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My 2015 MLB Predictions April 5, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Personal, Sports.
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(11/11/15 UPDATE: Results italicized in parentheses.)

Back in September, I went public with my annual NFL season predictions after years of posting them on Facebook. Another personal tradition is predicting the Major League Baseball season.

Here are my predictions for 2015:

NL (National League) East

  1. Nationals (2) (missed playoffs, finished 2nd)
  2. Braves (Wild Card 2) (missed playoffs, finished 4th)
  3. Mets (won division, 3 seed)
  4. Marlins (finished 3rd)
  5. Phillies

NL Central

  1. Cardinals (1)
  2. Pirates (Wild Card 1)
  3. Reds (finished 5th)
  4. Cubs (Wild Card 2, finished 3rd)
  5. Brewers (finished 4th)

NL West

  1. Dodgers (3) (2)
  2. Giants
  3. Diamondbacks
  4. Padres
  5. Rockies

AL (American League) East

  1. Orioles (2) (missed playoffs, finished 3rd)
  2. Red Sox (finished 5th)
  3. Yankees (Wild Card 1, finished 2nd)
  4. Blue Jays (won division, 2 seed)
  5. Rays (finished 4th)

AL Central

  1. Indians (1) (missed playoffs, finished 3rd)
  2. Tigers (Wild Card 1) (missed playoffs, finished 5th)
  3. Royals (Wild Card 2) (won division, 1 seed)
  4. White Sox
  5. Twins (finished 2nd)

AL West

  1. Athletics (3) (missed playoffs, finished 5th)
  2. Angels (finished 3rd)
  3. Mariners (finished 4th)
  4. Rangers (won division, 3 seed)
  5. Astros (Wild Card 2, finished 2nd)

Playoff predictions:
NL Wild Card Playoff

Braves defeat Pirates (Cubs defeat Pirates)

AL Wild Card Playoff
Tigers defeat Royals (Astros defeat Yankees)

NL Division Series
Cardinals vs. Braves: Cardinals win 3-1 (Cardinals vs. Cubs: Cubs win 3-1)
Nationals vs. Dodgers: Dodgers win 3-0 (Dodgers vs. Mets: Mets win 3-2)

AL Division Series
Indians vs. Tigers: Tigers win 3-2 (Royals vs. Astros: Royals win 3-2)
Orioles vs. Athletics: Athletics win 3-0 (Blue Jays vs. Rangers: Blue Jays win 3-2)

NL Championship Series
Cardinals vs. Dodgers: Cardinals win 4-1 (Mets vs. Cubs: Mets win 4-0)

AL Championship Series
Athletics vs. Tigers: Tigers win 4-2 (Royals vs. Blue Jays: Royals win 4-2)

World Series (AL home field advantage via All-Star Game win) (home field correct)
Cardinals vs. Tigers: Cardinals win 4-1 (Royals vs. Mets: Royals win 4-1)

As with my Patriots prediction, pessimism drove me to pick the Cardinals to win the World Series. The 2006 NLCS, in which the Cards defeated the Mets in seven games, turned me against them. (The 2015 World Series turned me against the Royals.)

I will update this post after the World Series with results italicized in parentheses. Play ball! (The revision is complete, ten days after the World Series concluded with a disappointing result. In a dream world, the 2016 Mets will make like the 2015 Royals and win the World Series one year after losing it. But the more likely outcome is a return to futility for the Mets. Worse yet, the Mets open next season with two games in Kansas City. Until then, thanks for reading this revised post.)

Audiobooking December 2, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Baseball, Basketball, Broadway, Comedy, Commentary, Film, Health, Media, News, Personal, Politics, Radio, Sports, Theatre, TV.
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While I may have indefinitely suspended photo album picture scanning, one constant since June has been audiobooks. What I’ve usually done is listen to a whole chapter while working out in the morning or on my portable elliptical machine in the afternoon. I only buy nonfiction and prefer that they are read by the author. I want to hear their words in their voice, not someone else’s, even if the author’s delivery is subpar.

