SirTheory’s Treatise on Life

(opinions on just about anything)

This Dude Is A Stud…

Eh, eh?

Yes, that is me. I find it perhaps to be one of my most photogenic moments ever. While I generally don’t want this blog to be about me, I thought it worth sharing. The man behind the words.

In other news, the Phillies have been killing me the past two days with their lackluster pitching against the Rockies. While the Phillies have it in them to win three in a row, the way the Rockies have been playing will make it tough.

Everyone and their grandmother should, by now, be aware of the forthcoming Radiohead album. Few future releases stir up a buzz the way Radiohead does. Particularly when you combine it with the way Radiohead is doing their new release. They suddenly set up a website proclaiming that they had just finished recording their new album and that it it would be releasing in what at the time was 10 days. TEN DAYS. It is going to be available in two formats: digital download and a super-deluxe boxset. The really, really good news is that the download is pay-what-you-want. Anywhere between $0.00 and your credit limit. The deluxe boxset is about $80, depending on current currency exchange rates between USD and Pounds. The big perk to the box set is that it comes with both CD and Vinyl… plus includes a second CD/Vinyl exclusive to the boxset. Without a doubt the hardcore fans are pulling out their wallets for the boxset. Order either at http://www.radiohead.com

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October 4, 2007 Posted by | General, Music, Sports | , | 1 Comment

The Phillies Are Phinally In The Post Season

I remember during the first 1/3 of the season telling my co-working that it would be horribly ironic if the Phillies actually made the playoffs this year. They had gotten of to an abysmal 4-11 start, good for the worst record in the major leagues. People were calling for Charlie Manuel’s head. Manual had taken their star starter, Brett Myers, and made him a closer. Players were falling like flies due to injury. The reigning MVP winner Ryan Howard was barely hitting .200. The bullpen was taking fantastic starting efforts and blowing them. It was bleak.

Yet there were bright points. Both Jimmy Rollins and, more surprisingly, Aaron Rowand were in the process of cranking out career years. Cole Hamels was the only bright point in a starting rotation hobbled by inconsistency and injuries. Yet the loses were mounting, albeit at a less heart-attack inducing rate as before.

It is hard to pinpoint when the turnaround really started, although there are several ways to look at it. The first thing that had to happen was a righting of the ship. Start winning series consistently. Eliminate the constant petty errors. Believe. Yet specific events can help catapult a team to another level.

The first event was something that didn’t even appear in the box score. They were playing in Colorado, facing the Rockies. It was the beginning of July and the rains came in the middle of the game. They delayed the game and the grounds crew went to work. The winds became violent and caught the tarps, whipping the grounds crew around like rag dolls. Without a seconds hesitation the entire Phillies team ran onto the field and helped out. The video (a poorly recorded version is on youtube if you wish to see it) is spectacular. It is possible to look at this event as a catalyst: the team felt more like a team, not to mention karma favored Philadelphia in a way the team hasn’t seen in years (or at all.)

The other huge turning point was the four game series at the end of August with the New York Mets. Going into the series you felt that you had to win three of those. The sweep would be impossible, but three games? That would mean gaining two games on the Mets, which would be quite good. Well, not only did the Phillies win three games, but they decided to go ahead and win the 4th one, as well. But not only were all four games won, but each win was crazier and more insane than the last. You had a game end on an interference call… and then some how the following game went and topped that. It was a whirlwind series that left the Mets reeling. (The Phillies ended up sweeping three series with the Mets during the year and beat them 12 out of 18 meetings.)

Yet individual contributions from smaller players were huge, too. When the Phillies starting rotation was ripped to shreds with injuries and inconsistency, Kyle Kendrick was called up from Double-A to fill in a start. The kid, who wasn’t really on anybody’s radar, proceeded to dominate his spot start. He never went back down to the minor leagues and became the Phillies second most consistent starter after Cole Hamels.

The team was put on life support when Chase Utley suffered a broken hand after getting hit by a pitch. In Pat Gillicks’s greatest move of the season he quickly dealt a nobody pitcher from the system for Tadahito Iguchi, a major league level second baseman. Iguchi, while not quite playing up to Chase Utley’s high level of play, did a fantastic job both defensively and offensively. He got clutch hits and raised his off-season value. The Phillies had a winning record during Utley’s injury due in no small part to what Iguchi did for the team.

