Saturday, May 30, 2009

College World Series coverage, in an effort to become.....I don't know what they're trying to do. I think become an entertainment website. They certainly don't cover sports anymore. Polls, excerpts from Sportscenter, fantasy chats, whatever Rick Reilly is or does, they have that. Go find what they wrote about Elon's appearance in the College World Series yesterday. Go ahead, I'll wait.

If you need a hint, you have to go to the main page and choose college sports. They have sections for college football and basketball because this is an exciting time of year for those sports. But baseball is lumped in with all the other sports.

Once you go there, if you look at the headlines, you'll see golf, tennis, softball, volleyball, lacrosse. The top story in the image box is softball, where the hook is that Arizona State's pitcher doesn't like being called a freshman. Whatever. A couple games are mentioned in the headlines, including Stephen Strasburg's first loss of the season. But if you want the coverage, you have to click in that little picture box that says Friday's baseball action and then scroll almost all the way down to the bottom to see how Elon did (which is an Associated Press report. Apparently ESPN doesn't feel the need to have anyone on their staff report on the CWS).

By contrast, go to Yahoo!'s sports page, choose college sports from the menu and wow!, imagine that!, there's a section on baseball. The featured story is, no surprise, Strasburg's loss. But they have a much deserved article on Rich Poythress of Georgia. You can click on NCAA Baseball capsules and get the same AP reports ESPN has but if you click on Rogers' regional analysis, you actually get a Yahoo! reporter's take on all the games. Reporting! On a news site! Wonder of wonders!

The best place to go, though, if you're looking for all your tourney information, is right here. The NCAA itself. They have great writeups of all the games plus you can follow all the games live. Definitely check it out if you have any interest in college baseball and/or the upcoming draft since many of the players in the CWS will be drafted by the major league teams.

By the way, Elon lost 17-15 to Southern Mississippi.

Here's who I'm rooting for (with the exception of a year at the University of Pittsburgh, all my education has been at smaller schools so I don't have alma mater loyalties) in each Super Regional:

Oregon State - the only Texas teams I've rooted for are the Houston Oilers (defunct but they once had Earl Campbell and Ken Stabler (my favorite southpaw quarterback), the Houston Gamblers (Jim Kelly and Mouse Davis' run and shoot offense, also now defunct) and Mike Leach's Texas Tech football program so that rules out half of this Super Regional right there.

Georgia Tech - my undergrad degree is from a small school in North Carolina (Elon was a rival which is why I follow them). I grew up in Pennsylvania and when I went to school there, you were obligated to root for an ACC team for basketball purposes. 90% of people rooted for Carolina, Duke, or N.C. State. I backed Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. Plus, I got to watch Georgia Tech play when they had Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, Jay Payton and Brad Rigby. That was cool.

Alabama - they lost yesterday which doesn't bode well. No one else really grabs me.

East Carolina - Go Pirates! Tough call over South Carolina and my favorite baseball coach, Ray Tanner. I've always liked East Carolina since they played an exciting game against Pitt in football while I was there, falling two yards short on a long pass on the game's final play. The final score was 47-42. Heck of a game. It's strange. I like high scoring football games (when I watch) and low scoring baseball games. Go figure.

Louisville - No reason.

Marist - Why not?

Mississippi - Of course, the majority of teams that interest me are in this region. I have friends who are graduates of Ole Miss and Missouri. I've rooted for Fresno State since the Kevin Sweeney football years (how, for someone who doesn't like football, did I become so influenced by it?), Virginia has a good team and, of course, you have Stephen Strasburg's San Diego State team.

LSU - Probably the biggest baseball powerhouse that isn't in Florida, California or Texas. Skip Bertman led a legacy there that still continues even though he's no longer there.

My pick for winning it all is Cal State Fullerton.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Group of 79 Project - Dick Gernert

Well, the Group of 79 Project is actually the Group of 80 Project. My list was missing a player. I changed the details on the page but I'm keeping the title for two reasons.

1: I don't want to try and figure out how to change all the tags and stuff, especially if anyone has things (particularly the display page) bookmarked

2: 79 is a much better number than 80. 79 is prime and cannot be written as the sum of three squares. 80 is four score and in base 3 is written as 2222. 79 is cooler for what it is not compared to what 80 is.

But we're a long way away from getting to either number and I fully expect another player to achieve the feat this season which would force me to go through the changes all over again. Worry about it when it happens, I guess.

Today's player is Dick Gernert. Mr. Gernert responded extremely quickly to my request for his autograph through the mail. You'll note that this is his 1960 card and that he only played for the Cubs for part of the 1960 season. Could this have something to do with the accomplishment? Probably not.

Gernert was primarily a first baseman for the Red Sox where he often batted behind Ted Williams. No doubt part of the reason Ted Williams was so great was because pitchers were forced to pitch to him because of his being protected by Gernert in the lineup (I could not type that last sentence with a straight face. Not because of anything to do with Gernert, just the whole lineup protection thing).

Gernert was quite an athlete, attending Temple University on a basketball scholarship. After his playing career, he took a break from the professional ranks to teach but then returned as a coach, manager and scout.

I found it interesting that five of Gernert's ten comparable players on Baseball Reference are among the Group of 79.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sometimes pairs come in twos

The first two books I knocked out this week were a pair of e-books by Chris Guillebeau. Guillebeau is a writer and traveler who is making a living off of writing and traveling by harnessing the power of the internet. You can read both A Brief Guide to World Domination and 279 Days to Overnight Success on his website. It contains a lot of useful information if you're determined to try and make a living off of something you enjoy doing.

The other two books I read also pair up nicely. They were The Kept Man by Jami Attenberg and Model Behavior by Jay McInerney. Both are about lousy relationships involving wealthy New Yorkers (and strangely, both include characters named Philo).

When people ask me who my favorite author is, I respond "Michael Chabon is my favorite author but Jay McInerney and Jeanette Winterson are my favorite writers". The difference is this. Chabon weaves terrific stories (and is also a fine writer). McInerney and Winterson just have a way with words. Their writing is always a pleasure to read even if the story itself isn't always great.

