Friday, February 27, 2009

Garfield Minus Garfield

Apparently, when you remove Garfield's image and words from his own comics, you are left with a much better, darker comic about Jon Arbuckle that reveals a man losing his grip on sanity. He's manic depressive, somewhat paranoid, and generally slipping into full-on schizophrenia. This leaves the question - was Garfield always an imaginary friend, a la Calvin and Hobbes or Donnie Darko? Click on the title for more.


Come over to my place this Sunday where we will be brewin' up a storm. (1 storm = 5 gallons of beer). Learn the secrets of what could get you thrown in jail in the 30s or burned as a witch not long before that. Dance on what will inevitably be a very sticky floor. Drink heavily in anticipation and celebration of the outcome.

Sunday afternoon (say, 1 to 7, but who really knows)
88 Livingston St., Apt. 10

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Worse for Sports than Steroids, Will Ferrell

It's fun to reference movies, but I don't know how I feel about the recitation of movie quotes becoming the predominant mode of expression for so many men. It's basically all sportscenter is now. And here are a couple more examples. They're definitely kind of fun, so I hope you enjoy...I'm just not totally psyched about the trend.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


More baseball and more steroids. Sorry girls.

This is the best article written on steroids and the media's role in the whole thing that i have read. It's also interesting to note that ESPN has been publishing most of the bigger articles from on but this one somehow never made it over. hopefully we don't get sued by prospectus for using their material without permission. here goes.

February 9, 2009
Prospectus Today
Stupid Media Tricks

by Joe Sheehan

And so it continues. Per Selena Roberts and David Epstein of Sports Illustrated, Alex Rodriguez was one of 104 players to test positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. In that year, every player in Major League Baseball was tested, presumably anonymously, in an effort to learn the depth of the PED problem in baseball and weigh the need for a program that would mix random testing with penalties for use.

This is a big story, in the sense that it involves a famous person, a bad act, and America's true favorite pastime of tearing down people of achievement. It allows the media to rend their garments over baseball's lack of purity on the issue of PEDs, substances which only began to affect the sport in the mid-1990s, which made a mockery of the record book all by themselves, and the rampant use of which makes baseball unique in American sports. It also provides a new way to pick on Alex Rodriguez, who—whatever he did in 2003—is probably the hardest-working baseball player to ever become a national punch line.

While it's a big story, however, it's not a big deal. See, we already know that baseball players great and small were using PEDs. That was the only thing of substance we learned from the Mitchell Book Report on Game of Shadows, Plus Assorted Information From Weasels the Government Shook Down For Us: the 89 players cited by name in the report as having been directly connected to PED usage were a cross-section of the baseball world, pitchers and hitters, stars and scrubs, "no!" and "who?" With a minimum of sources, and the players themselves refusing to participate, 89 players were reasonably connected to purchases, and presumably usage. We had the 2003 survey testing, which set a baseline number of "5-7 percent" of players, a figure we now know to be the high end. Throw in the players who may have stopped using prior to '03 due to attention paid to the issue, and those whose use went undetected because their drugs were just that good, and you can comfortably say that some double-digit percentage of players were using PEDs up through 2003. Great baseball players used PEDs to be better, and until 2004, no one tried very hard to stop them from doing so. Some people continue to be surprised that highly competitive young men fighting for fame, honor, and a cut of $6 billion would do everything they could to beat the guy next to them, which is a pretty good way to make the Olympic team in Naive.

The price tag on proving Barry Bonds' purported use, all in, is approaching nine figures when you account for the time and effort of a couple of intrepid reporters with little regard for the law, an IRS agent, and the combined resources of just about every governmental entity this side of the Department of the Interior. Mark McGwire was named in a book, called before Congress, and labeled a fraud for telling the truth—just not the truth the witch-hunters wanted to hear. Roger Clemens is living out the adage that you should never wrestle with a pig.

Knowing Alex Rodriguez used PEDs, in the context of those names, isn't information that changes anything. A great baseball player did bad things with the implicit approval—hell, arguably explicit approval—of his peers and his employers. It's cheating, yes, which would be a problem if we hadn't been celebrating cheating in baseball since the days when guys would go first to third over the pitcher's mound. You can argue that it's different in degree, though the widely accepted use of PEDs by peers and superiors, and the use of amphetamines before them, is a strong point against that case. What is clear is that it's not different enough, in degree, to warrant the kind of histrionics we're reading and hearing over this. It's not different enough to turn Alex Rodriguez into a piƱata.

