Saturday, October 31, 2009

Redskins = Bad Franchise

First of all, Happy Halloween - that great festival that seems to be turning more and more into Christmas each year. However, that's not what I am writing about today.

Here in the DC area, there has been a lot of talk about the Redskins NFL franchise and what needs to be done to improve both on the field and in fan relations.

A quick summary - the Skins are 2-5 with a couple of very bad losses (Detroit and Kansas City) and a fan base that is beginning to howl over the way they are being treated by ownership and management. The team has changed the rules recently concerning what kind of signs fans may bring into FedEx Field, as Dan Steinberg has been noting with increasing regularity. The fans are getting frustrated, the players and coaches are getting frustrated because the appearance has been made that the powers that be don't give a solitary hoot.

On one hand, the owner, Dan Snyder, doesn't have to give a solitary hoot about the fans. As long as he is making a profit, it probably won't make a difference. Granted, it isn't good business practice to treat your paying customers with contempt, but if people continuously fork over the cash to attend games, then there shouldn't be much complaining.

Which brings me to another point - one that I am sure is going to cause many to howl - professional sports franchises are NOT public trusts; they are private businesses. Yes, they can foster civic pride and all that jazz, but at base, they are private businesses. As long as Dan Snyder owns the Washington Redskins Dan Snyder is going to do what Dan Snyder wants to do and no amount of lawsuits and threats will stop him from doing that. There is only one thing that will give him pause - losing money. My advice ultimately is - forget the signs, the t-shirts, and the protests...

STOP. GOING. TO. THE. GAMES.

Until the games start getting blacked out here in DC, the Danny is just going to laugh all the way to the bank year in and year out and nothing else can change that. Stop going to games and plunking down your money. Nothing else will work. Don't buy tickets, concessions, beer, food, parking spaces, apparel, and so forth. The Redskins are a terrible franchise and that will not change until the fans make themselves heard through pecuniary means.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

World Series Predictions

It is amazing to consider the kind of disrespect the Philadelphia Phillies have been getting in the past couple of days. All it took was for the New York Yankees to win the American League pennant to throw the Phillies overboard like a cheap sock. And you know what? I am okay with that! Why? The Phillies thrive as the underdog, as the one who is always doubted.

In 2008, it was 'they can't beat CC Sabathia' - they did. Then it was 'Joe Torre has the experience and the Dodgers have Manny Ramirez' - which did not matter because the Phillies beat them in five even with Ramirez having a great series. Finally, we would told that the Tampa Bay Rays were going to run all over the Phillies and the Phillies' luck was going to run out. Well, well, well...the Phillies won in five and not even rain or Bud Selig could stop them from hoisting the championship trophy.

Here we are on October 28, 2009 and the Phillies are back in the World Series after being doubted again by many; the Rockies and Dodgers were supposed to have superior bullpens and were supposed to have matured enough to compete and dismantle the Phillies. Such a thing didn't happen and the Phillies only lost one game to each opponent. I can't say it was easy, but it was certainly convincing.

The opponent is a team that is familiar with this time of the year - the New York Yankees. To my everlasting shame, I chose 'Yankees' as the name of my first grade reading group when I was going to school in West Orange, NJ at the time (1988). Back then, though, it was the Mets who were the dominant New York team and the Yankees were just bad. Anyway, the Yankees have now won 40, yes FORTY, American League pennants. Despite that, there aren't that many on the team who were part of the dynasty of the late 1990's, just four - Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte.

It's funny, because the last National League team to win consecutive world championships was the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds, the 'Big Red Machine', as they were called then, and there are a lot of similarities in the situation now as there was in 1976 as the Reds were going for their 2nd title. Consider...

- The Reds of 1975 played a team that no one really expected to be there in the World Series (Boston), just as the Phillies did in 2008 - Tampa Bay, and then went on to play the Yankees as they were defending their title in 1976 - just as the Phillies are doing right now.

