Considering Barry Zito

Oddly, Barry Zito, whose best years were now three or four years ago, has been much discussed in the media this Yule – at least the media I am following. The interesting thing is that he has become sort of a benchmark for the end of value or perhaps overvalue. This has been something of a mad off-season for pitching so far, with an influx of Japanese hurlers as well as a massive and mad overpayment for third-in-the-line-up players like Ted Lily. As a result, Mr. Zito now sits as the supposed prize pick of all the trades with many owners now wondering what all the fuss might have been. Yet he he will play somewhere:

If he is comforted by staying on the West Coast, where he has lived and pitched, he may opt for San Francisco or Seattle. If he is intrigued by the challenge of pitching in New York, he will have at least one option, and maybe two. The Mets remain very interested in Zito but are not comfortable offering him more than $75 or $80 million. The Yankees? If they trade Randy Johnson, they will have an opening on the starting staff and a payroll that can more easily absorb Zito’s salary. But whether the Yankees value Zito enough to make a real run at him remains to be seen.

For November’s alleged $100 million dollar plus man that is quite a comedown. But, given that right now Boston looks like an incredible dominant pitching staff – at least on paper and inevitable injuries pending – like so much in life, there is at least desire if not demand to make quality out of what is available. The Times has a good multimedia bit on Mr. Zito. See him hold a guitar.

Barry Zito right now strikes me as a greater example of the risk of hype, one downside of the marketplace where your overconfidence in value swings the final price below what it might have been. I was struck by what I think was the same principle when looking at 42 inch screen TVs yesterday. The $300 dollar one at Loblaws with the huge tube ended up winning over the $800 to $2000 ones at Future Shop. Why? Because of that exact one word – why. Why spend so much now when in a year or two the big screens will do so much better for less? Why create a streamlined military based on flawed economic theory when suffocating domination is the tried and tested way? Why spend $100 million on Zito when that much or less will run a number of minor teams from which the next great pitcher will come? What do you do when you are most likely next year’s version of last year’s model?

A Fabulous Yule Bullet Pointy Chat

That is what I wish for you all. The gift of fabulousness. This season brings out the fabulousness in all of us and lets us witness the fabulousness in each other – in friends, family as well as strangers. Be fabulous to each other and to yourself. That is the true meaning of the season.

  • One way to be fabulous is to ensure you stuff double digit paper money into those Salvation Army kettles you run into in the malls and outside the liquor stores struggling to get the gin from shelve to punch bowl.
  • Gary is playing tunes from The Jam this week. Careful readers will know the tale of how that band and Paul Weller in particular got me through my late teens with a certain fabulous modish style. Where is my green German paratrooper parka anyway?
  • The Red Sox have had a run of signings for 2007, especially in the bullpen, that makes me proud of my six shirts: Coco, Tek, Nomar, a gold shirt, a Ted Williams rookie shirt and a long sleeve blue. I also have an umbrella and a beach towel. And books. And stuff, too. Oh, and a Many Louisville slugger. And caps. I think their plan to make money off of franchising the brand is working out.
  • Ian, who I never have met but who does seek out my advice in things fluid, summarizes the season’s particularities in his family. Best advice I have heard this year? You do not have to go and visit them, whoever the “they” are to you and yours.
  • Hey – I need a cut and paste from the main stream media. What is a blog without a certain measure of MSM copyright infringement? Besides, the courts know about it:

    Providing Web links to copyright-protected music is enough to make a site legally liable, an Australian court ruled in a case that created legal uncertainty for search engines around the world. The full bench of the Federal Court, the country’s second-highest court, has upheld a lower court ruling that Stephen Cooper, the operator of the Web site in question, as well as Comcen, the Internet service provider that hosted it, were guilty under Australian copyright law.

    A very Merry Christmas to all the digitally thieving buggers out there, too. Because the copyright infringing thief and their half-witted amateur and professional apologists in the new e-world (aka iWorld) are people we should remember at Christmas as well.

Must run. I am working on about 15 hours sleep so far this week due to reasons beyond my control and need to get where I need to get to so that I can think about napping later in the eleven days off to come. That is right. I am taking Yule off for the first time since 2002. Woot.

Hair Of The Dog: A Couple of Difficult Cases

This may turn out to be an epic. It may end in tears. Whatever it is you can click on each picture for a bigger image.

In the early fall – actually on September 28th 2006 just after noon – I jumped into my first LCBO private order, two cases from Hair of the Dog brewery in Portland Oregon being organized by the excellent gents, those Bar Towellers out of Toronto. I faxed through my deposit of $51.60 CND on a total order of $197.96 CND. I ordered one each of Doggie Claws and Fred, two 10% or so barley wines from one of North America’s top boutique brewers. I had a Fred when I was at Volo earlier this year. And then I waited. And waited.

