thecubsfan.com

worse things than not winning a game

Dec
29

The Lions finished 0-16. ESPN has silly, useless but sometimes amusing Coach Approval Ratings, and Rod Marinelli is at 32%. Ownership apparently voted no. 32% is not good, but the coach of the first team to not win a single game in a 16 week NFL season is apparently not the worse coach in the league:

31% Gruden – Tampa Bay (136 votes)
29% Del Rio – Jacksonville (100)
22% Edwards – Kansas City (179)
16% Crennel – Cleveland (263) [fired]
15% Jauron – Bills (251)
12% Phillips – Dallas (2,247 votes; not a typo)

Mangini, the only other coach fired as I type this, was at 33%. Tim Cable is improbably at 70%, which owes as much to the small number of people who actually vote in these things as the warm glow from the season ending win. It was very odd to watch, Oakland looked like a credible team.

This is the 0.1% no uptime par…

Dec
23

This is the 0.1% no uptime part of the guarantee!

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the return of Food Chain is tr…

Dec
18

the return of Food Chain is truly xmas come early

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1yr/0.8mil for Joey Gathright

Dec
16

This has to mean Felix Pie is headed out of town, right?

Gathright is a fast outfielder who can not hit at all, though he has managed to walk a little bit (but would need to do it twice as much to be Theriot level worthwhile.) He’s really a CF, though he’s could play LF or RF as a sub

Pie is a fast outfielder who has not hit at all. He’s really a CF, though he could play LF or RF as a sub.

Ultimate Zone rating had Felix as +1.5 game defender in 2007, and a slightly negative one in 2008, but that was off a small sample. Gathright was +2 games in 2007, +0.7 last year. I think it’s probably about a wash, considering both will ideally be backups.

The bigger difference is Gathright will be 28 and likely never going to be better. Pie is 24, and there’s still a little bit of hope there. Except, the Cubs saying there’s not enough hope for their team, but perhaps there would be more hope on a new team.

The thing is, usually you move the guy you’re replacing before you pick up the replacement. Maybe there’s a fear Gathright would get away and the Cubs really wanted a designed pinch runner on the team, but it seems like everything else could’ve just been done by any number of other pickups if Gathright was in such high demand he signed elsewhere, or they even could call up Sam Fuld to do the same fielding and non-hitting (and everyone’s given up on Fuld, which doesn’t say much for Gathright.) The value of Pie on the trade market has already fallen, and this won’t help.

The strength of Lou Pinella as your National League manager is he’s a guy unafraid to unload the bench for situational advantages and we’ve seen hints of how frequently he’d replace a slow baserunner with Felix when Pie was up and riding the bench, so you can understand how they might use the extra speed. I don’t think they’ve been happy with Felix’s ability to steal bases (all of 3 last year – Gathright went 21 of 25), but the issue becomes more who Gathright (or Pie) would pinch run for on this team. Fukudome, Theriot, Soriano can run fine on their own. You’d lose too much on defense by replacing Lee. DeRosa’s not that slow, and you’d lose a lot of positional flexibility. Taking Ram or Soto’s bat out of the lineup in all but the most dire spots seems like overmanaging. There isn’t an obvious speed platoon here, unless there’s a slow outfielder signing to come.

This doesn’t seem like a good use of resources, but there’s got be a few more things in play which affect it so maybe it’s too soon to judge. I wonder if it’ll eventually come out that the money involved s only guaranteed if he makes the team. It’d make more sense – it’s good to have a Gathright around in case something does happen with Pie, as long as you don’t have to pay him – but make this whole post moot. I think I’m also forgetting that .8 mil isn’t much more than minimum these days.

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MLB championship chances tier

Dec
15

another item from “random ideas from laying in bed”. There’s still plenty of time before spring training to change this, and some teams are hurt because they haven’t filled the obvious hole and will get to it. Also, I can’t fake caring about the AL right now.

top tier – legit championship level teams

* Phillies – well, duh.

* Cubs – They won 97 games with no one having a career year, and are only losing Kerry Wood of any significance with obvious plans to add more. (No, by the end, Jim Edmonds was not significant.) They’re going to be fine.

* Mets – insta-bullpen. Except K-Rod might have some issues and unless you’re a desperate team for bullpen help (and the Mets are), it’s tough to have much faith in Putz. The career peak for closers is short and it may already be over. But they were a near 90 win team that’s already fixed a major weakness, that’s enough to be here.

2nd tier – teams with question marks that still could compete

* Diamondbacks – Everyone overrates the Diamondbacks so I might as well. I don’t think their young talent made as much progress as figured last year. Chris Young was 24 and has time to improve, but he also hit 248/315(!!)/443 in 625 at bats last year. So bad. I keep forgetting Orlando Hudson is a free agent (and a big money one, probably), which won’t help. You can pretty much surround Webb/Haren with nothing and be a contender to me, and they actually have some here.

