Cito Gaston is back!!!

It’s been a ROUGH decade being a fan to Canada’s only remaining major league team. Despite back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, it’s been the worst period in the franchise’s history since the late 1990s and into the 2000s. Our general manager J.P. Riccardi isn’t smart, doesn’t seem to have a clue of what he’s doing and despite spending more money, we’re getting pummeled in the division by lightweights such as Baltimore and even Tampa (who are impressive, don’t get me wrong.)

In any case, much to my moribund surprise, I read that the team fired John Gibbons (who I never liked) and FINALLY brought back Cito Gaston, the manager of our two World Series winning and four AL East pennant winning teams.

I’m not of the opinion that managers really make a huge difference in baseball. But you know what? Given that NO ONE has been able to do much of anything since he left, I feel like the guy has earned another shot to give it a go. If we can’t get rid of our sorry sack of a GM, then I’m down for this move. I’m so thrilled about this, it makes me feel like my team has FINALLY gotten out of its malaise and is ready to right the ship!

10 songs

It’s another Friday. You know what that means….more music!

Here are this week’s songs…

You Don’t Understand Me – The Raconteurs
If I Never See Your Face Again – Maroon 5 f/Rihanna
Racing Like A Pro – The National
Fishing For A Dream – Turin Breaks
Wondrous Place – The Last Shadow Puppets
Epic Last Song – Does It Offend You, Yeah?
Back In Love – Estelle
When In Rome – Wax On Radio
Chasing Pavements – Adele
My Drive Thru – Pharrell Williams (from N.E.R.D.), Julian Casablancas (from The Strokes) and Santogold

Mars Phoenix Twitter

I mostly mock Twitter, but I do think the creation of a Twitter for the Mars Phoenix lander is a pretty nifty idea.

You have to engage people and in an era where it’s hard to really penetrate the news cycle with things that once would’ve captivated an entire nation, you have to dig deep. NASA did on this one, it costs them almost nothing (just paying the person to do the actual Twittering) and the positive press is all worth it.

Good work. And it found ice on Mars!

Vertigo inducing AJAX and Flash

What is it with this new trend of sites — especially for web or creative agencies — that have sites that are literally vertigo inducing? I have no idea where this trend came from, but they need to stop. Beautiful design should make the viewer happy, not want to hurl.

Out of the Park Baseball 9

I started playing text simulations close to a decade ago. For a kid who grew up playing Sim City and Front Page Sports Baseball, text sims were a way to finally capture the essence of an entire sports universe that completely belongs to you and your imagination.

So when I ran into the Out of the Park (OOTP) Baseball series years ago, after graduating from playing Baseball Mogul for years, I was ecstatic.

OOTP is the most realistic baseball simulation in the world. It’s powerful, comprised of stats and has can be connected to databases that allow you to simulate pretty much any baseball scenario you can dream of from the past to present. It has a financial engine and a stat engine beyond comparison, too.

OOTP 9 was released this week. The trick to these games is that they’re not like run of the mill PS3 or high-quality video games where you SEE the action on your screen. Nope. Instead, you see the action in the form of a web cast or play-by-play screen that texts the action to you. This year’s version has sound, so you can hear and see ball animations. But I don’t generally care for that stuff, as I prefer to simulate through seasons fast.

I was a beta tester on the game this year, so I’ve seen it from its early stages to its launch and this is the most stable release of the game ever released and the most comprehensive. While there are things that I wish were added over others, it’s still hands down the most complete version of the game — without patches — ever and it’ll just get better as it’s patched down the road.

Want the major leagues to have 50 teams? You can do it. Wanna control your favorite team and do better than the GM using real life players? Sure, go ahead. Pretty much any conceivable thing you can come up with in a baseball simulation, you can do now with text sims. It’s the sort of thing that if you’re not careful, you can get completely immersed in for hours and days and longer. There are also online leagues you can play in, to compete with other real people from around the world. That adds a whole new dimension to the game and there are virtually limitless games you can create, so you can play with a major league and create a fantasy league or something else.

The question people ask a lot is “is it fantasy baseball?” Not in the sense that it’s tied to what’s really happening on the field. The game is a simulator. It will simulate the results based on the way the team’s are setup, etc., but you don’t HAVE to use real life players. You can go with invented players whom don’t exist, but over time you get invested in after watching the team year after year. These games are the perfect solution to fans whose real life team have them bored to tears or who they never get to see.

