Thursday, August 30, 2007

'Morning Joe' Scarborough Attacks News Corp on CNBC Story

Joe Scarborough on his MSNBC morning show, 'Morning Joe,' took a shot at Fox News and its parent company, News Corp, this morning, for, as he put it, "ginning up a story" in the New York Post regarding a rivalry between CNBC anchors Maria Bartiromo, Erin Burnett, and the rest of CNBC's female anchor staff.

For those unfamiliar, the Post, over the past few months, has continuously written about a supposed "feud" between CNBC's top female anchor, Bartiromo, and its upcoming and quickly rising "international superstar" (as Scarborough calls her each day during her segment on Morning Joe), Burnett. I've written about these stories before but The New York Post upped the ante earlier this week when it claimed not just Burnett and Bartiromo were fighting, but dissension went far deeper at CNBC.
A source says reporters including sexy blonde Melissa Francis, who covers energy, have complained to CNBC suits that while they get zip, Bartiromo and Burnett are treated like princesses - with massive promotion, regular gigs on the "Today" show and "NBC Nightly News," perks such as limos and gushing quotes from network brass in newspaper articles.

"The catfight that started with Maria being jealous of Erin's rise has spread down the line. Now all of the other female reporters are getting p - - - ed off," our insider said.

"They're going to management and telling them they want equal treatment - better public relations, better placement on the air. They are all being divas now. It's gotten ridiculous."

So what was so suspicious in the eyes of Scarborough? The New York Post is owned by News Corp, which owns the cable network Fox News (which not coincidentally was promoting the story and the supposed feud on its airwaves) and is soon to own its own Fox Business Channel. So who has the most to gain by creating dissension within the ranks of CNBC? News Corp, who hopes to poach as much of CNBC's talent as possible for its new business cable channel.

If Joe is right, it's scary that sources that people use, or try to use, to get legitimate news, may be used to manipulate the news. And as's Ana Marie Cox brought up on Morning Joe discussing this topic, imagine what will happen, and how much power News Corp will have, once they start controlling the Wall Street Journal where they can really give legitimacy to these kinds of stories. Paranoia? Maybe. Probably even. But, maybe not.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Las Vegas Trip Report: The Final Days

Our flight back home to Detroit takes off in about an hour, hopefully the Benadryl pills I took put me more to sleep than the Tylenol PM I took on the way down, and I'll be much happier and more relaxed when we land back home around 8:30. But, in the meantime, here are the highlights of the rest of the trip.

Thursday night: After planning to eat at Mandalay Bay, we called an audible after the Asian-fusion cuisine at China Grille was just a bit too out there for us. Instead we went to Gallagher's Steakhouse in New York, New York, and the steaks were excellent. And huge. I've never seen a piece of meat as big as the prime rib my dad got. Holy cow. After dinner we traveled to the Mirage to see Love, the Beatles themed Cirque Du Soleil. It was a decent show, the music was great, and some of the acrobatics were cool, but it was more of a dancing show than the acrobatic performances some of the other Cirque Du Soleil shows are. I had never seen another show, but my parents, who have seen "O" which is at the Bellagio, said it was much better. I also played some Blackjack, losing around $15.00, and my sister, winning again, won close to $500 on a slot machine. I'm playing the wrong games.

Friday: Friday was a fun day. After sleeping in and relaxing in the morning, we went to Cheesecake Factory for lunch, and then I spent the balance of the day finally playing some poker. I played some $2/$4 limit hold 'em at Treasure Island, and lost $33 in a four-hour-plus session. The people are the table were fun, the stakes weren't killer, and it was a very fun time. I was happy to get some poker in before I left town.

After hitting up the Bellagio buffet for dinner, we then went back to Mirage to see Jay Leno do stand-up comedy. Absolutely hilarious. I was looking more forward to seeing Leno than practically anything else on the trip, and he delivered in spades. The warm-up act, a doo-wop comedy quartet The Alley Cats got the night off to a great start, especially when they called an obviously inebriated spectator on stage. Leno then did an hour and a half set, with some absolutely hilarious bits, and almost no low points (except that his riff's on why cats make bad pets may have gone one or two jokes too long). Basically it was non-stop laughter for an hour and a half. After Leno, knowing this was our last night in Vegas, my dad and I stopped at a Blackjack table and after losing all trip, I finally put a winning session together, running my $50 in starting chips to $250, before leaving, about two hours after I started, with $200. Lots of fun. Around this time I learned that the Tigers game had not started until 11:00 EDT, and did not end until after 3:30 in the morning Detroit time, just incredible.

Saturday: Losing the whole day due to travel. Our flight leaves at 1:40 Vegas time, is four hours, and arrives in Detroit around 8:30 EDT. I plan on watching the Lions-Colts pre-season game when I get home, then moving up to Ann Arbor tomorrow, in between a trip to Comerica Park to watch the hopefully, by then, well rested Tigers battle the Yankees.

