I sooooo called this!

It turns out that Ashley Todd, a McCain campaign volunteer who claimed yesterday that she was mugged and mutilated because of the McCain-Palin bumper sticker on her car, faked the whole thing (http://kdka.com/local/attack.McCain.Bloomfield.2.847628.html).

As soon as I saw Todd’s mug shot posted on the Drudge Report yesterday I e-mailed my wife that the girl was a fraud because the “B” allegedly carved into her face by a mugger who supports Barack Obama was backward, just like the swastika on Morton Downey Jr.’s face back when he faked an attack in 1989 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morton_Downey_Jr.).

Like I just e-mailed my wife: Always trust my gut. The darn thing is like Kuato in “Total Recall.”

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Rays get even, hit the road

The Rays tied the World Series at one game apiece with a 4-2 win against the Phillies in Tampa Bay last night and now the series heads for Philadelphia, allowing anyone with a "Rayhawk" to take a big sigh of relief.

Tampa Bay helped its cause in Game 2 by taking an early lead and avoiding the seemingly impossible task of having to rally against Phillies closer Brad Lidge who hasn't blown a save all year.

Meanwhile, the Phillies didn't do themselves any favors by making two errors and failing to score until the eighth inning.  Heading back to Philadelphia should be a shot in the arm for the Phillies' offense since they hit .262 with a .788 OPS at home this season vs. .249/.753 on the road.

At the bare minimum, the Rays should be able to take one game in Philly to bring the series back to Tampa Bay where they have the best home record in baseball.

The pitching matchups feature Matt Garza vs. Jamie Moyer in Game 3, Andy Sonnanstine vs. Joe Blanton in Game 4 and Scott Kazmir vs. Cole Hamels in Game 5.

Garza should easily get the edge over Moyer, Sonnanstine-Blanton is a push but I'll call that game for the Rays and Hamels has the edge on Kazmir which should all add up to a 3-1 lead in the series for the Rays as everyone packs their bags for a trip to Tampa Bay to decide the World Series.

If Rays manager Joe Maddon is lucky he won't have to use rookie David Price in Game 4 which means he can lean on Price for 2 innings to close out Game 5 since there's no game scheduled the next day.  If Kazmir can give the Rays 6 good innings, Price's ability to work more than one inning should leave Maddon with just 1 inning to navigate with a sometimes-shaky bullpen.

The Rays still have my vote for a 4-3 World Series win.

* FROM ONE MIKE TO ANOTHER:  Sunday will mark the head coaching debut of Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary when his 49ers take on the Seahawks in San Francisco.

I'm as happy as anyone to see empty suit Mike Nolan out of the picture, but I don't have a lot of hope for Singletary's chances of turning things around.

Singletary is stuck with the same roster and, aside from one firing, the same coaching staff.  The most I'm expecting out of the Singletary Niners is more aggression on defense and a greater emphasis on running and protecting the ball on offense.

Fortunately, Singletary has a winnable game on Sunday against 1-5 Seattle and I can easily see the 49ers playing hard for the new coach and putting one in the win column.  After that, who knows?

In a perfect world the 49ers go 6-3 under Singletary with wins against the Seahawks, Cardinals or Jets, Rams (twice), Dallas and Miami.

Unfortunately, the 49ers' world has been anything but perfect since the York family took over ownership of the team and a 3-6 finish seems a lot more likely and blindly optimistic.

Joe Biden should be outraged at Sarah Palin’s $150,000 wardrobe

Comical, exaggerated partisan shock and outrage over the fact that the Republican Party shelled out $150,000 to get VP nominee Sarah Palin and Co. all dolled up for the national spotlight seems to be all the rage these days.

But the person who should really be outraged is Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden.  Where's his top-dollar makeover?

Why is Joe Biden stuck footing the bill for Joe Biden's clothes, hair plugs and botox treatments?

Why is it that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama can rake in about $1 billion in earmarks, pocket more than $100,000 from bailed-out mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, charge the press almost $2,000 to cover his election night party, spend millions for 30 minutes of prime-time advertising on network television,  funnel piles of money to ACORN, and raise more than $600 million in campaign funds for his election war chest but he can't give Old Joe a blank check to play with at Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue like Sarah "Barracuda" Palin?

What gives?

How about redistributing some of your own wealth Obama?

You raised $208,333 a day in September and you're trying to pocket even more money as the campaign winds down so why not throw your loose-lipped, scatterbrained pal Biden a bone?

If Obama can slip more than $100,000 to indicted political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko for a little land to expand the yard on Obama's $1.65 million home you would think he could at least give his running mate a little play money to buy some work clothes, right?

Even Biden has spread the campaign wealth around over the years, handing more than $2 million to family members, their businesses and employees.  Why can't Obama be as generous with the mountains of campaign dollars he's sitting on top of?