Around the first of December, the order came into Toronto, I paid the balance and waited for it to make its way 220 km or so east to Kingston. Then there were rumours of issues with the capping. Excellent, I thought – bottle variation. The curse of decent wine. Jon Walker, a Bar Toweller, noted:

This thread worries me. As a result I went in to check on my stash of HOTD and indeed many of the caps are not fully crimped onto the bottles. Most flair at their base and do not fully grip the lip of the bottle. I was actually able to press up on one with my thumb and get the gas to release in the “PPST” common to uncapping. What do I do know? I don’t have a capper to close the caps properly (if they actually CAN be sealed, perhaps they are the wrong size???). I’ve got just shy of 70 bottles left and I’m loathe to believe I might lose some to oxidation due to loose caps.

The cases showed today, 21 December 2006, about 12 weeks after they were ordered which is really not that bad seeing as I think the beer was still in the tanks when the order was originally placed. But there was an obvious problem from one look at the case of Fred that seemed to echo Jon’s words above.





When I got home I decided to have a look inside and what I found was not pretty. The inside of the box was soaked. Ten bottles were seriously uncapped with significant beer loss with mostly empty necks like above at the right. In addition, twelve were showing little beer loss and two showed some promise. All were irregularly capped in the same way. Some caps show some rubbing and wear like there was a mechanical issue when they were put on.

It looked as though it was shipped upside down as there is plenty of yeast in the necks and a fair amount of beery sneakery out from underneath the caps. No violence to the box, just seeping. This may actually be a short term saving grace. The smell is also rich and clean, not sour like a bar on Sunday morning. I will have to have one. I am a little depressed, a little pissed off and a little curious. I have not even looked at the box of Doggie Claws.





Much to my surprise, the beer, picked from the worst group of ten, opens with a loud Pfffft!!The yeast had created a seal inside as you can see below to the right and it pours with a huge head. It is huge and lovely and lively. Hallelujah! Christmas is saved. Christmas is saved. And the Doggie Claws show no sign of leakage at all with the same location of the irregular capping as the Fred but with a lot less severity.

So it will likely be a crap shoot one a bottle by bottle basis but if that yeast cakes up it may last throughout the holidays at least. “Pour slowly to allow sediment to remain in the bottle” it says on the back. What can you do? That yeast is my best friend right about now, the life in the ale securing what the dim-witted capped and shippers could not. I would hope the legal saying “buyer beware” is popping into readers’ minds right about now.


Xmas Week Free For Al!

Busy morning at the beer blog. Dealing with a sponsor and helping a foreign brewery understand the Ontario marketplace not to mention editing a piece from Knut of Norway.

So, while I slave digitally (note that pun!!!) and especially after yesterday’s debacle, we’ll have a test to see if you can lift yourselves out of the celebrity blether gutter and have an actual civilized discourse of your own design – because I find it very funny that you did this given the third last observation to the right on the page cm linked to.

My Juleglogg Experiment

So the juleglogg experiment worked out well. Just straight frozen berries filling 80% of a couple of half-litre mason jars filled up with 22 buck Polish vodka and left for three weeks in the cold room. Polish vodka is made of rye, not spuds or whatever else other folk make the vodka out of these says.

Not being a big consumer of spirits, this turned out more to my liking than I would have thought. The dry berry flavour is far better than a store-bought flavoured vodka, twiggy and unprocessed. The colour is deep as jam.

A Yuletide Friday Chat

Is this the ides of Yule? Hard to tell with mid-December temperatures in the 10C/50F range. 55F in Watertown, NY today. It is slowing down around town – the university emptying out, folks daydreaming of Christmas cake soon to come, people writing Christmas cards instead of clamouring in the streets. By the way, if you get anything from me this time of year it will be late. I seem to be always finding a reason to not open up that pack of cards. So it will be late.

  • Dear Mildred Dover, Attorney General of PEI: try that one again:

    …Speaking to municipal officers, he accused Dover of displaying “underhandedness and sneakiness” in the way she prepared the amendments. “That language is totally inappropriate and unacceptable,” said Dover. “He operates under the Canadian Bar Association’s code of professional conduct. The code says, Mr. Speaker, and I do have it with me, and I quote, “he should take care not to weaken or destroy public confidence in legal institutions by broad irresponsible allegations of corruption or partiality ?.”

    Does the highest…h’mph…law enforcement official in a province really think that the Code requires lawyers to not make unpleasant blunt comment about the acts of a legislature? The rules on legal institutions refers to the courts, the body of which we happy few are officers. We are not officers of the legislature. Further, we are otherwise directed to civility in relation to public authorities which generally includes the direction (at CBA Code, Chap XIII, Rule 3) “the lawyer should not hesitate to speak out against an injustice”. Further (At CBA Code, Chap XVIII, 9):

    The lawyer is often called upon to comment publicly on the effectiveness of existing statutory or legal remedies, on the particular effect of particular cases, or to offer an opinion on causes that have been or are about to be instituted. It is permissible to do this in order to assist the public to understand the legal issues involved.

