April 16, 2014

Still More Trigger Discipline

One for the bunch over at Steven's Place:

Don't get much more safe than that.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:29 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Post contains 19 words, total size 1 kb.

April 15, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: China 2014

Sorry I'm a little late with this, but Pond Central has had internet problems since Saturday night/Sunday morning.  It wasn't completely out, but something even worse: it was really, really slow.  As in, "45 seconds to a minute to load a page."  Just alive enough to make you hope, just dead enough to crush your dreams.  Thankfully, I was able to send my taxes via the Duck U Bookstore's system.

But I digress... you're here to hear about this week's race!  This time, the stop is the Shanghai International Circuit, located in the Jiading District of the world's largest city by population, Shanghai, China.  Despite the incredible number of people living there, somehow the government managed to find enough empty space to build a circuit.  Here's the track map:

Okay, yes, it's a Tilkedrome.  Despite that, China has occasionally coughed up a decent race or two.  Rain is useful for that, of course, and there's a chance on Sunday, but nothing I'd put money on.  So it's down to the track... and the new-formula cars, too.  THAT'S where it all hinges, and the way things are going this year, I'd not bet against this being a good race.

It'll still be a Mercedes HappyFest, though.  Unless something has drastically changed in the past couple of weeks, there's nothing standing in the way of the Mercedes-powered teams to dominate this race.  Except for reliability, of course; it's hard to go fast when your engine is spitting pistons into the stratosphere.  That's not something we can really predict so I'll just ignore it altogether.

Fortunately for everybody, I'M not the person calling the race.  That task falls to the Pros from Dover, the (not as) Legendary Announce Team!  Here's when they'll be doing their usual great coverage:
FRIDAY
P2: 1a - 230a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 1a - 230a live
SUNDAY
Grand Prix of China: 130a - 4a live

Of course, F1Update! will be all over the race like a cheap suit on rice.  See ya then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:07 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 339 words, total size 2 kb.

April 13, 2014

USF1 Redux?

A few years ago, there was an attempt to start an American Formula 1 team.  To be called USF1, it was a project from Peter (Smarmy) Windsor, former Williams and Ferrari manager, and Ken Anderson, a former NASCAR technical director.  It failed miserably, never completing a chassis, never turning a wheel, suffering from mismanagement and funding impossibilities. 

But yet, why couldn't there be an American F1 team?  It's not like there's any lack of technical ability here in the States, nor any shortage of cash or driving skill.  What is needed is a competent management staff with active ties to the racing world.

Those of us longing for an American F1 team on the grid may have just had our wishes granted.  NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner Gene Haas, longtime motorsports guy, just had his application to join the F1 grid in 2015 approved by the FIA.  The team, tentatively called Haas Racing Developments, may be based in North Carolina, home of Stewart-Haas Racing, the NASCAR team.

Very few details exist as of yet outside of what I've just mentioned.  As usual, the thought is that there'll be an all-American driver lineup, which while admirable, is also wrong for a new team.  Currently, the number of active American drivers with Formula 1 experience beyond a few testing laps is limited to one: Scott Speed.  What a team needs is someone who knows how a F1 car should feel so the pit wall can make it feel that way.  Scott Speed, while American, was nobody's idea of a testing genius.  No, there should be at least one driver with serious F1 history on the team, and that means foreign... and preferably someone with financial backing of their own, sad to say.  The two things any team needs is skill and money, and a new team needs a lot of both.

I'm not going to get excited yet.  It'll be too easy for this venture to fail the way USF1 did.  I'm much more encouraged by the people involved, but they don't even have an engine lined up yet.  My guess is that they'll have the new Honda powerunit, but who knows?  I'd really like to see this succeed, though.  I'd love to root for a team again.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:53 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 378 words, total size 2 kb.

April 09, 2014

Turret-kun Has A Friend

You may remember that a few weeks ago, I hired Turret-kun to defend Nori, my computer against the sort of things that threaten computers in my fevered little brain.  Just what might require the strengths of a semi-anthropomorphized kawaii 5" gun turret floating on a life preserver to protect a computer is beyond me, but you never know.  It wasn't until recently, however, that I discovered that Turret-kun was lonely.  Oh, sure, he had that great smile, but it felt painted on.  Inside, I was sure, Turret-kun needed someone to serve.  So I arranged for Nori to join him.

Nori is, as some of you may have guessed, a Figma.  #201, as a matter of fact: Sae from Hidamari Sketch.  Wait, what?  The nice thing about Figmas is that they often come with simply amazing amounts of modification options.  This one, for example, came with two faces for Sae, an extra pair of glasses, ten extra hands in various positions... and the ability to turn her into Nori!  Compared to some, that's actually a fairly sparse amount of options.  It actually took a few days for me to decide to get it... Figmas aren't exactly cheap... but in the end I broke down.  They're not cheap, but they aren't all that expensive, either.  Which is why I picked up three other Figmas, which will appear here at The Pond soon enough.  Just for the record, though?  They haven't made a Rio Figma yet.  I think I'm a little sad about that.

