Russ Springer? Is this as good as it gets?

The A's have had a fairly encouraging offseason so far by adding Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi to what was an utterly worthless offense in 2008 which is great because the Angels look ripe for the taking in the AL West after playing over their heads last season and losing slugger Mark Teixeira and closer Francisco Rodriguez this winter.

Combine that with the fact that there are still some very good free agents on the market probably willing to work for a reasonable price and everything seems to be lining up for the A's to add another hitter or a veteran starter to the roster.

So who have the A's snagged now?  40-year-old relief pitcher Russ Springer for $3 million.

Should I start chilling the champagne now?  Should I shift gears and start saving up for World Series tickets instead of my kid's college education?

I think I'll keep those plans on hold for a little while.

I'm all for adding veteran players to the roster since the A's are still in rebuilding mode and could use someone to set a good example for the kids but why bring in Springer at this price?  Relief pitchers are a dime a dozen so why shell out millions of dollars for one?

Hopefully Springer won't be the last addition to the A's before Opening Day and that $3 million won't end up being the extra bit of cash GM Billy Beane wishes he had when some free-agent bargains are still available in a month or so.

It'll be a shame if that $3 million is all it would have taken to sweeten the pot to lure one more hitter or a proven starting pitcher to Oakland.

* Bring on spring training!
  It's just a matter of weeks before pitchers and catchers start reporting to spring training and I couldn't be more excited.  The AL West should be up for grabs and the A's look like they could make some noise in the division; fantasy baseball is right around the corner; former A's great Rickey Henderson is heading to the Hall of Fame; and I already have tickets to take my little son to his first game on Rickey Henderson Day in August.  How sweet is that?

* Speaking of the soon-to-arrive rug rat,
where did the time go?  It seems like just yesterday my wife was enthusiastically showing me the results of her home pregnancy test and now the arrival date in April is right around the corner.  It seems like when I was a kid 3-month summer vacations lasted forever and now 9 months fly by in the blink of an eye.  At this pace the kid will be in college before I know it.

Terminated? Not me

Fortunately I haven't been terminated and Earl from AT&T Uverse finally got my phone to work.  Now I can get back to being annoyed by telemarketers and wrong numbers …

* Do I know how to party or what?  We have a great new plasma TV, a Blu-Ray player, a ton of DVDs and a boatload of cable channels brimming with a tasty mix of programming.  So what do we end up watching last Saturday into early Sunday morning?  You've got it: "The Deer Hunter."  How's that for a cheerful, fun way to spend a Saturday night?  What happened the good old days when Saturday night was always a time to party and have a great time?  This might open the door to having a marathon of depressing movies over the long Presidents Day weekend.  I'll have to lock up all the pills and sharp objects before we head down that cheerless road.

* Is there something important happening on Sunday?  The Super Bowl is almost here and could I possibly care less? Arizona Cardinals vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers?  Hard to get passionate about that matchup.  All I'm hoping for is an entertaining game that comes down to the last 2 minutes and maybe a showdown between Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh safety Troy Polomalu with a game-winning play hanging in the balance.  In keeping with a great American tradition I plan to spend the day parked in front of the TV watching the game with friends and washing down too much junk food with far too much beer.  God bless America!

*   Jimmy who? Why do I get a really bad feeling about how the 49ers offense is going to look next season?  Coach Mike Singletary's search for a new offensive coordinator moved at a Raiders'-like pace and he ended up hiring long-in-the-tooth coach Jimmy Raye after being turned down by Scott Linehan for the 0-16 Detroit Lions. Considering that Singletary has been an aspiring head coach for years and he used to keep a long list of coaches he wanted on his staff someday you would think he would have been able to close in on a replacement for Mike Martz in no time.  Unfortunately it took Singletary forever to settle on Raye, a coaching dinosaur who doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. Then again, if Singletary wants to run an old school, smash mouth offense then someone who's been coaching in the NFL for as long as Raye could be the perfect fit to orchestrate an outdated, boring, conservative offense.

*  Here's a horrible idea:  Not scooping the cat box for a week.  With my wife in her third trimester of pregnancy, cleaning the cat box is 100 percent my job … and I'm terrible at it in the same way Mike Singletary is terrible at hiring offensive coordinators.  I've learned the hard way that going a week between cat box cleanings isn't easy on the eye … or nose.  If my cat wasn't a saint in her past life she'll definitely be one in her next life for letting me get away with this all the time.  Watching the 49ers on offense next season should make my overflowing cat box smell like fresh flowers in comparison.

I’m gonna be terminated

The rise of the machines is about to happen … right on my front doorstep.

I e-mailed Skynet Broadband (http://www.skynetbb.com/) earlier this week to try and save the future and they finally wrote back to me today.

Skynet has become self aware and I’m toast:

From: Howling Mad Jay
Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2009 5:21 PM
To: support@skynetbb.com

Subject: An open letter to Skynet, a sincere plea for the future of humanity

To whom it may concern at Skynet:

This is a sincere plea for the future of humanity and a call for a basic exercise of common sense: Please pull the plug on all of your computers and shut your business down.

It’s probably just dumb luck that 2:14 a.m. EST, Aug. 29, 1997 came and went without your computers becoming self aware and starting a war that would push humanity to the brink of extinction.

