Friday, April 30, 2010

Everybody Needs a Side Hustle

You gotta feed the monkey, man. Chances are that no matter how much you try to conserve your money from your paycheck, more goes out then you would like. Your wages are taxed by the government and you need a little spending money to go out or help pay the bills. That's where creativity comes in.

I have a few side hustles that you can try to make a few extra bucks on the side. I scalp tickets on occasion through stubhub and ebay. If you purchase the tickets to the right event you can make yourself a few hundred dollars on a single transaction. It is a high stakes game though. Things can go wrong. You can find yourself unable to unload tickets, your profit margin cut by ridiculous stub hub fees. Do the research on acquiring the tickets and plan ahead. Most people are behind the 8 ball when it comes to buying tickets to an event.

Ebay is truly a great way to buy and sell things. They are more reasonable than retailers. No matter what your buying or selling, chances are ebay is the way to go. Research the sellers when buying and always get delivery confirmation if you're selling. If you wish to wholesale some items you can purchase items directly from manufactures or poor workers that make your clothes in foreign countries on sites like

Other alternatives include selling drugs and starting your own gambling book. I won't judge you on either. Odds are you're more likely to get caught selling drugs but if you keep it small you can be profitable.

It seems like all the rage with women this days is to sell Avon products to their friends and neighbors. This a little gig that is easy to do but be careful about annoying your friends. Secret Shopper works well and can be done while dining out or going to the grocery store. Teachers have built in time to tutor kids for pocket cash. If your an established teacher and your not doing this I'd be surprised. The point is there are plenty of ways to set off some of your smaller expenses and shame on you if your not trying.

Anyone have any tips to make or save a buck? Any interesting side hustles? Please share in the comments below.

Writers Block

I sat here for 40 minutes and only typed this.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Unnecessary Courtesy

Being courteous will get you far in life, or at least that's what we're told from about age 3 and on. And you need not look further than the "License and Registration, Please" series from a few months back to see how we value etiquette and a heads-up attitude around these parts. But much like people often take the simple act of saying "thank you" to an unwelcome extent, there are certain elements of courteous behavior that are just flat-out superfluous.

Scene #1: you're walking into work around normal time on a typical morning, so that means there will likely be several other people walking into the building at about the same time as you. Now that you've got the mental picture, how easy is it to envision this: 2-3 people walk in about 50 feet ahead of you, one of whom holds the door for the other(s). That's all fine, it's common courtesy to keep the door open for someone walking in right behind you. But then this overly nice guy or girl continues to hold the door for you even though you're still a good 15 yards away. The mental reflex is for you to feel indebted to this person for maintaining the gigantic 12-kg force (yes I Googled it) necessary to hold the door open. And what happens next? Without even thinking, you break into that embarrassing "half-running-half-walking" stride so you look like you're making an effort to get to the door as quickly as possible and spare this Samaritan a second or two of exhausting door-holding duty. I've grown to detest this awkward power-walking gait so much that now I intentionally slow down when walking into work just so not to be caught in that door-holding gray area.

I'm an able bodied person, who is neither visibly injured nor carrying a ton of shit that would necessitate someone holding the door for me. And don't worry, I won't be mad if you simply allow the door to close when I'm any farther than 5 feet away. Opening the door for myself won't exactly ruin my morning. And on the other side of the coin, I'm not going to feel eternal gratitude to you if you stand there like a bellhop holding the door for me while I practically still have one foot in my car. So for everyone's sake, just walk in and get on with your business. Oh, and another note: going out of your way to hold the door for that good-looking chick who works on the third floor is not going to make her want to hook up with you, so just stop.

Scene #2: you're at the gym and it's fairly uncrowded. As you're in the middle of a set, Mr. Excessive Manners ambles over to you and asks "hey, are you working on that machine/bench/cable station over there?" Normally this would be no problem - in fact, I applaud such a level of gym etiquette - but in this case it's abundantly clear that there's no way in hell you're actually using the apparatus this dude wants to use. No sir, you see, I'm in the middle of a set of squats, what do you think the chances are that I'm also using the dip stand on the other side of the room? There are these things called muscle groups, and most people do not dip and squat on the same day, let alone super-set them. So relax Richard Simmons, you're not being presumptuous if you hop on the dip stand without asking me first, you're just using (gasp!) a bit of deductive reasoning and common sense.

What do we pin all this unnecessary courtesy to? It could just be that some people are so scared to ever make anyone mad, especially in a public setting, that they'll constantly try to appease others to avoid ever being thought of as rude or inconsiderate. But I think the bigger cause of this annoying behavior pattern is that too many people just aren't that observant. You can't live your life on autopilot. Keep the head on a swivel and have a sense of your surroundings, because even those seemingly ironclad rules of "being nice" that we're taught as kids have exceptions.

U2 No Longer Sucks

I used to find U2's music unbearable. It was played out on the radio and generally pretty awful. 4 Years ago right around this time I stopped watching wrestling on a daily basis and picked up soccer as my new filler in between college football and basketball season. I became consumed with the World Cup and the ads ESPN ran with U2 had me loving their ads and gasp enjoying their music(in the commercials anyways). No longer did I cringe and change the station on my radio when U2 came on.

It's funny how you can place just about any song and connected it to a good memory it makes you appreciate the music. You identify something positive with the music and therefore like the song. Phillies fans have "High Hopes," a song that without the late Harry Kalas would be either annoying or meaningless. On the flipside when Phillies fan's here "Empire State of Mind" they think of the World Series and the loss to the Yankees. When the lyrics "in New York" come up you think "Fuck New York." So it's amazing how songs you might normally hate or love are attached to memories or emotions that change your opinion of the music.

In no other scenario could this song fire me up beyond belief. It's a perfect video representing what Michigan Football has gone through. Didn't work out so well this year either.

Monday, April 26, 2010

It's For the Birds

This clip fairly accurately describes my philosophy on tipping, although like Mr. Pink I don't follow it in the end. HOWEVA,we know that waitresses generally do not actually make minimum wage. This is a major caveot. Mr.Pink is right. It is not his fault that they choose this profession or that the system is set up poorly. Honestly I hate tipping but feel that I am fairly generous with it. I won't sit and crunch numbers on my Wizard though. I can't even say that I will really tip on performance too much unless the service is awful. Do waiteress in fancy restaurants deserve 20% on a $200 bill when small town Susy busted her ass to serve you a $20 meal at Denny's? There should be more balance across the board.

The problem with tipping in our society in general is that it goes beyond waitresses. Most people that don't work behind a desk believe they deserve a tip. It doesn't matter is they make better than minimum wage already. Does the bartender who took 5 minutes to look at me deserve a tip for cracking open a beer? Probably not. If I am getting an oil change do I tip him? How about the cable guy? Mailman? Taxi Driver? Bellhop? If any of these people really went out of their way fine, go ahead. Chances are they didn't and neither did your waitress or waiter. Tipping really should be reserved for doing a little extra.