These games are often made by small teams often comprised of one or just a few developers. They don’t sell more than a few thousand copies, yet, they’re wildly popular among this small niche base of fans and are comprised of several intertwined communities with their own histories and interesting cultures.

There are a bunch on the market including the most popular game in the world — Football Manager — a game released by Sports Interactive and Sega, that allows you to simulate the world of professional soccer. The game has a massive following in Europe and around the world — even here in the U.S. The most realistic football sim on the market is called Front Office Football.

OOTP 9 is the most advanced baseball sim out there right now and is worth checking out. It might be a bit of a learning curve to the casual gamer to text sims, yet, if you like baseball…there isn’t a game that can give you more than you’d bargained for than this one.

[rating: 4.5]

Adele ~ 19

Adele 19

I don’t do well with all of these so-called soul singers who are young and British. I mean, they’re not bad. It’s just that they’re not particularly earthshattering and yet, the pop media goes all ga-ga for them as if they’re the next best thing, like they’re all inventive and different.

Adele is cut from the same cloth as the Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse and Duffy crowd. She’s a little different than each of the aforementioned artists, in that, she’s intentionally low-fi in her presentation and her arrangements are almost entirely designed to focus on her voice and little else. You can appreciate that, because the orchestrations aren’t exactly imaginative and don’t really give you a whole lot to work with.

Best For Last is probably the best song on the album. The single, Chasing Pavements isn’t bad, but a strange song to feature as a single. It’s doing well for her, though. The song titles are ‘there’ if you will, she’s got the right concept. But the criticism of young singers — especially female — is that they haven’t experienced enough to write songs that resonate with people under 25 yet. But I’m not even sure that’s the criticism that works in this case. The songs are introspective enough, it’s just the wrong combination of writing, music and singing that make them fall relatively flat.

Not terrible, but Adele and her debut LP “19” aren’t the tour de force it’s been made out to be.

[rating:2.5]

2008 Omnivore World Baseball rankings

I couldn’t find a definitive world baseball ranking anywhere and with the last Olympics with baseball featured coming soon, it probably doesn’t matter. But I decided to go ahead and make one, because I’m playing the new version of Out of the Park Baseball, which is baseball simulation software that allows you to simulate real life or fictional baseball leagues to your heart’s content. I was a beta tester this year, have been playing for a long time and well, the game has foreign countries in it ranging from big to small.

So I decided a more accurate baseball universe reflecting where the game is played would be good, since that appeals to me a lot.

That’s where the Omnivore World Baseball rankings came from. They’re not that important, but…they’re mine anyway. I also publish the Omnivore rankR College football rankings, a computer ranking I started to rank teams throughout the year.

Anyway, I based these rankings on performance in international competition since 2003 and baseball infrastructure in the particular countries. Having a pro league in a country is helpful, as is having baseball players being signed by major league teams in the US or Japan.

It’s just a humble ranking. Not meant to be perfect, just meant to be mine.

Anyway, I based these rankings on performance in international competition since 2003 and baseball infrastructure in the particular countries. Having a pro league in a country is helpful, as is having baseball players being signed by major league teams in the US or Japan.

It’s just a humble ranking. Not meant to be perfect, just meant to be mine.

1. Cuba
2. USA
3. Japan
4. Dominican Republic
5. South Korea
6. Venezuela
7. Mexico
8. Canada
9. Australia
10. Panama
11. Netherlands
12. Taiwan
13. Puerto Rico
14. Nicaragua
15. Aruba
16. Colombia
17. Brazil
18. Ecuador
19. Spain
20. Germany
21. Italy
22. South Africa
23. China
24. Great Britain
25. Philippines
26. Sweden
27. Czech Republic
28. San Marino
29. France
30. Croatia
31. Austria
32. Russia
33. Ukraine
34. Ireland
35. Belgium
36. Thailand
37. Switzerland
38. Belarus
39. Finland
40. Slovenia
41. Norway
42. Poland
43. Nigeria
44. Hong Kong
45. New Zealand
46. Pakistan
47. Zimbabwe
48. Ghana
49. Georgia
50. Turkey
51. Lesotho
52. Cameroon