Sunday, March 27, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
These things heard alot during the winter. "THEY ARE NOT GOING TO REPEAT" No shit Sherlock, a safe bet as the last NL team to win back to back championships were the great 1970's Reds--40 years ago before free agency made it harder to keep a team together.
Through it all the Giants have a BETTER chance to win it all than they did at the start of 2010. The only team that has a better chance than they do right now, IMO, are the Boston Red Soxs. Note: I don't blindly support my team, and felt that the Giants had no chance 2 years ago. I wrote in emails to baseball friends back east that the Giants had the WORST offense in memory. Last year, I was a bit more kind before the start of the season:
"The Giants will finish 1st this year--yep first baby. They will lead the league by alot--on days players on the disabled list. Huff-Sanchez-DeRosa--they'll be lucky getting two of three playing at the same time." (3/11/2010)
As it turned out Huff is a stud--he scored over 100 runs, ran the bases with aplomb, and played at any position the Giants needed. Sanchez came back from injury and must be the streakiest singles hitter ever--the former batting champ got red hot when the Giants needed him the most and played incredible defense. DeRosa's season never really began.
"Giant have slightly better hitting but worse fielding than last year, fragility high, and can't exepct long relievers to have great season like last year (note: they did, but they were different long relievers.) Best thing would be for them to play Buster Posey regularly, 4x a week at firstbase and 2x a week at catcher. Not like he is taking at bats away from Willie McCovery/ Bill Terry...in any event SF for the wild card. (3/29/2010)
In 2011 the Giants had DEEPEST pitching staff I ever recall, and the putt-putt offense was totally revamped by the end of the year (secret: they had the MOST road home runs of any NL team, with 15 more than the mighty Phillies.) The Giants offense by the middle of 2010 much different than their offense from 2007-2010 when Matt Cain suffered with the major's worst offenseive support (3.72 runs per game.) The nadir of 2010 season was in late May when the Giants got swept by the A's--scoring a whole 1 run in 3 games. A reconstituted Giants team returned the favor a month later, scoring 17 runs in 3 games, Through it all the Giants showed the rare fortitude to bench their big $$$ stars if not performing. Not to many oher teams do that. So what is the Giants upside in 2011:
1. Pablo Sandoval, their best (only) hitter in 2009 had a bad year in 2010. With his better winter conditiong he should improve. (To a lesser extent, after poor conditioning ruined Tim Lincecum's August, he got serious and wouldn't have a disasterous month this year if he avoids arm problems.)
2. They didn't have Buster Posey or Madison Bumgarner until a third of the season has passed. Andres Torres started off as a spot player. Cody Ross on offense and shut down relievers Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez weren't on the team until the 2nd half of the season. Now all these guys ready to go from day 1.
3-Mark DeRosa was out for the year.
4-After a half dozen years of having turkey position players in the minors, they (Posey) was the best rookie of the year in a decade, and they have another minor league hitter, Brandon Belt, that has great promise.
5-No mass panic by the local radio--even Giants flagship early last season when Cousin Bruce wanted the Giants to trade trade trade Matt Cain for hitting and Amechi's Ralph wanted the Giants to move in the right field fences (that psych out other teams) to improve their hitting.
So the Giants start off SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER IN 2011 than 2010. Their lineup wouldn't need jesus.
What are the downsides?
1-Brian Wilson has a great season though he usually lives on the edge--an injury or his just being a little bit off would hurt greatly. (Gotta like the guy, doing a Cowboy Bill Flett tribute)
2-Pat Burrell had a good reclamation year--providing many key hits, but was this a last gasp for him? Andres Torres has a very good year as the leadoff hitter, but was this his career year?
Otherwise I see Tejada a wash for Uribe. More hits, less homers. Both not great in the field but the Giants showed that their strikeout pitching staff makes up for their fielders having little range (albeit secondbase and center field.)
