April 26, 2008

Los Angeles takes one more step toward NFL Franchise

Posted in Life in Los Angeles, NFL and other lesser sports at 5:17 pm by loolar

It’s being widely reported that the owner of the Lakers and Kings has unveiled the stadium construction plans and site, including a completed environmental impact survey, for an NFL stadium in LA. What I love about it is that he’s upfront in saying there will be no taxpayer dollars used to finance the stadium. The last owner to do that was Bob Kraft, owner of our beloved Patriots. Why the disgustingly rich Paul Allen couldn’t do the same in Seattle for the Seahawks is a question Washington State residents ought to be pissed about.

So the question now is, what team? No expansion plans, which means we steal from someone else. Since we’ve had our franchise stolen, I guess I don’t feel too bad about it. Widely regarded as the most vulnerable are “the New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers because of their stadium uncertainties.” Cripes, Jacksonville just got that franchise, are you kidding me? San Diego wouldn’t be too bad, since the fans down there probably wouldn’t notice it if they left, notwithstanding the last three years of pseudo-success.

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January 13, 2008

NFL season almost over – goodbye, UPS Wipeboard twit

Posted in Advertising, Customer Lack of Service, NFL and other lesser sports at 8:04 pm by loolar

A fun divisional playoff weekend – only the conference weekend remains, and then I will be free of glimpses of the UPS Wipeboard twit for another six months.

I say glimpses, thanks to the digital powers that be, who have provided the Digital Video Recorder. My stepfather John was in town last weekend for NFL wild card weekend, and we introduced him to the wonder of watching an NFL game without commercials. As a result, he enjoyed watching his Giants beat Tampa Bay with nary an annoyance last week, and then spent the AFC game on my computer researching which one to buy.

Anyone with a TiVo or DVR knows the drill – the program starts, you hit pause, do errands or chores for an appropriate interval (about 25% the length of the actual program – so, 15 minutes for an hour long, 45 minutes for a three hour game), and return to the program with a “buffer” that allows you to fast forward through all the commercials. For yesterday’s Patriots divisional game against the Jaguars, my buddy Kris and I went to Costco for pizzas. When we got back, we had 50 minutes of buffer, and so never watched a single commercial.

Every now and then, however, for whatever reason, I end up watching a program in real time. Patriots-Giants in week 17, for example – some events have to be watched in real time. As most guys know, you need to add your personal mojo to the contest to help edge it in your favor.

And when that happens, I am invariably subjected to the UPS Wipeboard twit.

You’ve probably seen him. Near as I can tell, he’s looks like Steve Carell in a mullet, doing “clever” wipeboard marker tricks like he’s Bob Ross offering arts and crafts tips on PBS (“Look, a small truck is a big truck if you just add two figure 8s and a squiggle!”).

I don’t mind the Steve Carrell part – I just wish he was actually funny, like Steve Carrell. I can even forgive the effete mullet (it’s more of a bob cut), since, hell, during the height of 90s grunge, I used to have a somewhat similar haircut.*

What drives me up the wall is his smug, pompous, pretentious, dismissive delivery. Hence the “twit.” I mean, I get the sense that this guy thinks his wipe board abilities are commensurate with kung fu skills, bow hunting skills, or computer hacking skills; that they’re profoundly fascinating, and we should be awed and reverent that he’s deigned to share them with us. It’s like he thinks he can pick up chicks with this shit. At least the guy doing amateur card tricks has the good taste to pretend he’s having fun, while acknowledging it as inherently silly.

Never mind the fact that I could never get UPS to make home delivery during hours that weren’t when the average person was at, y’know, their frickin job.

UPS, you and your pompous Wipeboard twit shall not be missed.

*But didn’t look like a dorkus malorcus.

November 12, 2007

Saving Baseball

Posted in Life in Los Angeles, NFL and other lesser sports at 12:03 pm by loolar

So with the World Series now a distant and mostly irrelevant memory, I have come to wonder – why don’t I care? Why are fewer and fewer people watching baseball?