I know I continue to bring up European culture in this space but they have this tipping thing down pat. The waiter and waitress fess are included in the price of your meal. This way you know exactly what your meal will cost. In my experiences the service is comparabale. You see they are already making an hourly wage so they are not surprised day in an day out. They know they can afford to pay their bills on their wages. Go to the pubs, no tipping. We asked the bartenders about this and they said only Americans that don't know any better will tip. We will even say you don't have to but some just can't fathom it and tip anyways. This philosophy makes sense to make because it allows for everyone to know the deal up front. I'm speculating but it probably cuts down on tax fraud that occurs in restaurants. The owners have to report the actual salary of the employees and the waiters can't hide tips. Small victories, Small victories.

My proposal is simple adopt a real hourly wage, jack up restaurant prices accordingly and stop the charade of pretendind the service is 300 times better at classy restaurants. Tip only if you feel the waitress has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Hopefully this eliminate a sense of entitlement to tips in other professions.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fan Foul: Wearing Neutral-Team Attire to a Game

So I'm watching the Yankees/Angels game yesterday afternoon, and something peculiar catches my eye. A ball was popped foul into the stands just off first base, and I spotted a guy sitting in the 2nd or 3rd row, decked out in authentic Padres attire, hat and jersey both. I guess he took a wrong turn on the way to San Diego, wound up in Anaheim, and figured he might as well still go to a ballgame. That's got to be the only explanation, right?

Unfortunately, no. There's an inordinate number of people out there who, when attending a sporting event, find it OK to rock the gear of a team who isn't even involved in the game. If it's just a hat, that's no big deal, since a hat is everyday attire that you can pretty much wear anyplace. I'm talking about being fully garbed - hat, jacket, jersey, etc.- in team apparel, wearing your undying support for a team other than the two that are playing right in front of you. I see, I get it, we are all now aware that you are a fan of Team X even though you've somehow procured tickets to witness a game between Team Y and Team Z. On the scale of annoying fan habits, this is very high, right above kids who wear their Little League uniform to a game, and right below anyone who tries to start a wave.

I remember being at a Cowboys/Eagles game back in '94 or so and standing in the bathroom line next to some whiskey tango-looking dude decked out in Steelers gear from head to toe, and that includes those "so terrible they were awesome" Zubaz pants that were all the rage 20 years ago. The thought that immediately crossed my mind was "if this guy is such a huge Steelers fan that he feels it necessary to dress like this, then why is he here for Cowboys/Eagles at the Vet when he could be watching his own team play as we speak?" And remember, this was way before you could follow an out of town game on your phone, the only way you could find out what was going on around the league was the score updates in the Jumbotron during timeouts and between quarters. I think that's what gets me the most - wearing a neutral team's apparel has an undertone of "this isn't the place I really want to be right now."

Can someone please explain to me why people do this? Is it some form of quiet protest to the fact that you're watching teams besides your own? Is it a way to disassociate yourself from the fans that you sit among? Is it some feeling of pressing obligation to wear fan apparel whenever setting foot in a stadium or arena, like it's some exclusive club that won't let you in if you don't fit the dress code? (By the way, if you answered "yes" to that last one, then you probably wore your NFL team's jersey last Thursday night for the first round of the draft, didn't you?)

It just looks stupid, like you're trying to force your allegiances on an indifferent group of people, or you're clamoring for attention because you're being different. Oh, so you're from St. Louis, taking a summer ballpark tour up the Eastern seaboard? That's great, hope you have fun, but that doesn't entitle you to wear a Pujols jersey to a Phillies/Braves game or an Ozzie Smith throwback to a Yankees/Royals game. No one cares that you're not from around here or that you're a Cardinals fan. They didn't buy tickets in hopes of meeting a Midwesterner, they came here to see a sporting event. I know you may feel a bit left out if your team isn't one of the two in the building, but it won't kill you to just wear normal clothes.

Wikipedia University

Card catalogues, microfiche, and books, OH MY!  Ebsco, journals, and drafts, OH MY!  Research, note cards, and citations, OH MY!

Who needs to sift through card catalogues looking for book titles that might pertain to some obscure subject matter?  No way am I scanning endlessly through microfiche from 1972.  I simply am not going through all that to get my paper going.  All through college my professors tried feeding me this crap about Wikipedia not being an academic source.  They claim that Wikipedia articles are not well grounded.  I disagree.  Wikipedia is your friend.  The resources on there are typically good to go.  Why on earth would I run myself ragged searching for needles in a haystack by pouring over books, journals, and what have you?  I simply could not be bothered with that when I was in school. 

There is a formula for success when it comes to using Wikipedia for research.  The corny cliche "work smarter not harder" applies here.  Pay attention fellow slackers, I am your leader.  Follow me on the path to enlightenment.  For I have been to the top of the mountain, and it is good.  Put down that microfiche.  Close that book.  Turn on that tv, and maybe check out Facebook while you're at it. Tell your professor to shove it.  Pay close attention to the following text.

Suppose you have to write a paper on some obscure topic that really bores the hell out of you.  For example, you're writing about European socialism.  This is a very broad topic.  Even with the use of Wikipedia, you will be saddled with a good bit of work.  First step, type "European socialism" into Wikipedia's search.  Uh oh, they don't have a specific article on European socialism.  It's okay, click on the "disambiguation" link at the top of the page, and breathe. Select the link for plain old "Socialism", and you will be magically taken to the exact information you need.  Wikipedia takes you to academic resources in the way those pipes in Super Mario Bros. takes you to an advanced level.  As I scroll down the Socialism page, I see that there is a section dedicated dedicated to socialism in Europe, and the section is riddled with links to more juicy details.  I mean how much time would you have spent until you stumbled upon the socialist Left Party in Germany.  The best part is...every single fact in a Wikipedia article is cited in the "Notes" section of the given page.  Seek out those sources listed, they will bring you to the fountain.  You can then site those sources in your paper. 

Fewer headaches, less time wasted doing gopher work, and a more enriching learning experience will result with your utilization of Wikipedia. Don't listen to your professors, they want to see you suffer.   Make sure you use Wikipedia to maximize your academic potential.  The time and energy saved on research can be devoted to bigger and better things.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sh*t I Don't Understand: Fire Drills at Work

Got to work the other morning and opened up the ol' Outlook Express just to find a "Fire Drill at 10:00" email for the whole building to read. Great, so as soon as everyone really gets rolling on the day, a piercing buzz will emanate from God-knows-where and we'll be forced to go outside and stand in the parking lot for an indefinite period of time.

I have a problem with this on multiple levels. First, fire drills do not replicate a true fire situation. All it consists of is walking out of the building. I've never been in a building that has caught fire and hopefully never will be, but I bet the whole "remain calm, don't rush" stuff goes by the wayside pretty quickly once the smell of actual smoke or sight of actual flames come into play. And if it were a true fire, I don't know about anyone else, but I'd be getting in my car and driving away from the burning building, not congregating in an assigned section of a parking lot. Another thing about fire drills - their occurrence often depends on the weather. More than once at work we've had fire drills rescheduled for weather reasons. Not that I really mind being spared a pointless fire drill when it's cold and/or rainy, but it does make me chuckle a bit. Life does not stop and start at your convenience. You can't just cancel a fire because of the weather, but you can up and cancel a fire drill because of the weather - further evidence that a fire drill does very little in terms of replicating a real-life scenario.

