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What I’ve Been Doing 12 March 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Mar 12th, 2012 by Dan

Mass Effect 3 screenshots

Floating holo displays are awesome. (Photo courtesy gamesweasel)

Smoke alarms! They notify us about fires, but they also incessantly beep when their batteries are low. It’s tough to sleep when that happens and you don’t have 9V batteries laying around.

Oh, yeah, also Mass Effect 3 came out this week and obliterated my TV watching.

Movies

Wanderlust – Sharing a lot of the DNA from Wet Hot American Summer, Wanderlust was appropriately strange, but also pretty darn funny. I’d put it at 3.5 or 4 stars of five.

TV

Baseball: The Tenth Inning – Rewatched about 75% of this fantastic baseball documentary with Greg. Good times and good prep for the season. Can’t wait!

Music

George & Jonathan – I was turned on to Beautiful Lifestyle by The Besties podcast (“Little Marcus” is their opening/closing track). Great chiptune disc with a lot of variety. Reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog music a lot of the time.

Books

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Bloomqvist is captured by Martin and there’s still so much book left! WTF!

Video Games

Final Fantasy XIII-2 – The Sazh DLC can kiss my ass. Hours of playing poker to unlock Sazh? Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Devil Survivor 2 – I love how brutal these games can get. Atlus isn’t messing around. When demons invade there’s no sugarcoating.

Ghost Trick – So very close to being done and plot twists are just appearing and stacking up like crazy.

Mass Effect 3 – Badassfully: Blasto 6 is the funniest part of this game by far! Here’s a tip for any of you who don’t already know: Anytime you complete a mission you should walk around and talk to everyone. They have funny/interesting things to say. Javik, in particular, has an interesting perspective being a Prothean and all. Look for impressions soon.

April: You Can Only Lose [Fukubukuro 2010]
Jan 5th, 2011 by Dan

There are many reasons I love baseball, but you know what my favorite little quirk is? It’s impossible for a pitcher’s performance on the mound to win a game by itself. In fact, the only active thing a pitcher can do on the mound is lose a game. Not to get too technical, but a win in baseball is determined by the pitcher on the mound when one team pulls ahead of the other. The rules are slightly more complicated than that, but that’s the general idea.

Every other popular sport in this country (e.g., football, basketball, ice hockey) has some way for the leading player to make an impact and win the game for his team. Even goaltenders can, technically, score points in these games. It seems to me that the pitcher is uniquely required to rely on his team to give him the win. Think about how often you hear about pitchers not getting enough run support or pitching gems that his teammates never properly supported. It’s bizarre.

The strangest part of this is that baseball, America’s game, is so very un-American because it’s being played this way. How often are we told in life that our destinies are our own to shape and form? Isn’t it drilled into all of us that we need to take responsibility and blame only ourselves when things go wrong?

With spring approaching and baseball season beginning, I think that this sends a fantastic message. “It’s dangerous to go alone!” says the old man at the beginning of The Legend of Zelda. You can only lose by yourself, but you can win it together.

Marlins First Pitcher

(NOTE: If you comment that NL pitchers get to hit I will punch you in the throat. I know they do, but in the modern game a pitcher’s offensive contribution is near negligible, so I’m ignoring it. If it makes you feel better, I’m talking about AL pitchers)

The Price is WRONG [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jun 24th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

There was a lot of talk about the mistakes Joe Maddon was making in not bringing David Price up at the start of the year. I think last night speaks volumes about why he thought he needed more work.

Price gave up ten runs to spearhead a 10-1 loss to the Phillies last night, meaning that he was embarrassed by a pitcher more or less twice his age (Jamie Moyer, age 46).

It’s days like these that I’m glad I can at least root for the Marlins, who won last night against the Orioles and took two of three from the Yankees this weekend. Not only did Hanley Ramirez snap his homerless streak against the Yankees, he hit himself a grand slam last night to bust open the game. Of course, the Marlins bullpen gave up so many runs that the game went on to the 12th inning, but still, go Hanley.

While I’m up here, I think it’s worth laughing at the Yankees AND the Blue Jays for each dropping two games to the Nationals last week. Way to play to win.

