Friday, October 16, 2009

New Version of Untitled Story, Chapter 1

I wrote a similar chapter 1 from the same concept, based on a dream I had last year. Now I've decided to re-tool it a bit and run with it; the new Chapter 1 follows. I'd tell you what kind of story it's going to wind up being, but it's so much more fun for you to work it out yourself...


My life began with the sound of a sliding door slamming into place.

I opened my eyes and took in the world into which I had just been born. It wasn't much to look at. I found myself standing inside a contraption the size of a refrigerator, but round and a little taller, and I found myself looking around at a dusty, long neglected room whose only furnishings were three open cardboard boxes, one ripped open down the side, and an empty metal shelf. All this I saw in very dim light slipping through little more than a crack in the wall, an arrow slit.

I stepped out of the tube.

My name is Quinn Vish.

I don't know how or why I know that, but the knowledge appears in my brain and I know it correct. My name is Quinn Vish... and my life has just begun. That didn't seem right; it seemed like I had to have been alive for quite some time. But I had not the faintest clue why it seemed that way. My mind was blank. Before I heard that door slide open, there was nothing. That sound marked the dawn of time.

My name is Quinn Vish. And why am I here? And where is 'here'?

I spied a door to my right and was upon it in three steps, in the blink of an eye. The knob squeaked when I turned it, and the hinges groaned like an old man trying to rise from bed in the morning.

Beyond the door lay ruins.

What had once been the purpose of this building? No man could tell. I looked down a wide hallway with a tall ceiling, and to my right it looked like great windows spanning from the ceiling halfway down the wall had once stood. They were mostly gone now, only jagged glass around the edges remaining, and a lot more glass was strewn about the floor, interspersed with dead leaves. That made me look up and out, and indeed it was late autumn; the air was chilly and the distant trees bare.

I looked down at my feet. Yes, I was wearing shoes, surprisingly nice ones. I moved quickly down the hall, glass crunching under my feet, and stopped at an open doorway where maybe a door had once been. It looked to have been some kind of... classroom? Three desks, two of them all but destroyed, lay strewn about, tossed aside by some giant, and what had once been a white markerboard was on the wall, filthy now.

I moved to the second room, and here took in a more interesting sight. This room featured a broken window, a torn up blind on the floor beneath it, and two upset bookcases. Most or all of an encyclopedia set, perhaps with a few other books of unknown nature, was littered across the floor beneath them. In the far corner a hopelessly dirty easy chair which may once have been red leaned diagonally on broken legs, its upholstery torn, its stuffing burst loose.

And a cat sat on the back of it.

Oddly, the cat didn't budge a muscle despite the speed of my approach. And when I reached it I instantly realized why: it was stuffed. It sure looked like a cat, black with white markings on its nose and paws, but it was stuffed as any deer's head in a hunter's trophy room, complete with marble eyes.

Now, why in the hell would someone stuff a cat? And especially why would a stuffed cat be in what I had begun to assume was some kind of school? I tapped on its head with my knuckles, listening to the hollow sound, when I noticed someone approaching me from behind.

I spun back to face the door. He wasn't right behind me; actually he was still a fair pace off when I first felt him. He was out in the hallway, beyond the wall, yet I could feel him moving, walking very slowly toward the room I was in, just as well as if I could see him.

He approached the doorway. I tensed. For whatever reason, I didn't find any point in hiding.

He appeared in the doorway, and he very obviously wasn't a he. Instead of... whatever it was I was expecting, I was looking at the slim form and troubled face of a girl about my own age or a little younger, early twenties.

How did I know my own age to be early twenties? My birthday flashed through my mind: February 15, 1980. What year was it now? I had no idea.

The girl remained in the doorway, and when I snapped back to reality I saw tears rolling down her cheeks. Her lip quivered.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

“Quinn?” she whispered.

I frowned. “Do I know you?” I'd never seen her before, that I could remember, and by a quick glance I was pretty sure I would remember if I had. She was easy on the eyes.

