Sunday, October 10, 2010

An Open Letter to the Twins of Minnesota

Dear Twins management, coaches, and players,
This year was supposed to be the year. With the stacked outfield, the M&M boys, the best manager in baseball, the health of Francisco Liriano, and the addition of J.J. Hardy, you were poised to become not just the class of the AL Central, but all of MLB. As the season progressed, anytime the wheels fell off, Gardy righted the ship and the team miraculously got better. Nathan out for the season? No problem. Jon Rauch pitches out of his mind. No production from your third basemen? Just promote Valencia and watch him explode as a rookie. Bullpen start breaking down? Go get Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes. Lose Morneau for the rest of the season? Put Cuddyer at first base. With all the setbacks, it seemed as if you only got better. In the end, you coasted to a AL Central win (by 6 games), the third best record in the American League (behind the Rays and Yankees), and home field advantage for the ALDS. Things were looking up.

Your first round foe? The hated New York Yankees. The bane of my existence. The devil in pinstripes. I have been a Twins fan my entire life. I know the history. I thought this year would be different. Instead it was the same old crap. There are two possible explanations for your horrendous collapse.

  1. You guys are the modern day Black Sox. Despite the fact that the your payroll is now in the top third of the league, you feel like you are underpaid. Once the Steinbrenner family added several of you guys to their payroll (most notably Jesse Crain), the series took care of itself. Spot bonuses were also given for blowing chances with RISP and errors in the field.
  2. The Yankees apparently kidnapped all your wives/children/girlfriends/parents and would only release them after you lost the series. Thankfully, your families are all safe now after laying down and handing the Yankees a trip to the ALCS. 
I hate to break it to you guys, but the Yankees are just a baseball team. They did not kidnap your loved ones. They will not kill you if you stand up to them. They are a team of baseball players who get paid ridiculous amounts of money to do the exact same thing you do. Remember this next year when you face them yet again in the post-season. Maybe knowing this can help you avoid another freaking sweep. 

All the best.
Your number one fan in CO,

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Baseball Quiz Time

Last night, we had the pleasure of watching the Rockies give away a victory to the Houston Astros late in the game. It was stupendous. But mostly terrible. However, this was not the worst part of the game. The worst part of the game was the guy who sits behind us for 12 games out of the year. He is a old curmudgeon who has admitted that he never played baseball, yet constantly tells us why we are wrong about the strategy of the game. Last night, he took it to a new level. First, let's set the scene.

The Rockies were down by one run (4-3) in the bottom of the 9th. After getting the first out, Ian Stewart is sent in to pinch hit for Clint Barmes against the right handed closer Matt Lindstrom. He draws a walk, which puts the tying run at first base with one out. Jonathon Herrera comes in to pinch run for Stewart as Jason Giambi strolls to the plate to pinch hit in the pitcher's spot. Giambi proceeds to hit a long, high fly ball to deep left field that the left fielder caught up against the wall for the 2nd out. Herrera had advanced to 2nd on the fly, then retreated to first after the catch.

Now here is where our disagreement started: did Herrera run the bases in the correct manner?

Augie, Noel, Vicki, John, Robert, Natalie, Katie, Jorge, Sarah and I all said that Herrera ran the bases correctly. Hell, even Emerson and Riley agreed with us. The idiot behind us was screaming at Herrera for not tagging up. Carlos Gonzales ended up grounding into a fielder's choice and the game was over. This did not stop the moron behind us from screaming at Herrera for his base running. We defended Herrera's decision and chirped back at the old bastard. After he got all hot and bothered and Robert put him in his place, he finally left and we were allowed to quietly enjoy the walk to the car. After thinking about it more, I am completely convinced that we were right and he was wrong. Do you agree? Let me explain my reasoning.

First, let us look at the absolute best and worst case results for each scenario.