Of couse, deep staff or not, a pitching injury (see Adam Wainwright) derails most contenders hopes. After hearing how the Giants shouldn't even show up against Roy Halliday and Cliff Lee in the playoffs, should we be scared that they are both on the Phillies? Not really. The Phillies essentially traded Jason Werth for Cliff Lee--they better hope that Dominic Brown can come close to losing Werth's .300-30 hr output and protection of Ryan Howard. Otherwise the Braves, who almost won the division and played the Giants the toughest in the playoffs, will win the East.
Last year I picked Colorado to win the division and the Giants to win the wild card. I think the Rockies will be the NL wild card team. The Giants should get back to the World Series, but the Red Soxs are scary with Adrian Gonzalez--who is the 2nd best hitting first baseman and is moving from a lousy hitting park to a great on, joined by Carl Crawford (and Jacoby Ellsbury coming back.)
But in an era of me-me-me pro athletes, the Giants attitude is refreshing. I see them winning the pennant., and then who knows. Only thing sweeter that what happened last year is if the would have beaten the Yankees in the World Series.
Friday, March 18, 2011
So its Tournament Time--who will be the National Champion in our Round of 64 ALL TIME GREATEST ROCK SONGS. (Oh, there is another Round of 64 going on.)
That was what I was planning--a play off between the 64 best rock songs of all time--I figured it would be interesting to see who'd win after a bunch of one-on-one match ups. Horses v. Light My Fire--concert versions each--oh baby!
The selection of the top 64 was done by listening to my MP3 and quickly throwing any song I really like on a list with songs that I seemingly similarly liked. There would be structure to the judging in the tourney (music, vocals/ lyrics, significance, like factor) but for now I'd just thrown in 64 tunes (actually the bottom 16 had to have a match up against choices 65-80 on the list.)
It was apparent to me that some songs got jobbed by my rush to judgement; for example I think Jefferson Airplane's Grimly Forming (#90) and Gil Scott Heron's The Bottle (#97) are better than Louie Louie (any version, #67) and Cream's White Room (#79), but I must have been in a really good mood when I heard the latter and pissy when I heard the former and threw them low on the list.
Then my friends chirped in. As Dr. Dave pointed out "hey, you got ONE song written in the last 20 years" (#20--Smells Like Teen Spirit-Nirvana.) Maybe I should have had 4 brackets--something like classic rock, girl groups/ punk , soul/ disco and tunes written since 1990. California Mike had his own long list--he wanted something from Fleetwood Mac when they were a blues band before they all found god and ran off to be replaced by a pop singers.
This soon became clear that this was a bad idea. Music is so subjective. Growing up we had a friend forced to play dainty Chopin (we derisively called him CHOP-IN) when we obviously would have respected if he hammered away at the piano like Franz Liszt. Early in the last decade Whiny Mike, a big Dylanphile--knew every lyric to every song. I never know the lyrics or really care much--I just view someones voice as another instrument while I try to follow the bass guitar line, and I'd complain how Dylan ruined his early work by another strange makeover at the latest concert. The intense "Masters of War" if done syrupy Budokan style doesn't cut it.
In any event you like what you like even if there are rock snobs or resemble their classical music forefathers years ago (when the radio announcer would endlessly try to educate you about what you heard--"shut up and just play music.") The chicanery of Dave Marsh, THE ROLLING STONE "ROCK CRITIC!" proves this point.
Years ago, before the Internet when books were needed to get complete lists, I got the Rolling Stones Record Guide 2nd edition (1983). About two dozen rock writers each tackled reviewing different bands and their LP's. Dave Marsh, the editor of the book, wrote a mean spirited review of The Doors.
"Comparing the Doors to any of rocks' great artists...to Creedence Cleerwater Revival and the Clash is clearly absurd...the Doors take their place in pop history as the progenitors of a whole wave of tennybobber anti-icons, the genuine precursors of Alice Cooper and Kiss. The Doors (are) more shrewdly marketed than Tommy James and the Shondells and the Guess Who, but not necessarily better. In fact arguably not as good, since the band possessed a drummer too laid back to really kick out jams, and organist who sounded like he had been laid off from a cocktail lounge, and a singer whose notion of the best way to express passion was to belch and grunt."