Don't get me wrong, I see the comical hypocrisy of a self-proclaimed small-town hockey mom railing against elitism and then wrapping herself in top-shelf duds in the blink of an eye.  It's definitely worthy of some coverage.

It cracks me up and annoys me all at the same time, even though I have to admit that Palin looks as hot as a habanero pepper in those snappy little outfits.

But let's not lose track of the absurd notion that somehow, from all the press coverage this is getting, what we're really supposed to be outraged about is the fact that the GOP spent $150,000 on clothes for its own candidate … in clear violation of no law …  for clothes it says will be donated after the election. 

With the nation at war, the economy crumbling around us and hundreds of billions of tax dollars being flushed down the drain to incompetently deal with all the problems, a ditzy Alaskan moose hunter's clothes is the big issue of the day in this presidential race?

It's so comforting to see that the issues that really matter are being covered by the press with Election Day around the corner.  I'm sure we can all sleep well at night knowing that the press is combing through every detail of the Obama-Biden campaign in the same even-handed way they're handling the McCain-Palin camp.

All I know is that when this election is finally, mercifully over and done with — which can't come soon enough — Obama needs to make this up to Biden in a big way and give him an extreme makeover before Inauguration Day.

I'm lobbying for more hair plugs, more botox, a lot of Just for Men hair dye and a few days shopping with Clinton and Stacy from TLC's "What Not to Wear."

That should be all we need build up to an exciting "reveal" of the new Joe Biden when the Obama administration takes over Washington.

Me: 1, Palm tree: 0

Kill the head and the body will follow.  It works for flesh and blood and, as it turns out, it holds true for palm trees too.

The Rasputin of the plant world is finally dead.

The frond-covered bane of my existence finally bit the dust in my back yard Sunday afternoon about two weeks after I sawed the head off of the stubborn thing.

Wave after wave of household chemicals into the exposed top of the tree and around the roots, along with a lot of digging, followed the decapitation.

I've lost count of how many weekend afternoons I've been spent hacking through an endless series of roots that never seemed to let up no matter how deep I dug into the yard with my shovel, ax, hoe and pick.

But on Sunday, my enemy started to show signs of weakness when it wobbled after a few hacks from my pick.  It was a lot like that moment in "Rocky IV" when Ivan Drago started bleeding after taking a hard punch from Rocky.  At that point Rocky knew he could beat Drago.

When that palm tree finally gave some ground I knew I was going to win the fight and end the Cold War.  Oh wait, I'm getting caught up in "Rocky IV" again.

That always happens.

Rocky ended the Cold War by beating Drago. All I did was get one step closer to tearing our ugly back yard down apart by digging a stubborn palm tree out of our yard.

Hopefully my next project in the yard will go better than "Rocky V."

I knew it, the Rays had it all the way

Well that was easy, wasn't it?

The Rays finished off the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS, 3-1, to advance to the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies just one season after losing more than 90 games.

The boldest move in the whole series was the one I didn't think "unconventional" Rays manager Joe Maddon would have the guts to make: Handing the ball to rookie David Price with everything on the line.

Price, without a doubt, has the best pure "stuff" in the Tampa Bay bullpen but it seemed like a long shot for a rookie who's barely been playing pro baseball for more than a year to be handed the ball in the ninth inning.

But Maddon stuck with Price after he wrapped up the eighth inning and the rest is history.

Maddon seemed like a bit of a nut to me several years ago when he took the manager job in Tampa Bay and started talking about winning baseball and establishing a "Rays Way" of playing but it's all paying off now that the Rays are going to play for a world title.

I wonder how the Twins are liking that Matt Garza for Delmon Young trade right now?  Garza won Game 7 and the ALCS MVP award while Young hit an empty .290 with just 10 homers and 69 RBIs.  I'll admit that the trade can't fully be judged for a few years, but for the moment the Rays would make that deal again in a heartbeat.

I'm sure a lot of people in the stands rooting for the Rays on Sunday night had no idea there was a Major League baseball team in Tampa Bay until about a month ago.  Now they're wearing Rays hats and jerseys, sporting "Rayhawks" and ringing cowbells.

Mohawks and cowbells, gotta love it.

Now we can move on to the World Series and leave the gut-wrenchingly annoying Frank Caliendo commercials behind on TBS.

I'm sticking to my call of the Rays over the Phillies in seven games but I'm pulling for the series to end before Game 6 to avoid a delayed start to the game thanks to the Barack "I'm not president yet but I play one on TV" Obama 30-minute infomercial.

Delay the start of the World Series for a real presidential address?  Grudgingly OK by me.