    We are asked to be particularly careful in our discussion of the courts as we also recognize that they cannot speak back…as opposed to an Attorney-General who can and who is in an opposing and adversarial position to the interests of the lawyer’s client. Remember – this is a politician hitting the big red button in their brain for being called underhanded and sneaky. The inhumanity of it all. Sneaky. And at Christmas, too.

  • Have I mentioned recently…ummm…Matsuzaka! The Red Sox will clearly control the universe next year with the best pitching line-up in the history of all human endevor. All are doomed. I have been wearing my Red Sox t-shirts all week in celebration. In oneness with those who know me not but care for me. That is the miracle of sports fandom. They care. They really care.
  • By comparison, I guess I am not that big of a fan of hockey. Maybe it’s that thing I have about anything called a stick:

    Billed as “the single most important piece of hockey memorabilia in existence,” the world’s oldest hockey is now up for grabs on eBay. As of Thursday morning, 26 bids had sent the price of the coveted piece of Canadiana soaring to $2.2-million (U.S.). Gord Sharpe has owned the hand-carved, one-piece hickory stick since the age of 9. It was given to him by his great-uncle, whose grandfather Alexander Rutherford Sr. fashioned the stick on his farm near Lindsay, Ont. for play on a nearby pond. The stick is believed to have been carved between 1852 and 1856.

  • You people really need to deal with the fact that in winter I sleep in a bit:

    Gary Rith to me: 7:34 am (11 minutes ago)

    c’mon, dammit, POST!

    Alan McLeod to Gary: 7:38 am (7 minutes ago)
    I woke up at 7:22

    Gary Rith to me 7:38 am (7 minutes ago)
    who cares! just got a message from cm and the race is ON!


  • I am listening to a discussion of “presenteeism” which is the opposite apparently of “absenteeism”. It means encouraging people to not show up at work when they are sick. The pendulum just started its way back. Next, the virtues of a cluttered desk.
  • Speaking of a trend coming to an end:

    After analyzing thousands of credit and debit card transactions over a two-year period, Mr. Bernoff found that Apple has historically been able to sell only 20 songs on average for each iPod device sold. “If iPod owners continued to purchase music tracks throughout the lifetime of their ownership, one would expect to see iTunes sales growing at a faster rate than iPods,” he concluded in a new report. Years ago when CD players were introduced, consumers rushed out to buy new music libraries. Clearly, the iPod is not having the same effect on content, he said.

    This is the problem with the digital world – no stuff. We are creatures of stuff more than we are of money. If things are not acquirable without payment and come with no stuff, why would there be any economic inertia behind that change? It wouldn’t. The transactional event is hollowed out. Soon people will clamour in the streets for the return of stuff.

    Update: my pal Dan noted another issue with the 2.0 world.

  • How does the governmental administrative process of “giving up” actually occur? Is there a protocol? A guide?

    In a major blow to the Bush administration’s efforts to secure borders, domestic security officials have for now given up on plans to develop a facial or fingerprint recognition system to determine whether a vast majority of foreign visitors leave the country, officials say. Domestic security officials had described the system, known as U.S. Visit, as critical to security and important in efforts to curb illegal immigration. Similarly, one-third of the overall total of illegal immigrants are believed to have overstayed their visas, a Congressional report says.

    Tracking visitors took on particular urgency after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when it became clear that some of the hijackers had remained in the country after their visas had expired. But in recent days, officials at the Homeland Security Department have conceded that they lack the financing and technology to meet their deadline to have exit-monitoring systems at the 50 busiest land border crossings by next December. A vast majority of foreign visitors enter and exit by land from Mexico and Canada, and the policy shift means that officials will remain unable to track the departures.

    That is nutty. Aside from the security issue, who gets to decide that they have “given up on plans”. Is this some sort of infiltration of libertarians?

Yes, sort of boring this week. But I am late. I am all ready behind. Next week? Last workday before Christmas. No problem. Week after that? I will be a week into a holiday week. Expect big things. Today? M’yyeh, you know.

Remember: Do Not Be Nutty Today

Sometimes life does mirror really bad 1980s movies of the week:

Myriam Bédard, a one-time Canadian Olympic hero, is now a fugitive wanted by police for parental abduction. Quebec City police have issued an arrest warrant for Ms. Bédard, who left for the United States this fall with her spouse and her daughter from a first marriage. Ms. Bédard’s former husband, Jean Paquet, had filed a complaint with police last month, saying her sudden departure violated the terms of their shared custody of their 11-year-old daughter. A couple who have made headlines for their increasingly odd behaviour, Ms. Bédard and her current partner, Nima Mazhari, were believed to be at one point in the Washington, D.C., area. Mr. Mazhari is scheduled to stand trial next spring in Montreal on charges that he allegedly stole paintings from a Montreal artist.

I will never look at my cross-country skis in the same way again.