Jul 31, 2008

Manny being Manny..but not in Boston

Well, it finally happened. Manny Ramirez has finally worn out his welcome in Boston and in the process has joined the likes of Nomar and Pedro as guys who whined their way out of Boston long after their performance had dropped and they were living off past performance. What has Nomar provided the Cubs and Dodgers since he left? What has Pedro brought the Mets?

I will say that I was a Manny fan. I loved some of his antics, like going into the green monster and even some of his defensive miscues. When he performed, he was one of the top hitters in the game, maybe the best right handed hitter. However, Manny has hurt the Red Sox this year with his comments. He has divided the clubhouse and forced the hand of Theo Epstein. I think this will significantly hurt the Red Sox chances to make the playoffs. For these reasons, I am very disappointed and can no longer root for Manny. Not because he is no longer with the Sox, but because he has shown that he doesn't play the game for the right reasons. He is more concerned with listening to super-agent-and-possible-demon Scott Boras than with being the player he could be.

Here are some of the cold hard facts:
The Red Sox paid a lot of money and got probably the best years of Manny's baseball life. His Red Sox Stats - 245 HR's, 868 RBI's. However, he hit 20 hr's last year and 20 so far this year. Well off his pace. His RBI's - 88 last year and 68 so far this year. Way below past performance. His slugging percentage the last two years is 100 points lower. Manny has shown he is not the same hitter. Maybe its motivation. Maybe its getting older. Who knows.
Manny was a big boost for David Ortiz, but a big distraction with a lot of other players. He also lacks character. The Red Sox are better in the long run building a team off players like J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury. These are guys who are interested in being well compensated, but are more interested in playing baseball to the best of their ability.
The Red Sox were going to lose Ramirez at the end of the season anyway because his option was too much for his declined stats. The Sox are looking past this season and got a guy with similar stats for less money. One guy who called WEEI in Boston this afternoon said that basically the Red Sox gave up Brandon Moss (a fifth outfielder) and Craig Hansen (an underperforming bullpen pitcher) and two future draft picks (which they would have received when Manny walked) for Jason Bay for the next 2 years. For now, it looks liket the Sox gave up too much to get rid of a cancer. However, it's better than what they got for letting Pedro walk. In '04, Sox fans griped when they gave up beloved (and periennal whiner) Nomar for Orlando Cabrera and
Doug Mientkiewicz. But it helped them win the first world series in 86 years. I don't think that will happen this year, but who knows.

I hope that Jason Bay will pan out.
Time will tell. For now, the Sox will move on. We will no longer hear the phrase "Manny being Manny" at Fenway Park. They are still one of the best teams in baseball. They have proven to be the most successful team in the game over the last 5 years. I hope that trend continues.

"I have absolutely nothing to say about this..."

Woman claims she found 'Cheesus'
(NECN: High Ridge, MO) - A Missouri woman says she has found Jesus in a bag of Cheetos. When Kelly Ramey opened a snack-sized bag of Cheetos, she felt something unusual and checked it out.

Most of her family and friends believe it looks like a mini orange sculpture of Jesus on the cross. Ramey and her husband call it "Cheesus." Others see something completely different.

A local minister does not see anything theologically special about the Cheeto, but thinks some good could come from it.

Ramey doesn't plan to sell the Cheeto because it's bringing a lot of joy into her home. She will keep it in a safe deposit box or put it on display so more people can enjoy it.

Jul 22, 2008

The Dark Knight ...Let's put a smile upon that face!

I took my oldest sons Sunday afternoon to see the new movie sensation, The Dark Knight. I tried to go see it Friday night and it was all sold out until the 10:15 showing. The movie had a record $158 million opening weekend. This has been the most hyped movie of the summer, mostly due to Heath Ledger's untimely death earlier this year. However, even with all the hype, this movie did not disappoint!

Let me say first of all that I wasn't overly impressed with the first movie in the series, Batman Begins. I thought it was long and drawn out and took too long to develop the story. Also, I thought the Scarecrow was a shallow villain and the whole Legion of whatever destroying Gotham was too much. I did think that both movies however did a much better job of bringing to life the real comic book Batman, a dark, haunted character that sometimes pushes the line. I was a fan of comics as a teen and Batman was one of my favorites.

I also am not a huge fan of Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne. He does a good job of showing the playboy side of Wayne, but his guttural Batman voice leaves much to be desired. Michael Caine is a great Alfred and Morgan Freeman's character is a great addition.

The Dark Knight however is all about the Joker. This character takes your attention from the opening and is perhaps the greatest portrayal of any villain in any superhero movie. It's hard to imagine this guy is actually Heath Ledger, the guy from Brokeback Mountain and The Patriot. Ledger portrays a Joker who is absolutely void of any compassion or feeling. He's totally anarchic, hellbent on destroying any and everything just for the fun of it. By his own words, "It's not about the money, it's about making a statement." Early on the Joker hits the audience with the "disappearing pencil" trick that you have to see. I also lost it when he dressed up in a nurse's uniform to enter the hospital. I've heard it from more than one person that Heath Ledger gives an Oscar-caliber performance. I agree. It's a shame that someone with that talent left so early.

So here's to The Dark Knight! You have got to go see this movie.

Jul 20, 2008

Quick Update

I just noticed that I haven't posted anything in several weeks. Too busy. Lots in my head, hard to find time to put it down. Here's a quick update:

1. Busy summer with the kids. Nathan has signed up for football. It's his first year. It should be an eye-opening experience. He's in the 105-pound league and will probably start out playing defensive line or linebacker. Conditioning drills have started with lots of running and footwork. Seems to be having fun so far.
2. Had a great 4th of July weekend in Columbus with my family. Cookout, fireworks, and homemade ice cream!
3. Finished my last doctoral seminar and now have to start the project phase. Looking to do a project discipling college students. Have to go back to New Orleans in September for a project design workshop.
4. The Red Sox are driving me nuts. Got way behind the Rays (how strange does that sound), got back into it before the All-Star game, and have now dropped 2 to the Angels going into tonight. Need to get Papi back and score some more runs. Typical July slump for the Sox.
5. Went to see The Dark Kight today! Been waiting on this one for a while. I'll write more on it later. In all, have seen lots of movies this summer - Iron Man, Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Wall-E, and now The Dark Knight.
6. Enjoying my Father's Day present - a 46" Panasonic Plasma 720p television! And, it went down last week and I got $118 back from Best Buy!
7. Been very convicted lately that I need to spend more time in God's Word. Too much ministry, not enough personal time with God. Feeling the effects lately. Also need to do a better job praying with my kids and teaching them how to pray.