* Dodgers – I’m least sure about this one. Where do you rate a playoff team that’s lost it’s offense MVP and it’s top start and it’s unclear if either are coming back? Penny and Maddux (who weren’t much good) and Furcal (who was) are gone too. I tend to rate them hihghly because there’s younger talent that might actually not be blocked in some places. But who knows.

* Marlins – they won in 1997, and won six years later in 2003, so here we are in 2009. Team is already on an upswing and just needed better run prevention. Like pitchers having insane years, which has also happened here before. This is as good a reason as any.

3rd tier – long shots, but at least they have hope

* Brewers – everyone knew last year was the all or nothing year, and I wasn’t so sad to see CC going to DHland to confirm it. However, if they had any young pitches decent or better besides Gallarado, they’d be one level up. Gallarado was pretty awesome before getting hurt and I think he’s legit, but they kinda need 11 other pitchers and I don’t know that there’s another above average pitcher here. There’s enough average guys to make them interesting, but they really could use someone at the end of the bullpen.

* Cardinals – As could they. They’ve got the hitting too, and while there’s no one that scares me like Gallarado, they seem to be slightly better as a group. (I still have trouble believing in half of them, but okay.) Since Kerry was linked to the Indians, the most important free agent for this division is Brian Fuentes. One of St. Louis or Milwaukee ought to end up with and immediately move up a level, and the other is going to end up with a big hole and a leap of faith to believe Trevor Hoffman or Juan Cruz could fill it.

* Rockies – Not as good as they were in 2006, not as bad as they were in 2007 when half the team got hurt. Then again, with no Matt Holliday, I don’t know what the idea is for offense. They could probably make up for some of it by starting a league average CF this year, as opposed to Willy Taveras.

* Astros – I never know what to make of this team. They finished better than they actually were, again, but then the finish is all that matters. I don’t know that they’re going to be any better this year with Berkman, Tejada (who really fell off the second half), and Carlos Lee moving one more year past their peak.

4th tier – no hope

* Braves – Atlanta going after AJ Burnett surprised me, because it doesn’t feel like they’re at the point in the team’s cycle where spending a lot on a free agent pitcher makes sense, and they’ve been shedding payroll for years. They do finally have Mike Hampton’s deal off the books (as bad as the signing was, no one gives the Braves ‘credit’ for taking crazy salary responsibility in their trade, which turned out to be over 10% of their total salary the last three years for a guy who barely played.) They’re missing Teixeira, and while Chipper is obviously not done, he can’t be expected to put up the same numbers as last year. I don’t expect to put the Braves in this category, because they’re the Braves, and I expect them to win more than 72 games next year for pretty much the same (empty) reason, but I can’t make a case for them winning a pennant.

* Padres – it’ll be interesting to find out if a divorce moves a team sale along faster than a tax evasion scheme. They – the current ownership and the MLB – surely want the Cubs deal to get done soon so maybe they can talk one of the losers into taking this mess. Not sure what’s going to be left, it’ll be almost as bad as…

* Nationals – so, legit, they’re going with the Orioles Way here? Not the famous one, the one from this decade where they have not enough good players but decide to spend crazy on one name player to “change the image.” And they keep losing anyway, because they’re still bad. I still will be shocked when Texiera turns out to be years older and in the next Mitchell Report (though I guess Manny makes more sense here.)

* Giants – or maybe it was the Giants plan first? I don’t know. They’re still bad.

* Pirates – they MAY be moving in the right direction here

* Reds – almost surely not. Did you know they’ve only lost 100 games once?

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a frozen to the ground garage …

Dec
15

a frozen to the ground garage door is NOT a recommended way to start the day

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Maybe I have plans, I suggest….

Dec
13

Maybe I have plans, I suggest. Everyone else chortled.

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Home condemned

Dec
12

Sony apologizes for “some people” not being able to get on Home.

In this case, some people would be “everyone who didn’t hit X to refresh every 15 seconds for a few hours.” Just like every other case of opening an online service from a few to all, Sony was unable to serve all who wanted in. Since it does happen to everyone, I almost think it’s not worth being critical, but if you’re opening the beta to “stress test the system” previously and it still doesn’t work, that was one lousy test.

On the good side, I don’t expect them to have this problem for much longer. Not just because they’ll get more equipment, or balance the load better, of maybe even include error message that actually are descrpitive to people who aren’t programming the system, but because the vast majority of people are going to mess around with it for 15 minutes, and then never purposely click on the icon again. It’s a waste of your time.