Marsh's scathing review made me suspect of the review value of the book. Ironically, years later I came across the 1st edition (1979) of the Rolling Stone record guide. Same, editor, Dave Marsh. Almost the same two dozen reviewers in both editions, most carrying over their expertise and reviewing the SAME band from edition to edition. Hmmmm, the Doors were originally reviewed by someone who really liked them, the record review editor of Creem who had also founded Punk magazine..
"Brash courageous, intelligent, adventurous and exciting...The Doors were all this and more! Of all the groups to emerge from the West Coast in the late Sixties, only the Doors succeed in consistently getting their often disturbing messages across to the core of America. ..and the fact that they were able to do it without compromising their stance or their art makes the accomplishment that much more incredible.
The Doors played unique music...(each band member) weaving around in the specific needs of each song. The Doors were such an intriguing band: blues and rock forged together, poetry mingled with standard rock lyrics."
So, Book editor Marsh (founding editor of Creem) replaced the favorable reviewer from the 1st edition in the 2nd edition with himself to write a scathing review. Watergate. Watergate
Luckily in the 3rd edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide (1992) Marsh is no longer the book editor, and a new reviewer of the Doors, who worked as a reviewer for Rolling Stone, gave the Doors almost as glowing a review as the one found in the 1st edition before Dave Marsh pulled rank:
"The Doors were originals--Robbie Krieger, a competent guitarist who sounded best when he kept things either elegant or bluesy; the steady John Densmore on drums: Ray Manzarak and organist and electric piano player whose semi-classical turns added a touch of the baroque. The Doors, ultimately, were Jim Morrison. Except for Jimi Hendrix, there hasn't been since Elvis an American rock start of such raw immediacy."
For the record the top 8 seed in my tourney
1. When The Musics Over--The Doors
2. Dancing Barefoot-Patti Smith
3. Gloria-Patti Smith
4. Horses (Land)-Patti Smith
5. Rock and Roll Nigger-Patti Smith
6. Light My Fire-The Doors
7. Frederick-Patti Smith
and first NON Doors/ Patti
8. Rock You Like A Hurricane-The Scorpions
but truth be told I like Super Freak (#14)-Rick James, the Beat (#15)-Elvis Costello, Gloria (#17)-Van Morrison better than Rock You Like A Hurricane. And if a ride is going good one of these tunes will usually pop into my head.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
The Diablo Cyclists ride up Mines Road is opening day of the long distance cycling season. Even during my great trip w/ CA Mike around Hawaii, it felt weird missing this traditional start of the cycling season. The bonus mile group starts 2 hours early and 30 miles of flats/ rollers away from the base of Mines Road; we meet the Diablo Cyclists for the long but gentle 30 mile up (1900' elevation gain) and 30 mile back down Mines Road, and then the 30 mile trip back to Walnut Creek.
Unfortunately my "posse" wasn't going to be on hand at the start. Christine, Dr. Dave and Ward all coming off the injured reserved list so they'd start in Livermore. CA Mike off doing his 300th brevet of the year (or maybe its his 6th 300k brevet of the year). So apart from Jack it was a crapshoot who would be at the Walnut Creek start. I pulled in 6:50 and was the first person for the 7:00 start. Then five minutes later two new guys showed up saying Christine told them she'd be on the ride--bad news, 1) she's not starting here and 2) you have 5 minutes to get ready. I pictured getting lost dragging these guys along when luckily Jack and Tom cycled in--Tom is a well respected rider who used to do doubles and now he's getting back into long distance riding; he and Jack are as steady as they come. Ironically Tom is on a Litespeed with tri-bars, last person on a Litespeed w/ tri bars on this ride was Uncle Steve who'd attack and attack and hammer the flats like crazy all day; a few years ago he and I just started the day attacking and counterattcking each other. Today Tom just kept us in a paceline (we were pulling around the newbies), Jeanie joined us a few miles out.
