Hollywood only seems to come calling when you’re losing

On the eve of my starring role as an extra in the movie “Moneyball” at the Oakland Coliseum tomorrow night a casual observation hit me: If your team is being featured in a movie it probably sucks.

On the surface it’s cool to have your team get a little love from Hollywood, but when you get right down to it most of the time your team is down in the dumps when the cameras start rolling.

One minor curveball being thrown at my theory is the fact that right now the A’s don’t totally suck. They’re hovering around .500 and second place in the AL West. 

But they are a whopping 8.5 games out of first and they’ve had a losing record for three seasons in a row so I think they easily qualify as a crappy team being featured in a film.

Some cases in point:

Major League: This comedy classic was released in 1989 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097815/) when the Cleveland Indians were a sixth-place team and a perennial also-ran.  The Tribe didn’t finish in first place until 1995.  

That’s a long dry spell and right now the Indians look like they’re ready for another closeup as they battle the Royals for the rights to last place in the AL Central.

The Rookie: Dennis Quaid starred in the Disney-fied true story of longshot middle-aged relief pitcher Jimmy Morris’ unlikely ascent to the big leagues with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0265662/).  

The movie came out in 2002 when the Rays lost a franchise-record 106 games.

By 2008 the Rays finally finished in first place in the AL East.

For Love of the Game: This sappy Kevin Costner film hit the big screen in 1999 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0126916/) a year in which the Detroit Tigers would lose 92 games.  

They finally made it to the World Series in 2006 but still haven’t laid claim to a division title since 1987.

Angels in the Outfield: The little piece of Disney dreck released in 1994 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109127/) was the last time the Oakland A’s were prominently featured in a movie. 

The most notable thing about this flick is that Tony Danza played a character that wasn’t named Tony. 

The A’s actually finished in second place when “Angels” came out but promptly went into a tailspin finishing in last place three out of the next four years.  

If I stretch the facts a little bit to fit my point we can look back to 1993 when the movie was filmed at the Coliseum and note that the A’s finished the season in last place with 94 losses. 

Oakland would have to wait until 2000 to reach the top of the AL West again when the front-office approach chronicled in the book “Moneyball” started paying off with big wins for the A’s.

In general, it looks like the rise from “crappy baseball team featured in a movie” to “contending baseball team worth watching on the field” is about 6 years.

I guess that means I have plenty of time to start saving up for A’s playoff tickets.

Sometimes there is such a thing as too much love

For a guy who made such a production about battling his beer gut I missed one major detail: Weighing myself on opening day of my weight loss effort.

Brilliant!

Makes it kind of hard to gauge whether I’m making any progress without a starting weight doesn’t it?

I’ll just have to live with a bloated number I scribbled down back in June as my baseline.

So, how’s this whole thing going?

When I started drafting this post a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t doing too bad.

But I think hanging out with my family over the weekend may have dealt my efforts a big setback. 

They’re feeders which means food is love.  I’m an eater which means passionately chowing down is the best way to reciprocate their affection.

Let’s just say there was a lot of love (and calories) going around last weekend.

In general, here’s how things are playing out so far:

1.  twEATing is dead … or at least the lead-in to every Twitter post is dead.  I just can’t spare the 8 characters every time.  One thing the early tweets proved is that I haven’t given up on any of the flab-generating foods that I love to a fault.

2.  Portion control isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  Up until last weekend I rarely polished off my plate. 

That’s certainly not perfect, but it’s progress.

3.  Diet tonic water is just as ridiculous as it sounds.  I thought I’d give it a try when I was stocking the bar one weekend and it was a horrible experience.  You know what?  I’ll live with the 100 calories that real tonic water delivers.  What’s the point of a vice anyway if you try to make it healthy?  

4.  After taking a hard look around this house I have come to the conclusion that if good intentions burned calories I wouldn’t be in this flabby predicament. 

I have a 2-year-old elliptical trainer that I’ve only spent 5 minutes on.  I have a 6-year-old pair of running shoes that look brand new and I have The Perfect Pushup still in the box — I have no idea how long ago I bought it but I know I’ve never used the damn thing. 

