Friday, December 16, 2011

Another Round of "What If"

I love great “what if” questions, and when it comes to sports, asking those questions just makes me giddy. So with the way the NBA is set up today, where the elite players will force trades to ideal situations and teams, I was wondering how things could have been different if the NBA was like this just 20 years ago. Wow, I can’t believe I’m now able to say things like “just 20 years ago.”
First case that comes to mind: Shaq. He was a part of a winner in Orlando in the early 90s, but he wanted to spot light of the big city. He also wanted to be a rapper and an actor, and was trying his hand at both. Basically, he wanted to be in LA. He made that happen when he hit free agency, and left Orlando with nothing. Today, Dwight Howard is copying most everything Shaq did, except dominating games, and he’s looking to be traded to LA or New Jersey/Brooklyn.
1996 was Shaq’s last year in Orlando, and they almost won a title, so I doubt they would have considered trading him at the time. Even if they hadn’t, they still would have been able to perform a sign and trade, so they could get SOMETHING back for him. But that’s not as much fun. Let’s say that in October of ’95, Shaq made it clear he wasn’t coming back. They’d have to shop him , right? Only he was hell bent on being in LA. This leaves two options: the Lakers and the Clippers. Sounds like one legit option, right?  
Orlando is giving up a center, so they’d want one in return, that’s pretty obvious. As Orlando wasn’t a bad team, with a young (and healthy) Penny Hardaway and Nick Anderson backcourt. So you start with the Lakers offering Vlade Divac. That gives Orlando a pretty good lineup, but just Vlade isn’t enough to land Shaq. So they have to offer Orlando their first round pick, which LA ended up using to draft Derek Fisher. Orlando had no need for Fisher, they would have needed someone who could rebound, to help replace Shaq. Franky, there wasn’t a whole lot of options at the end of the first round in 1996. Maybe instead, Orlando’s scouts saw that this wasn’t the year they’d find a steal at the end of the draft, so instead of asking for the Lakers’ 96 first round pick, they ask for ’98 (LA didn’t have a pick in ’97). In 1998 there happen to be some decent to very good players available at the end of the draft. Guys like Rashard Lewis, and Nazr mohammaed. Not world beaters, but they would have fit in nicely around Hardaway, Anderson, Dennis Scott and Vlade dadi.
What’s the big deal? So far, it doesn’t appear that things are really all that much different. Well, Vlade was traded by LA, after they signed Shaq. He was traded for a young guard the Hornets had selected, in the ’96 draft, that had no interest in signing and wanted to be in LA. His name? Kobe Bryant. Well, it’s safe to assume the Hornets would have still drafted him, I don’t believe they did it just to trade him for Divac. So how does LA land Kobe now? I’m thinking they offer Charlotte another 7 footer, Elden Campbell. Same age as Divac, and actually averaged a point more a game in 1995.
LA actually traded Campbell to the Horents, but that was in 1999, along with Eddie Jones, for B.J. Armstrong, J.R. Reid and Glen Rice.  Jones was a very good player; he just had to be moved because Kobe had proven himself to be the better shooting guard.
So, it appears life as we know it now wouldn’t have been much different at all. Unless this happened: the Clippers want Shaq. They offer Stanley Roberts and Loy Vaught. And in the 1996 draft, instead of taking a center as they did, Lornzen Wright, they look for a shooting guard. Two shooting guards were taken in the next six picks after the Clippers picked Wright; Kerry Kittles and some kid out of high school with dreams of playing in LA. Oh yeah, Kobe Bryant. What if Shaq and Kobe could have been playing together in LA, just as Clippers?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gregg's Eleven

I’m a big fan of Ocean’s Eleven. For my money, it was one of most fun movies to watch. Obviously it was far from a great flick, just a fun one. With Hollywood so hell bent on remaking everything, I decided that I could handle a remake, if they followed my rules. Make it with either a mostly black cast or mostly a female cast. I made it real easy, I already cast all the roles and picked directors. Just send me a check.

