Monday, June 25, 2007

Bases loaded, down three runs in the bottom of the penultimate inning, one out, Tournament of Champions semi-final. Winner heads to the final winner-take-all game to decide the District Champ.

That’s where my son found himself yesterday. I’d like to fill this blog with vivid imagery of his game-winning grand slam, or game-tying double. Hell, I’d like to fill this blog with imagery of his rally-extending walk and subsequent team rally to win the game.

The first pitch was six inches outside, maybe more. He chased it like a dog chasing its tail. “Stay patient, wait for your pitch!” I shouted.

The second pitch was on the outside corner. Another swing and miss.

I could see it coming a mile away. He was pressing, overhyped and overcharged for the moment. He wanted it TOO much. He had already boomed a double over the center fielder’s head and driven in a run with a single to right. He wanted to be the hero. He knew it was HIS time.

The manager (and third base coach) called time. He pulled Trevor over, sensing his anxiety. I saw Trevor nodding and taking a deep breath. He seemed more settled when he got back in the box.

The next pitch was a hair inside, but too close to take. Trevor took a rip. It was a soft, humpbacked bloop to the third baseman. The baserunner at third (incorrectly) broke for the plate turning this harmless bloop into a rally-killing DP.

Trevor collapsed halfway down the first base line, holding his head in his hands. He was 3rd on the team in RBIs, 2nd in runs, 2nd in hitting, he had the most pitching victories, he was the best fielder by far, he was the starting shortstop for a team in the TOCs for two consecutive years, no mean feat.

Since the beginning of the year, he had pretty much led this team. He was picked as team captain before the first game, he was nominated for the league all-star team, and he had accepted his role with aplomb. In a game where the team defense faltered, he had played errorless ball, saving a run by charging a slowly hit ball, looking a runner back to third, and firing to first for the out. He had prevented another run with a perfect one-hop throw to the plate on a long triple.

None of that mattered.

No tears yet, there was still an inning to play. He gathered himself, grabbed his glove, and trotted out to shortstop. Between pitches, he slammed his glove into his leg, unable to shake the frustration of his failed at-bat. Back in the dugout after an uneventful top of the 7th, he held his head, occasionally shouting encouragement to his teammates. The team couldn’t rally in the last inning and was eliminated 7-4.

Nothing is more depressing than a losing dugout. The wet blanket of a loss weighs everyone down. All of the players gathered their equipment, some for the last time ever, seemingly in slow-motion. Some sniffles, but surprisingly few. These were 13-14 year olds, angry and frustrated more than sad.

The parents all stood back while the manager gathered the players for the last time. The players all had to turn in their jerseys after the game, so they were just wearing t-shirts when they got up to be received with applause and hugs from their proud parents. I held Trevor by his shoulders, looked in his eyes, and told him “It’s not on you. You helped get them here. Just like you wouldn’t take all the credit if you had won, you shouldn’t take all the blame when you lose.” I hugged the boy and kissed him on the back of his head.

This will make him stronger. He understands that now, a day later.

But, boy, it hurt like hell yesterday. I only hope he gets another chance someday.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ahhh, it’s that time of year again… When the basketball and hockey seasons have mercifully ended, when football is in that lull right before two-a-days start, when baseball teams are 100 games away from determining the playoffs…

This is the time for the DEATH POOL draft!!!!

Without further ado, I present my draft picks for the 2nd half of 2007!

1. Jack Kevorkian (05/26/1928) – He’s out of jail and has full access to any number of life-ending medications. His cancer must be getting really painful about now. One hopes he practices what he preaches.

2. Patricia Dunn (03/27/1953) – Cancer for the terminally corrupt. Stage Four cancer for a widely despised corporate despot. Karma has to rear its ugly head soon.

3. Vasyl Tsushko (02/01/1963) – Minister for the Ukraine, widely believed to be poisoned, hiding in Germany, and on the verge of death. I hope the hitmen in the the Ukraine finish what they start.

4. Adam 'Pac-Man' Jones (09/30/1983) – Sheesh, just watch SportsCenter. Give this guy the entire summer, fall, and winter off and watch the sparks fly!

5. Verne Troyer (01/01/1969) – Dwarf gambit. Someone poached my Beetlejuice pick, so I jumped in with MiniMe. He didn’t look well in “Surreal Life – Fame Games”, but then, who did?

6. Dick Clark (11/30/1929) – America’s oldest teenager and a great guy. The only one of my picks I’ve personally met.

7. Elizabeth Taylor (02/27/1932) – Hanging out with Michael Jackson has got to take years off of your life, don’t you think? That, along with wildly fluctuating weight, cancer, alcohol, and depression every time she looks in the mirror.

8. Jim Gilstrap (???) – A flyer on this guy. He’s an assistant coach at Oregon State, currently on life support. Running a risk that his death won’t be reported on the major news sites (CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, and People websites) being used as references. If he dies, I’m sending a clip to to get him onto the site.