Overall, a great trip. The Wynn is an amazing hotel, but it is a bit far down the Strip, so be prepared to do a lot of walking, which isn't great when the weather is 107-degrees or more. Other than that, no complaints, and my sister even got to see Kobe Bryant wandering around the hotel and gym a few times, and she won a decent amount of money on the slot machines, so she's happy. Overall, a successful trip. Now, let's just get back to Detroit and I will be a much happier guy.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Las Vegas Trip Report Days 2, 3, and 4

Okay, a few days later, a few hundred dollars poorer (we'll get to that in a few) here's the latest from hot, hot (107-degrees plus) Las Vegas, Nevada.

Monday Night: So, in Monday's report I was relaxing for a bit after checking into the Wynn. Monday night we explored the Strip some, foreshadowing the huge amount of walkin which was to come on Tuesday. We walked down to the new Planet Hollywood hotel and casino, which is next door to Bally's and the Paris and had dinner at the oft-praised Spice Market Buffet. The Planet Hollywood casino is relatively new, and replaced the old, and outdated Aladdin Casino, but they kept the famed buffet due to its popularity. Good move. Good food and even better deserts. I was really impressed with the casino too. Planet Hollywood, as opposed to most of the other casinos on the Strip, has a real modern feel to it. It's hip and has an edge, and it's clear they are trying to market themselves to the 21-29 demographic, and it works. Throughout the night, we also checked out a multitude of other hotels, including Bally's, the Paris, and the Mirage. Fun night, though exhausting since we didn't get back to the Wynn until close 11:00 Vegas time, or 2:00 Eastern, after waking up at 4:00 to get to the airport and board our flight.

Tuesday: Slept in Tuesday and we needed it to prepare for the day ahead. We started with a breakfast buffet at the Bellagio, which despite being only three or four bucks more than the one we eat at a day earlier at Treasure Island, was infinitely better. We then walked, and walked, and walked, down the strip hitting practically every casino on the Strip. We waked down to Monte Carlo (just fair), New York New York (very very cool), and then the Excalibur, Mirage, and Mandalay Bay. I really liked the inside of New York, New York and Mandalay Bay. Mandalay Bay seems like a great hotel, but it's so far being at the far end of the Strip. We then walked back to the Wynn on the other side of the Strip, starting at MGM to see the Lions they have there, and hitting casinos on the way back in. We must have walked three miles, easy, and it was over 105-degrees. The most exercise I've had, well, ever probably. The only saving grace was finding a 7-Eleven on the way back so at least I could cool down with a Slurpee. And as I've already written Slurpee machines are nowhere to be found here in the hottest part of the country. It's really mystifying.

While we did not gamble much at the casinos we stopped at during the day, I did stop off on the way home to play some "Blackjack Switch" (I'll explain more shortly) at a smaller casino on the Strip, Casino Royal. Lost $50. Putting me down $115 for the trip. The advantage of vacationing with your parents though is gambling money is really the only money I'm losing on this trip, so hard for me to complain.

Tuesday night, we hit up the Mirage buffet, which was great. Huge, good chicken noodle soup. Deserts were not good though. We then took a cab to downtown Las Vegas, otherwise known as "Freemont Street" where a lot of the old fashioned Vegas hotels are located (such as Binion's, which used to be known as the "Horseshoe" and was the genesis for the World Series of Poker). The cab driver was very nice heading down, and he railed against the NBA players who were in Vegas for the 2006 NBA All Star Game. According to him, the players and their entourages caused nothing but trouble while they were in Vegas, from theft, to skipping out on cab rides, to physically assaulting waitresses and other casino personnel. The NBA may want to come to Las Vegas, but Vegas (the cab driver was only one of a series of people who told us the same horrible stories) does not want the NBA.

Freemont Street was fun. My dad and I went to the Golden Nugget where we sat down at a Blackjack Switch table. Blackjack Switch is a variation on regular blackjack. You play two hands at a time, and you can swap the top two cards of your hands after they are dealt. Gives you a chance to get more doubles, splits, and good hands. In exchange, blackjack pays even money, and 22 is a push for the house. It makes you think more than regular blackjack and is fun to play. I played for almost three hours and won a grand total of $10 ($5 of which I tipped our dealer, Jenny, with, who really knew her stuff and made the game more fun to play). I may not have won much, but I had a blast playing.

My sister was the big winner on the night, winning $140 on a Jeopardy slot machine. I didn't even know they made a Jeopardy slot machine, which of course, I now want to buy for the condo I plan on buying once I graduate from law school in December. I've always planned to get a slot machine for my place, either to put in my living room or my second-bedroom which I plan on making into a gameroom, and have found some online for $800 or so. But, a Jeopardy machines would be really cool. Not only does it have a cool bonus game, but because I was voted "Most Likely to Appear on Jeopardy" back in high school, the machine has a personal attachment too. I know the company that makes most all slot machines, IGT, does not sell their "Wheel of Fortune" machines to anybody but casinos, but I'm going to look into trying to find a Jeopardy machine.

