Sunday, April 29, 2007

Buccaneer Draft

1. Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson
2. Arron Sears, G, Tennessee
2. Sabby Piscitelli, S, Oregon State
3. Quincy Black, LB, Utah State
4. Tanard Jackson, CB, Syracuse
5. Greg Peterson, DT, North Carolina Central
6. Adam Hayward, LB, Portland State
7. Chris Denman, T, Fresno State
7. Marcus Hamilton, CB, Virginia
7. Kenneth Darby, RB, Alabama

The last four are probably training camp fodder unless I misread the Bucs' depth. Denman might hang on to back up Jeremy Trueblood at right tackle.

Piscitelli has a good shot at intriguing Buccaneer fans. The guy resembles John Lynch at safety. No, I'm not saying he is John Lynch. He just has the same build and the same way of hitting, based on a few choice college highlights.
There are two instant differences from Lynch. Piscitelli has a rep for missing tackles, but he's also faster than Lynch. If Piscitelli can learn to tackle better, he could become immensely popular starting at safety for the Bucs.

Gaines Adams is a tough read. I see him as the best available option for the Bucs to boost their rush on the outside--but I'm not supremely confident that Adams will turn into a star or anything. That's what I'll hope for, of course. He's a step slower than Simeon Rice; other than that they're very similar athletically.

Arron Sears was an interesting choice in the second round. The Bucs have put plenty of bucks into offensive linemen, lately. The drafting of Sears makes it look like the Bucs are very serious about converting Dan Buenning into a center.
Should be interesting times on the offensive line this year.
On the downside, they need to settle on a starting lineup before the group is going to gel and get its teamwork down.

When the Bucs won the Superbowl, the offensive line avoided serious injuries.
The next time that happened, the Bucs won the division (losing in the playoffs to the Redskins).

Quincy Black is one of the best athletes in the draft, but he has a rep for lacking game instinct.
I'm not sure that's something that can be taught. If Black gets the knack for football, he may turn into a great cover-2 linebacker. He's got insane speed for the position, by all accounts. If he doesn't acquire some instincts, then maybe he's destined to become a special teams ace.

The Bucs hedged their bets on Piscitelli by drafting Tanard Jackson out of Syracuse. Jackson is listed as a corner, but the Bucs apparently project him as a safety with nickel corner flexibility (Dwight Smith type).

Perhaps the Bucs' biggest need heading into the offseason was a defensive tackle who can penetrate and disrupt. They picked up free agent defensive end Kevin Carter, who has the size to move inside in a 4-3 scheme. That's not the impact I was hoping for. Peterson in the 5th round was the attempt to address the need in the draft.
Peterson is one of those roll-the-dice projects. He's a bit on the smallish side for a defensive tackle, but he has the initial burst that can lead to Warren Sapp-style disruption. Peterson will probably be expected to add a few muscular pounds while maintaining his speed off the center snap. I wish him the best.
The Bucs drafted one of the best nose-tackles in team history with a late-round draft pick back when the draft went on for almost twice as many rounds as it does today. Yes, I'm talking about Dave Logan--12th round pick Dave Logan. Maybe Peterson will turn out to be the guy the defense needs in the front four.

Rays bounce back from 2-game sweep by Angels, take 2 of 3 from A's

The Angels clubbed Devil Ray pitching but good, feasting on Edwin Jackson and Jae Seo before the middle relievers even had a chance to enlarge their ERAs.

The Rays got some nice pitching performances from James Shields (8 innings, 1 earned run) and Scott Kazmir (7 innings, 2 earned runs) to best the A's in the first and third games of their three game series.

B. J. Upton has continued to prosper at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a home run.

Casey Fossum took the lone loss to the A's in this series. He gave up six runs in the first inning.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bucs pick Gaines Adams with No. 4 pick in NFL Draft

After QB Russell went to the Raiders, the next two picks were fairly predictable since the next two players were projected as immediately dominant at their positions.