Delay it for a politician with an overflowing war chest and landslide lead in the electoral college to stroke his ego?

Not cool.

When it comes to the World Series I want more cowbell, less Obama.

I miss Alex Smith

After watching 49ers quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan spend another afternoon being sacked almost any time he wasn't throwing an interception or fumbling the ball, I miss the good old days when No. 1 pick Alex Smith was lining up under center.

OK, that's a little bit of an exaggeration but Sunday's 29-17 loss to the Giants represented another shovel of dirt on coach Mike Nolan's professional grave.  The 49ers are 2-5 and showing no signs of improvement.

I'll admit that expecting the slumping 49ers to hand the defending Super Bowl champs a loss in New York is a tall order right up there with expecting John McCain to upset Barack Obama in November's presidential election — it's just not going to happen.  But the sloppy play and deliberate effort to not hand the ball to running back Frank Gore is another example that the 49ers just aren't being properly prepared to win every Sunday.

A basic part of every game plan for the 49ers should be handing the ball to Gore at least 20 times.  He's the best player on the team, period.  If that means O'Sullivan gets fewer opportunities to throw the ball, great.

As a full-time starting quarterback O'Sullivan is terrible and there's just no getting around that fact.  Unfortunately, the only other quarterbacks on the roster are uninspiring backups Shaun Hill and Jamie Martin.

That's a major problem with this franchise: There's nowhere to turn within the roster or front office for any signs of hope or improvement.

Benching O'Sullivan doesn't solve the problem that the 49ers don't have a legitimate starting quarterback.  It doesn't solve the problem that they don't have a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver and it doesn't solve the problem that offensive coordinator Mike Martz has never had the common sense to run the ball, even when doing so would help close out a win.

Handing Nolan his walking papers doesn't really solve any major problems either.  The front office, led by Scot McCloughan doesn't inspire any confidence.

Gore is a player worth building around and the pieces for a very good defense are in place, but the rest of the franchise needs to be burned to the ground so a new coach and front office can build the franchise up again.

The scary thing is that John York will have to make all of these calls which means it's just a matter of time before the 49ers need a clean break from another incompetent coach and general manager.

Crazy night at Fenway Park

Unbelievable comeback by the Red Sox in last night’s Game 5 of the ALCS, rallying for an 8-7 win after trailing 7-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.

As a longtime A’s fan I’ve seen that no lead is ever safe against Boston at Fenway Park and that proved to be the case last night when the Red Sox scored more runs three innings than the A’s score in a week.

The TBS broadcasters have called Joe Maddon “unorthodox” in this series as often as John McCain calls himself a “maverick” and in the bottom of the ninth inning Maddon did go against the grain and may have shot himself in the foot.

On the surface, walking Jason Bay with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to set up a lefty-on-lefty matchup between Rays relief pitcher J.P. Howell and Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew seems to make sense because left-handed hitters typically post weaker numbers against left-handed pitchers.

But in this case, Drew came to the plate with strong career numbers against Howell and a .284 batting average against left-handed pitchers this season versus .279 against right handers. Bay came into the game hitting just .252 against left handers versus .296 against right handers this season.

If Maddon really wanted to be unconventional he could have followed up the ill-advised walk to Bay with strict instructions to catcher Dionner Navarro and Howell to basically pitch around Drew, force him to get himself out without giving him anything good to hit.

Then Maddon could have turned around and put the pressure on Boston’s rookie shortstop Jed Lowrie by going to right-hander Chad Bradford to try and exploit Lowrie’s inexperience and .222 average against right handers.

Even if Boston manager Terry Francona countered with Alex Cora the Rays would still end up facing someone who only hit right handers for a .266 average this season.

Forcing light-hitting infielders with weak split stats to beat you seems like a better choice than spitting in the face of the numbers Drew has posted against Howell and left-handed pitchers in general this season.

Despite all that, I’m sticking by the Rays to finish off the Red Sox in Florida this weekend. The Rays played tight in Game 1 but settled down after that to take a 3-1 lead in the series.

The Rays bullpen did the same thing last night, choking in its first chance to close out the Red Sox, but I’m betting they can shake it off over the next couple of games especially if starters James Shields and Matt Garza can work into the seventh or eighth inning.

Another thing working in the Rays’ favor is that Boston hit .292 with an .840 OPS at home this season but just .268/.772 on the road where they don’t have the magic of Fenway Park to give them an edge.

If Tampa Bay can wrap up the ALCS they better hope closer Troy Percival is healthy enough to be added back to the roster for the World Series. If last night proved anything it’s that the Rays need someone who can pitch with everything on the line without collapsing under the pressure.

All the Rays need are four good innings out of Percival against the Phillies if they can get that far and they’ll be able to being a World Series trophy back to Tampa Bay.