She looked dejected. “You... don't remember me, Quinn?”

I shook my head. “Should I?”

Instead of responding, she lingered in the doorway for another second and then rushed forward. I instinctively assumed a defensive posture and glanced at her hands, confirming that she was carrying no weapons, and she crashed into me, wrapped her arms round my shoulders and hung on so tightly I thought for a moment she might be trying to suffocate me, were it not for all the tears she was pouring into my shoulder.

That lasted about a minute, and then she finally pulled herself back, and I can only imagine the flabbergasted look she saw on my face when she did. She shook her head in wonderment. “You don't remember anything at all, do you?”

“Of you? I'm sorry, but I don't.”

“Dr. Diamond didn't think you would. I knew that, but I guess I still was hoping...” she trailed off, talking mostly to herself.

“Something's very wrong, isn't it?” I said. “I remember certain things about myself, like my name and my birthday. But... that's about it. I don't remember anything at all besides, but I feel like I should.” I paused, struggling for the right words and not finding them. “Do you... have a past? Do you remember it?” I finally said.

She nodded, leaning on the broken bookshelf. “Yes. You have one too, Quinn, but you've lost it.”

“Why have I lost it?” I said. “And what is this place?”

“I've been waiting for seven years for this day, and now I don't even know where to start,” she said.

Waiting for seven years? It made no sense to me. Was seven years a long time? I was pretty sure it was, but the answer eluded my every attempt to grasp it.

“You could start by telling me your name,” I said.

She looked forlorn. “I guess I was still hoping you'd remember it.”

I shook my head. “Sorry.”

“Emily,” said she.

“Emily,” I repeated, and it sounded nice and comfortable on my lips. “Did I... know you, sometime before?”

“I knew you very well, Quinn. We... kind of grew up together”

“How old are you? Do you mind me asking?”

She giggled. “I'm twenty-two now. I was fifteen the last time you saw me.”

“And I'm about the same age,” I said rather than asked, trying to work information out.

“Hm? No,” she said. “You're twenty-eight now. Or I guess... I don't know.”

I frowned and furrowed my brow. I was sure, for some reason, but I also was about twenty-two. Being told I was twenty-eight just felt wrong, for reasons I of course couldn't comprehend. She had said seven years...

“Seven years,” I said aloud. “Something happened seven years ago. Something that made me lose my memory?”

“You kind of... haven't existed for the last seven years.”

“Nothing much is making sense to me right now, Emily, but that really doesn't make sense.”

“I know,” she said. “Um... what I'm trying to say is, you should be twenty-eight now, but I guess you still might really be twenty-one. I'll have to explain later. Quinn, they know I'm here. They're coming for me.”


“The Enlightened,” she said. Why did everything she said seem to only confuse me further? Who the hell were 'the Enlightened'? “I abandoned my assignment. They'll have sent Elites, two or three of them.”

“You've got to cut to the chase,” I said. “None of that makes any sense.”

“The Enlightened is our ruling class now,” she said, “and I work for them. But I've waited all along to betray them, and now I have. The Elites are coming to take me and...” she breathed out a ragged breath. “Execute me.”

“You're not taking that as badly as you might,” I noted. “Do you know a good spot to hide?”

She shook her head sadly. “There's no hiding from the Enlightened. They just track my chip.”

Chip. “Like a computer chip?” I said, clueless as to whence this knowledge was just popping into my head. “Stuck on you somewhere?

She nodded. “So we can't—“

“They're here,” I suddenly said, interrupting her before my brain could even process the thought. “Approaching from my left, the same way you came. Moving fast. Less than ten seconds.”

She stiffened, breathing dramatically harder and faster. “Quinn...” she said, and took a step toward me.

Two tall men clad in black, faces obscured by what looked almost like a gas mask, and carrying pistols materialized in the doorway. “Emily Suard,” one boomed—was his voice rigged to a megaphone I couldn't see?—“turn around, drop to your knees and put your hands behind your head.” He paused, cocked his head, looking me over. “And who are you?”

