posted: Oct. 13, 2005  |  Feedback

Have to get some quick book stuff out of the way...

1. We set up some West Coast book signings for the next two weeks. The list includes San Fran (Tuesday the 18th), Denver (Wednesday the 19th), San Diego (Friday the 21st), Los Angeles (Westwood, Tuesday the 25th), and probably a Sonny McLean's stop in Santa Monica (ether the 24th or the 26th). Full details to come on Friday. We thought about including Seattle and Portland as well, but I think I've gotten like 10 e-mails from the Pacific Northwest in the past five years, so it seemed a little risky -- I didn't want to be stuck in an empty bookstore with two dudes wearing Soundgarden T-shirts.

2. We have been getting a number of e-mails from people reporting that A.) the book is on back-order at Amazon, and B.) they've been unable to find it in their local bookstore. There's a reason for that -- we didn't print enough books with the first printing. The second printing rolls out this weekend and should take care of the numbers problem, but I'm apologizing, anyway -- few things are more annoying then going down to a store to buy something, only to find that they ran out of it. For instance, I went to three L.A. stores this week looking for "The Warriors: Director's Cut" and all were sold out. How can you not have enough DVD's available for the most underrated action move of the past 30 years? If anyone's seen it, send us a review please.

Speaking of the book, belated thanks to everyone who showed up at the signings in Manhattan, Stamford, Bristol, Worcester, Boston, DC and Chicago. I had a blast meeting everyone -- it was much more fun than I thought it would be, even if I still haven't regained feeling in my right hand.

Some things I learned on the tour ...

1. At least 88% percent of my male readers in Massachusetts are named Sean, Patrick or Michael.

2. Remember my running joke about all the ways to spell "Antoine" in sports? Well, I think the name "Caitlin" is the white/female version of that -- there's Caitlin, Katelyn, Katelinn, Kate Lynn, Catelyn ... I kept waiting for someone to ask me to sign for a "Kate'lin." All the Caitlins need to get together and decide on one spelling. And while we're at it, same goes for Jennie/Jenny, Shaun/Sean/Shawn, Kelly/Kellie and Kristin/Kristen. Strangely, the Kristins/Kristens had the biggest attitude -- when I asked them how to spell it, each side would say "With the e!" or "With the I!" like they were completely incredulous that I had to ask.

3. A surprisingly number of Yankees and Mets fans read my columns -- I'm glad we can all get along. Also, I was disappointed with the lack of wispy mustaches with the Yankee fans. Maybe that's gone out of style.

4. My readers are thoughtful. For instance, one person brought me the actual record album of the "Fast Break" soundtrack. Two girls brought me a "DONNA MARTIN GRADUATES" t-shirt that they made up themselves. Another guy brought me a "Put the Lotion in the Basket" t-shirt with Jame Gumb that's fantastically creepy. Yet another gave me a single trading card from the "Rocky 4" set (of Ivan Drago's manager).

5. Probably my favorite random moment: You might remember a mailbag from like two years ago where someone outed one of their friends (Jeff Dorman) for bragging about getting letters published in various columns, then implored me to write that "Jeff Dorman sucks." In that same column, I ran an actual Dorman e-mail, then ran those three words as my response.

Well, the same Jeff Dorman showed up at the DC signing -- he seemed to have a good sense of humor about that mailbag, although there was a touch of a Steve Bartman-y look about him (like his friends had been ragging on him for two years straight about the mailbag). Actually, for about five seconds, I thought he might stab me to death with a pencil. But we hashed everything out. The best part was my buddy House was sitting next to me with a "Jeff Dorman ... wait, where do I know that name? ... isn't he the guy who sucks?" look on his face for about 45 straight seconds. I'm telling you, this book tour was phenomenal.

Here's the sad thing: I kept a little notebook on the trip where I jotted down a bunch of notes to remember for this blog after the fact ... and that notebook is nowhere to be found. (During my two-week trip, I lost that notebook, my cell phone charger and my backup laptop battery ... I am just not a good traveler.) Too bad. I had some funny stories and I can't remember any of them -- the whole 9-day stretch was a giant blur.

By the way, I'm coming back in December for another East Coast swing -- and don't think I'm not passing through Philly this time.

A few more notes and then I'm done...

• I'm glad that last night's ridiculous ending in the White Sox-Angels game happened. Starting next year, we'll have instant replay ... which should have been installed about five years ago. So this is good, I think. (Seriously, how can there NOT be instant replay? It's not like we don't have the technology, and the logic of "We didn't have this back in the 1940's, so we can't have it now" makes no sense at all. There can't be a dumber sport than baseball -- it's astounding to me that this sport continues to survive despite the people running it.) And while we're here, thanks to the White Sox for playing out of their minds against Boston, then playing like crap against the Angels for two straight games just to give me those, "Man, what if the White Sox had played like this against us?" thoughts. Just what I needed.

• I was thinking about the whole White Sox/1917 thing. For the past 15 years, Red Sox fans had to deal with this ridiculous theory that Babe Ruth somehow cursed our franchise because we sold him, which makes no sense if you think about it because going to New York was the best possible thing that could have happened to him on every level (I cover this in my book -- did you know I had a book out?).