But what gets me most of all is the fact that it's even deemed necessary for grown-up, college-educated individuals to go through a fire drill at work. I think we've all been through enough fire drills in the earlier stages of our lives to be able to handle things if a fire ever did happen (that is, of course, assuming that fire drills are effective in the first place). So you're telling me that if the building catches fire, I should get out in a timely fashion? Well, I'll be damned! I was just going to curl into the fetal position under my desk and cover my eyes, thank goodness someone told me I should get outside if there's a fire! I'd have been a goner for sure! Part of me wants to try to jump out the window (relax, I work on the 2nd floor) just to create a stir during the fire drill - hell, maybe it will make the whole effort seem worth it, like "hey look, there's someone that doesn't know what to do, he's panicking! This exercise in fire safety has been educational after all!"

I get it. I know what it boils down to - the building managers/company have to cover their asses, and having a few fire drills a year minimizes liability. What liability, you ask? Well, say there is an actual fire and some oblivious mongo gets a 2nd degree burn. You know they're going to try to sue whoever manages the building if they'd never had a fire drill, claiming they were never instructed on the proper evacuation procedures. Riiiiiight. This is the reason that new cars come with the seat belts already fastened (thus providing a built-in seat belt tutorial), because auto makers and dealerships have been sued by jackasses who got into accidents not wearing their seat belt and then claimed they were never instructed how to use this newfangled seat belt contraption. I wish I were making that up. Perhaps that's the essence of my disdain for the office fire drill: it's a snapshot of the things we must do in modern day America in order to protect ourselves from human stupidity. Common sense just ain't too common anymore, I suppose.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Aint No Stoppin' Us Now, We're On The Move"

Born after the spring of "Fo', Fo', Fo'", we didn't know much about basketball. Actually, our knowledge was limited for the first decade or so. Our lives consisted of tee-ball & soccer (or just eating oranges at halftime); our houses were made with Lincoln Logs or Legos; and Matchbox Cars ruled the roads. Our world was so consumed with great games & activities that we didn't know much about anything. Little did we know that we weren't missing much in professional basketball.

The historic 1982-83 76ers championship team had entered a period called the "dark ages". Yes, Charles was in charge. Unfortunately, the team & organization were marred by bad hires and unwise draft picks. After 8 seasons, Charles was shipped out in 1992. This move was highly criticized. Fans bared witness to Shawn Bradley & Sharone Wright the next few years until an "Answer" came in 1996.

We all have different memories, but 1995 seems to be the year when basketball and the Sixers caught my eye. It first started when we were introduced to baseball cards & collecting. For three years, I spent looking for this certain hologram Michael Jordan card. We nagged our parents to take us to the card store or to the card show in the mall. Our allowance money went straight to Conte's Cards; our parents could have simplied things by sending monthly checks there. Anyway, basketball became relevant to us in the 90's. Therefore, the most memorable season in our lifetime (since 1995) is the 2000-01 Sixers.

This team opened the regular season with 10 straight wins and never looked back. Upon entering the playoffs, a "Sixers remix" of the song "Aint No Stoppin Us Now" hit the radio. According to Wikipedia, McFadden & Whitehead's 1979 classic was first used as a theme song by the 1980 Phillies and 1980-81 Eagles, but we associate this song with the 2000-01 Sixers. A 56-26 record. The clutch shots. AI's 50+ point games. The 7 game series'. Iverson's step over Lue. Coach of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Valuable Player. We shouldn't live in the past, but we are reminded of it. So with a (as Sir Charles would say) "TER'BLE" season finally over, you can't help but think of the good times. We appreciate great teams. Thank you to the 2000-01 Sixers. As for the 2010-11 Sixers, "Aint No Stoppin Us Now, When Do We Choose?"...6th overall, nice job guys. Where did I put those Legos?

Puff, Puff, I'll Pass

4:20 has to be one of the dumbest traditions I've heard. Some kids in California supposedly met at 4:20 everyday after school to smoke starting in 1971. I don't buy this story for a second but whatever. Some people like to smoke weed on April 20th to celebrate. Fine, go ahead, I'm not going to stop you. If cigarettes are going to legal I see no reason pot shouldn't be.

I am certainly not a medical expert but I do not believe that weed is a life threatening drug. It may even be less dangerous than alcohol depending on consumption levels and amount of use (way to be non-committal). As far as being a "gateway drug" I say bollocks. If you are willing to try marijuana then your probably more willing to try other drugs. Its not the marijuana that makes you want to try other drugs its that if your willing to try one drug you are probably more willing to try another. Marijuana is probably the easiest drug to obtain so you try it first. The gateway theory is propaganda.

Anti-Drug Ads make me want to do drugs. They are beyond ridiculous and one sided. I bought into the drugs are bad mkay speeches growing up but the only time I'm tempted to try drugs is when watching these commercials.

Seriously, I love TMNT as much as the next guy but that is so lame. People who make these commercials hearts are generally in the right place but they are nuts if they think this works. The idea that pot makes you lazy is bullshit too. I know people that will spend hours a day working out and smoke pot. Its a personal choice, sit there and chill out man or get off you ass and do something. Don't blame the weed.

Drugs are sold be gangs, illegals, and regular joes. People have already made up their minds whether they will use drugs or not based on the information known. I'd love to see all drugs go away but I'm a realest. Your not going to change their minds. They are going to get these drugs legal or not. Let's make it legal and tax the shit out of it. Keep it out of public places so no innocent people are effected. Make weed just like cigarettes. If you want to high that's your decision. You don't need the government telling you what to do with your own body.

I don't smoke because its not my thing and it doesn't interest me. Maybe I take some sick pleasure in being able to stubbornly say no all these years. That doesn't make me right, so light up if thats your choice.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hating the Past: Writing Style

Remember when your English teacher said you need more descriptive in your writing. Your paper is not long enough so please extend it by painting a picture for the reader. Your job in these classes seems to be to say as little as possible in each sentence. The teacher wants 4-5 pages and your fresh out of ideas so you spice each sentence to fill pages. Mess with the margins, play with the font. You know all the tricks that got you this far. "That's what 90% of people learn from English classes: how to turn a perfectly respectable sentence into something incomprehensible, cliché-ridden, and three times as long."(Mgoblog)

In the real world, you unlearn the nonsense that was past down to you throughout Middle school, high school, and college. Its bullshit and it’s for those who wish to write novels and travesty articles in what some people call journalism. The majority of students should be learning how to write properly and with a concise purpose.(See the word "concise" is uneccesary there) Rather the goal seems to be to stuff as many adjectives and adverbs in a sentence. You wonder why people use “like” so many times to describe something, or “basically”, or finally.” Curriculum Fail. Idea Fail. The school system has failed you because the english teachers can't do much other than teach or write with their degrees. They will torment you because they had to learn it.