Of course, the screaming is about the screamers. The loudest voices on the evils of steroids in baseball are in the media, and there's probably a dissertation in that notion, because for all that we have to hear about how greedy, evil players have ruined baseball by taking these substances (and then playing well, according to this selective interpretation; no one's ripping Chris Donnels these days), the reason we're talking about this in 2009 is that so many "reporters"—scare quotes earned—went ostrich in 1999. We hear every year around awards time that the people closest to the game know the game better than anyone, because they're in the clubhouse every day, and they talk to everyone, and they have a perspective that outsiders can't possibly understand. For those same people to do a collective Captain Renault, which they've been doing since beating up players for this transgression became acceptable, is shameful. Take your pick: they missed the story, or they were too chicken-shit to report it. In either case, the piling-on now is disgusting.

In the same way that the reporters who vote for the Hall of Fame are going to take their embarrassment out on Mark McGwire, and probably Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro behind him, and god knows who to follow, they should punish themselves as well. I propose that for as long as a clearly qualified Hall of Famer remains on the ballot solely because of steroid allegations—or for that matter, proven use—there should be no J.G. Taylor Spink Award given out to writers. If we're going to allow failures during the "Steroid Era" to affect eligibility for honors, let's make sure we catch everyone who acted shamefully.

We shouldn't know that Rodriguez tested positive. Flash back to 2002, and the negotiations over a Collective Bargaining Agreement in which the MLBPA was beaten to a pulp in the public eye. It was management's first win in a long time, and in that win, they got the players to agree to a plan that would determine the extent of PED use within the game, and trigger a testing program if a problem showed itself. The 2003 testing was designed as a survey—test every single player in the game, and if at least five percent of the tests turn up positive, switch to a program of random testing that would include counseling and then punishments for failing tests. (This program, which seemed to deter use immediately, was later modified for no good reason when Congress again decided to grandstand on the issue.)

The players agreed to be tested in 2003 on the condition that the testing be anonymous and no individual results would be tabulated. This was the necessary step to determine the breadth of the game's PED problem, and the solution was one of the few elegant elements of that 2003 CBA. However—and this is the crucial issue of this story—the 2003 testing was not anonymous. For reasons that the MLBPA and the testers have yet to explain, the samples were labeled in a manner that allowed the results to be traced to individuals. It wasn't anything like "TEX13," but whatever the method, there was a link from the sample to the player for the lab's use. When federal agents raided two labs (Quest and Comprehensive Drug Testing) in November of 2004 as part of the BALCO investigation, they collected enough information to connect the positive tests to the players involved.

The failure was in not destroying the materials involved—samples, results, and documentation—once they'd served their purpose. Once the survey testing showed more than five percent positives, the new testing regime was put into place for 2004, and the 2003 tests were no longer needed. Destroying the materials does require a specific request to the labs, and it appears that no one at MLB or the MLBPA made that request, which is where they failed. It does appear that those entities were unaware that the tests weren't anonymous; the mistake was in allowing the materials to exist long after they were needed, long enough for them to be discovered. Once the government had the information, of course, it was just a matter of time before that information would be leaked. It is inevitable that we'll have the other 103 names in time, and just as inevitable that while all 104 will have done the same thing, only the successful ones will be treated harshly.

I don't really care that Alex Rodriguez used steroids. There was a time, not very long ago, that I thought the issue of PEDs in baseball was overblown because use was overstated. Now, I think that use was common, with some significant number of players regularly using steroids in an effort to become better at that craft, and a larger number at least trying them out for a period of time. I remain skeptical that PED use is connected to performance in a way that warps the game, a conclusion supported by the evidence that proven use is mixed among hitters and pitchers, among good players and fringe ones, among the strong and the skinny. The establishment of a testing program with penalties does appear to have been a deterrent, as evidenced by the drop from 104 positives in 2003 to fewer than that number in total in the five years since.

What interests me is the process, and the abuses we've seen. In 2002, the players agreed to anonymous testing in an effort to eradicate a problem, part of a process that created the first CBA arrived at without a work stoppage in decades. This should have been an absolute good. Instead, because of a failure of the MLBPA to tend to details, an out-of-control investigation and prosecution led by an IRS agent, and the government's inability to protect the sanctity of information, 104 players will have their promised anonymity taken away with nothing given in return.