A bigger pic of Nori and Turret-kun is just a simple click away!

more...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:19 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 269 words, total size 2 kb.

April 07, 2014

F1 Update!: Bahrain 2014

The sun was sinking in the west as the Mumbling Herd pulled up on the front straight.  Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg sat on pole, his teammate Shiv Hamilton poised next to him.  This was normal.  Behind them, however, the goofy side of F1 had reared its head: the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez's Force India made up the second row, and nowhere to be seen were the Red Bull duo.  But would it last?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2014 Grand Prix of Bahrain.

*LIGHTS OUT:  To say the first lap of this race was exciting would be understating the case.  When the lights were extinguished, all manner of hoo-hah (technical F1 term) broke loose.  For example, Felipe Massa got the jump of a lifetime from seventh and found himself in third by the first turn, while Hamilton managed to take first from his teammate, but only after the two of them went hammer-and-tongs with each other.  Up and down the field, you saw ridiculously successful moves, enough tire smoke to eliminate malaria from the Earth, all of it accompanied by showers of sparks caused by the dragging of legality planks, a sight we don't see that often during the day.  Even when Jules Vergne's Toro Rosso crawled into the pits with a rear tire shredded, we had excitement as he got on the radio saying that he had been hit by "...the crazy Lotus guy.  I don't know who it is.  Absolutely mental!"  (Mr Maldonado, please pick up the red courtesy phone.)  The F1U! analysis team just sort of fell about the place at that one.  Little did we know...

*MIDRACE: Things more or less settled down after three or four laps, which allowed everybody to catch their breath and notice that the two Mercedes cars had opened up a three-second gap to third-place Felipe Massa.  A gap that, ominously, continued to grow: nine seconds after eight laps, nearly 14 seconds after 13 laps.  Rosberg continued to bird-dog Hamilton, bouncing back and forth between a half-second behind and over a full second.  It was obvious that, barring incident, the race was firmly in the hands of the Silver Arrows.  Things got really weird on Lap 16 when the Red Bull pit wall got on the radio to 4Time Vettel... and told him to pull over and let his teammate Daniel Ricciardo go by, as he was faster and stood a better chance to catching the lead pack. 

*SAFETY CAR:  That's pretty much the way it stayed for most of the race... Shiv Hamilton leading Nico Rosberg, with everybody else fighting for third.  We also got the wonderful image of Luca di Montezemelo, Chairman of Ferrari, turning away in disgust as HWMNBN was blown away by a Force India.  And then the entire race changed as a Safety Car was called out (see "Moment of the Race", below), bunching the entire field back up and giving the field hope that, this time perhaps they could keep the Mercedes duo in the same area code.  The long, long Safety Car period saw pit walls up and down the paddock rubbing their hands together in anticipation: plenty of fuel for the final 10-lap dash to the checkered flag.  Even the F1U! historian, dozing on the lounge after the completion of his massage, roused himself for this one.

*GO FAST:  The restart proved to be anticlimactic in one way: the Silver Arrows went screaming off into the night, opening a four second lead in a single lap.  Part of that was simply because the two Mercedes were just faster than everybody else.  The other part, though, is that positions three through nine were held by five Mercedes-powered cars and the two Red Bulls.  They were so busy attacking and defending against each other, sometimes at the same time, that nobody had the time to try and drive perfectly and thus catch up to the top two.  This melee caused the TV Director no end of headaches as once again, Hamilton and Rosberg were once again going tooth-and-nail with each other.  Indeed, it was getting so tight that Paddy Lowe, Merc Tech Director, got on the radio to both his drivers to point out that it'd be best to get both cars to the finish, as opposed to one or both in the fence or as scattered pieces of carbon fiber.  It's good that he reminded them of this, because it was only a few laps later that the two of them had their tires overlapped... just think what would have happened if they weren't told to be careful.  The two of them would continue to race until the end, with Hamilton leading Rosberg across the line by just under a second... and 24 seconds ahead of third place.