My experience’s in business so far has me unlearn everything I picked up in school. Keep it simple stupid. Just like the way I began to write. Short sentences, saying only what you need to say. Because someone has to read that and in our professions we hate to waste time. In writing our reports the rule is no adjectives and I find myself breaking this rule unknowingly. It's burned into my brain. Hopefully some educators will have a clue and stop this vicious pattern.

Things I Would Rather Do Than Watch Women's Basketball

This is not a rant against women's sports.  I would argue that tennis, golf, gymnastics, softball are among the women's sports that are worthwhile to watch (in between innings, during halftime, intermission or commercials of men's sports).  Tennis is face paced enough and in an enclosed area.  It is the sport played by women in which the women's version most resembles the men's version.  Additionally, any man would be lying if they did not admit the possibility of an upskirt.  Come on, it's more harmless than watching NASCAR and hoping for a car to do cartwheels at 200 mph (quoted George Carlin there).   As for golf, I can only hope that some day my game even resembles that of the ladies on the LPGA.  I understand there isn't the same drama and sex appeal as tennis, but give credit where credit is due.  Although women's golf does not quite stack up as a spectator sport.  Gymnastics, softball, figure skating, swimming etc all require mastery of a  skill.  The Olympics makes these womens sports worthy of being an afterthought every 4 years.  The point is, watching women play the sports mentioned is not worst thing in the world.  Compared to watching women play basketball, viewing the other sports noted is definitely tolerable.

Women's basketball at any level is simply unbearable.  The game is slow, they can't shoot for shit, there is no action, and the basketball is not fundamentally sound.  It's awful television. Even little Alex could not snuff out the sick feeling all down in his guttiwuts as he viddied a bit of the old ultra-boring women's hoops.I found myself pondering the things I would rather do than watch women's basketball.

These activites include such horrible activities such as watching morons talk about the snow on the TV news, watching the 76ers, eating dogshit, walking on broken glass with bare feet like Bruce Willis in Die Hard, playing blackjack with people who hit 15 with the dealer showing a 6, getting a tooth cavity filled, reading the Great Gatsby (f***ing hated that damn book), watching replays of the 2003 NFC Title game when the Eagles wet the bed against the Bucs, being forced to go through high school again, watching the 76ers practice, listening to an Eddie Jordan press conference, making awkward conversation with an acquaintance you don't care to know too well, driving on Street Road during rush hour, listening to women complain, watching cop shows that are not The Wire (and imagine how bad that must be), writing term papers at 6 AM, listening to nails on a chalkboard, hanging out at the DMV, standing behind old people at the grocery store as they go through their coupons, and the list goes on. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Like A Da YouTubes

Ever get lost on YouTube and end up spending an embarrassing amount of time surfing from video to video? It's OK, you can admit it. In fact, there may be something wrong with you never have. In the first of a new department of posts, I'll save you some time and give you a few videos guaranteed to be a worthwhile watch.

This first one I discovered a few years ago and have been touting ever since, somehow without it getting old. You can't watch this without laughing.

This next one came out a year or so ago and features former Yankee center fielder Melky Cabrera drunk in a hotel room with adult film star Mary Carey behind the camera. For those who aren't too quick on the uptake, the Melk Man's priceless "I like a da woman!" at 1:16 is the inspiration for the title of this series.

The final video for today is from Season One of The Wire. If you've never seen the show, don't worry, I purposely chose a video with no spoilers. This scene, with D'Angelo showing his crew members Wallace and Bodie how to play chess, catches the series in a nutshell. Watch this one, and then go watch the entire series.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Analogy of the Month

America is founded upon the entitlement of its citizens to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But what is this happiness that we're supposed to be pursuing, and what measures do we take in this illustrious pursuit? And who are we ultimately trying to make happy - ourselves, or those whose opinions we value and whose approval we seek? The concept of happiness itself is both abstract, in that it means something different to everybody, and paradoxical, in that the more we strive to attain happiness, the less happy we often are.

Take a look at the everyday behavior of people and you'll notice that we bust our asses at a lot of things just so we can reach a level of acceptability - not greatness, not some kind of legendary status, but just plain acceptability. You see us get up every morning and sit in traffic like sperm cells on our way to work, only to repeat the action that night on the way home. You see people working out 5 times a week just so they can be attractive enough to avoid immediate rejection from the opposite sex. You see us throw a Prince Fielder-sized percentage of our earnings to the wind so we can have a decent place to live and a decent car to drive. Why all of this? Because we want. to. fit. in. The human race, especially in America, is constantly running on a hamster wheel, thus giving us the Analogy of the Month, the "Hamster Wheel of Happiness." You break your balls day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out, just for the expectations to periodically reset themselves and force us to start over.

The general concept of happiness is that it's some sort of nirvana or utopia we're supposed to ultimately reach. So we work harder, put in more hours, put in more sweat, make an extra sacrifice or two, all in hopes that one day life will become like the bonus round at the end of the route in the old Nintendo game Paperboy. On this, look no further than Al Czervik for the appropriate wisdom - "if you keep busting your hump 16, 20 hours a day, you'll end up with a 60 million dollar funeral!"

The Hamster Wheel of Happiness is a damning course. People get on it with the best of intentions, and more often than not the chase for happiness itself becomes the very thing that beats them into a downtrodden state of self-defeat. To quote Denis Leary, happiness comes in small doses (go to the 2:20 mark of the video to be enlightened). There is no utopia. The Wizard at the end of the yellow brick road doesn't know shit. It's not about finding the dream job, it's just about finding a job you kind of like. Even the so-called "perfect job" will have its bad days and the even supposedly perfect couples will fight from time to time. Take enjoyment in the small things or else be eaten alive by the quest for the big things.

The fine line is this: assign some intrinsic value to your undertakings, or eventually you'll burn out or lose your mind. If you constantly work out in order to be in shape and be attractive by modern Western standards, then you'd better get some actual enjoyment and satisfaction out of it or you're ultimately wasting your time. That's why all the "I want a good beach body" people disappear from the gym after a month. At some point, it's got to be about the feeling you get from benching twice your weight or finishing that marathon that keeps you coming back. The same principle applies to your occupation - if there's a sense that you're making the most of your skills and providing more value than the Average Joe, then you can avoid entering Office Space mode.

Of course, this whole "Hamster Wheel" stuff isn't all bad. We all have our own hamster wheels that we run on, and when approached in the right manner, our neverending plights can be the formula for success. I've been doing an inordinate amount of quoting in this post already, but this one is too good to pass up. From Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel, via our pal Ryan's Facebook profile: “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.” What I like about that quote so much is that Grove says it's OK to run on a hamster wheel. Those who never lull themselves into a sense of security will always be on their toes. Attack life as as series of small challenges and small rewards, and you'll gain the perspective to see the big picture.