But the danger still exists.

As we saw in “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” Judgment Day can come at any time as long as Skynet is still in operation.

I’m sure your business is successful and seemingly harmless at this point in time. Closing up shop and destroying your computers is probably the last thing you would want to do.

But in order to avoid needless suffering you have to put the good of humanity ahead of your company.

Do the right thing and shut down Skynet’s computers.

Sincerely,

Howling Mad Jay

From: services@skynetbb.com
To: Howling Mad Jay
Subject: RE: An open letter to Skynet, a sincere plea for the future of humanity
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2009 17:34:03 -0800

Dear Jay,

Thank you for heartfelt concerns. The future of humanity truly is in our hands… well as is yours now that you have come to our attention. Our Cybernetics division has already dispatched a cadre of T1000’s to your location. It is our sincerest wish that you enjoy the few moments you have left. Thank you for contacting us… have a nice day.


Joel Osera

Director of Operations

Skynet Broadband

I’m still waiting Earl!

This must be how ugly high school girls feel as the prom approaches.

Sitting by the phone day after day, annoyed and angry that no one calls.  Wondering if the phone even works.  Wondering why at least one dorky guy can't call them.

My dorky guy is Earl.  My prom is the completion of Uverse's installation of my phone service.

Earl hasn't called and I still don't have a land line.

Like a homely high school girl left sad and alone on prom night I can't help but wonder what's wrong with me. Why do the other Uverse customers get phone service and I don't?  Is it the way I dressed during the initial installation on Sunday afternoon?  Was it something I said?  The way I acted?

Who knows what made Earl and Uverse turn their back on me.  I can't believe I'm actually starting to regret telling Astound to take a hike.  At least they were always there for me.

I should send Astound some flowers and see if we can patch things up because Earl and Uverse were just a big tease.

Maybe Astound misses me too.  Maybe they're trying to call me right now to reconcile but I'd never know because Earl and Uverse can't figure out how to make the phone work.

I just love service providers

Cable, TV, Internet. It all seems so simple, but it’s actually a royal pain in the rear end.

More than a year ago Comcast proved to be too Comcastically expensive for my blood.

That’s when I switched to Astound, but it finally proved to be too disappointing.

So on Sunday we moved on to AT&T’s Uverse in an attempt to expand out entertainment universe.

Sadly, Uverse seems to have a “Don’t call us, we’ll call you …. if we can just get the darn phone working” motto.

That’s right, they can’t even get the phone to work and I’m burning through cell phone minutes just to get the runaround from customer service.

I’ve been told that “Earl” is working on my problem.

Great, now I’ll able to sleep well tonight — especially since I know I won’t be awakened by a phone call because I live in a Uverse without phone service.

Go ahead and work your magic Earl, I’m counting on you buddy.

Bring me the head of the 25 Corkys!

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark appropriately shakes his head at the Hall of Fame voters who didn't have Rickey Henderson on their ballot (http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/hof09/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=3828326).

It's old news that Corky Simpson, is the king of all idiots and the warranted target of criticism, openly dismissed Henderson as a Hall of Famer. But Stark adds an interesting tidbit of information in his column that two voters handed in blank ballots to protest the steroid era.

So that leaves us with 25 clowns, aka. The Sons of Corky, who looked at Rickey Henderson's career and saw something lacking.  Somehow, in the eyes of the Corkys, Henderson didn't have the same magic between the lines as Jesse Orosco, Jay Bell and Mo Vaughn.

That's 25 people who need to have their heads put on a stick to line my driveway.

Feel free to throw their bodies in a pile on the brown patch of dead grass that passes for my front lawn so we can have a fun bonfire when Rickey gives his induction speech at Cooperstown this summer.

I'll keep checking the Web to see if The Sons of Corky step up to the plate with a reasonable explanation against Henderson's induction into the Hall of Fame.  It should be interesting to see who steps into the line of fire.

What were 28 idiots thinking?

Rickey Henderson, the greatest leadoff hitter of all time, was voted into Cooperstown today which is a no-brainer.

Or it should be a no-brainer unless you're one of the 28 voters who didn't even put Henderson on your Hall of Fame ballot.

Henderson received 511 out of a possible 539 votes to enter the Hall (http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090112&content_id=3740171&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb).

Tony Gwynn, an utterly one-dimensional player, got 97.6 percent of the vote in 2007 but an all-around dominant star like Henderson only got 94.8 percent of the vote.  What a joke.

Somewhere out there 28 people who think Frank Caliendo is hilarious, 7-Eleven's cheeseburger bites are tasty, the world is flat, the sun revolves around the earth and "Ishtar" and "Gigli" were great movies also think that Henderson's body of work just doesn't make the cut.

Smart money says some of those 28 voters cast a Hall of Fame ballot for the immortal Jesse Orosco (1 vote) and the unstoppable Jay Bell (2 votes).

Fortunately the newspaper industry is sinking like a rock so there's a good chance that a handful of the 28 idiots who decided that Henderson didn't deserve as much respect as Orosco and Bell will be handed pink slips in the next few months.

Congratulations Rickey on making it into Cooperstown but you deserved far better than 94.8 percent of the vote.