This isn’t the first time I’ve listened to audiobooks. That goes back to a road trip with my parents and sister in January 1997, as we drove back from Florida. To show you how long ago that was, the audiobook was on cassettes. That book, The Hobbit, was the only time I’ve listened to fiction. It’s been all nonfiction since.

Between December 1997 – when I listened to The Big Show: A Tribute to ESPN’s SportsCenter – and June 2014, I would get an audiobook here and there, but I wasn’t a regular buyer. I didn’t exercise in the morning, either. That began in late March. It’s always best to get tough tasks out of the way early because your willpower drops as the day progresses. It helps to have something interesting to listen to while you’re working out, not something aggravating like politics and sports debate and discussion.

With all that in mind, I’ve listened to the following audiobooks, on CD or through Audible, since June:

  • President Me: The America That’s In My Head by Adam Carolla (via CD) – an outline of all the things Adam would do to improve the United States if he were president
  • Not Quite the Classics by Colin Mochrie (via Audible) – improvised stories based on the first and last lines of select novels and poems
  • I’ll Be Back Right After This: My Memoir by Pat O’Brien (via Audible) – Pat’s memoir chronicled his early life, television career, and struggle with addiction. Knock on wood, Pat has been sober for six years and counting.
  • Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (via CD) – This is the latest in Bill and Martin’s “Killing” series that factually recounts the events of historical figures leading up to their tragic deaths. Their previous books focused on Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Jesus of Nazareth, respectively.
  • Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? by Billy Crystal (via Audible) – Billy’s memoir ran the gamut of emotions, from funny to heartbreaking, recalling major events in each decade of his life as of publication last year. I learned things I never knew and recalled fond memories of what I already knew. The only downside to the book is that Billy peppered his liberal ideology throughout it, outlining his liberal points of view and maligning right-leaning personalities and media. I’m not a lockstep conservative, but I do tend to take criticism of or jokes about people, places, and things that I like personally. But I didn’t let that completely ruin the listening experience.
  • Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large by William Shatner with Chris Regan (via CD) – When I was searching for the next audiobook to listen to, as Still Foolin’ ‘Em was winding down, I recalled William Shatner had a memoir out called Up Till Now: The Autobiography. But then I noticed that Shatner Rules had come out later than Up Till Now. So, I opted for Shatner Rules instead. The big message I took from the book was to say “yes” to as many things as possible. “‘No’ closes doors,” William said. “‘Yes’ kicks them wide open.” Shatner briefly drifted into politics, too, but the environmental kind. His doomsday scenarios were frightening. I didn’t let that completely ruin the listening experience. (ding) Rule: I highly recommend Shatner Rules as either the written book or spoken audiobook.
  • Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks by Dick Cavett (via Audible) – It was here that I did let politics completely ruin the listening experience. This is not a memoir. It is a compilation of Dick’s columns at The New York Times’ Opiniator blog. That structure is similar to that for Things That Matter, a compilation of Charles Krauthammer’s columns over his 30-year career to date. Charles is Dick’s polar opposite. But I didn’t know any of that until my second day of listening. And it was this rant of a column that Dick read for Brief Encounters – combined with frustration that the book was not what I expected – that led me to request a refund from Audible. Thankfully, they granted it. I did learn a few things, though, about Dick’s days writing for The Tonight Show. I also learned that Arthur Godfrey preferred to address only one member of the listening or viewing audience (“you”), not the entire audience (“everybody”).
  • Scribe: My Life in Sports by Bob Ryan (via Audible) – I bought this in place of Brief Encounters. I’ve been listening for nearly a week and I’m enjoying it.

There will be more audiobooks to come in the weeks ahead as I continue to try to keep myself in shape.

NFL Network coming to Cablevision!!! August 16, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Basketball, Football, Media, News, Personal, Radio, Sports, TV.
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Effective tomorrow, NFL Network and NFL RedZone will be added to Cablevision’s lineup.  Via NFL.com:

BETHPAGE, NY and NEW YORK, NY — August 16, 2012 – NFL Network and Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), the largest TV provider in the nation’s top media market, announced today that they have reached a multi-year agreement for carriage of NFL Network and the NFL RedZone channel.