What--no going downhill past the fire station and having to go balls out when Dr. Dave on the 'bent or the fn tandem flys by; what--no sprinting for the end of the Trees, which is done on each ride. In an organized paceline with very little wind I felt like I just got started when we coasted into Livermore.
Opening day--the President is at hand throw out the first pitch and Dr. Dave getting inpatient with Jack for dawdling at the rest stop.
Rolled into Livermore about 8:55--great first view of fountain fronting some restored buildings. Some years there is soap bubbles sudzing up, some years the water is dyed green (St. Patty Day.) I always wanted a picture of the fountain mid morning so I pulled off and took a few--then to my surprise parking lot was jammed with Diablo Cyclists--another great turnout for this popular ride. I figured that with such a large crowd the ride would start a 9:15--so I went over to the secret organic garden to see how the plants were doing and get water--when I returned the pelaton had left and was down the road.
At base of Mines Road a few of us ride back about a mile to wait for other riders coming down. Tom and Jack from our bonus mile group arrive so I turn around but do it after everyone else and suddenly everyone is down the road. I put in a big dig to catch up and now I'm wound up--Christine dropped off the back to help me regroup but my dander is up and I shoot by the front. Colin--our fastest rider--catches me and we just hammer and hammer the few miles of flat road doing a two man. I'm trying my best to kill myself before the 30 mile return trip.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Have a good Kirk Kinetic trainer (on the cobblestones) that offers more resistance the faster your go (just like wind resistance increases the faster you go on a bike.) Trouble is, in order to get through the boredom of 1 1/4 hours on the trainer I have to make a game of it.
GT will special trainer wheel (11-21 cassette), on Kirk Kinetic Trainer with homage to Paris Roubaix underneath and on ceiling of garage.
First step, turn on college stereo--LOUD. Second, after a 10 minute warmup have to time trial--go as hard as I can for 60 minutes--trying to increase my speed consistently. The holy grail is to keep over 20 mph, which I've only done once in the last two years. Trouble is, if I start out to fast I flame out.
***Time trial program is 60 minutes go as fast as possible after 10 minute warmup and 5 minute 1 leg cooldown. Alternates are hill climbing w/ ankle weights and have to stand for 2 minutes every 5, and sit and spin program where I have to keep my butt in the saddle and maintain an 80 rmp cadence.***
On Tuesday for whatever reason I couldn't get started. After 15 minutes I was going at a 17.6mph clip--1 mph lower than I usually like to start at--and I was having trouble keeping this speed going. Sometimes things don't go as planned--instead of slowly dying for the next 45 minutes I called it a night.
On Wednesday I was supposed to do the rollers through the neighborhood on my fixed gear (actually on the side of a Regional Park/ Golf course so no cross traffic/ intersections on the loop) but was so bummed out from the trainer session the night before did the time trial program again. This time 15m splits were 19.1-19.1-19.2-19.4 mph, max 33.6 mph, so average watts were 242. I much have rather been on the fixed gear but this does much more for my cardio, which usually goes faster than my legs on a long ride.
(March 5, 2011) Davis 200k brevet, with Mike, Dave, Jack, Collin, Jeanne and Matt. 130 miles, 17.4 average, 5000' climbing.
This ride is the beginning of the 200k-300k-400k-600k series for rider wanting to qualify for the Breast-Breast-Breast ride, which Mike and Collin are hoping to do. Being sane Dave, Jack and I will stop with after the 300k brevet, we just like the two shorter rides as on a good route, nearby, inexpensive, and supported better than many expensive Planet Ultra Doubles.