Oceans Eleven
Black Cast
Female Cast
Daniel Ocean
George Clooney
Denzel Washington
Charlize Theron
Rusty Ryan
Brad Pitt
Will Smith
Sandra Bullock
Linus Caldwell
Matt Damon
Mos Def
Emma Stone
Terry Benedict
Andy Garcia
Laurence Fishburne
Julianne Moore
Basher Tarr
Don Cheadle
Jason Statham
Thandie Newton
Malloy brothers
Casey Affleck/Scott Caan
Wayan Brothers
Zooey Deschanel/Krysten Ritter
Saul Bloom
Carl Reiner
Danny Glover
Hellen Mirren
Livingston Dell
Eddie Jemison
Dule Hill
Janeane Garofalo
Frank Catton
Bernie Mac
Louis CK
Chelsea Handler
Julia Roberts
Halle Berry
Ryan Gosling
Ruben Tshikoff
Elliot Gould
Samuel L Jackson
Susan Surandon
Steven Soderberg
Hughes Brothers
Kathryn Bigelow

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rock Chalk

This past Saturday afternoon I had the extreme pleasure, call it downright joy, of taking my wife and Kyd to their first Kansas basketball games at Allen Fieldhouse. It was my first game in probably seven years, and that’s just silly. I’m a mediocre KU fan. I wasn’t raised a Jayhawk, and in fact, I really didn’t consider going to Kansas until my senior year in high school, when it was clear that I wasn’t leaving the state. Hell, I was lucky Kansas let my ass in.
And I’m not usually the kind of guy who adopts a new team to cheer for, I’ve made it very clear that I wouldn’t become a Royals or Chiefs fan when we moved here, and I’ve kept my promise. But I wasn’t really a huge fan of any college while I was growing up. When I was 12, I fell pretty hard for UCLA after visiting my cousin and hanging out on campus and in Westwood. To this day, there’s a spot in my heart for UCLA. I kind of view UCLA as my own biggest rival for KU and the stick I use to measure everything about Kansas. But I root for them, always hoping to see a KU-UCLA Championship. Well, and to win that game. So far, we’re 0-1 against them in the Final Four. A fact that would really needle me, except that was the night I had my first date with the woman who would become my wife. So it worked out better than okay.
So I entered my freshman year at Kansas with no real ties. Then I went to my first game at the Fieldhouse and I was thoroughly impressed. At the time, I was the sullen kid who tried to not get impressed by anything.  I didn’t go to games to cheer, I went to study.  Or so I liked to think back then. Clapping? Nah, I’d leave that to everyone else. I was too cool for that, plus I thought I knew the game better than just about everyone else. Except maybe Bum and V.
Things really changed for me 15 years ago. Really, the anniversary was the day I took my girls to their first game.  The defending National Champions were coming to play KU. This opponent just so happened to be the UCLA Bruins. I was stoked, to use a word picked up from my visit to UCLA.  A few days before the game, someone knocked on my dorm door to sell shirts for the game. It read “PHUCK UCLA.” I purchased two, one for me and one for my UCLA alumni cousin. Yes, I sent it to him. He said he kept it for a while, I doubt that. I did wear mine to his wedding under my tux a few years later.
Kansas had a fun and very talented team that year. It was an easy team to fall for. We were ranked second in the nation. So here we are, trailing the defending champs by 15 at the half. I was fearing all the electronic mail messages that would be waiting for me if I was able to get a connection that night. Yep, it was so long ago, “Email” was new. Hell, that very month I spent over $400 on AOL because they charged by the hour, and I didn’t have a life. True story. Sad story, too. (About two years later I did the math, to see what I would have earned had I purched AOL stock instead of logging all the hours I had. At that time, I would have earned over $75k. No shit. I will now slam my head on my desk)
The second half started and we put such a beating on UCLA, that they made me a KU fan. It was no longer about cheering for my cousins school, but beating the shit out of him and them. Mission accomplished. And for 15 years, it’s been the single best sporting even I ever witnessed in person.  The energy in that place could have powered Lawrence for years.
Walking in to the Fieldhouse this Saturday was completely different, on every level. For one, the place has been upgraded and it’s absolutely beautiful when you enter. There’s a Hall of Fame worthy of being called just that. And there’s a nice gift shop that makes their prices almost excusable.  Now there’s a difference between how an 18 year old male and a 10 year old female view a sporting event, and everything else in life. But she’s not so different from me. Just a lot taller than I ever was. She’s too cool to be impressed. She doesn’t want to clap and she’s more interested in the cheerleaders (okay, I was too. I said was) and how cute Baby Jay is. But then we got to the introduction, and she smiled. It was an ear to ear smile. The perfect smile.  Absolutely beautiful smile, as it always is, but this was also the smile of someone in the middle of being impressed.
The girl who has chosen to remain loyal to her father, which I totally accept and respect, by often stating that she’s an MU fan, leans over to me and says, “I want to go to school here.”
Oh the places you’ll go.

Jose, Jose....