Wednesday: Wednesday was a family day, as we woke up near 6:30, and took a six hour drive to San Diego to visit my great grandmother, great aunt, and cousin. I had not seen my great grandmother since she moved out to California full time seven years ago (she used to take the train out to California every winter -- not a fan of flying, which maybe is where I get it from) so it was nice to spend some time with her, and my great aunt and cousin. After making the six hour drive home (it was a long, but beautiful drive through the mountains and desert) we stopped at the Rio for a few (where I bought a great World Series of Poker T-Shirt involving Mount Rushmore and the President's wearing poker paraphernalia. We then checked out Circus Circus (run down, but cool for all the carnival games you can play there), played some $3 blackjack, and called it a night.

Thursday: Started the morning with another buffet, this time at the Wynn, which was probably the best buffet we have had so far. Rivals the Bellagio breakfast buffet, and may beat it out slightly. Then had an easy day so far. Watched the Tigers lose to the Indians at the Wynn sportsbook, lost $100 at Casino Royale playing more "Blackjack Switch" (I'm not going back there this trip seeing as how I've lost $150 of the $205 I've lost in Vegas so far at that casino) then walked around a bit, looking for a Frozen Coke. Giving up, I grabbed a chocolate-oreo ice cream here at the Wynn's Sugar & Ice internet hotspot/cafe, and checked up on what I've missed in the world since I've been gone. Dinner tonight at the Mandalay Bay, then the Beatles' Cirque De Soleil show ("Love") tonight and probably some more gambling.

Overall, been a really fun trip so far. I've lost $200, but that's not too bad, and it's been fun casino-hopping. I love the Wynn too, and it's high end table limits ($15 is the cheapest blackjack tables here, even early in the day) have saved me some money, as I have not played a lot here in the hotel I'm staying at. Though, not playing, apparently, cost me a chance to play with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, who according to a dealer here, were playing blackjack last night. Oh well. Maybe tonight.

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No Slurpee Machines in Las Vegas?

I'll get to a full trip report in a moment, but first this thought: Why are there no Slurpee places in Las Vegas? Or, at least, not very many. It's 107-degrees (or hotter) here and I can't find a Slurpee hardly anywhere. I found a 7-11 on Tuesday, and I remember there being an Icee place in the basement of Bally's, but in the various shopping areas, food courts, and other hotels on the Strip, Frozen Cokes/Slurpees are nowhere to be found. How can this be given the heat?

My dad and I are convinced that if we opened up a small storefront in each of these hotel food courts, put in 12 Slurpee Machines, made up some collectible souvenir cups, and sold them at $3.00 or $4.00 a pop, we'd make a killing.

Maybe there is some reason why Slurpee's are not easily found, but I've done my share of walking the past three days, and have not been happy with what I've found (or, in this case, have not found).

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Las Vegas Trip Report: Day One

Well I don't know how often over the course of the trip I will be heading down to the internet hotspot here at the Wynn Casino and Resort, but while I'm here, at a nice ice-cream/coffee bar called "Sugar & Ice", I figured I may as well go through how the first day has gone so far in Las Vegas.

Our flight from Detroit left at 7:00 this morning, Eastern Time, which meant leaving the house around 5:00. That was fine with me, as I attempted to stay up most of the night and down a Tylenol PM in an attempt to sleep through the flight here (due to my previously discussed fear of flying). Well, that didn't work, as I was unable to get comfortable or sleep on the plane. I will say though, that although the flight had a few bumpy moments, it was overall a decent flight, which coming from me, is saying something. What did work out well was ripping the audio tracks from my numerous West Wing DVDs and listening to them on my sister's old Dell Jukebox MP3 player (she's since moved on to a more fashionable IPod). West Wing was able to keep me nice and relaxed throughout the four hour flight. Yes, I'm strange.

Through we left at 7:00 AM EST, and the flight was four hours, with the three hour time change, we landed soon after eight. After dropping our luggage off at the Wynn (an absolutely beautiful hotel, easy to see why everyone loves it so much) we ventured out on the strip. It was a toasty 90-degrees when we started, at close to 9:00 EST, and the temperatures reached mid-triple digits by the time our excursion was done.

We started off with a breakfast buffet at Treasure Island, which I think my parents and sister liked more than I did, though the mini-waffles were good. We then took a short tram ride to Treasure Island's sister casino, the Mirage, where we saw one of their famous Tigers (not quite as cool as the Detroit variety), picked up our tickets to Jay Leno and Love, the Beatles themed Cirque du Soleil show, and started gambling a bit. Not a great first effort, as a 30-minute (or so) stay at a $10 blackjack table cost me the $70 I had in my wallet.

After that "welcome to Vegas" moment, we headed to the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, a place made for people who love shopping, like my mom and sister. And holy cow, are do the shops go on forever and ever. More walking today than I have done in a long, long time.

