Friday, March 30, 2007

Adam Sandler Would Be Proud

One of the Update's subscribers suggested that we share these Passover songs with our readers, so they can sing them at their seders on Monday night. (By the way, bad time for a seder, given the NCAA basketball finals that night. Oh, well.) All songs are copyright 2007 by Chuck Hadden.

Die Pharaoh (sung to the tune of Dayenu)

Pharaoh made us slaves in Egypt.
Paid no wages; off were we ripped.
Pyr’mids? Built ‘em.
Could’ve killed ‘em.
Die Pharaoh.

Die, die, Pharaoh.
Die, die, Pharaoh.
Die, die, Pharaoh.
Die Pharaoh, die, die die.

God was angry, angry plenty.
Sent down ten plagues, won’t need twenty.
Ten is e-nough
To make life tough.
Die Pharaoh.

Die, die, Pharaoh.
Die, die, Pharaoh.
Die, die, Pharaoh.
Die Pharaoh, die, die die.

Pharaoh would not let the Jews be,
So he chased ‘em to the Red Sea.
We walked through it.
Pharaoh blew it.
Die Pharaoh.

Die, die, Pharaoh.
Die, die, Pharaoh.
Die, die, Pharaoh.
Die Pharaoh, die, die die.

Eight Days a Year (to the tune of Eight Days a Week)

Ooh, I need your matzoh.
That’s my only wish.
Just one other thing, babe:
That’s gefilte fish.

Lots-a, mat-zoh,
Lots-a mat-zoh.
Ain’t got nothin’ but matzoh, babe,
Eight days a year.

Eight days a year,
You cannot ea-eat bre-ead
Eight days a year,
Thoughts of chametz fill your head.

Ask me the Four Questions.
I’ll answer them for you.
Why is this night diff’rent?
I’ll give you a clue.

Mat-zoh, mo-ror,
Re-cline, dip more.
Ain’t got nothin’ but matzoh, babe,
Eight days a year…
Eight days a year…

(What a) Terrible Plague (to the tune of (What a) Wonderful World)

Moses said, “Please let my people go.”
Pharaoh said, “Moses, no, no, no.”
Moses said, “Well, you’ll be sorry then.”
By the way, can you count to ten?”
What a terrible plague there will be.

Don’t know how God’s gonna get it done,
But I know, it won’t be fun.
And I know that God is mad at you.
And I know that Egypt will be blue.
What a terrible plague there will be.

Moses foretold the plagues that were comin,’
And he spread the news.
‘Cause maybe by paintin’ a bleak picture baby,
Pharaoh would release the Jews.

Flies and locusts, no they never fail.
Boils and darkness, there’s always hail.
Blood and frogs and gnats and murrain …
That don’t work, first born get slain.
What a terrible plague there will be.

Now Moses said, “I can’t walk upon water”
When he saw the sea.
But maybe by takin’ a dry shortcut baby,
I can get my people free.

Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, never fail.
Nah, nah, nah, there’s always hail.
Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, and murrain …
Nah, nah, nah, first born get slain.
What terrible plagues there have been.

Spring Has Sprung

It happens every Spring. No, not the old baseball movie starring Ray Miland as a nerdy scientist who invents something that makes a baseball avoid contact with a bat. The Update is talking about the Sox again having a losing record in the Cactus League. Just look at the last two seasons. According to the Tribune, in the World Series Championship season, the Sox finished Spring Training with a 14-18 record. And last year, they were 8-19-2 out in Arizona. Considering their regular season win totals were in the 90s both seasons, Sox fans can take some comfort in the fact that they won't necessarily suck when the games actually count. And according to this week's Sports Illustrated, winning during the Spring doesn't correlate with winning during the regular season: "Since MLB went to three divisions in 1994, in fact, the team with the best exhibition mark in each league has made the playoffs less than half the time." Only 15.4% of the teams that finished with their league's best record during Grapefruit/Cactus League play wound up winning their divisions. And only 23.1% of them won a Wild Card berth. That means a whopping 61.5% of the first-place teams during Spring Training finished the regular season out of the money. There's hope for the Sox yet.
Still, the Update would feel a lot better if the Sox pitchers had performed a little better. Each of the returning starters had a significantly higher ERA than he did last Spring. If the starters give up as many runs as they did in Arizona, the scores in our games are going to resemble those rung up by the Bears (who have their own pitching problems). High scoring games are going to marginalize Ozzie's preferred Small Ball strategy. It's crazy to play for one run when runs are cheap. Actually, it's always crazy to advance a runner from first to second via a sacrifice bunt. Statistics show to a virtually irrefutable degree of confidence that the odds of scoring a run with a runner on first and no one out (the situation when Oz calls for the sacrifice bunt) are better than the chances of scoring a run with a runner on second and one out (the situation if his strategy works).
Fortunately, the Sox have power to spare and the park to take advantage of it. The Update just doesn't get why you would try to tailor your club to avoid exploiting your park's characteristics. And for those of you who say, we won that way in 2005, the fact is we won despite that strategy. The Sox had a huge percentage of their runs score via the home run that year as well. It's just that Small Ball got all the publicity. Anyway, the season is ready to start, so let's break out the battle cry: Go Sox!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Javy a Nice Day