*BUT:  Back in third place, Force India's Sergio Perez had opened a tiny gap between himself and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, but it was quickly fading with but a few laps left.  Meanwhile, in fifth place, Force India's Nico Hulkenberg had 4Time Vettel staring at his rear wing, just begging for a single mistake that his fading RB10 could exploit.  It never came, though.  Just ahead of them, Ricciardo was doing everything he could think of to get past Perez on the last lap.  The F1U! crew admits to rooting for Force India in ways usually reserved for the Chicago Cubs.  The wishes and hopes of us (and most of the rest of the world, it must be admitted) guided Perez across the finish line 4/10th of a second ahead of Ricciardo.  The two Williams drivers crossed the line behind Vettel, at least close enough to see him.  Third through 10th places were covered by nine seconds, bringing a great race to a close.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  As much as we wish to give this to Sergio Perez, Shiv Hamilton deserves it more.  While he led all but three laps, his teammate Nico Rosberg was always right there, grimly hanging onto his rear wing, looking for any chance to mug him for first place.  It never came.  When Rosberg forced the issue, Hamilton wasn't afraid to hip-check him into the Persian Gulf if need be.  It looked easy, it was anything but.

*TEAM OF THE RACE
:  Nope, not Mercedes.  Force India got their first podium since 2009 and their best two-car finish ever.  Break open those Kingfishers, guys, you deserve 'em!

*MOMENT OF THE RACE:  On Lap 41, Candy Maldonado swung into the pits for his final tire change.  Upon exiting, he managed to drive directly into the side of the Sauber of Esteban!  The weird twin-tusk of the Lotus went right under the side of the Sauber, with the effect that you might think:

After the Sauber stopped flipping, flopping and flooping, Esteban! managed to key his radio to plaintively ask "What was that?!?"  THAT was the Maldozer, Esteban!.   The accident brought out the Safety Car, which gave us the exciting race end, thereby earning the Moment of the Race!

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE
:

more...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:34 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 1288 words, total size 9 kb.

April 06, 2014

F1U Bahrain Delayed

The Grand Prix of Bahrain was great, just entertaining from beginning to end, and I can't bring myself to do the writeup. 

The events of this past Thursday... well.  Let's just say I was in the store both Saturday and Sunday, and trying to do something serious like the F1U!, even for arguably the best dry race we've had in a couple of years, just makes me sad.

I want to do it.  I just can't see myself doing something serious right now.  Sorry, people, I know you're looking for it.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:18 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 94 words, total size 1 kb.

April 05, 2014

F1 Quals: Bahrain 2014

It didn't rain.  I mean, duh, of course, it's Bahrain, but I needed to make sure the weather situation was known and understood before I showed you the grid for tomorrow's race.  Because, y'know what?  It's a doozy!  Let's take a look at the starting lineup for the 2014 Grand Prix of Bahrain:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.439 1:33.708 1:33.18
2 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.323 1:33.872 1:33.464
3 Unlucky Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.220 1:34.592 1:34.051
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:34.934 1:34.842 1:34.247
5 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:34.998 1:34.747 1:34.346
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:35.234 1:34.925 1:34.368
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.699 1:34.714 1:34.387
8 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:35.085 1:34.842 1:34.511
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.288 1:34.904 1:34.712
10 HWMNBN
Ferrari 1:35.251 1:34.723 1:34.992
11 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:35.549 1:34.985
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:34.874 1:35.116
13 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:35.395 1:35.145
14 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:35.815 1:35.286
15 Esteban!
Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.567 1:35.891
16 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:36.654 1:35.908
17 Williams Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:36.663

18 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.840

19 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:37.085

20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:37.310

21 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:37.875

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:37.913


Q1 107% Time
1:41.515

Okay, let's go over this.  Red Bull's Unlucky Ricciardo is taking a 10-spot penalty after his travails at Malaysia, so he'll be 13th.  This makes the second row of the grid Williams - Force India.  This is the greatest season ever.  Meanwhile, 4Time Vettel, Mr "I've been on pole every race for the past 17 years", couldn't even make it out of Q2.  Greatest.  Season.  Ever.

The only way it could get better would be to have either Caterham or (ugh) Marussia score their first points.  It'll happen.  It'll happen, probably Marussia.

Then again, I'd really like to see Williams or FIndia win on Sunday.  It won't happen, of course... the Mercedes boys have too big an advantage... but it'd be nice.  Here's how bad it was: during Q1 4Time turned a 1:35.549 on the soft tires, which have about a 1.5 second advantage over the hards here this race.  Shiv Hamilton in Q1 went 1:35.323.

Using the hard tires.

Make no mistake, my friends: tomorrow's race is going to one of the Mercedes drivers, barring malfunctions.  The race is going to be for third, and I SO want to see Williams on that podium.

Anybody but Red Bull, actually.

Race is at 10am Pond Central... bring the bagels and lox and make a morning of it!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 04:50 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 425 words, total size 16 kb.

April 04, 2014

F1 Practice: Bahrain 2014

"I don't understand any of it!" - Kid Kyviat (note: real quote)

Now THAT'S how you do a night race.  Forget the city-style tracks in Singapore and Abu Dhabi (particularly the back half), there in Bahrain they drop a race track in the middle of the desert, prop up a bunch of LED flashlights on ladders, wrap everything in Christmas tree light strands and hey presto!

