Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Friday, June 09, 2006

GET TO THE ZOO WHILE THERE'S STILL TIME

From James...

"It's interesting how some animals can roll with the changes, but i'll say this: go to the zoo and see polar bears while they still exist. I'll bet they become extinct within our lifetime. I plan on making some zoo trip and taking pictures of some of the animals that i think will be gone so i can amaze grandchildren with pictures of things they will only read about in books. i know if my grandpa pulled out some pictures of dodos, i would have been impressed."


On the other hand, with great advances in DNA wouldn't we be able to preserve specimans of the most endangered species. Obviously they have problems getting pandas to hump in captivity, but aren't they a rare exception? Wouldn't they be able to keep the polar bears in the zoo? Even if they couldn't, wouldn't they be able to keep DNA samples and place them in a Jurassic Park next to Doug Moe clones and Tondar/Crowbot hybrids.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

PIC OF THE DAY


Yes, Friday is gonna be one of THESE kinda nights! Posted by Picasa
FLAMING RAINBOWS

No, it's not a gay club here in Atlanta. Turns out it is an extremely rare atmospheric phenomenom. I wonder there is an example in history where a great leader was inspired by this "miracle" in the sky? Remember Constantine's cross or the blood moon of 1492?
THE NBA FINALS

The NBA Finals are about to get underway. I have to admit that I am still shocked by the Pistons trainwreck. But if you don't come to play, then you have to go home. On the other hand, the Miami vs. Dallas Finals offers many interesting matchups. The first one that comes to mind is, how will Dallas handle Shaq. But with Erick Dampier and DeSegana Diop, the Mavs have 2 very capable bodies to throw at him. The bigger question is how will Miami handle Dirk Nowitzki? He has been on fire these playoffs and with his ability to both shoot and post up at 7 ft, he is defensive nightmare. I would imagine the Heat will throw a series of looks at him involving Posey, Haslem, and Walker. Like Shaq, Dirk will get his. Unlike Shaq, Dirk will also hit his freethrows.

In addition, to the frontcourt matchups, there will also be another battle between Dwayne Wade and Jason Williams against Jason Terry and Devin Harris. Here I think Dallas' speed and offensive skills that were sharpened against Phoenix and San Antonio will be too much for Miami. Also consider that Dallas is at the top of their game having defeated San Antonio in 7 and Phoenix in 6, with no significant injuries. As for Miami, they have not been seriously tested since the Chicago series. New Jersey and Detroit offered neither great competition nor did Miami get worn down. Though we are told that Wade is recovering from the flu. I'll believe that line when I see him puke on the Dallas mustang at halfcourt.

In the end I think Dallas' speed will be too much for Miami. Shaq will be frustrated by the Maverick centers. Sure he and Wade will get theirs but the Dallas supporting cast will outshine the Miami supporting cast 4 games to 2.
PIC OF THE DAY


PBR and Tondar. From this source, all babies are made. Posted by Picasa
BREAKING THE CURSE?

1984 - Last world series and championship.
1985 - Pena's first year

Obviously the curse is now broken!

From the May 18, AP Dar-chives...

Tigers Fire Front Office Staffer


(AP) - DETROIT-The Detroit Tigers relieved Ramon Pena of his duties as special assistant to the general manager on Wednesday.

"The Tigers thank Ramon Pena for his services to the organization," vice president and assistant general manager Al Avila said in a statement. "He scouted and signed many players for the organization, but based on a different set of philosophies we decided to go in another direction."

Pena was in his 22nd season with the Tigers after originally joining the organization as a scout in 1985.

Manny Crespo, Detroit's director of Latin American operations, and Tom Moore, the Tigers' assistant director of international and professional scouting, will manage the Tigers' academy in the Dominican Republic on an interim basis.


Seth on the Pena firing...

Pena's job was to find talent in Latin America.

Now think of one Latino player since 1985 who was drafted by the Tigers, came up in the Tigers' organization, debuted with the Tigers, and either had a career on the Tigers or is still on the team...

