Leftovers are all we have this week

I usually try to take a Sunday swing through all the odds and ends that didn’t quite fit into any other post during the previous week, but this time around I’m going to try and turn the leftovers into a main course.

This week just isn’t lending itself to a couple of full-fledged posts.

Three baby-related doctor appointments, a visit to the hospital’s birth center, a safety check on our child car seat, a lot of overtime at work and preparation for upcoming fantasy baseball drafts this weekend are eating up most of my time.

So here’s the best I can come up with in between all the chaos …

* SOMEONE GET ME OUTTA HERE: My wife and I are expecting our first kid in a little more than 2 weeks and the anticipation is getting the best of me at work.

I can’t wait for the little guy to arrive so I can cut out of the office and take paid family leave to hang out with the new addition to our family.

Call it babyitis.

Or maybe it’s father-to-be-itis.

Whatever it is, I can’t get it out of my head.

If teens across America can develop senioritis every year and lose the ability to focus on schoolwork while dreaming about the thrill of graduation, summer and total freedom then it seems perfectly reasonable that I can have babyitis/father-to-be-itis as I look forward to the rugrat’s arrival.

* WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC OBSERVATIONS:
Who dresses ESPN announcer Jon Miller? I tuned in to the USA-Japan game and he was wearing a bright yellow shirt with a bright yellow tie. The guy looked like a bloated banana … I loved the tournament but those annoying Thundersticks have gotta go. I’ve been to the ballpark when those things are handed out to fans and they’re painfully annoying. I’ll at least give the Asian baseball fans credit for having well-coordinated cheers.

* HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?:
I’m still reeling from Belinda Carlisle’s loss to
Steve Wozniak on “Dancing With the Stars.” (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/techchron/detail?entry_id=37142).

You’re breakin’ my heart Belinda.

How could you lose to a chubby tech geek like the Woz? You’re a Go-Go for cryin’ out loud!

Fellow Go-Go Jane Wiedin never would have let this happen.

Susanna Hoffs from the Bangles would have wiped the floor with Wozniak.

I bet even the fact chick from Heart (http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e215/RileyNotOReilly/37587532.jpg) could have out-danced the Woz.

What’s the world coming to?

* I REALLY MISS SPRING TRAINING: 15 homers and 40 hits in one game by the Angels and Royals (http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=290322107)?

Gotta love it.

There’s nothing quite like a cold beer, a hot dog and fun, sloppy, meaningless baseball in the desert.

* PUTTING A SMILE ON GRANDMA’S FACE: I’m sure you’ve seen the Trojan Vibrating Touch commercial by now.

You know, the one where the old lady interrupts the young women having a conversation about Trojan’s nifty little vibrator to brag about buying hers online (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_z13XymWVU).

Note to Trojan’s advertising department: TMI, and I mean waaaaay too much information.

* THE THRILL IS GONE: It seems like just yesterday that I was all excited about the celebrities I was befriending on Facebook (http://twgb.blogspot.com/2009/03/yano-is-my-friend-and-it-didnt-even.html).

When I wrote that post I still had a bunch of superstar friend requests floating around and a lot of them have panned out since then.

But I might as well throw in the towel on the the idea that a decent number of my Hollywood Facebook pals are legit.

What finally got me to embrace the obvious?

It probably hit me on March 21 when Natasha Richardson confirmed me as a friend on Facebook even though she died on March 18.

I seriously doubt that anyone in heaven is wasting one moment of eternity in the afterlife by surfing around social networking Web sites.

That sounds more like the kind of thing you’d do if you get stuck in purgatory.

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Life is rough over at the Chronicle

If you run the San Francisco Chronicle and you’re watching your ad revenue rapidly dwindle away, how embarrassing is it when you can’t even attract advertising from your own reporters?

That’s exactly what happened last week when Chron reporter Delfin Vigil ran a full-page ad in the San Francisco Examiner.

Vigil dug into his own pocket — which is apparently lined with gold — to rail against his masters at the Hearst Company (http://sfppc.blogspot.com/2009/03/chronicle-seeks-to-cut-150-to-225-jobs.html and http://mediaworkers.org/pdf/delad.pdf).

It cost Vigil a tidy sum to rage against the dying of journalism’s light in print — especially for someone on a reporter’s salary.

According to an advertising representative I contacted at the Examiner this week, here’s what it costs to run a full page ad similar to Vigil’s:

Monday-Friday Street Edition – San Francisco Zone, circ 68,000 $1,404

Monday-Friday Street Edition – full run, circ 80,000 $1,685

Thursday Home edition – full run, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties circ 200,000 $3,492

Thursday home Edition – San Francisco Zone circ 120,000 $2,492

Considering the fact that Vigil’s union recently agreed to take the shaft from management (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/15/BA0L16FGNH.DTL&hw=chronicle+guild&sn=001&sc=1000) I wonder if he’s rethinking how he spent his time and money?