At this point I have almost everything I need to lose some weight except for one little thing: Consistent effort and will power.

There must be a late-night infomercial selling that stuff.

5. Beat the bulge, win a wardrobe.  I recently found a ton of clothes in my closet gathering dust just because I’ve let my gut expand a little too far.  All I have to do is ditch some fat and I’ll get a free fashion makeover.  

6.  When the heck am I going to scale the scale?  A big question and a potential source of big disappointment … especially because I’m spinning my wheels when it comes to matching portion control with more physical activity.

You can only burn so many calories chasing a toddler around and when you’re done there’s not much gas left in the tank to exercise more.

I think I’ll wait until August to step on the bathroom scale.  If I can see over my beer gut by then I may actually find an encouraging number resting at my feet.

—–

A quick run through some random points …

* Way to go Diamondbacks.  After giving up the most of your farm system to acquire Dan Haren from the A’s a few years ago you just flipped him to the Angels for mediocre pitcher Joe Saunders and a handful of magic beans.  Seriously, the deal with Anaheim was the best you could do?

* Something seems absurd about the Phillies making a hard run at Roy Oswalt to try and salvage their playoff hopes.  Maybe if the Phils didn’t give Cliff Lee away to the Mariners for a package of bland prospects they wouldn’t be in this position.  A 1-2-3 punch of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels would probably have Philadelphia comfortably ahead in the NL East right now.

* Speaking of the Mariners, what a difference several months makes.  In the offseason general manager Jack Zduriencik was hailed in some circles as a genius for building a contender on a foundation of pitching/defense/good chemistry but today Seattle is almost 20 games out of first place with a bunch of clubhouse problems.  It’s actually kind of entertaining.

There’s a way to San Jose for the A’s, but it’ll cost’em

The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea does a nice job clearly presenting a fact that doesn’t seem to get anywhere near enough play in the coverage of the A’s attempt to move to San Jose: The area was always shared territory until the A’s gave it to the Giants so they could pursue their own potential move to San Jose years ago http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/07/18/SP5T1EG2E6.DTL. 

Overall, general coverage of the A’s current attempt to move usually seems to fall along the simplistic lines of “The A’s want to move to San Jose … but that’s Giants territory. Period.” which by default spins the story into the A’s coming out of nowhere to brazenly overstep their bounds with the Giants playing the victim.

Guess what Giants?  You never moved and the fact that you still have exclusive rights is simply a fluke, a loose end that was never tied off.  The former A’s owners were gracious enough to let the Giants explore a move to San Jose and it’s time to return the favor because there’s actually something lucrative in it for you.

My idea for the Giants and owner Bill Neukom: Work out a $ettlement with A’s ownership for San Jose similar to what the Orioles and Nationals hashed out several years ago and then ramp up your marketing effort in the East Bay to cash in on the A’s departure to the South Bay.

Die-hard Giants fans in San Jose won’t jump ship and casual baseball fans in the East Bay won’t follow the A’s to San Jose, they’re going to come across the Bay for their baseball fix and that’s all easy money in Neukom’s pocket (not that he needs it).

Under that scenario the A’s finally get the new ballpark they need to increase revenues to retain players and attract free agents and fans south of San Jose who currently aren’t likely to trek all the way to Oakland or San Francisco to see a ballgame get an opportunity to regularly go to games which expands Major League Baseball’s reach and lines the pockets of every owner in the league.

Everyone wins.

Of course, A’s manager Bob Geren will master the art of the double switch before that ever happens …

* More musings on Sesame Street: One more thing I have learned after watching hours and hours of this show with my son — with all due apologies to Maria, Leela is the hottest woman in that Muppet-infested neighborhood. If I lived on Sesame Street I’d shamelessly hang out at her laundrymat all the time.