I picked up Model Behavior at a used bookstore a few months back. It's one of the few McInerney novels I didn't own. Actually, it is a novel and seven short stories which is sort of neat. I really enjoyed the short stories which is unusual for me. Normally, short stories are like small appetizers to me. They either leave me wanting more or they make me wish I had had something else. They are rarely satisfying. I liked all seven of McInerney's short stories. The endings made sense and actually ended the story (so many short stories I have read seem like unfinished works). Like virtually all of McInerney's writings, all eight tales are about flawed human beings. This is one of the things I like about McInerney.

McInerney makes human beings seem human. They're unfaithful, they have problems, they have addictions, they are full of themselves. But rarely are they lousy people. Done poorly, you wouldn't care about these characters at all. Instead, you do find yourself caring and hoping things turn out well. You sympathize, even when they're snorting coke or cheating on a spouse. It sounds strange, but McInerney pulls it off.

Model Behavior is about an entertainment writer in love with a model (the model is Philomena or Philo). The model leaves him for a film star, ironically, one the writer is trying to interview. The writer is hardly an innocent, though, having slept with someone else and he regularly hangs out with a stripper whose company he enjoys. In addition, the writer tries to cope with an anorexic sister and the neurotic behavior of his best friend, a monastic poet who seems to find himself in the limelight too much, and an internet stalker. Good times, right. And my description sort of makes it seem outlandish, huh? It's not, though. Neither are the short stories about the filmmaker with connections to the mob, the transvestite hooker, the doctor who works in a prison, the couple who try to quit smoking, and so on. Like I said. Just frail human beings trying to lead lives with their own complications.

The Kept Man is similar in a way but then again, maybe not. I signed up for book recommendations through AccessPA and this was one listed under "books involving art" which I am a sucker for. The art is sort of minimal in this one, though. In this book, the main character is the wife of an artist who has been in a coma for six years after a fall caused a brain injury. Her hubby had experienced success and him being on his deathbed has increased interest. She's lonely, gets pressure from her husband's agent and his friend about doing retrospectives and such, and she has a hard time with it. Her clothes washer goes on the fritz and she starts going to a laundromat where she meets three guys with successful wives (The kept men) who don't do much of anything. She has an affair with one which doesn't help things and eventually she pulls the plug on the husband but not before a battle with his parents.

Unlike the characters in McInerney's book, I couldn't care less about those in Attenberg's work. I also thoroughly hated the tone. It's written like the narrator has an MFA in creative writing. The dustjacket calls the narrative spare. Does this sound spare to you?

"As I approach Metropolitan, I see two punks, clothes gray with dirt, black pants, black combat boots, a T-shirt with "Fuck You" scrawled on it in Magic Marker on one of them, the other in a shirt, shredded but somehow still whole, defiantly battling rag status. They're squatting against a brick wall covered with graffiti, not wild, hell-raising graffiti, but commissioned-by-the-community graffiti, blocks of wall real estate carefully delegated to top vandals in order to keep them out of trouble."

I think it bothered me that this is a first-person narrative but the reader gets tons of descriptives that you would expect out of a third-person narrator (which, now that I mention it, is sort of funny, because McInerney has the narrator switch over to the third-person (typically when the narrator is doing something wrong) in Model Behavior). The overly descriptive descriptions are also botched by a high level of crudity. The narrator seems both overeducated and undereducated at the same time.

Oh, the Philo in Attenberg's story is an old man who lives in the facility where her husband is receiving care. Just thought I'd mention that.

So while I find myself rooting for the hero in McInerney's story, Attenberg's lead is too whiny and unsympathetic for me to really care.

I thought about putting McInerney's book in the top ten (around #8) but looked at the list and said to myself "If I was going to tell someone to read either this book or the one currently on the list in positions 8-10, which would it be" and I had to go with the current list. Mostly, though, because I think this was my least favorite book by McInerney I have read. Ransom is my all-time favorite, I've probably read that close to twenty times in my life. The main character's search for somewhere he can call home has always resonated with me. But any of McInerney's other novels are also highly recommended by me. No recommendation of any sort for Attenberg's book.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Yu Darvish update

During the World Baseball Classic I was glad for the opportunity to see Yu Darvish pitch. He is phenomenal and I hope that he has a long career and does find his way over here at some point in his career.

I'm starting to wonder if he might come over here just so that he's challenged. Even though he is only 22 years old, he's already compiled a 54-20 record with a 2.20 ERA in Japan. Check out how he's done this year:

Opening Day against the Golden Eagles. Darvish has a rough first inning where he gives up three runs, including two on a Fernando Seguignol (remember him? former Expo) homer. He goes the distance, shutting the Eagles out the rest of the way but takes the loss as the Fighters only can plate one run. No walks, five strikeouts.
9 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 5 K, 0-1, 3.00 ERA

Second start he throws eight shutout innings (giving him 16 consecutive) before leaving for a reliever in the Fighters 9-1 victory over the Hawks.
17 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 10 K, 1-1, 1.59 ERA

Darvish's shutout streak is stopped at 20 innings but he again only allows three hits as the Fighters defeat the Lions 4-2. Darvish gives up a solo homer to former major leaguer Hiram Bocachica.
25 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 18 K, 2-1, 1.80 ERA

In his fourth start Darvish blanks the Buffaloes in an 11-0 drubbing. He scatters four hits, walks three and strikes out 11.
34 IP, 18 H, 7 BB, 29 K, 3-1, 1.32 ERA

Darvish goes nine innings in a pitcher duel with the Lions, only giving up one run, but the game goes to extra innings. The Fighters lose in 12, 2-1. Darvish allows five hits and three walks and strikes out 11 again.
43 IP, 23 H, 10 BB, 40 K, 3-1, 1.26 ERA

Darvish earns his fourth victory as the Fighters again trounce the Buffaloes, this time by a 10-1 score. Darvish goes seven innings, walking just one and giving up four hits. Four strikeouts. The run he allows is unearned.
50 IP, 27 H, 11 BB, 44 K, 4-1, 1.08 ERA

The Buffaloes put up a fight in Darvish's seventh start of the season but still lose to the Fighters, 4-2. Darvish walks one, allows six hits, and K's four.
58 IP, 33 H, 12 BB, 48 K, 5-1, 1.24 ERA

In his most recent start, Darvish shut out the Swallows, 3-0, despite allowing eight hits and two walks. He adds nine strikeouts as he earns his sixth victory.
67 IP, 41 H, 14 BB, 57 K, 6-1, 1.07 ERA

7.39 baserunners per nine innings, an ERA just barely over one. 4-1 K/BB ratio. He leads the league in wins, is second in ERA and strikeouts. He's only allowed two home runs. Not surprisingly, the Fighters lead the Pacific League with a 26-16 record, 2.5 games ahead of the Golden Eagles.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I can't not not quit

Mood change. My muse, who/which/that was being unmusely this past week, is back being musey again.

