The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Anybody else notice this about Mass Effect 2?

There’s a section in the keybindings for "vehicle controls." But you know what? I’ve done everything there is to do in this game, near as I’m aware, and there isn’t a single controllable vehicle anywhere. Not that I’m sad about that, mind you, but… why vehicle controls bindings with no vehicles?

Anybody have any insight?

January 31st, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

Just one thing real quick

So never mind the part where Tim says that Mike Scioscia is a great manager even though he’s awful. I’d like to talk about this:

One of the more critical elements of the Angels’ season will be [third baseman Brandon] Wood, who will be 25 in March. In parts of three big league seasons, he has batted .192, struck out in about a third of his at-bats and walked seven times in 236 plate appearances. Scouts adore his ability, however, and can’t believe it has taken the Angels this long to give him a real shot, now after more than 3,300 minor league plate appearances.

I can believe this thing. In 236 Major League PA, Wood has only 43 hits and 7 walks. His career line: .192 / .222 / .313 / .535, for a career OPS+ of 39. It doesn’t matter how much "scouts adore his ability," because actually he sucks on ice.

For reference, Tim: the real keys to the Angels’ season will be Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, and the Seattle Mariners.

January 31st, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Mass Effect 2 post with a spoiler

So C-Sec is an airport security joke in Mass Effect 2, which is pretty funny. But at one point I have to convince them to take some Asari off their no-fly list. Apparently, see, the Asari got on the no-fly list because they’re suspected of being Geth agents. So I have this huge argument with the customs lady about how I don’t think they’re Geth, right? And she says they need to be super-careful so no Geth get on the Citadel.

And, of course, the whole time we’re having this conversation, my Geth crew member is standing right the fuck there.

That sounds about like airport security to me.

January 31st, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

Quick note about Mass Effect 2

I just got a gun called the M-6 Carnifex. Yeah, you heard me.


Remember when I was accusing the original Mass Effect of ripping off 40k all willy-nilly? Just sayin’.

January 28th, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

Mass Effect 2’s out

I hemmed and hawed, but I ended up buying the damn thing anyhow, as you’d probably expect. The intro is pretty badass; clearly I’m not supposed to understand exactly what’s going on, but it’s definitely an awesome hook. I think the last game that hooked me this hard right at the beginning was Final Fantasy 7. Let’s hope this one turns out a bit better, hey? Time for liveblog!

The controls are oddly different from the first Mass Effect. I think they’re better, but I’m having trouble getting used to them right now. It is completely gay that I need to track ammo in this game, though; Mass Effect’s heat mechanic was, like, a lot more fun. Ah well.

Hey, I just met Jacob! In Mass Effect Galaxy, he looked like this. In Mass Effect 2, he looks a lot more like this. Hey, I’ll take it! He is a sweet and refreshing beverage.

Is there a rule that every video game with a science team has to have a hot female lead and a whipped science bitch who does all the real work and then writes mopey fucking diaries pining for her? Because sometimes it seems like it.

Why can video games get the pronunciation right on "Charon" but not on "Cerberus?" Now I think they’re doing this on purpose.

Hacking is way less arbitrary than it was in the first Mass Effect — you’re like selecting code fragments that match a pattern. Still a weird minigame, but less totally random. I mean, Frogger? What? However, Bioware did make it as confusing as possible in one way — what button do you press to select the code fragment? No button you’ll ever fucking guess, that’s for sure. It’s the space bar. And you can’t configure that in the key bindings.

There’s a fairly critical choice at the very end of the first Mass Effect that happens too late to be included in the savefile. I was wondering how they’d manage to smoosh it into Mass Effect 2. Little did I know they’d do it through the most comically hamfisted way possible. It’s awesome!

Why are my scars glowing? That’s creepy. I hope there’s a reason for it, and it’s not just a visual fuckup.

Holy shit armour customisation rocks. Lamely, the bonus preorder armour isn’t customisable. Boo.

Mass Effect 2 runs in a borderless window if you want it to. Thank God. Why don’t more games have that option? It totally rules.

Weapons are different this time around. Instead of playing inventory soup, you appear to get just one of everything. Presumably they upgrade. And this time class restrictions are more severe; you can’t even use any weapons your class isn’t proficient in.

I don’t like the new HUD — it’s way to compressed. Takes up only marginally less real estate, but gives far less information.

