December 22, 2004

Return of the Laptop

I realize I tend to complain about things a lot more often than I praise things, so allow me to say a few nice words about the service I just received from Hewlett-Packard.

As discussed here earlier, I was having trouble with my laptop not taking a charge. I called up HP, spoke to a very helpful person who decided it was the "pin" inside the computer that was the problem, and set up a time for my laptop to be picked up. FedEx came to my house, took the computer, gave me a receipt, and that was that. Of course, that was the easy part. Or so I thought -- it turns out the whole thing was easy.

From past experiences with computer problems, I expected to get my laptop back in a couple weeks, at the earliest. Instead, it showed up yesterday afternoon, just six days after it first left my hands. The problem is fixed, it didn't cost me a single cent since everything was under warranty, and now I can go back to spending 23.5 hours per day online. That's pretty amazing. It's like one of those feel-good stories about someone saving a baby from a burning building that sort of restores your faith in humanity a little bit, except with less fire and a 21-year-old baby.

The only real complaint I have about the entire thing (sorry, I just can't help myself) is that FedEx just rang the doorbell and left the laptop on the doorstep. Setting aside the potential for an expensive computer getting stolen (these townhouse communities in the suburbs of Minnesota are very dangerous, after all), the bigger issue is that it was under 10 degrees here yesterday. The computer was ice cold when I got it out of the box, and that is with me getting to the door about 20 seconds after it was left there. The thing would have had icicles on it if I'd have been away from the house.

With that out of the way, some other thoughts ...

  • For the past few weeks, I've been playing almost exclusively limit, ring-game poker, as opposed to the no-limit sit & go tournaments I typically play. I made the change mostly to practice for some upcoming trips to the Canterbury Park Card Club, where they play mostly limit/ring, but also just so I can become a more well-rounded gambling degenerate.

    The limit experiment started off pretty rough. I had a couple of good sessions and then a whole slew of bad ones, and found myself struggling so much that I was actually annoyed and confused (moreso than usual, I mean). I took a step back, tried to figure out exactly what I was doing wrong, and read the limit hold 'em chapter in Doyle Brunson's Super System. Then I went back to the tables and cleaned up like Winston Wolfe.

    I have had an amazing run of poker over the past few days, interestingly enough while playing on my mom's computer (she's thrilled about having Party Poker on her desktop now, I'm sure). I won $343 playing $2/$4 limit on Sunday night and then another $242 playing the same on Monday night. I was on a huge roll Monday and I think I would have really done some major damage, except Party Poker's servers went down for "routine maintenance" after a few hours. I felt like a guy who had three homers in his first three at-bats when the game was called on account of weather.

    I'm especially glad that I was playing well on Monday night, because Pauly from Tao of Poker (one of my favorite poker blogs) was apparently "watching" me play for a while. I had given him my Party Poker screen name and I would have hated to have him see me playing horribly (although I wasn't even aware he was watching at all).

    Here's what he wrote on his blog:

    I also lurked in the background and watched my favorite baseball blogger Aaron Gleeman run over his table. When I left he was up 15BB and I almost considered sitting down. Maybe later this week, Aaron.

    For those of you wondering, "15BB" means 15 "big bets." You can tell I'm not really a poker player yet, because I still say stuff like "I won $343" instead of figuring out how many big bets that is. Either that or I just stink at math.

  • I am giving some serious thought to playing in the no-limit tournament at Canterbury on January 5. I'm sure I'll have gone out there for some limit action before then, but playing in a live tournament sounds like a lot of fun. Plus, despite my nice run lately, I'm a far better no-limit player. If anyone has played in a tournament at Canterbury before, I'd love to hear what you thought of it. Not only have I never played there before, I've never played anywhere other than online before. So stuff like "get there early" or "don't eat at the buffet" would be really helpful tips.
  • I'm still trying to come to grips with the fact that I'll have to watch Luis Rivas for another year. My grief was made worse when I saw that two very solid potential second basemen were cut loose by their teams, while the Twins retained Rivas for a startling $1.625 million.

    The Dodgers non-tendered their starting second baseman, Alex Cora, while the Angels non-tendered their starting shortstop, David Eckstein (who has also played plenty of second base). Now, neither of these guys are incredibly talents or anything, but both would have made fine short-term answers at second base and both would have been upgrades over Rivas.

    2002-2004       AVG      OBP      SLG      OPS      GPA
    Cora .264 .335 .375 .710 .245
    Eckstein .276 .344 .351 .695 .243
    Rivas .257 .300 .399 .699 .235

    We're not talking the difference between Rivas and Barry Bonds offensively or anything, but considering both Eckstein and Cora have played in a tougher ballpark for hitters than Rivas over that span, the offensive gap is significant enough to matter. Plus, unlike Rivas, both Eckstein and Cora are legitimately outstanding defensive players (while Rivas is considered outstanding by many because Ron Gardenhire told them so).

    There's no rule I know of that says a team has to play a light-hitting, slick-fielding second baseman, but if you're going to do that you can at least find someone who actually gets on base a little bit and is actually slick fielding. On the other hand, without Rivas what would I have to complain about?

    Today at The Hardball Times:

    - The "Other" Trades (by Aaron Gleeman)

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