“Quinn Vish,” I said reflexively.

The two Elites looked at one another, and then the other one looked down at some gizmo he was holding in his off hand.

“Nothing,” he murmured.

“An unchipped, Quinn Vish?” boomed the spokesman. “Very well. On your knees as well, Quinn Vish. Hands behind your head.

Emily was already in the demanded position now. Unable to tell just what to make of this situation except that we apparently were in trouble, I knelt beside her and put up my hands.

“Quinn...” she whispered, body and voice trembling. “They can't take us. Fight them.”

“Do what?” I said, more loudly.

“Silence!” they had moved up behind us, to within a step.

“Fight them!” Emily whispered urgently. “Please!”

And then they both lay dead, or at least seriously incapacitated, on the floor. I blinked, looking down at them and trying to recall what had just happened. It couldn't have taken more than two seconds. I had spun, grabbed, whipped the two together, ducked, thrown an elbow, and... that was it.

I looked down again. One of the two only had half a head.

The other half appeared to be largely splattered across my arm.

What did I just do? How did I do that?

Emily stood leaning her full weight back against the wall, trembling, her mouth hanging open. Clearly she was pondering the same two questions.

“It works,” she whispered.

“What works?”

“You do.” She embraced me a second time, more delicately than the first. “You just saved my life. Thank you. Now we should get out of here, but first there's something I need you to do for me.”

“What's that?”

“Remove my chip.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's Funny Because It's True!

Bryan: Seriously, the O/U for that game is 52. Anyone who takes the under should have their access to money revoked forever.
* Justin takes the under
Bryan: ... You don't have any money for me to revoke access to.
Justin: I had my access to money revoked three and a half years ago.
Bryan: AKA marriage.
Justin: ^

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Remarkably Inaccurate Week 2 Picks

You want easy money? Just take however much money you plan on gambling this week, split it 16 ways and bet against all my picks. You'll grind a steady, reliable profit.

6-10 last week, which means if you'd followed the advice above, and bet, say, $100 against my every pick, you'd have come out about $350 ahead. That adds up, you know?

Raiders (+3) over CHIEFS

When in doubt, take the points. I still don't trust the Chiefs at all.


Last week the Texans served notice that they might really, really suck (partly because I'm still not a Jets believer) and the Flaming Thumbtacks served notice they're good enough to battle the Steelers to a draw. I know I'd happily lay 7 if the Steelers were at home against the Texans.

Patriots (-3.5) over JETS

Sanchez mania has gone way, way too far. When the line came out as Patriots -4.5 I was ready to take the Jets, suspicious that Vegas REALLY wanted me to take the Patriots. Action came in overwhelmingly on the Jets. This makes no sense. The Patriots are better than the Jets. Sometimes I think Belichick intentionally lays stink bombs in week 1, then bets half his salary on the Patriots in week 2.

PACKERS (-9) over Bengals

I really hate to lay so many points on a bad coach, but the Bengals are so painstakingly awful in all respects.

Vikings (-10) over LIONS

I'm just going to pick against the Lions every week until about week 7 or so and then re-evaluate. They were ugly against the Saints last year, and watching Matt Stafford try to play quarterback in the NFL makes one cringe.

EAGLES (+1.5) over Saints

Quarterback notwithstanding, the Eagles are still a pretty good team, and there's some overreaction to the Saints' performance last week. You'd think everyone had forgotten that the Lions are the friggin' Lions.

FALCONS (-6) over Panthers

I'll be surprised if Delhomme throws more than 15 times. You have to think now that John Fox--who, remember his job is always on the line because Koach Koacher is openly waiting for it--is just going to hand the ball to DeAngelo Williams and DeJonathan Stewart 25 times each and hope the other team screws up. Anyway, this is an NFC South matchup, which means home team wins.