Herrera advancing to 2nd on the fly: 
There are three possible outcomes to this play:
  • The ball leaves the yard - Herrera continues on to home as the tying run, Giambi as the winning run.
  • Left fielder catches the ball - Herrera returns to first with 2 outs.
  • Left fielder does not catch the ball - Herrara either advances to third with one out (1st and 3rd with one out), scores the tying run (Giambi at 1st or 2nd with one out), or is thrown out at home attempting to score the tying run (Giambi at 2nd with 2 outs).
Herrera tagging at first base:
Same three possibilities:
  • The ball leaves the yard - Herrera and Giambi both score. Game over.
  • Left fielder catches the ball - Herrera either advances to 2nd on the tag with two outs in the inning or he is thrown out at 2nd for the 3rd out of the inning. Game over.
  • Left fielder does not catch the ball - Herrera makes it to 2nd with one out in the inning.
Looking at the two different viewpoints, isn't it obvious that Herrera did the correct thing on the base path? The way he played it, he gave himself a chance to score (he potentially scores on the missed fly ball). The way the moron behind us wanted him to play it, the best he can do is GET TO SECOND. If I am a manager down by a run with only a couple outs to work with, I make sure I try anything to get that tying run across the plate. I am 100% certain that Herrera, Tracy, and Hill made the correct move when they sent Herrera on the fly.

One more thing about the dumbass behind us - this is not the first time we have had a verbal spat with the guy. He constantly questions the Rockies decisions despite the fact that everyone around him agrees the Rockies played it correctly. Since he talks the entire game and since I am sitting with a bunch of people who have big mouths (myself included), we are constantly questioning his reasoning. Yesterday's ridiculous vitriol was just so aggravating because we knew for a fact that he was wrong. Completely. Yet he was the one who called us all idiots as he left his seat.

Even with my big mouth, I tend to avoid subjects where I am clueless. This guy should learn to do that and never talk about baseball again. Every time he opens his mouth, he comes this much closer to having a pregnant lady punch him in the face. IN THE FACE!!!

One last thing - Robert did have the quote of the night. It was, "How have you lived that long and still not know how to play baseball?!!"

I'd love to hear some feedback to see if my reasoning stands up. Let's hear it. 

Til the next post,

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

There was a riot on the streets tell me where were you?

Sarah Needs Her Dansko's:
If you have never listened to anything I have said before, listen to this: NEVER buy shoes from We placed an order for some Danskos for Sarah two months ago, were charged for the shoes within a couple days and have yet to see the shoes. When we originally asked them for a status update, they responded saying that they would be shipped on or before April 28th. It is now June and all of our additional attempts at communication have been ignored. To put this in perspective, we also ordered a pair of Danskos for Sarah on on the same day. They were sitting on our front porch the next day when we got home from work.

So to recap: buy from Zappos, punch ComfortShoesNY in the face.

Twitter Update:
As of this evening, this is the story for @flickerbock:
  • Following 57
  • 485 Tweets
I joined Twitter on September 1st of last year. Over the 9+ months following, I have learned an absolute boatload. First of all, following celebrities is mostly a complete waste of time. Usually their tweets involve (a) info on the project they are currently working on, (b) details on their favorite charity, (c) some obscure reference to some C-lister that no one knows, or (d) some combination of the those three. These tweets did not add any value to my life. At all. After some trial and error and some purging of my account, the people I follow can be divided into four groups: my friends and family, photography people, sports reporters/athletes, the four random celebs that have remained interesting (@ConanOBrien, @JimmyKimmel, @RainnWilson, and @TonyHawk). If you are not on Twitter and are thinking about joining, I would recommend it completely (especially if you are a baseball fan). Just make sure you come find me on there!

Jim Joyce is the Worst Person in the World
If you happen to be a baseball fan, then you probably heard about the plight of Armando Galarraga. He is a pitcher for the Tigers who happened to get 26 consecutive batters out. If you do the math, this put him just one away from a perfect game. The next batter hit a grounder between first and second. The first baseman snagged the ball, flipped it to Galarraga at first, and the team started celebrating. One problem, though - idiotic first base umpire Jim Joyce called the runner safe. Galarraga ended up getting out of the inning for the complete game shutout, but some moron umpire ruined that kid's chance at perfection. Now if you know me, you know how I feel about Bud Selig. For every thing that he gets right (Wild Cards), he messes up ten other things (steroids, contraction, All Star Games, etc). If he was a good commissioner, he would review the tape, talk to Joyce about the call, and reverse it. Game over. Perfection accomplished. Let's hope that this is one of the few things that Selig handles correctly. I have some serious doubts, though.

The Rockies Finally Figured Out That They Are The Rockies
Right now the Rockies are down 3-1 in the 6th inning. Even if they drop this game, they will still be three games above .500. They are finally having some things bounce their way. Their lineup is getting healthy and they are winning games that they should be losing. Hopefully they can get a bit of a run going. I would love to see them win the NL West and do some damage in the playoffs. And I really need them to win 86 games so that I can make some straight cash homey.