Let me start off by saying that I have nearly zero baseball knowledge. Football is my sport. Now, there are certainly age-old debates why one sport is better than the other, but as my man Jimmy recently stated, “can’t we just agree that these are apples and oranges?” Sure. Delicious, juicy oranges vs. rotten, mealy apples. But I digress. It doesn’t change the fact that baseball is in trouble.

While stadiums are routinely selling out, the newer stadiums being built are also smaller. And television revenues are shrinking compared to other sports (most notably, NFL, NBA, and NASCAR*).

The fact is, the boys of summer are, well, boring. Watching the Cleveland-Yankees series a few weeks ago, I’d swear a reaction shot of Joe Torre showed him nodding off. During the game. I mean, why not? Nothing was happening anyway.

Now, I can argue about a number of things about baseball that are pointless. Five and seven game series for instance (what kind of a pansy game makes you beat the other team more than once? Damn, it’s already got 9 innings for a comeback, now you want another chance tomorrow – and the next day?); or how about the terminally long 162 game season. Are you serious? How do the fans keep up?

I have a theory about this**: I think baseball, developed back when there were a lot of vacant lots and people with nothing to do anyway, had to justify these guys playing a game for a living, or face resentment from the new fans. Solution? Make these guys play as often as a working stiff goes to work, five days a week.

Well, now that we have pampered pansies like Manny Ramirez and A-Rod making millions every time they scratch their jockstrap, do we really need the illusion?

But those things aside, and recognizing that baseball is steeped in tradition, even really, really, really pointless and annoying ones (Is there any good reason not to put the player’s name on the back of the jersey? That was a rhetorical question, because the real answer is, “who gives a rat’s booger about baseball,” but if you were to take that question seriously, the answer would be, “only to annoy me.”), I think I can still offer some critical changes that would really change the face of things:

  1. No more than one relief pitcher. I would love someone who cares to look up the stats on this (I got bored after two minutes), but I would be shocked and awed if I’m wrong. It’s my perception that the number of triple plays has drastically shrunk in the past 2-3 decades, and the double play is as rare as the triple play used to be. Baseball has become a boring pitcher’s duel, or a slugger derby. Where is the fielding? What are the other seven guys doing while the pitcher and catcher have all the fun, y’know, besides spitting and scratching their crotch? BORING. However, if managers can’t substitute seventeen guys in from the bullpen; if they only get a single reliever, you’d see a lot more interest and debate as to when to bring in your single reliever when your starting pitcher tires (the current debate consists of five words: “Jesus Christ, take him out!”).
  2. No designated hitter (related to the first point). Weakloaf in extra weaksauce, you pansies. Perhaps if the pitchers had to work on their hitting as much as their pitching, we’d have more excitement in the fielding game, and no more nancy-skirts prancing up to the plate and swinging like Mary Poppins with an umbrella. Again, more interesting fielding opportunities, and less pitching duel-slugger crap.
  3. Cheaper Tickets. Look, the fans of tomorrow are in diapers today, and there’s no way in hell I’m taking my son to a Dodgers game when it’s going to cost us $120 in tickets alone ($80 if we ditch his mommy) – to sit in the damn nosebleeds! Add a couple of hot dogs, cokes, crackerjack and peanuts, and there goes another $40-50. Want a hat, too? $35. And face it – if you don’t take your kid to a live game, his head will explode from the boredom of watching it on TV, especially compared to, y’know, watching grass wilt (or, as is more likely, playing a video game or watching an action movie). So with more families electing not to go to a live game, and therefore never becoming fans enough to endure it on TV, you know that means lower television revenues. Start realizing what Hollywood has figured out about feature films – they’re just commercials for the DVD. And the live game should just be the “concert” that gets you to buy the “record.” Make it cheap, or face losing your fans – and lucrative TV contracts – of tomorrow.
  4. Cheaper Parking. You bastards. After charging me $40 to sit with the pigeons in the rafters, you’re going to charge me $15 to park my car, too? Forget it. Not going.