9. Bill Walsh (11/30/1931) – Seems to be doing well with his leukemia. Part of me picked him because of my horrible luck picking in this pool. I figure if I pick him, he’ll live for sure.

10. Pervez Musharraf (08/10/1943) – President of Pakistan. For some reason, I don’t think he’s likely to live long.

11. Nouri al-Maliki (01/01/1950*) – Prime Minister of Iraq. For some reason, I don’t think he’s likely to live long.

12. Pope Benedict XVI (04/16/1927) – Nice security there. “Hey, that guy just jumped into the Popemobile, maybe we should help.” I didn’t realize he was 80 already. Sheesh, those robes take years off his appearance.

13. Jim Nabors (06/12/1930) – Who knew he was still alive? Rock Hudson’s fluid repository is still roaming around in Hawaii. He was too sick to sing at the Indy 500, where his “Back Home in Indiana” has become a stomach-churning tradition.

14. Regis Philbin (08/25/1931) – Bypass surgery. Kelly Ripa. He’s ready to go.

15. Jalal Talabani (01/01/1933*) - President of Iraq. For some reason, I don’t think he’s likely to live long.

16. Donald Rumsfield (07/09/1932) – Eh, just a hunch.

17. Marley Marl (09/30/1962) – Hip-hop record producer. Recent heart attack. These guys never seem to live long either.

18. Travis Pastrana (10/08/1983) – Three MotoX riders, any one of which is capable of under-rotating a flip and turning it into a YouTube classic.

19. Mike Metzger (11/19/1975)
20. Brian Deegan (05/09/1975)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Neteller News

Shhhh.... I'm not sure I should even be posting this, but Neteller has a new FAQ (dated 6/4) that explains their distribution plan (aka "blood from a stone"). Link the title if you're interested in reading straight from the horse's mouth. If you're one of the more popular bloggers, you might want to keep this quiet until we've all had a chance to extract our shekels first...

Has NETELLER developed a distribution plan to return US member's funds?

  • As announced on 21 March 2007, NETELLER signed agreements with each of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (“USAO”) and Navigant Consulting, Inc. (“Navigant”). In accordance with these agreements, NETELLER worked with Navigant to develop the Distribution Plan. This plan is now agreed and NETELLER is in discussions with the USAO regarding when the Distribution Plan can be implemented.

When will US members get their money back?

  • NETELLER currently anticipates that implementation of the Distribution Plan will commence upon the resolution of the USAO investigation. NETELLER has advised the USAO that it will use its best efforts to resolve the investigation no later than July 13, 2007.

What is the Distribution Plan?

  • The Distribution Plan outlines how US members will be able to withdraw their funds from their NETELLER e-wallets. The plan agreed upon with the USAO provides a prescribed period of time for these withdrawal requests to take place.

How long is the time period that US members can request their funds?

  • The plan provides a 180 day period for US members to make an online request for the return of funds using NETELLER's website. This time period starts from when NETELLER announces the commencement of funds distribution. This date has not been announced yet. [My bold]

What happens at the end of the allotted period of time?

  • Accounts will be placed in a permanent-closed status and US members will no longer be able to sign in to the NETELLER website.

What if I do not withdraw my funds?

  • Funds that are not claimed by US members through the Distribution Plan will be forfeited by NETELLER in a manner to be determined by the USAO. [My bold]

How will I withdraw funds from my account?

  • US members will be able to request funds either by electronic transfer to the bank account on record with NETELLER if the US member confirms that such account remains valid, failing which such member can request payment by cheque sent to the mailing address as confirmed by such member.

Can I choose which withdrawal method to use?

  • The Distribution Plan states that US members must request an electronic transfer if they already have a bank account registered with NETELLER and confirm that such bank account remains valid. US members who do not qualify for an electronic transfer will be able to request payment by cheque.

Can I withdraw my funds in more than one request?

  • US members will receive the entire balance of the funds in their account. US members cannot make partial requests for funds.

What if I already requested to withdraw funds from my NETELLER account?

  • If you already made a withdrawal request you will need to perform another request when the Distribution Plan is implemented. At that time, your NETELLER account will reflect the full amount that you are able to withdraw.

Will I receive interest on my account balance?

  • In accordance with NETELLER’s Terms of Use, no interest on account balances will be paid.

Can I perform any other transactions like a peer-to-peer transfer?

  • US members cannot use their accounts for any type of transaction other than to request their funds.

Is there a fee to withdraw funds from my account?

  • NETELLER will not charge fees to US members to process requests for funds.

Who can I contact for assistance?

  • NETELLER will provide more information to its US members as the plan is implemented via this site and email. Until that time NETELLER is unable to return funds to US members. In the meantime if you require further assistance, please contact NETELLER Customer Service at