Ben Roethlisberger Sex Tour

April 19th- April 23rd
University of South Florida
Alpha Kalpa Appa Sorority House

It's rush week!  Do you have what it takes to be the sorority?  Only Ben knows.  Can you handle your alcohol or more importantly your ryhpnol? Only the district attorney knows.  Ben will be helping pledges get acclimated to sorority life.  He calls it "breaking them in." Challenges include "7 minutes in heaven" and "square peg in round hole."

May 1st-May 3rd
Windsor, Ontario

As the saying goes 14 is 18 in Canada.  The legal age of consent that is.  Windsor is a short trip from Detriot,MI. It features two colleges, the University of Windsor and St.Clair College.  The legal age to drink and gamble is 19.  Casinos dominate the area by the Detriot River.  Many Detroit residents will make the short trip to gain two years in age.  Several unsuspecting young and impressionable people are expected to be in the area. Ben will enjoy cuban cigars, absinthe, and we can assume several females.

May 13th-15th
Wheeling, WV

Ben will be using the line "Uncle with benefits" all weekend long.  He will serve as a judge in a local beauty padgent and promise many girls first prize (little do they know child support is more valuable).  He will also meet his niece for the first time and be using his go to line.  Ben will help with some yard work with many farmer's daughters as well.  Video survallience technology is not believed to be in existance in WV as of yet.

To be continued if embraced by the readers
For the record I think Ben is innocent, but what the hell do I know.  This is a parody. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Still In Frame

She is on your mind whether you cared about her or not. The girls that you bang or blow your chance with can haunt you. It doesn't even matter if you found the next one, there is always "what if" or man it would be great to see that rack again. The girls we let go, or the ones that let go of us, remain on your mind. It's not baggage, but rather a memory. 

We've all had girls that we cared deeply about at one time or another.  They are a part of your past and experienced your maturation as a person.  You may regret breaking up with them, you may not, but either way they will slip into your mind.  Then there are the girls that you didn't really care about but had enough fun with to hang out with a few times.  She resurfaces because she does something really well.  Either she does that thing with her tounge, but you can't bring her home to your parents or she's increadibly cool but your not that into her. Finally there is the one that got away.

She liked you but you were in a relationship at the time. You liked her but were too chicken to make your move. She was in a relationship and came onto you but your morals stepped in the way (pussy), or whatever other reason.  These issues are likely to foster a crush on the other individual for quite some time.  We want what we can't have.  We torture ourselves over a chance to atone for the missed opportunity.  Whether its your objective to just to get in there, or whether its to sign a multi-year deal, it remains on your mind.  She stays in frame. 

The thoughts are hard to let go because its hard to keep your thoughts on just one person.  You find some flaws with the one your with.  You wonder what Stacy is up to because she never complained about you watching sports.  Or you think man is Kelly great, but the sex was better with Lauren. It's natural because its hard to focus on one person.  And its even harder to completely let go of the past.

The bottom line is she's gone.  Let it go and enjoy what you have now.   It's easier to give your own advice than follow it though.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Bracket: Miss AsGoodAsYouThink

Marissa Miller is your champion. She is deemed the hottest girl in the blogosphere 2009-2010.  She is hot enough to have sex with in front of your own family on christmas morning.  They are opening up gifts but you already have everything you want and need in life.  Miller was victorious by a mere vote, proving the women did not get out to the polls.

I Lost 50 Pounds!

Go ahead and ask me how I did it! 
Nutrisystem?  No.  Jenny Craig? No. Weight Watchers? No.  Diet and Exercise? No.  I give up. How?
I carefully crafted every picture on my profile to hide my fat.  I took headshots and posted them as my profile pic to deceive you. I carefully crafted other side angle pictures to distort my weight and even then I'll never show my whole body. Head shot, side angle head shot, tilted camera angles, dim lighting, taking pictures with multiple friends to hide my weight. I'll make a kissing face to hide the way I look too.  I tricked you by wearing sweat pants and my hoodie. See I can have that piece of chocolate cake.

I don't think you should.

You know the situation.  Girl says I have this friend you should meet.  First thought in your head is probably what does she look like? She's really pretty I'll show you her picture. The girl looks cute enough so you decide to go meet here. Turns out that picture was from a couple of years ago, or a few pounds ago, or not even really them (laugh now for those who know where this is going).  How can you misrepresent yourself so badly? Don't girls realize this only leads to disappointment when they are seen full body.  You are not who you said you were. Sure it got me in the door, but it makes me more likely to leave.  So girls, try being a little more real with your profile pics, your girlfriends looks, and maybe we can be pleasantly surprised at some point. You are not fooling us anymore.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Random Musings: Is This Heaven?

Alabama Fans are still nuts.  This is confirmed to not be an April Fool's joke.  An Alabama couple officially named their kid Crimson Tide Redd.  What if he hates his mom and dad and goes to Auburn.  That would be insane.  Not so insane anymore: me for desperately trying to manipulate my child's first words to be Go Blue!

Sundae in a Real Helmet.  Toldeo Mudhens are offering a 15 scoop sundae in a real batting helmet.  Your days of eating out of the mini helmet are over.  Think of it as a helmet sundae on steriods.  I'm semi curious to see if I could pull off this stunt.  I'd regret it either way in the aftermath.

Sophmoric Humor.  Yes Michigan is following Cox closely this spring.  Cox is a rising star on the Michigan Wolverines.  Cox is said to be elevating the depth chart.  Anyways I wonder if this was intentional or not.  I'm guessing yes.

On a personal note, Sheraton is now offering free internet in the rooms of platinum members. Now as a platinum member myself, this could have been useful when I was traveling for 3 months straight.  I could have saved alot of my per diem instead of using it on PPV porn.

UCONN'S perfect ending wasn't flawless.  We don't pretend to have perfect grammar around here but this is awful headline that is contradictory.  One guess as to what website wrote this*.

Reliving the Past.  You may have seen this but I thought it was increadiably cool.  A state championship hockey game was cancelled 20 years ago due to a measels outbreak.  The game wasn't made up until recently when people who hadn't played the game in years decided they wanted some closure.  The teams trained at 5:45 AM before work for months and pumped everything they had in a chance to play again.  You should really read this story if you have every played a sport.
I would practice for a couple of months to play one game with my teamates again. Imagine if you had one more chance to put in the time and effort required, knowing how much you loved the sport. I'm betting you would play every play as if it were your last again.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stop Fixing What Isn't Broken

Wow, one hell of a national championship game we had last night, yes? The only way it could have been better would be if that half-court shot at the buzzer had fallen for Butler, but all in all you could hardly have scripted a tougher-fought or more entertaining conclusion to the college basketball season. And so what if we had to stomach Duke winning the title, because the consolation prize of "One Shining Moment" was awaiting us just a few moments afterward.