It’s a sad day to be a Mets fan. I know this, because I’ve been a fan since the early 80’s. We’ve been through a lot, but we’ll never be confused with Cub fans. We have a couple of titles and we’re a young franchise (relatively speaking) but we’ve also had our share of gaffes.  Last night my favorite Met, since Dwight Gooden, signed with the Florida Marlins. Jose Reyes, you will be missed. Not just for how you sped around the bases and slid into third for yet another triple (the most exciting play in baseball, outside of an inside the park home run) but also for how you always had a smile on your face. It’s rare to see someone enjoy himself in sports, as much as you see it on Jose’s face.
That being said, sigh, letting him go was the right thing to do. I’ve done my research over the years and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a mistake to give any player a deal over five years in length. Unless he’s giving you a huge discount, like 20% off.  An unpopular opinion, since teams often hand out six and seven year deals to the elite and not so elite (Jasyon Werth) players on a regular basis.  But almost all of those signings have proven to be too long.
I’m willing to give a pass on resigning a franchise own player to a long term deal, provided the player hasn’t yet reached free agency. Even then, it’s a tough sell. It worked with when the Yankees signed Derek Jeter to a 10 year, $190 million deal. But the Twins could be ruined over the 8 year, $184 million contract they gave Joe Mauer.
Consider these deals:
·         2005, the Mets signed Carlos Beltran to a 7 year, $119 million contract.
·         2005, the Tigers signed Magglio Ordonez to a 7 year, $115 million contract.
·         2006, the Red Sox signed JD Drew to a 5 year, $60 million contract.
·         2006, the Giants signed Barry Zito a 7 year, $126 million contract.
All four players struggled immensely, and did so early on in their deals.  Zito hasn’t had a winning season, a season with an era under 4.00, nor pitched 200 innings in a single season.  The Giants still owe him at least $56 million.
Still don’t believe me? Look up the contracts and production from the following: Mike Hampton, Kevin Brown, Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano, Jason Giambi, Ken Griffey Jr, and Carlos Lee. Consider the fact that the Texas Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10 year, $252 million contract in 2001. They had to trade him, and eat a good portion of his contract to do so. He opted out of his deal after the 2007 season and the Yankees resigned him to another 10 years at $275 million. He hasn’t played a full season yet, and they have six more years to go.  
It will be hard to see Reyes in another uniform. And for the next few years, I expect he will still be a fantastic player. I also expect him to get injured and that halfway through the contract, the Marlins will look foolish, even if they’ve won a World Series title in that span.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I’m not a reporter. Not that there was any confusion before, but I don’t want there to be any confusion now. I’ve been reading up on this cluster of a story out of Penn State, and based on a few things I’ve learned, I’ve started to draw some of my own conclusions. More like assumptions, and I hope I’m wrong, but I fear I am not.
Most of these facts have been well covered, obviously. We know that Jerry Sandusky is a gigantic piece of shit. He’s an evil piece of shit, who is accused of some of the most heinous crimes imaginable. We know multiple people heard at the very least, rumors, and didn’t do everything they could to find the truth. We know of one large man who is 6’3” and 265lbs, who allegedly saw a child being raped, and left the scene completely.
Here’s another slice of the story, which is public record, and finally now being talked about. When Sandusky was investigated for showering with a young boy in 1998, the case made it’s way to the desk of the county District Attorney, a man by the name of Ray Gricar. Mr. Gricar chose not to prosecute Sandusky at that time. It was left with Sandusky promising not to shower with kids anymore. Point 1, if you have to promise not to shower with young kids anymore,  you should also resign your position within a charitable organization (that you started) that aims to help children. Obviously, there’s something inappropriate (at best) going on.
The following year, Sandsusky resigned as assistant coach at Penn State. Most football coaches don’t retire at age 55, but he wanted to spend more time with his charity. The timing is a bit interesting, right? Then in 2002, we have the alleged assault in the shower. The Grand Jury testimony states that Gary Schultz, senior Vice President of Finance and Business at Penn State is among those informed of the assault. Among Schultz’s responsibilities at work, he oversaw the campus police department.
Ray Gricar was still the District Attorney in Centre County at this time. Three years later, Gricar phones his girlfriend that he’s on his way home. He never shows up. He’s never seen again, and his body is never found. His car is found near a bridge, much like his brother’s car was found near a bridge in 1996. His brother’s body was found in the river, an apparent suicide. What is found, is Ray’s work laptop. The U.S. Secret Service and the firm which successfully recovered data from the hard drive from the Space Shuttle Columbia, were unable to recover any data from the laptop. On Ray’s home computer, they find that internet searches such as “how to wreck a hard drive”, “how to fry a hard drive,” and “water damage to a notebook computer.” In July of this year, Gricar is declared presumed dead. First, think of a reason why someone might want to erase their hard drive. Next, think of reasons why someone might commit suicide. Did you get to the same conclusion as me?
Everything above is a matter of public record. The rest is based on my gut feelings, as well as some facts. Those facts being and this is uncomfortable (to say the least): Ray Gricar was raised a Catholic. Jerry Sandusky’s grandparents emigrated from Poland, where 89% of the population is Catholic. Joe Paterno… Catholic. Google “Penn State,” “Catholic Church” and “parallels” and you get 127,000 results.
I am not saying that all Catholics molest children or are involved in the molestation of children. I don’t, for a second, believe this is a religious thing or anything like that. My point, and fear is, with abuse so rampant in the church for such a long time that perhaps it is passed on through the generations. I’ve done some reading in the link between victims who become the predators, and at this time “the existence of a cycle of sexual abuse was not established.” Although some studies estimate that 79% of offenders were victims as children.  
I also totally realize how this might sound ultra bigoted. If someone pointed out how Bernie Madoff and Lou Pearlman, two Jews, ran two of the biggest Ponzi schemes in history, that might offend more than a few. I am not attempting to point the finger at an entire religion, but the fact remains, the Church has a well documented history of this sort of thing. And a lot of the big players in this case, happen to be men of that faith. I don’t believe that being of any single faith makes a person do anything, but I do firmly believe that things like this can be learned through experience.
I’d bet every dollar I have that Sandusky was a victim of abuse as a child. Just like I’d bet OJ Simpson grew up in a home where there was violence against women. I really don’t mean to demonize everyone in the Church, but there’s so many cases where the Church acted so much like those involved in this case, I can’t help but think they learned their reactions (or even actions) from the Church.
I hope I’m wrong.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