Til the next post,

Friday, April 02, 2010

A Return to the Random Musing

I have quite a few random thoughts bouncing around my head these days. Time to spill them onto my internet canvas.

  • I flew to Portland for work a couple weekends ago. When I left Portland, I had a layover in Sacramento before ultimately ending up in Vegas for the opening weekend of March Madness. On Monday night I headed back to Denver. It was a great freaking trip.
  • As I sat in my seat on the plane from Denver to Portland, I was checking out the seat markers under the overhead compartments. The seat markers say "(Mos) DEF" on the right side. "Mos" is implied. 
  • I kept hearing him saying, "I HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE!"
  • As the plane was taking off, the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 were scrolling through my brain. Those are not the best numbers to think about during plane travel.
  • I truly love flying. It still amazes me to think that I am floating through the air in a metal box. 
  • I usually try to get a window seat so that I can watch the takeoff and landing. I love seeing a city's infrastructure from above. I know, I am a nerd. 
  • I had an aisle seat on the flight from Portland to Sacramento. A couple was sitting across the aisle from each other in the seats right in front of me. The older man was wearing incredibly short shorts. His wife spent 90% of the flight putting her hand across the aisle to stroke his bare thigh. I have never puked on a plane, but it almost happened. 
  • I almost asked them to get a room, but then I realized the only rooms on the plane were the cockpit or one of the lavatories. 
  • I love Twitter, but I have a huge problem with people abusing spelling and grammar on there. Just because you only have 140 characters does not give you the right to cut corners.
  • If you present yourself as an idiot, I am forced to believe that you are an idiot.
  • Fans of ICP might be the weirdest freaking people on the planet. I have never understood the appeal of that joke of a band. 
  • Do you know that the Canadian currency still has the picture of Queen Elizabeth II on it?
  • Can you imagine having U.S.A. currency with a picture of a monarch from a country we gained our independence from on it? I sure can't. 
  • Joe Nathan's injury and subsequent trip to the DL (for the year) will hurt the Twins. It won't, however, stop them from winning the AL Central.
  • I start drooling every time I think about how good the Rockies outfield could be for the next several years.
  • Carlos "The Knife" Gonzales, Dexter Fowler, and Seth Smith (once he usurps Hawpe) are lethal on both offense and defense. 
  • I am obviously ignoring Scott Boras in my last two bullets.
  • My 2002 Xterra still has less than 80k miles on it. That means I am averaging less than 10k miles per year. That is awesome. 
  • I plan on owning that car forever.
  • When Sarah and I fly, we usually take Southwest Airlines since they have the cheapest flights. When I traveled this past trip, I flew on Frontier for 2 out of the 3 legs of the journey. I now remember why I like Southwest so much. 
  • The Frontier people were incredibly rude in the Las Vegas airport. I asked a simple question about getting on an earlier flight and the lady at the gate nearly bit my head off. 
  • I absolutely love tattoos. I currently have zero. I have never been able to determine exactly what I would want painted on my body for eternity. This does not stop me from enjoying other people's phenomenal inked artwork. 
  • Last summer I saw one of the coolest sleeves ever on a chick on the 16th Street Mall Shuttle. 
  • She may or may not have caught me staring at her arm. 
  • It was awkward.
  • When I win Powerball, the first thing I will buy is a spicy bean burrito with sour cream from Taco Bell. You can't forget your roots. 
Til the next post,

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nostradomas I Am Not

However, I still like to make predictions. With Opening Day just around the corner, it is time to take a look at where I think the MLB teams will end up this season. We'll check back on these after the World Series to see how terribly wrong I am.

NL West
1. Rockies
2. Dodgers
3. Giants
4. Diamondbacks
5. Padres

This is the year the Rockies do something they have never done before - win the NL West. And they better do it with 86 wins or more. I have cash money riding on it. I see the Diamondbacks improving, the Dodgers and Giants regressing, and the Padres continuing to suck. 

NL Central
1. Cardinals
2. Brewers
3. Cubs
4. Astros
5. Reds
6. Pirates

Guess what Cubs fans - your team still sucks. Cardinals are solid, Brewers got better, everyone else is blah. One of these years the Pirates might field a competitive team, right? Probably not.

NL East
1. Braves
2. Phillies
3. Mets
4. Marlins
5. Nationals

The Braves are somewhat like the Rockies - young and talent-loaded. The Phillies are a veteran team that has lots of weapons. I just worry about them considering their age. The Mets will collapse in April and May this year, so we won't have to worry about a late year swoon.

