January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday

Today would have been Momzerduck's 66th Birthday.

It's amazing how much I miss her.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:25 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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January 16, 2010

A Little Housekeeping

I'm currently working on the post for Ga-Rei Zero, Episode 03.  It's a remarkably time-consuming process.  I take roughly one screenshot per minute of running time per episode (25-30 screencaps per 24 minute show), plus variants for many of them.  For example, let's look at this shot:

I actually had five different versions of this picture.  The only differences were the positions of the "overhead lights" (she's actually standing underneath an overpass, and as cars went over, the lights moved.  No, I don't understand how the highway bridge is see-through either, but it's a neat look). 

Then, of course, I have to adjust the saturation, contrast, and size of each screencap as well.  ZoomPlayer's snapshot feature is good, but the resulting pictures sometimes seem washed out; maybe it's just me, though.  Then comes the uploading of each picture, and THEN I get to write a thousand words around them.  Each writeup seems to take between three or four hours all told, not including the initial viewing of the episode.

In other business, there's little going on in the world of Formula 1 at the moment, but that'll be changing very soon.  The first Preseason Test session is February 1st at Valencia, and many of the teams are rolling out their cars just ahead of that date.  Ferrari, for example, will debut their car to the press on January 28th.  Of course, I'll be doing a F1 Pr0n entry for each one!

Fortunately for my sanity, the motorsports season is just about to get underway.  First there's the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction, which begins on the 19th.  Legendary Announce Team member Bob Varsha is the head voice for SPEED's coverage, and it's great to see all those cool cars.  Then we get the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona on January 30th.  I love watching the 24-hour races, and the Daytona one is pretty much the unofficial start of the American motorsport year.

So, yeah, that's what is going on over here at The Pond at the moment.  Only 54 more days until the first practice for the Grand Prix of Bahrain!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:42 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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January 11, 2010

The Hawk and Big Mac

It's hard to think baseball in the middle of January, but over the past few days there's been two big news items to come from America's Game.  It might be interesting to compare the individuals involved, Andre Dawson and Mark McGwire.

Andre "The Hawk" Dawson started his major league career in 1976 as an outfielder for the Montreal Expos.  He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1977, and eight Gold Gloves for his defense (1980-1985, 1987-1988).  He was what they called a "five-tool player," able to hit for average and power, had good speed, a cannon arm and played excellent defense in the field. 

A testament to his offensive abilities is that he became only the third member of one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball, the 300-300 club, in 1991.  At the time, only Willie Mays and Bobby Bonds had reached those numbers in home runs and steals (there are now six players with those numbers). 

In 1987, Dawson won the NL MVP award, hitting 49 homers and driving in 137 runs.  More amazing is that he won the award playing for a last place team, the 76-85 Chicago Cubs.  He joined the Cubs in 1986, practically begging the team to give him a contract.  This was the age of collusion, when the Major League teams had decided that they wouldn't sign other teams' free agents, no matter what.  Dawson gave the Cubs a standard contract with his signature on it, but with the amount he was to be paid left blank.  He then told the club to fill in the amount they were willing to pay.  They offered him $500000 plus incentives worth an additional $750000 if he made the All-Star team, started in the All-Star game, or won the MVP.  These numbers were well below what he should have been offered, but he still took it.

He had good reason to leave Montreal for Chicago: the field.  The astroturf in Montreal's Olympic Stadium was easily the hardest in the Majors, being barely more than a plastic grass carpet laid directly on concrete.  Over the 10 years he played there, his knees degenerated into putty from all the pounding they took.  Much of his speed was lost after 1983, when he stole 25 bases.  He never stole close to 20 again.  He was always the first to the ballpark, and the last to leave, simply because he needed the extra time to get therapy on his knees just so he could play.  While they didn't shorten his career, they certainly made it much more painful.  He's actually had one of his knees replaced twice since his retirement, and the other will be replaced sometime soon, as it has no cartilage remaining.

He retired in 1996.  In 2005, Ryne Sandburg, the Cubs' great second baseman, was inducted into the Hall of Fame.  During his induction speech, Sandburg pushed for Dawson's enshrinement, saying "No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen. I watched him win an MVP for a last-place team in 1987 [with the Cubs], and it was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way, and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way, and I hope he will stand up here someday."

This past weekend, Andre Dawson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mark "Big Mac" McGwire, hit 70 home runs in 1998, breaking the single season record previously held by Roger Maris.  He hit 583 for his career.  Today, he came out and admitted that he used cheated by steroids during his career, including that 1998 season. 

Two more different people would be difficult to find.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:22 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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