Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Bradford Doolittle

Bradford Doolittle's new Kansas City Star articles (entitled Stat Guy are great. He takes a current baseball topic (usually involving the Royals), and puts a sabremetric twist to it. Bradford also has a great blog with his brother where they discuss both Missouri MLB teams.

In the latest Stat Guy, Doolittle compares the recently resurgent Tampa Bay Devil Rays to the struggling Royals. Royals fans have yearned for a Rays-like run all season. Doolittle compares the offense of the two teams. Both are practically equal. He then compares pitching, and finds that it is also pretty much equal. The difference seems to be in the defense.

Both teams put a large number of balls into play. The Devil Rays, however convert a greater number of those into outs. At the beginning of the season, the Royals were touted as a great defensive team. However, the defense (like the pitching and offense) has been disappointing.

Check out the article here.

DevDays - Birmingham

Today, I was pleased to be a part of the Microsoft DevDays Event in Birmingham, AL. Joe Healy did a great job putting together the event and we had a good turnout of about 175 folks. I presented two sessions in the web security track. Fellow Quilogy employees Jon Box and Jerry Dixon also presented.

The highlight of the event was seeing Russ Fustino's presentation. Russ is pretty popular because of his highly entertaining "Russ' Tool Shed" presentations. In it, Russ shows some of the new "tools" coming in the Whidbey version of Visual Studio.NET. By the way, Microsoft today announced the availablility of Beta 1 of Whidbey (now known as Visual Studio 2005). Also announced was the fact that the Beta for the Yukon version of SQL Server is still a few weeks away. But, it's coming...

Tonight, I enjoyed a fabulous dinner of ribs with Jon, Jerry, Russ, Joe Healy and Brandon McMillon at a fabulous rib joint called Dreamland.

My tummy is very satisfied, and I'll sleep well tonight before heading back to KC tomorrow morning.

Monday, June 28, 2004

A New Low

I went out to Kauffman Stadium yesterday to catch the final game of their interleague series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Royals had already lost the first two games of the series and were trying to salvage one game. It didn't work out too well.

The Royals lost the game,and looked awful doing it. They also learned that closer Jeremy Affeldt tore his oblique muscle and will be out up to 8 weeks. This comes afer trading their best player, Carlos Beltran, away to the Houston Astros.

Is there any reason to feel positive about this team right now? They play in an old stadium, and the voters will probably decline to provide renovation funds. The play on the field this year has been awful. Last year seemed promising, but now you have to wonder if they had one good month just by chance. Since that hot start in April of 2003, they've played sub .500 ball.

I love baseball, and I love my home town team, but it I having a very difficult time finding something to hold my interest.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Tech Ed Pics

I finally got my pictures back from my trip to Tech Ed in San Diego. Here Jon Box and Matt Warmack yuck it up with me in front of the Quilogy booth.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

SharePoint, Templates, and Ghosts

One of the more frustrating things I've run across when working with SharePoint is dealing with templates to define the look and feel of a Portal.

SharePoint installs various .aspx files on the server which define the default template for all of the different types of pages in the Portal. If you want to change the look and feel of the Portal, one option is to update these .aspx files.

Another option is to open the web in FrontPage and edit the page. What I've run across is that once the page has been saved using FrontPage, changing the .aspx file no longer affects the page.

So for example, I want to change all Portal Areas to have a new header graphic. I can go to the c:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\60\template\spstopics folder and edit the default.aspx file. After I add my graphic to that file, refreshing the area pages in the portal should reflect my change - all of them. Existing areas as well as new areas I create.

However, let's say I open up the web in FrontPage, and I go to the Departments area and I edit the default.aspx page in FrontPage. Once I save those changes, the page becomes "unghosted." That means it is no longer parsed by the ASP.NET engine and does not use the default.aspx file on the file system. Instead, it is parsed by the SharePoint safemode parser using data from the database. The advantage here is that the page is parsed faster and security vulnerabilites of ASP.NET are eliminated (for example, malicious code injection). If all of my department areas are unghosted and I want to change a graphic on the header of the pages, I must edit each one seperately. Changes to the default.aspx file on the file system still will affect new areas when created.

This can be a bit frustrating when you are still working on finalizing the look and feel of a Portal. Once the pages become unghosted, you can't just change the template file and expect all existing pages to reflect the change.

This is what I am dealing with at a current client. We are working on the look and feel for all team sites. Unfortunately, one particular team site has become unghosted, so it does not reflect any changes we've made to the default.aspx template.

I did find a solution for this, though. I found great SharePoint Blog by Maurice Prather. He has created a Web Part Toolkit you can download and that includes a ghostfinder web part. This web part, once installed, will list all pages on the portal that are unghosted. It also allows you to reset the page, so that it then becomes ghosted.