Fernando Rodney

One.

Here's the story:

The Tigers were like the last team in baseball to go Latin, just like they were one of the last to go black. They missed the opportunity to break the barrier, they missed the opportunity to grab the best of the best once the barrier was down (i.e. Roberto Clemente), they missed the chance to get a few decent players, and when they finally decided to get in the South-of-the-Border they nabbed Willie Hernandez from the Phillies. Okay, we already had Mexican-born Aurelio Lopez, the closer before Willie came over. Our Latino prospect was Barbaro Garbey, an earlier version of Tony Phillips who sizzled as a rookie in '84, but then fizzled in '85 and finished in Texas in '86.



However, at the end of '84, with Garbey's successful freshman entrance, Willie Hernandez showing up to dominate the 9th inning, and Aurelio Lopez setting him up nicely, you can see why the organization would be interested in finding more of these Spanish-speaking fellas.

Enter Ramon Pena, who was put in charge of scouting and finding Latin players (like Willie). Pena was quick to fill the '80s bench with a parade of other teams' bad Latin players: Marty Castillo, Alejandro Sanchez, Juan Berenguer, Orlando Mercado, Mark Salas, Luis de los Santos, and Johnny Paredes.*

But by now, teams were discovering Rafael Palmeiro and Edgar Martinez, while Texas had happened upon a pair of 16-year-old phenoms in Juan Gonzalez and Pudge Rodriguez. So Pena was sent South to get the Tigers in on the local scouting action.

Then came nothing. Pena's draftees of the late '80s weren't even coming close to the major league club. For like four years in the mid-'90s, the Tigers didn't have a single Latino player (not counting the month that Juan Samuel played for them because we offered him a coaching job afterwards).

Then in 1994 and 1995 came what was to be Pena's first crop of drafted star pitchers: Jose Lima and Felipe Lira.

Lima did get 21 wins once in Houston in 1999, a feat that continues to earn the God-awful pitcher a series of journeyman roster spots. But he stunk with the Tigers from 94-96, and stunk after we reacquired him in another Randy Smith-era incestuous trade with the Astros. Hurray for Pena for discovering this gem.

Lira was slated to be our star pitcher, a high draft pick who got the Ace spot in '96 after looking so-so his rookie year. Then Lira got murdered by the new breed of AL power hitters (enter the roids age) and lost his confidence. He was always a prospect with Detroit, and when we traded him to Seattle he got even worse, eventually calling it a (bad) career in Montreal in 2001.

With the commencement of the Buddy Bell era, i.e. Sparky's resignation and time's excise on the Tram/Lou/Cecil/Henneman/Tettleton team, Pena survived the staff turnaround and started doing more major-league scouting -- mostly following up on players from old draft boards whom he didn't get.

By 1996, our roster included more other-team pickups, like journeyman pitcher Omar Olivares, and then [cringe] Andujar Cedeno and [double-cringe] Fausto Cruz. He also picked up a shortstop prospect from the San Francisco Giants, who let the talented young Deivi Cruz go when his knees got blown out for the second time.

But that was okay, because according to Pena, a star was rising through the minors who would make the sun look dim: the toolbox, Juan Encarnacion.

Encarnacion was Pena's prodigy, discovered at Pena's high school in the Dominican Republic. He could run, throw, catch, hit for average and hit for power, said Pena. He was good as a rookie in '98, hitting .329 in 40 games. Then as a regular, he dropped off. There were flashes of power (he was the last guy to hit a ball in the black seats of Yankee Stadium since Mickey Mantle), but mostly he struck out and made errors and got caught stealing and such. Juan found a niche playing to his abilities later in Florida, but with the Tigers, he was more of a tool than a 5-tool player.

Either way, we should congratulate Pena at this point. Here, in 1998, he had discovered and signed a major league baseball player. It only took him 14 years. He'd also successfully scouted another team's garbage bin to come up with shortstop regular and regularly improving Deivi Cruz.