REDSKINS (-9.5) over Rams

I had the Rams down first, but two things changed my mind: I'm still feeling burned over using the same logic to pick the Rams over the Seahawks last week (do the Redskins ever beat anybody by 10 points?) and you saw how well that turned out; and the Redskins are at home while the Rams are going to a different time zone.

JAGUARS (-3) over Cardinals

The effect when a west coast team travels to the east coast is so severe it even overrides Rule 5a (always bet on the underdog in all Jaguars games).

Seahawks (+1) over 49ERS

The Seahawks are just a better team. Don't get too excited about the 49ers benefiting from the Cardinals taking last week off. The Cardinals do that a lot.

BUCCANEERS (+4) over Bills

The Bills always manage to win six games against bad opponents every year--they're reliable like that--and the Buccaneers are terrible. On the other hand, the Bills are also terrible, and their home field advantage isn't much in September; I'd happily pick the Bills over the warm-weather Buccaneers in November. But here... when in doubt, take the points.

BRONCOS (-3) over Browns

This is close again and I probably should take the points, but I think Denver's home field advantage should be enough to carry the day.

Ravens (+3) over CHARGERS

I could see strong arguments in favor of either team (The Ravens defense isn't as awesome as it used to be and Phil Rivers is one of the best in the game; the Chargers defense ain't so hot, either, and Joe Flacco is good enough). In doubt; taking points.

BEARS (+3) over Steelers

Of the 13 teams on the Steelers' schedule, two of them present by far the worst matchup for them: The Bears and the Vikings. Competent QB who likes to attack downfield; that's the kind of QB that routinely rips up the Steelers' defense, and that's without accounting for Polamalu's absence. It's just the nature of the Steelers' defensive strategy. They attack the QB and leave downfield open, figuring if the QB can get it in there, power to him. On the other side, they have a hellacious defensive line that is going to beat the daylights out of the Steelers' o-line and make a pinata out of Ben Roethlisberger. The Bears will win by double digits, probably approaching 20.

Put it this way: If the Steelers win this one, I will feel very good about their prospects of running 12-4 or 13-3 and going for the repeat. Even if the Bears win 34-13--which is likely--I won't feel that bad about the Steelers; I'll feel about the same about them, which is 10-6 or so if Roethlisberger plays most of the year. This is just a very, very bad matchup for the Steelers.

COWBOYS (-3) over Giants


The Cowboys are going to be good the first half of the year before undergoing the usual Phillips/Romo Collapse. I like them to beat the Giants at home here; the Giants are good-not-great.

DOLPHINS (+3) over Colts

I went back and forth on this one, too. If I assert that the Dolphins suck, that's great... but the Caldwell Colts, I don't have a lot of confidence in them, either, not in September when it's starting to become clear that Old Peyton Manning stays off the throttle until November (a pretty smart move, by the way). But if I pick the Dolphins, I have to believe they're better than they looked last week (they looked AWFUL last week), which means I have to believe the Falcons are awesome (and I don't). So many quandaries. In doubt; taking points.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

NFL Week 1 Picks, Real Quick

Working under a deadline so it's just going to be quick picks and a sentence, and yes, I made my Thursday game pick before the game, as Adam or Bryan will attest.

Flaming Thumbtacks (+6.5) over STEELERS

They blew out the Steelers last year, and both teams return close to the same personnel. Haynesworth's absence won't make THAT much of a difference.

Broncos (+5) over BENGALS

KUBIAK says the Broncos are fixin' to be one of the worst teams in the NFL, and it's hard to argue, but... this is the Bengals.

TEXANS (-4.5) over Jets

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure the Jets are going to be one of the worst teams in the league. I know, I know, home favorites, and the Texans, blah, blah, blah. The Jets suck.

COLTS (-6.5) over Jaguars

Because I'm down on the Jaguars this year, but most people--who only know that Maurice Atherton Youngblood Bracegirdle Oliver "Jones" Drew III Jr. is a good fantasy back--are high on them, and it feels like Vegas wants me to take the points.

