The good folks at Airing of Grievances asked me to contribute to the annual, well, airing of grievances. They will be posting all their grievances on Fiday the 22nd of Dcember). What follows is my cut-and-pasted contribution, replete with typos:


I gotta lotta problems with a lotta people!
First, let's start with my girlfriend's mother. My girlfriend, Michelle, has suffered with Crohn's disease for around 20 years, and Crohn's isn't the sort of thing that goes away. She's been in and out of hospitals for years now. In the summer of 2005, she had an operation, however, the recovery went poorly and she had to be re-admitted January 4 of this year. Arrangements were made for Michelle's mom, Liz, to pick her up and drive her to the hospital - the hospital being, oh, about 15 minutes from where Liz resides. At around 1 pm that day, I'm at work - where I had just started maybe 6 weeks earlier, at a low-level position - when Michelle calls me, almost in tears. Seems Momma Liz couldn't be wasting her entire afternoon at the hospital (Momma being retired and all), and so had decided to renege on her promise to the youngest of her four daughters. Fortunately, my employer was very understanding, and allowed me to go home and take her - via subway - to St. Michael's. Heck, I didn't even have to take any sick/vacation/personal time to do it.
Michelle wound up spending 4 months in the gastro-intestinal ward of the hospital. Her mom visited maybe once a month. So Liz, I gotta lotta problems with the way you treat your daughter. And what makes this worse is that Liz has treated all her daughters this callously, Michelle is the only one that calls her on the second Sunday in May. Doesn't invite her over for dinner, mind you, but calls her all the same.
Next up I was going to bitch about the poor quality of sports announcers and sports writing (Peter King being a favourite target of the ol' blogosphere). However, upon further review, it should be noted that the number of televised sporting events has exploded, coinciding with the expansion of cable television. More games means more announcers, and Not every announcers comes out of broadcast school sounding like Vin Scully or Red Barber. Instead, though, I'm gonna bitch about the bloggers who bitch about Madden/Gumbel/King/Bill Simmons, et al:
Don't listen to them! Sunday and Monday Night Football are on AM radio, and the announcers are good. Real good. And let's face it, the majority of regular-season sporting events are like children - better seen than heard. I've been known to crank up Art Brut or Sonic Youth or Howling Wolf while muting the television. Music to my ears, baby. And for those that feel the need to rip on any of a dozen dozen sportswriters, have you considered not reading them? I mean shit, judging by the rip jobs out there, I think the complainers take the columns far more seriously than the writers. And this sort of behaviour can only lead to riots similar in scope to the Prophet Mohamed riots that put the Danish cartooning industry on the map.
Finally, I gotta say I have a serious problem with non-winning lottery tickets. I mean, what's the point of having signs up saying this week's jackpot is 4or 8or 23 million dollars if every single ticket I buy doesn't win shit? Fortunately us Canadians have the Pro-Line sport lottery. I only play during the NFL regular season myself, and I only play the point spread game. I generally play a $2 ticket and a $3 ticket each week, and occasionally I'll tack on a second $3 ticket. The more games you pick, the higher the potential payout, but you have to hit on all of them. So far this year, I have managed to win $420 on what, $85 spent. Not a bad return, but I gotta complain about the payouts - one week I went 7-7 on point spread, that paid out 75-1. 6-6 paid out 35-1. 4-4 pays off at 10-1. I dunno how this works in Vegas, but I gotta think that if I hit 7-7 on one bet vs. the spread in Vegas, the payout would be higher than 75-1.
Now, to counter the bitching, I want to end on an upbeat note. My girlfriend isn't the most Christmasy person around. With her birthday falling in mid-December, and her family being, well, let's just say cold, selfish, and petty (her parents split when she was young, and there wasn't a lot of love to go around), she would rather November be extended to 61 days and December get skipped entirely. Me on the other hand, I'm a sucker for the holidays. Give me Scrooge, Scrooged, A Christmas Story, and even Family Stone and I'm happy. Give me half a foot of snow on the ground, a clear, windless night, and a joint, and I'll walk through all the neighborhood checking out the Christmas lights 'n' decorations. So I made it my goal to get Michelle into the spirit of Christmas. We've gone to see a choir sing a Christmas concert, gone to the light show at the skating rink at Nathan Phillips Square (Toronto), watched Rudolph and Frosty and Charlie Brown and the Grinch - and it's worked. She spent yesterday afternoon (Dec 20) and evening in the living room - telling me I was forbidden to go in because she was wrapping my presents - and when I was allowed in, at around 8:30, she had converted the bookshelf into a mantel of sorts, topped with a wreath, a mirror done up to look like a window, holly, Christmas lights, a cool European-looking Santa doll, stockings were hung up...we don't have room for a tree, but she made a Christmas shrine. She also had another early Christmas for me, but it came later, and is of a more private nature...
Cheers, happy holidays, and may this be the best Festivus ever!
(mathesond when I get around to posting)
(You can find Airing of Grievances here)