The Phillies outfield was a big strength, getting a ton of outfield assists. In the same game both Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn got injured. Both were big speed demons, and, although Bourn was just the backup, had been hitting well and playing a great outfield when called upon to backup. When Victorino went down I was sad, but figured Bourn would do a capable job of filling in. Yet when Bourn went down I was despondent. Who would fill in and give us any kind of production? The answer came in Jason Werth, who had acquired the not too endearing nickname “Werthless” by some Phillies blog commenters. He became clutch offensively, getting all kinds of huge hits. He didn’t have the speed of Victorino or Bourn, but demonstrated better plate discipline. Werth just totally stepped it up. And with the likely departure of Rowand in the off-season, could very well become a starter next year.

Perhaps the thing that benefited the Phillies the most is how every win seemed to feature a new hero. It wasn’t up to Howard or Utley to get the big, clutch hit every single game. In one game you have Greg Dobbs piling on his gaudy Major League-leading pinch-hit RBI total. In another you have Chris Coste hitting a pinch hit home run. Turn around and Abraham Nunez flashed serious leather at third base to save several runs. J.C. Romero was an absolute God-send for the battered bullpen. Kyle Lohse was a trade deadline acquisition and gave the Phillies quality starts.

Also worth mentioning is the Phillies major league-leading 48 come-from-behind wins. They never quit on a game, just like they never quit in the race for the post season. Not only did they reach the post season, but they overtook the NY Mets, something everyone thought was impossible at the end of August.

Congratulations, Phillies. You have made the season exciting.
But don’t get too complacent. We have a myriad of great teams to weave through yet to reach the World Series and, hopefully, win.

September 30, 2007 Posted by | Sports | Leave a comment

Why The American League Will Continue To Dominate.

It has come to light the past number of years that the American League is dominating. If you look at their inner-league record and how frequently the win the World Series and at the number of elite teams the have things are looking bleak for the National League. The sad thing is that we probably won’t see things change in a long time. Surprisingly the dominance isn’t due to a major difference in talent. Instead, the reason that the AL always seems to come out victorious is due to something else entirely.

The American League is playing a different game than the National League.

Oh, sure. Most of the rules are pretty much similar. Enough that most people probably don’t really see a problem. Yet if you look at what the rule difference means in how the teams are compose, it means that the AL automatically has a huge advantage.

First, the big rule difference is that in the NL the pitcher has to hit. So once every nine batters someone is at the plate that spends most of their training not swinging a bat. Pitchers, with a few exceptions, are basically an embarrassment at the plate. You only have nine people in a line-up. When one of those is an out over 80% of the time and your main goal in production from that spot in the line up is in bunts, it is a significant decrease from any other spot in the lineup.

In the AL, however, they have things thing called the Designated Hitter. The DH hits instead of the pitcher so the pitcher can concentrate completely on their pitching– aka, what they’re paid to do. The DH, on the other hand, is often a big power hitter with minimal fielding skills. Essentially, they are paid solely to provide power to a lineup. What is the difference? Well it isn’t uncommon for any given NL team’s pitchers to not hit any home runs in a year. Some do, but you definitely don’t count on it. Then if you look at the AL you’ve got Designated Hitters who might hit 35 or more home runs. As a result the lineups and benches are composed completely differently.

This is OK when the AL is playing the AL and the NL the NL. But when the two leagues face off (and every seasons ends with the biggest series of the year, the final battle between the teams that emerge from their respective league) the advantage will go to the AL every single time. What it means is that when the two leagues face off, either in the regular season or the World Series, there has to be a way to determine which set of rules to play by. It is settled by what ballpark the team is playing in. So if the AL Yankees are playing the NL Mets in the Mets’ stadium, then NL rules are used and both pitchers bat. Conversely if the Mets and Yankees were playing in the Yankees’ stadium, then AL rules are used and both teams use a DH.

“Well that sounds all fine and dandy,” you say. “Both teams play by the same rules and the NL gets to use a DH at the AL field and the AL allows the pitcher to bad in a NL park.”

As dandy as it sounds, it is still not  equal. When playing a game in an NL park it is going to be fairly even. NL pitchers can’t hit too well and AL pitchers can’t hit too well. It is when playing in an AL park with AL rules that the advantage swings hard to the AL team

An NL team which builds its team around NL rules where the pitcher has to bat is at a severe disadvantage when it comes to playing in an AL park because they lack someone on the bench who is up to filling the role of a Jim Thome or David Ortiz. The AL team in the AL park is at full power. An NL team in an AL park is just relieved that someone with a batting average above .200 is hitting in the pitcher’s spot. Just because the pitcher is not batting on either team that doesn’t mean the footing is equal. For a league already built more around being offensively dominant this quirk in the rules gives them a decided head start on any inner-league series they play in their park.