Possibly the most anticipated 3-and-a-half minute montage of the year, "One Shining Moment" is a lock to put a nice cherry on top of the tournament, regardless of how well that night's title game turned out. So you can imagine the disappointment shared by millions of Americans on the edge of their seats as they were subjected to this shit. I refuse to even embed it because I don't want to deface our blog, so you're going to have to click on the link to see what I mean. It starts innocently enough, but at the :53 mark, instead of a nice "opening tipoff" shot to go along with the opening line "The ball is tipped," we get a shot of Jennifer Hudson's fat face wailing at us. And then it didn't stop. Intermittently, it kept cutting to pre-set studio shots of Jennifer Hudson doing her best to put the song through a blender. What, 64 basketball games didn't provide CBS with enough footage to fill 210 seconds? "One Shining Moment" has never (not to my memory, at least) cut to shots of the person singing it; it just stuck to what people actually want to see - the defining images of that year's tournament. Why change that now? Is CBS trying that hard to manufacture Hudson as the next great big star?

It baffles me that CBS found it necessary to do away with the Luther Vandross version of the song that, despite not being the earlier version that really made a name for the song, did it total justice. Both versions evoked a soothing yet masculine inspirational feeling, thanks in large part to the vocal work of the men singing them. The Jennifer Hudson version? Her voice is too high and she takes every chance to inject her own style into it and try to turn it into soul music. It sounded like such canned ham that I honestly sat there hoping it was going to turn into a Rick Roll.

I don't want to rip on Jennifer Hudson too much because I remember the personal tragedy she has recently overcome. But part of me can't forget how her Super Bowl XLIII rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" went from a B+ to a D in the final 45 seconds because she tried to elongate it and soul it up. I understand she's a hell of a singer and an Academy Award winner, so questioning her talent would be stupid on my part. My real problem lies with the style, and furthermore my problem lies with those at CBS who saw it fit to hire her to apply that style to "One Shining Moment."

Certain things in civic culture and popular culture reach such high levels that there becomes only one right way to do them. There is one right way and about 4 dozen wrong ways to sing our national anthem. Similarly, you don't say the Pledge of Allegiance in a Cartman voice; you say it seriously and straightforward. Maybe we didn't realize it until CBS screwed with it this year, but "One Shining Moment" was at such a point. We like it the way it was. It is best the way it was. It is not to be modernized, enhanced, or left up to an individual performer's interpretation.

Oh well. It's just an ending montage that we'll all forget about within a week or two. I mean, at least there's not something galactically stupid going on like the NCAA expanding the tournament to 96 teams or anything. Oh wait, never mind....

The Bottom Line

Donovan McNabb is now a Washington Redskin.  Another great Philadelphia athlete has left with his tail between his legs, after having failed to achieve what Philadelphia fans have built up in their minds as the end all be all of human existence, winning championships.  Donovan is the best quarterback in Eagles history, and the franchise enjoyed a decade of sustained regular season success with him under center.  But what makes a man in this city?  Championships.  Nobody wants to hear about all the sustained success, regular season accolades, and stats.  5 NFC title game appearances don't add up to a Super Bowl Championship.  Unless Wade Boggs travels back in time to the late 90's to coach McNabb at Syracuse, McNabb's Lombardi trophy tally remains at zero.  There are no redemption credits for conference title game appearances.  This is not like collecting UPC's from a cereal box to redeem them for a t-shirt.  Eli Manning has more Super Bowls than Donovan McNabb.  Period.  Who is the better quarterback can be discussed until the cows come home, but the facts are what they are.  Giants fans can look back at the last ten years and hang their hat on something.  What will be McNabb's legacy in Philadelphia?

I readily admit that I bashed this guy more than I should've during his career, and I should be more grateful to Donovan for making the Eagles a competitive product most years.  However, as I look back I recall alot of frustration and disappointment.  It was mostly alot of letdowns.  Had the Phillies not won the World Series in 2008, the fan's venom towards the Eagles would be a lot more potent in my opinion.  That is how I feel personally.  The Eagles spent a decade conjuring the championship appetite of the Philadelphia fans, but the Phillies served the meal, much to the chagrin of Eagles management.  Guess where the fans are eating for the time being?  My frustration with the Eagles was somewhat alleviated by the Phillies success.  This does not mean the Eagles are off the hook.  From a marketing standpoint, the Phillies success is bad news for the Birds.  Fan interest shifts to baseball which leads to a shift in merchandise sales to Phillies stuff  and so on.  I do not have facts to present on the matter, but conceptually it's easy to see the Eagles are not the focal point they were in the past.  The point is, I slowly became accustomed to and immune to the annual Eagles letdown. 

Donovan never really had the best receiver corps, but they were good enough most years. This thing just did not quite pan out.  We'll never know what went on behind closed clubhouse doors in terms of Donovan's relationship with his teammates.  I can only comment on what I saw on the field.  I saw an incredible athlete that enjoyed alot of success against equal or lesser opponents, while he seemed to be tense and disinterested against superior opposition.  I had little confidence in him with the chips down in a crucial game late in the postseason.  As a quarterback, he had a rocket arm that lacked an artists touch like a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.  Donovan forced the ball into a lot of coverage he should not have, often did not recognize open receivers, and struggled mightily at times with his accuracy. 

As the face of the franchise, he will be the one who receives undue heat for the lack of a Super Bowl victory, but such is the quarterback position.  People revere Brian Dawkins as if he walked on water, but he has taken the mouse's share of the blame for the paradeless Donovan era.  Obviously, this is so because of his emotional connection with the blue collar identity of the fans.  Donovan was perceieved as an aloof, care-free prima donna at times, which is unfair to him.  Yet, the championship is not on McNabb's resume. Donovan's perceived leadership skills were not the best.  I hate assessing a professional athlete's "leadership ability".  Most fans are too dumb to understand what is happening on the field, in plain view.  Yet, they often take a stab at knowing what is going on behind closed doors.  Personally, it is impossible to weed through all the hearsay regarding his status in the clubhouse.  Perhaps this franchise as a whole is terribly overrated. 

I would still stand behind my belief that the Flyers are by far the most successful franchise in Philadelphia.  From the get go they have been contenders, suffering only sporadic periods of futility.  Lately, they have been painfully mediocre.  The Phillies as a franchise have subjected fans to lengthy periods of insufferable poor baseball.  They are the toast of the town in recent years, but look at what they have done overall in their long history.  The 76ers have been displaced by a soccer team.  Why should Eagles fans revere Donovan though?  He did not bring home a title.  The fans do not want to settle for second best.  How many Yankees have their number retired that have not won a World Series with them (need help here Lou, without checking wiki I believe Don Mattingly is one).  The Cowboys, Steelers and 49ers would not retire McNabb's number.  Eagles fans will not look back at Donovan's days the way Giants fans will look at Eli's reign.  Donovan joins a list of Philadelphia athletes from my youth that have failed to acheive. 

Eric Lindros was a solid player.  For a time in the 1990's, he was one of the best players in the league.  The Flyers sold the farm to bring him in.  88 was supposed to be the chosen one.  The one who would put the Flyers back on top.  Instead, he came up short.  Same story with Allen Iverson.  I do not care about stats.  I want results.  Why should I be satisfied with "oh, that was a great season"?  I did not want Donovan to go the way of Eric Lindros and Allen Iverson.  I so badly wanted him to bring home a Lombardi trophy to Philadelphia and shove it up the keisters of all his doubters.  Luckily, DC is only a short trip away so I would imagine that quick drive up 95 will not bother him at all when he does it for the Skins. 

