Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hear ye, hear ye

At long last, Casey's Column is now equipped with audio.
Now you can listen to the blog wherever you are, and you don't even have to click the great audio button I once spent several hours making.
What is this new development, and how do you take advantage of it?
Keep reading, or listening, to find out.

If you are especially observant -- or really drawn to new buttons on Web sites -- you may have noticed the small, but great-looking button labeled "Listen Now" neatly tucked beneath the title of this and every other post published on this blog.
Some of you might have even taken some initiative and clicked it.
If you are one of those people, the I-wonder-what-this-button-does crowd, you are undoubtedly hearing a voice, and the voice you are now hearing is reading the same words you are, in a semi-human, semi-robot tone.
Your ears are being treated to this grand experience thanks to a great Web site called Odiogo.com.
Odiogo is a free service that converts written text, such as Casey's Column, into audio files which can be listened to straight from the blog, added to iTunes or simply downloaded to your personal MP3 player.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to this service, and what kind of newly-employed journalist would I be if I didn't report both of them to you?

Here are the advantages I have noticed since enabling audio content on my blog 30 minutes ago:

1. I finally have an audio function.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past that I was determined to become a star in the blogging universe, and to do this I knew I needed to have good content, but I also needed a way to get my writing to more people in today's on-the-go generation.
So, I sat out to turn my blog into a podcast, which would be accessible whenever and wherever people wanted to listen.
I had some experience in podcasting before I began writing this blog, and I knew the work that went into it.
I made a nice audio button using Photoshop, and a new page to store my podcasts on the site.
Then, I promised you, the readers, I would record my blog posts and publish them there for you to listen to at your convenience.
It was then I remembered the work that goes into making and maintaining a quality podcast, which is why the Audio page on this site is still barren.
However, as of tonight, I have made good on my promise to provide portable content, and it was easier than I thought.

2. Odiogo is free, and takes almost no effort on my part.

The service costs me nothing, which is great since I don't start my new job until next month.
Once I signed up for Odiogo by entering my blog and e-mail addresses, I was given the code for the Odiogo button, which I added to my blog.
Then, it was done.
Now, each time I post, the words are converted into an audio file and an on-site player is automatically placed underneath the title.

Those advantages alone are worth signing up, but I have noticed some disadvantages as well.

1. The voice is semi-robotic, and some of the words aren't pronounced correctly.

Unfortunately, the voice reading the words I have written is not my own, and sounds somewhat like the gold robot from Star Wars.
Yes, I know his name, but I didn't think the voice would be able to say it.
The voice also struggles pronouncing certain names and words properly.
For example, I once wrote about the man who now plays quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings.
When I listened to the post today, the voice pronounced his name "favor," and I realized in order for the name to be read correctly, as in Farve, I had to spell it F A R V E, which is annoying, incorrect and offensive to football fans everywhere, including myself.
I couldn't even add proper punctuation to indicate spelling because you would have heard the word "dash" between each letter, which is annoying, incorrect and offensive to listeners everywhere, including myself.

2. Listening to the post doesn't always guarantee the full experience.

Most bloggers write with a certain style or feeling, and sometimes the voice doesn't translate that style as well as hearing a human read, or reading for yourself.
Also, some bloggers post pictures in their blogs, or links that make what they've written more understandable.
When you listen to a blog, you miss that information.
I encourage you to listen to the posts when you need to save time, but always come back and read them if you don't understand something, because chances are good the information you need is in the post, but lost in translation.

I am happy to finally be able to offer an audio version of my blog that is easy for both me, the author, and you, the reader or listener.
I hope this proves to be an enjoyable way for you to keep up with the blog.
Be sure to come back, because you never know what you're gonna hear.

Read more!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A good story for bad days

I'm not sure why but I have had an unusually long string of bad days lately.
I didn't believe it was possible, but today I found out there is some truth to the old saying that no matter how bad things get, there's always someone worse off than you.

