The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Is it that time already?

Opening day tomorrow! Seems like it came quick this year; I must have been busy. Not so busy, though, that I forgot my traditional rubbish predictions! I’m going to keep them short and sweet this year, since I’m still rehabbing my gimp hand; I’ll just go division by division, list the order it’ll end up in, and then make pithy remarks for the group.

AL East
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles

I’m making the conventional prediction here. The Red Sox really look unstoppable this year, and I have serious concerns about New York’s pitching. I think Tampa will be back in the thick of things probably as soon as next season, but they’ll drop back a bit this year to regroup and get the next crop of awesome rookies ready to go. Jose Bautista ain’t gonna hit 54 home runs again this year, and without that, Toronto has no hitting. Baltimore should be more interesting this year, at least, since they’ve added a ton of offense, but they still don’t even have one pitcher who would crack AA in any other organisation.

AL Central
Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
Cleveland Indians

Everyone likes to call this division for the Hose this year, but I’m not buying. I don’t think Jake Peavy will throw even a hundred innings, and it’s not clear to me he’ll be any good anyhow. No, Minnesota’s still the class of the division, especially with a healthy Justin Morneau. In fact, I even like Detroit better than Chicago, though not by much. The bottom of the division should be a swamp this year, as usual, and I can’t think of any reason to watch either of them now that Zack’s gone.

AL West
Texas Rangers
Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels

I’ll make a less-bold prediction for the Mariners than I did last year. Frankly, I do think they’re better than the Angels; I don’t buy for a second that we saw this team’s true talent in 2010, and I think there will be a pretty big rebound. Meanwhile, the Angels are so desperate for any kind of talent that they signed Vernon Wells and ate his whole contract! Unfortunately, they also gave away Mike Napoli in the deal, and he was one of the few bright spots on the roster. The A’s are a team I have a hell of a time getting a read on; I don’t see anything that makes me think they’ll be particularly good, so I’m going to throw my hands up and call it a .500 season. The Rangers should walk away with this one, though it’s pretty funny to me that they’re overloaded with expensive third basemen and the one team that would gladly take one off their hands is in the same division and has, seriously, exactly one prospect.

NL East
Atlanta Braves
Philadelphia Phillies
New York Mets
Florida Marlins
Washington Nationals

I am going to take some heat for this one, but I am not calling the East for the Philadelphia HalladayOswaltLeeHamelses. That’s a great rotation — assuming Hamels bounces back, Lee stays healthy, and the three of them who are on the wrong side of my own age don’t start to fade — but it’s fronting a weak bullpen and a downright poor lineup, especially with Utley out. I think Atlanta’s stronger, frankly, assuming that one or two of them can actually stay off the DL. The Mets aren’t exactly going to be good, but I think they’ll start bouncing back this season; they can’t all stay injured forever, can they? The Marlins are going to be hurting for lack of Dan Ugly, and I think Josh Johnson will not pitch quite so far out of his mind this year. The Nationals made some big moves this offseason, which was weird, but mainly they did that to replace their previous, now-departed big moves. I vote unchanged.

NL Central
Milwaukee Brewers
Cincinnati Reds
Ft. Louis Fatinals
Chicago Cubs
Pittsburgh Pirates
Houston Astros

The Astros have no players left. They got rid of them all. It’s official: 0-162. Of the rest of the field, the Brewers are looking pretty sexy, what with their allegedly-vegetarian fatty first baseman and their crazy insane starter and all that. Joey Votto won’t hit it like He-Man this year, and the Reds’ arms will probably continue to decay under the strain of their asshole manager. The Fatinals will be missing their best pitcher all year long, which is funny, and their other good pitcher is notoriously fragile. The Cubs are awful. The Pirates are awful++. The end.

NL West
Colorado Rockies
San Fransisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
Arizona Diamondbacks

If the Rockies manage to get their heads out of their asses long enough to play any baseball this year, they’re still a pretty damn good team. And the Giants still can’t hit a lick; I predict that Aubrey Huff fades hard this year. Also fading hard this year: the San Diego Dads, who I did not believe in in 2010 and do not believe in in 2011 either. The Dodgers should be fair-to-middling, since they still have a few great players and a bunch of junk (though expect at least Broxton to be bait at the deadline unless the division’s unexpectedly vulnerable). The Diamondbacks just announced that Armando Galarraga made the rotation! Maybe he’ll throw another perfect game! Then the Diamondbacks can go 1-161 and edge out the Astros!

March 30th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

I’ll avoid making the same pun everybody else made

The new Mass Effect 2 "Arrival" DLC is out. Somehow — and I think it might be a bug — BioWare actually managed to post the installer this time, instead of the old tactic of just posting an announcement and forgetting about the content. In another shocking turn of events, they’ll now permit you to buy their bullshit "BioWare points" in multiples of how much the damn DLC costs. I guess somebody somewhere in the EA brain trust finally clued to the fact that selling points in multiples of 400 and pricing all the DLC at 560 points is pretty obnoxious.

The game itself is pretty intense. By which I mean the cutscenes the game’s wrapped around are pretty intense. Without spoiling anything, the big climactic moment is a bit difficult to take (though the surprise twist is so obvious you’ll probably have it figured out before the thing’s done installing). The only complaint I have about the game from a lorelol perspective is that, much like Shadow Broker, it’s rather uninteractive — there are almost no points where you actually get to make any choices, and the great big decision is auto-piloted by the game, which is kind of a huge ripoff; if they’d made it more player-triggered, the ending would be amazing. As it stands, the ending seems more like a choreographed conclusion to a sequence of events we really didn’t have any control over. It’s still pretty great, though.

The game parts are pretty good, but they have their annoyances. It’s structured as one long mission, just like Shadow Broker was, but Shepard has to fly solo the whole time. This was a bit tough for me, since I’m an infiltrator, and I’m built as a total support gun — I’m in a lot of trouble if I don’t have somebody else to draw fire while I line up my shots, or to coax mobs out of cover for me. And the game is very dependent on seige-type set pieces, where Shepard has to defend a location for a certain length of time.

The first part of the mission is pretty neat, since you have the option to play it like a normal Mass Effect 2 mission and just run and gun, but you also have a stealth option — it’s possible to reach your mission objective without aggroing a single humanoid mob (though there are a few dogs you have to fight), and you get a HACHIEVE for doing it that way to boot. So that’s pretty neat. It’s not an aesthetic that’s followed for the entire expansion, though; all the later areas are more standard get-cover-and-then-shots-mans action. The last one, by the way — just throwing this out there — goes on way too long while you wander through identical corridors fighting identical pulls.

Overall, probably worth your $7.44 if you liked Mass Effect 2. It’s short — only two hours or so — but it’s a lot of fun, and it really builds in to Mass Effect 3. Though it would be nice if they backed off from building their bridge just a hair so maybe we could interact with the world some. Or at least stop making Commander Shepard do completely boneheaded things.

March 30th, 2011 Posted by | Games | no comments