* Speaking of my son, I’m starting to think that his wardrobe is big enough to clothe at least five or six kids.  I realized this while looking at some photos we took of him over the past few months.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wear most of those outfits again.  The only way those clothes will ever be worn for a second time is if the baby we’re expecting in December is a boy.  I have no idea why anyone ever shells out any money for the overpriced clothes at Baby Gap.

* It’s time to break out my Billy Beane to English Dictionary after reading the CoCo Times’ midseason report on the A’s http://www.contracostatimes.com/athletics/ci_15528403?nclick_check=1.

When asked whether manager Bob Geren should worry about his job security as losses continue to pile up Beane’s response was:

“Certainly wins and losses are ultimately the most important thing. (But) I always think you have to be careful and understand that with a young team, and a challenging financial situation, you have to temper your expectations somewhat and exercise patience.”

Translation:

“We’re basically a Triple A team so there’s no point to make a change and hire a big league manager because Bob’s basically a Triple A manager which makes him perfect for this job.”

* Recently saw a commercial with sports columnist Ray Ratto promoting his move from the Chronicle to CSN Bay Area and it wasn’t pretty.

I’ve heard that the camera can add a few pounds but this was ridiculous.

Join me on board the weight loss train pal, there’s room for one more and the seats are wide and comfy. Aside from that, congrats to the big guy on the new gig … not that I’m suddenly going to start reading his columns.

Behold, the Holy Grail of dancing hamsters

Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday (and probably for an obscene price) I’m going to buy one of these things.

Today’s Ebay search turned up empty but someday my quest for odd, random crap will finally end when I get my hands on a Clubber Lang dancing hamster.

The thing dances to “Eye of the Tiger” for cryin’ out loud!

It’ll go great with my Rocky boxing gloves, Rocky T-shirt, Mr. T In Your Pocket key chain (probably the best $10 I ever spent http://www.emanation.com/collections/frontpage/products/mr-t-in-your-pocket) and my Ivan and Ludmilla Drago action figures (they’re not dolls, damnit!).

Am I a pitiful fool for taking an occasional glance at Ebay for the Clubber Lang dancing hamster?

That probably goes without saying.

* Hey Larry Ellison, want a consolation prize after missing out on buying the Warriors?  How about making a run at buying the A’s?  Pretty please?  You could afford to build your own ballpark and spend your way to a World Series title. Wouldn’t it be nice to be the West Coast’s version of the late George Steinbrenner?  Just a little something for you to chew on.

* Speaking of the A’s, the second half of the season is right around the corner and I can’t wait to see what brilliant moves manager Bob Geren has up his sleeve.  At least interleague play is over and done with which means we won’t have to watch Geren be befuddled by the newfangled concept of the double switch.

* After watching hours and hours of Sesame Street with my 15-month-old son I can vouch for one thing: Mr. Noodle and his brother Mr. Noodle are hands-down the dumbest people on Sesame Street.  Take my word for it.  These guys make Elmo look like a Rhodes scholar. 

* I know this totally flies in the face of my weight loss effort but for some twisted reason I want to try a pork rind.  Don’t ask my why because I have no idea why I want to eat a fried piece of nastiness but I’m morbidly curious.  Same goes for the deep-fried pickles at Smokin’ Oakies (http://www.mybbqjoint.com/).  My pregnant wife doesn’t even have these kinds of odd food urges.  Yes, something is seriously wrong with me.

I wonder if Brad Pitt has mold in his kitchen too?

Firing off some random thoughts while I wait for my starring role alongside Brad Pitt in “Moneyball” to roll around at the end of the month. Technically I’m what they call an “extra” but I’m not going to let that stand in the way of my absurd illusions of grandeur …

* My wife and I recently bought a used car to replace our crappy ’95 Pontiac Grand Prix with more than 230,000 miles on it and I can’t help but wonder why we ever pretend to have a budget for anything. By the time we drove off the lot we were within shouting distance of spending three times what we originally discussed. The whole ordeal felt like an episode of “Looney Tunes” where Yosemite Sam keeps drawing a line in the sand until he falls off a cliff. Maybe if I don’t look down I won’t realize I’m over the financial edge.