AL West
1. Angels
2. Rangers
3. Mariners
4. Athletics

Probably the most improved division in baseball. LA is still the team to beat, despite the addition of Cliff Lee and Ron Washington's cocaine. I think the Rangers are finally figuring out that you need pitching to win. I think this is a year they make big strides. Plus, go B-Mac!

AL Central
1. Twins
2. White Sox
3. Tigers
4. Royals
5. Indians

I have the Twins on top, but who else could you reasonably put there? I would say maybe Chicago or Detroit, but it is a big maybe. The Royals are trending up, but they will remember that they are the Royals. And who the hell knows what is happening in Cleveland? Mistake by the lake, people.

AL East
1. Yankees
2. Rays
3. Red Sox
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays

I think the Red Sox are in trouble. The Yankees are powerful and the Rays are young and talented. I hope that the Orioles do well this year, just because Garrett Atkins is with them now. He has too pretty of a swing to continue that slump he had last year. Best of luck to him. The Blue Jays might take over as the worst team in baseball.

NL Wild Card

AL Wild Card

Rockies over Phillies
Cardinals over Braves

Rockies over Cardinals


Yankees over Angels
Twins over Rays

Yankees over Twins (We all know the Twins cannot beat the Yankees, period.)

World Series
Rockies over Yankees (6 games)

In an ideal world, the Twins and Rockies would meet in the World Series. This would (a) cause my body to spontaneously explode with excitement and (b) win me tons of money. I can't wait for the real games to get started!

Til the next post,

Monday, February 22, 2010

On to the AL

As promised in my post about the Colorado Rockies, I will not take a look at the 2010 season for the Minnesota Twins.

2010 Minnesota Twins

I have been following the Twins my entire life. I was fortunate enough to watch two Twins World Series victories in 1987 and 1991. Of course, I was only 5 and 9 during these years. Not exactly the best ages to explicitly remember exactly how everything went down. After the 1991 season, the Twins decided to be the laughingstock of baseball (kind of like the Pirates and Nationals are now) and almost got contracted by Bud Selig. After several years of wallowing in the bottom of the AL, they changed their management approach, just as the Rockies would do years later. They reduced their payroll, made better drafting decisions, and created one of the best farm systems in baseball. The result has been years of a competitive Twins team that has won the AL Central five of the last eight years. They have also fizzled out in the playoffs every year (6-18 in their last 5 trips to the postseason), but whatever. Think the Royals or Blue Jays would trade places with the Twins? I sure do. A trip to the playoffs every year is still better than being on the outside looking in. At least you have a chance (until you ultimately get raged by the Yankees, like the Twins do EVERY FREAKING YEAR!!).

This offseason, the Twins have slightly varied from their small market mentality. They added a couple of higher profile free agents (albeit at a reduced price) in Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson and traded for another in J.J. Hardy. Their payroll may actually even jump up into the top 10 payrolls across the league, depending on if they can extend the contract of the franchise, Joe Mauer. Despite the uncharacteristic payroll splurge, the team is still filled with locally grown products, especially through their starting rotation. They have arguably the best manager in the game, the best catcher in baseball, a top 5 first baseman, and a top 5 closer. While this might not be the best team that the Twins have fielded during my lifetime, there is no doubt that they are the favorites to win the AL Central for the 6th time in 9 years. Consistency, people.

Starting Lineup:
C - Joe Mauer
1B - Justin Morneau
2B - Orlando Hudson
3B - Nick Punto
SS - J.J. Hardy
LF - Delmon Young
CF - Denard Span
RF - Michael Cuddyer
DH - Jason Kubel

Jim Thome
Wilson Ramos or Drew Butera
Alexi Casilla
Matt Tolbert
Brendan Harris

This lineup is approximately 1 million times more lethal than last year's lineup. No joke. The Twins effectively replaced Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, and Orlando Cabrera with Nick Punto, J.J. Hardy, and Orlando Hudson. Why would you not expect a gargantuan improvement to the offense from these positions? Punto is scrappy player 1C behind David Eckstein and Jamey Carroll who has huge swings in production from year to year. Last year was a down year. That means 2010 will be a good year for Little Nicky Punto. Hardy struggled through his last season in Milwaukee. An incredible defender, he just could not get his previously hot bat going throughout 2009. I think a change of scenery and the fact that he will be pushed deeper into the lineup will let him relax and find his hitting groove again. As for Orlando Hudson, all this guy has done in the past several years is produce. Combining Hudson with Span at the top of the lineup will create ample RBI opportunities for the big bats behind them. With Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, and Thome, this lineup could be a murder's row for opposing RHPs. Good luck getting through this high average, high power, left handed leaning lineup.

