From the daily archives: Friday, July 1, 2011

Bob Hurst
Davey Johnson has returned to the dugout as a major league manager, but not in the way he expected.
Just a few days after Jim Riggleman resigned as manager of the Washington Nationals, Johnson took over as the team’s skipper, losing 4-3 on Monday night to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.
The Nationals are Johnson’s fifth team that he has managed after guiding the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers between 1984 and 2000. He led the Mets to a World Series championship in 1986.
“It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed every minute of it,” Johnson said of his debut with the Nationals. “It was kind of like flying an airplane. Even if you haven’t flown for a while, you can still get it off the ground and land it.”
Johnson, 68, signed a three-year consulting contract with the Nationals that runs through 2013 and will help the team choose its next manager. He had been a senior adviser for the Nationals since 2009.
Riggleman resigned last Thursday after telling the club that he wanted his contract option to be picked up for 2012, and not getting it. The Nationals had won 11 of 12 and were playing their best baseball of the season when Riggleman resigned.
“It’s been brewing for  a while,” Riggleman said. “I know I’m not Casey Stengel, but I do feel like I know what I’m doing. It’s not a situation where I felt like I should continue on such a short leash.
“I’m just not the guy that they thought they could move forward with.”
Riggleman’s contract went through the end of this season and was his third one-year deal with the team since taking over for Manny Acta in July 2009. He went 140-172 with the Nationals.
Day games blinding to Hamilton: Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton prefers to play at night. And his numbers under the lights back him up.
Hamilton went into Tuesday’s night game at Houston batting .377 with seven home runs, 31 RBIs, seven walks, 15 strikeouts and a .415 on-base percentage in 53 at-bats in 26 night games.
Day games are a different story.
Hamilton’s tried sunglasses. On Saturday he wore tinted contact lenses in his first three at-bats, but struck out four times in the Rangers’ 14-5 home loss to the New York Mets. Hamilton said he had a problem with depth perception with the contacts.
He did not play in Sunday’s day game.
In 15 day games this season, Hamilton is batting .113 with no homers, 4 RBIs, eight walks, 21 strikeouts and a .230 on-base percentage. Last season, Hamilton hit .286 during the day and .384 at night.
“It’s just hard for me to see (at the plate) in the daytime,” Hamilton said. “It’s just what it is. Try to go up (to the plate) squinting and see a white ball while the sun is shining right off the plate.”
Hamilton’s vision problem in day games has him in an 0-for-18 slump under natural light. He is 1-for-33 in day games since his return from the disabled list on May 23.
Hamilton recently found a pair of sunglasses that he used last season, and will try those as well as get help from the Rangers in finding a solution.
Cruz walks, strikes out in same at-bat: One of the most important things taught to baseball players is to know what the situation is. Somehow, everyone but the scoreboard operator didn’t know what was going on during a second-inning at-bat by Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers on Saturday.
Cruz received ball four on a 3-2 count, but continued his at-bat. Home plate umpire Mike DiMuro didn’t award Cruz first base. Rangers manager Ron Washington wasn’t aware that it was ball four. Neither were his coaches or players.
“I ended up realizing that after the fact,” Washington said. “The umpire didn’t realize it, Cruz didn’t realize it. So there were three dummies out there during that play.”
DiMuro apologized to Cruz in his next at-bat.
“A walk is better than a strikeout,” Cruz said. “What can you do? It’s over. You can’t change anything.”
Before the Rangers lost to the Mets 14-5, Cruz made up for the gaffe by hitting a two-run homer.

StatsWatch: Chicago White Sox DH/1B Adam Dunn has hit 38 or more home runs and driven in 92-plus runs over the past seven seasons while playing for Cincinnati, Arizona and Washington. He also struck out at least 164 times per year.

Dunn reached his 100th strikeout (16th in last 25 at-bats) of the season on Sunday, when he fanned four times in the White Sox’s 2-1 loss to the Nationals. He has only seven homers and 29 RBIs in his first season with the Sox while hitting just .173. Here is what Dunn’s dismal month of June has looked like, through Monday:

*    9-for-63, .143 AVG.
*    2 HRs, 6 RBIs
*    7 BBs, 31 Ks
*    .239 OBP
*    .270 SLG

Copyright © 2011  Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.


By Phil Mestomack
[Our resident gastronome Phil Mestomack travels the county in search of the best burger in the Valley.  Where will Phil’s taste buds lead us this week?]

In the 1600s, German ships from Hamburg, German began sailing to Russian ports and eventually brought back “steak tartare,” which usually consists of raw chopped beef with a raw egg, capers and onions.  A few centuries later, a cooked version of the dish became “Hamburg Steak.”  This dish, however, resembled more of a meatloaf than the hamburgers we’re familiar with today.
The true origin of hamburgers in the United States is open to much interpretation.  Many cite the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis as the first examples of hamburgers sold in this country, with Tyrolean Alps Restaurant selling “Hamburger Steak, plain” and “Hamburger Steak with Onions.”
Some restaurants, particularly in the New England area, credit themselves as having the first hamburger sandwich, but these accounts are often under dispute.  The invention of the hamburger bun is often credited to Walter Anderson, the co-founder of White Castle, in 1916.