As an infiltrator, I get a special power that slows down time when I’m aiming the sniper rifle. Comically enough, it slows down the sound, too — it’s fun listening to voices downshift like I’m in a movie and the hero’s just made the big jump to get the girl out of the way of the exploding nuclear reactor. Noooooo!

It’s hilarious how meaningless the money I’m getting is. Oh, hey, sweet! I hacked a safe! 250 credits! That would be great, I guess, except that the game started me with a hundred thousand credits for being super fucking rich at the end of the first Mass Effect. I also got like a bunch of weird shit I don’t understand, and 190 paragon points. And no renegade points. That’s how I roll!

Naggy fucking henchmen. Ye gods. I hope they relax once I’m out of the intro, but right now they just never ever stop telling me what my objective is until I finally do it. Chill! I’m searching for loot, since I need to find goddamn ammunition in this game.

Well, so far, I like it pretty well. It’s about on par with the first Mass Effect to this point; I’m hoping for a lack of endless dune buggy missions. The only thing I don’t like to date is the ammunition; the heat mechanic was a lot more fun — especially for those of us who prefer to play sniper-style, and are now stuck with foolishly little ammunition.

January 26th, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

Nobody knows less about baseball than Ozzie Guillen

Did you see this? Insane.

Ozzie Guillen already has a promise for the 2010 season, his seventh as manager of the Chicago White Sox: Fans can expect to see unconventional baseball early on from his revamped team.

Ozzie says this every year. And, hey, I’ll come right out and admit it: unconventional baseball is pretty much his cause célèbre. Anybody remember the blow-up doll incident? How about when Ozzie put the team through bunting camp? Yeah.

"We’re going to find out and see if I can manage here or not. Early you might see stupid things on the field and I will be second guessed. But I will take my chances," Guillen said.

Can Ozzie manage in Chicago? Clearly. I mean, he’s been doing it for six years now. But, frankly, no competent general manager would trust Ozzie to be the bat boy. Fortunately, the White Sox don’t have a competent general manager.

I love how Ozzie makes fun of himself for me. He comes right out and admits that we’re going to see stupid things on the field, and that everybody’s going to tell him what a mess it is.

"We are going to play aggressive and that will start in spring training. We are going to do some crazy stuff. … I’m going to try to put everything in motion. Get used to it."

That’s pretty boilerplate Ozzie bullshit. The only reason it matters is because it’s the lead-in to this:

"Sometimes it’s going to work, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we are going to run with no outs—triple play. I will be criticized."

Did you see that? Did you see that right there where Ozzie Guillen said straight-up that the White Sox are going to be running into triple plays on purpose? What is it going to take for this man to lose his job? Seriously.

"I’d rather have Rios steal 50 bases than hit 50 home runs. I want production."

So. You’d rather have fifty bases than fifty runs? Ozzie, I’m curious; what exactly do you think the point of stealing bases is? It’s for, like, scoring runs, right? Why would you rather have one base than one — or possibly more — runs? And more to the point, why aren’t you fired? You should be fired. And probably incarcerated.

"Last year we were making errors in the wrong place, we were throwing the ball to the wrong base, a lot of mistakes on the bases and a lot of hits where we don’t score."

Ozzie Guillen’s secret baseball plans for 2010: make errors in the right place. And make fewer mistakes on the bases by, I guess, running into triple plays. And reduce the number of hits they don’t score on by hitting fewer home runs. That all makes Grade A sense, Ozzie.

"It’s taken a long time for us to get to the point where 1 through 5 we feel we can match up on any given day with anyone in the league," [GM Kenny] Williams said.

Well, Kenny, I hate to break it to you, but you can’t. I mean, not at all. You can match up 1 through 2 with pretty much anyone in the league (but only because Arizona, San Fransisco, Fat Louis, and the other Chicago club all play in a different league). But your 3-4-5? They are not so good.

Isn’t this awesome? The White Sox are like the Mets of the American League: they never stop being hilarious. Does anybody remember 2005? When the White Sox got career years from like nine pitchers at the exact same time, hit two hundred home runs, and won the World Series? And then everybody decided it was all because Ozzie made Scott Podsednik bunt a lot? All I’m saying is that the 2010 White Sox are going to hit four home runs and finish 35-127.

January 24th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Let’s see, what would be the worst verb to use here? Oh, I know!

It turns out that A-Rod is such a chokemaster deluxe he can even choke at awards ceremonies.