Meanwhile, the Black Sox throw the 1919 World Series, violate/destroy/obliterate the sanctity of the game and nearly kill professional baseball as we know it, and since then, 86 years (and counting) have passed without them winning a championship ... and nobody ever brings up a potential curse with them? Who could have possibly angered the Baseball Gods more than the 1919 White Sox? If any baseball franchise is "cursed," wouldn't it be them? When we watch these White Sox playoff games, as Williamstown reader Rob points out, "Where are all the montages of the 88 years of futility? Where are the floating heads of Chick Gandill, Eddie Ciccote, and Joe Jackson?" He's right, how do the White Sox fans get a free ride this October? Imagine if the 1919 Red Sox threw the World Series? How many times would McCarver and Buck have brought it up during last year's playoffs? 700? 800? I'm confused.

• Speaking of Fox, it's not that I'm against Lou Piniella in the three-man booth or anything -- but what's the point? Doesn't the playoffs seem like a strange time to introduce a completely random person into your No. 1 baseball play-by-play booth as the third wheel? What's the thought process behind this? During the NFL playoffs, would Fox ever say, "All right, we have Aikman and Buck for the NFC Championship Game ... hey, let's shove Joe Gibbs in there just to mix it up!" Would that ever happen? So why do they take these dramatic gambles with baseball broadcasts? Just seems odd to me. If you think McCarver and Buck need some extra help for a big game, maybe you should have hired someone else in the first place.

(One exciting subplot for Piniella: Does anyone keep praying for McCarver to disagree with him on something, followed by Piniella's voice raising, and the discussion continuing to escalate ... and finally Lou just starts dropping f-bombs and screaming things like, "Yeah, I'm sure you bleeping know more than me, Timmy, I've been managing for the last 20 bleeping years, you're been sitting in a bleeping broadcast booth twiddling your bleeping thumbs, let's go with your opinion on this one, you BLEEPING BLEEP BLEEPER!!!!!" I think this is my sports wish for 2005, actually.)

• I made my virgin appearance on a late night talk show this Monday -- going on Jimmy Kimmel Live on the same night as the immortal Freddie Prinze Jr. When I was walking out and going to shake Jimmy's hand, I forgot that there was a one-step drop and nearly went flying on my butt, which delighted Jimmy to no end -- in fact, he's sent me five different MPEGs of the clip in the 48 hours since it happened. I don't think it counted as a full-fledged trip, more of a momentary stumble. But it was still funny -- hopefully we can figure out a way to show it on The rest of the interview was pretty uneventful, although they cut out the part when I made a joke that Jimmy was a control freak. Which he is. See, that's why they cut the part out.

• My final ruling on the 18-inning Braves/Astros game in the Levels of Losing ... all things considered, it was one of those rare games that combined Levels 2 thru 5 on the list. The grand slam at 6-1 made it a "This Can't Be Happening" Game, as well as a Broken Axle Game. Ausmus's two-out homer definitely made it a Stomach Punch Game. The next eight innings earned it "Guillotine Game" status. And then Chris "Corky" Burke's game-winning homer was a full-fledged, Defcon 1 Stomach Punch moment. That was simply brutal. Almost unprecedented, actually.

• In Tuesday's posting, I mentioned how Clement wasn't the same after getting hit in the head. As many Sox fans pointed out, that wasn't exactly accurate -- he pitched three of four crummy starts before that Tampa game, then wasn't terrible in his next four starts after the Tampa game. I should have researched that and didn't -- that's why I hate writing these blogs sometimes, it's a race to get them up, and sometimes the facts are sloppy. Although I will stand by the statement to a certain degree -- after that Tampa beaning, his demeanor seemed different to me, and once he started flinching on fouls balls that were hit straight back, it was all over. But mid-September, he had officially reached "I hope we don't have to start this guy in a big playoff game" status.

Another inaccuracy from Tuesday's blog, from my comment on Gammons' riff about those mid-80's offenses -- actually, the '84 Tigers, '85 Cards and '86 Mets scored a ton of runs, even though they weren't your traditional bangers like the '95 Indians or something. The Baseball Crank elaborates:

"OK, you knew you'd hear from me when you quoted Gammons saying the '86 Mets weren't a traditionally dominant offensive team. The Mets led the league in runs scored, scoring 15% more runs than the league average and 44 more runs than the next closest team. They led the league in batting, slugging and OBP (the latter by 13 points). They led the league in walks. They were 3d in the league in home runs and 4th in doubles. And they did this while playing in Shea Stadium, one of the league's best pitcher's parks (they scored 4.68 runs/game at home, 4.99 on the road). Their team OPS+ was 116, compared to 111 for the 1999 Indians and 114 for the 2004 Red Sox. It was 116 again in 1987. It was 117 in 1988. On the days when Howard Johnson or Kevin Mitchell played shortstop, the 1986 team could field a whole lineup (except pitchers) where the lowest OPS+ was 114, that being Wally Backman with a .320 average and a .376 OBP. The Mets, within the context they played in, beat the crap out of people."

• Check this out: Three weeks ago, my old college (Holy Cross) re-ran one of my old 1992 columns from the school newspaper (The Crusader) to coincide with my speech at Holy Cross. For whatever reason, it's online here -- so if you want to read one of my columns back when I had no idea what I was doing, here's your big chance.

The one enjoyable part to me was the George Blaney potshot -- he was our men's hoop coach back then and I made it my goal in life to turn the campus against him, so I took unprovoked shots at him in just about everything I wrote. Amazingly, incredibly, he ended up getting hired by Seton Hall after I graduated, where he subsequently drove the program into the ground before they canned him. Now he's an assistant for Jim Calhoun at UConn. But that man drove me bonkers. During one home game, I even made a sign that read "CALL A TIMEOUT GEORGE!" that I held up every time the other team would go on one of those patented 10-0 runs where George would just stand there watching as the game slipped away. I'm getting worked up all over again just thinking about it.

New column coming tomorrow.

October 2005