I do worry about the depth in the outfield. Before the Hardy trade, Carlos Gomez was a great 4th outfielder with an incredible upside. Now the Twins may end up relying more on Kubel or a utility infielder (Tolbert, maybe) to fill any backup outfield spots. The corner outfield positions might be the weak link on a otherwise solid defensive team with Young and Cuddyer not exactly being Gold Glove material.

Starting Pitchers:
Scott Baker
Carl Pavano
Nick Blackburn
Kevin Slowey
Francisco Liriano

Joe Nathan (Closer)
Matt Guerrier
Jessie Crain
Pat Neskek
Jose Mijares
Brian Duensing / Jeff Manship
Jon Rauch

The pitching rotation is pretty much set with the top 4 guys as close to locked in as you can be at this stage in the spring. The question mark comes in the 5th spot. Brian Duensing has a chance at this spot. Hell, he started Game 1 of the ALDS last year. You have to look at him for a rotation spot. The reason I am inclined to include Liriano instead of Duensing is all the reports I have heard coming from the Dominican League this winter. Twins personnel, rival scouts, and fans are all saying that Liriano is finally back to where he was before undergoing surgery a couple years ago. The one-time heir-apparent to Johan Santana looks to finally be back to his ace of the rotation act. This could not make me any happier. It seems like the more question marks the Twins have in the pitching staff, the better it ends up being. I think they have the depth and now a bit of experience to assist that ridiculous lineup. The bullpen is hopefully getting back Pat Neskek, who was out last season. All that guy did in 2008 was become one of the best setup guys in the game. Hopefully he can return to that form and the other young pitchers continue to progress.

Regular Season Prediction: 91-71, 1st in the AL Central.

Til the next post,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making Progress

I would guess that you have experienced this situation before: You are with a group of people when you reveal something about yourself to the group. There is always that one individual that says, "Hey, my Uncle Bob is really into that, too. I should introduce you to him/show you his website/give you his email address. You would get along swell!" Most of the time, meeting Uncle Bob does not go so swell. It might be the subtle smell of cat urine seeping from his pores or the fact that he is more interested in you than what your interest is. Regardless, the original idea of introducing a couple strangers who supposedly share some common ground tends to have great intentions with catastrophic results (at least in my experience).

An "Uncle Bob" moment happened to me after my blog proclamation that (a) I was going to blog much more frequently in 2010 and (b) that blogging was one of my many creative outlets in my life. In this particular case, being introduced to "Uncle Bob" actually turned out to be far from a disaster.A friend of mine who I work with was unaware of this non-engineering side of me. He gets to pleasure of seeing me during my most impressive nerd phases. After reading the blog and learning that I was interested in photography, he told me I should check out his friends' website because I would really enjoy it. Now this guy hails from South Dakota so automatically my bullshit sensor was going off like crazy. I had zero interest in looking at pictures of Midwestern country life. Cows are great. . .for eating. They aren't exactly the best photography subjects. Despite my anti-Dakota leanings, I relented and gave his buddies a chance. Thank god I did.

Proud Ruin is a collaboration of two artists creating incredible visual scenes. Tayn Reis dreams up a scene and ensures everything is in place. Aaron Stryzewski sets the lighting and frames that perfect shot. Beware, some of their creations are not for the faint of heart. Their images are dark, violent, foreboding, and often gruesome. But they are also absolutely incredible. (My favorites are definitely "Paramove" and "Forget the Hatchet") The lighting throughout their work makes the photos blend the realism of a photograph with the fantastical nature of a painting. I have stared at several of their scenes trying to figure out how they created the colors and texture of the photograph. The scenes are dark, but incredibly vibrant. At first glance, they do not appear to have much color at all. After settling your eyes on the photo, you start to see the brightness of the colors against the darkness.

As a disclaimer, I have not met Aaron and Tayn personally. Everything I know about them is what I have gathered through either their website or my buddy at work. However, the beauty of any medium of art is that through their creations, we can get a glimpse into the creative minds of others. Even if those minds are completely twisted and insane.

Excellent work, Proud Ruin. I hope you continue to churn out vivid and dark expressions of the endless human struggle.