After that, it was a hot, 100-degree+ walk back to the Wynn to check-in. Amazing room overlooking the Wynn's breathtaking golf course (which I won't be playing due to the overwhelming heat and the even more overwhleming $500 per round price tag), unpacked (well, my sister did, my things are still safely in the suitcase), and down here to check up on Michael Vick's plea-bargain, the rest of the days news, and blog this. Tonight looks like a buffet night (potentially the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood) but this food here at Sugar & Ice looks good. The people next to me have some french fries, very tempting.

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Viva Las Vegas

After unsuccessfully trying to stay up all last night (fell asleep around 1:30 am) in an effort to make sure I do fall asleep on a plane ride later this morning (an idea to combat my fear of flying I have mentioned previously) I am off to Las Vegas for a week of relaxation before I move back up to Ann Arbor and start my sixth and final semester of Law School. I hope to blog while I'm gone, but we'll see how internet access works out in the hotel.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Weekend Sports Update

Busy sports day on Saturday with the Detroit Tigers battling the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium followed by pre-season game #2 for the Detroit Lions, as they march towards quarterback Jon Kitna's predicted ten victories.

It was a mixed-bag, as the Tigers lost, again, falling 1.5 games back of the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central, but the Lions, needing only eight games now to match Kitna's prediction (he may not have been counting pre-season victories, but to get to 10 wins, he's going to have to) moved to 2-0 with some impressive and inspired play.

The Tigers first, because, they played first. As the day on the whole was mixed, so was the Tigers performance. Rookie phenom Cameron Maybin had some at-bats he'll remember forever and some plays in the field he would soon like to forget. At the plate, not only did Maybin pick up his first big league hit off of legendary Roger Clemens, but he his first first home run, to deep center field (410+ feet) off of the Rocket as well. No wonder he went 0-4 in his first game. He was just waiting to feast off of Clemens. In the field, though, Maybin, playing his second game in left field, still looked lost. He dropped a ball after calling off Brandon Inge early in the game, then despite a renowned arm, had an awful throw home which allowed Alex Rodriguez to score with ease. Overall though, Maybin had a good second game, and he should continue to get better (especially defensively as he becomes more comfortable in left-field, a position he had never played before).

Now, only if the Tigers could win a few games, that would be nice. They cannot afford to continue to fall behind Cleveland. Next week's series at Comerica Park is going to be crucial, especially if the Tigers do not win today. Winning three of the four games would allow the Tigers to pick up 2 games in the standings and perhaps take back first place.

As for the Lions, yes it is only pre-season, and yes the team was missing some of their key starters on offense (Roy Williams, Mike Furey, Kevin Jones) and Defense (Dewayne White, Kalimba Edwards) but when the starters were in, the team looked much improved from last week's effort. The first string defense forced two turnovers (the team had three in total) and the offense looked crisp. The running game was still hit or miss, but it looked better, and TJ Duckett, after fumbling last week, looked strong and tough in the second half.

The team still is a work in progress, and the offensive and defensive lines looked porous at times, but overall it was a strong effort. Now, how much of that was how awful Cleveland is and how much of that was how good Detroit is, that's a fair question. We'll know a lot more this time next week after the Lions starters play for a full half (or maybe more) against the defending Super Bowl champions, the Indianapolis Colts.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Cameron Maybin Struggles in Detroit Tigers Debut

And the Cameron Maybin era has begun. And it started in a blowout loss at Yankees stadium where Maybin did not look like the next Babe Ruth or Reggie Jackson or even the next Bobby Higginson (c'mon, Maybin's wearing Higgy's old #4, so you had to know that reference was coming). But, that's okay. There will be brighter days ahead for this ultra-talented 20-year-old.

Maybin, batting second and starting in left field, went 0-4 with two strikeouts, and struggled in the field. Essentially, he looked like a 20-year-old. Does this make the Tigers move to bring him to the major league a mistake? Of course not. A lot of Tigers looked silly against the dominant Andy Pettitte, and Maybin has not played a position other than centerfield since Spring Training. Add in a rainstorm which prevented Maybin from getting any pre-game work in the outfield, and learning a new position may take some time. And despite the 0-4 night, Maybin did show plate discipline at times, and seemed to look more and more comfortable after each at-bat.

Tomorrow won't get any easier, with Maybin scheduled to start again opposite Roger Clemens, but this is the big leagues, so there won't be a long grace or adjustment period. Despite the somewhat inauspicious beginning though, Cameron Maybin is likely to have a lot of success in the majors for a long time to come.

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Detroit Tigers Call Up Cameron Maybin; Designate Craig Monroe for Assignment

After saying earlier this month that the team had no plans to call up phenom outfielder Cameron Maybin from the minor leagues when rosters expanded in September, the Detroit Tigers changed course Friday, calling up the 20-year-old center-fielder to the major leagues where he will be in uniform for tonight's game against the New York Yankees.

The Tigers have not announced whom Maybin in replacing on the 25-man major league roster, but the likely candidates are Craig Monroe (trade) or Marcus Thames (Disabled List) (Update: It's Monroe...See below) But with Maybin now on the big league club, you have to think he is here to play. While a number of the Detroit Tigers players are currently fighting the flu, and Thames may have re-injured his hamstring last night, Maybin is not here for depth purposes. Or he shouldn't be. Everyday at-bats are too valuable for a young player like Maybin and there are plenty of players in Toledo, like Timo Perez and Brent Clevlen, who could fill a depth role.