Plus, the reason I keep a blog is largely due to my own interest in exploring my interests and thoughts and hopefully inspire others or share my experiences. So what the heck.

I don't understand my brain. I don't know why I think the way I do, why certain things pop in my head, etc., etc.

Case in point. Bizarre tunes from the eighties that have entered my head uninvited, unrelated to anything, all this week.

First, and most confusingly, the theme from Cagney and Lacey.

I don't think I ever saw this show. I only know the song from playing it in band when I was in high school. I wasn't thinking of high school, female detectives, television theme songs, wasn't thinking of James Cagney or Lacey Underalls or anything else that might make me go, "Oh yeah, that's why that song popped in my head". I was just standing there and all of a sudden I'm singing that song.

Now you might argue that that song is not the most confusing as Baltimora's Tarzan Boy also crept into my skull this week.

This next one requires clicking the link. There's an embedded version on YouTube without the introduction but you need the introduction simply because of the "I don't suppose you want to take a ride on my yacht" lead-in.

So now I'm trying not to think of inexplicable eighties songs and just like when you're trying not to think of waterfalls and fountains and dripping water and such when you need to go to the bathroom, not thinking of inexplicable eighties songs leads me to think of Terence Trent D'Arby.

I'll add a fifth one even though the source of its thought origination is clear. My son is reading To Kill a Mockingbird in school and that led me to think of the Cutting Crew tune:

I love how times have changed. This is a more obscure Cutting Crew song so you might not know or remember it. But the video has been edited from the original song because of a bad word. Yes, in the first verse "bastards" has been replaced with "doubters". Imagine if South Park was subject to the same treatment: "They killed Kenny. You doubters!".

I mean, seriously, has anyone else thought of these songs in the past two decades? Anyone done Tarzan Boy in a karaoke bar? I guess someone has unless YouTube is some artificial intelligence entity because I managed to find all of them on there. Maybe there's hope for me after all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Operation Shutdown

It's nice that Derek Bell has a legacy.

Excess ennui has led me to doing a whole lot of nothing this past week (I say this but Doodle is reading over my shoulder. He asked me what ennui was, then proceeded to put his hand on my forehead to check for the fever that accompanies depression and proclaimed "No sign of depressedness". So I guess I'm all right. Thanks, Dr. Doodle).

Being as Doodle is just now wrapping up third grade, you'll pardon my questioning his medical diagnosis.

This is nothing new for me and I'm fortunate in that it isn't. Having dealt with depression and dysthymia issues in the past on a grander scale than I am now, I'm capable of dealing with it (if you call doing nothing dealing with it. I do. It beats crying, misplaced aggression, suicide intent, and a whole bunch of other negative thing. Zero is greater than negative).

There's so much going on right now, I'm essentially doing it all on my own, and underlying it all is this incredible sense of financial insecurity. It's tough. I'm not special in any way in having problems. It's just that they're my problems and so they feel important.

I need to cut back and prioritize. I'm taking on more than I can handle right now and some if it just isn't necessary.

Along those lines, I have to ask myself why I keep this blog and for whom I am writing. I don't have an answer. I don't know what is important to me right now. For the purposes of this blog, the book reviews (me not reading is like me not breathing) will continue. I also think the Group of 79 project will continue, just not this week. I have two cards in and six requests out which gives me a bunch of posts and it's a fun project for me. I'm not writing enough about baseball because the things I want to write about baseball are too large in scope for a weekly post. Music and cooking....they've sort of fallen by the wayside as far as things about which to write.

I think for now I'm going to cut back to two posts a week for now as far as regularly scheduled things go. Maybe this will change soon. Maybe not. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Something I find really funny

I've needed some laughs lately and I've found it in Jake and Amir. You may remember Amir from my April Fool's post. He's like a 21st century village idiot only the village is the internet.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two more books

Not too long ago I read a couple of young adult books. I took it to another extreme this week and read a childrens book. It wasn't my fault, though. My boss was checking in some books while I was doing something else and she said, "I love this book". "What is it?", I asked.
"Click, Clack, Moo".
"Never read it".
"Well, you have to read it right now".

So I did. It was very funny. It's a kid book except for one page that is meant for the parent reading the book which in itself is hysterical because it is an integral part of the story but is over the head of kids. I enjoyed it a lot and will have to get it for my nieces.

The other book I read this week had some humor, too, and more adult themes. I picked up Discover Your Inner Economist by Tyler Cowen because I was trying to find his new book, Create Your Own Economy. Library didn't have it but I thought I'd go ahead and read a book of his because I've wanted to do so. I've read stuff on his blog before and liked how he thinks.

Cowen talks about stuff that interests me (art, music, food) but I don't always agree with his ideas. Some, like trying whatever menu item sounds the worst when you're at a restaurant, rings true (I tend to go unusual instead of yuck-sounding. Cowen's belief is that restaurants are businesses and they're not going to put crap on their menus. Everything is there for a reason. Lobster shell stuffed with chicken nostrils is likely a specialty of theirs and as such, is probably really good. Stuff like roasted chicken, which you can do pretty easily at home, should be avoided at restaurants because it's unlikely to be anything special (an example of unusual sounding which I really enjoyed at a place called Symposium in Lancaster - Nuts and Berries Pork - hazelnut encrusted pork medallions with triple berry sauce; laced with Frangelica & Chambord, served with hazelnut & blueberry ravioli. Man that was good).

Other things, like not completing books and movies because you can get the gist of them from just part and can thus spend ninety minutes watching half an hour of three movies instead of all of one, I just didn't care for in the least.

Cowen also talks about what our true incentives are and how to uncover them. He feels that we are unduly influenced by appearances and will like things that are popular rather than trying to truly get to what we actually like (in the case of art and music, for example).

Again, somewhat interesting stuff but nothing earth-shattering enough for me to suggest you run out and read it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How I am not like Tom Colicchio

For one, I'm taller.