On a side note, make sure you check out the section called "Aaron's Extras". Again, very impressive work, this time using a more standard portrait style. This one and this one are particularly great.

As the title of the blog says, I am making progress by opening my world to these new and exciting (and completely obscure) photographers/artists and being able to discuss them on this blog. You all know that I take pictures. They are not great pictures. A lot of them are not even good pictures. But with every website I find, every photographer I talk to, and every picture I take, I hope that I am slowly progressing to a point where I can truly and honestly call myself a photographer.

Til the next post,

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Rocktober? Let's hope it starts before the All Star Break this year.

Just because this blog is a creative outlet for my engineering mind does not mean that other less-creative subjects are off limits, especially when baseball is on the mind.

In just a few weeks, pitchers and catchers will report for the start of spring training. Spring training embodies what is great about sports. There is a unbridled sense of optimism, regardless of which team you stand behind. Even teams as pathetic as the Nationals and Orioles look upon the upcoming year with excitement and positivity. Hell, even Cubs fans think they can win it all. It is understandable why people are so excited and I, like everyone else, get caught up in the hoopla. Today I will preview the 2010 season for the Colorado Rockies. Before the season starts, I will give you my predictions for my original favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, and MLB in its entirety.

2010 Colorado Rockies:

During the 2007 season, the Rockies gave us a taste of what we expect them to do on a yearly basis: get to the playoffs and be competitive. After showing Denver what the World Series felt like, expectations and excitement around Lower Downtown rose to unheard of (and probably unrealistic) levels. Naturally, the team soured the Rocktober atmosphere of their miracle season by following it up with a dismal, face-in-the-mud 2008 season. The crazed, exuberant fan of 2007 disappeared back to the Bronco bandwagon. The team remembered how to win in 2009 after a much needed coaching swap and put together a run for the ages. The Rockies were the best team in baseball after the All Star Break. After flaming out against the Phillies, Rocktober ended yet again. After the 2009 season (unlike after the 2007 season), Rockies fans tended to face the Rockies future with a much more realistic outlook.

I have paid close attention to all the moves, signings, and rumors involving the Rockies this offseason. For the most part, what they have done has made sense both financially and in setting up the roster. Through all hte changes, my analysis of this upcoming season has stayed conservative and extremely realistic. Yet despite my conservative approach, I fail to see how this team will not be the most competitive Rockies team of all time.

Starting Lineup:
C - Chris Iannetta
1B - Todd Helton
2B - Clint Barmes
3B - Ian Stewart
SS - Troy Tulowitzki
LF - Carlos Gonzales
CF - Dexter Fowler
RF - Brad Hawpe

Miguel Oliva
Jason Giambi
Seth Smith
Ryan Spilborghs
Melvin Mora
Eric Young Jr. (AAA)

With the exception of Todd Helton, we are looking at an entire starting roster of players under 31 years old. The average age of Iannetta, Stewart, Tulo, Gonzales, and Fowler is 24.4. All have shown that they can play at the major league level and all have shown flashes of dominance. The bench is deep, talented, and experienced. It is so deep that Eric Young Jr, who has shown that he can play well at the highest level, will probably be sent down to AAA to hone his craft at multiple positions. He will be the first player to get the call when someone gets hurt.
The addition of Oliva shows us two things, first that the Rockies have faith that Chris Iannetta will become an effective two-way catcher. We know his defense is there. His offense has not broken out like we have expected it to. Last year, this was due to the fact that he was playing in the World Baseball Classic before the season started. Granted, being able to play for the USA against the best the world has to offer was a great experience for him, but not being with his teammates and his hitting coaches through all of spring training took a toll on his swing. He is able to hit to all fields with power and is one of the most patient players at the plate. He will improve in 2010. Count on it.

Mora, Giambi, and Spilborghs provide a veteran presence. Mora can play multiple positions and is a legitimate right handed threat off the bench. Giambi handles a bat better than anyone in the clubhouse not named Todd and has a gigantic leadership presence in the locker room. His leadership was reason #1a why the Rockies brought him back for 2010. (For those keeping track, the golden thong was reason #1)

Starting Pitchers:
Ubaldo Jimenez
Aaron Cook
Jorge De La Rosa
Jeff Francis
Jason Hammel

Huston Street (Closer)
Rafael Betancourt (Setup)
Manuel Corpas
Randy Flores
Matt Daley
Franklin Morales
Taylor Buchholz

Just like the position players, the story of the pitching is depth, experience, and potential. Cook, Street, Betancourt, and Francis provide the requisite veteran leadership. De La Rosa, Hammel, Corpas, Daley, Morales, and Buchholz are all loaded with potential. Ubaldo's ceiling is so high, I don't think anyone has cast their eyes upon it yet. Pretty exciting looking staff, right?