Restaurant #3
The third restaurant on our list is Nana’s Cafe.  The small restaurant, located at 525 Pine Avenue in Holtville, sports a cozy ambiance complete with pictures of local people and events adorning the walls.
The menu at Nana’s Cafe combines Mexican favorites, like Carne Asada and Enchiladas, with American diner standards, like burgers, soup and salads.
The wait staff at Nana’s allows the customer to seat themselves and drink orders came quickly.
Nana’s Burger, the restaurant’s name for a bacon cheeseburger, was selected.  The bun was toasted lightly with butter and the bun was smeared with mayo.  The dish comes with choice of sides, including fries, onion rings, potato salad and more.
The burger came topped with American cheese and two slices of well-cooked bacon.  Lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle were kept separate from the burger.
The burger had good beef flavor and plenty of juices.  It was quite sizeable as well.  The crunchiness of the bacon was welcome given the softer fare from previous restaurants.
The fries ordered were average.  Not to flavorful, but they are potatoes after all.
Price:  $6.99 for the Nana’s Burger.
Service Score:  B.  The service is friendly and quite attentive during off hours, but at lunch, the service can be quite hectic with dozens of orders going at once.
Meal Score:  B+.  Not perfect, but pretty good for a small restaurant.

[Where will Phil’s search for the best burger in the Valley lead us?  Read the Weekly-Chronicle next week to find out!]


Telephone Tag Blues! Bring Back The Fireworks Stands!

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A WAY TO GET YOURSELF HEATED UP on an already hot day, then just call up one of those automated ordering systems that have become so popular with businesses.
My least favorite are the voice activated where a machine talks to you almost  like a real, live person.
Almost is the key word. Sometimes they work,. Sometimes they don’t. Make a mistake or take to long to give the voice from Hell the proper information and you will find yourself stuck on hold or trying to repeat information to a machine that couldn’t understand it in the first place.
Such was the case with me and Ticketmaster today when I tried to order some tickets to a ball game and fireworks show.
First I got pestered for every possible piece of information the voice could think to ask about me. Then I got my name spelled wrong and my address listed incorrectly. After that, it was a piece of cake, or so I thought. Think again.
That’s when we got to my credit card number which the voice told me to speak into the receiver. Apparently I was a little to slow in responding to this demand and the voice made up its own number and entered it. At least it must have made it up, since it wasn’t even close to the number I gave it.
Then when I went to correct it, it still got wrong and I was handed off to some canned elevator music for awhile. Another recorded voice told me my call was important to them and stuck me back on hold. I guess it wasn’t that important afterall. The first voice came back on and told me I had a delay of just five minutes. Since it had already been over seven minutes, I began to doubt  the voice was telling me the truth.
Then I was told if I wanted to or more tickets, I could go back to the start and do it all again. Since I hadn’t even got the first tickets, I was completely discombobulated and decided to try again some other time. Like when a real, live person might be working there.
I have to wonder what large companies gain by using these machines.  A real, live human being could solve the whole thing in a matter of seconds.
The machine couldn’t figure it out in a quarter of an hour and perhaps never would.
I think we would do a lot to solve the unemployment problem in this country simply by eliminating these gadgets from the corporate arsenal.
How much could it possibly cost them to have a person answering a telephone in the USA and taking orders for a product that is solely based in the USA?
If people want something to revolt against or Tea party people want to get out and rally, then perhaps they could go after phone recordings.
That way we would all have our lives made a little easier simply by doing things the old fashioned way.
Oh, and I decided to find another activity for the Fourth of July!
IT WILL BE RED, WHITE AND BOOM!! once more in Imperial Valley and the rest of the world as we celebrate our independence in the traditional manner. I’m already getting out my best barbecue rub recipe to use on meat I’ll be grilling on the 4th.
We haven’t received our usual admonishment from the fire department about fireworks being illegal in Imperial County this year. Perhaps they’ve decided that most folks know it and will adhere to this policy.
I used to look forward to the fireworks stands opening. The church groups and civic groups who used the proceeds from these booths always did a world of good for their communities in exchange for selling a few noisemakers roman candles.
These days you have to watch out for the fireworks police or you could get tagged and fined for celebrating you independence. Is there a message in there about how much freedom we can expect to have in the future? Probably.
We still want to see this ban lifted in the cities around here and the county too. The folks who made the most noise locally about instating don’t live here anymore. Just us poor folk who have to rely on popping plastic bags to get our thrills on the 4th!
We hope people will take back that sense of freedom and independence and put an end to this intrusion into the lives of too many people. Government is not acting in the best interests of the people in this case.
But, don’t forget to go to the  Freedom Fest anyway and partake in some of the Valley’s finest entertainment. We hope to see you at IVC  on Sunday evening.
Peace and freedom to all.

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