Lions (+13.5) over SAINTS

I'll believe the Ain'ts have the defense to beat anybody, even the Lions, by 14 points when I see it.

Cowboys (-5) over BUCCANEERS

One of the easier picks of the week to me. I think the Cowboys are going to be good, at least the first half of the year before the Phillips Effect fully kicks in.

Dolphins (+4) over FALCONS

I don't know, really. This seams like a coin flip to me--I'd definitely back the Dolphins in Miami--so I'll just take the points.

Chiefs (+12.5) over RAVENS

Vegas wants me to do this, don't they? I'm not going to outthink myself here--I don't really like the Ravens' chances of being anyone by 13 that often.

PANTHERS (+2.5) over Eagles

It seems too easy to take the Eagles. The line's too low. And the Eagles are flakes, especially early in the season. Vegas is definitely trying to bait me into taking the Eagles.

49ers (+6.5) over CARDINALS

The 49ers have a real chance to win this thing.

Redskins (+6.5) over GIANTS

I don't trust Cap'n Eli until I actually see a couple easy wins over divisional foes. I'll take the points.

Rams (+7.5) over SEAHAWKS

Sorry, but once again, I'll take 7 points on pretty much anyone against the Seahawks.

PACKERS (-4) over Bears

Remember: Week 1 means nothing. I predict that one team or the other will win this game emphatically... and then go on to finish at least two games behind the loser in the standings.

PATRIOTS (-11) over Bills

Couldn't have said it better than Adam already did: Prediction? Pain.

CHARGERS (-9.5) over Raiders

Because, well... it's the Raiders.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Today's Conversational Assignment: Wait!

This came to mind--again--while typing a deposition transcript.

In conversation, people talk over each other. All the time. I had never really noticed this before I started typing up depositions; I was always as much an offender as anyone. Beyond not perceiving it as rude, most people tend not to even notice the constant interrupting each other they do in conversations, unless one party or the other is being especially egregious about it. When I have to type every word, it becomes extremely noticeable when two people are at once talking, and when one person cuts another off.

You cut the other person off in conversation--constantly--not because you're a jerk, but because when he's halfway through his sentence you know what the rest of the sentence will be, and you're skipping ahead to save time, hitting the fast forward button. The other person is not offended; in fact, as often as not he'll cut you off halfway through your sentence, for the same reason, and you won't think a thing of it. This is normal and accepted.

But it's not optimal. You're losing conversation-control value.

Tomorrow, I am going to go the entire day without interrupting anyone in conversation, even once. (This will be a challenge, because as much as I am madly in love with my wife, her propensity to ramble redundantly is amazing.) I've actually been paying attention to this for a while now and have gotten a lot better at it, but it's time I really mastered it--and you can, too.

Don't interrupt!

Think about the alpha male (or, now and again, alpha female)--the person who's at the center of whatever room he's in. How does he handle himself in conversation?

The intuitive answer is, aggressively. He lets no one interrupt him or cut him off. If someone tries, he'll slam the door on the offending party with a witty riposte or simply by raising his voice. Aggression is the key to success in life. This is true.

But that answer, in this case is completely wrong.

The person full of confidence, who never lets anyone upset his self-balance, is deliberate. Aggression does not necessarily mean loudness, stubbornness, or insistence. In fact, those are all marked characteristics of people that lack confidence--they lash out with these things, and try to dominate conversations, to cope with their inherent insecurity. And rambling is a nervous habit. Habitual ramblers are, almost inevitably, people with a nervousness problem, people who are uncomfortable in social settings.

The confident person does not need to get the most words, or the last word, to control the conversation he's in. In fact, very often he'll control the conversation while contributing 10% or less of the word count--he just leans back and lets the other party talk, and contributes only when he's certain of what he wants to say and why. Do you see how this gives him control? The other party is, generally, all over the map (as most people are), but he steers the conversation with his occasional contributions. And his self-confidence and assertiveness are very, very obvious to everyone else.