I jest, but I am serious about one thing: it looks awful purty.

It also races differently than it has in the past.  Ambient air temps were about 30 degrees cooler during P2 than P1, which ran at roughly the same time as last year's race.  More importantly, the track surface is also dramatically cooler, which means it takes longer for the tires to come up to grip temps.  Which meant a lot of missed braking points, even more smoked rubber, and more than a few heading off towards the King Fahd Causeway, drivers madly attempting to bring their steeds under control.

Mercedes is still the class of the field, apparently because their turbocharger is cleft in twain, with the compressor at one end of the engine and the turbine at the other.  The two bits are joined together by a shaft that runs through the "V" of the cylinders.  Through whatever magic was used, this means less turbo lag.  It also moves more weight forward in the car body, requires less cooling, is biodegradable, will walk your dog, likes to cuddle, and is an all-around good egg.

Or something like that.  Of course, Williams and Force India get the same benefits, but since they haven't had the engines as long as the team that built them, their windfall has been less.  So far.  Surprisingly, Red Bull hasn't screamed about cheating yet.

There's still time.  Quals in the morning, though the writeup may not be until late afternoon... putting some time in at the store.  See you then.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:11 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 328 words, total size 2 kb.

April 03, 2014

Hey, Wonderduck!

Hey, Wonderduck!  How was your day at work?

Oh.  Really?  That bad, huh?

'K... just gonna go stand over here... very far away from you, that okay, Wonderduck?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:02 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
Post contains 30 words, total size 1 kb.

April 01, 2014

Fools, Fools All...

Good to see that Steven's readers are paying attention to the calendar!  Personally, I would never ever stoop to such a low tactic.

Never ever.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:56 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 28 words, total size 1 kb.

March 31, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: Bahrain 2014

From the always wet and humid Malaysia the F1 Circus hops on some planes and flies to desert country Bahrain... where they're predicting thunderstorms during Practice 2.  What the $#&* is going on?  Here's the track map for this most unwelcome of stops.

I notice that there's less discussion about the human rights violations and the continuing uprising this year.  I suspect part of that is down to outspoken Mark Webber no longer being in the paddock.  Also there might be some sort of unspoken rule that revolutions shouldn't take three years... either they work or they don't (note: Wonderduck, Wonderduck's Pond, F1U!, The Flock, and any other term regularly used at this website does not agree with this assessment).  In today's media cycle, three weeks is a lifetime.

Normally I'd complain and moan about the circuit... it's a Tilkedrome, yadda yadda yadda... but we're learning that the new tech rules have thrown out everything we've known about the tracks.  What might have been dull and boring last year has the potential of being vaguely interesting this season.  I mean, when the cars are suffering wheelspin up through fifth gear, anything becomes possible.  Now that I've said that, oh my god, how many cars are going to finish at Monaco?  There's not enough room there to fishtail!  Back to Bahrain, the circuit will be ridiculously dirty and/or sandy all weekend, so there'll be even less grip than normal.

And then there's the real wildcard: for the first time, Bahrain will be raced under the lights!  Yep, it'll be a night race.  I give up, there's officially no way of knowing just exactly what's going to happen this weekend.  As long as everybody stays safe both on and off the track, I'll be happy with the result... and continue to hope that Formula 1 never, ever comes back.

Until that time, however, the Less-Than-Legendary Announce Team will be providing their usual good coverage to us live and in color!  Let's take a look at when:

FRIDAY
P2: 10a - 1130a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 10a - 1130a live
SUNDAY
2014 GP of Bahrain: 930a - 12noon live

A race I don't have to stay up to ridiculous hours for?  Okay, I'm game!  We'll see you then, then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:40 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 380 words, total size 3 kb.

March 30, 2014

F1 Update!: Malaysia 2014

A hot and humid day greeted the assembled F1 Circus as they formed up on the grid in Kuala Lumpur, with a low, dark sky overhead threatening to dump rain at any time.  In short, just another day in Malaysia!  Would polesitter Shiv Hamilton lead his Mercedes home for the win?  Would his teammate Nico Rosberg make it two in a row?  Or would the slightly surprising Hannibal Vettel get the first win of his title defense?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2014 Grand Prix of Malaysia!

*GO!:  Unlike last race, they only needed one try to get under way, and what a start it was for Mercedes.  Shiv Hamilton rocketed off the line, clearly untouchable, while Vettel's car seemingly infected by the dreaded Mark Webber Lousy Start© disease, was completely unable to hold back a charging Rosberg.  Nor could he keep his own teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, from jumping in front, something we never thought we'd see here at the F1U! Palatial Studios.  It would take a few laps for 4Time Vettel to take the position back from the junior member of the team, by which point it was clearly academic: unless there was a Mercedes breakdown, there was no stopping the Silver Arrows today.