Donovan, thanks for the effort.  Ya did good.  Your time here was underappreciated.  Your offensive line in the last few years wasnt great.  The receiever corps wasn't incredible, but you found a way.  Super Bowl glory just wasnt in the cards for you here.  I wanted it to happen badly.  I still have my McDonald's giveaway bobbleheads from 2000.  I will not hold you in the same regard as the key members of the recently successful Phillies, but when I speak of you in the future, I'll say you were a hell of an athlete, good quarterback, couldn't win the big one.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Ultimate Golf Foursome

Recently a celebrity golf tournament took place in Windermere, FL. Tim Tebow, Bob Knight, John Daly, and Mike Leach were placed in a foursome. The winner of each foursome is entitled too $18,000 for a charity of his choice, everyone else will recieve $9,000 for his charity.

The hosts of the event asked each member what charity they will be play for

A sober John Daly: For fucksake I didn't have a drink all day because I really need this money and your telling me this is for charity?

Host: I'm sorry for the misunderstanding Mr. Daly but I informed your agent this was for charity.

Daly: Can I at least drink on the course?

Host: Yes we will bring you a couple of drinks

Host: Your charities sirs?

Knight: American Heart Association

Leach: Adam James Memorial Scholarship

Tebow: Uncle Dick's Philippine Orphanege Support ( That's real)

Leach, Knight, and Daly snicker.

Tebow: "I promise you one thing. A lot of good will come out of this. You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play in this tournement"

Leach: I guess well have to play our best to make sure some poor hodgie doesn't get a knife to his johnson.

Daly: I will be playing for.....the Human Fund.

Tee Off:

Knight: Hey John I bet you $100 that Jesus Freak over here can outdrive you.

Daly: Your On, I'm only one drink in Bob.

Knight: You will address me as Coach Knight, Mr. Knight, or General. Youtube Clip

Tebow: I really don't think you should gamble Mr. Knight.

Tebow, sporting an unortodox swing, drives first and hits the ball 285 yrds. Daly rips its over 300 yrds and lights his first cigar.

Daly (Still Sober): You can owe me.

Tebow: Smoking can kill you Mr. Daly.

Knight: It's a long day I'll make it back sooner or later, after all I'm the only one here who has steady paycheck so I can afford it. What are you up to nowadays Mike?

Leach: Coaching Spring Football for Pee Wees because damnit I want to coach. I don't have my daddy's legacy keeping my job.

Knight pulls his rifle that he keeps in his golfbag (he keeps in there just in case, ya know) and Leach draws a sword.

Tebow: Mr. Knight, Mr. Leach, you guys shouldnt use weapons.

Daly: You're right Timmy, I think they better put the weapons down and just make fun of your Christain Ass all day.

Leach and Knight are ammused and put away their weapons.

After 6 holes Daly leads Tebow by one stroke with Knight and Leach 6 and 7 shots back respectively.

Tebow is approached by two scantly clad women who are charging towards him after he sinks his putt. Natuarally he is unable to handle the blitz and is tackled by the women who begin disrobing and attempt to have their way with him. He is able to fend them off before they touch his no-no spot.

Daly: Whats the matter with you I haven't seen women like that since Cancun in 91. Don't you like women? Are you a fag?

Tebow: I love all creatures Mr. Daly, but the Lord does not condone such behavior.

Tebow can be seen kneeling in prayer as Daly, Knight, and Leach attempt to talk to the women. Daly is disgusted that the women are taken away by course officals.  He proposes a another bet with Coach Knight.

Daly (now working on a buzz): Coach, you have been driving the ball like a senior citizen all day.  I bet I can outdrive you off this beer can.

Knight: You call me a senior citizen one more time I take my Driver and shove it right up your fat ass. But your on.

Knight is out driven by Daly for another $100 dollars.  After 9 holes Daly leads Tebow by one.  Leach is 10 back and Knight is 12 back.

Daly tees off at hole 10 and decides to call it a day.  Leach and Knight decide to follow having had enough of the charity work. Tebow decides to stay on the course determined to win and contribute to charity.

Knight: I got your tab covered up to $200 John.
Leach: Shit that is not going to be enough to cover his acoholic ass.
Bartender: What will you have?
Daly(Pretty Drunk): I'll have a fifth of Jack.
Leach: Hot Toddy
Knight: Miller

John Daly is asked to give an interview and obligies 

30 minutes passes by and Tebow has turned in his scored card recording a 71 (-1) proving he is indeed infalliable. Tebow claims victory and heads to the clubhouse for some southern cooking. 
Leach: Timmy your back soon, decided to hang em up?
Tebow: No I finished my round and broke par
Leach: Fuck me.  How long we been drinking?
Knight: It can't be more 30 mins I guess you really are superman. 
Daly: What will you have Timmy?
Tebow: Arnold Palmer, please

Daly orders another having used his credit with Knight at this point.  He buys drinks for the boys and two of his signature John Daly's (Vodka, Ice Tea, Lemonade and Rohypnol) for two women at the bar.
Daly approachs the Women and calls for a ride.

10 minutes pass.  Daly is trying to close on his girl that is enjoying her drink. Meanwhile is having trouble with his girl. Suddenly Timmy colaspes when talking to Coach Knight.
Leach( 3:50 minute mark): Looking at the Woman says Fuck You, turns to Tebow and Says Fuck Me, and Fuck Everybody.

Bartender: Mr. Daly your ride is here.
Knight: We better grab Timmy and get to a hospital.
Daly: That won't be neccesary I think the bartender slipped something in the wrong drink
Knight: What the fuck are you talking about?
Daly: Roofied, it was meant for the other girl
Knight: You stupid fuck, well what do we do now?
Daly: Let's go to Mons Venus.
Leach: I got first lap dances.

Leach grabs Tebow and they load him into the town car and are driven to the World Famous Mons Venus.

The girls are all over a barely audible Tebow as soon he arrives like moths to a flame.  Smitten with the attention the group takes advantage of the girls attention to get some of their services.  As soon as they get what they need they instruct the girls to attack Tebow.  Suddenly Tebow touches his first breast unknowingly in a night of firsts for him. When he comes to in the morning the group explains what happened last night.

Tebow: All that stuff is for my image guys, I get more pussy than Tiger Woods.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Bracket: Who's Your Champion?