Maybe less of Vigil’s effort and cash should have been spent on that pretty ad and a little more should have been spent on getting his best clips together, updating his resume and making sure his finances are squared away to brace for impending layoffs at the Chron.

At least 150 people are going to be shown the door thanks to the union’s agreement with management. Sadly, this is an improvement over management’s pre-deal threat to lay off 225 people.

Vigil may learn the hard way that having an extra $1,404 in the bank can come in handy when you’re unemployed and hunting for a job in one of the worst economies in history.

Other highlights of the agreement: Seniority rights are history, vacation/maternity/sick leave will all be cut, the work week is going from 37.5 hours to 40 and the company can now turn to subcontractors for any work.

Despite all that, union honcho Carl Hall is all fired up: “This is the start of the real battle. We have to find a solution, a real solution, to save what we really care about here – quality journalism and quality jobs.”

I’ll go out on a limb and boldly venture a guess that in the next “battle” the union’s “real solution” will be to take the shaft from management one more time.

Unfortunately, the situation at the Chron is hardly unique.

Newspaper unions around the nation are being forced to take a sharp stick in the eye from management just to cut potential layoffs from an obscenely large number to a not-quite-as-obscenely-large number.

But a stick in the eye certainly beats watching your paper go out of business like the Rocky Mountain News and Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

If Vigil is lucky his idealistic passion for his craft won’t be rewarded with a pink slip, but it’s easy to see the bosses at the Chron using the union-approved opportunity to lay off more than 150 people as a perfect time to cut loose a young features writer with a public gripe against ownership.

Let’s face it, how tough would it be for the Chron to find a freelancer to interview Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/15/PKGL16A7J6.DTL&hw=Delfin+Vigil&sn=004&sc=697) and Teri Hatcher (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/27/MVNF1652C0.DTL&hw=Delfin+Vigil&sn=010&sc=159) or just run wire copy for a fraction of what Vigil costs in salary and benefits and headaches?

If the Chron ultimately decides to take Vigil’s job away from him maybe he can sleep well at night knowing that no one can ever take his long-winded, high-priced ad in an irrelevant free tabloid away from him.

Bring on the rugrat

The countdown to Baby Time is down to less than a month and my preparation for the big arrival continues.

I already went to one class with my wife to learn how to take care of our soon-to-arrive son: http://twgb.blogspot.com/2009/02/im-ready-to-be-parent.html.

Last Saturday was time for Class No. 2, an all-day course on child birth.

It was definitely worth the trouble of getting up early on the weekend to learn the ins and outs of labor and delivery.

To say the least, the instructor was great. I couldn't have asked for a better teacher to hold my attention for the entire day and the information was invaluable.

But the most entertaining part of the class was lunch.

That's when a pack of hungry pregnant women slowly waddled out of the classroom and trudged down the street in search of sustenance.

It was like "March of the Penguins" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MB_GisVFboU) only a lot funnier — and without all the ice and penguins, of course.

Taking the tax man to the cleaners

All it took was one phone call and I saved more than $100 — over the next 29 years!

It hit me recently that the check I cut to the county for my property taxes was $1 short so I called Contra Costa County to try and set things right with "The Man."

The last thing I need with a baby due next month is to be thrown onto the mean streets of Contra Costa County over one lousy buck.

Fortunately, the operator at the tax collector's office told me not to worry about cutting an extra check for $1 because the agency always accepts payments that are $1 or $2 shy.

With that little nugget of inside information I hit the jackpot.

If I pay in two installments that are $2 shy for the next 29 years while I finish paying off my home loan I'll come out $116 ahead.

I love sticking it to "The Man!"

* THESE COLORS SCORE RUNS:  After the United States' inspired 9-3 win versus the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic on Sunday (http://sports.espn.go.com/extra/baseball/wbbc/recap?gameId=290315115&league=wbbc) I am proud to be an American again.

I despise the Dutch almost as much as I fear and loathe Canadians so it was nice to see America kick Bert Blyleven's boys around.

What a difference one night makes.

On Saturday, the U.S. was pounded into submission by Puerto Rico, 11-1, and I was getting ready to lead an Internet campaign to have Jake Peavy stripped of his citizenship after he coughed up 6 runs in 2 innings of work.

Now I can look forward to a potential rematch against Puerto Rico and the awesome facial hair of Felipe Lopez.