For Shame

Everyone is angry. I get it, and you know what, we all should be. In fact, this is the first thing, in a long time, that the majority of Americans agree about. Children were brutally victimized, and a lot of adults, some in very high profile positions, didn’t do everything in their power to put a stop it. It’s sickening, literally.
But I still don’t know that firing Joe Paterno was the “right” thing to do. Which doesn’t mean that I think it was “wrong” either. Something happened to those boys, something terrible. I have no doubt in my mind that this sick bastard being charged is guilty. I don’t know what exactly he’s guilty of, but I know there’s no way to properly punish him either.
That said, there’s still due process in this country. The accused is still presumed innocent until proven guilty. And Paterno wasn’t charged with a crime, so I have a hard time seeing him punished. Look, without question, every single person who saw or heard something, had a moral obligation to run to the police. I don’t give a damn about the law. It was the right, no, it was the only thing to do. Even if nothing actually happened, just to clear the assholes name, you make sure it’s properly investigated. That didn’t happen, and there’s enough blame to go around.
I just don’t know what firing Paterno accomplishes. Penn State is over a decade late to take the moral high road. I’ve heard the, “what if it was your kid?” question. And you don’t have to ask me that, that’s the first thing that ran through my head when I heard about this. “What if it was my family?” My blood boils. But you know what? Unless you’re going to allow me, as the parent, the opportunity to gut the sonuvabitch myself, and look ever one involved in the eye, as I tell them the details of what my child went through, well I could care less how they’re punished. All that should matter is getting those children the help they need. And doing everything possible to ensure it never happens again.
Paterno could hide, until he’s called to testify, and never speak of this again. Not that I expect that he would, but now he has that option. I do not understand or see what firing him accomplishes. I can admit, unfortunately, that I’m not thinking clearly here. I like Paterno, because I like what he’s always stood for. Seeing this tiny, fragile old man, on a sideline surrounded by beasts that would run through walls for him is a pretty remarkable sight. I didn’t want to see his legacy, 60+ years in the making, tarnished. It’s too late for that. I accept that. Someone, please, explain to me how firing him is justice or right.
He could have done more. He absolutely should have done more. Firing him is doing something just to say you did something, and that’s not really doing anything.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Miss the Sport from SportCenter