- The Yankees of 1976 were making their first World Series appearance since 1964 and were gearing up for a great run with 5 AL East titles, 4, AL pennants and 2 World championships in 6 years. The 2009 Yankees are making their first WS appearance since 2003 and are a different team. They have some experience, but also a lot of young guys who have never been here before.

- The Reds were able to sweep the Yankees with relative ease, and with all things considered, I hope the Phillies can do the same - but if that is the case, be ready for another mini-Yankee run over the next 3-5 years.

Sometimes I wonder why they are even bothering to play the games - just give the Yankees the title already - at least that is what the media reads and sounds like. Phillies pitching will step up and the hitters will be patient enough against a guy like CC Sabathia. Cliff Lee will continue to pitch out of his mind and the defense will make a couple of key plays. I am going to agree with Mr. James Calvin Rollins and say....

Phillies in Five.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Phillies - Your 2009 NL Champs!

Keeping true to my custom of waiting to comment on the news, I want to share a few thoughts on the Phillies winning the 2009 National League Pennant - I have avoided talking too much about it because there are so many more worthwhile places to read commentary - The Good Phight, Beerleaguer, PhilliesNation, WSBGM's, and The Fightins'. Each of those have their strengths and the resources to make the day-to-day following of the Phillies very enjoyable.

The being said, let me go Peter King on everyone. Ten things I think I think....ok, that is retarded, anyway, here goes...

1. The entire series against the Dodgers had a feel of 'we will beat you completely into submission'. Final scores of 8-6, 11-0, and finally 10-4 tend to lend itself to this kind of feeling, I would believe. Even the 5-4 comeback in Game 4 had that feeling, albeit in a much different way.

2. It was amazing to see/hear/read the metaphorical fellatio that was being performed by the media on the Dodgers and Joe Torre. Look at where it got them. To borrow the cliche, this is why they play the games. To have all of this done previously, you would have sworn LA was already going to the World Series. I have no doubt that the Phillies heard all the same things and was motivated by such disrespect and decided to kick ass a second year in a row.

3. The so-called 'vaunted bullpen' of LA had an ERA of 6.00 - that's amazing. 14 runs given up in 21 innings. George Sherrill (also known around these parts of central Maryland as 'Flat Breezy') looked like a deer caught in the headlights whenever he came to pitch - which tells me it is a lot easier to be the LOOGY and closer for a crappy team in Baltimore than it is to be the specialist under the harsh lights of playoff time. Jonathan Broxton, no matter what anyone says or claims, was FRIGHTENED by the prospect of facing Matt Stairs again - Stair didn't even see a strike. Few batters later J-Roll hits his historic double, and the Phillies have a commanding 3-1 series lead.

4. Ryan Howard's performance during this entire postseason has been a treat. His discipline has been outstanding and he has truly become a leader on the team - his quote from Game 4 of the Colorado series: 'Get me to the plate, boys', is the stuff of legends. He completely deserved his NLCS MVP. Hopefully, we see more of this delight during the World Series - he has three career World Series home runs.

5. I don't know what has gotten into Cole Hamels. He was absolutely a monster in 2008, but a lot of 2009 has been overshadowed by his attitude and poorer results. Three starts in the playoffs this year and while he got the win in Game 1 against LA (an argument if there ever was one about the uselessness of the 'win' stat), he had absolutely none of the domination that we have seen in the past, particularly in the 2008 postseason. All of a sudden, I am wondering about his issues as we move on to the World Series - will he be able to pitch effectively for even six innings?

6. Turning to something more positive - Cliff Lee has shown the world why the Phillies went out and got him. So his September was so-so? Thank God it is October. Indians fans are going to want to puke their guts out many times over if they see a Game 1-4-7 potential matchup of Lee and C.C. Sabathia. Lee's performance so far is even exceding Cole Hamels' 2008 October, and that is difficult to do!

