called How To Keep Your Batspeed After 35 and it's by, I'm excited to say, Carlos Delgado! I don't know how he came to me, but I'm sure glad he did. Hopefully when it comes out he will be back in his clean up spot in the NLCS.