*GOOD TO BAD TO WORSE TO ARE YOU KIDDING ME?:  For Ricciardo, the day was shaping up to be continued proof that he could hang with his more highly decorated teammate.  While he'd surrendered third place to 4Time, the Australian had hung on his tail, right up until the final round of pitstops.  It was on Lap 41, though, that everything went south.  Ricciardo stopped for tires, an evolution that went as smoothly as always until he was released back into the pit lane... it seems that the man on the front-left tire had not yet finished bolting it onto the car when the Aussie drove away.  While he was quickly told to stop, he had managed to make it a good distance down the lane... and while there are hundreds of ways to be penalized during a race, there are really very few that will get you disqualified from a race.  One of those, though, is reversing in the pit lane.  So he had to sit there until the Red Bull mechanics could run down to where he was, then push him back to the pit stall, complete the act of bolting on the tire, then let him go again.  In the process, he was lapped.  From 4th place to nowhere in a heartbreaking minute.  And then it got worse.  A lap after the fiasco, one of the mounting pylons on his front wing broke, dropping the wing to the ground and causing one of the endplates to begin digging a groove trench in the tire.  Right back into the pits he went for new tires and a new nose, exiting some two or three laps down.  Then, as if all of that wasn't enough, a lap later he got the news that he had been given a 10 second stop/go penalty for the earlier unsafe release into the pits.  By the time THAT had been served, he was four laps down and would retire the car a few laps later.  Not the luckiest of racers, our boy Daniel.  Oh, and then the FIA handed him a 10-grid spot penalty for the next race as well.

*RACE END:  Hamilton was dominating the race so totally that Mercedes was actually telling him to "preserve the engine" around the half-way point.  This meant that the lead to his teammate was only 17 seconds when the Grand Prix ended.  Similarly, Rosberg had been able to dial his settings back as well, and still beat Vettel to the line by a good seven seconds.  What's more telling, however, is the fact that only eight cars were on the lead lap when the race ended.  That's a disturbing statistic, and one that could suggest a huge gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" is brewing.  For now, however, the new F1 is proving to be quite refreshing: it wasn't the most fabulous of races, but at no time were you bored.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Lewis Hamilton.  The Shiv recovered nicely from his car failure at Australia, didn't he? At this point, we want to note that the average driver loses roughly 7lbs during a race at Malaysia, yet Hamilton was bouncing around like he'd just driven down to the corner shop after the race.  Amazing.

*TEAM OF THE RACE
: The first Mercedes 1-2 finish since 1955, and they're now leading the Constructor's Championship with 68 points.  Red Bull has 15.  Yes, we relished saying that.

*MOMENT OF THE RACE:  For most of his career, Felipe Massa has been told to pull aside and let his teammate pass.  It came to a head a couple of years ago when he was told "Fernando is faster than you."  Immediately afterwards, it seemed like the "fighting spirit" had gone out of him, and he was never the same driver again.  Signing with Williams this year, it seemed unlikely that he'd be put into a similar situation again.  That lasted all of two races.  Late in the race, he'd been dueling with the McLaren of Jenson Button for 6th place, never quite seeming to be able to close up to really challenge the Brit.  Meanwhile, Valterri Bottas, his Williams teammate, had fresher tires and was looking a bit racier on the day.  The inevitable occurred, and the Williams pit wall called out "Felipe, Valterri is faster than you."  They even used the same sentence.  And Massa refused to pull over.  A second call went out, explaining the tire situation.  One could imagine the diminutive Brazilian replying with a "come get some" hand gesture.  To his credit, he did keep Bottas behind for the rest of the race, but at what price his standing with the team?  This could prove to be very important down the road...

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:

more...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:26 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 1143 words, total size 8 kb.

March 29, 2014

As Seen On Texas Baseball Town!

A few days ago, friend Ben from Midnight Tease and his new Texas Baseball Town pointed out that my beloved Chicago Cubs had, of late, been making trades with his Texas Rangers, trades that have turned out fairly well for the Northsiders of late.  Understanding that he's somewhat biased about these deals as a Rangers fan, he asked if I'd be willing to look at them from the other side.  "Sure," I said, and he put it up at his place.  Longtime Pond readers know that I'm a huge baseball fan, but I don't often write about it here... that's not what the Pond is about, after all... but it felt good to stretch my wings on a topic I haven't run into the ground.  So here's the result of my turning my restrained, thoughtful style of writing towards baseball trades.  Oh, and go visit TBT, will ya?