NFL Network will make its debut in Cablevision homes beginning Friday. NFL Network will be available on channel 150 in both standard-definition and HD for customers who subscribe to iO Preferred, iO Silver, iO Gold or the iO Sports & Entertainment Pak. NFL RedZone, which airs on Sundays throughout the regular season, will be offered in both standard-definition and HD on channel 151 as part of the iO Sports & Entertainment Pak, which is now included in the new iO Gold package, which was launched last spring. …

Cablevision customers like myself have been waiting for this day since the network launched nearly a decade ago.  I learned of this from Steve Somers on WFAN twenty minutes before publishing this post.

NFL Network will round out a trio of channels devoted to professional sports leagues.  iO (Interactive Optimum) channel 148 is NBA TV and 149 is MLB Network.

Thank you very much, Cablevision.

8/18 UPDATE: Here is the Steve Somers monologue that tipped me off to NFL Network’s arrival on Cablevision.  After talking about the Mets and Yankees results, he got to the big deal at the 9:02 mark.  My transcript (listen along):

As you have heard [earlier in the day on WFAN], Cablevision has taken on the NFL Network, giving the face of the NFL Network, Rich Eisen, the opportunity to extol the virtues of the cable industry in general, and the NFL Network in particular, as we heard on his live infomercial, apparently sponsoring Joe and Evan this afternoon.  Rich will also appear with Joe and Evan sometime soon, where we will actually hear from him discussing football!  …

Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts filled in for Mike Francesa all this week.

Derecho flashback July 1, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Radio, Sports, Weather.
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Friday’s derecho that plowed through the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic took me back fourteen years to a derecho that impacted Long Island.

Derecho” is a Spanish term that has many translations, including “straight.”  The “straight” translation gives the long-lasting weather event its name because of the straight-line winds it produces.

The derecho I remember hit in the mid-afternoon of September 7, 1998; Labor Day.  But I didn’t even know of that term, or the swath of damage it caused, until last winter while reading up on major storms that have hit Long Island.

Outside of looking at the radar on The Weather Channel and hearing the thunder, I was oblivious of the derecho’s effects.  I was in the basement of my friend Joey’s house, a few blocks southwest of my home in Wantagh.  The basement was basically his apartment.  It had a bedroom, entertainment center (where we were at the time), and bathroom.  I sat at a table while he sat on the couch.  I flipped back and forth from The Weather Channel and ESPN, the latter of which was carrying a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.  Mark McGwire hit his 61st home run of that season in that game.

Despite the strong winds and lightning, the power never went out at Joey’s house.  My house wasn’t so lucky.  We did lose power.  Considering what I learned recently, I can understand why and why it was out for so long.  Power was not restored until around 4AM, about half a day after the derecho hit.

YouTube user Eltiempo10 has video of a Weather Channel Local Forecast at 2:58 PM:

The forecast begins at 0:38, following a station promo featuring Mike Bono, who is now at YNN.  (Click here for my December 2005 interview with him.)  The JFK “Current Conditions” observation at the top of the forecast is from before the derecho.  At 0:50, you’ll notice the temperature went down 11 degrees and the wind speed was 51 MPH!  Much of the last 90-seconds is the 90-minute radar loop.  The music excerpt used is “Secrets” by Brazilian jazz guitarist Torcuato Mariano, from his 1995 album Last Look.

Scenery pictures June 30, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, Weather.
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Inspired by my travel pictures post, this post is made up entirely of pictures of scenery or past landmarks that are new to the site.

I originally planned on putting in pictures I shot in April and June of this year, but then went further back to 2005.  Unless otherwise noted, the pictures were taken outside my house.

We’ll start with a few sunrise pictures.