It's not enough to say, "Tough, they cheated." Even cheaters have rights to see their agreements honored, and these 104 men have been violated by their representatives and their government, complicit with a media that repeatedly asks the easy questions and takes on the soft targets while avoiding the real work of uncovering not just names, but truth. The story is bigger than Alex Rodriguez. It's more interesting than Alex Rodriguez. It has more depth and more nuance than the failure of one man to play by the rules.

Tell that story, in a measured voice that embraces complexity, and I'll listen. Until then, it's all just screaming.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact Joe by clicking here or click here to see Joe's other articles.
Open Questions

There's an open question or two within the story of how Alex Rodriguez's positive test (or alleged test) came public. Joe details some of them, but there are also a few more speculative questions that I'd like to see answered.

First, it's alleged that Rodriguez was tipped off late in the season about an upcoming drug test by Gene Orza of the MLBPA. Whether Orza did or not remains to be seen, but for the sake of argument, let's assume that he did. At that point, why would Orza think to tip off Rodriguez unless he had reason to believe that Rodriguez needed a warning? Did Orza know that Rodriguez had tested positive previously?

Moreover, why was Rodriguez being tested a second time? It does appear that there were a number of secondary samples taken late in the season. Since it's unclear when the first round of survey tests was taken and processed, it's hard to pinpoint this, but the number of secondary tests appears to be close to 100. If it was 104, that would make a lot of sense. Were these secondary tests, in essence, a "B sample?" In most drug-testing programs, including baseball's, there are two samples taken, termed the A and the B. Both are taken at the same time—the cup is poured into two testing containers—but if the A tests positive, the B can be tested to confirm and to do further tests.

Since there were no penalties and no appeals process (though 13 players are reported to have appealed, which of course means that they knew that they had tested positive), there's no real need for a B sample. That means that the secondary test may have been confirmational. Again, there's no real need for this within the structure of a survey test, nor is there any reason or procedure set up within the 2003 CBA.

So, there are a lot of questions still open, but for the most part, this part of the story is going a lot like the rest. The public only cares about naming names and taking the ones they recognize to the pillory. I'm more interested in facts and understanding things as best I can. I hope we eventually get answers to these questions, and I'm certainly trying to find the answers.—Will Carroll

Cats on Steroids!!!!!

In light of the enthralling debates surrounding the usage of steroids in baseball, I would like to bring to your attention another serious problem involving the abuse of this potent drug. No, I am not talking about the prevalence of steroids in sports such as track and field or swimming, but rather in the grueling sport of cat owning.

As many of you may not know, cat owning has become an increasingly competitive sport in the past ten years. Owners are under incredible pressure to post pictures on facebook, catbook, picasa and other photo sharing sites, of cats exhibiting incredible feats of power, size, and athletic prowess. In order to outdo their fellow cat owners, many are turning to the help of steroids to create ferocious felines capable of jumping over not only fences but entire houses and able to terrorize the neighborhood dogs while their owner gleefully cackles behind the video camera.

Some dedicated cat owners are spending up to $10,000 a month on the steroids needed to create their supercat. Please prepare yourself for the graphic images I present below.

The effects of domestic feline steroid doping (DFSD) have been felt across the world. In middle America, the mice population has boomed as bulging kitties turn toward worthier prey like deer, small children, and evangelical ministers who condemn homosexuality but secretly obtain the services of male prostitutes. In Egypt, the pressure to create larger and larger tombs for the mummifed remains of supercats has led to a severe labor shortage. In Japan, the beefcake kitties of proud owners have actually taken over the government.

These are some photos illustrating the effects DFSD, again, I warn you, they are extremely shocking.

If you would like to contribute to a noble organization working to halt DFSD, please send a donation to this paypal email address:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What you got Ashley?

Baseball Prospectus' projected AL East standings for 2009

                        Div.     Wild    Total
AL East W L Title % Card % Postseason %

Red Sox 98.0 64.0 38.9 24.0 62.0
Yankees 95.9 66.1 32.1 24.5 56.5
Rays 91.3 70.7 20.3 21.1 41.4
Blue Jays 81.2 80.8 6.4 10.1 16.5
Orioles 73.9 88.1 2.3 4.5 6.8

Really interesting stuff. The Rays projected to regress a little, the Yankees projected to pick up about 6 wins after adding the best available pitcher and best available hitter through free agency this year...but the Sox still the strongest team on paper. The Sox have been projected to finish ahead of the Yanks before and have come up short, but I feel pretty good about their chances this year as long as they avoid any crushing injuries. But that's a really strong division. The really interesting part is that even the Orioles win the wild card in the simulation more often than any team in either of the other AL divisions. The O's actually have some strong young players. They're still not close to being a playoff team, but they're no longer a joke of a team.