Let’s say that this difference in rules is responsible for even just one loss for a NL team. Teams miss the playoffs by only one game every year. What if the difference is two games? Or three games? Can we really say that the right teams are making the playoffs? Then the biggest effect happens in the World Series when both teams host games. There just one game that gets swung due to the rule difference is a huge deal.

Unfortunately, I don’t see either league deciding to conform to the other league’s rules. At least, not in a long, long time. So be prepared for a lot of AL dominance in the upcoming years. In the meantime we will have to endure a lot of ESPN round-table discussions about why the NL isn’t keeping up with the AL. The NL will be considered a second-rate league. It will just be us purists who keep the life of the NL alive.

August 31, 2007 Posted by | Sports | 1 Comment

Barry Bonds

I was flipping between ESPN and the Discovery channel this evening. Mostly because a)I was bored and b)I was really quite bored. My interest in ESPN was to see if I could catch their re-cap of the Phillies game. While I watched the last few innings, and basically know everything that happened, I always like to check up on the most influential sports channel out there and see what they have to say about what happened. See what kind of opinions they are feeding to the rest of the world.

Ever since Barry Bonds came within one home run of tying the record ESPN has insisted on showing us every Bonds at-bat live. Which is actually a really cool thing. I missed the tying home run last week and wasn’t really making any plans to make sure I caught the record-breaker. But I had just switched from Discovery to ESPN when they cut to Bonds’ third at-bat of the night. And boy-howdy did he hit the son of a gun. So I figured I’d be that guy and give my opinions on what this home run means in this day and age.

What this home run will highlight more than anything is how America truly views Bonds and steroids. Regardless of “innocent until proven guilty” the reality is that most Americans feel that Bonds knowingly took steroids. I have several views that are probably not original, but perhaps may help clarify the issue for someone.

1) Even if everyone in baseball was totally clean of steroids, it is still two totally different eras of the game.  Rules are different, ballparks are different, dimensions are different, pitchers are more intelligent, hitters are more intelligent, the pitching mound is different, the goal are different. It is really. really. different. I have long been a fan of some really intelligent person figuring out what the main eras of baseball are, so that statistical records can be kept by era and not perpetually. It just makes sense that way. Because we are really not playing the same game that they played 100, 75, or 50 years ago. Or even 20 years ago.

2) Bonds’ record isn’t going to last as long as Hank Aaron’s record. Of course, I can’t say that with full certainty, but Alex Rodriguez is the youngest player to reach 500 home runs. Barring a slew of Ken Griffy Jr.-esque injuries he is a very likely candidate to over take whatever Bonds final number is.  And any one of the young home run hitters have a shot at being a career home run hitter and could stick around 20 years hitting bombs.

3) Baseball is too focused on indivudual statistic achievement. Statistics have done a lot of good for the business of baseball. But baseball isn’t a business, it is a backyard dream. Statistics take away from that spirit that made the sport so endearing during the years it was America’s favorite sport. Now instead of the game being about one team triumphing over another team, it is about so-and-so player reaching such and such milestone. While that has a certain appeal it really takes away from the game-to-game accomplishment and general goal of winning as many games as possible to try and be the ultimate victor in the World Series.

4) Cheating has always been a part of sports, especially baseball. Not only has it been a part of baseball, but it has become romanticized. The idea of a pitcher rubbing his spit into a baseball captures our imagination. That was cheating, but not only did they get away with it, but they have also been enshrined into the hall of fame as being great. No one really considered putting any asterisks beside the name of any pitcher caught putting spit on a baseball. Or if they did no one remembers it now. Granted, there is something a lot less romantic about picturing someone with a syringe in his butt… but it really is basically the same.