Most of my life, ESPN’s “SportCenter” was so reliable, it was almost a good friend. Great highlights, fresh and funny hosts and enough stats to keep a geek like me happy. I can’t say when it changed, but it has. “SportCenter” has become as depressing as the evening news, and sports have become as disgusting as “real” life.
ESPN can still produce great television and their “30 for 30” series is some of the best television, regardless of genre. The “E:60” series is almost always interesting and well done, and it’s gotten to the point that I’d rather see and read about those kinds of stories, more than I want to watch a game or see any highlights.
As salaries soared out of this world, fans found it easier to be more cynical about sports. I’m not longer sure if the majority of fans would rather find something to cheer for than they’d like to find something to get pissed about. I’m guilty too, but in my defense, I’m just pretty cynical in general. So there’s that.
I hate to pile on, and this isn’t just about the Penn State scandal, as heart breaking and stomach churning as that is. But what are the major sport stories of the last, say 16 years?
Why 16? Because of OJ Simpson, that’s why, that story that forever changed us. Perhaps, even more than 9/11. Wait, don’t stop reading. I am serious. We can all agree that it changed how the media covered major events. With that case, entertainment news found its way on to the front page on almost every paper, every day. CNN and the 24/7 news networks hired so many of the major players. This statement is worth some more thought and a separate post at another time.
So lets get back to that white Bronco, and look at the major stories in sports since then. The baseball strike that cost us a World Series, sucked the life out of baseball for years. What is credited with bringing the fans back to the game? Well a historic home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. We’ve now seen both of those men sit in front of Congress and answer, or not really, questions about steroids.
Almost all of the athletes or teams, that captured my imagination over the last 15 or 16 years, are remembered as much, or more, for scandals.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Kobe Bryant, Lance Armstrong, Ohio State football, Kentucky basketball, Tiger Woods, Brett Favre, New England Patriots,  USC football and Reggie Bush, Joe Paterno and Penn State. I’m sure I’m missing more than a few, but these are some pretty big names. A lot was accomplished by these athletes and teams, but you can’t read any of these names without thinking of some pretty horrible stuff too.
Right now, the biggest stories on are: Joe Paterno announced that he’ll retire at the end of this season, the NBA lockout and a story about NBA player’s getting “plantation” treatment. We ask a lot of sports. We want to be inspired, we want to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves, we want to escape our lives and we just want to be entertained.
I’m sure most of these activities aren’t new, we just have so much more access today. I know this as well as anyone, I don’t need help to remember that I grew up cheering for Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Lawrence Taylor, Mike Tyson and Magic Johnson. Those were, without a doubt, my five favorite athletes while I was growing up. But their stories were big news and it was rare that off the field/court actions would make headlines.
I’m exhausted. I’m cynical and angry. Mostly, I’m just sad. It’s no wonder that the world can get caught up in a train wreck like Kim Kardashian, it’s easier to watch her and mock than it is to let ourselves get attached to a team or athlete, when another big disappointment will be leading off on “SportsCenter” tomorrow, and it might just be about your team.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mr. Fix It

I might be a tad bit obsessive compulsive. I’d look into it more, but I’m afraid it’d consume me. Anyway, I’ve been mulling over how I would fix sports. You know, if someone would create the job, and then hand the job over to me. I’ve been thinking about this since I decided that championships are basically BS.
The first thing that I realized is, the regular season is a mess too. They are far from fair. Teams don’t play the same opponents the same amount of times. Which lead me to questioning the logic behind leagues, divisions or conferences. Like the post season, they’re based on providing drama and entertainment. Rivalries are developed over years, often starting with geographic location. They are absolutely a positive aspect for the fans. I’d hate to see the end of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry for example.
(I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of all of this, and I know I’ve read bits and pieces of my ideas in other places. I simply don’t remember where or when, so I can’t give proper credit)
So with that said, the first thing I’d do is get rid of the American and National Leagues. It’s Major League Baseball, that’s the league, also, no more divisions.  Don’t stop reading just yet. Now it comes down to deciding what to do about the Designated Hitter, and I like to consider myself a purist, so I’d love to see it erased. But because I’d also contract by two teams (which results in a more competitive league, since there would be 50 less roster spots available) I’ve decided to keep the DH, taking it league wide.
Now there are 28 teams competing for 12 playoff spots. I decided to keep the wildcard games, because hell, I like money too. The two teams that I’m closing the doors on are the San Diego Padres (don’t worry, I’m moving the Angels to San Diego) and the Florida Marlins (don’t worry; I’m moving the Rays down to Miami and the new stadium). I told you the league would be more competitive, right? Well look at the names that would be available in the contraction draft: Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton, Javier Vasquez, Anibal Sanchez, Mat Latos, Tim Stauffer, Health Bell to name a few.
To address the scheduling issue I mentioned before, every team would play every other team. That’s six games against each team, three on the road and three at home. That doesn’t take the rivalry games away from us, it amplifies them. The Sox and Yankees only meet six times? All the passion gets condensed into two weekends.
Now the regular season means even more. Teams aren’t just jockeying for a spot in their division now, every opponent is a road block.
As for my new playoff system: the top 12 teams make the playoffs, with the top four getting byes the first round. For example (based on 2011, which I realize has an unbalanced schedule) the Philllies Yankees, Rangers and Brewers are 1-4. Seedings would change with each round, so that the best teams always have the advantage. If the Phillies lost to the Red Sox in the second round, the Yankees would then take over the #1 seed.
You can’t tell me the team that finishes the year with the best record, with this set up, isn’t the best team. But we’ll still have the post-season, only I’m changing the stakes. A trophy isn’t all they’re playing for. The players get cash, a 10% bonus.
Then I’m doing almost the same thing in the NBA. I’m taking out the divisions, as well as two teams. Sorry Toronto and Sacramento. To even out the schedule, each team plays three against every other team. But to keep things fair, it’s one game at home and one on the road. Then one at a neutral location. Some of those would be NBA cities, for example the Lakers and Celtics would play their third game in Denver. With a good amount of those games would be played in cities without teams; Kansas City, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Toronto, and Memphis for example. I haven’t figured out the split yet, or how that’s determined. But I’d like to see arenas get 30 games a year (rather than 41 that they get now)
This part I don’t like, but sometimes it’s all about the Benjamins. I’d expand the playoffs to 16 teams. Follow the idea I explained in the baseball section, with the playoffs being re-seeded after each round (if a higher ranked team Is upset) and to help make up for the lost revenue from the 10 lost home games, I’d expand the playoffs so that every round is a best of seven.
I haven’t yet figured out how to improve the NFL, other than following the trend of getting rid of divisions and seeding the post season based on the best 12 or 14 teams from the regular seasons. No longer will winning a horrible division with a 7-9 or 8-8 record, earn a team a trip to the post season. I just can’t figure out how to improve the schedule, since you can’t play every team once, let alone twice.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Over Mr Head