To-do list:
1. Don't cut off a single word in conversation! Wait for a period of at least three full seconds of silence before you speak, even if you know exactly what you want to say. If the other person gets nervous at the silence and speaks further (and MANY people do this, as you'll notice if you try this), let them.

2. Speak slowly! If you're a natural fast talker (as I am), this will take a lot of practice. You'll feel unnaturally, painfully slow to yourself--but trust me, others will respond much better this way. It also allows you to carefully choose your words, and minimizes having to repeat yourself. Remember, confidence -> deliberateness.

3. Be selfish! Yes, you got that right. Holding your silence in conversation is the selfish thing to do, counter-intuitive as that seems at first blush. Conversation is an exchange of information. When you speak, you give it; when they speak, you receive it. When you receive more information than you give, you come out ahead. Simple as that. And even the many, many things people want to talk about that don't interest you, listen to them anyway! This carries two important benefits:
  1. The other person will appreciate it and like you more, even if after they finish talking you express your lack of interest in the subject. It's true! Try it if you don't believe me.
  2. If you get in the habit of listening to people talk about subjects of their choice even when they don't interest you, you will in short order realize how useful this will become. You'll learn things that will later prove unexpectedly useful.

Most importantly of all, this is the low stress way of conducting conversations--and the low stress life is the happy, and healthy, life.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Baseball podcast-like thing.

Adam Adkins and I recorded a 20 minute baseball spot, just to find out what it feels like. It's right here if you want to listen to it. The audio quality is poor but not inaudible. Sorry for that; My site can't handle a lot of bandwidth, so I had to make the filesize super small, and had to sacrifice quality to do that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

So Long, Daniel Jimeno Romero

We have our first fatal goring in the Running of the Bulls Presented by Pepsi™* in 14 years. The linked article spares few details; the bull in question rammed its pointy horn right through the neck and the lungs of the unfortunate gentleman, a British chap who was the same age as myself. He must have been a tough SOB to even last long enough to reach the surgical table at the local hospital, but alas, 'twas all for naught; it's hard to breathe with three inch holes in your lungs. Or with most of your blood scattered in the dirt somewhere in Barcelona.

* Not its actual name. Yet. The only good thing I can think of about the occasional fatal goring is it must discourage corporations from trying to buy off the naming rights.

I'm mostly ignorant of Spanish culture; I'm vaguely aware that traditionally bulls, bullfighting and such is important there. And that's well and good. But really, the remarkable thing is that only 15 people have been reported as having been killed during the running of this crazy festival in the past 85 years. I would not be especially surprised were the figure 15 per year. Let's face it, the thousands of tourists that go to Spain to run with the bulls every year don't do it out of their deep-rooted fascination with the intricacies of Spanish culture. They do it because hey, that's pretty damn screwed up, going out of your way to see if you can dodge a pissed-off charging bull at high speed. That is so hardcore.

And hey, I think it's pretty cool myself. It's a win-win, really; the Spaniards like it for cultural/traditional reasons, and foreigners like it because Westerners these days like anything suicidally crazy. It didn't make the list of PETA's favorite things, and there are people out there shocked and appalled at such barbarism because people die now and again*, but I at least have a little sympathy for the lets-go-get-in-life-threatening-danger-on-purpose mentality. Get busy living or get busy dying, and all that.

* Though honestly, I'd rather get gored to death by a bull than die of cancer in a hospital bed. Just not yet.

By the way, have you noticed that the people, especially the foreigners, running with the bulls are overwhelmingly male? Huh.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Does Pedro Make Sense For the Phillies?

Sure it does.

There was a report earlier today that the Phillies had already signed Pedro Martinez--who, you may recall, used to be Pedro Martinez--to a $4 million contract, probably prorated, which means they'd be on the hook for around $2 million in exchange for his services for the rest of the season. MLBTradeRumors has all the scoops.