February 24, 2005:

March 3, 2005:

March 14, 2005, overlooking the 1st hole fairway of Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead golf course in Palm Harbor, Florida:

July 3, 2005: Sunset outside Jones Beach Theater:

May 27, 2006: Memorial Day Weekend fireworks at North Hempstead Beach Park:

July 30, 2006: A series of sunset pics while on a boat ride south of Freeport:

August 18, 2006: Looking above Woodcleft Avenue in Freeport:

August 25, 2006: On the beach in Lake Worth, Florida:

Later that day, an approaching thunderstorm at The Cascades in Boynton Beach:

August 26, 2006: Storm clouds north of Boynton Beach:

August 28, 2006: Walking up Cascades Isle Boulevard:

September 6, 2006: Shea Stadium before the first game of a Mets-Braves doubleheader:

A plane for a since-defunct airline in its final approach to LaGuardia Airport:

September 8, 2006: Hicksville LIRR station:

September 11, 2006:

October 28, 2006: Back at Innisbrook, looking above Copperhead’s 2nd tee:

Part of Innisbrook’s Loch Ness pool:

November 3, 2006: Fall foliage at LIU Post:

Looking above the Duffy Avenue/Newbridge Road intersection in Hicksville, south of the LIRR station:

November 10, 2006: Sunset at Post:

August 17, 2007: The early stage of a thunderstorm:

September 12, 2007:

October 27, 2007:

March 8, 2008: Back above Copperhead:

April 7, 2012, at a surprise wedding in Freeport:

June 3, 2012:

June 9, 2012:

June 17, 2012, at a Father’s Day barbecue in Freeport:

June 22, 2012: Sunset:

June 27, 2012: Looking above the platform at the Wantagh LIRR station:

A bird in the Rockville Centre LIRR station parking lot:

And now more photographic loose ends have been tied up at MikeChimeri.com.  I hope you liked what you saw.

Where I was: Johan Santana’s no-hitter June 1, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Hockey, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Radio, TV.
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(Updated with additional links.)

It’s been a whirlwind 56 minutes as I type.  Here goes:

For stress reasons, I typically don’t watch or listen to Mets games until three hours after it starts.  If I didn’t check ESPN.com at 9:42 PM EDT to see the name of the winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals held last night – it was Snigdha Nandipati – I would not have known Johan Santana was three outs away from pitching a no-hitter.  But I did.

I left my bedroom, and from the top of the stairs in the top floor hallway, I told my parents down in the den to put on SNY because Santana was close to achieving that no-hitter.  This may be too much information, but while SNY was (and still is) recording on the DVR in my room, I listened to the last three outs on WFAN from the bathroom on the shower radio in there.

Mets lead radio play-by-play announcer Howie Rose was as loud as he was 18 years and five nights ago at Madison Square Garden, calling Stephane Matteau’s Eastern Conference Finals-clinching goal in double overtime for the Rangers against the Devils.

I don’t think any Mets fan, including Howie, thought tonight would ever happen.  It took 8,020 games in 51 seasons for the first no-hitter in Mets history to occur.  What a night.

An excerpt of the game recap from Steven Miller at MLB.com:

It took 50 years, but the New York Mets and Johan Santana finally have their no-hitter.

The 33-year-old Santana held the Cardinals hitless in an 8-0 victory Friday in front of 27,069 at Citi Field, who witnessed the first no-hitter in franchise history. The left-hander walked five as his pitch count climbed to 134, but manager Terry Collins could not pull his starter, who Collins said he would limit to about 110 pitches before the game.

“Wow — amazing,” Santana said after the game. “Coming into this season, I was just hoping to come back and stay healthy and help this team. And now I’m in this situation in the greatest city in baseball. I’m very happy, and I’m happy for [the fans], finally — the first one.

“It was a crazy night, trying to command my fastball, moving all over the plate. But I was able to locate it, command it and get some quick outs and get out of there.”

When asked how he felt after throwing the final pitch, Santana could hardly contain his excitement.

“That’s the greatest feeling ever,” Santana said, just as he received a celebratory pie to the face.