January 24th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Some people got to have it

So I’ve been reading this weighty tome lately, part one of which provides a trivia-oriented history of professional baseball. Interesting stuff. When James gets to the nineties, he begins bemoaning the unbalanced salaries (while simultaneously mentioning that the field of competition was more balanced than it ever had been), and I’m all, oh shit, here goes Bill fucking James with the salary cap bullshit.

And then Bill James slaps me upside the head for doubting him. Because he actually pretty much rejects the bizarre revenue-sharing and salary-cap fantasies that plague baseball discourse these days. Bill’s idea has to do with the TV royalties, and, well, it’s not insane. Actually it kind of makes a lot of sense. The idea is basically this: if the Yankees play the Twins at Yankee Stadium, the game will be broadcast locally in the New York area. According to the current TV structure, 100% of this revenue goes to the Yankees. Bill’s proposal is simple: the Twins should get half of it.

It makes sense, and it’s non-egregious. The current system is a relic from the days when local TV royalties accounted for exactly nothing and nobody cared about them, and updating it to be more in line with the way everything else in the world works isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Obviously, both Bill and I are aware that, in the real world, it would be a bit more complicated than this example, since there are more than two teams out there; for fuck’s sake, these people have accountants. They can handle it.

I dunno; any thoughts? It seems like it’s a sensible way to smooth things out a little. It’s not a draconian success penalty like revenue-sharing (and doesn’t lead to bullshit like the Marlins are dealing with right now, where the rich teams and, of course, the MLBPA are complaining that they don’t spend their handout money appropriately), and it’s not as destructive nor as impossible as a salary cap.

January 19th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | 2 comments

Just one quick comment here

From Jeff Passan’s totally-fine summary of the Oakland A’s 2009 offseason:

Brett Anderson is worth busting a draft budget. He’s left-handed, somehow pumped his velocity from the 90 mph range early in the year to topping out at 98 by the end of the season and complemented the heat with the best slider in baseball. He is, in the words of one scout who saw him in August, "Going to be hand in hand with Jon Lester for the best lefty this decade."

Has anybody called Johan Santana yet and told him about this?

January 18th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

I don’t know what to tell you

So I wrote this little recap of some idiotic thing Jose Canseco said, and then I said "hey, listen, I’ll be back tomorrow with the worst McGwire article ever written." And then it’s four days later and I still haven’t done it. This is an unconscionable lapse of judgment on my part, and I apologise to the St. Louis Cardinals, their fans, Bud Selig, and Major League Baseball for my bad decision. Also, just for the record: Tony La Russa had no idea what happened. I only just told him this morning. I’m not sure he was listening, though, since I’m pretty sure he was busy being passed out drunk in the middle of an intersection.

Well, enough self-excoriation for now. If you want more, check out my interview with Bob Costas on the MLB Network; it airs on Thursday. Now it’s time to get to that terrible article I promised you. It’s by a big dumb dummy called Steve Wilstein, and it’s called:

Ban McGwire From Baseball

That’s how you know it’s working!

Mark McGwire deserves a ban from baseball more than any sympathy.

It is sad to hear his quavery confession of a career filled with steroids, his sorrow over the pain it caused his family and fans, his revelation of a life of lies that burned inside him like a hidden disease and consumed the game he loved.

"A life of lies that burned inside him like a hidden disease?" That’s awful. Awful writing. That would get rejected by most high-school English teachers, though, apparently, not by CNN. Turgid, flowery, and stupid. Oh, and did Mark McGwire’s life really "consume" the game of baseball? Because it sure seems to me like baseball’s still going on.

But for those of us who also love baseball, the damage he did was too deep and his further threat to the integrity of the game is too great to justify his return.

I’d really like to spend more time making fun of what this dude’s saying and less time making fun of his writing, but, come on. That’s some bad writing. Also, hey, a few things to consider:

1) What "damage" did Mark McGwire do? You haven’t told us yet.
2) In what way does McGwire continue to threaten the "integrity" of the game? Are you worried he’s going to take a bunch of coaching steroids and gain an advantage over clean coaches that way? Maybe he got a shipment of Human Coaching Hormone that I haven’t heard about.

McGwire’s entire playing career is indelibly stained and his judgment is not to be trusted. What else are we to make of a man who cheated and didn’t come clean for 20 years?

1994-2010 != 20 years. Just a heads-up, Count von Count.

Also, here’s another thing we could make of him: we could make him a man who made a mistake and faced massive legal repercussions if he "came clean" any sooner than he did. Like he said.

Can he be trusted to coach other players who may be using steroids? Is he fit for any job that is also a test of character and personal standards?