Luckily for the Rockies and for all Rockies fans, that is not even the best part of the pitching staff. It is hard to imagine anything more exciting than Ubaldo's 98 MPH fastball up and in on Manny Ramirez's face. The fact that the Rockies pitching staff is as deep and flexible as it has ever been. At some point during the season, someone is going to get hurt. Francis might not be fully recovered from his surgery. A relief pitcher could take a line drive off of his shin and break his leg (hey, it happened to Embree last year). When this happens, there are options. Tim Redding could be a stopgap, providing long starts and resting the bullpen. Greg Smith is a wildcard for the major league rotation. He has the stuff to make an impact, hopefully he stays healthy. The Rockies are also stacked at the AAA level. Christian Friedrich, Jhoulys Chacin, Greg Reynolds, Matt Belisle, and Esmil Rogers are all ready to slide into either the starting 5 or the bullpen if needed.
The Rockies have reached a critical point in their GeneRation R movement. We, as fans, no longer are happy to be dragged along during a mediocre season. We expect the Rockies to win and to win a lot. Let us all hope they can live up to our expectations.

Back to my earlier statement about the Rockies fielding their most competitive team ever - I truly believe that the Rockies of 2010 are a better overall team than they have been in the past. The Blake Street Bombers hit the cover off the ball, but they could not stop their opponents from doing the same. The 2007 World Series team rode both a fortunate wave of momentum and some timely surges in individual performances to ultimately crash in the WS. (The ridiculously long break between their last NLCS game and first WS game did not help either.) Last year's team needed to establish their identity post-Hurdle before they realized their full potential. This year is different. Their bats will be better, their pitching is deeper, their experience is greater, and their movement is upward. Rockies fans, prepare yourself for Colorado Rockies history. In 2010, the Rockies will clinch their first ever NL West crown. 

Regular Season Prediction: 92-70, 1st in the NL West.

Til the next post,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Easing into Things

This was going to officially be the shortest break between posts that I have ever experienced until I hit a bit of a snag. I have been struggling with creating a watermark in Photoshop. While I don't think that my pictures are incredibly, I don't think I would appreciate people using them without some sort of credit. Hell, if Conan's 'Masturbating Bear' and 'Triumph the Insult Comic Dog' are considered intellectual property, I think a few shots from my camera can be considered property as well! Despite all the Photoshop problems, the truth is this: I did not lie, people. I really do plan on doing this much more frequently.

Let's get this frequent posting started with something that is near and dear to my heart: photography.

First the background. . . My father, as most people are aware, is a civil engineer like me. What people do not know about Papa Flick is that prior to becoming a civil engineer, his professional path approached a far different land. Papa Flick started his college education as a photojournalism major. In fact, he finished his first go-round of his college education as a photojournalism degree holder. Once he had the degree and he faced the cruel reality that not every photojournalism major was going to work for National Geographic, he went back to school to start down the nerdy path of civil engineering. Regardless, his love for photography stuck with him through his marriage, moves, kids, more moves, new companies, new states, new stages of life. Papa Flick's appreciation of this photographic craft rubbed off on me. Growing up, photography always appeared in our daily lives. Our bookshelves held books on Ansel Adams and Steve Tohari. We could not leave the house for even a day trip without Dad's 1970's Nikons in his camera bag. I have seen every volume of National Geographic. Ever. When he finished our basement, he made an office/darkroom in one corner so he could develop his black and white film. It is fairly easy to see how photography has ingrained itself into the essence of who I am.

When I finally had some money to burn, I got my own cameras and started shooting. I shoot with both a Nikon D60 and a Nikon N80. The N80 is always loaded with black and white film. I am a sucker for black and white and I am an old stick-in-the-mud, so I really like shooting the classic film camera. It adds a degree of difficulty as you don't know if you have the correct exposure until you process the film. With the digital camera, you just chimp at the LCD to see how it looks. Totally different approach. A majority of my shots are done with my D60. I am currently working on becoming a better photographer with the film camera. Hopefully we will be able to see marked improvement in my film frames in 2010.