* I have to tip my hat to my son for being a great car buying tool. Last year when he was a tired, hungry, cranky infant he helped get us out of a dealership when they were making a full court press. That gave us a couple of days to work the phone and get the price of the car we eventually bought down to the number we wanted. Last weekend he went into full meltdown mode while we were working out the final terms of the deal and helped us knock a couple of hundred dollars off one feature we decided to spring for. The more he screamed and the more I said we had to get going ASAP the more the price fell. Magic, pure magic.

* Damn my universal remote control all to hell. Life was so much easier before my son drooled the old remote into submission. The el cheapo refurbished remote I got on Ebay via some back alley in Hong Kong is a clumsy nightmare. If I dare to fast forward through a movie I overshoot the mark by a mile and trying to rewind almost always zooms me toward the beginning of the film. Back and forth, back and forth until my blood pressure is through the roof and I finally turn off the TV to go do something relatively productive with my life. It shouldn’t be this hard to slack off.

* I’m definitely still new to parenthood and one thing that continues to amaze me is the colossal mess a 15-month-old can make. Whenever I make one of my rare efforts to pick up around the house I can’t help shaking my head in stunned amusement at how toys have made it into every single corner of the house. Same goes for little crumbs of food. My son is still just a toddler but he somehow manages to consistently make his mark on every square foot of our house on a daily basis. Pretty impressive.

* Speaking of messes, our living room carpet has become a total disgrace. Just a couple of months ago we made a big effort to clean the entire house because we were hosting a couple of birthday parties for my son. The living room carpet looked good enough to eat off of … but no one was actually supposed to eat off it. Apparently my son didn’t get that message because today the carpet is stained from wall to wall. I suspect it’s a mix of all the foods my son likes to walk around and eat (and by “eat” I mean chew on for a few minutes before spitting half of it out — yum!). I think the smart move is to tarp the living room floor.

* Speaking of messes II: For some strange reason our kitchen has become mold central. Every time I clean some part of the kitchen I find something that’s been overtaken with mold. A pot with some pasta sauce that’s been left unattended for too long? Full of mold. The last bagel in a bag on the counter? Covered in mold. Cheese in the fridge? Greener than the Incredible Hulk. Fruits? Veggies? Moldy and moldier.

Think I’m making all this up? Where do you think today’s second photo came from?

If you ever want a plate full of green eggs and ham feel free to drop by.

Damn you Col. Sanders, damn you all to hell

I'm barely halfway through the first day of my unfocused weight loss plan and look who e-mails me with a tempting, calorie-filled, cholesterol-laden offer?

That's right, my old friend Col. Sanders over at KFC.

Behold the Doublicious sandwich, a tempting union of chicken, bacon, cheese and a sweet, delicious Hawaiian bun.

I ate cereal instead of a donut for breakfast and I only ate half of my lunch … I've been good, but now that Southern chicken peddler is knocking on my door with deep-fried goodies.

Guess what old man?  I'm not taking the bait this time.

We both know you're right on my way home but I'm not cruising past the drive-through window this time.

You can send me all the e-mails you want Sanders, I'm not falling off the wagon and into one of your jumbo buckets of greasy, delicious, juicy fried chicken.

At least not today …

It’s opening day for gut-bustin’season


OK, the big day is here — July 6, the first day of my low effort/lower expectations open assault on my beer gut.

As promised, I filled my July Fourth weekend with plenty of hot dogs and beer. Happy birthday America, I love ya.

But today’s a new day and if I had to deal with the temptation of a BBQ right now the minor adjustment I would make would be to cut my consumption of everything from plural to singular.

Pretty impressive idea isn’t it?

I’m sure Jenny Craig got her start by cutting back from 3 chili dogs and 5 beers to just one of each.

Oh well, you have to start somewhere and that’s what I’m trying to do today.

Stay tuned for twEATing (saves me one character vs. Eat&Tweet) updates and occasional blog posts on my progress toward whittling myself down.