Maybin, on the other hand, needs to see as many at-bats as possible, and it looks as if those will now come at the major league level. Maybin, since being promoted to AA Erie earlier this month, has hit .400 with four home runs in five games. Not bad numbers for a 20-year-old. And while Maybin was not expected to join the major league club until mid-2008 at the earliest, perhaps now is the time for that experience to come. The Arizona Diamondbacks, for example, recently called up their hot-shot 19-year-old outfield prospect Justin Upton, and he produced immediate dividends at the major league level despite his young age. Maybin may be able to make a similar impact, especially with his speed.

Now, if Maybin is just here to sit on the bench, and play in spot roles due to illness or injury, calling him up is a mistake. He needs to continue to see pitching, at any level, major or minor leagues, every day. But, if he is here to play, he may just be here to stay, because with the talent and potential he has, there is no time like the present, and no place like Yankee Stadium, to show it off.

12:30 Update: My colleague Danny Knobler is now reporting that Maybin is replacing Craig Monroe on the roster. Monroe has been designated for assignment, giving the Tigers 10 days to trade him or offer him his unconditional release. While Monroe has struggled all season, few figured his Tigers career would end like this. But, with how well Marcus Thames has played, and Maybin's upside, this was likely Monroe's final season in Detroit regardless. The Tigers also sent down Omar Infante, in a bit of a surprise move, recalling shortstop Ramon Santiago. Santiago can't match Infante's bat, but he is a much better defensive shortstop, and you can't blame the Tigers for wanting to keep Ryan Raburn around as opposed to Infante.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tigers Sign Porcello; Are the Tigers the New Yankees?

The Detroit Tigers, nearing a Wednesday deadline to sign their draft picks before losing them forever to college (or next year's draft), are spending big to sign their top talent. Rick Porcello, who was considered the best right-handed pitching prospect in the draft, and a top five overall prospect, slid to the Tigers first-round spot in the late first round because of concerns about how much it would cost to sign him, if a team could come to an agreement with him and agent Scott Boras at all. The Detroit Tigers were unafraid, and Tuesday, they reportedly agreed to a deal with Porcello for either $7.3 million or $7.7 million guaranteed. Either way, it's a record breaking contract, the most money paid to a prep prospect ever (surpassing Josh Beckett's $7.0 million deal in 1999). Not only that, but the Tigers might also shell out seven-figure deals to both fifth round pick (pitcher) Casey Crosby and sixth-round pick (shortstop) Cale lorg.

Which leads to the question: Are the Detroit Tigers the new New York Yankees? Looks like it doesn't it? Justin Verlander, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, and now Porcello each received near-record breaking (or in Porcello's case, record-breaking) contracts, and each likely will make up the backbone of the Tigers future. Add that to the money spent on the likes of Pudge Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, and Gary Sheffield, and suddenly, the Tigers look like Major League Baseball's biggest spenders.

And whether they are the new Yankees or not, owner Mike Ilitch deserves praise for spending so much money on unproven talent. Justin Verlander has obviously paid off in spades, and Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin both look like they were well worth the money too. It's obviously too early to say about Porcello, but from everything everyone says about Porcello he's just as talented, and just as gifted.

Mike Ilitch got a lot of heat during the 1990s and the start of this decade when he was not spending money, and the Tigers were the laughing stock of baseball. But, now, with a winning team, a dedicated fan base, and a general manager (Dave Dombrowski) who knows how to spend money wisely (when he gives a high school pitcher $7.5 million, you can bet he knows the guy brings the goods), Ilitch has been unafraid to spend big bucks. And thanks to that willingness to spend, the Tigers look to be in prime position to contend well into the next decade.

Now only if Porcello could come up tomorrow and replace Jason Grilli in the bullpen, we'd be all set.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

The Lightning Round -- Best of the 'Net

Lots of interesting things going on at the moment. The Detroit Tigers continue to struggle to find their way. Karl Rove resigned. The NFL pre-season continues. And I had a Fantasy Football draft yesterday. But instead of boring you with the details about who I drafted and why (I will say I drafted three Detroit Lions, and nabbed Marshawn Lynch, who I think will be a superstar for Buffalo) there is lots of other great content on the web these days, so let's see what's worth checking out.

**Ebert and Roeper and Siskel online -- Despite not venturing out to the movies, well, at all this summer, I love watching Ebert and Roeper at the movies, every Sunday night at midnight. Richard Roeper knows his movies (obviously) and is entertaining on the show. And while Ebert is out right now recovering from cancer surgery, a variety of fill-in hosts have done an admirable job, the most of impressive of whom has been Associated Press movie critic Christy Lemire. But this plug is for their new website which is a film lovers paradise. Every review that has ever been broadcast by Rogers Ebert, Gene Siskel, and Richard Roeper are available for free viewing. It's an incredible library of thousands of video reviews. I checked out reviews of three of my favorite movies last night (Field of Dreams, Almost Famous, and Gattaca) and I was addicted. Curious about whether the movie you are planning on renting is good or not? I don't think there's a better site out there. Very impressive.