Here are a couple of my pictures that I really enjoy. These were taken before I started aggressively relearning all my photography knowledge. As time passes, I will do a better job of noting the camera, lens, aperture, and shutter speed of each shot. I find that interesting and I'm sure there are several people who read this who would appreciate the technical side of the shots.

This first shot was taken on a work trip down to the Grand Canyon. We were doing a redesign of the road that goes out to Hermit Rest. On our trip out there, I had the work camera (which is really a crappy camera) and we walked the entire project, which included a bike/ped path along the canyon rim. Walking in the cold fog, I came across this fallen tree and had to take a picture. Not really related to work, but I am glad I stopped.

This next picture was taken on our trip out to Washington state last November. We were visiting some friends in Bellingham, WA for the weekend. They took us on the ferry from Anacortes out to the San Juan Islands. The ferry ride started in the afternoon and we reached the islands as the sun started to set. I took numerous pictures of the sun setting around the islands and this one is my favorite one. If you are my friend on Facebook, you have already seen it as it is my profile picture.

The last picture I want to share is one that was a complete spur of the moment picture, but I enjoy it for many reasons. For Sarah and my first wedding anniversary, we went up to Estes Park, CO for a weekend to stay in a bed and breakfast. During our stay, we managed to sample all the local flavors of beer and wine. We started late in the morning by going to the first winery. We were told they opened at 10:00. We got there at 10:50 and the sign said that the winery would open at 11:00. To kill a few minutes, we just sat in the car and chatted. I had the camera and I was playing around with it. I focused on the Rockies guy and snapped a picture. Maybe it is because I am a Rockies fan or maybe it is because I was enjoying myself with my wife of a year or maybe it is actually just a fun photograph, but I absolutely love this picture. Go Rockies!!

Phew, now that the first one is out, the rest should be incredibly easy!

Til the next post,

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Year, New Posts

Twenty-ten is now here and my blog still sucks. Sorry, people. My suckiness in blogging has resulted in several hours spent contemplating what my plans are for this site. Obviously, my posts have been infrequent and my free time (like everyone else's) has been too valuable to put any effort into this thing. Through all the pondering, my mind kept floating back to the same resounding thought - I need to invest my time into one of the few creative outlets I have. I need this blog.

I work in an office full of engineers 40+ hours a week. There are 150 left-brain, logical-thinking, detail oriented, over-analytical people surrounding me for a majority of my time during the day. Please don't take that the wrong way. My coworkers are awesome and I truly enjoy working with them on a daily basis. Couple my logic and mathematics driven career with my natural left-brain leanings and you could quickly apply that engineer label. But just like that ogre, there are many more layers to that Mike Flick onion. For example, my love of art in numerous forms. I have books of sketches and drawings and doodles that I have done over the years. I love photography, both seeing and doing. I enjoy writing, despite how much I thought I despised it when I was being graded by Mr. Hilbert and Ms. Miles. I could sit on my couch and watch film after film-noir after artsy film and call that a successful day. Hell, a musical from 1952 has been and always will be one of my favorite movies of all time. And they sing in that movie. And dance! In the rain! (The engineering part of my brain just exploded.) I think you all can understand what I am saying. While I parade as one a majority of the time, I am not completely an engineer. And this blog is exactly what I need in order to placate that imaginative and creative portion of my brain.

Ask one of the writers from the Cru Jones Society website or one of the hundreds of contributors to the SB Nation sites about why they consistently take some of their own time to write on a blog about something that 95% of the world couldn't care less about. I know for a fact that the CJS guys are not in it for the money. They have their day jobs. They write because they love it. The same is true for me. I love to write on my own terms and I hope to keep my motivation from hitting a writer's block in 2010 and beyond. Thanks for sticking with me through the incredibly slow times!

Just to get some stuff out there, this is what I anticipate for 2010 and this blog:

  • Sarah and I have started a baby blog at the request of several of our friends. I am not sure exactly how this will play out, but Sarah and I will both be adding stuff as baby C.A.S.H. grows inside and outside of the womb. Check it out here:
  • Art, art, and more art. I plan on postings on everything from my own photography and drawings to public art displays to Garfunkel.
  • Anyone who knows me knows my love of sports. I hope to do some more in-depth writing about interesting or intriguing things in the world of sports.
There are a couple other ideas that are floating around in my big ol' dome, so the plan is to make this blog better for everyone involved - more creativity and expression from me, more to read for you. Let's cross our fingers and see how it goes!

Til the next post,