Since then, Pena finds actually got a lot better. He found closer prospect Francisco Cordero, then Omar Infante (who was the next A-Rod according to Pena), then Ramon Santiago, and most importantly, Fernando Rodney.

These weren't genius moves, of course. First of all, Rodney showed up with a 95-mph fastball, a no-brainer for any scout. It was Detroit's pitching coaches who taught Rodney control and and his wacky changeup. Meanwhile, Infante's slick fielding and occasional pop when hitting was offset by his error tendencies and bad plate judgment, something the other scouts knew well and Pena NEVER seemed to notice in his prospecting. And while watching Infante all the time, Pena (and a lot of other scouts, to be fair) somehow missed seeing the talent in Infante's teammate Albert Pujols.

While Pena was doing some Latino scouting in the majors and minors at the time, it's doubtful whether he had anything to do with the retarded trade to bring Juan Gonzalez here in 2000 in return for Gabe Kapler, Francisco Cordero, Justin Thompson, Frank Catalanotto and Bill Haselman -- in short, our entire franchise. While Gonzalez pretended to have a backache while waiting out his contract, Texas couldn't cash in much either, as Thompson lost his promising career to injury almost right away, Kapler moved on, Haselman did nothing and utilityman Catalanotto (who was great for them in '01) ended up as a good outfielder in Toronto. So of all that talent, only Cordero went on to a successful role as the Rangers' setup man and is still with the team. Like all Pena prospects, Cordero was over-hyped like mad, but I think we can credit him with a second solid major league ballplayer.

But as opposed to 10 years earlier, at least Pena's raw scouting prospects were seeing some time in the bigs. Jose Castillo, though not with us, Michael Rivera, another guy named Juan Gonzalez, Pedro Santana and Juan Mora all spent pieces of the 2000-2002 seasons in the bigs. Of course, they all stunk, and they're all out of the organization now.

Anyway, just as the promise of Encarnacion kept Pena in the organization during the Buddy Bell turnover, his connection to Infante allowed him to survive the subsequent Phil Garner shakeup. And when the Don Dombrowski took over as team president and started turning us around, it was Pena's absolute dolt of a boss, Randy Smith, who got the axe. Some of Smith's people were let go; others, inclduing Pena, were demoted as Dombrowski slowly brought in his Florida team.

There's no question as to the success of the Tigers' major-league Latino acquisitions of the Dombrowski years: Pudge (Free Agent), Carlos Pena (Weaver trade), Alex Sanchez (trade), Fernando Vina (FA), Placido Polanco (trade for Urbina), Franklyn German (Weaver Trade), Magglio Ordonez (FA), Ugueth Urbina (FA), Esteban Yan (FA), Wil Ledezma (Rule 5), and Carlos Guillen (trade for Ramon Santiago).

These have all been positive moves for the Tigers. The only ones that didn't pan out so far are Alex Sanchez, and then German and Carlos Pena. But Sanchez was a stop-gap and nothing more, while German/C.Pena were good prospects whom we got cheap (the real value in that deal was Bonderman).

And if you're looking for what changed in our major and minor league scouting of Latino players between 2001 and 2002, the short answer is Ramon Pena wasn't scouting major league talent; he spent the last several years back in the Dominican.

All told, over 22 years as a scout, Pena's score is essentially three solid major leaguers (Encarnacion, Cordero and Rodney), two bad major leaguers (Lira and Lima), and two backup major leaguers (Infante and Santiago), plus whatever you get for one good season from junkpile investment Deivi Cruz. If anything comes from 3B prospect (and well-hyped) Wilkin Ramirez, I guess that's one more. Humberto Sanchez, a pitching prospect, might be another, but I think that one was more Dombrowski's find.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that by "different set of philosophies," Dombrowski is saying that the Detroit Tigers baseball organization is interested in scouting and signing guys who are good at playing baseball, which seems to contrast sharply with Pena's philosophy of scouting and signing guys who are bad at playing baseball.