WFAN audio/SNY video via Deadspin

New York Daily News:
Anthony McCarron: Johan Santana tosses first no-hitter in NY Mets history during 8-0 victory against St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field
Mike Lupica: On Johan Santana’s magical night at Citi Field, NY Mets fans finally see a no-hitter

Newsday (subscription required):
Roderick Boone: Johan Santana pitches Mets’ first no-hitter

ESPN New York:
Andrew Marchand: Johan Santana tosses no-hitter

WFAN/Associated Press/1010 WINS:
UNBELIEVABLE: Santana Throws First No-Hitter In Mets History

Steve Somers of WFAN (who now sounds years younger thanks to dental surgery last Monday):
Show Open
Interview with Mets catcher Josh Thole
Interview with Ron Darling, former Mets pitcher and current analyst for Mets games on SNY
6/6 UPDATE: Monday night’s Show Open and interview with Jerry Seinfeld


8/18 UPDATE: In recent days, Steve Somers’ speech has returned nearly to what it was before his surgery.  He no longer sounds like he ingested helium.

Unfortunately, Johan hasn’t been the same pitcher since the no-hitter.

Back and forth with Bernie Williams August 20, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Books, Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Sports.
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Recently, a friend of mine gave me a copy of former New York Yankees center fielder, and past-and-present guitarist, Bernie Williams‘ new book–written with Dave Gluck and Bob Thompson–Rhythms of the Game: The Link Between Musical and Athletic Performance.

One day after receiving the book, I started to read it.  I’m currently up to chapter 7.  After seeing a post-#FF (Follow Friday) tweet from Bernie in my Twitter feed, I figured I’d tweet to him what I just wrote in this post:

I meant every word.  I’ve been taking piano lessons since October 2006.  I don’t have an actual piano to practice on, but I have the next best thing: a Yamaha YPG-625 Portable Grand keyboard.  The lessons and practice are challenging, but fun.  That’s especially true after I finally get the song I’m learning down.

I’ll update this post after I complete Rhythms of the Game.

9/30 UPDATE: I finished reading two days ago.  My considerable liking of the book carried through to the end.  It’s a great read.

Tim McCarver auto-tuned July 19, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Commentary, Media, Music, News, Personal, Politics, Sports, Technology, TV.
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During the last commercial break for the 8PM Eastern airing of last Friday’s The O’Reilly Factor, there was a promo for the MLB on Fox.  In the promo, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are to be auto-tuned during their broadcasts to appeal to a younger demographic.  Tim follows through, but Joe refuses:

This promo has been running since the start of the season, but Friday was the first time I saw it.  I initially posted it to my Facebook wall, but decided to post it here, too.  As I said in my previous post, I find auto-tune hilarious and always get a kick out of it, especially if spoken word gets the auto-tune treatment.

Tony Snow: 1955-2008; Bobby Murcer: 1946-2008 July 12, 2008

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Media, Personal, Sports, TV.

Tony Snow in 1996; Courtesy FOXNews.com/AP

I didn’t wake up for the day until 1:30 this afternoon and didn’t have internet for a few hours because of a branch in the way of the cable wire to the house.  The problem wasn’t fixed about a half hour ago (it’s 4:48 as I post this).  Then, I checked my e-mail and was told by a friend on my private Topica discussion list that Tony Snow had died of colon cancer at the age of 53.  I immediately put on Fox News Channel to watch their coverage of his passing.

This is very sad news, but I could sense it was coming.  Among the many things I liked about Snow was he remained highly positive and upbeat to his final moments.  May God rest Tony Snow.

Mark Koldys, of the cable news discussion site Johnny Dollar’s Place, has posted several links to coverage of Snow’s passing here.

11:15 UPDATE (Picture and links updated on 7/14):

Bobby Murcer; Courtesy AP

Another great in his field lost his battle with cancer today: former Yankees player and play-by-play announcer Bobby Murcer died of brain cancer at the age of 62.  He, too, will be missed.