------------------------------------------------

Earlier today, I found myself at work when, from out of nowhere, our charming and delightful host here at the Wrigleyville South Baseball Blog popped up and asked if I'd like to write a little bit about the Arlington-Chicago pipeline.  After asking "who are you and how did you get in here?" and calling security, I stepped into my office and locked the door behind me.  After the weird person with the Rangers cap was escorted away by Virgil and Ron, I thought about his request and thought "eh, why not?"

It would be wrong to say that the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers have been trading partners over the past couple of years, because that would suggest that there has been equanimity between the two teams.  In truth, the Cubs have been stealing the Rangers blind the entire time.  For example, the Matt Garza deal.  Or, as it should really be called, "13 mediocre starts by Matt Garza for Mike Olt, CJ Edwards, Justin Grimm, and Neil Ramirez."

Edwards could grow up to be a #3 starter.  Grimm looked good until he hit Triple-A, at which point he discovered that baseball can be difficult, and the big leagues, at which point he discovered that perhaps selling cars isn't such a bad career after all.  Ramirez is probably what is termed "organizational depth," as in "you need 25 players on a team, and they can't all be Mike Trout." 

And then there's Mike Olt. 

Mike "I'll be starting for the Cubs this year" Olt.  In Wrigley Field.  When the trade first happened, the general consensus on sports-talk radio up here was that he was their third sacker for the rest of the decade at least.  Me, I was some small amount less excited; the Cubs seem to have an institutional inability to create third-basemen out of can't-miss minor leaguers (Kevin Orie, anyone?  How about Gary Scott?  Heck, even the best Cubs trade of all time involved a third baseman that failed at the position... turned out Ryne Sandberg was okay at second, though).  Despite this, I still thought Olt had a good chance to take over the hot corner at Sheffield and Addison.  Turns out the Cubs agreed with me and put him on the major league roster today.

Meanwhile, Matt Garza will be pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014.  Well, heck, that's okay, the Rangers still have that other Cubs pitcher you got a few years ago, Ryan Dempster, right?  Oh, wait.  Well, the Northsiders still have Kyle Hendricks and Christian Villanueva from that deal. Hendricks will be down in Triple-A to start the year, but it wouldn't have been a huge surprise if he had made the team out of Spring Training.  Villanueva, on the other hand, suddenly has his path to the big leagues blocked by... Mike Olt.  Whoopsie.  Okay, you say, but Geovany Soto will be our starting catcher again, and he was a Cubs player!  Yep, and as soon as his knee heals in twelve weeks, he'll be back to being Geo (Metro) Soto again.

It's been brought to my attention that the Rangers picked up ex-Cub Donnie Murphy off waivers today.  My first reaction to this bit of news: "who?"  My second reaction: "he was still on the Cubs?"  Murphy is a 31-year old... let's be charitable and call him a "journeyman"... third-baseman that hit 11 homers last season (while striking out 48 times and walking eight).  He'd hit 18 home runs in his previous six seasons combined.  There's no question that he's better than not having a player at third base at all, so you've got that going for you, Ranger fans!

Once upon a time, the Cubs used to steal the Pittsburgh Pirates blind regularly.  Now it looks like their attentions have turned to Arlington.  At times like this, it's best just not to answer the phone if the caller ID shows an area code of "312."  Trust me, you'll be better off.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 05:45 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Post contains 817 words, total size 5 kb.

F1 Quals: Malaysia 2014

So last night's sleep event found me awake at 345am.  Oh, hey, I thought, I can catch the end of Quals.  I dragged myself out to the living room, turned on the TV and discovered, much to my surprise, that Q1 had begun just moments before!  Did I get the time wrong?  Confused, I checked the schedule... nope!  Q3 should have been ending.  Wha hoppen?

Oh.  Well, it is Malaysia, isn't it?  A one-hour delay was the result of most of the Malacca Strait being dumped on the racetrack, and it never entirely stopped at any time during Quals.  Which means a "who knows?" result?  Let's find out, here's the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:57.202 1:59.041 1:59.431
2 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:57.654 1:59.399 1:59.486
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:57.183 1:59.445 2:00.050
4 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:58.889 2:01.356 2:00.175
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:58.913 2:00.147 2:00.541
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:59.257 2:01.532 2:01.218
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:58.883 2:00.839 2:01.712
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 2:00.358 2:02.094 2:02.213
9 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 2:01.689 2:02.096 2:03.078
10 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2:00.889 2:01.810 2:04.053
11 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 2:01.175 2:02.351
12 Esteban! Sauber-Ferrari 2:01.134 2:02.369
13 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 2:00.047 2:02.460
14 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 2:00.076 2:02.511
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:59.709 2:02.756
16 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2:00.202 2:02.885
17 Williams Maldonado Lotus-Renault 2:02.074

18 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 2:02.131

19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 2:02.702

20 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 2:03.595

21 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 2:04.388

22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 2:04.407


Q1 107% Time
2:05.385


Strangely enough, the grid isn't messed up.  It very much is about how you'd expect a dry Quals to end up.  Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Seb Vettel has been complaining this week about the sound of the engines, saying they sound "like sh*t."  He'd probably like the sound more if his lasted more than a few laps.  What I'm saying is that seeing him up in 2nd isn't anything to be concerned about... yet.  Reliability is more important than pace right now.