I was almost certain I could easily disprove that statement using evidence from the past week alone, so I decided to ask a friend of mine what songs he would recommend to someone who was fairly sure they were on the way to breaking the record for the most bad days in a row.
He gave me quite a few songs, which helped a little, but something else happened while we were contemplating life via Facebook chat.
I was reminded no matter how long my seemingly endless streak of bad days drones on, I'll never be as bad off as Job.
For those who may not know his story, Job is the man whose record I am unfortunately chasing, but fortunately will never come close to.
Job's biography can be read in the book of the Bible that bears his name, but for time sake I'll just hit the lowlights highlights.
Job was a very wealthy man.
Satan thought he could make Job curse God by causing horrible things to happen to him.
God let him try, and in one day...Satan saw he couldn't get to Job through his wealth, so he asked God to let him cause Job pain.
God let him try, and in one day...
This went on and on -- for 42 chapters -- but Job didn't curse God, though he did eventually start asking Him some interesting questions, and got some even more interesting answers, but that's another story.
The point is, Job had some rough days, and he got through them and came out of them in better shape than he was before.
So, I choose to look at my seemingly never-ending string of bad days as a chance to grow, and, when they are over, I'll be better for having gone through them.
While I'm waiting for the string to stop stretching, I'll just listen to those songs my friend recommended.
I think I'll call them the Job mix.
Read more!

Monday, October 12, 2009

On typing and tests

This is weird, and I don't know what to think about it.
I am typing this post with a new keyboard in an effort to improve my typing speed, so I can, in turn, improve my prospects for employment.
There are several things wrong with this situation -- none of which are likely to get better as a result of this new contraption -- which I will explain as soon as I find the backspace key.
My situation is as follows:

* I have a four-year degree from a reputable university whose football team occasionally plays on ESPN, and, according to its advertising campaign, has several outstanding alumni, including a NASA astronaut and DeMarcus Ware.
* It took me almost five years to get said four-year degree, which is doing me little good right now since jobs in my field of study are either nonexistent or located in Barrow, Alaska.
* So, I searched high and low for alternate means of employment, and found what would be a good job with benefits and a nice chair.

This sounds great, I know, and it would be if I weren't required to pass a typing test.
I have tried on three separate occasions to pass the required test, which consists of re-typing as many fabricated business letters word-for-word as one can in a five-minute period.
Sounds easy, right?
It probably would be if I could type with a little more speed than it would take to mail a letter from Alabama to North Dakota using the Pony Express.
I've failed the test three times and counting so far, and -- to the facilitator's shock and amazement -- have managed to get worse each time.
So, grasping at straws, I switched keyboards.
I am trying to get used to the new one, but I don't think it will help, and here's why.

1. Some of the keys, namely the letters, are huge.
This would have been perfect if I were Paul Bunyan or Mr. Magoo.

2. The keys are loud.
Every time I use this keyboard it sounds like I am breaking up a parking lot with a jackhammer instead of typing a sentence.

3. Some of the keys are smaller, and in the wrong place.
Every time I try to hit "Shift" to use a capital letter, my cursor winds up in the "Labels for this post" box, costing me valuable time.
Presently, I have accidentally hit "Tab" 156,665,434 times, and it has taken me an episode of "Gilmore Girls," two episodes of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and half an episode of "That 70's Show" to type this post.

Wait a minute, it usually takes all those and two episodes of "That 70's Show" for me to type a post.
Maybe this thing helps after all.

Read more!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pigskin Points: Week Two

Week two of college football is in the books, and an intriguing story was written between the yard lines.