As a hitting coach, actually, mainly his job is to teach other baseball mans how to hit baseballs, an activity at which he was spectacular. He hit 49 home runs as a gangly little rookie who was not taking steroids at all. That sounds like the kind of guy I think is "fit" for the job of telling other dudes how to hit baseballs, yeah.

Baseball should bar him from coaching and never again allow his name on a Hall of Fame ballot.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to point out that the rules of baseball don’t make any allowance for such a weird overreaction. Mark McGwire’s playing career was over before baseball established meaningful penalties for steroid use; say what you will about steroid use in baseball, but I have absolutely no respect for anybody who insists that making rules and then retroactively enforcing them is any way to run a railroad. So, regardless of what mysterious "danger" you’re assuming McGwire poses to the average baseball player in 2010, you’re a shithead if you think baseball should ban him just because he offended your personal standards.

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, McGwire’s longtime apologist, is leading the charge to rehabilitate him in his new role as the Cardinals’ batting coach, saying Monday’s admission and expression of regret is worthy of respect.


This from a manager who either closed his eyes to drug use on his teams, didn’t know what he should have known, or kept conspiratorially silent about it through all the years with McGwire on the Oakland Athletics (along with Jose Canseco) and on the Cards.

Yeah, fuck you, Tony La Russa. Why didn’t you know? You should have known. Never mind that nobody else knew either — Captain Hindsight has declared that it was obvious and knowable. Or, wait, could it be… the conspiracy!!!!!

So, too, with commissioner Bud Selig and the Cardinals’ general manager and the players who would like to see the whole cancer of steroids in baseball vanish in a wash of tears and belated contrition.

Yeah, fuck you Bud Selig and Cardinals general manager whose name Steve doesn’t know and can’t be bothered to look up because he’s not very good at his job (his name is John Mozeliak, for those who care; this took me about three seconds to look up on the Google). Also, horry kow is that last sentence awful. I would like to see the cancer of that sentence vanish in a wash of Wite-Out and belated editing.

Not so fast.

Look out! Steverino has just pulled out the world-famous sportswriting cliché of the three-word paragraph! This is how you can tell he’s getting to the meat of his argument.

A mea culpa doesn’t undo the enormous harm that McGwire and his pumped-up colleagues inflicted on baseball — worse than all the gambling that has kept Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame and from returning to the game.

For those keeping score at home, here’s the breakdown on what Steve is talking about.

Enormous harm inflicted by Mark McGwire: used steroids, for which there was no substantive punishment, in an attempt to be better at baseball and make his team better at baseball.

Enormous harm inflicted by Pete Rose: gambled on games he was participating in as a player or manager, thereby creating a severe conflict of interest, and possibly leading him to harm his team for his own personal gain. The punishment for this action is (and was at the time) posted on the wall in every locker room in MLB, and it is: permanent ban.

According to Steve-logic, McGwire’s punishment should be more severe than Rose’s, even though his actions had no alleged or demonstrated negative effect on his team, and even though this punishment would have to be applied after the fact, since it wasn’t established at the time McGwire actually did the steroids. Steve, you are not only a bad writer, you’re also bad at thinking. I’m pretty sure CNN agrees with me, too, because check out this in-line ad that they inserted into the article right here: Time to forgive McGwire

That’s a big old fuck-you to Steve from CNN.

McGwire chose the wrong path years ago and stayed on it — making the mistake of all public figures who try to stonewall their way out of trouble, from Richard Nixon to Tiger Woods. In the end, everybody knows and many will forgive, but the guilty have to live with the consequences of their transgressions.

And that… has occurred, yes? Yes. Okay. Excellent job of pointing out what’s already happened, Mr. Prophetic.

When I saw the then-legal steroid androstenedione in his locker and reported it during his glorious, now-bittersweet, 70-homer summer of ’98, his first instinct was to deny it. Pressed, he admitted using it for more than a year and defended it. He lied about juicing up on more potent steroids and human growth hormone.

Is it common practice for athletes who are doing something illegal to admit it to reporters? Because, hey, I bet Prince Fielder would have denied cheating on his taxes if you asked him on the record too, chief. Also, McGwire talked about using andro on Letterman. Because it was legal.

Now he wants to put behind him the past he famously refused to talk about with Congress when he was called to testify in 2005.

This is something Mark McGwire and I have in common: we’re both sick of self-righteous asshole sportswriters writing this exact same article.