* NOTE TO THE SAN DIEGO PADRES: If there's one thing the Friars' front office can learn from Sunday night's World Baseball Classic game it's this: Sign as many Korean hitters as possible.

Major League players have always complained about how hard it is to hit at Petco Park but Korea's sluggers didn't have any problem while blasting 3 homers in an 8-2 win versus Mexico.

Bum-Ho Lee? Tae Kyun Kim? Young-min Ko? Sign'em up and let'em swing away.

That can't be any worse than letting the remains of last season's 63-99 Padres roster play punchless baseball for 81 games at Petco Park this season.

Mental leftovers

A Sunday swing through all the odds and ends that didn't quite fit into any other blog post during the week …

* This is getting a little old isn't it?  A helping of leftovers when there was barely a main course served during the week on this site.

Last week was one big, busy mess which kept me from posting much.

I have to tip my hat to parents who regularly post to their mommy/daddy blogs.  I can't imagine where they find the time or energy to blog all week long.

Our kid hasn't even arrived yet and I'm barely posting two items a week.

*  I'm still of the opinion that A's owner Lew Wolff isn't doing the franchise any favors by spitting in Oakland's face regarding a potential deal for a new ballpark.  But I also agree with his stance that pursuing a new stadium in Oakland is a lost cause.

"Sadly, the business and corporate base of the city of Oakland was very limited when we purchased the team and has eroded since. Our attendance and low number of season ticket holders (both one of the lowest in Major League Baseball) also continues to decline; even when our on-field performance produced playoff participation," Wolff said in a San Francisco Chronicle article this week(http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/14/BA4U16EAHF.DTL&hw=ATHLETICS&sn=007&sc=515).

What Wolff is saying makes perfect sense.  It just doesn't seem to make any sense for him to say it on the record unless he's trying to drive home the message to San Jose that if you want us, come get us.

Chron columnists Mattier and Ross eloquently pointed out the obvious this morning by showing that the odds are currently stacked against the A's moving to San Jose (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/15/BAFD16F2U6.DTL&tsp=1).

The Giants' territorial rights to San Jose seems like the biggest obstacle in the way of an A's move to the South Bay. But for my money San Francisco's claim to that market has never passed the smell test.  The Giants can cry all they want but they won't experience a crash in attendance or corporate sponsorship and vanish if the A's head to the South Bay.

My gut feeling is Wolff must have something lined up with Selig and some politicians in San Jose that looks promising enough to blow off Oakland and make a strong play for a ballpark in the South Bay.

*  Wasn't I a regular viewer of "Fringe" at one point? 

Looks like I was: http://twgb.blogspot.com/search?q=fringe.

Apparently I don't really love the show as much as I thought I did because it recently occurred to me that "Fringe" is deep into its second season and I haven't watched a single episode.

Have I missed anything?  How's that cow doing?

I kind of miss the sweet blend of "The X-Files" and "Green Acres" that "Fringe" gave me every week.

* The great part of the World Baseball Classic is that there are some really entertaining games on TV right now.

The drawback?  ESPN's baseball broadcasters are back on the air.

Failed Mets GM Steve Phillips/ESPN's resident idiot was in midseason form as he wasted a couple of minutes during the Puerto Rico-Panama game fawning over Felipe Lopez's facial hair.

I'm going to wear out the mute button on my remote before this tournament is over.

* The 49ers signed quarterback Alex Smith to a new contract this week (http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3967496) and like a lot of fans, all I can ask is "Why?"

The team needs to stop beating a dead horse and let go of the idea that Smith will ever amount to anything in San Francisco.

Does anyone really believe that the kid will develop into a franchise quarterback playing in coach Mike Singletary's conservative offense?

The team had a chance to clear the stench of failure out of the locker room and failed miserably.

* Speaking of the stench of failure, A's third baseman Eric Chavez is nursing a sore shoulder (http://baybridgebaseball.com/2009/03/chavez-to-start-from-scratch/) that will keep him from hitting or fielding anytime soon.

According to today's notebook in the Chron's sports section Chavvy is finally starting to throw again (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/15/SPCS16FILR.DTL&hw=eric+chavez&sn=004&sc=417).

I better get used to the idea of a steady mix of Nomar Garciaparra/Jack Hannahan/Bobby Crosby at third base this season.

It's mind-numbing to think that the A's won't be free of his six-year, $66 million contract until the end of next season.

Here's a look at Chavvy's games played/OPS since his monster contract kicked in:

2005 — 160/.794
2006 — 137/.786
2007 — 90/.752
2008 — 23/.688

At this pace the A's will probably get 10 games and a .500 OPS out of Chavez this season and be lucky if he can pitch in during the 2010 season shagging fly balls during BP and raking the infield between innings.