7. Chooooooooch!! Carlos Ruiz is showing again his propensity as a red-light player. The homer he hit in Game 1 at LA was a back-breaker that was (to use another cliche) a tone-setter. Much is made of Ruiz's ability to handle the pitching staff, but would anyone really want to trust Paul Bako to do this? Didn't think so. Panamania rules, and no doubt he will feature prominently as a 'surprise' contributor in the World Series.

8. The outfield trio of Ibanez, Victorino, and Werth all came up big and believe it or not, Jayson Werth holds the Phillies' career record for most postseason home runs. Shane Victorino continues to piss off the entirety of Dodger fandom (and Met fandom too!). Raul Ibanez has eased himself right on into the Phillies postseason gravy train with timely hitting and a big three run homer in the 8th inning of Game 1 against LA.

9. The one who deserves a lot of credit (and cash) is Charlie Manuel. He thoroughly outmanaged his overrated counterpart. Other than the disastrous 8th inning of Game 2 in LA, he had the hand of Midas. Much has been made of his sometimes questionable in-game decisions, but as my father has said repeatedly for the past 2 years, he is the right manager for this ballclub. Baseball, more than any other sport, is less about X's and O's and more about...wait for it...managing. Whether it is personalities, people, or situations, the head guy in baseball is so very aptly named a manager, rather than 'coach'. The Phillies and us (the fans) are blessed to have Cholly as the manager. I just couldn't see anyone else (especially not Larry Bowa) leading the Phillies to the Promised Land in potentially consecutive seasons.

10. I want the Phillies to play the Yankees in the World Series. It would literally be the only time when the country would be rooting for them (except for the Dodger and Yankee fans, TJ Simers, and the guys who run and comment at Amazin' Avenue). Beating the Yankees would be a complete validation of last year and would insert them into the history books as a dynastic type of franchise, if not an outright dynasty. I truly believe it can be done. The Phillies have lost only 5 postseason games in the past two years, which is hard to believe. Go Phillies!!! Beat whoever it is they play starting next Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

PANDEMONIUM!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pay Access for Internet Sports

One thing that I find extremely aggravating is the idea that some websites charge extra fees for superfluous content. I don't mind the charging for content, per se, but things like ESPN Insider just isn't worth the money. Reading Peter Gammons' blog, Jayson Stark's blog, or Bill Simmons' (aka The Sports Guy) archives is just not worth the extra money to get. DCSportsFan.com is another site that just isn't worth the extra cash to get - essentially to be part of a message board and to get more pictures.

I don't mind pay sites - I avoid them, but to offer only marginally more for a substantial price over the free stuff is not a good business model, and something that will cause more alienation than subscription over time - especially as time goes on and revenues fall; the solution will be to charge for more stuff - at a higher price (essentially the government model - a failure if there ever was one). Eventually, they will price out those who were expected to buy and then they themselves will go out of business.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rush for Rams

In the past few days it has come out that Rush Limbaugh has joined up to make a bid for the St. Louis Rams NFL franchise. I applaud the move - politics aside, anyone who has the ability to buy a professional sports franchise and desires to do so should have the opportunity. I will never have such an opportunity, but that's OK, since my chosen field does not yield the financial reward of someone who succeeds in a tough business like radio.

The liberals opposing this on political grounds do not surprise me in any way - I chalk it up to envy on the part of many. The NFLPA has come out with a statement opposing the bid - and this does surprise me for a couple of reasons.

First, you have the allegations of racism - which is based on the memes out there about Limbaugh's opposition to President Obama (ideological, not racially based) and the oft-repeated comments about Donovan McNabb being 'overrated', ostensibly due to his race.

Tangent: I say that Rush was wrong about Donovan being 'overrated' - but I never felt that it was discriminatory. If you read his comments, the comments attack the media for being paternalistic toward black quarterbacks - 'social concern', is how he phrased it. His point was that the defense carried the team and Donovan was getting too much credit because the media wanted 'the good story'. Again, I believe he is wrong - Donovan did deserve credit for winning, but even in those days when I was a liberal I didn't think it was racist on his part.

