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?

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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.

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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? 

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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!

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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! 

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March 18, 2014

So...


...hi.

UPDATE: Kinda topic-deprived at the moment.  Got anything you want clarified?

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March 12, 2014

Wow, That's Kinda...Um...

Remember that story I mentioned a few days ago, the one I couldn't get out of my head, the one that I knew I had to get written?

It sucks.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the concept is excellent, top notch, perfect for a short-story.  I've just discovered that I'm not entirely sure where to go with it.  It isn't flowing the way the last one did.  It's coming off really stiff, and while that's somewhat appropriate for one of the characters, I'm not managing to make it interesting at the same time.

Part of me wants to just bury it under a pile of kittylitter and leave it.  Another part wants me to keep plugging away on it.  Then there's the part that wants me to release what I've completed so far just to see how many of my readers go running for the hills, noses hld delicately betwixt thumb and forefinger.

We'll see.

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March 09, 2014

In The Pipeline

I've been oddly silent the past few days.  To some of you, this would be a good thing: "thank Víðarr for small blessings," you say.  Others amongst you are probably thinking something along the lines of "Wonderduck's working on something that's taking a long time... there are many ways that can play out, and very few of them are good."  There might even be a couple of you that are wondering just where the hell the decoys are.

The truth of the matter is that I do have a couple of things in the works.  Of course, next Sunday is the first F1 race of the season, which means that we'll return to that routine beginning on Monday or Tuesday.  Then there's a piece of fiction that's stuck in my head begging to be written... when I realized that I'm thinking about it in the shower, it's a pretty good sign that I've got to get it written up.  Then there's installment #2 of the Eva 2.22 writeup that's gotta be done as well.

If this week goes the way I hope, at least two of those will be completed, maybe all three.  If it doesn't, well, the F1 stuff'll be done.

See you soon!

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March 04, 2014

To The Mun IV: Let's Go With That

Despite all the best efforts of my Chief Designer, no progress had been made on rescuing Bill Kerman from the surface of the Mun.  Failed designs littered the landscape around the Space Center, often in tiny fragments.  The problem, it seemed, was providing a seat for our misplaced kerbalnaut... I just couldn't figure out a way to get to the Mun with room to spare for Bill.  The three-seat capsule was too big, and the various other passenger units were too heavy for my skillz.  It looked like Bill was going to be staying at MunBase I for a while... until I stumbled upon a picture in a book that solved the problem!

This is the Gloster Meteor F8 Dual-Cockpit "prone pilot" test plane.  In an attempt to allow pilots to endure higher G forces, the thought was that having the pilot lying down head first might do so.  As it turns out, it did, but advances in G suits made the arrangement moot.  Plus, the visibility to the rear was horrible, and ejecting added a whole series of problems.  But that didn't matter to me, the dual cockpit arrangement triggered something in my brain.  Away went the Chief Designer to the drafting table!

Take a Mk1 Cockpit from C7 Aerospace, attach it to a Mk2 Cockpit, and suddenly we've got a solution.  The mission is flown from the pointybit, Bill will ride in the back seat, and it will still stack on top of an evolution of the original Mun Launcher I... which we know works.  How hard can it be?  As it turns out, the design could have saved a bit of weight by using a Mk 1 Capsule from Kerlington Model Rockets and Paper Products, Inc., but two things prevented that.  First, aesthetics: the two bits we used are, stylistically, the same.  They just look better together.  Then, and perhaps more importantly, C7 Aerospace bought uniforms for the Space Center's kerball team.

more...

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March 02, 2014

Argh, Feh, ETC

Two days is not long enough to recover from a long week.  I need another week off.

Look, here's how tired I've been: I have a new graphics card for Nori, a GTX 650 (this one, as a matter of fact), and I haven't been able to generate the energy to install it, even though it should kick all sorts of asterisk.

Yadda yadda work, yadda yadda tired, yadda yadda blah blah blah.  I know, I know, quitcherbitchin' Wonderduck.  Sorry.  I'm trying.

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