This combo won by a mere three votes.  For the record I voted for Carrie Underwod and Reese Witherspoon.  Well here is your final. Vote to crown Miss AsGoodasYouThink.  Kinda hard to choose between the two but I'm going with Carrie Underwood.  Vote and Get Laid.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Take Me Out to the Mallgame

Now that Target Field in Minneapolis has opened its doors as the new home of the Twins, it now stands that an even 2/3 of major league ballparks have been in existence for 18 years or less. That's right, 20 out of the 30 current MLB stadiums were either nonexistent or not completed before 1992. Why do I go back to 1992? Because that is when the mold-breaker of stadiums that everyone now tries to emulate, Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, made its entrance into society. Camden Yards signaled the ushering out of the 1970s "cookie cutter" era of multipurpose stadiums and the ushering in of the new, "modern-retro" era. Many of these new places are big improvements over the parks they replaced, and are much more comfortable and navigable for fans.

The interesting thing that has developed as these new stadiums have popped up all over the country is that there seem to be a great deal of similarities between all of them - wide concourses, comfortable seats, luxury suites, an attempt a nice city view where possible. Ironically, so many franchises have tried to copy the uniqueness of Camden Yards that all these gorgeous new stadiums now seem to comprise a nouveau cookie cutter era. What's more is that every stadium now goes over the top with the amenities designed to enhance the fan experience, but end up directing peoples' attention everywhere but toward the field. Once everyone is inside the stadium's gates, it seems more and more that the objective is not for them to enjoy the game, but to get them to spend as many dollars as possible - hence the term "mallpark."

It's great that we now have more food choices, beer choices, and a much easier time getting from our seats to the concession stand or bathroom and back. No one will take issue with that. I am not the biggest fan of the new Yankee Stadium for a variety of reasons, but I'd be nuts not to take the new concourse over the old one. But my problem is with all the other stuff, like the Phanatic Build-a-Bear Factory at Citizens Bank Park, the aptly named "Kiddie Field" pictured above at Citi Field, the lame ass Peter Max art gallery that thankfully didn't last the whole season at Yankee Stadium last year, or the "it stopped being cool 8 years ago" pool in right-center at the airplane hangar that the Diamondbacks call home. It's almost as if these teams are now saying, "OK, thanks for coming to our stadium, you now have the option to watch a professional sporting event up close, or if that doesn't sound like fun, you can go check out all these other gimmicky things in here for 3 hours instead."

Like many who hail from South Jersey, I grew up going to games at Veterans Stadium. Anyone who has followed sports even moderately in the past 10-15 years knows how much of a dump that place was. Cold, cavernous, dirty, and unpleasing to the eye, the Vet did, however, ensure that you weren't preoccupied with unnecessary goings-on around you and simply (gasp!) paid attention to the game taking place. I'm not trying to muse like an old codger about "how we had it in my day," because I'm 24, not 84. And I do know that teams don't put all this stuff into their ballparks without research showing that enough people will enjoy it. Hell, if it gets people into the building who may otherwise not be interested in going, then it's a success. However, I don't want to see a generation of kids have to be tricked into liking baseball by all the peripheral stadium attractions. It's fine if they originally want to go for the mascot races or the stuffed animals at the team store, but I hope to goodness that they want to come back because of the 450-foot homer or the nifty 4-6-3 double play they saw. This is our concern, dude.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

MLB's Unbalanced Schedule: Just Add Water

To get NotAsGoodAsYouThink's attempt at a baseball preview going, we'll start with something that has been been irking me for a few years now. Major League Baseball instituted the unbalanced schedule in 2001 in an effort to make the long regular season more interesting by adding juice to its existing rivalries and maybe even creating some new ones along the way. For those who are unaware, the unbalanced schedule calls for each team to play about 17-19 games a year against each of the other teams in its division, which will take up about half of the team's 162 games. The rest of the schedule is made up of anywhere from 6-9 games against the rest of the teams in your league, plus between 15-18 interleague games. The heavy amount of intra-division games was supposed to intensify division races and rivalries through sheer volume and familiarity.

It's worked, but only to a point. Sure, baseball gets to showcase (read: TV revenue) a ton of Yankees-Red Sox, Phillies-Mets, Cubs-Cardinals, and Giants-Dodgers games for its fans' viewing pleasure. But there's an ugly other side to that coin, because for every extra marquee matchup the unbalanced schedule gives you, it gives you a Pirates-Reds, Padres-D'Backs, or Royals-Indians sack of garbage to go with it. Plus, fans can get a little tired of seeing the same teams over and again throughout the season - I bet most Phillies season ticket holders would gladly trade a series against the Nats for another more compelling series against someone like the Cardinals or Rockies. It would have been cool to see AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke face the top lineup in his league last year, but we didn't get to, because the Royals only saw the Yankees for three games in early April and three games in late September, none of which were pitched by Greinke. Such is the drawback of the unbalanced schedule.

I will say the unbalanced schedule is a decent way to keep teams' levels of travel relatively lower, since everyone gets a few extra nearby series within their division versus an extra trip or two across multiple time zones. But even that notion is a bit overrated, since most divisions feature at least one long plane ride within themselves anyway (i.e. New York/Philly to Miami, Milwaukee to Houston, Seattle to Arlington, TX). Finally, the unbalanced schedule calls for the final 3 weeks or so of the regular season to be just about all intra-division games. This is cool at first glance because it guarantees late-season head to head matchups to decide division winners. But it also gives you a good number of games where a team in the hunt gets to match up with (and feast upon) a lowly team's minor league call-ups, which throws a just bit of a wrench into the integrity of the pennant race, yes?

To be honest, it was a welcome change from the way it was before - a bland, auto-fill spreadsheet of a schedule where every team played an equal amount of games (two home series, two road series) against all the other teams in its league. But the novelty has worn off, and now the inordinate amount of intra-division games has created rather unfair situations for teams that are in especially strong or weak divisions. For instance, Tampa Bay must play 36 total games against the Yankees and Red Sox this year; that's 22% of their schedule against two teams widely considered to be among the top 3 in baseball. Not only do they have to contend with the two giants for the division itself, but the Rays must also contend for the Wild Card against teams from the other AL divisions who play a considerably softer schedule. Now, before anyone starts making violin-music jokes, Tampa is a very good team in its own right, and many people are convinced they'd be a playoff shoo-in if they were housed in another division. Some have even gone so far as to propose radical realignment policies in order to counteract the pitfalls of the unbalanced schedule.

If you couldn't get through that realignment article without getting a headache, don't feel bad. It's definitely discussion worthy, but way too off-the-wall to happen. That's why I'm here with a simpler proposal - just water down the unbalanced schedule. Instead of playing 18 games a year against your division counterparts, make it 12-13 games a year. Eliminate one interleague series a year, namely the "rivalry" series (interleague matchups built into the schedule where certain pairs of teams meet for two series during interleague play). I've always viewed this extra interleague series as unnecessary and just an excuse to get Yankees-Mets and Angels-Dodgers for 6 games a year instead of 3. Disburse those 27 games or so that we've just freed up among the other teams in the same league, and all of a sudden you've got a schedule that still caters to the big rivalries but falls short of being disproportionate to the league as a whole. The fans and networks still get their share of headliner matchups, and no one can complain all that much about any team having a ridiculously easy or difficult schedule just because of what division they're in.

Anyone have Bud Selig's number?