Last week was also notable for being the day I saw, in the flesh, Matt Wieters hit his first big league home run against the Mets. In a strange coincidence, I also heard Wieter’s second home run while listening to the Orioles at Marlins game last night.

Daisuke Matsuzaka landed himself on the DL due to sucking, since Boston can’t send him to the minors. It’s an interesting practice, but basically all a team has to do is get a sanctioned doctor to sign off on some sort of injury and, BAM, instant DL stint. This is how we get loony injuries like an anxiety disorder diagnosed through blood work. Dice-K has been having a tough season, likely from WBC-related exhaustion, so this should hopefully get him all better. Too bad he cost the Red Sox 103M$, because he sure hasn’t seemed all that worth it yet.

And that’s all I’ve got for now. Here’s hoping that the Nats take two of three from the Sox, the Marlins keep moving up the standings, and the Rays start beating the Phillies.

Hit Batters, Win Streaks, and More [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jun 17th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Like all sports, baseball has its unspoken rules regarding conduct and retaliation on the field. It all more or less boils down to: you do something stupid or mean, the pitcher on the other team is going to drill you with a pitch. Everyone knows this, but the key is that it’s supposed to remain unspoken. The few times this year that idiots have brought it up, they’ve been suspended or fined.

Now, it’s no laughing matter to get hit by a pitch. If the opposing team locates it wrong, you could be looking at a DL stint, like the accidental HBP that knocked Jorge Cantú out of the lineup earlier this year against the Mets, or you could even see death if it hits the batter in the helmet right. Only one player has ever died from this and it was way back in 1920 (Ray Chapman of the Indians, if you’re curious).

So why do I bring this up? This past Sunday, Hanley Ramirez was at bat against the Toronto Blue Jays in Canada for the start of the second set of interleague games. He was struck by a pitch, I think after having knocked in a run or two at his last at bat. Josh Johnson, who pitched a complete game for the Fish, did not hit any Blue Jays and the Marlins coasted to an 11-3 win.

The same day, in a press conference, Hanley was complaining about not getting protection, stating:

“Everybody knows it. I think Fredi knows it. J.J. knows it,” said Ramirez, who was drilled by an 88-mph fastball. “[Hayhurst] was throwing strikes. I don’t know why [he hit me]. You’ve got to ask him why.”
[…]
“You know, incredible,” Ramirez said in remarks made in Spanish, according to the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “There’s going to come a point where I’m not going to feel protected. I’m going to be scared to hit a home run because I know I’m going to get hit.”

Naturally, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez immediately shut down the press conference when he heard of the statements and he has supposedly taken care of the situation internally.

Win Streak SNAPPED

Colorado thought that maybe it had something going. Then it hit the wall.

After a surprising 11-game win streak, their hopes and dreams were smashed by my beloved Tampa Bay Rays today with the final score being Rays: 12, Rockies: 4. It’s a good thing for Tampa Bay, considering that they’re trying to climb the AL East, but that may prove difficult with Boston playing against the Marlins in Fenway (yesterday was NOT pretty for them) and the Yankees playing the Nationals at home. Still, if Philadelphia can string together some wins the next few games against Toronto, the Rays have a chance of securing third place and starting to close that three game gap between them and New York. If only the Nats could put together a win against the Yanks…

Misc

Peavy is on the DL. Too bad San Diego didn’t trade him yet. That’s looking like a huge waste of money now…

The Rays have a few guys returning to their lineup. Bartlett was back last night and Burrell will be back soon (who cares about him though?).

Zobrist (AKA the Zorilla) is still smashing his way around the majors. He’s been a major contributor to the Rays leading baseball in runs scored.

Not really news, but I’ll be at the game tonight, Mets at Orioles, to get my Adam Jones Bobblehead. Pictures will be available if I get one and if the game isn’t rained out. Please help us out rain gods, I don’t want to miss the game!