And I haven’t been to a Dodgers game in nearly two years. I did go to a single MLB game this year – the Padres at Petco park (corporate naming to be attacked in an upcoming rant), because, hey, Jimmy got tickets for free, and that park is lovely. But we spent $60 each on food and beer. Crap food and crap beer, mind you. For that cash, I can get a steak and a nice glass of wine.

Oh, and I think you should be able to get a runner out by pegging them with the ball. But let’s be realistic; if we’re going to allow that, the batter should be able to take the bat to first to club the First Baseman.

*not actually a sport
**based purely on nothing

October 9, 2007

Chargers woes… and who to blame

Posted in NFL and other lesser sports at 11:30 am by loolar

Jim Trotter has an excellent article over at Sports Illustrated, shedding a lot of light on the departure of Marty Schottenheimer from the San Diego Chargers, and the subsequent woes of the team. Apparently, the usual scapegoat – General Manager A.J. Smith – can only be blamed for hiring that coaching disaster, Norv Turner.

September 15, 2007

Penalizing the Patriots

Posted in NFL and other lesser sports at 6:31 pm by loolar

Even if you don’t follow football, it’s been hard not to hear how the New England Patriots were caught for reportedly using a video camera to try to spy out the defensive signals (clearly stated as against the rules, and all teams get a memo “reminder” every year). The league announced that the Pats would be sanctioned with a $250,000 fine and loss of a first round draft pick (or a 2nd and 3rd round pick if they don’t make the playoffs; most concede this is a footnote, since they are nearly a guarantee to make the playoffs compared to the rest of their lackluster division), while coach Bill Belichick will face a fine of $500,000.

A friend asked me why the fine imposed by the NFL against the Pats was so small compared to the fine levied against the McLaren racing team for allegedly stealing technical documents from the Ferrari team with the help of one of their mechanics (who has since been fired). McLaren was fined $1,000,000, and not permitted to accrue any more of a certain type of points as they compete the rest of this season. I’d say more about the points, except I’ve just told you everything I understand about car racing.

At any rate, to address my understanding of the question: they’re different sports, for one thing. Sponsorship awards to McLaren may even make that fine proportionately lower as a percentage; all I know is that the coach’s fine against Belichick is the largest ever given, and that never in NFL history has a draft pick been revoked as a punitive measure. So while dollar signs might be lower, it’s still the stiffest penalty in NFL history.

That said, many argue (and, even as a Pats fan since ’93, I actually tend to agree) that the fine against Belichick should have been lower, and he should have been suspended for 2-4 games. Commissioner Roger Goodell says this would have “hurt” the team less, but I tend to disagree; the Pats already traded for another first round draft pick from the 49ers, so they’ll still have one (and likely earlier in the round, given the hapless 49ers); leaving aside they have been masters of finding talent in later rounds anyway (Quarterback Tom Brady was a sixth round pick). And as for the cash, while it was a heavy penalty, suspending Belichick for games would have also hit him in the pocketbook while likely crippling their chances to ensure a playoff spot, which many agree they’re all but guaranteed at this point.

On a deeper level, this is bothersome because now many seem hasty to apply a Barry Bonds-style “asterisk” to the Patriots accomplishments of the last seven years, diminishing the achievements of not only incredible coaching and players, but also top line player picks by Director of Personnel Scott Pioli. The Pats have been the envy of the league in developing so-called “no name” talent (until this year, of course, when they very uncharacteristically traded for a “marquee” player in Randy Moss), and I don’t think this should detract from that.

But at a time when the NFL seemed immune to the sorts of troubles plaguing other sports (referees in NBA, doping in the Tour de France, Barry Bonds), it seems character is an issue here, too. Another reason why I would have been happy, long term, had Commissioner Goodell come down harder on my favorite team. Preserving the trust of fans has to be the paramount concern.