Update: It's been posted
Stop by, check it out, and check out the other grievances. They love new readers!
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Time marches on
I was talking with a friend this past weekend, our first conversation in a couple of months actually. We were discussing Chicago, and when I told her I had met with a headhunter there during my recent visit, she said something to the effect that soon I would be moving back to the Windy City. That's when it crystallized for me - I no longer have the driving urge to move to Chicago. When I left in 2004, I wanted nothing more than to return. I did eventually, for a weekend trip in January of this year, but it was so short and so much went on that it did nothing but whet my appetite for more. Just recently, however, I spent 10 days there, and I think it's what I needed to get it out of my system. Don't get me wrong, should the opportunity arise I would definitely be interested; however, it is no longer the driving force in my life. It turns out I like Toronto - it doesn't hurt that the baseball team is doing well, and that a lot of good bands pas through every month - and although I live in a rather boring area, I don't have to live in the Yonge-Lawrence Village forever. Mind you, it would be nice to be able to move into a new place Aug 1, so that I can adopt a kitten from the litter born to a stray cat adopted by the parents of a woman I work with, but that isn't practical right now. In the meantime, I can think to myself, "I'm here to stay", and I'm alright with that.

Gonna see "Lady in the Water" tomorrow night. I've only seen 2 Shyamalan movies - "Unbreakable", ehich I liked, and "Signs", which I thought was terrible. Should be interesting.
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Don't blink, you might miss it
Earlier this week, Michelle and I had the relationship talk. We sat down on the patio with the idea that we could go one of two ways - we could either commit seriously to working to build something long-term, or we could go back to being friends and roommates. I blinked first, and we are back to being friends and roommates.

The talk had been coming for awhile, delayed in part by holidays and hospital stays, work and vacation planning. I had ample time to marshal my feelings, and still I begged for one more day - to be fair, I felt that 10:50 pm on a Sunday night wasn't the best time to initiate a discussion. For some reason, I had no problem with 10:35 pm on a Monday night.

Regrets? Of course. I regret I'm not the person she thought I could be. I regret I wasn't open with her sooner. I regret that the words I wanted to come out didn't come out. I regret not being able to stroke her legs when they are stretched out over my lap when I sit on the couch. I regret her legs will likely no longer be stretched out over my lap ever again. And yes, to finish the cliche, I expect I would regret having told her my heart was into something that it wasn't.

Do I miss it? My first relationship in 11 years (and that one turned out to be a wee bit uncomfortable- a somewhat obsessive girl that through the vagaries of time has almost but not quite morphed into something verging on stalkerdom). Well, I did blink.
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Happy Mother's Day
Happy Mother's Day to all mothers. I have countless things to thank my mom for, I will only mention two. The first dates back to the first week of March, 1977, a few weeks before my 7th birthday. Mom came to pick me up from Mini-Skool, an after-school daycare program, and told me that the Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Mets 3-2 in their first ever spring training game. Those words began my love affair with baseball.

The second comes from the gourmand in me. Mom, thanks for Martian Goulash. Yum!