A Tale of Two Freshmen

Chapter One

One program is in the best of times, one is in the worst.
One is in an age of glory, the other in an age of questions.
The times -- as always -- are uncertain, but one program can see a clear path ahead, while the other is just able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The first program is, of course, USC.
The classic stalwart, USC is one of the standards of the game, and has been a sure bet to be in the title hunt since Pete Carroll's arrival in Pasadena.
The other is Michigan.
A once-proud program filled with tradition and passion, Michigan has fallen on hard times in recent years.
Long-time head coach Lloyd Carr left in 2007 after the Wolverines finished 9-4.
Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez away from West Virginia, and things were looking up in the Big House.
They wouldn't look that way for long.
The decline was swift and terrible.
The Wolverines went 3-9 in Rich Rod's first year as the head Michigan man, the worst record in the program's 129-year history.
Then came the off-season.
And the questions.
And the emotions.
Now, however, the season is two weeks old and the Wolverines are 2-0, thanks in large part to a man named Tate Forcier.
Forcier happens to be Michigan's quarterback, and he also happens to be the first of the two freshmen in our tale.
The Wolverines desperately needed a win against rival Notre Dame to prove to fans and opponents alike they are, in fact, on their way back.
The entire team made that happen Saturday, besting the Irish 38-34, and Forcier proved he has what it takes to strap on one of the most classic helmets in football and butt heads with anybody.
Forcier had a good day throwing the football, completing 23-33 passes.
Two of them went for touchdowns, including the game-winning five-yard toss to Greg Mathews.
Forcier was unflappable on the final drive.
He's a freshman, who, -- in that moment -- played not like a senior, but like a pro.
Now, at least for a week, Big Blue is back.

Chapter Two

Matt Barkley is apparently USC's present-day version of the Trojan horse.
The Trojans infiltrated the walls of Ohio State's Horseshoe and rode the freshman quarterback to a huge win.
Before the game, Barkley said he was ready for the test and up to the challenge.
Afterword he admitted he was nervous.
If he was, he didn't play like it when it counted.
Comparing present players to those of the past is not uncommon, but it is sometimes difficult to see where those comparisons come from.
After Saturday, it's safe to say people have yet another reason to compare Barkley to a certain Hall-of-Famer.
There are similarities, you know.
The confidence.
The poise.
The talent.
Now there's one more to add to the list.
In the first road game of his college career, in front of thousands upon thousands of hostile fans, Barkley engineered a Drive of his own.
With his back to the Buckeye student section, from the shadow of his own end-zone, Barkley and the Trojans began a classic series that ended when Stafon Johnson walked into the end-zone without being so much as grazed by a Buckeye.
The Trojans converted the two-point try and then the defense stifled Terrelle Pryor's attempt at a game-winning drive.
The night belonged to Barkley and the Trojans, and surely there will be many more like it to come.

On Saturday, two freshmen proved they were ready, willing and able to lead their teams.
In doing so, they each accomplished a far, far better thing than anyone expected -- except them.


If you've been looking for a good college football blog to keep you up-to-date on everything happening on the gridiron this season, look no farther than 4th and Goal.
4th and Goal is a comprehensive college football smorgasbord, complete with the weekly AP Poll, predictions for games and things learned each week.
It's full of useful information, insights and opinions from a man who knows what he's talking about.
If you don't believe me, just look at his Upset Calls record so far.
4th and Goal will be updated frequently, so be sure to check back often, and stayed tuned next week for the third edition of Pigskin Points.
Read more!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pigskin Points: Week One

The moment has passed, the day has dawned and gone.
Football season has officially begun, and what an opening week it was. Handshakes and brawls, underdogs and upsets, week one had it all. Here are some of my observations from the first weekend of meaningful football.
1. Greg Paulus is a freak of nature.

The former Duke point guard traded sneakers for shoulder pads Saturday, and nearly did something remarkable.
If not for a heartbreaking interception in overtime, Paulus would have led the Syracuse Orange to a victory in his first football game since he won the New York state title in 2004.
That's right, Paulus nearly led a team that finished a paltry 3-9 a year ago to a win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who will make a serious run for a Big Ten title thanks to the seemingly deadly combination of quarterback Adam Webber and wideout Eric Dekker.
Syracuse may have lost Saturday, but something else happened, too.
As Paulus and the rest of the Orange walked into the locker room, fans applauded their efforts.
The paper bags have come off their heads, and they have begun to see the light at the end of the Syracuse Dark Ages.
The mixture of a new coach and a new quarterback who plays like a point guard has ignited a spark in the once-proud program.
Sure, it was only one game, and we are talking about Syracuse.
Sure, it was apparent Paulus had grown used to facing defenses comprised of five men waving their arms in his face instead of 11 men trying to plow him into the ground and leave cleat marks on his chest.
Paulus was rusty, but who wouldn't be?
The fact he can return to football and play at such a competitive level after four years away from the game is commendable, and it will be an interesting storyline in an already interesting season.