Not Quite As Predicted [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
May 27th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

I think it’s safe to say at this point in the season that things aren’t quite going as I predicted. It’s not the end of the world to be five games back in late May, but it just isn’t coming together for the Rays who are behind the Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays in the AL East. Fortunately for the Rays, the Blue Jays seem to be choking against even the most trivial of AL East teams :cough: the Baltimore Orioles :cough:, but the fact of the matter is that the Rays have to start playing better to keep it alive.

Good thing the stars aren’t aligning against them, right?

Right???

Akinori Iwamura, a heavily underrated cog in the machine is out for the entire season. Not just a few weeks, the whole rest of the year. Jason Bartlett is out with a sprained ankle. Pat Burrell is still out hurting with a stiff neck. Scott Kazmir, who has been pitching poorly anyway, is out on the DL too. This is some serious personnel out for the next two weeks or so. Joe Maddon has been starting Reid Brignac, Willy Aybar, and Ben Zobrist to replace the missing players, but this is clearly not ideal. The Rays are definitely being tested right now, so it would be good for the replacement players to step up instead of…well…

David Price, the holy grail of AL rookies finally got the call up to the bigs to pitch on Monday, only it didn’t go quite as planned. Poor control managed to get him through only 3 1/3 innings with five walks and six strikeouts and, luckily only two earned runs. Some say it was because he sat for quite some time while his team racked up a 10-0 lead. The only real problem is that the bullpen, clearly not expecting their rookie phenom to throw over a hundred pitches in three and a third, couldn’t hold the 10-2 lead that Price left them with. That’s right, the Rays actually lost the game 11-10 Cleveland. Pathetic.

Pick it up Tampa, you’re making me look bad! I know you can outplay the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox, you’ve done it all year already.

Here’s some perspective: last season the starters had an ERA of 3.95 and the bullpen had a 3.55 mark to bring the team to the World Series. Meanwhile, the Rays are sporting a 4.95 starting ERA with 4.16 in the bulllpen. While I’m sure you’re admiring the neat statistical anomaly that the starting pitching’s ERA has risen by exactly one point, it still shows that the key factor in the Rays not performing this season resides in the pitching staff.

Meanwhile Florida is sitting 5.5 games back too in the NL East battling through some pitching injuries and just playing mediocre ball. I know they were playing much better last season, so it hurts to see a better squad where they are right now. On the plus side, they’re not starting Emilio Bonifacio, but they also took a big hit when Cameron Maybin didn’t hit at the start of the season. The once proud 11-1 team is now sitting at 21-26. Pick it up Marlins!

The Fish also only managed to win one of three against the Rays and were soundly spanked in the ones they lost. That was also the series that Iwamura got hurt, which makes it even more painful.

Here’s hoping for better news next week.

Rays and Marlins Update and Punch-Out!!? [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
May 20th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

The Rays finally managed to hit the .500 mark two days ago only to lose last night against the Athletics in a heartbreaking game that remained scoreless until the 11th. You can’t really say that the Rays have been on a tear, but they have won six of their last ten, which should continue to edge them upward in win percentage if they can continue. Two more games against the Athletics will be followed by three against the Marlins in their interleague series and we’ll see how that turns out. The Rays are three games back from the Yankees and that needs to change. Unfortunately, the Yanks are playing the Orioles, so unless the Rays start capitalizing on the fact that they’re playing a weak team in the Athletics, things are going to just get uglier for them. They’re both good teams, but I think the Rays tended to edge out the Fish last year. Interleague games: the only time I root against the Tampa Bay Rays

Florida finds itself in fourth place as well, but only four games out, thanks to a loss to the Diamondbacks after two rained out games. They’re playing alright, but they do really need to turn something around to make a run at the East.

Quick Aside: I was at the Pirates/Nats game last night where the Nats made it close in the 9th, tying up the game, and then blew it in the 10th. I also didn’t get there in time for the free t-shirt.