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Digging through the vault

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I saw a piece of stationery from the hotel I worked for in Chicago. Curious, I pulled it out and discovered that it was the rough draft of a poem I wrote for a girl after we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo and discovered, among other things, Barking Toucans. There is also a reference to the Sunday Night Dinners that we both attended.


I dreamt of penguins larking

Under a sun never darking

Whilst the west wind was harking

Tidings of toucans barking


The Symphonius Toucanic

Spoke most glorious and grandic

Of a joie de vivre fantastic

And with capering, and antic


Other birds glowed with green phosphor

The vernal shade that is cause for

Rejoicing in nature's prosper

Love living, and what it's all for


Among spectacled bears sun-dancing

Ostriches jousting, leopards prancing

A shy ebon rhino was chancing

Being espied by spectators glancing


Later, 'neath moonlight beaming

Curried mussels were a-steaming

And sugared berries ice-creaming

And bright eyes were a-gleaming


With dreams silly, but with hope yet

That days and night's wouldn't soon forget

And when I waken, my heart is set

That a Barking Toucan is not a pet!


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It's been over a month
And I still don't have much to say. Hope all is well with all of you
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V for Vendetta
When I first saw the trailer for V for Vendetta, it reminded me of both The Crow and 1984 (the novel - I have yet to see the movie). As far as comparisons to The Crow go, they both have their roots as graphic novels. As for the comparison to 1984, I was a little further off, in that the populace isn't quite as accepting of everything the government/news dictates. After seeing this movie, I dreamt about it, which is something I don't recall doing for any other movie, and I thought about it quite often the next day. Now, to the story.

This is a movie that I was eagerly anticipating. The possibility of a grandiose epic existed in my mind; ironically, by doing something I respect, it failed to achieve that level. That something is remain true to its origin as a graphic novel. So on one level it was a little frustrating to see the ideas espoused within not carried out to the extent that, say, Life Is Beautiful or Schindler's List would have. However, the 'dumbing down' effect doesn't take away from the story, and the visuals are stunning. in fact, my biggest problem was with the commercial that airs for it here in Canada (and presumably in the U.S. as well). I won't say why, so as not to spoil the movie for those who may wish to see it but haven't yet, although if you really want to know why, email me and I'll fill you in.

Natalie Portman does a great job in her role. John Hurt, who played Winston Smith in 1984, now plays the part of Big Brother, and does a credible, if not quite compelling, job. And although the movie is set in England, replete with British accents, it is hard to ignore the similarities between certain characters and certain real life folks - Rush Limbaugh chief among them. And although there is certain to be a contrived controversy over having a 'terrorist' as hero (after all, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter), the somewhat simplistic story of how V came to be what he is, and how those in power came to be in power, leaves little room for anything but sympathy for the protagonist.

All in all, I give it a B-plus. It was very enjoyable, and much like The Crow, it's a movie I will likely own one day and watch a few more times.

Birthday update - my friend Sue is giving me what might be the best birthday present I've had in years - granted, I'll be getting it a week early, but that can't be avoided. The Paradise Theatre in Toronto is a theatre I've never been to, however, apparently they show classic movies on the silver screen. And this coming Tuesday the 21st, Sue is taking me to see my favourite movie of all time, Casablanca, which I have only seen on television screens before. Sweet!

Fantasy baseball update - I am joining just two leagues this year - my regular league, which drafts Sunday evening, and a money league which drafts Monday evening. I haven't donwe as much studying as in years past, which may serve me well as I may not overthink my choices (cue Malcolm Gladwell!)

And finally, Happy St. Patrick's Day to all. Any excuse for a drink to wish you all well.
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Review coming tomorrow
I promise, Friday night I will write a longer review of V For Vendetta, in the meanitme, if you get a chance to see it, do so. The more I think about it, the more I like it. Also coming Friday, I'm getting an early birthday present, and it's very cool.
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Movie review coming
Wednesday night I'm going to an advance screening of V for Vendetta. I've been looking forward to seeing this for some time now, I'll let you know if it's worth checking out. And if violent, overthrow-the-totalitarian-regime flicks aren't your speed, I do recommed Love, Ludlow. Saw it on Saturday, very enjoyable.
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Dream Quote
So this morning I had a rather strange dream, wherein I was involved with an Al Capone-type character named Eddie. One line that Eddie said really stuck with me, though - "People, they're always killing each other, and they're always killing their art".