From A’s ownership to Oakland’s politicians, with all due respect: Bite me

Hard to come away from this story http://www.contracostatimes.com/sports/ci_11905785 with anything other than the impression that the A's are sticking a big foam middle finger at the city of Oakland at this point in the Gimme-a-Ballpark Game.

But upon closer inspection,  the situation isn't really as bad as it looks because the "effort" by Oakland to keeps the A's in town isn't anything to get excited about.  It's just a bunch of hot air out of the mayor's office.

I have to admit that I was initially a little impressed and surprised when I heard that Mayor Ron Dellums, along with council president Jane Brunner, reached out to Major League Baseball to try and work out a way to keep the A's in Oakland. But A's owner Lew Wolff slammed the door shut almost as soon as it was opened.

Right off the bat, Wolff's frosty reaction to Dellums' efforts didn't exactly have me jumping up to applaud the old man.

Even if the A's really are sick and tired of trying to hammer out a ballpark deal in Oakland it's seems like PR suicide to be so blunt about it.

The Fremont ballpark plan recently went up in smoke (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/21/MNAK161PL7.DTL&hw=san+jose+ATHLETICS&sn=005&sc=400) and even though San Jose is flirting with the idea of making a run at the A's (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/03/11/state/n165535D29.DTL&hw=san+jose+ATHLETICS&sn=004&sc=446) there's a long, winding road full of huge obstacles before anyone should take the city's bid seriously.

With the nation's economy in the tank no city is going to step up anytime soon to serve up a shiny new ballpark on a silver platter for Wolff and Co which means the A's aren't leaving Oakland anytime soon.

Why not  play nice with Oakland's politicians for the sake of good PR?

Best-case scenario is that the A's get a new ballpark in Oakland.

Worst-case scenario is that the team's owners look like they tried their hardest to stay in town before bolting to San Jose, Las Vegas or Portland.

But a closer examination of Dellums' move to keep the A's in Oakland shows that Wolff is right on target about one thing: The mayor's letter to Major League Baseball (http://www.contracostatimes.com/sports/ci_11898140) is basically worthless.

There isn't a single solid idea for a ballpark deal in the two-page fluff piece.  

On top of all that, Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson's first name is misspelled in the letter and moneyball as painfully referred to as "money ball."

Wolff is correct in saying that all Dellums' letter is good for is to "generate press and 'sound-bite' opportunities."

The city isn't in any better position today to work out a ballpark deal than it has been over the past two decades.  In fact, I can't imagine a worse time for Oakland to try and produce a new ballpark for the A's.

My only knock on the Wolff in this mess, and it's a major knock, is that if Dellums wants to play nice in the press about keeping the A's in town the only logical thing to do is play ball even if it's all one big sham.

It sure beats alienating your fans by making it look like you're not willing to do everything possible to keep the team in Oakland.

Mental leftovers


A Sunday swing through all the odds and ends that didn’t quite fit into any other blog post during the week …

* Considering that I barely posted anything this week can there really be much in the way of leftovers?

* Can the A’s at least enjoy a spring training without injuries? It doesn’t look like it so far. Ace Justin Duchscherer is already out of action with elbow trouble and now closer Joey Devine is also on the shelf (http://www.ibabuzz.com/chinmusic/2009/03/07/devine-not-throwing-sore-elbow/). I’d still like to see Oakland bring in a veteran starting pitcher but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon. I guess we’re going to find out sooner rather than later whether pitching prospects Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro are worthy of all the hype.

* For those of you who missed out on this during the week on other Web sites, check out Ugly Bat Boy (pictured above): http://wbztv.com/watercooler/pets/ugly.cat.scary.2.949524.html and http://wbztv.com/slideshows/ugly.cat.scary.20.950066.html. This nasty little critter looks like something out of History channel’s “Monster Quest” (http://www.history.com/minisites/monsterquest).

* It wasn’t very long ago that I was grousing about how my front yard is a wasteland. It’s time for me to post a correction because the front yard is now a lush jungle of weeds. Same goes for the back yard. Wind, rain and a little sun here and there have fueled a furious growth spurt. It’s going to be a nightmare trimming, mowing and pulling all that stuff out this spring and summer. I’m actually starting to miss my dry, dead ugly yard.

* The United States just lost the World Baseball Classic: http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090302&content_id=3904492&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb.

* Bad pole dancing is always good for a cheap laugh. I tried to chase down a link to this video outside of Facebook but I didn’t have any luck. So here’s the Facebook link: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=53482972166&ref=nf. I assume that most of the free world is on Facebook which means few people will have any trouble checking this out. Don’t worry, there’s no nudity so feel free to watch this video at work.