I like Tom Colicchio. Back when I owned a television, Top Chef was one of the two shows I tried to watch regularly (along with Ultimate Fighter). Interestingly, both shows aired Wednesdays at 10 which would have been quite a dilemma if not for reruns. I'm not sure how many people had that dilemma. I make for a fun demographic.

Returning to Herr Colicchio, he's an entertaining and thoughtful fellow who knows a lot about cooking. The New York Times recently ran a feature on him which I thought I would link here. But since this is also about me, I thought I'd save the New York Times some time and answer their questions before they schedule an interview with me (I'm really thoughtful).

Restaurant pet peeve: Using packaged food. Don't try to pass off boxed mashed potatoes or Jell-O cheesecake as something that you prepared. For that matter, just don't serve it. Either mash some taters or get into another business.

Always with him: An inane and often annoying running numeric and pattern analysis. Tonight for example we're driving home from practices and I say to the boowahs "You know, this is the only time where we have this symmetry in your educations. You have three years of school under your belt and nine to go and your brother has completed nine years and has three more before he graduates". I wasn't thinking about this at all. There was nothing to trigger it. My mind just felt the need to point it out to me.

Food aversions: Mushrooms. Mushrooms. Organs. Mushrooms. Wait, I'm missing one. I remember now. Mushrooms.

Worst thing about his kitchen: Electric oven and a dishwasher that doesn't take its job duties too seriously.

Why rent? I don't for one simple reason. I hate footsteps on my ceiling.

Favorite place in apartment: I'll answer this for the house. The baseball room/library, of course.

Morning routine: Up at 6, get Gaga up. Go downstairs and start the computer. Check e-mail and news until Gaga comes down. Visit with him for the seven seconds it takes him to inhale his breakfast. Make his lunch. Return to the computer until it is time for him to go. Give him a hug and watch him until he's across the street and on the way to the bus stop.

By this time Doodle is probably up. Eat breakfast with him. Make his lunch. Sign his assignment planner. He often commandeers my computer after he brushes his teeth so I will read or play Strat-O-Matic depending on my mood. Walk him to the bus stop and see him off. From there the routine varies daily.

Worst culinary creation: Some fifteen plus years ago I tried to make a recipe out of a Cooking Light magazine for braided blueberry bread. It tanked miserably. I would have had better luck trying to make bread out of the magazine itself and not wasted good ingredients.

Most-used cookbook: Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Collection: Baseball books. Approaching fourteen hundred. The majority of them useful for research purposes and not goofy fluff.

Music in kitchen: I don't listen to enough music and need to remedy that. Playing some while I cook would be a nice start.

Superstitions: Don't really have any. I always put my right sock, then right shoe, then left sock, then left shoe on but that's a habit and not a superstition.

Fishing gear: I don't fish.

Obsession: Baseball. Books about baseball.

Old-time religion: I was semi-raised Presbyterian. Started exploring various religions and cults in high school and college and found myself liking different aspects of Scientology and Buddhism. My personal belief system leans more towards the latter nowadays but I don't really categorize my belief system in any particular way.

Cooking philosophy:
Heck with the boowahs. Fix some vegetables.

Top “Top Chef” memorabilia: Don't have any. If I could have one thing, it would probably be Gail Simmons as a trophy wife.

Worst thing about TV stardom: Without a doubt, the groupies. Especially here in Lancaster County. The Amish are just horrible about it. I'm sorry, was I not clear? The lack of groupies is the worst thing. But that may have more to do with the lack of TV stardom I possess.

Always in fridge: Cottage cheese for myself and milk for the boowahs.

Worst meal he ever had: The worst time with food I ever had was in Kinston, North Carolina. Went there for a ballgame. The Holiday Inn was horrible and tried to pass off the above mentioned Jell-O cheesecake as homemade. The hot dogs at the ballpark were day-glo pink on the inside. Seriously, the color of the hot dog should never occur anywhere outside of the fallout zone of a nuclear blast. The best meal was at a Burger King where we got to talk to the incredibly tall (he was 6'7") witty and cynical Rod McCall in the parking lot while he waited for Pete Rose, Jr. to come out with his food.

Fitness routine: Crossfit, baby!!!!

Evening routine: My evenings are contingent on what I didn't get done during the day and what I feel like I have enough energy to do. Thus, they are unpredictable.

Obsolete item he won’t toss: My alto sax. It's more corrosion than metal and if I ever dared play it, it would sound awful. Plus, I have a wonderful tenor sax and have no need to play the alto. I won't toss it, though.

Best recent gift: My folks hooked me up with some new clothes for my birthday which were much needed.

Favorite cooking tool:
As mentioned before, my Kyocera ceramic knife is my favorite thing in my kitchen.

Least useful kitchen gadget:
One of the nice things about the divorce and moving out and starting a new home on my own was the ability (and necessity) to keep things simple. I don't have extraneous items. My dish drainer which I use when I hand wash dishes has all these multiple layers I don't know the purpose for. That would have to be my pick.

Best thing about job: I work in a library. One of my two favorite places to be (the other being the ballpark). Although I've only been a librarian for eight months, I haven't had a bad day. I've never walked into a library anywhere and didn't get a thrill out of it. I still get it every day when I go to work. Shame it took me this many years to make a career out of it.

Recipe inspiration: I'll get a hankering for a food and want to do something different with it.

Last meal would be: Fresh raspberries and veal piccata.

Travel ritual: Let someone else drive if at all possible.

Biggest self-indulgence: Peanut butter KandyKakes from Tastykake. I can't even get them anymore because I'll eat a whole box in a day. They would be my dessert for my last meal.

Favorite table decoration: Our table tends to be decorated with whatever hasn't been put away. School papers, empty bottles, folded clean clothes. My favorite decoration is a clear table.

Favorite movie: I can't pick one anymore. It used to be Real Genius because of the semi-biographical nature of the film (Val Kilmer's character Chris Knight was based on me. At least I think so). Wonder Boys is up there. The Sting. The Horse Whisperer. Those would be the big ones, I think.

Household issue he’s fussy about:
Everything. When you do it all, you have to be fussy.