He says it was hard to tell the truth to his family, but it’s difficult to believe even that.

What? Fuck you, man. What a worthless, dick-ass thing to say.

Didn’t those close to him suspect what everyone else did as they watched him balloon into a freakish hulk during his career?

Well, Steve, apparently you live in a giant your-head-shaped castle built out of pure ego and self-worship, but, for most people, that would actually make the whole situation harder to deal with, not easier. Here, try this little thought experiment. Assume for the moment that your family — that those "close to you," anyhow — suspect of you the same thing that everybody else does: that you suck at writing. What do you expect to happen? Do you think they’ll sell you out to some muckraking hack, or that they’ll stand by you? And will this make things more awkward or less awkward when you finally have to face up to what a terrible writer you are?

For two decades — from the time McGwire now says he started using performance-enhancers, through his retirement in 2001 and self-imposed exile — he cheated, covered up and remained ignobly quiet while others were exposed, prosecuted and punished.

So, wait, what was he supposed to do? Seriously. Is there something you expect Mark McGwire should have said or done about Manny and Barry and Rocket getting in trouble? What a stupid accusation.

He put the "code of the clubhouse" above the truth in not speaking out about his and others’ drug use years ago, at a time when he might have stopped a generation of young athletes from emulating his physique or gaining his advantages.

Notorious subhuman asshole Jose Canseco wrote a probably-not-very-true exposé in which he calls out a lot of other players for using steroids. Should McGwire have done the same, then? That would be good? You’re a big supporter of the idea that people who’ve done something alleged to be wrong should sell out as many friends and associates as possible? There’s somebody I think you should meet.

He put legal consequences ahead of baseball’s reputation when he dodged questions from congressmen because he wasn’t granted immunity.

Oh, because you fucking wouldn’t. In one corner: serious legal repercussions for yourself, your entire family, many of your close friends, your co-workers, your team, your coaches, your manager, and your trainers. In the other corner: baseball’s reputation, maybe. You are full of multiple, heretofore undiscovered varieties of shit if you’re claiming you’d do anything different.

Could he be trusted to do the right thing if he comes across another player on drugs? He’s a compromised man.

The "right thing," according to Steve: write a book about what a shithead that other player is for using drugs, and make sure that dude gets the fuck punished out of him. So, no, I don’t think Mark McGwire would do that. For all rational people, this is a point in his favour.

He still hasn’t detailed all the drugs he used and where he got them, though his much-scorned former Bash Brother, Canseco, seems to have been the bearer of a fair amount of truth all along, no matter how self-serving or uncomfortable his revelations were to baseball.

Canseco was full of shit. Is still full of shit. Is, in fact, scientifically proven to be entirely made of shit. Here’s a thought experiment for you: Canseco took a bunch of steroids, and could see other players exhibiting the same physical changes he did, and thereby concluded that they were on the juice, too. Then, when he needed money, he wrote a ridiculous fantasy book about the awesome roid parties they all used to have. Then it turns out that exactly one thing about it wasn’t a lie — the names of the players — and every idiot sportswriter in the world trips over himself claiming that Canseco was "the only honest man in baseball." Does that seem plausible?

Now get this. Steve wraps the article up with these three paragraphs:

Anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs won’t give a player the kind of hand-eye coordination, the skills, the quick, sweet swing that McGwire had that enabled him to launch so many balls so far. And he wouldn’t have gotten so big, even with hundreds of injections, if he hadn’t pumped iron day after day.

Sure, he put in the work in the gym, and, sure, he put in the hours at batting practice. But the drugs are what helped him put in those hours, enabled him to recover more quickly from workout to workout, to maintain a higher level of lean musculature and energy than those who played it straight. They were his shortcut to greatness at the plate.

If McGwire’s admissions can serve any good now, it would be to prompt other steroid users to come clean. Confession is not only good for the soul, it would be very good for the game to get it all out now, once and for all.

Fuck the heck? Steve, did you read the rest of your article before you wrote this? You’ve spent like a thousand words ripping on Mark McGwire for every breath he’s ever taken, and then all of a sudden you’re captain sympathetic? And after alleging for so long that McGwire’s confession is meaningless and useless and not good enough for you, you come out and say that everybody else should do it too? You’re a very weird man, Steve. And, just a hint: if you want other steroid users to confess also, you should try being less of a shithead to the ones who do.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Steve Wilstein.

God, I hope so.

January 17th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball, Bullshit | no comments