(The strangest part of the dream is that although I was part of a group running a Sting-type scam on him, he didn't do anything even though the baseball odds quoted to him weren't what he was expecting to hear. Also, for some reason, the whole dream took place in a subway station. When a painting was left on the tracks to be run over by a train, that's where the 'killing art' line came in)
Musical Doppelgangers
I'm shamelessly ripping this idea from Will Carroll, in which he challenges readers to come up with the musical equivalents of baseball players. I differ in two areas: instead of having you, loyal reader, compare ball players (or any athletes, for that matter), I want you to tell me which actor/actress' career is similar to which musical artist's. Secondly, I don't have a tangible prize to offer, other than my deepest admiration and your suggestion on the interweb.

I'll start - Humphrey Bogart's musical doppelganger would be someone who toiled away for a while before achieving stardom. The stardom lasted for a while, but then was ended by death, although he remained quite popular among aficionados and the 'hip' youth for quite some time. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...Bob Marley. According to Wikipedia, Marley's first band recorded their first single in the early 60's, and their first album came out in 66, but they didn't garner international acclaim until 1973. Both Marley and Bogey died of cancer, and both garnered almost mythical status posthumously.

Any other suggestions? Jack Nicholson as the Rolling Stones? Tina Turner-Judi Dench? Let me hear 'em, people!

Update: From her hospital bed (trooper that she is!) Michelle suggests John Travolta and Tina Turner. Both started out with a lot of promise and some success, then faded away for some time before reappearing with their most successful endeavors.
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As Dave turned to leave my cubicle, he spun right into an incoming Megan. The collision caused her bag to spill open. As she hurriedly began retrieving her possessions, Dave bent down and picked up an obviously worn notebook. "Dream Diary", he said, reading aloud the handwritten title. "Am I in here", he asked with a bit of leer, handing her the book. "Not likely," she snapped, still somewhat flustered. "Too bad, you're missing out", he said with a wink and left.

"You okay?" I asked her. "Oh yeah, I'm fine now. Here's the research you were looking for." She handed me a thin folder. I thanked her, and started to leaf through it. Deciding it could wait a while, I surprised myself by asking her about the Dream Diary,

"Oh, it's something I've done since I was in high school. As soon as I wake up, I write down what I remember of my dreams. It makes for a fascinating peek into my subconscious. How about you - do you ever think about your dreams?"

"Megan, I rarely remember my dreams, although to be honest, I never found them particularly interesting."

"Well, keep a notebook beside your bed, and when you wake up, write down what you can remember. You can learn a lot about yourself"

"Like why I have no interest in my dreams?" I teased.
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Another random fact
Tags: first kiss
Hey, I forgot about the 'random facts about me' thing I had going a little while back. Here's one more...

The first time I kissed a girl, I was 16. She was 17. Her name was Debbie. We worked at Burger King, at Square One in Mississauga. After literally days of flirting back on forth, and both of us being egged on by our co-workers, we went to see a movie. For the life of me, I can't remember which one - chances are, it was a comedy released in the spring of 1986. After the movie, the two of wandered out to the parking lot - ostensibly to go to our restaurant, but we (well, I) had an 'aw, shucks' thing going on. As we walked hand in hand by a pillar, she stopped, put her back against the concrete, and pulled me to her. Delighted, I brought my virgin lips to her smoky ones and we kissed. It was fantastic. I was thrilled - someone WANTED to kiss me! Unfortunately, my delight manifested itself in what she construed as an insulting giggle. Her annoyance was assuaged when I convinced her I wasn't laughing at her, but that I was happy. Second kiss. Same happiness. Same annoyance on her part.