Procrastination technique: Blogging instead of working on my homework.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Preakness picks

Same format as before (Horse, Post position, My odds, morning odds):

13: Flying Private, PP10, 99-1, 50-1
I developed a theory today to cover Mine That Bird's victory. Mine That Bird won because he's a cheap horse and hasn't been spoiled like most of the other Derby horses. Godolphin spent 2 million dollars on Desert Storm. Think Desert Storm is pampered? All the best food, temperature controlled facilities, flown in from overseas, the works? Mine That Bird cost less than $10,000 and drove to the Derby in a trailer from Arizona. Who might perform better in less than ideal conditions, the horse who has led the pampered life or the one that has been treated like a horse?

I make this point here because Flying Private is the most expensive horse in the Preakness, being sold for $700,000 at auction. I commented before the Derby that he had no heart. So how did the pampered horse with no heart fare in the wet mess of Churchill Downs? Dead last, 44 lengths back.

12: Luv Gov, PP4, 99-1, 50-1

The owners of Luv Gov are confused. Luv Gov won at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. The only thing is, he won a maiden special weight race that took place hours before the Kentucky Derby. So your horse wins his first race in ten attempts and now you think he's good enough for the Preakness? This will be Transfixed Ingress' horse here, methinks.

11: Friesan Fire, PP5, 99-1, 6-1

I didn't like Friesan in the Derby and the pros did and the public did. He finished a length ahead of Flying Private. So now the morning line has him as the third favorite? Huh?!?!?! He has to run better but there was no evidence that he was ready to run after the layoff at the Derby and a crap race and a good workout isn't going to make me think otherwise.

10: Tone It Down, PP12, 59-1, 50-1
I love Kent Desormeaux but I think it is a very questionable decision to have him replace local legend Mario Pino, the only jockey to ride Tone It Down in a race. Tone it Down is the only horse in this race to have raced on this track before. Tone It Down likes to be out front but starting right next to Rachel Alexandra, he won't be there long. I'm predicting 15 lengths behind Rachel at the end at a minimum.

9: General Quarters, PP8, 21-1, 20-1
I can see a third or fourth place finish out of General Quarters. I could see it better with a little more time off but the potential for a big run is there. There's just a lot of better horses in the race, though.

8: Terrain, PP6, 20-1, 30-1
Another one I can see in the money. With Leparoux taking General Quarters, Jeremy Rose gets to ride Terrain. Sort of the reverse of what Tone It Down's connections are doing. This could be a good longshot bet.

7: Take the Points, PP11, 16-1, 30-1

Twice Edgar Prado has ridden this horse, twice he has won. He's got the mount at Pimlico. Pletcher is putting blinkers on him for the first time which makes him VERRRRYY interesting. I think Take the Points is the fastest horse in this race. I don't think he can be the fastest horse for 1 3/16 miles. If this were a mile race, this would be my horse. But my odds say he can wire the field 1 out of 16 times. If you're going to get paid in the high 20's or 30-1+, you have to make this bet.

6: Mine That Bird, PP2, 14-1, 6-1
You have to respect the Derby he ran. But miracle worker Calvin Borel is riding Rachel Alexandra and this is going to be a much faster race than the Derby. You're not going to close from 20 lengths again and if you go back to the front running style, you're going to get creamed. I'm staying away.

5: Big Drama, PP1, 12-1, 10-1

Take the Points is going to be leading the race and Big Drama and Rachel Alexandra are going to be there if he falters. Edgar Coa is riding Musket Man instead of him and that means a lot to me. I also don't like the long layoff since the Swale Stakes and I'm leery about the blinkers coming off.

4: Musket Man, PP3, 8-1, 8-1
Ran a nice Derby in the muck but I think the pace ends up being too much for him as he'll be sitting behind Big Drama and Rachel Alexandra by a few lengths. My odds are in line with the morning odds which makes it unlikely that this will be a good value bet. Have to like him in the exotics, though.

3: Papa Clem, PP7, 8-1, 12-1
Also ran a nice Derby, finishing a shade behind Musket Man. Had a horrible workout yesterday and is in the middle of the pack. Needs a good run to win and Rafael Bejarano might get it for him.

2: Pioneerof the Nile, PP9, 8-1, 5-1
You can see that I have Musket Man, Papa Clem and Pioneer of the Nile all with the same odds. Needless to say, Papa Clem is the best value bet. Little story, here. Pioneerof the Nile's Dad is Empire Maker. The first Kentucky Derby wager I ever made was in 2003. I played an exacta box of Funny Cide and Empire Maker. That's the kind of bet that gets you hooked. Pioneerof the Nile is going to get bet down as people look for an alternative to Rachel Alexandra. He's one of the four best horses, no doubt. But I won't like the payoff.

1: Rachel Alexandra, PP13, 2-1, 8-5
People will be betting on her because she's female. People will be betting on her because she's good. People will be betting on her because she's the total package of speed and endurance. A third of the time she will win. Two-thirds of the time, one of the guys will. If you want to make some money, you'll take one of the guys.

Why might she not win? The big thing is the trainer change on short notice. That concerns me more than any gender issues which is what will concern other people. Not crazy about her Sunday workout time either.

So what's the bet? One of the top four horses is going to win this race 2/3 of the time. Papa Clem will likely give you the best payoff. I'm talking myself into Take the Points the more I think about it. If you're going to pay me 25-1, 30-1, or even more, yeah, I'll take the shot.

Kentucky Derby revisited again

Looking at the list of contenders for the Preakness (I know the actual runners have been announced but I'm waiting for post positions) and just marveling at how unusual the Derby was for so many horses. Witness:

Andrew Beyer, a noted horse racing handicapper and journalist came up with a number that somewhat normalizes how a horse runs a given race. If a horse runs an 80 and another runs a 75, the 80 is the better performance, even if the 80 was a slower time. This is due to track differences, distances, etc. It's a pretty good measure. I'll be talking about Beyer scores.

Advice - His Derby score was a 74, his second lowest score in seven races
Atomic Rain - His Derby was a 59, his second lowest score in eight races
Dunkirk - 77 is his lowest in four races
Flying Private - 41 is his second lowest in 11 races
Friesan Fire - lowest in eight races
Hold Me Back - second lowest in six races
Nowhere to Hide - lowest in nine races
West Side Bernie - second lowest in eight races

Again, this is the Kentucky Derby. Trainers are paid big bucks to have their horses prepared for and ready to peak in this race. And 8 of the 19 horses either ran their worst or second worst race of their careers.