Jenson Button has got to be peeved.  At every turn McLaren screwed up his tire strategy.  "Hey, Jenson, let's send you out on Inters!"  I dunno, there are fish swimming on the front straight... "Nah, it'll be fine, trust us!"  Ohhhh-kay...  (one lap later) ... This isn't working very well.  "Okay, come in for Full Wets.  By the way, we expect the track to dry in a couple of minutes."  Sunuva.... okay, Inters again.  "We gave you an oxygen tank for when the deluge we're looking at on radar hits."  SPLOOSH.  (Button sobs uncontrollably)

Race in the morning... more rain is forecast, so who knows, maybe it'll be in the afternoon!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:36 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 457 words, total size 17 kb.

March 28, 2014

2014 Malaysia Practice Writeup Not Happening

On the one hand, it's Friday night, and wonderful things happen on Friday night!  On the other hand, I didn't get home from work until 930pm.  As you can guess, I'm a little bit tired, and the prospect of watching 90 minutes of Malaysian practice doesn't particularly appeal to me.  So now that I've had dinner, and written this, I'm going to go lie down.  If I get up tonight, great.  If I don't wake up until tomorrow, I'm okay with that, too.

F1's version of tentacle porn.

Quals in the morning.  THAT, I'll watch.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:29 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Post contains 101 words, total size 1 kb.

March 26, 2014

Defender Of Nori

Ladies and Gentlemen, we all know how dangerous everyday life can be.  One can be outside taking the blobfish for a drag when suddenly, BAM!, one explosive garbage can and your entire life is ruined forever.  And it's not just randomly detonating containers, no no.  Upon occasion, even things as innocuous as trees, concrete, pebbles, clouds, and sugar gliders are known to combust spontaneously like a trespasser at a Rammstein concert.  So what's a justifiably concerned biped with a relatively new and innocent desktop computer named "Nori" to do for local defense?  In this particular case, I decided to go right to the top... I hired Rensouhou-chan.

Or, as I prefer to call him, "Turret-kun."  If you're reading this blog, and I beg your forgiveness if you are, you've likely at least heard of a Japanese online game called "Kantai Collection," or "KanColle" for short.  KanColle is, if I've got this right, a game where you are a Fleet Commander, and your fleet is made up of anthropomorphic ships from the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II... that are all young women.  If that isn't awesome enough for you, damage taken in the game is reflected by torn clothing.  Yeah, I know.  Did I mention that there's an anime coming out this Summer for the game?

Anyway, in the game, Turret-kun up there is the pal of Shimakaze, which in the Pacific War was a one-off "super destroyer".  41 knots top speed, a stunning 15 torpedo tubes, and six 5" dual-purpose guns in twin turrets... just like Turret-kun up there!  And he's perfect to protect Nori from wayward dangers like suicidal 'splody stoats.

I feel safer already.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:41 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
Post contains 281 words, total size 2 kb.

March 24, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: Malaysia 2014

So I started writing a post about the upcoming Grand Prix of Malaysia, but after a little while, it disappeared.

Nope, not gonna apologize for that joke.  There, I just provided you with more information about the missing airplane than the media did for two weeks.  I won't even do more than mention in passing the ridiculous accusation that the F1 Circus is kicking grieving families out of hotels in Malaysia.  Nope, I'll let Will Buxton, the fourth member of the Legendary Announce Team, deal with it

As far as the track goes, I've written a lot about it in the past, and haven't been able to come up with much else to talk about regarding it, so we'll leave it be.  Last year, we got the infamous "Multi 21" incident between Hannibal Vettel and Mark Webber.  Two years ago was a one-hour long red flag due to rain... what will this year bring us?  Well, it'll be hot and humid with a change of thunderstorms all weekend... in other words, exactly the same as always.

Whatever happens, the new-look Legendary Announce Team (minus The Varsha) will show us the usual good time... and here's when!

FRIDAY
Practice 2: 1a - 230a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 3a - 430a live
SUNDAY
Race: 230a - 5a live

Could be fun...will reliability still be the race-winning thing, or will speed and skill play their parts again?  And will Red Bull continue their temper-tantrum all weekend?  You cheated, you got caught, you got penalized... deal with it, Dieter.

That's all I gots... see ya on Friday!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:47 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 267 words, total size 2 kb.