2. Sportsmanship handshakes will not be tolerated.
I'll start this point by saying I am 100 percent in favor of anything having to do with sportsmanship in any area of athletic competition.
That said, there are certain things -- like the new mandated pre-game handshake -- that begin with good intentions, but end with an astonishing example of irony.
Thursday night, in just the second game of the 2009 season -- and the second one showcasing the sportsmanship handshake -- Boise State bested Oregon and removed what was probably its biggest obstacle to another undefeated season and perhaps a berth in the BCS.
The win was an important one for the Broncos, but it was overshadowed by some unfortunate post-game actions.
Boise State defensive end Byron Hout was sent buckling to his knees after Oregon tailback LeGarrette Blount landed a punishing right cross to his jaw.
Blount then unleashed a flurry of punches upon his own teammates, who were trying to restrain him.
The scuffle got worse after the play was repeatedly showed on the jumbotron in Boise, angering fans.
The fans began to taunt Blount as he headed toward the locker room, and Blount suddenly vaulted toward the stands before being dragged away by an Oregon assistant and a policeman.
Blount apologized after the game, and later called Boise State to apologize to Hout and Boise State head coach Chris Petersen.
Oregon head coach Chip Kelly suspended Blount for the rest of the season, but allowed him to practice with the team.
Petersen said the team dealt with Hout privately, but he was not suspended.
I think Hout should have been suspended for at least a game, because there's no room for the particular type of talk on the football field or anywhere else for that matter.
However, his actions did not warrant the punch he took.
Being a sore winner is forgivable.
What Blount did was inexcusable.
He embarrassed himself, his school, his team and his coach, who was making his collegiate coaching debut after serving several years as the Ducks' offensive coordinator.
Some have said the incident will overshadow anything Kelly is able to accomplish at Oregon, but I applaud the way he handled the situation.
He acted swiftly and severely, but refused to "kick (Blount) out on the street."
Blount was allowed to keep his scholarship and continue to practice with the Ducks.
Kelly said his decision not to remove the running back from the program completely was an effort to help Blount turn his life around and be part of something structured.
I have nothing but respect for Kelly after hearing him say those words, and I wish him nothing but the best as the Duck's coach.
I wish Blount the best as well, but it is possible Thursday's incident might generate even more consequences for the Oregon running back.
An NFL scout told Todd McShay, an ESPN draft expert, Blount's actions may have rendered him undraftable.
Blount is an obvious talent on the field, but I hope he can get his act together off of it.
After all, as he has surely found out, there's more to life than football.

3. The SEC is on fire, the ACC is melting.
This weekend once again proves what everybody already knew.
The SEC once again is one of the best, if not the best, conferences in football.
SEC teams went 11-1 in the first week.
Georgia suffered the lone setback, a 24-10 loss at the hands of the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater.
The Bulldogs offense appeared to be in a weakened state, much like the immune system of senior quarterback Joe Cox, who battled flu-like symptoms all week before making his first start.
The Cowboys were strong on both sides of the ball, and look like they might be a force in the Big XII this year.
Alabama racked up 498 yards of offense and looked good in the final quarter of its 34-24 win Virginia Tech, although it will have to block better and stop shooting itself in the foot, or it might to be a long year in Tuscaloosa once the Tide reaches conference play.
Auburn had little trouble beating Louisiana Tech 37-13 in the opening game of the Gene Chizik era, and Lane Kiffin enjoyed a 63-7 thumping of Western Kentucky in his first game on Rocky Top.
The ACC, on the other hand, enjoyed very little about the first week of the 2009 season.
The conference had a dismal 4-6 record last week, and two of those losses came at the hands of FCS teams.
Virginia was upended by William and Mary, and Duke was bitten by the Richmond Spiders.
Virginia head coach Al Grough's seat is hotter than a desert in July, and Duke is well on its way to fulfilling everybody's expectations.
Even the football players are counting down the days until basketball season begins.
Virgina Tech turned in a gutsy performance against Alabama, despite giving up 498 yards of offense to the Tide.
If you asked me to size up the ACC following the first week of the season, I'd have to say it appears to be a three-horse race.