Once in a while, I find myself wondering about the connection between parents and their children’s subsequent religious beliefs and political associations. My question being: how many of us have the same beliefs, either politically or religiously, as our parents?
I found a study online, by Tom Smith of the University of Chicago. His survey reports that 65% of Americans stay with the religion in which they were raised. Of the 35% who do change religions, a third of them change religions multiple times, so I’m not sure how many of them find their way back to their original religion.
Based on my observations, I feel there’s a strong correlation. Which makes me wonder: what’s the point? The two strongest institutions in our society may be largely based on how we were raised. Which by itself, doesn’t make them wrong, but it does open them up to be deeply flawed. And the evidence is overwhelming, they are both very flawed.
We turn to both for some similar answers; either moral dilemmas, legal questions and often to determine what is best for “us,” either as a country, individual or family unit. As a country, we claim there’s a legal separation between church and state, but if you watch any election race, religion is always a central issue.
Obviously, since these are two strong forces in our lives, our parents’ beliefs will be reinforced, almost every second of the day as we grow up. The dinner table conversation, the television viewing choices, careers, hobbies and social circles we grow up around are directly influenced by our parents’ political and religious beliefs.
But as a “free” society, we absolutely have the right to make up our minds for ourselves; I just don’t think we do that. This isn’t to bash religion or politics, but I’ve figured out one thing about both: since there are so many different beliefs within both, they can’t all be right. They can, however, all be wrong. So maybe this is one of those times where we shouldn’t just listen to mom and dad.
I’m conflicted, because I know it’s impossible to prevent this from happening. Much as it’s impossible to prevent our race or sex from helping to shape our opinions and experiences.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Champion Shmampion