The Bucs ended up drafting for need instead of for the best athlete. The Bucs' pass rush was awful last year, and Adams is the best pass rusher in the draft. The pick is a little bit of a reach in terms of value--but that's the same thing that would happen if another team traded up. Nobody was going to give the Bucs much to move to No. 4.

Adams supposedly doesn't work hard against the run. That remains to be seen.

Nobody knows how good a draft is, really, until several years down the line. If Adams produces on the field--good first round pick!

It's worth mentioning that anything might still happen today. It may be that that Lions have some interest in picking up Brian Kelly and Simeon Rice, and the could probably have both plus a draft pick in return for Calvin Johnson.

Maybe the Lions really do want another high-round WR in their stable--I don't pretend to know. It wouldn't surprise me if Rod Marinelli were interested in having two solid defenders from the team he once coached, however.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rays Sweep Yankees

That's the beauty of a two-game series.

It's odd how well the Rays seem to match up with New York. The Rays won the season series in 2005 from the Yankees and managed to steal a few from New York last year despite some injuries the Rays could ill afford (lost slugger Jonny Gomes to a shoulder injury after a torrid start, and second-tier slugging infielder Ty Wigginton for a number of games late in the season).

On the downside, the Rays lost third baseman Iwanura to a strained oblique.

I thought his at-bat against Mariano Rivera looked suspiciously pathetic (swing & miss x3). Turns out there was a reason for it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Rays top Yankees, 10-8

Alex Rodriquez clubbed a couple of homers, but the Rays downed the Yankees at Tropicana Field.
A win over the Yankees is always sweet. It was nice seeing the shots of Yankee fans at the Trop looking on with two out in the ninth and two strikes on their final hope.
Al Reyes struck out Melky Cabrera with a fastball up and in (over the plate, though, by my reckoning) to record the final out. Not that it had to be over the plate. Cabrera swung and missed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Criswell predicts: Hollywood suicide

I predict that a young Hollywood actor will culminate his career as a rebel by suicide during the first few months of 1968.
--The Amazing Criswell

Well,if we allow plenty of leeway for "young" this one would certainly pass for part of the "87% of Criswell's predictions have come true!" blurb on the back cover.

Nick Adams
Birth: Jul. 10, 1931
Luzerne County
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Feb. 6, 1968
Beverly Hills
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Actor. He is best remembered for his role of 'Johnny Yuma' in the television western series "The Rebel" (1959 to 1962). The studios molded his acting persona in the same "troubled young man" persona as his close friend, actor James Dean.

On the other hand, Criswell's book was published in the same year (1968), so it is conceivable that Adams was dead before Criswell made the prediction. And even if that wasn't the case, Adams had descended to working on exactly the same type of low-budget films that Criswell himself worked on. Criswell may well have known Adams to the point of knowing that he contemplated suicide.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Enjoying it while it lasts

Tampa Bay 2 1 .667 -
Boston 2 2 .500 0.5
NY Yankees 1 2 .333 1.0
Toronto 1 2 .333 1.0
Baltimore 1 3 .250 1.5

MSM continues to massage public opinion on pre-war Iraq

John Hinderaker of the Powerline blog posted an excellent piece of media criticism here.

Hinderaker quotes the Washington Post and then quotes from the source of the Post's information--it doesn't look like a match.

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.
(the Washington Post)
And the source of the "all confirmed" phrasing (from a footnote in the report, as provided by Hinderaker--I haven't been able to link to the source document):

Noteworthy is that post-war debriefs of Saddam Hussein, Tariq Aziz, al-Tikriti and al-Libi as well as document exploitation by DIA all confirmed that the Intelligence Community [b]was correct: Iraq and al-Qaeda did not cooperate in all categories.[/b] The terms the Intelligence Community used to describe the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda were validated, "no conclusive signs," and "direct cooperation...has not been established."

