This is definitely my current favorite website. I'm honestly not sure how it is legal to put every Simpsons episode online where viewers can watch, free of charge. In fact, maybe I shouldn't be drawing attention to it by posting it on this blog. But I can't help it. This site not only lets me relive the glory days of The Simpsons (don't even talk to me about the past six or seven seasons), it also makes me feel like a genius for not buying any of the seasons on DVD. In all the fuss over Family Guy and Southpark during the past few years, I feel like The Simpsons has been lost in the shuffle. Which of the three shows is the best? Tough question, but to me, one that has a clear answer. The Simpsons (in its prime) really can't be compared to South Park at all - the only reason they have drawn comparison is the fact that they are both animated. This is ridiculous. You shouldn't compare Seinfeld to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia just because they are both live action. Can we just say that they are all - all four of them, in fact - hilarious shows, and leave it at that? Family Guy, on the other hand, for all its popularity, is a cut below the others. Way below. South Park was absolutely right in pointing out that it isn't even all that well written, and that the jokes generally have nothing to do with the plot. To me, one of the worst things about the show is that it doesn't even care about its characters. Peter, Lois, Chris and Meg are made of cardboard. We absolutely do not care what happens to them, or even whether or not the show resolves itself. Note the (ridiculously) extended fight sequence between family members at the end of one of the episodes. We don't care that the characters appear to engaged in a death struggle with each other, or that this is a sign of a profoundly messed up family. We are just supposed to laugh, because their fight is outrageous and unexpected. By way of comparison, I watched an old Simpsons today from Season four, called "Duffless." It is one of my favorite episodes in the entire run. The plot is simple: Homer gives up beer at Marge's request, and the two of them reconnect at the end. Some of the gags are hilarious: at one point, in the Duff Beer factory, we see a safety inspector checking beer bottles for foreign objects. He is momentarily distracted - just long enough for a bottle containing Hitler's head to fly by. And for all of its humor, the ending - Homer and Marge ride a bike singing "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" - has some genuine emotional power. Is there a joke at the very end? No, not really. And yet the whole episode is infinitely better written and, I think, funnier than that episode of Family Guy that has the fight at the end. Basically, we are looking at two shows: one funny show with a soul, and one less funny show with no soul and no standards. Guess which one I pick?
I am really not a fan of these west coast Red Sox games, but I did enjoy waking up to find that we had beaten "King" Felix. Actually, we feelings were mixed, since I have Felix on my fantasy team. But as always, "real" loyalty wins over fantasy loyalty. (The topic of fantasy-real life conflict is a whole other blog.) The big story of yesterday's game is Bartolo who, with the retirement of David Wells, is the new "I can't believe a guy that fat can be paid to play baseball" posterboy. Seriously, which active players come close to Bartolo for sheer chubbiness? Dmitri Young is definitely in the conversation. Another question is, how excited should I be about this Bartolo phenomenon? It seems to be pushing it to hope that he could step in and be his Cy Young self - or even a rotation fixture for the rest of the reason. Consider me cautiously optimistic. A quarter into the season, our rotation is by far my biggest area of concern. A casual fan might look at the stats right now and see no cause for alarm. We have 8-0 Dice-K, Playoff hero Beckett, No-hit Lester, Bartolo, Steady Wakefield and the other No-hit guy, Buchholz, and oh yeah, Curt Schilling waiting in the wings. And yet... Beckett has been good sometimes, but also a little shaky, Lester has been untouchable sometimes, but also erratic. Same with Wakefield, only more erratic. And Dice-K... He is 8-0 with an ERA under 2.50, so I shouldn't complain too much. And yet, no 8-0 has ever been more terrifying or instilled less faith in a fan. There have been starts this year where I wonder if he will ever throw a strike again. There have been starts was he's thrown approximately 423 pitches entering the fifth. He is getting a ton of run support right now. I'm not implying he's Barry Zito, as some sky-is-falling Red Sox fans would have you believe. But he is also not having an 8-0 type season so far, regardless of what his record says. As one of my fantasy pitchers, he gives me the double heart attack every time out there. I've already a bit too much Dice-K for one year.
And he's still a safe bet to be 9-0 by tomorrow, given how Seattle's line-up looks so far.