I’ve decided that the term “best” needs to be taken more seriously, and I hope to have a new site up soon, dedicated to determining the best in all sorts of categories. But first, I need to debunk the idea of the “champion.”
Other than sports like boxing and UFC, championships are complete crap. Super Bowl, World Series, March Madness or the NBA Playoffs don’t actually determine which team is the best team. They generate mountains of money and they’re great fun, but they’re also a lie. They can give us great drama, but they’re more of a yearend celebration than anything else. That’s not to say the “champions” weren’t the best teams in their respective sports, they just weren’t the best because they won the championship.
The evidence is clear, and it’s plentiful, and you don’t have to look far. There’s the “World Champion” St. Louis Cardinals, who just won the World Series a week or so ago. And then this weekend, there’s an epic match up in college football between the top two ranked teams, Alabama and LSU.
The Cardinals played well most of the year, in spite of the fact that they lost their second best pitcher before the season even began. They played very well down the stretch, but needed the Atlanta Braves to have a historic collapse (which thrills me to no end) just to make the playoffs. Three teams in the National League alone won more games during the regular season than the Cardinals, and seven teams total. But the Cardinals played their best ball when it counted, I just don’t know what it counted for exactly. Glory, pride, bragging rights and some cash is all I can figure.
Now looking forward to tomorrow’s game between the top two ranked teams in college football, Alabama and LSU, we see a game with “National Championship implications.” That’s what everyone keeps saying. But if these are the two best teams, and we see one team beat the other, we know right then which team is the better team. Therefore, we know which the best team in the country is. We don’t need to wait for a bowl game in early January to decide this. Although we’re told we do, and in the end, the season may end with neither team being the champion.
It just makes no sense. I can’t think of another line of work, which is what this is, where the best is determined by a yearend competition. We won’t decide that the iPhone was the best phone of the year based on how well it does against HTC in December. The best sales person at my company is the best because they do the best all year long. Looking for the best surgeon? Well you look at his/her complete body of work, not just some arbitrary surgeries.
These championships impact more than just deciding the best team of each season. Not that it actually matters, but sport fans love to debate the best in every sport. Hell, we’ll argue the best at each position in each sport. Michael Jordan supporters often refer to his six rings, as evidence of his greatness. While Kobe Bryant is one ring behind him, with his fans believing he’ll equal Jordan’s greatness with one more title, and pass it with two. What? That’s ridiculous. Michael Jordan won his sixth ring on June 14, 1998. He wasn’t a better player that day than he was on June 13th. Yet somehow, we’re supposed to believe he was.
I understand, and appreciate, that because those games “mean” more, that those games are played at a higher intensity. Hell, I’ve witnessed it countless times. So Jordan is perceived as a guy with ice in his veins, because he wasn’t fazed by the situation. But the fact is, his Bulls were the best teams those seasons, the post-season wasn’t necessary to decide that. For crying out loud, it’s called the “post-season.” You know, as in, after the season
Want more proof? This one pains me, but the 2007 New England Patriots didn’t win the championship that year. They went 16-0, the first NFL team ever to do, and they completely dominated their opponents all season long. They scored more than twice as many points as they allowed. Then they played my Giants in the Super Bowl, a team that only outscored their opponents by 22 points for the entire season. A nice 10-6 team that made the playoffs as a wildcard. Then a completely fluke play, which included Eli Manning actually moving his feet and the most insane catch ever, and next thing we know, the Giants are “World Champions.” You’ll never find anyone argue that the Giants were the best team that year, but that’s how the record books remember them. And my teams have been on the flip side of that coin, as MU fans like to remind us. There have been multiple seasons where Kansas was arguably the best team in the land, only they choked in the first round of the NCAA tournament against lesser schools.
In boxing, if you beat the champ, you are the champ. Although you still might not be the best, you at least take the title, very literally, from the previous champ. There is no fight at the end of the year, or round robin tournament.
In the meantime, I think I'll declare myself the World Champion of Bloggers. Not bad for my first post in months, right?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I know, it’s been like ages. I don’t really have an excuse, it’s just that I used to write when I’d first get to work (shhh, don’t tell) but now I have a job that actually keeps me busy all day. Must be what most adults deal with, and to be honest, I kinda like it. In fact, I have zero complaints about my new gig. Other than I’d like to make a bit more, but who wouldn’t?

Anyway, right now I’m on a plane with my girls on our way to California. Our first “real” vacation in about two years. Going out of town when you don’t have a job doesn’t feel like a vacation, you end up packing too much guilt and anxiety in your carryon luggage. So this is going to be a phenomenal week. We’re starting off with a few days in San Diego, hanging with my Aunt and Uncle. We’re going to hit the zoo and some other sights. Then it’s up to LA to see some cousins, and maybe apply for a job with TMZ.

Have to admit, as there’s crying babies in the seats ahead of us and behind us, (might be the next Pele behind my wife..someone call Real Madrid) the Kyd is an absolute joy to travel with. I’m looking down our aisle, and she has her Skull Candy buds in, listening to who knows what, with her head buried into her book so intently, I think she can see through pages. If only she’d take some advice and not try and pack her entire room into her backpack.

It’s an exciting trip, as my extended family has met my family a few times now, but this will be the most time they’ve spent with my clan, and I’m pretty fucking proud of what I have here .In fact, I’m listening to some Neko Case rght now, and she’s singing the perfect line, “this tornado loves you.”

Although it’s a bit odd, taking the fam with me on this trip. My LA and San Diego visits are something from my childhood, so I don’t really feel like an adult, more like I’m revisiting my childhood. Back to hour spent digging in Glen’s baseball cards, my first time on a college campus with Eric at UCLA, boogie boarding with my Uncle and taking the occasional personal art lesson. All things I get to expierence again, just from a different point of view. Gets me excited to take the fam to see other locations that house so many memories from back in the day.