** Chris Matthews hits on Erin Burnett -- This is thanks to the great folks over at Inside Cable News. The great Erin Burnett, who I have written about time and time again was on MSNBC's Hardball, hosted by the equally great (but in different ways) Chris Matthews, who may have let his appreciation of Burnett lead to a few awkward moments during an interview on Friday.

** Facebook profiled in Newsweek -- It's a good day for Facebook creator and soon to be billionaire Mark Zuckerberg. He and his brainchild,, made the cover of Newsweek this week and were the recipients of a very well written, very complementary cover story. Well worth reading if you count yourself as a Facebook user and even if you aren't.

I am a huge supporter and fan of the Facebook, and have been registered with the site since May of 2004. I have met cousins I never knew before, caught up with friends from elementary school I hadn't talked to in years, and wasted many an hour on the site. Should it ever become an IPO, as the Newsweek story indicates, it will be the most anticipated and I would think most successful IPO since Google.

** Some other good stuff to check out -- Fellow Tigers Fan KatieG runs a great blog over at InnisFree on all sorts of goings on, both sports and non-sports, Motor City and non-Motor City related. Kurt has all the latest on the Second Life virtual property lawsuit(s).

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Detroit Lions Pre-Season Victory: Lions 1-0

With the Detroit Tigers struggling, the Detroit Lions pre-season could not have started soon enough. I was at Ford Field last night, and was excited to see what the Lions had to offer. And while the Lions did pull a victory from the jaws of defeat, thanks to a late rally led by quarterback Dan Orlovsky and a successful onside kick, the real story was how the first string played. And, well, it was a bit underwhelming (but then again, as a Lions fan, I've been preconditioned to be pessimistic). The first string defense looked just as weak as it always has, letting the first string Bengals offense move up and down the field at will. To their credit, though, they did hold Cincinnati to only field goals, no touchdowns until some of the backups came in, so that deserves praise. Hard to judge the Lions offense because they likely are holding things back, but Roy Williams looked good. Offensive line was eh, but with so many new players on the line (only center Dominic Raiola and left tackle Jeff Backus played significantly for the Lions last season) it may take a while to gel. I'll reserve further detailed comments until I watch the television broadcast this weekend (yes -- I'm a football geek -- But in my defense, when you want to see how specific players looked, it's hard to do it in person) but here are some other quick thoughts.

** Calvin Johnson only had two catches, but looked solid when he was on the field. His second catch forced him to leave his feet and he made an impressive grab. The real star of the game though was Shaun McDonald, who looks like he could be this year's Mike Furrey, who comes over from St. Louis and has a breakout season.

** Both backup quarterbacks, J.T. O'Sullivan and Dan Orlovsky looked good, for the most part. Sure, they made a few mistakes, had a few turnovers, but for the most part, they looked good for the first pre-season game. Maybe Drew Stanton's injury isn't as bad for the Lions as it first appeared.

** TJ Duckett's fumble was not good. We fumbled the ball quite a bit last season, and if there was one positive thing you could say about Steve Mariucci coached teams, it was that they hardly ever fumbled. That is something that has to be corrected.

** The secondary still scares me. A lot. Fernando Bryant, who supposedly has had a great training camp, looked completely lost out there. Chad Johnson will do that to a lot of people, but still. That was not good.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Democrats AFL-CIO Forum: Dodd v. Obama; Biden v. Edwards

After getting home from the Detroit Tigers game late (and, yes, I did boo Jason Grilli after yet another awful performance, but, give the Tigers credit for coming back and winning) I thought I was going to get to sleep pretty quick. Then I read a bit on tonight's Democratic AFL-CIO Forum, and a replay started on MSNBC at midnight, and, well, an early night turned in to a pretty late night. So on to some analysis, and video, of tonight's candidate forum.

A very interesting atmosphere with the outdoor setting and huge crowd reactions. My reactions to the debate were likely skewed by some of the reviews I read, from both Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post and Chuck Todd of MSNBC so I'm probably just repeating a lot of their thoughts, because they were right on in most cases. Dennis Kucinich had a really good night, and had some funny lines. Mike Gravel was absent, and the panel was better for that fact. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden certainly seemed like they wanted to be on the attack tonight (a smart move being so far behind right now) but curiously, instead of attacking the front runner (Hillary Clinton) they attacked Barack Obama and John Edwards. As Chuck Todd speculated, was Biden trying to show his worth as Vice President? I think he makes sense in that role for whomever wins the nomination, and certainly, would make an excellent Secretary of State. But, as both Todd and Cillizza pointed out, the storyline now becomes the "fresh outsiders" (Edwards and Obama) against the "experienced insiders" (Clinton, Dodd, and Biden) and I'm not sure that plays well for Clinton in the long run for the Democratic primary. And was Bill Richardson even there tonight? I love his experience, and thought a few months back he'd be a perfect VP candidate, but he has not impressed me at all.