*First names of Tiger starters and last names of backups in 1985:

Infield:
1B: Darrell
2B: Lou
SS: Alan
3B: Tom
C: Lance
Backups: Garbey, Laga, Castillo

Outfield:
LF: Kirk
CF: Chet
RF: Larry
DH: Johnny:
Backups: Sanchez, Garbey, Simmons

Starting Rotation:
A: Jack
2: Dan
3: Milt
4: Dave
5: Doug

Relief:
CL: Hernandez
SU: Lopez
LR: Berenguer
MR: Mercado
MR: Salas
MR: de los Santos
MR: Paredes

I'm glad we never got sued for this.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

PIC OF THE DAY


Word has it that the technology produced here has been lost to the Norsemen. If a weapon such as Legatus Mors falls into their hands it's just a matter of time before they crudely craft more. Posted by Picasa
USE MY THIRD ARM

James came across this interesting article about a Chinese baby with 3 arms. For some reason this story reminded me of that line in "Raising Arizona"...

Glen: Say that reminds me, how'd you get that kid so darn fast? Me and Dot went in to adopt on account a' somethin' went wrong with my semen, and they said we had to wait five years for a healthy white baby. I said, "Healthy white baby? Five years? What else ya got?" Said they got two Koreans and a negra born with his heart on the outside. It's a crazy world.

H.I.: Someone oughta sell tickets.

Glen: Sure, I'd buy one.


But on the other hand, if he were to ever fall asleep on his arms, he wouldn't have to worry about this.
ANOTHER HURLER

Seth's got his eye on Dee-Troit Base-Ball...

Baseball America pegged Andrew Miller, a towering left-handed pitcher from North Carolina who was college baseball's best player the last two seasons, as its consensus top talent.

He wasn't picked until 6th.

By the Detroit Tigers.

The reason he fell, a lot of people think, is he wants to sign a Major-League rookie contract. Teams hate doing that, because it means they have to put him on the major-league roster or risk losing him to waivers whenever they send him down.

If the story on him is just money, though, that could explain why the notoriously cheap franchises ahead of us -- the Royals, Pirates, Rockies, Devil Rays and Mariners -- didn't bite.

But the Bengals have had a hard time signing Dombrowki-era prospects. Verlander took forever. So did last year's top pick Cameron Maybin. And Kyle Sleeth before them didn't turn over without some extra juice either.

Then again, it's hard to argue with how we've been drafting lately. Verlander's already kicking butt in the majors. Maybin, till he got hurt, was killing the ball in West Michigan. Sleeth got injured and had surgury, but he's a top prospect still. And that's about as good as you can ask from three years of 1st rounders in baseball.

Miller has a great fastball and a great slider, and as a lefty, he should be a sure thing to make the show in a few years.

And I like the strategy of drafting pitchers with the high picks. So long as there isn't a Ken Griffey Jr., A-Rod or Albert Pujols at the top, the pitchers, especially college pitchers, are a lot easier to judge and a lot closer to helping out.

It's interesting how much baseball teams have disregarded raw high school talent (except in obvious cases) for college prospects since the Oakland A's started the trend with Zito, Hudson and Mulder. This, along with rules that allow kids to get drafted and then forgo the team that drafted them by escaping to college, has had a dramatic effect on the college game. It's not just a few Florida and Southwest teams competing anymore. Case-in-point, Michigan made it to the semi-finals this year, and had to beat several Big Ten teams with pro-level talent to get there. Big-time baseball in the north has been unheard of for a century; midwest players either went to the minors or the southern schools. But since baseball is more interested in college players now, it's allowing top talent to matriculate to the universities and creating more interest there.
WHY I LIKE MY JOB

My job doesn't drive me to drink. I get to work at home. As long as I don't screw anything up I am given great flexibility. And best of all, I get to learn new words and concepts...

emblements
n. crops to which a tenant who cultivated the land is entitled by agreement with the owner. If the tenant dies before harvest the crop will become the property of his/her estate.