I’m going to try and post a bit more on this trip, but don’t hold me to it. There’s a zoo to explore and some memories to be made. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Put Me on the Ballot

I thought of some ways the Government can earn some cash to help with this debt. It’s gonna cost you, but it doesn’t happen to. It’s completely up to you. They should start renting out unused space. There's no way Obama needs all that room, has he ever seen HGTV? The Prez and Michelle could easily rent out a few rooms. How about Capitol Hill? Since they don't use it for anything more than a place to gather and bitch, let them all work from home and use Skype. I'm sure Trump would pay to use it, since he was to play politician. Can you imagine what Hollywood would pay, to film on location?
Since we’re allowed to have guns, why not buy some off the military? They’d know who bought them, and rather than sitting around waiting for the next war, we could get some cash.
Basically, the US Government should have a giant garage sale. Or just post a bunch of crap on Craigslist. Can you imagine all the great deals to be had? How many laptops are sitting in storage across the country? What about flat screen televisions, office furniture, and automobiles? There are safe houses, just itching to be sold or rented out. Maybe a few planes and helicopters? And you know what, it’d all be tax free. How awesome would that be?
We’ve all seen the advertisements of homes, cars and other fun items that were confiscated during federal arrests. It’s time that selling all that stuff became a priority. What are all those census takers doing now? Keep them on the payroll to sell this stuff. My plan saves jobs, pays down the debt and helps the people. Okay, it may not really help, but we’d get some crap we really dig.
Wait, there’s more. When they find businesses that are fronts for illegal activity, the type of shops the Nancy Botwins of the world open up, they shouldn’t close them. Sell them as well. I assume they already have some loyal customers.
I’m looking over as I write this, and I see that they’re actually doing some of this already. They’re idiots though, you have to advertise. Let college kids who are majoring in advertising at our public universities, who are using federally funded grants to pay for college, get to work on this. If they help out, give them a discount on their loans.
The more I think about it, and I realize that I’m spending way too much time thinking about this, they shouldn’t auction these items off. No, they should try start by asking for a fixed percentage of market value. Auctioning off a $250,000 house for $20,000 sounds great, but now I think of it as a giant loss. Why not sell that $250,000 house for $200,000. That’s still a helluva deal.
That’s it; I’m running for office now. I’m not calling anyone names, and I’m not making any promises I can’t keep. I’m simply running on one idea, an idea that I think helps everyone. Now if only there was a branch of the Government responsible for common sense, I’d know what to run for.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Swingers 2k11

I simply love the movie, Swingers. Yeah, I really had to say movie there, because just saying “I love Swingers” would be a completely different and false statement, which would get me in loads of trouble at home. That said, I was recently thinking about how different that movie would be if it took place in 2011. A lot has changed since 1996.

Here are a few things that I think would be different:
Mikey wouldn’t just vent to Rob about his ex, he’d blog about the pain.

When the Mike and Trent are closing in on Vegas, rather right after uttering, “Vegas baby, Vegas” Trent would Tweet, “Vegas, Baby, Vegas. #Vegas!”

The guys wouldn’t play blackjack in Vegas, opting for poker instead. “Always raise with aces. Always, baby.”

Each time the guys hit a new bar or party, they’d get out their iPhones and check in on Foursquare.
Mikey would check his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook page for updates, and find out about the lawn jockey from a profile update.

Mikey wouldn’t have left five drawn out messages on that girl Nikki’s answering machine; he would have sent her 15 text messages.

Mike wouldn’t pine over his ex, by looking at a shoebox full of old photos, instead looking at an old Myspace page.

Instead of meeting up at Sue’s pad to play Sega before heading out, they’d play “Call of Duty” online from the comfort of their own homes.

Instead of auditioning for sitcoms, the guys would be trying out for reality television shows. Rob’s big news wouldn’t be a Pluto call back, but a Real World call back.

After leaving the diner, Trent would tweet where they were and, “I would never eat there. #Imthebadguy”

There would be no going home to check messages, since no one would have a home phone, just cell phones. Mikey would constantly be checking his phone for missed calls and reporting how many bar’s he has.

Instead of arguing how long Mikey should wait to call a girl, the debate would center on the proper waiting time before sending a friend request on Facebook.

When Mike meets Lorraine, and she asks for his number, she’d also ask for his email address and someone would say “I’ll Facebook you.” His card would also have his URL, which would contain an image of the duck head from “You Bet Your Life.”

Thankfully, Swingers came out at the perfect time. So money, baby.