April 17, 2007

Pacman & Henry SUSPENDED

Posted in Character, NFL and other lesser sports at 11:55 am by loolar

Consequences for your actions?  What an amazing concept!

Adam “Pacman”Jones and Chris Henry were suspended – Jones for the entire 2007 NFL season (16 games), and Henry for a half season (8 games) – for multiple run-ins with the law outside their NFL careers.

Read the whole report by ESPN here.

I must admit the cynical lawyer-hater in me doubts both of these will stick – I wonder if Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t mete out such unprecedented punishment knowing that the appeals process would pare them down by half.  That said, NFL Player’s Association rep Gene Upshaw has publicly supported the call for harsh punishment for the last few months; it would be a profound loss of credibility to an otherwise credible guy for him to backpedal now.  And if Gene won’t support these boobs in their appeal process, well, who will?  I mean, besides the aforementioned pointless members of society (lawyers).

Boy, this has me in great spirits.  Now imagine if record labels would enforce similar suspensions to their hip-hop thug “talent” for similar anti-social and sociopathic behaviors?  Ahh, paradise.

March 29, 2007

Posted in NFL and other lesser sports at 8:47 pm by loolar

 

The Onion

Tank Johnson, Pac-Man Jones Killed While Arguing Over Who Inspired NFL Code Of Conduct

Unfortunately, every now and then the Onion is too close to actual truth to be funny.

March 20, 2007

Booting the bad apples

Posted in NFL and other lesser sports at 3:25 pm by loolar

Don Banks of SI reports on the upcoming decision of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the conduct of Adam “Pacman” Jones here – and I can’t wait.

The players are finally realizing what a detriment to the game these younger “punks” are. They have no respect for veterans, coaches, fans or the game. I have said for years that I am repulsed by the example pro athletes like Terrell Owens set for youth – and it’s an example that I have to spend laborious hours trying to counteract, both in the classroom and at YMCA summer camp. Like it or not, pro athletes are heroes to youth, particularly to inner city youth who see so few adults in their lives who can teach them acceptable behavior. When they want attention, they see how the pros act, and, surprise, they do the same things.

The NBA has already started to crack down on conduct, and I can’t be happier that the NFL is following suit.

Overtime after time

Posted in NFL and other lesser sports at 2:55 pm by loolar

The current NFL rules for overtime are just a crime. Peter King of Sports Illustrated goes into it in depth in his Monday Morning Quarterback column here and the Tuesday reader mailbag edition here, but I don’t think he goes far enough.

Basically, for those not familiar with NFL rules, if regulation ends in a tie score, a single extra quarter is played, with sudden death scoring; i.e., whoever scores first, wins. The quarter begins with a coin toss to determine who gets the first possession.

The trouble is, there is an overwhelming trend that whoever wins the coin toss wins the game (more than a third on that first possession). After all, you only have to get into field goal range (for most kickers, the 30 yard line is within reach – this yields a 47 yard attempt, 10 yards for the end zone and 7 yards for the ball to be hiked back from the line of scrimmage to the holder).

The current tweak – and I do mean tweak – to the system under consideration by the NFL competition committee is to add five yards to the opening kickoff position. So instead of kicking from the 30, kicking teams would kick from the 35, ostensibly pinning the receiving team farther back on the field, and forcing them to work that much harder to get into field goal range.

So what? Boring.

Now, one of King’s readers said that if championships are won on defense, then defense should be able to win in overtime. I don’t disagree. But does that really preclude an enforced two possession overtime? Why not give both teams the ball at least once? This would motivate teams to go for touchdowns, because the second possessing team could far more easily tie the game again if you only get a field goal.

The real solution is getting both teams the ball once. Make overtime count – and not a matter of tossing a coin. If neither or both teams score, then they continue, back and forth. If it ends in a tie, the game is a tie, same as the current rules (if no team scores, there is no subsequent overtime).