Here are the bests and worsts of college football week one:


VIRGINIA loses to WILLIAM & MARY 26-14
I picked this game as the worst upset not to offend the Tribe, they gave great effort and deserved the victory.
However, no one saw this one coming.
Duke was also upset by an FCS team, but that's not nearly as unexpected.
One game into the 2009 season, the Cavilers are on the way to a disappointing year.
Let's hope they can rebound, or they'll be rebuilding in no time.



The Gators were a 73-point favorite going into the contest, and yet someone chose to air it on television.
This was, as expected, a beatdown of epic proportions, and I believe another game, a closer game, would have been more interesting to see than a huge blowout.
I understand the Gators are number one, and TV time comes with the lofty ranking.
I also understand the desire to watch a former Heisman winner and arguably one of the best players to ever play the college game throw touchdown passes like he was tossing beanbags and run over linebackers and safeties like they were cardboard cutouts, but that's what SportsCenter is for.
Tim Tebow left the game after the first quarter, and the Gators squeaked by the Buccaneers 62-3.


This one's a tie.
Notre Dame and Charlie Weiss needed a good performance to kick off the season, and that's exactly what they got against Nevada.
The Irish won 35-0, and may be a little better than last year.
We'll find out in a hurry, when they play Michigan in week two.
The Wolverines were probably anxious to take the field following a drama-filled off-season complete with investigations into how head coach Rich Rodriguez runs his program.
Maybe it was the chance to wipe the slate clean and forget last year's abysmal 3-9 record, the worst in school history.
Whatever the reason, Michigan got off to a good start this season, thumping Western Michigan 31-7.
These two teams will tangle in Ann Arbor Saturday, so something's gotta give.


This was a great one throughout, and the finish didn't disappoint either.
However, I have a question for the Navy coaching staff.
Why in the world would you, Navy, attempt a pass on a two-point conversion to tie a game in the waning seconds?
You boast one of the best option offenses since the straight wishbone, and you threw a pass on that play?
Sure, everybody in the stadium knows what you're doing when you run, but they sure have a heck of a time stopping it.
Your quarterback, Ricky Dobbs, can throw, that's for sure, but you have a running offense.
Please use it from now on, especially when you need two yards to tie a game in the Horseshoe.
My heart sunk when Dobbs lofted that pass toward what he thought was a waiting Midshipman in the end-zone, but turned out to be two Buckeyes, one of which picked the ball off and took it to the house to seal your fate.
Close, but no cigar.



When it rains, it pours.
Oklahoma lost its first game and its Heisman-winning quarterback on the same day last week, and now comes the news the Sooners must do without go-to tight end Jermaine Gresham.
Gresham's season is done before it started.
He underwent season-ending surgery before he could attempt to win the championship he wanted.
Bradford, on the other hand, should return from his sprained shoulder within two to four weeks, and that return couldnt come soon enough for the Sooners.
BYU vaulted to number nine after the upset, and has a chip on its shoulder.
The Cougars are looking for respect, and if they keep playing like they did Saturday they just might get it.
The Cougars are a strong football team, and they are on the prowl for a much-coveted spot in the BCS.