Short break for a training montage…Imagine my fat trainer riding a bicycle ahead of me while I run behind him in a pink hoodie, the Manhattan skyline flowing past behind me…

This isn’t the first time I’ve melded WMQ and Game Overview and it probably won’t be the last. I picked up Punch-Out!! (those exclamation points are important!!) for Wii at Best Buy last night and, I’ve gotta say it’s pretty awesome. If you ever played the original Punch-Out!! on the NES, you know how the game is played. The concepts remain identical, even with the new control schemes. You control Little Dan (as Little Mac becomes known when associated with my Mii in versus mode) like always who has a repertoire that includes jabs to the face and stomach, dodges to the left and right, ducking, blocking, and star punches (AKA massive uppercuts).

Each of the comically ethnically stereotyped boxers has a style all to their own. Most of their moves are wildly easy to predict or downright illegal in a real boxing ring, but still fun to counter and play. A lot of the original strategies are still there. You can still down Frenchman Glass Joe in one punch if you hit him at the right time. Piston Hondo (name changed from Piston Honda for legal (?) reasons) can still be dropped during his Hondo charge attack and King Hippo’s shorts can still be loosened with a punch to his open mouth. In a nice touch, all the boxers speak their native tongue with no translation. It’s quite funny and it really pulls you into the game to see Glass Joe babbling in French or King Hippo roaring…wait…do Hawaiians roar? Here’s who I’ve faced so far in my quest for the championship:

Glass Joe

Pushover. Lightweight. Chump. I missed the first opportunity to clean his clock with one punch, but I landed the soft spot on his jaw in the second round and ended the fight with baguettes flying around the ring.

Von Kaiser

The German Mama’s Boy returns. His tells are pretty easy and he can be knocked flat in no time at all.

Disco Kid

The first newcomer to hit the ring. Here’s a pro-tip for the Kid: don’t say “Here it comes!” before your left hooks and you might have a chance of landing one. Chump.

King Hippo

Belt Holder for the Minor Circuit and your first real challenge. This raging Hawaiian only knows that he wants to knock you out and hard. The band-aid on his belly is the dead-giveaway for his weakness. Just punch him in the face when his mouth is open and then lay into his fat, causing his shorts to drop. One knockdown will lead to a KO.

Piston Hondo

The Major Circuit starts off with this Japanese boxer. He loves to move his eyebrows before a jab. Punch him in the face to earn stars. Punching him during his little charge will put him on the mat.

Bear Hugger

The first of two Super Punch-Out!! characters in the game, this Canadian boxer served up my first loss. He likes to chug maple syrup and, here’s an interesting little trick, if you star punch him while he’s taunting you, he goes down on the mat. Hard.

Great Tiger

My second loss came from the Indian cheater Great Tiger. Ever seen a boxer poof, teleport, or create mirror images? If his turban flashes gold, you can get a star, but red flashes will lead to uppercuts. Ouch.

That’s all I’ve faced so far. I’ll keep you updated on any new fighters or fun that I have.

Manny Being Manny [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
May 13th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

What a real bummer…

The biggest news since last week, if you hadn’t heard already, was the drug test that Manny Ramirez managed to fail.

This is now the biggest baseball star to fail a drug test and win himself a 50-game suspension along with a black mark on his hall of fame chances.

It goes like this:

Manny Ramirez saw some physician in Florida who gave him a banned substance according to MLB rules. The substance, whose name I don’t totally remember and am too depressed to look up, is a female fertility drug that is also used to mask drops in testosterone following a steroid treatment cycle. Seems pretty clear cut.

It’s also the most disappointing news I’ll receive this year. Alex Rodriguez’s situation didn’t really bum me out. He’s kind of a jerk and I wasn’t too surprised to hear that he was a cheater too. Manny was just so goofy and charismatic and I hate that it’s true.

Who can we trust from the steroid era now? The only name that I’m able to unequivocally trust nowadays seems to be Ken Griffey, Jr. It’s a real shame. I hope that the new drug tests will keep catching new cheaters so that baseball can be clean from here on out.

The NO PED Zone

Ryan Zimmerman has got himself a 30-game hitting streak. The record is, of course, 56, but seeing him approach it is super exciting, especially for a Washington team that has otherwise not been doing very well at all.

Evan Longoria is on an AL MVP pace with his production this year. Man do I love this guy. Keep it up.