She did allow me to buy her dessert, but the relationship, well, it never really got off the ground. A couple months of bad movies followed by awkward kisses, and she got back together with her terrifyingly huge biker ex-boyfriend. As for me, it would be another year before I would be permitted the joy of lip to lip contact. This time, I didn't laugh. Alas, however, that relationship only lasted a couple of months, before she went so far as to move back to England in order to end it.
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How low can you go?
Today I went for a walk that was intended to sereve two purposes - it allowed me to return a pair of DVD's (Must Love Dogs, The Apartment) to superconglomerate BlockBuster, and to enjoy some sunshine in what has been the mildest winter I have spent in Canada since I lived in the mountains of British Columbia in 1995. As I sauntered along, listening to my newest iPod playlist, I marvelled at the science and technology involved in creating such a little machine. That naturally got me to thinking about the science-is-wrong viewpoint espoused by certain "religious" fundamentalists - how opposed are they to science. I mean, when movies like "Aliens of the Deep" are considered blasphemous for presenting evolution as fact, not to mention showing that Earth is much older than the Bible tells us, well, where does it stop? Is chemistry wrong for creating medicine? (I know, the answer is yes to certain sects). Is physics wrong for helping make flight possible - including missile flight - since it is also integral to the study of the universe ? Are they willing to discredit science entirely, and give up cars, guns, and radios? I especially would like to see them give up cars; after all, it appears God and/or Judah had problems with chariots of iron.

The more I think about it, it seems that the not-so-much-fundies would be happy as militant Quakers. Well, except for the leaders, of course. I'm sure they would be wise enough to benefit from science without letting it corrupt the rest of the populace.
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When my job meets my passion (well, one of 'em, anyway).

(Hey, it's the first time I've sent anything into that site, although I've had it bookmarked for over a year and a half)
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The more I age, the more things stay the same
What I want for my birthday (it's still a month away, you've got plenty of time )

A Violent Femmes CD.

Maybe one or two Sonic Youth CD's.

A good comedy or drama is always appreciated.

You can never go wrong with Blue Jays tickets.

And a little light reading, or even more serious stuff.

So in that respect, my 'birthday wishlist' hasn't changed much over the years. Maybe the bands and authors have changed, but the idea has remained.

Another thing that hasn't changed - me not getting any, y'know, any, on my birthday. Yep, Michelle's starting month number 3 on the 16th floor of St. Mike's, and even if she were to be magically all better and come home tomorrow, it would be doubtful she would be physically capable of, well, you know. (Nudge nudge, wink wink). As it is, I suspect she's going to have an operation in about 3-4 weeks and come home a week after that. So maybe by the middle of May...and yes, I will have to live up to the 'gentle' in gentleman. Which also means that, when the time comes, y'all ain't gonna hear nuthin' ' bout nuthin'.

(Yeah, it's been 6 1/2 months.. Not that I'm counting....)
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Jaysball preview
Yes folks, it's the end of February. Last week, the 4 words dearest to a baseball junkie's heart were printed in newspapers across the continent - "pitchers and catchers report". Next week, spring training games begin. A month after that - a new season, ripe with the smell of hope, hotdogs, and (come June), suntan lotion in non-domed stadia.

So how will my beloved Blue Jays fare in the regular season? Sure, now is the Season of Hope for non-Royal/Devil Ray fans, but even though fans of a team like the Tigers are optimistic now, the 162-game marathon allows for reality to make it's presence felt. (Note: I prefer my presents velour, but I digress).

The Blue Jays certainly made their presence felt by signing pitchers A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan to 5 year contracts that are worth over $100M combined. They also added first baseman Lyle Overbay and 3rd baseman Troy Glaus in trade, and signed catcher Bengie Molina when no one else needed him. Of course, to add players to a roster, other players must be let go, and Toronto had to part with outfielder Gabe Gross  and pitchers David Bush and Zach Jackson in the Overbay trade, and Gold Glove-winning second baseman Orlando Hudson and pitcher Miguel Batista in order to obtain Glaus. As well, the Jays will be paying $7.5M of the $12M remaining on Manitoban-born 3rd baseman Corey Koskie's contract, even though he will be wearing Milwaukee duds. Now, I'm not going to go into an analysis of the trades - that has been done to death by writers from coast to coast, and besides, I want to focus on the 2006 Jays, not whether or not they got hosed by Milwaukee and/or Arizona.