The last game of Kickoff Week 2009 was a classic rivalry game, and one that will be talked about and remembered for some time.
The game see-sawed back and forth several times, and was not decided until the final play.
This game was so good I recommend you watch the highlights for yourself.
What a finish.
The one thing I didn't understand -- and this wasn't included in the highlight reel, so you'll have to take my word for it -- is why FSU tried to shuffle players in and out of the game with forty-nine seconds left without taking a timeout.
When Seminole quarterback Christian Ponder finally took the next snap, there were just nineteen seconds remaining.
That's thirty seconds of wasted time, and it turned out Florida State really needed that time.
It was not to be for them Monday, but watch out for the Seminoles later on this year.
Earlier I said the ACC looked like a three-horse race.
Here are the other two thoroughbreds, and they're leading the way out of the gates.



They're calling it the Collision in Columbus, and here are some reasons you won't want to miss it.
1. Ohio State will be fueled by the revenge factor.

The Buckeyes took a 35-3 thrashing in L.A. Colosseum last season, and they didn't like it.
Look for them to be fired up as they go for a win in the Horseshoe.

2. USC's Matt Barkley makes his road debut.

For the first time in history, the Trojans starting quarterback is a freshman.
He looked sharp in USC's season-opening win over San Jose State last week, but they're not Ohio State.
It's going to be loud and hostile, and it'll be interesting to see if Barkley can maintain the poise he showed last week.
Welcome to big-time college football, kid.


The best college football article I have read this week is ESPN.com columnist Pat Forde's "Forde Yard Dash."
Better known as The Dash, Forde goes through the 40 biggest headlines in college football.
This week's Dash has an interesting breakdown of conferences, plus Forde's latest Dashette.

Enjoy the games this week, and stop by later for next week's Pigskin Points.

Read more!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Football Fever: Diagnosis and case number one

I'm sick -- and I'm not just talking about the cold I've had for a week(The one that attacked me in the night with enough ferocity to kill a lesser man and slightly harm Chuck Norris).
I'm talking about Football Fever.
Football Fever is a condition I have suffered from since childhood.
It's main symptom is an uncontrollable desire for any and all information relating to football, and it usually lasts from the time recruiting information starts pouring in in January until toe meets leather sometime in late August or early September.
At the moment I sit here typing this post, there happens to be 16 days, eight hours and 12 minutes until Alabama kicks off its 2009 season against Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome.
I've got it bad.
I've got such a bad case this year I've started keeping up with the NFL preseason to pass the time until the college season starts, which leads me to my first issue.
Brett is back.
It's gotten so out of hand I'm pretty sure that's all I need to say, but, in case it isn't, I'll explain what I mean.
Brett Favre is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.
He's tough as nails, and the fact he has started 269 consecutive games proves it.
He is the league's all-time leader in touchdown passes, and he has one Super Bowl victory to his credit.
Favre turns 40 this year, though, and is coming off one of the toughest injuries of his career -- a torn bicep in his throwing arm -- which he had repaired in the off-season.
He also has been known to develop football fever.
Unlike me, Favre can actually do something about it, and he has -- twice.
He played 17 years in the NFL -- 16 for the Green Bay Packers -- before retiring.
Then the fever struck, and, after a tumultuous off season, Favre piloted the New York Jets last year before retiring again.
Then, while helping high school players in his home state of Mississippi, the fever struck once more.
Now Favre is a Viking, and everyone from Chris Carter to Fran Tarkenton has an opinion about it.
I have an opinion, too.
Let the man play, and stop complaining about it.
The only people who have semi-legitimate gripes with Favre wearing purple this season are the two quarterbacks he pushed farther down the depth chart when he stepped on the practice field.
Obviously both Favre and the Vikings feel he can compete, or he wouldn't be there.
Minnesota has a good chance to go far this season.
They have a good defense, a solid offensive line that will keep Favre on his feet for the most part while opening gaping holes for a guy named Adrian Peterson, and we all know what that means.
Favre has the luxury of a good running game to take the pressure off of his arm, and the Vikings have the luxury of a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer under center.
They won with Tavaris Jackson last year, and they'll do it again this year with Favre.
Then we'll see who's complaining.
Read more!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mid-summer mail

I just finished watching the All-Star game, and while I wait for the second half the ridiculously long baseball season to begin I came across some letters expressing several concerns with some questionable aspects of the game.