As a matter of fact, only one of the horses in the Derby ran his best race ever. Care to venture a guess? Mine That Bird received a 105 score. His previous best was 81.

Early, pre-analysis pick. I think Rachel Alexandra is the best horse in the Preakness. Just slightly better than Dunkirk. Analysis tonight after I get home from work.

Kentucky Derby revisited

I'll be posting my Preakness picks later today but I wanted to take a look back at the Derby and get all defensive about the accusations of my long-time friend, Transfixed Ingress.

TI and I have been friends since we were eight years old. Three decades later, we're still conversing even if we haven't seen one another for awhile. I give him a little leeway in his almost always critical comments because I know that deep down he is resentful of my all-around awesomeness.

So even though he claims he won't be taking my advice on the Preakness, I know he's smarter than that and you should be, too. (I know you're smart because you choose to read this). Any horse race of nineteen horses has a lot of potential outcomes, especially in the slop that the Derby was run in and especially when the horse that won ran the race completely different from any race he ever ran before. Let's take a look at what I'm talking about, shall we?

The horse I had as the best horse in the race...Dunkirk? Here's his start:

Narrowly avoiding a face plant will do you in any day. He worked too hard to get back in with the leaders and just didn't have it.

How about some of the other horses? Did I know what I was talking about? Oh, I don't know:

Join in the Dance PP9
"Another front runner....." Lo and behold, there's #9 leading the race.

Desert Party PP19
Regal Ransom PP10
"Even though I think Regal is the better horse, I think he'll set the pace for Desert Party to stalk and finish strong." Oh, look at that. #10, Regal Ransom, up there leading the race and who is right there just a little off his shoulder but #19, Desert Party.

West Side Bernie PP1 "Closer who will be able to save ground from the pole." Sure enough, there's West Side Bernie on the pole near the back.

Hold Me Back PP5 "Hard closer who has looked good in 2009" And look who is right back there with Bernie, another closer.

Five of the six horses whose running style I mentioned in my post, I was right on the money. The sixth?

Mine That Bird, PP8 "Slow front runner who will get eaten up in this race."
What the hell was he doing all the way back there? Mine That Bird, notorious front runner, was 19th out of 19th horses. He fell back as much as 20 lengths behind the leaders before Calvin Borel's miracle run.

Do you know what the largest margin Mine That Bird had ever made up at any time in any race before the Kentucky Derby was? Four lengths. I can only use the best information I have available and there was nothing to suggest that this horse was going to show up for horse racing's biggest event, run a race in a manner he never had tried before, make up a deficit five times larger than any he had previously made up and defeat eighteen better horses. I even looked at wet track data and breeding. Nothing. This was about as unlikely a result as there could be. Which is why, of course, he paid 51-1.

So before you so cavalierly dismiss my picks, Mr. Transfixed Ingress, take a look and see if I was as wrong as you think. Put that in your Dr. Pepper and smoke some bacon.

Photos courtesy of The Blood-Horse.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Everything is Illuminated

Wow. I've been done this book for almost 48 hours and I still am at a loss for words. Wow. This could be my most favorite book of the year but I'm going to put it third. Good non-fiction just impacts me more. But It's easily one of the best works of fiction I've ever read. Definitely, top 20 and maybe top 10. I'd have to think about it and give it some time but it is just incredible.

This book was recommended to me by an incredibly young and pretty library patron. I have a James Bondesque weakness for women which is good in one way. If I'm ever in a situation where someone wants to extract information from me, they don't need to resort to torture at all. Just bring in an attractive woman and I'll break. But that's neither here not there. I mention it because it adds to the story and makes me feel better about myself because I still can entertain and be entertained by good-looking women. So there. I also mention it because she spoke so highly of the author, the tastefully named Jonathan Safran Foer, that I had to look into it (even if it was almost a month after she recommended him to me). If an attractive patron recommends Nora Roberts to me, I'm not going to read her, so maybe my weakness isn't kryptonite-level weakness.

Foer is amazing. This book, Everything is Illuminated, is his first and it was written while Foer was in his early twenties which is mind-boggling in a way and has made Foer the target of numerous spiteful authors and reviewers which is a shame.

The book is based on an actual event in Foer's life. After graduation from college, Foer journeyed to the Ukraine to research the life of his grandfather. Everything is Illuminated is somewhat about the journey and his grandfather.

The most unique aspect of this book is the style of it. There are three separate narratives that go on. One is the narrator's (Foer's) history of his grandfather (and many, many generations before that). The second is the story of Foer's journey as told by his Ukrainian translator. The third is a series of letters written by the translator to Foer discussing the other two narratives (the reader is led to believe that Foer is forwarding the sections of the book he writes to the translator and the translator responds in his letters although you never see any letters by Foer (or the narrator named Foer).

The two sections written by the translator are written in the Ukrainian equivalent of Spanglish (Ukrainglish?) which says a lot about Foer's writing skills. It is so well done. You can tell the translator is intelligent and eager to develop his English skills and there's the combination of the unusual formality that many non-native speakers adopt and mixed up or incomplete idioms.

That's novel but the portion where Foer writes as Foer is even more phenomenal. He has a tremendous gift for words and describes things so well. There are words that when I encountered them I felt that they were extraneous or maybe a Chabon-like ten-cent word but by the end of the sentence, or at worst, paragraph, I felt like the word was perfectly selected.

As I got close to the end, I was preparing for disappointment because I didn't think it could possibly wrap up well. I was wrong. I was left teary-eyed and fulfilled at the end. Again, just amazing.

The book jerks your emotions around. The history of Foer's family is filled with tragedy which even provokes the Ukrainian translator to question why Foer is making it so sad. You're writing it, you can make it whatever you want. You can make happy endings. Foer doesn't. While the Foer part is sad, the Ukrainian portion is witty. Especially the completely unnecessary flatulent dog that belongs to the translator, Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior. Sammy Davis, Jr., Jr. is a perfect example of what I liked about Foer's writing. The dog is absolutely not necessary for the progress of the story. Done poorly, it could be a hindrance to the story and be a noticeably awkward means to generate a few laughs. Foer does it right. The dog, just like the language, flows so wonderfully and fits in perfectly.

I can't recommend this book enough.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gospel sax

Decades ago I came across the music of Dr. Vernard Johnson, a gospel saxophonist (if you can believe there is such a thing).