I came across this one on a piece of property where a bank had placed a lien on somebody's 2001 crops. I determined that the lien had expired, but it was certainly interesting to contemplate and entirely new concept. Call me narrow-minded, but until yesterday I had never considered how a farmer pays for his crops on rented land and what would happen to said crops if the farmer dies.
6/6/06

From Seth...

"What's your take? Emperor Nero?

For my part, it seems like an early Christian attempt at the somewhat mystical Hebrew mathematics of Gematria, and should be interpreted not so much through our Hindu-Arab base-10 numerical system so much as how a native Aramaic speaker in Latin-speaking world might have interpreted it: DCLXVI.

There's no way it had anything to do with the date, though. The passage doesn't mention a date for one, and I can't image the authors of Revelations were predicting dates on the Gregorian calendar anyway.

What might be scarier to people who believe in Revelations is that the Chinese treat "666" as a lucky number. They display it on a lot of stores and factory goods and such, and a lot of people try to get "666" for their addresses or, more telling, within their credit card numbers, phone numbers, or computer coding. So if Revelations tells us to be wary of the sign of the beast controlling economics, then having a big Chinese corporation that uses 666 in its PR materials start manufacturing everything for Wal-Mart could be a great, big "Prophesy Fulfilled."


I honestly don't know much about the numberology. However, I have repeatedly come across the mark of beast being a microchip/debit card to be implanted in the population. You combine that with recent stories like Mayor Bloomberg wanting a national database of DNA and National ID's, I could see the mark of the beast arising from these two sources and being mandated by the Imperial Federal Government. But I would certainly consider this logical speculation and do not give it the credance of my "prohecies," which I limit only to the NBA.
PROPHECY WATCH

Charlotte auditioned Rudy Gay on Friday and, predictably, his measurables were fantastic. He's a 6-foot-8 small forward with a 7-foot-2 wing span. He exploded to the basket, made his mid-range jump shot and demonstrated more ball-handling ability than he showed in college.
-- Charlotte Observer


I have a bad feeling about this guy. Once in a while my prescience tells me a particular player will be a bust. Sure the GAY jersey would go over big in San Francisco, but be warned Charlotte. Tondar got the bad bad feeling on Tayshaun without the work ethic.
WORLD CUP FEVER

Now that Dee-Troit Basketball is done, the World Cup is right around the corner. So in an effort to educate the kids about Team USA, take a look inside former Dutch Coach Thomas Rongen's Cup Notebook...

Have faith, America

I truly believe the U.S. is going to defy the odds and advance from Group E. There are several reasons, but perhaps the most important is the leadership of head coach Bruce Arena, who always seems to find the right formula.

The U.S. started off with a bang in '02 because Arena prepared a perfect game plan against Portugal. That's what he's known for -- finding the right tactics against individual teams. He has different systems for different games, and he'll shuffle players around and put them in different positions to capitalize on their strengths or opposing players' weaknesses. It will be interesting to see what he throws at the Czechs in that first match on June 12.


I don't know THAT much about soccer but it seems he is picking quite a few upsets by including teams like Tunisia, Croatia, and Ivory Coast in the second round.
PULLING A DENISE

You were all bad and did not make me the center of attention. Therefore, no pic of the day, today.
2 ISSUE MONTE

As a conservative I am now supposed to be distracted from the immigration issue by that President's speech on the Constitutional ban of gay marriage. The Senate could be working on a balanced budget amendment or line item veto amendment. They could repeal the 16th Amendment (IRS). They could also repeal the 17th Amendment (direct elections of Senators). But no, as a Christian I am supposed to be moved by their defense of marriage and family values and I'm also supposed to forget the immigration issue.

I'm not buying it. So here is a fwd from Brado that puts the whole "guest worker" program into sovereign perspective...