The big two exchanges which took place over the course of the night involved, as previously mentioned, Chris Dodd going after Barack Obama (on Pakistan) and Joe Biden going after John Edwards (on labor support). First, here's video of the Dodd/Obama exchange, which included a short interlude by Hillary Clinton. The difference in opinion stems from Obama's charge that he would unilaterally attack Al Qaeda in Pakistan if Pakistan refuses to. And, while this may not be surprising given my previous support of Obama, but I agree with him on that point, as I think most people would when put to them just that way. Obama isn't saying he is going to unilaterally attack Pakistan, he's saying he would act on actionable intelligence. What President or candidate wouldn't?

The second spat involved John Edwards promoting his pro-labor history, and Joe Biden questioning him on it, with Edwards' later response. I don't have much analysis on this, but it is interesting to see Biden go so strong attacking Edwards.

So overall, worth staying up until 1:30 for, interesting, and maybe it'll shake things up a little bit. And with that,

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Barack Obama on Barry Bonds

I will have much more on the Democratic AFL-CIO Forum in a little bit, but this first bit had to be its own post. During the "lightning round" of the debate, moderator Keith Olbermann asked Barack Obama whether he would honor Barry Bonds at the White House. Obama answered very politically, shrewdly moving the discussion away from Bonds and on to where the spotlight belongs: Hank Aaron.

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Monday, August 6, 2007

This is Why I Love Jim Cramer

I'm a big fan of CNBC's Jim Cramer. Yes, he's loud, obnoxious, and a caricature of a person. But, if you read his autobiography, Confessions of a Street Addict, you'll find he's also very intelligent, thoughtful, and successful. And a self-described nutcase. Well, unhappy with the recent tumble of the stock market, Cramer went on a significant rant while on Street Signs with the great Erin Burnett. If this isn't "must see TV," I don't know what is.

The market today is up some 200 points, and Cramer is a bit more calm and collected. You can watch his calm response to Friday's tirade at

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Sunday, August 5, 2007

Why Being Afraid of Flying is not the Worst Thing in the World

I watch a lot of television. A lot. But, I tend not to watch television dating shows. I can justify watching Lost and 24 and The West Wing and Boston Legal and The 4400, and, and, well, you get the idea. Smart writing, great actors, witty characters. Fulfilling stories. Suspense. Action. Drama. Things worth putting down the Theodore Roosevelt biography I'm reading or worth changing the channel from MSNBC or CNBC for. In fact, the only dating shows I can ever remember watching were the original Joe Millionaire (which had ratings practically rivaling the Super Bowl if I remember correctly), Average Joe 2 (the house of 516 Walnut Junior year of undergrad got into that one for whatever reason -- Probably because of its star, Larissa) and, of course, MTV's awful Singled Out from when I was in middle school. But, at the time, the Chris Hardwick/Jenny McCarthy hosted show seemed like one of the best shows on television. Shows what I knew.

So, with that said, I have not been watching NBC's summer dating show Age of Love. For those that missed it (and I don't think you're alone if you have), the show features a guy in his 30s "dating" women from one of two groups, women in their twenties and women in their forties. Yeah, sounds great, I know. And NBC wonders why it's stuck in 4th place among the major television networks (and I'm a big NBC guy, so it pains me to write this).

Why am I writing about this show and what does it have to do with the headline to this story you ask (assuming, of course, you've read down this far and weren't turned away by the Singled Out reference)? My parents watch the show (maybe they are the only ones, I'm not sure) and they called me in the room tonight while watching this week's episode. Apparently, one of the twenty-somethings on the show, a college student named Megan, eliminated herself from the show. Why? Because she's afraid of flying and refused to board a plane taking her and some of the other contestants to Australia. My parents, knowing my intense fear of planes, now think they've found the perfect woman for me. And perhaps they're right.

Like Megan, I have a very strong fear of flying. I know it's irrational. I know driving is far more dangerous. I don't care. If I can avoid flying, I do my best to. Amtrak and Greyhound have been used (on trips to Washington D.C. and from Los Angeles to Las Vegas respectively) in the past. I fly when I have to, which basically comes down to when taking a train would take so long, it's impractical. Though, I guess some would say taking a 15-hour train ride to Washington D.C. would qualify as "impractical." I don't count myself in that camp though. I flew to Los Angles in 2005 to go to the Rose Bowl, and I'll fly out to Las Vegas later this month for a family vacation, but, likely until I get married and go on a honeymoon, that's it for me and airplanes. Unless, of course, Megan from Age of Love finds this post, we get married, and take Amtrak somewhere. That works too.

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Saturday, August 4, 2007

"We're in a bit of chaos right now" - Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland

"We're in a bit of chaos right now." That's the lead from's Danny Knobler who reports this afternoon that Andrew Miller has been placed on the 15-day Disabled List with a bum hamstring, making him the third Detroit Tigers starter to hit the DL this year. The vaunted Fernando Rodney will return to a still-in-flux Tigers bullpen, even though the Tigers would have preferred he continue to fine-tune his delivery at AAA Toledo for just a bit longer.