This ride almost got washed out. After a few weeks of sunny but near freezing weekends, weather forecast was for 30% chance of rain. Oh crap. 30% chance is the borderline, whereas if its over I'm not starting the ride. With 30% chance of rain, I scrapped the plan to take the Litespeed and instead prepared the GT with the rack/ brevet bag so I could take a raincoat. (Not many people had racks/ brevet bags on this one, though a sizable minority rode with huge backpacks adorned by a safety triangle.)
The day before the weather forecast changed for the better--now it was a 70% chance of rain--BUT AFTER 4PM. Before 4PM there was only a 5% chance. Great. Stayed with GT as speed would not be an issue--we'd comfortably finish before dark and before rain showed. We also had a disparate group. Young Colin was by far the fastest rider. Jack and Mike our best endurance riders. Dr. Dave on the 'bent could whizz ahead on the flats but would lag on any steep series of rollers. And Jeanne and Matt had never ridden 130 miles before. In short, with no worries about time we'd get in, we'd just ride to our slowest rider at any given moment.
It was 50 degrees when I left the house at 5am--OH GOD I HATE WAKING UP IN THE DARK FOR BIKE RIDES. Temperature steadily decreased toward the ag fields surrounding Davis to a sunny 45.
Had preregistered but got to checkin early so I could take a short snooze in the car until some crazy guy parked next to me and banged on the window. Surprised no food provided (luckily had taken banana with me for the start)--on this short brevet the only rest stop with food was in Pope Valley--65 miles out; the longer 300k brevet would have 3 provided rest stops. Jeanie had asked how much food to bring, though stores along the route we want to bring enough to be self sufficient without being weighed down.
My initial answer to her was:
8 hours (16.5 avg for 130 miles) at 40-60 carbs an hour, 320-480 carbs for the ride.
With food/ drink averaging 75% carbs then 1700-2560 carbs for the ride. So I'd take:
Bottle 1 -2 scoops HEED 54 carbs
Carry -2 scoops HEED 54 carbs
Bottle 2 -4 scoops PERPETUEM 108 carbs
Bottle 2 -1 shot HAMMERGEL 23 carbs
So liquid refreshment would total 239 carbs
Carry -2 CLIFF SHOT BLOCKS (great while riding) 96 carbs
Carry -2 CLIFF BARS (or similiar carb type) bar 82 carbs
Carry -2 shot HAMMERGEL mini grenade 46 carbs
Lunch Stop-Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich 45 carbs
Solid food, 269 carbs, so total 508 carbs.
As it turned out I didn't touch the Hammer Grenade, but did have 4 carb bars; and had a turkey/ ham sandwich + banana at lunch in lieu of PBJ. Also took one scoop of Sustained Energy to add to my Perpetuem mix. So I took in about 30 carb more than planned, or 538.
Surprise when we were ready to roll and worker ran up to us with a box of Brubar Power Bars (very good) and grabbed one while rolling out.
(side) Dave's not yelling at me, yet, when I go for his neck that he sometimes strains during long rides (above) Cuing up for mass start
We got stuck at a traffic light right outside the park and ride and started shivering uncontrollably. I had my rain jacket in the brevet bag--but wasn't wearing it as I knew that once we got going I'd be miserable wearing a jacket unless it was raining. To get warm I went to the front and started going hard, but also stayed in the small ring---seems to help on long rides just to spin the first 5 miles. I was on good behavior when a guy with a spin worse than mine-bowleggedly mashing the pedals-shot by; shortly after a lady wearing weird half leggings did the same thing while weaving--surprised Jeanie wasn't chasing her. Our group joined me while I watched the odometer--4.7 miles, 4.8 miles--NOW--5 miles, can go into the big ring.
I don't recall if we joined a bigger paceline or a bigger paceline joined us, but it was a clusterfuck going to Winters through the ag land. Our group (which usually meant Colin) was doing most of the pulling, a double paceline formed, and anarchy ensued. Our group was usually 2nd, 3rd and 4th wheel but next to us were folks we didn't know--some riding straight, so weaving like crazy. The woman who passed earlier, later nicknamed "crazy lady" (and worse), wound up 3rd wheel on the right side and needed more than 3 feet width of road. Jeanie (who used to race) said she though brevet riders knew how to paceline and she was unpleasantly surprised.