We will use this at the client to ghost that one team site page so that it will reflect the changes to the template file.

Another aspect of ghosted pages is performance. I found the following snippet on TechNet:

"SharePoint Portal Server 2003 stores some of its basic page and template information in the file system on the front-end Web server. These pages, which have not been customized, and metadata are called 'ghosted pages.'

"When a page is modified, it is written to the database and read from there. The performance impact of reading these pages from the database rather than from the disk is approximately 10 percent."

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Life Happens

Conoco's new tag line is "Because life happens between empty and full."

That's not right is it? Doesn't life really happen between full and empty? The only thing that happens between empty and full is the pumping of some gas.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Rebuilding Begins

The Royals released relief pitcher Curtis Leskanic last week, prompting a bit of a tirade from Leskanic's buddy Jason Grimsley. Last night, Grimsley was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles for pitching prospect Denny Bautista.

At first glance, this looks like a great trade for the Royals. Grimsley is a good veteran reliever, but doesn't bring anything to the Royals from a rebuilding perspective. Bautista is a power pitcher who the Royals hope will be ready for the starting rotation to start the 2005 season. The Orioles gave up one of their best prospects for a year and a half of bullpen help.

Bautista has had control problems, but the Royals hope they can work with him to repeat his delivery to help his control. He will go to AA Wichita for now.

Look for more moves by the Royals in the next few weeks.

Monday, June 21, 2004

2005 Royals

It's not yet the All Star Break, but with the Royals' poor start it's prudent to look ahead to next year.

Some unknowns exist. CF Carlos Beltran will be gone, probably in a trade this year. 3B Joe Randa may also be traded. The Royals will have some money to play with - potentially as much at $13 million.

Here's a possible lineup:

1B - Harvey/Sweeney
2B - Gotay/Murphy (minors leaguers, or Graffanino if he's signed through 2005)
SS - Berroa
3B - ???
LF - Dee Brown/???
CF - David DeJesus
RF - Aaron Guiel
C - Santiago

The rotation will probably look much different next season. Don't look for Anderson or May to return. Greinke and Gobble are locks. Runelvys Hernandez should return from his Tommy John surgery.

With $13 million, the Royals should target a major league pitcher. Soren Petro is suggesting Barry Zito. I think that would be great. Imagine a rotation of Zito, Greinke, Hernandez and Gobble...

Baseball Overload

The weekend I saw 7 baseball games. We went on a family trip to Omaha for a baseball tournament that my son's team, the KC Indians, played in. The boys played 6 games, and we also took time out to catch a College World Series game.

The boys had a tough go of it in pool play. All teams are thrown into a pool and play three games. Based on those three games, the teams are then seeded into two brackets. In pool play, we went 0-3. The first game on Friday was against the Reds from Colorado. The boys played well, but ended up letting the game slip away in the cold rain. After a long rain delay, we finally were able to play a second game on Friday against the Pacesetters from Omaha. They were an extremely good team, and it really was no contest for our boys. The next tournament game wasn't scheduled until Saturday evening, so we went over to Rosenblatt Stadium to catch the South Carolina/Cal St. Fullerton game in the NCAA College World Series. We were seated in the outfield bleachers and the sun was out. We were baking. The game was pretty boring for spectators. Very few hits and only 2 runs total as Cal State Fullerton got the 2-0 shutout.

Saturday evening, the KC Indians played the Thunder from the Dallas area. Another tough team. One Thunder kid looked as big as me (these are 10 year olds), and he hit one over the fence for the highlight of the game.

Those three games gave us the seeding for the "consolation" bracket. The bracket play is single elimination - lose and you head home. We played at 8:00 Sunday morning against the Cobras from Des Moines. The boys finally put together a good game and won easily. That set up a rematch against the Reds. Without the rain, the Indians were able to out-play the Reds and reached the consolation championship game against the Gators, also from Des Moines.

There is a little bit of a back story in our matchup against the Gators. There is another team from the KC area called the Blue Springs Indians. The B.S. Indians have been a bit of a rival for us. They are a tryout team (we don't do tryouts, we take kids who are friends, neighbors, etc), and my son's best friend plays on their team. We always look up to them as the team we'd like to beat. In a tournament earlier in the year, we played the B.S. Indians and lost by only 1 run, 4-3.

The Gators played the B.S. Indians to reach the consolation championship game and beat them in a rout. I believe the final score was 12-3. So for us, beating the Gators would be a real feather in our cap.