5) The benefits of steroids are all conjecture without any real basis in hard evidence. It follows the idea that if someone has more muscle, they will hit more home runs. Which sounds good. Yet, there are skinny people who hit home runs. Look at the afore mentioned Ken Griffy Jr.. Or even Jimmy Rollins. Perhaps if they looked like Bonds they would hit more home runs. It is hard to say. Yet we have no way to test that. You can look at Bonds numbers during a time people think he didn’t take steroids, and his numbers when they say he did, and there would be a huge difference there. But how much of that is really attributed to more muscles? How much of it would instead be due to just more experience, and getting smarter and more selective at the plate? How much would be due to studying hours of footage to learn your opponent? Remembering how he got you out last time?  There is a lot more to hitting home runs than just muscle. Heck, simply hitting the ball, let alone so you can reach base, is no easy task. Steroids sure won’t help you make contact or hit the ball fair. I have often contended that perhaps one of the biggest advantages steroids give you is mental. Kind of like the kid who thought he had magic shoes, so he won the race… only to find out the shoes were normal and it was simply the mental edge that gave him the confidence to win.

Ok. Lets stop there. I may not be right about all of those, but they are the thoughts that have allowed me to appreciate what  Bonds did this evening. Congratulations Bonds.

August 8, 2007 Posted by | Sports | Leave a comment

First Post

“Glory, glory hallelujah…” goes the common refrain. In this case it is a reference to my discovery of wordpress, which looks like an honest-to-goodness free (FREE!) serious blog site. I had always been under the opinion that Xanga served my needs quite nicely. I still think that Xanga would work great for serious blogs. I mean, the set up and layout is great. There are two serious problems with xanga. 1) You have to become a xanga member to comment. 2) The general population has Xanga stereotyped as a social journal kind of site. Regardless, I have no qualms in acquiring more of a serious blog on which I will various reviews and commentaries. The Xanga shall continue to exist for updates on me. And it was good.

A little about me:
Name: Jacob
Age: A totally mature 23
Beard-growing Capacity: Amazing.
Location: Central PA

I am into music, particularly that of a quirky/avant-garde nature. Examples: Sonic Youth, The Residents, The Fiery Furnaces, The Danielson Famile, and so forth. I also like normal indie stuff: Sufjan Stevens, Wilco, Hella, The Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, blah blah blah. And more mainstream things: Eagles of Death Metal, Queens of the Stone Age, Bjork, Kelly Clarkson, The White Stripes, etc. There are very few genres I don’t appriciate to some extent, although I have a tough time enjoying emo, ska, and r&b.

Movies are pretty cool, and although I don’t pretend to be an expert on them, I will talk about them occasionally. I tend to gravitate toward the pretentious serious films like anything from the Tarantino catalog: specifically Jackie Brown, although Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill are both excellent. I also quite enjoy comedies like Office Space, The Princess Bride, and Saved!. Not to mention anything Monty Python related. In fact, British humor is definitely more my speed.

I would say I love books more than movies on the whole. My favorite authors include Madeleine L’Engle, Tad Williams, J.K. Rowling, Ray Bradbury, and oodles more I am forgetting at the moment. My genre of choice right now seems to be children’s or adolecent fantasy because it does a much better job of capturing the spirit of fantasy than a lot of adult fantasy which insists on throwing in obnoxious, gratuitous sex and stuff.

The one thing most people don’t realize about me when they meet me is my fanatical obsession with Phillies baseball. I am a huge, huge fan and I watch every game that I can on TV. Also a big fan of football (go Eagles)… but nothing really rivals my commitment to the Phillies. The one sport I truly, honestly hate with a passion is basketball. Really, what is the point?

I am a beer snob. I love microbrews. Thankfully Central PA has quite a few very good ones… and is only an hour and a half drive to Philadelphia where there is a whole slew of microbreweries. And hey, we have Stoudts! Every month some church friends and I go to a brewpub and check out the local goods. Expect opinions and reviews on beers right after such trips.

Television. I am a much bigger fan of the products created for TV than the big screen. I mean, Arrested Development? Futurama? Classics. Then there is the old Police Squad show that lasted exactly six episodes before getting canceled… the creators of that went on to do movies like Naked Gun and Airplane!. And can’t forget Monty Python’s Flying Circus… that was one of my best ebay finds.

I have long been a creator of content on the internet. I started off on h2g2.com, a website created by the awesome and clever Douglas Adams, who wrote the entirely too funny Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. I was young and naive. It’s a good site but I only go back really once a year and try to remember my bloody log-in info. Then I moved on to the afore mentioned xanga and blogcritics, of which blogcritics is the most prestigious. Check it out, it’s awesome. Blogcritics.org, a “sinister cabal of superior writers.”

The last thing I shall mention in my virgin post here is that I go to Millersville University where I am in the process of making sure everyone realizes that I am totally awesome.

August 7, 2007 Posted by | Beer, General, Internet, Literature, Movies, Music, Sports, Television | 1 Comment