As I was thinking of what (if anything) to post today I thought "What better choice of music on a Sunday than some gospel"? So here you go.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why Dr. Pepper tastes like crap

In this story about a guy finding a notebook containing a formula for something called "D Peppers Pepsin Bitters" there's this wonderful line:

"It isn't a recipe for a soft drink, says Greg Artkop, a spokesman for the Plano-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group. He said it's likely instead a recipe for a bitter digestive that bears the Dr Pepper name.

He said the recipe certainly bears no resemblance to any Dr Pepper recipes the company knows of. The drink's 23-flavor blend is a closely guarded secret, only known by three Dr Pepper employees, he said."

23 flavors?!?!?! Here's an idea. Take away twenty of them and make something tasty.

And what is it with these soft drink companies and their need to have their secret formulas known by only a few people? Coke advertises that only two guys know that formula. Dr Pepper has three. What does that mean exactly? Do these guys concoct each batch individually? Come on, machines measure it all and make it. You need zero guys to know the formula. And in the case of Dr. Pepper, a good case of amnesia would be good for us all.

Speaking of which....Dr. Pepper guys, if you're reading this after a bout of amnesia, the flavors are pineapple, coconut and rum.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Group of 79 Project - Ken Phelps

The Group of 79 Project continues this week with Ken Phelps.

Common theme here. I liked Ken Phelps when he was playing. I never understood how a guy with this much power couldn't get a full-time job in the majors. He was drafted by four teams. So as an amateur he was much desired. In the majors, however, his skill set was not appreciated and much maligned, much like that Adam Dunn character of which I'm so fond. Phelps didn't hit for average and walked and struck out a lot. The three seasons in which he got a ton of playing time, he hit over twenty homers and had an OBP over .400.

Lest you think that we are much more modernized and knowledgeable these days, check out native Hawaiian Kila Ka'aihue. He's been in a power drought of late but he's another one of the brand of players who walks and strikes out a ton with a low average and a lot of power. And there he sits in the minors.

Returning to Mr. Phelps, I sent him a couple of cards recently which he signed and added a Bible verse inscription. The card I did not scan has John 3:16. If you watched a football game in the 1980's, you're already familiar with that excerpt (and if you didn't, well, swing by a church or hotel or Google and check it out).

An aside...don't you miss scripture signs at games? A friend of mine had end zone seats for one of the Eagles playoff games this past season and I tried to get her to take a sign that read Matthew 1:9 because I thought it would be fun to have people scrambling for their Bibles and looking up that verse and going "Huh?" but she wouldn't do it. No fun.

Returning to Ken Phelps and his quote, John 14:6 reads "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Here's where the Scientologists let me down. You don't here them quoting L. Ron Hubbard like the Bible gets quoted. Wouldn't the scene in The Shawshank Redemption where the warden tosses Andy's cell been different if Andy had been reading Dianetics? "The scientific fact, observed and tested, is that the organism, in the presence of physical pain, lets the analyzer get knocked out of circuit so that there is a limited quantity or no quantity at all of personal awareness as a unit organism". Salvation lies within.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A trio of books

Somehow I wrapped up three books this week. One I read entirely this week, one has covered two weeks and another four. This is the downside of working at a library. I'm always seeing things I want to read and I'll often sign them out. Then I find myself reading four or five books at a time (not at the same time. I don't hold one in each hand, one in each foot and another with (hey! get your mind out of the gutter!) some other means of propping up a book). Granted, I have the coordination and the high degree of ambidexterity needed to pull it off. I'm just missing the detached eyeballs and the extra pair of them.

I will keep books accessible everywhere which helps in getting reading done. Let's get to the reviews.

I've always wanted to read a book by Chuck Palahniuk and having just read Neil Strauss' concerns about the collapse of society, I thought Fight Club would be a good read. I enjoyed the movie immensely and books are always better than movies so I was expecting it to be awesome.

Not the case.

One of the reasons I like books better than movies is because you're treated to the workings of the mind much better in a book. You can only glean so much from facial expressions and narrator expositions. I honestly think that Fight Club the movie captures the essences of the characters better than the book does. The storylines are different, too. It's like the screenplay writer took scenes from the book and reworked them. I also felt that the movie captured the essence of a fight club better than the book did. The book is almost more about the pursuit of Marla which makes for a rather wacked love story. It also touches on themes of bad fathers which I'm glad the movie left out. I just think the concept of fight club-like organizations make more sense for a bunch of anarchists than for guys raised by single moms.

I do like Palahniuk's prose. It's sparse. He relies on repetition to infer that something isn't quite right with the narrator before we get the whole truth on his relationship with Tyler Durden. I can see myself picking up another one of his books down the road.

There's also mention of a desire to wipe one' posterior with the Mona Lisa. This may not be an easy feat. Perhaps it was easier in 1911.

Why 1911? Because that was the year that contained the day they stole the Mona Lisa. And The Day They Stole the Mona Lisa by Seymour Reit is about that day and the theft.

This book has been on my to read list for a long, long time and I was never able to find it. Published in 1981, it is long out of print and somehow I either missed it before in my library system or forgot to look for it until recently. Again, riding the crime wave of books I'm on, I checked it out.

The timing is surprising as there was an announcement last week that the book may be made into a movie. Strange that it popped up twice in my life like that.

The book is a (possibly) non-fiction account of the theft of the Mona Lisa. The story goes that a wealthy Argentinian, Eduardo de Valfierno, who dealt in art forgeries to keep himself wealthy got it in his head to steal the Mona Lisa. His typical game was to have a forger create a copy of some work of art. He would then bribe a museum guard to let him insert his copy behind the original in the museum. Valfierno would then bring his target to the museum and proclaim that he would steal the painting for the person and that they should go ahead and mark the back of the painting (which would be the back of the copy covering the back of the original) so that the target would know it is the actual painting that hung in the museum or gallery. Valfierno would then bribe the guard again, remove the copy with the mark on it, and then sell it to the target as the original. Valfierno would explain that what hung in the gallery was a fake because the museum would not want the public to know that it was stolen. Besides, what is the target going to do, go to the police?

Valfierno felt that it would be more profitable to actually steal a famed original and then rely on the large publicity surrounding the theft as his "proof" that the painting he had for sale was the original. He would still sell forgeries, however, in this case a half dozen of them.

