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2005-04-11 - 11:35 a.m.

Mmmm... Beer...

We brewed on Saturday night and it went VERY smoothly. I was a little stunned since usually we forget to do at least one thing and then have to run around fixing it and it takes way longer than it should. For instance, the time I tried to bottle alone, I spilled far more beer on the floor than I can even admit to myself (and the dog licked it up before I could do anything about it. I guess it's good that he's large and has enough body weight to be able to handle that much beer) -- and we've now tasted that beer and are just sick about spilling so much because DAMN. It is some GOOD BEER. And no, I don't feel bad about bragging because WOW. But since I was Spilly McDripsALot, we don't have enough beer to be able to be generous and are now hoarding this batch and snarling at people who innocently say, "Hey, can I try one of these?" NO! HANDS OFF! We should just make more, you say? Good idea. But I don't guarantee that we'll be any more generous.

Swear to tell the whole truth?

I'm a fake witness in my husband's fake trial for his (real) final exam! I've done this before and it's pretty fun, but there's a bit of added pressure when his grade is contingent on this one mock trial and I have to do well or he'll look like he didn't prep me well enough. He did, and I don't think I'll have problems with knowing my part, but I'll use any excuse to get nervous. I mean, really. The other problem is that I really hate getting cross-examined (the best technique is to just answer truthfully with one word answers and let your own lawyer fix any damage on re-direct. Don't try to fix the damage yourself, because you'll end up doing something wrong) -- even though it's all pretend, that doesn't mean that I like hearing my (fake) business get called (theoretically) irresponsible and unsafe. Jerk! I think it's because I have a personality that is REPELLED by conflict of any kind. I hate fighting, arguing, being around others who are fighting, etc. Even when people are arguing on their cell phones on public transit. I can't deal with it. Is it too much to ask for everyone to just be friends? Jeez.

In the absence of anything interesting to say... are some links. But good ones.

Planning on naming your kid something unique? Please read this cautionary website before proceeding. Also, here is a much more scientific analysis of what people do to their babies. (Poor babies!)

This site is fascinating. It's a collection of art (poems, drawings, photos, etc.) that you have to check each day because each entry is shown once and then is hidden and can't be accessed again. They update once each weekday, and you can use an RSS reader to check it. (don't ask me what that means because I know more about HTML than I do about RSS. And that's really sad.)

Baseball for Casual Fans: Installment #2

Overview: The DH (Designated Hitter) rule has caused quite a divide among baseball fans. It is also the most visible difference between the American and National Leagues.

Background: The batting order is set at the beginning of the game and can only be changed by taking a player out of the game and replacing him with a different player.

Let's say you're managing the Cubs. Even if you would LOVE to have Aramis Ramirez come up when the bases are loaded instead of Jason DuBois, if it's not his turn yet you're screwed. On the other hand, if Jason is up and you're pretty sure that someone one the bench (lets say Jose Macias) has this pitcher's number (maybe he has gotten a hit off of this guy 8 of the last 10 times he's faced him), you can take Jason out and put Jose in his place. This means two things. First, it's just a replacement at this one spot. Everyone else stays the same in the order. Second, if Jason was playing right field, Jose will now be playing right field. Jason gets taken out completely and he can't go back into that game at all.

Now, normally this kind of switching takes place because the pitcher's spot is due up. Pitchers aren't generally as good at hitting (for a few reasons, but it's pretty safe to assume that the pitcher won't be as good at hitting as another playing on the team), and so the switch gets a little bit more complicated. Let's continue using the above example:

Greg Maddux has thrown about 7 innings. He's starting to look tired, so you were thinking about replacing him with a different pitcher anyway pretty soon. His spot is due up in the batting order. You decide to replace him with Jose Macias since he's more likely to get a hit. But then what do you do? You can't send Jose out to pitch (well, I guess you could, but DON'T). Your next plan is to take Jose out right after the 3rd out of that inning. That way you can replace him with a pitcher (say, Glendon Rusch) who will then take Jose's place in the batting order then next time they're up to bat.

At its most basic, the rule is simply that the batting order is constant. If you change something in the batting order, it also affects the players on defense, and you can't use people again once you've taken them out of the game.

With the DH rule, the pitcher is always replaced by someone who doesn't play defense, they just hit. Every inning, the pitcher walks off of the field, sits in the dugout, and watches someone else (the DH) hit in his slot. The DH sits in the dugout the entire time that he's not batting and watches the rest of the team play defense.

The argument for the DH rule is pretty simple -- without the pitcher, the teams are more likely to score more runs. The pitcher is usually an easy out, so if you replace him with a talented hitter you gain more power. To some, this makes baseball more fun to watch.

To others, it makes baseball less interesting. The DH rule means that there are fewer substitutions and you're less likely to have to create a strategy around these substitutions. For instance:
-If your pitcher is getting hit really hard, but his spot is due up first in the batting order, you have to choose between replacing him now and wasting a great chance to substitute a pinch hitter OR waiting for the end of the inning and potentially giving up lots of runs because the pitcher is not doing well.

It can also be a problem when teams from the two leagues face each other. An American League team loses a good hitter (and their pitchers probably haven't done any hitting since they played in high school), and a National League team gets to add a hitter. Surprisingly, the NL team is still often at a disadvantage because they're used to using certain strategies that AL teams don't use.

So, the next time your friends are talking about how wonderful the Yankees are and you're a casual Cubs (or any NL team) fan, my advice would be to let them know that the AL is vastly inferior to the NL (and I say this as a Tigers fan as well) because the DH rule prevents managers from having to strategize as much. So they're sacrificing the intelligence of the game for more power. That will impress them -- even if they don't agree with you.

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