Dear Braves Front Office,
I have been a Braves fan all my life, and as such I feel it is my duty to express my displeasure with some things that have happened in and around the organization lately.
I realize you had a few shake-ups not too long ago.
I also realize I have absolutely no idea how to run a baseball team, but I ask you to hear me out.
Y'all have hurt my feelings one too many times, and I can no longer sit idly by while my team continues its decent toward the bottom of the division -- a place once reserved exclusively for the Nationals.
I am highly perturbed at the trading of Jeff Francoeur.
The issue I have is not with the fact he was traded, but where he was dealt.
Why, for Pete's sake, did y'all trade him to the Mets?
Did the fact one of our mascots looks like Mr. Met make y'all think we owed them something?
Think about this for half a second, and I'm sure you'll see why I'm a little upset.
That's right, the Mets are a division rival, for cryin' out loud!
We have to play them a whole heck of a lot, and if y'all haven't noticed, he's blistering the ball, and will most likely blister our butts when he pays us a visit.
Thanks a lot.
One more thing, what in the world is going on with the bullpen?
We could have gotten a solid arm in there, so maybe we'd stop blowing leads like a lotto winner blows cash, but nope, y'all had to go and get a man who's had his share of bad luck with the Braves.
No offense to Ryan Church -- I'm glad he's on board -- I just think we could have traded for a guy who can hold a lead.
I say put John Smoltz back in the pen -- oh wait, we can't.
Anybody seen Mark Wohlers?
Tired of Terrible Trades

Dear Tim Lincecum,
As you well know, a 98 mile-per-hour fastball can get you a lot, even if you weigh 170 pounds and your nickname is Tiny Tim.
It can secure a second All-Star selection in as many years.
It can also get you a stint as Sports Illustrated's cover boy.
It can get you a cool statue.
It can get you a very large sum of money.
However, there is apparently one thing an excellent heater cannot get you -- a haircut.
Your Barber

Dear Justin Upton,
We'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for helping us carry on what has become a tradition.
You see, when you turned the wrong way on that fly ball in the eighth inning, hit the wall and watched Curtis Granderson run like somebody was chasing him, you allowed the go-ahead run to reach third base.
It was promptly brought home on a sac-fly, and the All-Star game was over.
We would have probably been better off not coming out of the dugout again, seeing as they had what's-his-name on the mound.
He's so good, they let him wear Jackie Robinson's number.
We didn't have a chance.
So what if we still don't know what it's like to win an All-Star game that counts, at least some of us will get room service for most of the World Series.
Thanks again for helping preserve our 13-year losing streak!
Sincerely Yours,
The National League

Dear Congress,
Find something better to do, like fixing the economy or reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and stay out of my sport.
You do your job, I'll try to do mine,
Bud Selig

Dear Dodgers,
How was I supposed to know those pills and patches that made me shop a lot and sob uncontrollably while watching "The Notebook" over and over were on the banned substances list?
I was just me being me.
Manny Ramirez

Dear Hall of Fame Committee,
My bloody sock will probably end up in Cooperstown, so you might as well let me in too.
Pretty please?
Waiting by the phone,
Curt Shilling

Dear Major League Baseball,
Thank you for letting me show what an awesome man I am Monday night in your little Legends-Celebrity softball game.
You should make me manager next year.
Obviously, I do a heck of a lot better job than that skinny Mike from the radio.
It was my heroic, motivational speech that got the team going and brought them back from the jaws of certain defeat, when it appeared we would lose to the other Mike who lost all that weight on NutriSystem.
Also, have one of your teams take a look at that rapper, I believe his name is Nelly.
Holy crap, did you see that catch he made?
You should really sign him up.
He might even be able to help that team that can't even spell its own name.
Oh yeah, and put that little dancing Olympian on my team.
I'm so proud of her, she makes me want to do cartwheels.
If you don't put her on my team I really will pick one of those chairs up and throw it, but I promise I won't hit the umpire.
Robert (Bob) Knight
General. Motivatior. Hero.

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