Best move of the day may have been when Colin was in the front but indicated a whizz stop was in order, and that sounded great to me (did I mention it was cold.) Over the Pedrick overpass he went straight, I followed, and everyone else went left. Well, after taking care of business we had to bust butt to catch the pelaton on the very flat course, but with Colin doing 80% of the work we were both out of the mass lunacy and got warm in a hurry chasing back.
When we finally got back Mike was driving the paceline--after being lazy for the longest time and sitting on the back, after we accordioned for the seemingly millionth time (paceline accordioning is terrible at the back) I dug in past 25 riders to see if Mike needed help--just when I got near the front he was rotating out, so we both got n 4-5th wheel. Jumped from the pelaton before first good bathroom stop at Lake Solano Park-28 miles from the start, and I figured that the park stop would be jammed, so I suggested to our group that we go to the campgrounds across the street. Good move.
Peacock at Lake Solano deserted campgrounds--swarm of them cheered us on when we arrived (Dr. Dave Photo)
Many brevet riders may be slow but they are great at not needing to stop--at least half blew by the Park/ Campgrounds. Our group didn't and took our time leaving, something that we wouldn't be able to afford on the 300k. Jeanie had a leaking bag of sports powder (need to double bag!)--reminiscent when I tried carrying sports powder in a Peets Coffee bag. Now I use an empty Hammer grenade. Now the ride would get interesting, rollers up to the Cardiac Climb and then the rollers through Pope Valley.
We stayed together to Cardiac but then became unhooked. From the side we had a two stage climb, an easy one to Monticello Dam and then a much longer climb to the end of a Lake Berryessa "finger." Climb was nice even if I was still wearing a Nordic headband and undershirt for freezing weather. At least wasn't also in a long sleeve jersey. Pulled over near the top to take photos of our group coming up--was in front of someone's unique mobile home homestead.
Long downhill where Mike checked his speed so I could get behind him and arrive with him and Jeanie to the next stop at the 121/128 junction at mile 45 where Jack, Matt and Colin were waiting.
Now our group is basically alone and we began to paceline through the gentle rollers in Pope Valley. One guy in a red jersey joined us and took a nice pull.
Pope Valley Control where we saw many people we encountered earlier.
We stayed at the Pope Valley Control for @25 minutes--definitely 15 minutes too long for the 300k ride, but this was the 200k and the sun was out (so much so I pulled off thick undershirt and was just a bit cold riding with just a jersey/ but better than being bundled up.) In total we'd have stopped 1:15 for 200k, we should easily improve on this by 25% for the 300k. Jack was being antisocial and perhaps spooked by the late rain report, he started down the road well before we left--knowing him he'd only stop one more time on the return trip and we'd never catch up to him. Jeanie and Matt-our two riders extending themselves, said they were feeling good.
Mixed blessing for Dr. Dave here. The run in to Cardiac is fast and he easily zoomed away from us-but from this side the climb up Cardiac is much shorter but steeper. I like it--Dave doesn't. Here our group spread out again so we regrouped half way down the downhill. Then passing Lake Solano half the group didn't need to stop but we deferred to the half that did.
I really wasn't looking forward to the end of the ride--it would just be pancake flat through the ag fields of Winters/ Davis. But I was nicely suprised. Earlier in the day Jeanie complained about the disorganized pacelines--this time we caught ("we" means Colin doing 80% of the pulling and I'm doing 15%) a big group from the Davis Bike Club where they were more than happy to let us do most of the work. That was OK, they took a few short turns. The tranquility was broken about a mile from the finish when all of a sudden--OH shit, a woman with an anti-PETA seat and someone else in the Davis club did their traditional sprint for the City Limits sign. I was so surprised I didn't have time to yell "Postal" to warn Colin and try to set him up.