The Update doesn't get it. First, Sox GM, Kenny Williams, says he's not going to negotiate new contracts until after the season is over; then yesterday he extends Javier Vazquez's deal three years, through 2010, for $34.5 million. Javy is not an Update favorite, given his inability to get through a batting order three times in a game, and he doesn't get the grace period the members of the 2005 team earned by delivering us a World Series championship. Of all the players for Kenny to pick to depart from his stated renegotiation hiatus, Vazquez is the last one the Update would have chosen. (According to the Tribune, Mark Buehrle and his agent have discussed submitting a proposal, now that Williams is in the contract extension business until April 1.) And how did Vazquez celebrate his new contract? Well, the good news is that he didn't fall victim to the dreaded third-time-through-the-order problem. Javy stunk it up the first time through, giving up four runs on six hits in only three innings. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Back to the Future

One of the articles in the online version of the Tribune today referred to "Robert Valido, 21, once touted as the Sox's shortstop of the future." Now, I know nothing about this guy, but the quote makes it seem like he is no longer being touted as the "shortstop of the future." Wow, washed up at 21. When I was that age, I had just finished a summer working at the Post Office (a regular Clff Claven -- extra points for coming up with his Final Jeopardy question), was worried about the draft (my number was 20), and was a few months away from meeting my wife, Judy. I basically had my whole future ahead of me (where else would it be, behind me?) Valido, by contrast, has gone from being the future to being, well, I don't know. Life's tough in a game where the Future is Now. I know, George Allen (former Bear, Ram and Redskin coach) was talking about football when he said it, but it applies to baseball too.
Good news in the Cactus League: Bobby Jenks pitched a complete inning, throwing 23 pitches and being clocked at 94 MPH. (The Trib reports he wasn't trying to throw full out.) Mark Buehrle struck out three, walked none, and gave up a solo homer in three innings. Darin Erstad batted in the two hole and laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved leadoff man Pablo Ozuna to second, where he scored on a single by birthday boy Paul Konerko (31). Mike MacDougal shut down the Brewers in the only inning he pitched. Bad news: The Sox's spring record dropped to 2-5.
(Alex Trebek will no doubt remember that in response to the clue "Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz, and Lucille LeSeur," Cliff's question on the Jeopardy episode of Cheers was "Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen? The correct response was "Who are Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, and Joan Crawford?" The categories during Single Jeopardy were Civil Servants, Stamps from Around the World, Mothers and Sons, Beer, Bar Trivia, and Celibacy. Cheers fans know why this was Cliffie's "dream board," as Norm described it, and Jeopardy fans know that the categories were actually used in the May 10, 2005 episode on the real game show. I'll stop now.)

Monday, March 5, 2007

First Time for Everything

First first: Sox win. Over the weekend, the Sox won their first Cactus League game of 2007, beating the D'backs, then followed that up with a trouncing of the Cubs. The results of these games really are meaningless, as pitchers work on new pitches, batters try out new swings, and players you've never heard of and won't see on the 40-man roster this season populate the lineups. Still, it's nice to get off the Schneid. (According to the Word Detective: "Schneid" is actually short for "schneider," a term originally used in the card game of gin, meaning to prevent an opponent from scoring any points. "Schneider" entered the vocabulary of gin from German (probably via Yiddish), where it means "tailor." Apparently the original sense was that if you were "schneidered" in gin you were "cut" (as if by a tailor) from contention in the game. "Schneider" first appeared in the literature of card-playing about 1886, but the shortened form "schneid" used in other sports is probably of fairly recent vintage.) And any win over the Cubs makes our day.
Second first: An Update recipient asks to be taken off the distribution list. One of our faithful readers asked us to add the rest of his family to the legion of Sox fans who receive the Update. We were glad to do so and sent out a special message to our new readers. Well, one of them was less than thrilled to have been added and firmly asked to be removed. Although the Update is a little hurt that she wouldn't even give us a chance, we respect her right not to receive emails that she doesn't want in her in inbox and have already deleted her email address. (Anyone else out there who feels the same way, just let us know and we'll remove you too.) We and our sponsors -- Howard's Wine Cellar and Mike S., the official wine store and official golf pro of the White Sox Magic Number Update, respectively -- wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Jenks Jinxed

In the words of Bill Clinton, "I feel your pain." First Gavin Floyd, one of the prime candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation, rolls his ankle and has to leave a game. Then, yesterday, established closer, Bobby Jenks, experiences "tightness" in his shoulder after throwing nine pitches in the White Sox Cactus League opener and left the game with a 2-0 count on the batter. (The Sox lost to Colorado 12-4, but don't worry about wins and losses just yet. It is surprising though that at a time when pitchers are supposed to be ahead of hitters, veterans Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland, and new guy, John Danks, got rocked, or should we say Rockied?) Jenks says he's not injured, just tight, and Ozzie says he believes him. I don't believe either one of them. At least it gives the other flamethrowers in the bullpen some extra work. Mike MacDougal, Matt Thornton, and some guy I've never heard of before, Dewon Day, each pitched a scoreless inning after Jenks went down. And that is a good thing. Of course, in the words of Bill Clinton, "That depends on what your definition of "is" is.