So, let's start with the pitching. The Jays have a $55M questiuon mark in 29 year old A.J. Burnett, a pitcher with a career record of 49-50, a history or arm troubles, and good but not great ERA of 3.73 in seven seasons with the Florida Marlins. Now, the win-loss record doesn't concern me too much, as that is more indicative of the team as a whole, rather than an individual's ability. The injury history does concern me, as it looks like (judging by his career stats) that he missed some time in 2001, as well as undergoing "Tommy John surgery" in 2003, affecting his 2004 totals. That being said, he seemed to have an injury-free 2005 campaign, and the Blue Jays claim to have had at least one, and sometimes two, scouts at every one of his games last year. In this case, the injury history is troubling insofar as the length of his contract. A caveat - the Blue Jays knew they would have to overpay to get free agents to come play for them - a perennial 3rd-place team (behind the omnipresent big spending franchises in New York and Boston) is generally not on a player's wish list. To wit - the Cardinals offerd Burnett 4 years and $40M. If Toronto went with 4 and $44M, Burnett likely would have opted for his favourite team from childhood. Toronto had to give him the 5th year in order to get him to sign on the dotted line.
As for his expected performance, well, there are many pitchers whose careers have somewhat paralleled his. At the one end is Randy Johnson. What do they have in common? The rare ability to throw a baseball 100 mph, but not necessarily for strikes. However, at age 29, the light went on for Randy - it was his first full season in which he issued fewer than 100 walks, and he got even better in subsequent seasons as he was able to maintain his high strikeout rate. Now, baseball fans will tell you that Randy will be elected to the Hall of Fame his first year of eligibility. No one is saying that about Burnett, nor should they. However, RJ does show that 29 isn't too old for  a pitcher to learn how to significantly improve his game. Perhaps Burnett can do the same thing. Or perhaps Burnett will follow the career path of Kris Benson, a pitcher who has never lived up to the accolades he was accorded before he even threw a pitch in the majors. Personally, I think AJ will pitch closer to Randy Johnson than Kris Benson, if healthy, although 2 other factors come into play - he's moving from a league in which he faced a pitcher every 9 batters, rather than a designated hitter, and he's moving from an extreme pitcher's park to a moderate hitter's park. However, if he keeps getting strikeouts and groundouts, and finds a way to keep lowering the number of walks he issues, he'll do well as the number 2 pitcher in the rotation, after Roy Halladay. I won't speak much of Roy, except to say that I expect him to be one of the 3 best pitchers in the American League this year.

My bigger concern is the 3-4-5 spots in the rotation. Gustavo Chacin had nice nimbers for a rookie last year, but his ratio of strikeouts to baserunners allowed suggests that he may have been lucky last year. Ted Lilly (Ted the Tease) can throw 8 shutout innings one start, then give up 5 runs in 3 innings the next. And Josh Towers had a great ERA last year, but previous to that he didn't show much. However, his walk rate was extremely low, and while he didn't give up an exorbitant number of home runs (24 in 208 innings), if he could reduce that, he would make a worthy number-3 pitcher.

The bullpen - the Jays traded closer Miguel Batista to Arizona in order to land slugging 3rd baseman Troy Glaus, but that didn't matter as they had already signed left-handed closer B.J. Ryan to a 5 year, $47M contract despite his only being a closer for one year. This signing, to me, comes with a lot less risk than Burnett's. Ryan has averaged over a strikeout per inning every season of his career save two, and in each of those he was 2 strikeouts shy of reaching that ratio. Plus, lefthanders are valuable commodities, as batters have a difficult time  'reading' the pitches, and the fact that he throws upwards of 95 mph makes him that much more difficult to hit. I think Ryan can shut the door on opposing teams for 5 years worth of 9th innings (he is 30). The rest of the bullpen that put up an above-average showing last season returns, with the added benefit of the young guys having a year more experience under their collective belts.