The last time Pedro Martinez was seen (last season), he was 36, started 20 games, pitched 109 innings and got lit up like a Christmas tree for lowly 75 ERA+. (For comparison, Livan Hernandez' 2008 ERA+ was 69.) In 2007 he pitched very well in very limited work; in 2006 he pitched most of the year and was average.

Who are the defending world champions looking at replacing? Well, they should be trying to replace Jamie Moyer, who sadly has finally reached the end of the line. (5.5 innings per start and a 75 ERA+.) But really, they're just looking to find anybody that will give them something half-decent out of the #5 spot in their rotation, which is currently pretty much vacant, as you can see from their B-Ref pitching report, which lists only four starters. In addition to Moyer, Joe Blanton and Cole Hamels have taken the ball every turn all year, and noted spousal abuser Brett Myers has taken ten starts. Other Phillies that have taken starts this year include such luminaries as Rodrigo Lopez, J.A. Happ, Chan Ho Park (he just won't die!), and the totally awesome Antonio Bastardo, who rung up a 6.75 ERA before calling it a year.

The plan sans Pedro, presumably, is to keep up the doses of Rodrigo Lopez, maybe sprinkle in some more Chan Ho Park. I could provide you with a helpful statistical breakdown, but let's face it: You know who Rodrigo Lopez and Chan Ho Park are. The chances Pedro Martinez comes in and performs appreciably worse than those guys are low, and he at least has some potential for upside that Rodrigo Lopez certainly doesn't. And there is some little bit of tangible value in giving the fans something to talk about at the water cooler.

Compared to the other options out there for adding a starting pitcher--what other options for adding a starting pitcher?--tossing $2 million at a wall with a famous name on the off chance it sticks really isn't the worst idea you've heard of today. If the price tag is more like $4 million for half a season's work, that's different, but if Martinez can be had for less, he's worth giving a shot, for the Phillies or one of a few other contending teams.

Trading Freddy Sounds Good To Me

The word is that the Pirates are pretty much hellbent on getting Freddy Sanchez out of town ASAP. There are a few factors in play here that speak against being so eager to get rid of the guy, such as:

1. He's currently the best player on the team;
2. He's also the most popular guy in the clubhouse now that Super Nate! is gone;
3. He's definitely the most popular guy among the Pirates' 14 remaining fans, who sincerely believe that next year is going to be the year and therefore assume it will be the Time of Freddy Sanchez' Glory.

Well, as for #3 there... those people are delusional, and even if the Pirates give Freddy Sanchez away for nothing, you have to figure those people will continue to hang around. Everyone else bailed out on this team years ago.

There are three reasons why I fully support trading Freddy Sanchez right now for whatever he'll bring:

1. Most of his value is in his batting average, which means he's not really THAT great and he's probably overvalued;
2. I have to say I approve of any course of action that will piss off Adam LaRoche, who really could stand to take a level in Shutting My Mouth and Playing Baseball;
3. Sanchez plays 140+ games every year, which hides the fact that he's injured a lot with nagging problems that render him worse than useless. Right now he's healthy and hitting .315, so trading him now means selling high before his next injury drops his rate stats by 80 points each.

Now, judging by some of the rumors floating around, I think the Pirates should be able to get a pretty nice chunk of value for the guy. Will Carroll reported that Carlos Gonzalez may be in play from the Rockies, for instance. I'd take him and a live arm or two back for Sanchez. That's certainly better than keeping Sanchez, who by the way is 31 years old and has a skillset that suggests he'll probably be finished by the time he's 34.

None of this is to say I don't like Freddy Sanchez or want the bum out of town. Actually, he seems by all reports to be a standup and hardworking guy, and so I will feel happy for him when he finally gets the hell out of Pittsburgh. (Shouldn't that be Adam LaRoche's reaction, too? It says here Adam's just jealous of the guys that get to leave.) So by all means, give Freddy a chance to play for a major league team and bring back some guys who might help the Altoona Curve advance from their current status of Nationals of the Eastern League, perhaps all the way up to Royals of the Eastern League.