Valfierno hires a trio of men who enter the Louvre as tourists, hide out in the museum after it closes, and then walk out with the painting disguised as weekend cleaning crew. The one man, Peruggia, keeps the painting hidden in a trunk for years while Valfierno supposedly sells his forgeries abroad to wealthy collectors.

Valfierno never returns to France and the fellow who stole the Mona Lisa decides to try and sell it to a museum in Italy a couple of years later. The museum, of course, calls the cops and the guy is arrested. An Italian himself, Peruggia tells how he was seduced by the Mona Lisa's smile and that he decided to return the painting to it's true home in Italy. He is tried in an Italian court and by this point, no one really cares so he's let off with a light sentence. The painting is returned to France and all is well.

The problem is, there's no proof that Valfierno ever existed. The entire story is based on an article a man by the name of Karl Decker wrote in the Saturday Evening Post. Decker interviewed this man numerous times but that is the entirety of the information on the person. Valfierno's forger also lacks any confirmation of existence which makes the whole story questionable outside of Peruggia's brazenness.

The final chapters of the book deal with the question of the legitimacy of the Mona Lisa, both before and after the theft, and is a fascinating story in and of itself. The Mona Lisa is not signed and so there is nothing to attribute it to DaVinci other than the beliefs of scholars after the fact. Reit looks at the little existing documentation of the era and comes to the conclusion that DaVinci did paint it and at least one other Mona Lisa which is in the hands of a private American collector.

It is interesting to think of forgeries and documentation and the passing of time. Who knows who painted the Mona Lisa that hangs in the Louvre. Who knows how art created in our era will be viewed five hundred years from now. Perhaps the tunes of the Beatles will be attributed to one of their many cover bands. Samantha Fox will be known for her hit Satisfaction. Fun to think about.

The last book completed this week was The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry. It is a very unusual detective story that included much more somnambulism than The Somnambulist did. Although unique, I couldn't really care much about it. The story takes place in an unnamed city in an unnamed place. Crime is handled by a group called The Agency which has many tiers, none of which are allowed to communicate with one another. A clerk, whose sole job is to type up the notes of solved crimes by detectives, finds himself unwillingly promoted to detective, presumably to discover what happened to the detective whose cases he was in charge of typing up. This detective has vanished. As the clerk explores more and more, again unwillingly, he finds that all the cases the detective supposedly solved were staged to make the detective seem like he solved them. More and more of these cases are revealed until we learn that some bad guys are trying to get away with something.

While the revelations and concepts are interesting in their uniqueness, the book itself is confusing and the characters, the place, the time, etc. lack any reason for caring about them. It's like reading about some ugly woman from Great Britain who can sing but probably hasn't been kissed. Who cares about that? Bad example. For some reason lots of people seem to care about that. OK, it's like a political figure decides to buy a pet for his children. I mean, really, why is that of interest to the world in general? Oh. Another poor choice for an example.

So maybe this is a much better book than I give it credit for being. It is unusual. I just don't think it's unusual enough to be interesting without having a character captivating enough to care about.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why Retrosheet is bad for baseball

Let me start off that I don't have a beef with Retrosheet whatsoever. I've been a part of Retrosheet for many, many years and have known Dave Smith, the founder, since I was back in high school. I think Retrosheet has been one of the biggest advancements in how we understand and appreciate the history of the game in some time.

For those not familiar, Retrosheet is a volunteer effort coordinated by the above mentioned Dave Smith to computerize the play-by-play of as many pre-1984 baseball games as possible. Why 1984? Because that's when Project Scoresheet and then STATS began tracking play-by-play and making it available to the general public. Initially, in order to achieve this, Smith contacted the major league teams to see what they had in terms of scoresheets from games. The results were mixed but once he got his foot in the door, it soon opened wide. Scoresheets came from media outlets, official scorers and even fans donated sheets. A lot of information was found in play-play-play reports from newspapers and eventually, play-by-play existed for almost every game back to 1954.

All this information was made accessible by Sean Forman and his website Baseball Reference and this is where my beef begins. So many people get their information from there and use that to find stuff that it is becoming commonplace to act as if the beginning of baseball history was 1954.

Take this example from Kansas City Star sportswriter Joe Posnanski. He writes about cycles and just says "that's how far we are going back" meaning "that's all the data Retrosheet has and I'm being lazy enough to not do any research of my own besides using the Baseball Reference Play Index and also mention Retrosheet or Baseball Reference".

And I'm not picking on Joe, whose writings I enjoy immensely. This phenomenon is just becoming more and more rampant and Joe's is one of the more recent examples I've seen of it.

I also don't have a solution. Retrosheet has added boxscores from the games from the 1920's but that won't help as people certainly aren't going to begin citing "That's the most times that has happened since 1954 or in the 1920's". It's just frustrating that the ease of Baseball Reference is creating this arbitrary baseball history starting point.

As I mentioned before, I have an intent on increasing the scope of my own cycle research and so perhaps I can help in one small way. That doesn't do any good for other events but maybe it will open some eyes that there was more professional baseball played that Retrosheet doesn't have data for than that for which it does.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Return of NASCAR

Got out to Target for some birthday shopping and picked up some Press Pass NASCAR cards.

7 of 36 NSCS Drivers
1 of 12 NNS Drivers
2 of 6 NCTS Drivers
3 of 12 Built for Speed
4 of 12 Nascar Scene
3 of 8 Looking Forward (+1 double)
2 of 11 Tony Stewart - 10 Year Retrospective
2 of 9 Joey Logano - Through the Years
3 of 12 Top 12

7 blue parallels - 3 NSCS, 1 Built for Speed, 2 Scene, 1 Looking Forward
4 Freeze Frames
1 Trading Paint
1 Unleashed
and two Target cards

Total cards:
23 of 36 NSCS Drivers
8 of 12 NNS Drivers
3 of 6 NCTS Drivers
11 of 12 Built for Speed
9 of 12 Nascar Scene
6 of 8 Looking Forward
9 of 11 Tony Stewart - 10 Year Retrospective
4 of 9 Joey Logano - Through the Years
9 of 12 Top 12

14 of 36 Freeze Frames
4 of 12 Unleashed
5 of 9 Trading Paints
37 Blue parallels of 120