The Rays are 7.5 (!) games out of first place in the AL East, only half a game up on the last place Orioles. We’ll see what will happen once the Blue Jays start playing teams in the East. Hopefully the Rays will start to catch up in the standings.

Meanwhile, the Marlins are a much more respectable 1.5 games back from the first place Mets, half a game behind the Phillies, and a game up on the Braves. The Nationals are…7.5 games out of first place. Wow, that makes me worry way more about the Rays, although the Rays do at least have a win percentage a full 0.100 higher than the Nats.

Miscellany [Uncat]
Mar 19th, 2009 by Dan

Too many different things to talk about!

Cuba’s been eliminated from the WBC by Japan! It kind of bums me out. They’ll play a final seeding match against Korea to decide who plays Team USA and who plays Venezuela.

Lost was great last night. Tune in to see Sawyer absolutely ream Jack at the end of the episode. The reveal of young Ben was kind of obvious, but the best Ben-related moment was the super-startling thump on the head that Sun gave the bug-eyed freak mid-sentence with Lapidus.

I might talk about some RE5 DLC on Saturday, it seems that there’s controversy about the announcement of multiplayer that’s basically in the game, but would cost $5 to unlock. At least it’s better than talking about racism!

I leave you, my loyal readers, with a fun little Domo picture I like to call Xerox Domo:

Xerox Domo

We’re Going To Round 3! [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Mar 18th, 2009 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ‘em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Tensions were running high last night as Puerto Rico was up on Team USA 5-3 at the bottom of the 9th. Team USA kept their cool and played like a team, advancing runners with steals and sacrifice flies. Team PR withered and started walking US bats, loading the bases and bringing the score up to 5-4 with disasterous cosnequences. David Wright stepped up and hit a fly ball that was not caught, allowing Team USA to plate two and win.

This evening will be the final elimination game for either Japan or Cuba. Winner will go on to play South Korea. I’m not sure who I want to win this one, both teams are really great, but Japan going to the finals allows for a more dramatic win in the finals when they lose. Cuba winning allows a fantastic, relatively unknown squad to prove their mettle. Tune in tonight at 2300 EST to see the outcome or just wait until tomorrow morning.

World Baseball Classic [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Mar 11th, 2009 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ‘em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Spring approaches; the season of life, new beginnings, flowers, and, most importantly, baseball! After three years the World Baseball Classic returns to centerstage to attempt to create an event as important to the world as the World Cup. This year’s tournament does not disappoint so far.

Pool A

Strangely, the only pool to complete its games, the Asian Pool A finds itself already decided by today. Last Classic champion Japan and Olympic champion Korea make up the finalists progressing to Round 2 with China and Chinese Taipei falling to the wayside in blowouts. Meanwhile, Japan and Korea split their series, but Japan’s run differential of 14-2 gave them higher seeding in Round 2.

Pool B

A strangely composed pool, B consists of Cuba, Australia, Mexico, and South Africa. Who even knew that Australia and South Africa played baseball? The only dominant force so far is the Cuban team, which placed a dark horse second in the last WBC and has yet to lose either of their games so far. Their final opponent of the pool will be either Mexico or Australia, depending on who wins. Cuba edged a win over Australia already, 5-4, but Mexico’s chances look grim since Australia smashed them 17-7 in Game 2 of the pool.

Pool C

The most important pool’s final game will be played tonight at 1830 as a rematch of sorts between Venezuela and the USA. The last game was won by a margin of 8 in Team USA’s favor, so let’s hope America keeps the dream alive of redeeming themselves after last year’s embarrassing loss to Canada. I wouldn’t quite call them the Redeem Team just yet, but let’s hope they at least make it to the finals.

Pool D

The last pool’s seeding will be decided today strangely between Puerto Rico (not strange yet) and the Netherlands. Puerto Rico makes sense and everyone can accept that, but the Netherlands? Fueled by two bizzarely close victories over the Dominican Republic, the Dutch just can’t be ruled out as contenders. No one could have guessed that this bracket would have turned out this way.

Excitement awaits us all when Round 2 starts this Sunday!

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