And this is how various dailies around the country fix the headline:

The Cleveland Plain Dealer:
"Report: Saddam not linked to al-Qaida"

The Pioneer Press:
"Pentagon debunks Saddam ties to al-Qaida"

The Kansas City Star:
"Report disputes prewar link
Hussein and al-Qaida were not directly cooperating before Iraq invasion, text shows."

Not every headline is as misleading as those above.

The Register-Guard (Oregon):
Report: Iraq, al-Qaeda contact limited

That's quite an improvement on the Post version, actually!

The story by Smith goes on to take a whack at Vice President Cheney concerning his statements that the current war in Iraq represents a struggle against al Qaida.
If that isn't a non sequitur then there's no such thing.

And the Post compounds the illogic with a Dan Froomkin column blasting Cheney based on their own inept reporting.

Cheney Sticks to His Delusions

Special to
Friday, April 6, 2007; 1:20 PM

Faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, even President Bush has backed off his earlier inflammatory assertions about links between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

But Vice President Cheney yesterday, in an interview with right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, continued to stick to his delusional guns.

Inflammatory assertions by Bush? A pity Froomkin offers no examples.

Cheney told Limbaugh that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was leading al-Qaeda operations in Iraq before the U.S. invasion in March 2003.

"[A]fter we went into Afghanistan and shut him down there, he went to Baghdad, took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq; organized the al-Qaeda operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene, and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June. He's the guy who arranged the bombing of the Samarra Mosque that precipitated the sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni. This is al-Qaeda operating in Iraq," Cheney said. "And as I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq." (Think Progress has the audio clip.)

(The Washington Post)

Same total lack of logic, here.
It's a leap worthy of Superman, albeit a leap of illogical thinking rather than a single bound over a tall Metropolis building.
Froomkin starts out by saying that links between Hussein and al Qaida have been discredited, and then mocks Cheney for not being up to speed. The smoking gun is a statement by Cheney that does not refer to any collaboration between the Iraqi government and al Qaida.

As Bugs Bunny would say: "What a maroon."

Not your finest moment, Froomkin.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Criswell predicts: Space Stations

The U.S. and Russia will, separately and jointly, during the 1970's [sic] begin to set up space stations. Progress will be slow until the late 1970's [sic] when discovery of anti-magnetism-forces will free man from the laws of gravity and make space travel without rocket propulsion possible.
--The Amazing Criswell

And he got off to such a good start on this one!

Criswell continued:
When the Earth is destroyed on August 18, 1999, these space colonists will be the only Earth-humans left in the universe.


Not a perfect match, but it is interesting to note that Moonbase Alpha got blown out of Earth orbit in September, the month after Criswell's end-of-the-world prediction.

Rays tie Yankees in NL East race

It's not quite fair that I'm writing about baseball again after completely ignoring the Tampa Bay Lightning, especially since the Lightning are making a nice push for the Southern Division crown, nipping at the heels of the Atlanta Thrashers.

Unfortunately, I fear the Lightning aren't going far in the playoffs. Holmquist and Denis just haven't played well enough to produce high playoff expectations. I don't count the Lightning out, since a goaltender can hit a hot streak, but playoff wins usually go to teams with good goaltending.

It helps even things out that I'm leading off with hockey in a baseball post, I hope.

I can't stand the Yankees!
Just to get that out of the way.

The Rays beat the Yankees amid snow flurries in New York. The Rays' pitching was shaky, but New York's pitching wasn't much better plus the Bronx Bombers made oodles of mistakes in the field, including a couple of pitches that got away toward the backstop, allowing TB runners to score runs.
Nearly every loss by the Yankees is satisfying, and it's that much better when the loss comes to the hometown team, which isn't very good.