At the start of the 2007 season, the big question surrounding the Tigers was whether they would become this season's version of the Chicago White Sox. In 2006, the White Sox, fresh off of a World Series win, were primed for a repeat (especially considering how weak the AL Central was -- remember, this was before the Tigers turnaround). The long 2005 season, though, came back to haunt the White Sox. Especially their pitching staff which led them to the World Series but never seemed to recover in time for a 2006 pennant run.

When the Detroit Tigers started off 2007 as hot as they played in 2006, the White Sox comparison seemed like nothing more than a foolish warning from the ultimate pessimist. Even midway through the season, the Tigers had so many pitchers they didn't know what to do with them all, and they eventually traded Mike Maroth and Wil Ledemza (both of whom have starting experience).

Today, though, mired in an almost month long slump, placing yet another starting pitcher on the DL, the 2006 White Sox comparison doesn't seem so far fetched. All of Detroit's starting pitchers, except for Justin Verlander, have at least missed multiple starts, and only Verlander has not spent time on the Disabled List (reading Kurt's similar thoughts over at Mack Avenue Tigers reminded me that even Jeremy Bondman was placed on the DL back in May with blister problems. I thought he had just missed a few starts). As has Zach Miner, who was a key member of the Tigers starting rotation last season. And the bullpen? Those woes have been well documented, with seemingly everyone, from Miner, to Fernando Rodney (two trips), Joel Zumaya, and Tim Byrdak missing time.

Now, the White Sox comparison isn't entirely accurate. Miller did not pitch significantly last year. Bonderman's problem was a blister, and Rogers blood clot likely had nothing to do with how many innings he threw in 2006. Same with Joel Zumaya's freak finger injury. But, the bottom line is, the injuries keep coming. And now, the Tigers batters (like Marcus Thames and Gary Sheffield) are out too.

This has been a rough stretch, obviously, for the Tigers. Chaos, as Jim Leyland described it, is a good word to use. But, you get the feeling that the light may be visible at the end of the tunnel. Fernando Rodney, shaky as he may be, is back, and is said to be 100%. Joel Zumaya should return before the end of the month. Marcus Thames as well. And Sheffield's injured shoulder is feeling better. So maybe, just maybe, two or three weeks from now, this stretch will be nothing more than a memory.

And there's always the possibility of a trade. Though, if the Tigers are serious about moving Carlos Guillen to first base next year (not the worst idea in the world), Pittsburgh's Jack Wilson is not the answer. But, a former shortstop (current third baseman) who hit a historic 500th home run today will be a free agent at the end of the year. But, that's a post for another day.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Rick 'Wild Thing' Vaughn vs. The Natural

YouTube is pretty amazing. Not a revelation, I know, but it still needs to be said. So I was driving home the other day, listening, as always, to WDFN's Stoney and Wojo afternoon show, and Mike Stone is going on about this great YouTube video, which splices together footage from two classic baseball movies, Major League and The Natural. Some would argue the two best baseball movies of all time (though, I plant myself firmly in the Field of Dreams camp.) So, what we get as a result, is Rick 'Wild Thing' Vaughn versus Roy 'The Natural' Hobbs in a matchup of biblical proportions. Great job editing by UBBarstoolSports, who created the video, and nice job by Stoney, who also has some other great videos on his WDFN page.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Actor Robert 'Arli$$' Wuhl Defends Barry Bonds

I am nothing if not a journalist. Well, I try to be anyway. Which is why even if I think Barry Bonds is a cheating, no-good baseball player who doesn't deserve to break Hank Aaron's historic home run record, I am open to those who think differently. So, watching Morning Joe tonight (as I've elsewhere explained, I usually watch MSNBC's new morning show, or at least the third hour of it, when I get home from work) I caught a segment where host Joe Scarborough was interviewing actor Robert Wuhl.

Sports fans (as well as HBO subscribers) may recognize the name, as Wuhl, for seven seasons, played sports-agent-extraordinaire Arliss Michaels on the great HBO series Arli$$. Arli$$ had more real sports superstars as guest stars than any other show, and was hilarious, though it might be best known, in the long run, for helping to start the career of Sandra Oh, who of course has become much more well known for her portrayal of Christina Yang on Grey's Anatomy.

Anyway, Wuhl is good personal friends with Barry Bonds, and after posting a clip from Monday's Morning Joe where Bob Costas just ripped into Bonds, I felt it was only fair, in the spirit of journalistic integrity, to also share Wuhl's thoughts defending Bonds. Well, maybe not defending his alleged steroid use, but defending the great numbers he has put up in his career, especially when compared with Hank Aaron. And no matter what you think about Bonds, Wuhl does bring up some good points.

And for those that missed it, or are too lazy to check out my post on Costas' rant here's what Costas had to say. Point, Counterpoint if you will.

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