March 22, 2014

Fantasy Baseball: I'm Doing It Wrong


Right, let's get this part out of the way: no matter how much I am about to moan and whine, I'm still probably the frontrunner in the league.  I know a few of the players expect me to run away with the thing, and I really should.  But I'll be damned if I didn't pee the draft right now the leg of my uniform.

As a reminder, this is an American League-only league.  Y'know, lots of big hulking power hitters, teeny-tiny ballparks, chicks dig the long ball, pitchers chuckin' and duckin', get out the rye bread and mustard, grandma, 'cause it's GRAND SALAMI TIME!  Station-to-station and wait for the two-run jack, Earl Weaver-style of baseball.

So why do I have a team full of players that make speed the focus of their offense?  Dear merciful heavens, it's like I've got... a National League team!  Which makes sense, of course, being a National League fan.  My entire roster has a permanent steal sign posted and notarized at all times.  Which is great, except it's really hard to steal home plate.

Well, if you don't have offense, I hear you saying, you must have  a pitching staff, right?

I have the only knuckleballer in the major leagues, a Mazda dealer, a guy who's never pitched in America before... and a guy who had his leg fall off.  I just might be doomed.

On the other hand, it's baseball, and how cool is that? 

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:47 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 247 words, total size 2 kb.

March 21, 2014

Fantasy Baseball Draft Tomorrow...

...that must mean it's time for Wonderduck to get serious about getting ready for this.

This is, of course, the league that was set up with Ben from Texas Baseball Town, advertised here.  We ended up with seven players, which should make for just enough for a bunch of rookies (even if a few of us aren't quite rookies).  Goes without saying that I'm still the "old hand" at fantasy baseball in the league.

Which is why I haven't really worried a whole lot about studying and researching and stuff like that.  I wanna have FUN with this one!  I've got some cheatsheets, and that's all I need.  I'll update the results after the draft (3pm Central time on Saturday).

If I don't decide to take a nap instead, that is.  Baseball is back!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:51 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 138 words, total size 1 kb.

March 19, 2014

Awesomely Awesome Awesomeness

So dziban303 asked earlier if I "could clarify why the XF8U-3 looks so incredibly awesome."  That's something I can do.  If there's something I'm good at, it's being a judge of what's awesome.

So, being a judge of what's awesome comes naturally to me.   But when you ask Wonderduck why a jet fighter looks awesome, you're treading on dangerous ground because I can go on for quite a long time about such awesome things.  If you don't know of what dziban is referring, here is the XF8U-3 Super Crusader!

On first glance, one sorta has to wonder just what dizzyban is talking about.  It's a tubby Crusader, big deal, so what?  And isn't there some sort of unwritten rule that any jet fighter that flies for the French is automatically not awesome?  Ah, but this isn't a Crusader... it's the SUPER CRUSADER, duhn-duh-duhhhhhhhhhh!  See, someone decided that the original F8U, the "Last Gunfighter," wasn't awesome enough on it's own, what with a variable incidence wing and all that sorta good stuff, no.  They had to make it SUPER awesome!

See, what they did is build a whole new airplane, stick a bigger engine in it, and say "you're gonna be faster than your cousin."  And it was, by nearly .50mach.  In fact, it went so fast that it needed an extra set of fins underneath to keep it from going all whackadoodle.  But that wasn't awesome enough for the guys at Vought... nope nope

See, what they decided was that going Mach 2.38 wasn't GOOD ENOUGH!  So they made it possible to go all Kerbal on it by leaving space for a rocket motor to be jammed up its bippy!  Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you that there is nothing that screams awesome more than having a rocket jammed up your bippy. 

The XF8U-3 was awesomely developed to become the chief fighter for the US Navy, where it went head-to-head against the F4 Phantom II.  As it turned out, it was even hotter than the Phantom, and it regularly out-dogfighted that worthy plane.  However, that's all it could do, air-to-air, where the Phantom could do air-to-ground, too.  As a result, the Phantom became a legend.  But all was not lost!  Three of the five XF8U-3s wound up going into service with NASA, since they could do things that almost no other fighters of the time could do... even without a rocket jammed up its bippy. 

And for quite some time, the NASA planes would go out and pick on the Navy Phantoms in mock dogfights... and always, always hand them their lunch.  Until the Navy pilots asked NASA to please stop.

Awesome.  That's the SUPER CRUSADER, in a nutshell.  THAT'S why it looks as awesome as it does: because it was built out of 100% Grade A USDA Choice Awesome! 

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:16 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
Post contains 474 words, total size 3 kb.

<< Page 1 of 134 >>
138kb generated in CPU 0.11, elapsed 0.2308 seconds.
58 queries taking 0.1416 seconds, 282 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.