In the final game, the third game of the day for the boys, the Gators jumped out in front scoring 2 runs in the first. The game was tight throughout, and the Indians were able to strike back and led the game 6-4. The Gators were able to put together some hits and took the lead 8-6. The Indians fought back and brought it to 8-7 and held the Gators with some great defense the last two innings. In the bottom of the 6th, the Indians had one last chance to score one to tie and two to win. Things looked good when my son Joey was able to coax a walk. He's a speedy kid and the Gators hadn't been able to throw out a base stealer all day. But here, Joey took off, and the catcher made a good throw for a very close play at second. Joey was called out, erasing the tie run. A fly out to right then ended the game and the tournament for all.

The boys did play really well, especially once they were seeded with equal competition. We are all very proud that they were able to get to the championship game, and played the Gators so close to only lose by 1 run. And the kids were able to bring home a trophy, which helps to make it feel like it was worth the trip.

Now, I have a 1 day break from ball, until my daughter's softball game Tuesday evening.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Interleague Play

Caught 2 of the 3 Royals games against the Mets over the weekend. I'm still not sure how I like interleague play, but it was kinda nice to see guys like Mike Piazza, Kaz Matsui, and Tom Glavine here in KC.

As far as the Royals go, this team needs to be busted up. I've noticed that they are playing better since Juan Gonzalez went on the DL. But the team still isn't showing much life. GM Allard Baird annouced to the world that he is now ready to start trading players to look toward 2005. I'm in agreement. The team has looked awful all season.

Most folks in KC think the Royals should try to dump Mike Sweeney. I'm not sure I'm ready to give up on him just yet. Everybody cheered when the Royals were able to lock him up and signed him to a long term contract. But now, they think it's wasted money. I still think he can hit, and I don't think he's overpriced. He's struggled this year (even I've complained about the many pop-ups he's hit this season), but I still think he's the right kind of hitter for this team in this stadium. He's not the best defensive first baseman, but I'll give away some defense for his offense. If Baird can get some pitching for Ken Harvey, I say trade him.

As far as the rest of the team, they should try to trade everybody. The only "untouchables" should be Zack Greinke, Jeremey Affeldt, Jimmy Gobble, and Angel Berroa. Of course catcher and third baseman should be priorities since the Royals don't have those positions covered in the minors.

The Royals will open a series in Atlanta tomorrow night. It will be interesting to see what kind of lineup Pena creates.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Zack Greinke
Last Friday, I was able to see Zack Greinke pitch in person at Kauffman Stadium. I had a good view from my split-season ticket seats right behind the visitor's on deck circle.

Greinke is an impressive pitcher. Just by watching him, you can see that he has poise and confidence on the mound. He pitched well, giving up only 1 run on 7 hits. The run came on a solo homerun by Mike Cuddyer. I had the feeling that Greinke still was in control of the game even after the homerun. It looked like he was saving pitches the first time through the order. For example, he could have gotten Cuddyer on a slider, but didn't want to show the slider until the next time through the order. Instead, he threw a fastball that was hit out. Greinke said in an interview that the pitch was in the location he wanted, but Cuddyer hit it well.

The next batter was Henry Blanco. Greinke threw a 61 MPH curveball that was barely fouled off for strike 2. The very next pitch was a 91 MPH fast ball that was swung on and missed. Blanco looked silly trying to hit that pitch. That was a case where Greinke reared back and threw 30 MPH faster than the previous pitch. He fastballs were around 88 for the rest of the game.

In the 7th, Greinke got into trouble. Justin Morneau singled and Cuddyer singled. With two men on, Greinke struck out Lew Ford looking on a fastball that caught the outside corner. It was a case where Ford was looking for something different, and Greinke had him guessing. In the post game interview, Greinke said that he was trying to throw a ball there to set up the next pitch, but the pitch caught the outside corner for the strike out. Again, impressive that he thinks several pitches ahead and uses strategy like that out on the mound. It was also refreshing to see a Royals pitcher who's not afraid to work inside on batters.

Greinke will start tonight in Detroit. If you have RSTN, you should try to catch him. He really is a special pitcher.
Juan Gone
Juan Gonzalez has been on the DL since May 22, and I was thinking that it seems like the Royals have played better since then. In fact, I haven't really noticed his absence. Not like last year when I couldn't wait for Sweeney to get back into the lineup after his neck injury.

I checked the record, and the Royals are 5-5 since May 22. So they are playing .500 without Juan Gone. I'm not sure how much longer he will be out, but it'd be nice to think that his bat could help enough to get the team playing at a better than .500 clip.

Interleague play is coming up. I'm interested to see how Tony Pena will work the lineup when he won't have a DH. Both Sweeney and Harvey are 1B/DH players, and both are hitting well enough that you'd like to have them both in the lineup. Could one of those two end up in left field for some games?