"GUEST" WORKERS EXPLAINED"

Since hearing the plan for treating illegal immigrants as "guest" workers, I now have undergone a complete reversal in my understanding of the proper meaning of words.

I stupidly used to believe that the definition of "guest" is one who is invited. Now I'm told this is no longer correct. For instance, if a burglar breaks into my home, he really becomes a guest who is only looking for a better life. Because he broke in for that reason, I must accept the obligation to provide health care, education, transportation, and living quarters.

I feel so much better now.
ROCK BOTTOM

It's been about 2 and a half years since I worked in the soul sucking dungeons of Malebolge. And though I escaped, some are driven to vice far worse. In honor of Tres kicking back and enjoying a little too much wine tonight, here's a report from Denise on her "former" co-worker...

Tim was gone everyday that I was druing our vacation. He came back last Fri. He was drinking a fifth of vodka everynight for years. I wonder how he functioned this long already. Today he was vomiting in his wastebasket. I wasn't here yet, but Jackie & Kitty heard him. I guess Jackie went & got Bernie, which started the testing. Kitty sprayed Lysol throughout the room. Bernie told me that another supv. had mentioned the alcohol smell on Tim & that he spent the first 2 hr of the AM wandering around the building & talking to people before Bernie got here @ 9. So they took him to the HR office, where he threw up again (alcohol), gave him an alcohol test & 2 of the bosses drove him home. He's to report to Roger's office tomorrow @ 9AM. He's self-reported his alcohol abuse 3 times, & this time he'll be fired. I can't believe he pushed it like that. I'll let you know what happens to him tomorrow. I hope this is his bottom & he cleans & sobers up.

It's just all come to a head & is about to end. I just hope that he doesn't commit suicide, since he has nothing else to live for. He's lost it all. His family, wife, job, health. The only thing left is his life. He has a ton of Rx drugs in his apartment & he could easily overdose & drink another 5th of vodka & just fall asleep. We'll see what happens.


It's a rough place, and I thank God that I had the strength to quit that Bedlam of vice and destruction. And just think, tomorrow morning my reward is another episode of Work-From-Home. Though I will actually have to work, it's OK because I have another one on Thursday.
ALATRISTE

I recently caught the trailer for a new film based on the Spanish Legend, Diego Alatriste. What I found most intriguing about it was its use of 17th Century painting references. Check out the trailer and then compare it to some of the great works of another Diego, Diego Velazquez. In particular note the cinematic duplication of the "Surrender of Breda." Por solo que, necesito a mirar esa pelicula.
TASTE OF THAT A.T.L. STYLE

This is why women shouldn't be po-leece...

HOLLY SPRINGS -- A Cherokee County city plans to honor a Good Samaritan who helped a 5-foot, 4-inch female officer subdue a drug suspect who stands nearly 7 feet tall.


Oh no! What ever you do don't throw Shawn Bradley into the briar patch!

Her dashboard camera caught the following scene: As she starts to handcuff Schmidt, he struggles and tries to run but Welch refuses to let go.

"I would pull him backwards off balance and try to pull his shirt, but I couldn't reach that far up," she said.

Welch and Schmidt crossed the road and landed in a briar patch, still struggling.

Steve Walker saw what was happening, and helped Welch subdue the man.

"He showed up after we started rolling around in the briars," Welch said. "It makes the police department feel really good that our citizens support us in that manner and will come and help us."


It's not a matter of if women "should" be police. It's more a matter of if they "can" be police. Maybe I'm a bad liberal for saying this, but if it weren't for the "Good Samaritan" hopping into that briar patch, Officer Welch could have been seriously injured. But hey, that's girl power for ya!

Monday, June 05, 2006

PIC OF THE DAY


Went to the Tennessee Aquarium today. They had some otters. I called out the Pakis for blowing up Miss Allison's good-lookin' friend and putting her in a wheel chair. I didn't see this either. The Georgia Aquarium could not possibly be this disappointing. Posted by Picasa