First base moves from being the domain of Shea Hillenbrand and Eric Hinske to Lyle Overbay territory. Defensively, I assume it's a wash - the two H's were decent, not spectacular last year, and Overbay doesn't come with a reputation for having a cement glove. In fact, last year's first base crew might have benefited a tad from having Orlando Hudson playing next to them - the O-Dog was phenomenal at ranging far to each side to make plays. There are those who state with conviction that he is better defensively than Roberto Alomar was in his time in Toronto. Overbay won't have the benefit of Hudson next to him, then again, he didn't have that luxury last season. Overbay at the plate is the kind of guy who might hit 20 home runs - somewhat low for a first baseman - but he does make up for it by hitting an awful lot of doubles. Overall, I'd say he's a 'B' player - not an upper-echelon talent like Albert Pujols, but certainly not a weakness. A solid complementary player, if you will.

Second base will see a big change - from the awesome fielding/occasional hitting sparkplug/fan favourite Orlando Hudson to the 2nd-year Aaron Hill - a player who never played second until Hudson was hurt at the start of September last year. In 22 games, Hill acquitted himself with the glove, once making a long run to the stands to track down a foul ball. However, 22 games is a small sample size, and coupled with the fact that his hitting was unspectacular after a torrid 4-week start to his career (replacing the injured Corey Koskie at 3rd base), it would definitely be a stretch to say that the Jays are better off at this position than they were in 2005.

Shortstop once again is in the hands of Russ Adams, who played 139 games there in his debut season last year. Adams wasn't as proficient defensively with the glove as Hill, and was competent at best at the plate, leading some to suggest the team might be better off by playing Adams at 2nd and Hill at short. Regardless, the Jays are keeping the players where they are, and while they might be ok both offensively and defensively, there is nothing to suggest that the middle infield will be a strength.

At third base, the Jays convinced Troy Glaus to drop his no-trade clause and come north of the border. He should provide the home run power that was sorely lacking last season. Skeptics will point to his sub-.250 batting average and shaky defensive rep, however, it should be pointed out that his on base percentage is reflective of the high number of walks he takes. As for defense, last season he was recovering from the effects of shoulder surgery. He should be back to pre-operation form, which was reasonably efficient. For those who believe in the power of intangibles, Glaus was the 2002 World Series MVP.

The outfield is a mix and match zone, with the only fixture being Vernon Wells in center. Vernon is a smooth defender, who hit very well when he had power hitting Carlos Delgado batting behind him in the lineup. Perhaps Glaus' presence can help Vernon reach the .300 avg./30 HR plateau he enjoyed in 2003. As for the corners, it looks like a combination of Frank Catalanotto's bat and Reed Johnson's glove in left field, while Eric Hinske tries to regain his 2002 Rookie of the Year batting stroke alongside Alex Rios, who will be taking another step in his long-awaited conversion from potential into production. Not nearly as much power as you'd like from your corner outfielders, especially since Hinske and Rios seem to be the only ones capable of hitting 20 home runs in a season (hey, at least Hinske's done it before). Catallanotto's hitting reminds me of former Jay 3B Rance Mulliniks - a guy that would hit .300, with maybe 10 home runs but a lot of solid singles and the occasional double. Reed Johnson is a hustle guy that is probably best used facing lefties, and as an occasional spot starter. A great 4th OF for a playoff team.

Last year's catcher, Gregg Zaun, had a sizzling April. He tailed off afterwards, although he kept his walk rate up. However, he is more noted for his ability to work with pitchers and to keep his teammates fired up. Those attributes will come in handy this year, as the acquisition of former Angel Bengie Molina sends Zaun to a bench role. Molina is a better hitter than Zaun, and is 3 younger (34 to 31). However, while Zaun is at an age when catchers tend to break down, it should be pointed out that he really has only been a full-time catcher for 2 seasons - a tendency to party while in his twenties hurt his chances of playing more often. Now, though, he's clean and sober, and as such is fresher than one might expect for a catcher his age. Unfortunately, he was forced into catching too many games last year, as the team did not have a backup capable of hitting even .200. This year, Zaun is the backup. Molina had a career season last year (.295, 15 home runs). He also comes with a good reputation for working with pitchers. This should be a position of relative strength for the Jays.

