Category Archives: Superfluous

Anthony Rizzo: Meatball Destroyer

Through the early part of the 2014 season, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo seems to be bouncing back from an unlucky (his BABIP was atrocious and unsustainable) 2013.  This is lucky for me, because he’s one of the few bright spots on the 4-10 team, and one of the only healthy players on my fantasy team.

The MLB Fan Cave has a possible reason for Rizzo’s reemergence as a solid hitter: batting practice with meatballs.


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Travis Wood’s Biggest Opening Day Mistake

The Chicago Cubs lost their home opener to the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-2 yesterday.  Travis Wood, the Cubs’ lone All Star in 2013, started the game and took the tough luck loss, due to a Chase Utley home run and later the bullpen’s fragility.

But make no mistakes about where to place your vitriol.  Regardless of his strong start and other factors unrelated to his performance, the loss was all Wood’s fault.  Take, for instance, the last few seconds of this video of his first pitch, and the first at Wrigley Field in its 100th season.  Notice anything?  I sure did.

His beard, perhaps the 2013 Chicago Cubs’ greatest asset, has been cropped into a frazzled goatee.  Take a look at what once was.

Now it’s a shadow, a nothingness devoid of (agreeable) personality.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 10.45.51 PMWood looked like a prospector in 2013.  He projected an image of gruffness, the visage of a grizzled man who loves lifting heavy objects, big tires, and whiskey.  Now he looks like he should be hanging out on the set of Justified.

Of course, we’ve been down this path before.  Wood surprised everyone last year at the All Star Game by appearing clean shaven to the media.  It was a bad idea then and it’s a bad idea now.  He changed things up to look presentable for the national stage, but he was foolish to choose this path.  He had been extraordinary, but opted instead for plain.

It matters because, for all the importance of mechanics, health, mindset, and preparedness, getting in the head of your opponent can give you the slightest advantage you need.  When a guy who looks like he’s seen some rough times throws a hard object at 90 miles per hour near your body, it makes you focus just a little bit more.  You’re more alert, but also more on edge.  “Will he try to hurt me just for fun?” the batter thinks, worried about the hungry looking caveman 60 feet and six inches away.

This is only partly in jest.  Of course, Wood’s natural gifts combined with some good luck (if his 4.50 xFIP is to be believed) last year and he broke out as a legitimate middle of the rotation threat for the Cubs going forward into their expected window of contention.  It’s mostly due to gained experience, confidence, and working with a catcher, Welington Castillo, who seems to have a good sense of sequencing.

But the beard’s cool, too.  Grow it back, Travis.  The Cubs — and my fantasy baseball team — depend on you.

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President Obama Displeases Easter Bunny

Andrew Sullivan posted this earlier as part of The Dish’s “Face of the Day” series, and I couldn’t stop giggling at just how unsettling it is.  Mr. President, you better start some holiday mascot outreach if you don’t want to lose their support in the midterms.  Beware the Bunny.

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Filed under Politics, Superfluous

Clinton Probably Running, and I’m Confused about a Dumb Joke

Yesterday’s New York Times had a piece about former first lady, New York senator, and Secretary of State — if you ever want to feel horrible about your life’s meager accomplishments, look no further than that resumé — Hillary Clinton, detailing her as-yet-unannounced-but-still-quite-likely run for president in 2016.  Concerning Clinton’s coyness about her plans, her communication aide, Phillipe Reines, had this to say:

‘Everyone’s gotten way ahead of themselves, and most importantly, they have gotten way ahead of her.’

Venting the frustration of all veterans of Clinton politics and the intrigue that constantly surrounds them, he added, ‘What’s that acronym, WYSIWYG? What you see is what you get.’

Reines’s point is, nobody is certain what Clinton’s plans are at this point and the media should stop hemming and hawing over it for now.  However, what I got from that quote was a minute or so of confusedly trying to guess what “WYSIWYG” meant — “Would You Sign It With Your (word that begins with G)” was the closest I got — before reading the very next line.  It wasn’t even in the next graf down.

So remember, people in the media, a group to which I kinda sorta belong, can be remarkably stupid sometimes.  Don’t take everything they/we say as gospel.

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Filed under Politics, Superfluous

Subway Shops as Subway Stops

Courtesy of The Atlantic Cities, this is a peek at what the city of Baltimore would look like if each Subway sandwich joint in the area were to double as a subway train stop.

The map’s creator, Chris Nelson, had this to say:

Nelson runs a well-known site in the city,, that’s been plotting regional homicides in the area since 2005 on Google Maps. The Subway/subway project was a bit of a departure. ‘As far as my thinking,’ Nelson tells us in an email, ‘well I like to imagine what my city would be like if I were running all the planning decisions.’

Just imagine what would happen if we let every guy with murder on the brain run our city planning departments!

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“The ‘Net” in 1995

Wonkblog’s Brad Plumer posted this video earlier, which is a 1995 look at the internet’s capabilities, back when it was still new and wondrous.

Besides the multicolored Apple logo and a New York Times journalist’s primary internet function being “electronic mail,” something that struck me was the host’s incessant way of trying to make “the ‘net” sound hip, like some secret club he’s benevolently revealing to us.

Was “the ‘net” such a widely used term back then?  I was only six years old at that time and my family didn’t get an internet connection–via America Online–until a year or two later.

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