The idea of Home (the public idea, we’ll get the other one in a sec) appears to be A Place To Hang Out With Your Friends. I like hanging out with my friends in places, this sounds wonderful. Except, I like it so much that I actually already have plenty of places to do it, on the internet* or not*. I’m playing my PS3 – playing it alone, if I’m using Home – because I want to be entertained, probably by video game playing. I could do this with any of the PS3 games I have, or I could do this with Home if there was something entertaining there. In the two+ years it took to put Home together, they forget to put all the entertaing parts in, or at least in sufficient numbers.

Would you like to play chess? Prepare to stand and wait around the three chess boards in the Mall. The boards aren’t a representation of infinite games of chess that could be going on at once, nope, Home allows all of six people to play chess at any one time. Maybe you’d like to wait in line to use one of the 14 arcade machines? Or the 8 pool tables? (It looked like there were only 10 bowling lanes, but that one appeared to have a more unlimited of amount of real games going on. And the fountain/spaceship game may allow unlimited players, but there’s no real interaction between those playing.) One of the advantages of having a virtual world is the ability to remove or diminish physical limitations like only having 8 pool tables in an area – you can have as many or as few as you need, if you just focus the players on the game (which they care about) and not where they fit in on the rest of the virual world. Waiting for a spot on your own is patience draining; if you actually had a group of people, I can’t imagine how frustrating it might get.

A friend, who writes a much better blog, has written recently having fun(/odd conversations) playing Uno on XBox Live. It’s not hard and has all the social interaction Home is looking for, except there’s absolutely nothing as easy, quick and painless as just playing Uno on Home. There’s trudging from room to room, waiting for the next room to load, looking for a free space, and trying to do things pointlessly more complicated. It’s a weird mix of being barren – room/building that aren’t yet open and sparse & sterile places that are – and overcrowded. Even with the server issues, there were tons of people wandering around, trying everything, and generally just giving me feelings of claustrophobia.

The other idea of Home, the corporate idea, is to find ways to pay little bits for lots of useless stuff. Like I’ve said, there didn’t seem to be a lot of things going on, but the items definitely working were the stores in the mall to buy bits and pieces for your avatar and their apartment. As time goes on, I find myself moving farther away from my belief that the current gen of gaming is about bringing new levels of social interaction, and more towards it opening new sources of revenue via supplementary game features. Which is followed by moving the cut off between standard/add-on to get consumers to pay more for what they’re used to receiving without increasing the initial price. There are four pairs of free pants in Home, four styles of pants for the thousands of people they expect to be using Home. Unlike the chess boards, there are infinite numbers of pants to wear, but four styles are all you need to maintain your individuality in this virtual world…unless you’d like to pay $1 to buy these special pants (and shorts!) Why four pants and not six? They $1 pants don’t appear to have taken more time to create or have any other extra value besides the (market forced) rarity – it’s just a cheap way to make a $1 off people who don’t really value their money.

Maybe there is some special about the $1 pants, besides what I see. It’d be hard to find out on without someone else telling you, and that person won’t be Sony. Part of selling is having something to sell, but the part Home fails at is creating desire to actually buy it. You can buy additional furniture to put in your house, but you’d have to be really interested in having furniture to do so, and Sony doesn’t seem to care enough to extol the benefit of buying this additional furniture. If you click thru the menu, you can create a Club for $5 plus some TBD monthly fee. The description goes on about the amount of members you can have a club, when they’d actually start collecting monthly fees (not yet), how many clubs you can own at once, and on. They never get around to the part where they explain what a Club is and why you’d want to join or start one. And on like this.

This is one of those times where the angry rant inside my head is moving far quicker than I can communicate it to my fingers, but I think I’ve reached a point where more in detail the worthlessness of Home is beyond the point. I don’t need to go in details about the how moving from to a new room means a 5-7 minute download (since there’s only about 7 rooms to start, why aren’t they downloaded to start?) and even a lag after you get going, or how underdeveloped everything seems, or the other problems I found – I might have made my point already.

I had low expectations. They were not nearly low enough. Sony will try to defend by screaming BETA, but they still allowed everyone’s to have a first impression, and I can’t imagine most wasting their time with a second. My streaks of charity, morbid curiosity, and hope that it’s not nearly this bad and I’ve completely misses something, will probably lead me to try it again at some point. But I’ll do it knowing it’s a waste of quite a lot of time, and not in the fun way I hoped.

* – not that I’m hanging out nearly enough. sorry.

never finish a book with a dep…

Dec
12

never finish a book with a depressing ending right before bed. Doesn’t work at all. Will be staring at the walls for a while.

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#home – spent 15 minutes on it…

Dec
11

#home – spent 15 minutes on it, don’t know why I should spend 15 minutes more. Or any of the $0.50/$1.00/$5.00 for the should be free stuff

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