Monday, February 23, 2009

donkey with pots clanging on the sides

This is Awesome

Among the less startling assertions one could make today would be that we live in a drug culture. The vast majority of us gobble an aspirin here, gulp an antibiotic there, whiff a decongestant now or a few milligrams of nicotine then...However, after it has been admitted that most citizens dope themselves from time to time, there remain excellent grounds for claiming that in the matter of drug usage, athletes are different from the rest of us. In spite of being—for the most part—young, healthy and active specimens, they take an extraordinary variety and quantity of drugs. They take them for dubious purposes, they take them in a situation of debatable morality, they take them under conditions that range from dangerously experimental to hazardous to fatal. The use of drugs—legal drugs—by athletes is far from new, but the increase in drug usage in the last 10 years is startling. It could, indeed, menace the tradition and structure of sport itself.

-Bil Gilbert, writing for Sports Illustrated, June 23, 1969

The whole thing's basically a 6-page money quote, and really speaks to the great unaswered question I have for all the Jayson Starks, Wallace Matthews, and other handwringers:

If you claim an insider's connection to the sport, or even just a basic level of consciousness, how have you missed this for the last 40 years? If you were there, and saw it, why did you fail to report it with the same indignance? In either case, why should I ever trust you as a journalist again?

-Free A-Rod

Friday, February 20, 2009

Buffalo Sham Wings

So they opened one of these joints in Amherst this week. I had never heard of it before, but all these people in my program from the south and midwest love the place, so our Thursday Night Out (the customary mba organized thursday drinking) this week was held there. First of all, the place weirded me out a bit, and I think the reason why was described best by one of the other's a sports bar on steroids. Like Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod, etc. the place delivers the goods in a very pleasing way (there are huge tv screens everywhere, excellent sight-lines, lots of food and beer selections), but something feels a little unnatural about the place. The ambiance is not what I came here to complain about, however.

When you call your place Buffalo Wild Wings, shouldn't the signature item, the wings, at least be above average?!?! I tried a couple different flavors, both traditional wings and boneless, and while it's all certainly edible, it's all fairly disappointing.

The one positive I came away from the place with, this...

The Podcast! Episode 2!

in which we Argue All Aspects of ARod, Get Acquainted Again with An Amazing Alumna, And Announce An Array of Astute Appraisals!

The Podcast - Episode 2: The Letter A - Josh & Ben

Friday, February 13, 2009

He Came To Help The People With Their Minds And Their Asses

March 24th = New DOOM and The Year Of Lil Wayne officially comes to a close

Also this dude is Amish.

Joaquin? River? Unabomber?

This is truly hilarious! I was expecting Joaquin to punch Dave in the mouth!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Dentist...What a Trip

I know exactly how this kid feels.

performance february 18th!

amigos -
my band - "the no more hope please band" - (no connection to the whole political phenomenon that recently swept our nation) - is playing a show on february 18th at session 73, 1st avenue and 73rd street, 8ish.

come out and support us!
our drummer is awesome!
we have a hot keyboardist!
upper east side!

Monday, February 2, 2009

London Review of Books Personal Ads (Part II)

Not only will this advert win me the woman of my dreams (25, tall, brunette, fun, likes late nights, computer games and Pop Tarts), it also wins me a place at the grown-ups’ table. Errant son, 18, swapping Dad’s Hustler subscription for this crap for the last two years.
box no. 31/02

Dear LRB, I have no money. Please run my advert for free. I want a woman who is 38. Let her know I’m really clever and good-looking. Thanks.
box no. 31/03

Everyone. My life is a mind-numbing cesspit of despair and self-loathing. Just fuck off. Or else write back and we’ll make love. Gentleman, 37.
box no. 31/05

If you’re reading this hoping for a mini-biopic about battles with drugs, cancer and divorce, talk to the guy above. But if you want to know about historical battle sites in Scotland, talk to me. Alan, 45. Scottish historical battle expert and BDSM fetishist.
box no. 31/06

I make my own sexual lubricant. The secret ingredient is Bovril. Man, 56. Congleton.
box no. 31/07

Why I'm Watching The Grammys

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