Secondly, I want to see how many NFL players will actually turn down the opportunity to play. It's easy to talk about it now - it's completely different when the owners of the Rams are offering you the opportunity to become the highest paid (fill in the blank) in the NFL. Rush Limbaugh didn't become a near-billionaire because of stupid business decisions. Players are still going to be paid and so forth. The NFLPA may be doing more harm than good with this - what if instead the Rams get yet another completely cheap owner? They'll be wishing Limbaugh was an owner.

Tangent II: I was surprised at the idea of Limbaugh becoming an owner of the Rams because even though he is from Missouri, he has been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan for quite some time. Honestly, though, I doubt he gets in - the NFL will back down and tell him 'thanks, but no thanks' - and it will be their loss, not his. Someone else will get his money.

Mayan Doomsday

With all the nonsense that continues to pour out between the film 2012 and all of the History Channel programs, one thing is clear:

The more we talk about it, the less likely it's going to occur.

I also know that all of the hubbub over December 21, 2012 would never have occurred if we truly had stuck to our Christian roots instead of buying every last pagan scenario - or worse - projected pieces of Christian theology onto pagan scenarios.

I am guessing some are going to be upset that I am not 'giving the Mayans their due' or 'respecting their thoughts'. They would be right, I am not. Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass about European interpretations of what could possibly happen in 2012 from a broken tablet of rock from an Indian tribe that faded away one-thousand years ago! See the disconnect? Too many things have to line up and square pegs have to fit into round holes. And yet, I get at least one question per week from students asking me if I believe that 2012 is the end or what we can do to prepare for the doomsday scenarios that Hollywood shoves down our throats.

If the supposedly professed Christians of the world were serious about their faith, then none of this stuff would bother them. Instead, all of this shows what materialistic quasi-pagans the so-called Christians of the (Western) world are. Obviously, they don't take the Lord's words seriously in any meaningful way - they believe some obscure broken tablet found in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico with more gusto than they do the promises of Christ. Strange people indeed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

RIP 1999 Saturn SL2 *UPDATED*

*UPDATE (10/8)* The car is dead...after a week of looking at it and testing it, it needs a new computer., which would cost an extra $400-500. That's what was bothering it. The plug is pulled and we are changing the title over to the garage so they can use it for 'organ donation'. Ick. I am sorry, car.

Tomorrow, I have to make the call that will send my ride to car heaven. Too much work needs to be done on it and more than $350 has been spent just to diagnose the problem. If we are looking at crankshafts and crash sensors being replaced, it will probably cost closer to $800-900, which is just too much. It sucks royally, but it needs to be done.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chicago...We Hardly Knew Thee

As always, I wait until the hysteria of a story is over before I decide to add my glorious words to the ranks of the commentariat - this time, it concerns the utter rejection of Chicago by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). For all of you who are upset over Chicago not getting the Olympics for the summer of 2016, let me say.

It's CHICAGO. You know, where dead people vote and father and son have been in control for eons and several governors, judges, congressmen and other politicians end up in a place where they hope they won't drop the soap?

It's Chicago. It's not even the most qualified city in the midwest to host an Olympics, never mind the entire world. Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, and Madrid are world-class cities with thriving settings. Chicago has garages that have been host to mob-hits. There's no contest.

It's Chicago, the city with the big shoulders, hog-butcher to the world and all the other nauseating bullsh*t that has been associated with it. Even sending Mr. Hope and Change to expend political capital to try and convince the IOC of the *cough cough* greatness of Chicago failed!

I have to admit, I was definitely in the cynical camp that said the President was only going over to Copenhagen because the Chicago Olympic bid was in the bag. I was wrong, and this makes us as a country look even worse. For all the hubbub about the world loving Obama, that wasn't enough, and it definitely makes him look like a complete paper tiger with all style and absolutely no substance. He could have spent his time doing more important things - like, oh, I don't know...his job?

It's just a damn shame. Chicago, we hardly knew thee...and I am not sure I ever want to know you anyway.

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