Designated hitter falls into the hands of She Hillenbrand. Last year's 1B/3B/DH was also the team's most productive hitter. This year, he will be the full-time DH, although I am sure he will occasionally start at 3rd to give Glaus a day off. On those days, it's likely that whichever of Hinske/Rios/Catallanotto isn't starting will be the DH. Again, not the power you'd like from a traditional power 'position', but as long as they get on base, that's the important thing.

While the Jays have made significant improvements to last years roster, the fact remains that they share a division with not one but two 800-pound gorillas. In most any other division, I could see the Jays winning 90-95 games and challenging for a wild-card sport, if not the division title. However, should the Yankees and Red Sox remain healthy, as well as be active buyers at the trade deadline (since they can afford to be), it would be a bit of an upset for the Jays to unseat either of the top two. It would be a greater upset for the Jays to finish 4th or (gasp) 5th.

My prediction - final record of 88-74, an 8 win improvement over last year, and 3rd place in the AL East.
Maybe those Unitarians are on to something...

(You may now refer to me as Brother Main Gauche of Courteous Debate)
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My two cents
Am I the only one, along with Gregg Easterbrook at The New Republic and nfl.com (you'll need to scroll a little more than halfway down - it's the subheading after Super Bowl Cheerleader No. 2's picture) who thinks that it is entirely possible for Intelligent Design and Evolution to co-exist? After all, Darwin was talking about the origin of the species, not the origin of all life. Could it be possible for a "Supreme Being" to create the seeds of life, along with the process of evolution? I realize I am running the risk of offending atheists by suggesting that there might be the possibility of a "Supreme Being", but the atheists I have known (and I was one, for a time) tended away from fundamentalism. Unlike, say, certain so-called Christians who see evil in the Harry Potter books and anything else that references magic.

Where do the Intelligent Designers get the idea that "evolutionists" claim to know the origin of life, anyway? Seems to me that they saw birds from lizards (or vice versa), primates descending into new species, etc., but they never said which animal came first, or how the first amoeba in the primordial soup came into being. I wouldn't be surprised if these "IDers" also believe Jesus was Caucasian. And don't get me started on God's plan vs. free will...but I digress.

Anyway, is my 'compromise' typical Canadian behaviour? Or just an over-simplified, common-sense idea? Or have I offended evolutionists, Intelligent Design-ers, and atheists all in one blow?

All that time you've spent watching Fox News has led up to this....You Decide
Success is relative

Yesterday after work I made my daily sojourn to visit Michelle in the hospital. As usual, we chatted for a few minutes, then I took her outside for a cigarette. As we talked, she let on that she was feeling really bad for choosing to have the surgery last August that has led to her current problems. Again, without going into too much detail, August's operation was to remove her ilieostomy (sp?) pouch, as her surgeon thought that he could repair her digestive system. She had been living with the pouch for 4 years, but welcomed a chance to see if she could be put back together. Well, as it turns out, not everything's working, and there's a better than even chance that she will have to get a pouch put back on, and live with it for the rest of her life. I told her not to feel guilty or bad, that anyone would have done the same thing. I then cheered her up by giving her an example from my own life. I told her about the time I was going to climb Mount Everest. Unfortunately, I was only able to get a few hundred feet above sea level (hey, I was living in Toronto at the time). The dream remains, and will remain, unfulfilled - I know my limitations - but the point is I tried, and I am a better person for having tried and knowing, rather than not having tried and always wondering. This story brought a smile to her face - nothing cheers people up quite like stories of other people's failures.


If any of you readers (both of ya!) have similar stories I could use to cheer her up, I/we would be most grateful.


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