I don't want to knock the Rays too much, though. The pitching almost certainly isn't good enough as it stands to support a .500 season, but the team around the mound is pretty decent.
Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young might be head cases, but they sure are talented athletes. Dukes scorched a flat liner tonight that probably didn't get 25 feet over the field of play at its apex before leaving the park for a home run. It may have been lower than that. It was one of the flattest homers I've ever seen.
Go Rays. Boo Yankees.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Washington Post, with a smackdown of House Majority Leader Pelosi

Pratfall in Damascus

Nancy Pelosi's foolish shuttle diplomacy

Thursday, April 5, 2007; Page A16

HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered an excellent demonstration yesterday of why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the secretary of state when traveling abroad. After a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Ms. Pelosi announced that she had delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that "Israel was ready to engage in peace talks" with Syria. What's more, she added, Mr. Assad was ready to "resume the peace process" as well. Having announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough, Ms. Pelosi suggested that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy was just getting started. "We expressed our interest in using our good offices in promoting peace between Israel and Syria," she said.

Only one problem: The Israeli prime minister entrusted Ms. Pelosi with no such message. "What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel," said a statement quickly issued by the prime minister's office. In fact, Mr. Olmert told Ms. Pelosi that "a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar Assad, there is no change in the position of his country regarding a possible peace process with Israel." In other words, Ms. Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel's position but was virtually alone in failing to discern that Mr. Assad's words were mere propaganda.

It's a good read.

Pelosi blew it big-time, and so did some Republicans who visited Syria recently (though the latter apparently didn't deliver inaccurate messages on behalf of Israel).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Our friends, the wonderful U.N.

How corrupt is the United Nations?

UNITED NATIONS — As federal investigators examine how the leading U.N. agency in North Korea illegally kept 35 counterfeit American $100 bills in its possession for 12 years, documents indicate that more officials were aware of the existence of the fake currency — and earlier — than the agency has reported.

Spokesmen for the United Nations Development Program have said top officials at the agency's New York headquarters learned in February that their safe in Pyongyang contained the counterfeit bills and immediately reported it to American authorities. But several documents shown recently to The New York Sun indicate that higher-ups knew much earlier that the safe held counterfeit money.

(The New York Sun)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Criswell predicts: Medicine: 1982

Before we get into Criswell's next past future prediction, I was watching the Jamie Kennedy Experiment the other night, and Kennedy dressed up so that he could sit inside one of those fortune-telling machines for one of his hidden camera gags.

The name Kennedy chose for his fortune-telling alter-ego?


More than a coincidence, I think.

Now, forward to the past:
I predict that by 1982, that a full medical education will require six months of study. The reason for the shortening of medical education is simple: Everything in medicine will be automated, and a course to qualify one as a medical doctor will require only knowledge of how to operate the proper computers and other equipment.
--The Amazing Criswell

Not a whole great deal of medicine is automated even now in 2007. Sure, orthopods sometimes use robots to prepare hips and knees for a prosthesis, but that's the exception and it hasn't shrunk medical training noticeably.
I think it's worth recalling some dialogue from the film "Ed Wood" at this point.

Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Say, Cris, how'd you know we'd be
living on Mars by ... ?

The Amazing Criswell: I guessed.

Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Really?

The Amazing Criswell: I made it up.

Criswell, in his prediction about medicine, went on to say
Doctors themselves will be looked upon as merely public servants of the government, who will license the doctor and set fees for him, exactly as they will for plumbers, carpenterss, and sewer workers.

If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in 2008, maybe.

Russian scientist: Iran should be stopped

Say what?

MOSCOW: Russia’s leading nuclear scientist said on Monday that it was just a question of time before Iran developed a nuclear weapon and it should be stopped.

The Islamic republic, facing a showdown with the United States over its nuclear ambitions, clearly has the know-how to make atomic weapons, said Yevgeny Velikhov, a leading physicist and close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(The News)
Considering that nobody helped Iran along toward nuclear technology more than Russia (unless we count the USSR separately), that's a terrific observation to make.

I wonder if Putin will have this scientist poisoned for shooting off his mouth?