Tuesday, June 29, 2010

If I Did It

I didn't and I won't but lets just say if I got a tattoo I have an idea of what I would get. John has touched on the forearm tattoos before but I'm expanding with a twist.

1. American Flag over the heart or on the arm.  This is true redneck stuff right here.  As has been displayed several times in this blog, I am passionate about the United States.  This tattoo would signify my resistance to move to Canada should a draft ensue.

2. M Block.  The Michigan logo to the leapers.  Heart or arm again.

3. Some type of affliction manequer (spelling?).  This is going to sound retarded but after getting caught in the rain while wearing an affliction shirt I changed shirts upon returning to the dorm and there was an faint imprint of affliction across my chest and I thought it looked cool.  If I were a fighter I might do this if Affliction paid me otherwise no thanks.

4. Rage Cage across the knuckles.  Again I'm not a fighter so what would be the point.  Nothing screams professional like a tattoo on your hands.

I don't understand why people feel the need to get tattoos.  For those that want to have strong beliefs or a memoriam to a fallen person I'm not going to criticize you.  I am going to say, I don't get it.  Is there not other ways you can carry out your beliefs or honor the fallen.  Personally the last thing I would want is to be tattoo on someones arm.  Thanks for thinking of me and all but that tattoo was not necessary.

Maybe its a cultural thing or class thing, but there are certainly people into tattoos and against tattoos.  I fall in the latter.  Personally its a turn off to see tattoos on the opposite sex. I think most tattoos look trashy, especially if its a poorly done design that seems as if you walked in, looked at a book and said yea I'll take that one.  No thought behind it makes it worse for me.  I don't get the cute little butterfly or flower either but i suppose its a minor issue.  The gym can do far more for you than painting your skin.

Tattoos are screaming look at me.  Ask me about my tattoos.  They seem to me to be self absorbed.  Please just stop, especially if your not trying to sell an image for your career.  People are so concerned about the perceptions of themselves that they feel a need to stamp themselves so you look at them or know something about them immediately.

You're Not Wrong, You're Just an Asshole

A few of us (actually, all three of us, Kevin, John, and I) were holding court over a few Guinness on Friday night and happened to see the clip of the most recent Carlos Zambrano dugout escapade, which took place during that afternoon's Cubs-White Sox game. Long story short, Zambrano got torched for four runs in the first inning and blamed it on first baseman Derrek Lee not diving to stop the grounder down the line hit by Juan Pierre, a grounder that became a leadoff double. A few snap judgments from this situation:

-Number 1, if a slap hitter like Juan Pierre pulls you down the line, it's on the pitcher, not the fielder.
-Number 2, I could almost understand if there were two outs and runners on base when it happened and Pierre's hit directly led to runs, but he was the leadoff man. Go earn your money and pitch around a leadoff hit like a #1 starter is supposed to be able to do.
-Number 3, it's idiotic to call out your fielders when you get hit the way he did in that inning. Kinda tough to catch the baseball when it's careening off the wall or landing 10 rows deep in the bleachers.
-Number 4, I'm not against confronting teammates when you feel their effort is lacking. It's been done effectively before. But keep it out of sight, and especially out of camera view. Players never win by showing up their teammates publicly. Coaches can do it occasionally (just ask Todd Haley, who practically owes his head coaching job with the Chiefs to a well-publicized sideline spat with Anquan Boldin in the NFC Championship Game), but even then it's not exactly advisable.
-Number 5, if you are going to try to use this type of motivation on your teammates, your performance itself had better be exemplary. Everyday players hardly ever want to hear it from a pitcher, so you can imagine what it feels like to be berated by a guy who had just nudged his way back into the starting rotation after an early-season bullpen banishment.

This is hardly the first time that Big Z has blown up like this. In fact, when we first saw the highlight, we weren't sure if it was something that happened that day or if it was a replay of a prior fracas. Zambrano has had several good seasons, yes. But recently he's gotten more publicity for his big mouth than for his big arm. You know how certain guys such as Derek Jeter, Ichiro, and Chipper Jones are known as the face of their respective franchises? Well, Carlos Zambrano has taken another big step in becoming the face of the Cubs franchise, and these days that's no compliment. Right now he is the portrait of overpaid and underperforming, of too much flash and too little substance. The Cubs have been a hot mess since the end of the 2008 regular season, and what they have in star power they more than match in volatility.

It's an interesting dynamic. For generations, the Cubbies were lovable losers, a team known as much for billy goats, black cats, and ill-fated foul popups down the left field line as for Ernie Banks, Harry Caray, and Ryne Sandberg. Now, judging by their record, the Cubs are certainly losers, but they are anything but lovable. Maybe it's the undue amount of attention they still get nationally. Maybe it's the fact that seeing Alfonso Soriano swing at (and try to pull) every freaking pitch gives me flashbacks to some of his prolonged slumps from his Yankee days. Maybe it's the party-first, baseball game-second atmosphere that's become prevalent at Wrigley Field. Or maybe not. Maybe we wouldn't be so quick to criticize all aspects of the Cub teams of recent years if its $18 million a year starting pitcher would ever learn to keep his mouth shut and stopped doing so much to turn his team into the media's canteen of water in the desert of the 24-hour news cycle. Oh well. I'll look at the bright side - as tired a story as a Carlos Zambrano controversy is, at least it takes a few minutes a day away from any more talk about vuvuzelas or LeBron sweepstakes speculation.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sh*t I Don't Understand: Bluetooth

Ever wonder why, whenever you see or hear stories of alien visits to Earth, these aliens never stay? I'll tell you why. Because the people on our cozy planet have a unique ability to be f*ing unbearable at the drop of a hat, or, in the case of our topic for today, the clip of a device to an ear. Like we've said several times in this space, you give the general public some new freedom or convenience (via technology or however), and that proverbial inch turns into a proverbial yard faster than you can download a Lady Gaga ring tone. Such is my disdain for the Bluetooth.

I get how the Bluetooth is supposed to be such a life saver when it comes to people talking on phones while driving, but even that postulate is debatable. The "hands-free" aspect still doesn't eliminate the fact that you're engaging in an outside activity while operating a 3,000+-lb moving machine at the same time. But my real issue with the Bluetooth is when people choose to use the things outside of the car, whether they're at work or just walking around in public. Is it me, or is this just douchebaggery to the umpteenth degree? It's bad enough I have to be subjected to the crap you insist on putting into my face when you're actually in the car, but now I'm privy to your phone conversations when all I'm trying to do is walk from Point A to Point B? You think no one will mind listening to your pointless, self-important blabbering? I mind, man. The Dude minds.

I wonder what the thought process is that leads to a person deciding they should walk around with one of these things. I can't be certain, but I think the following is a good stab at it:
"Do you have any idea how important I am and how valuable every second of my day is? Not only must I be on the phone for 75% of my waking hours, but reaching into a pocket to make or receive a call is simply out of the question! I need this bad boy clipped to my ear at all times, otherwise the rest of the world is way too far away from me!"

Talking on a cell phone in public can be as harmless or as annoying as you choose to make it. But when talking on a Bluetooth, you feel like you have to yell into the thing to be heard on the other end. So there you are, in a public place while everyone else is trying to just go about their lives, speaking with your voice at "the band just went on at the bar" volume, most likely smacking away at some mundane conversation about where you're going for dinner that night or the yardwork you plan on making your husband do tomorrow. Now, I have some unfortunate news for you if you're one of these people: nobody gives a damn about your goings-on. Nobody. You are not interesting, and even if you are interesting, talking on your Bluetooth about the time you climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro is obnoxious nonetheless.

I laugh to myself whenever caught in a situation where I'm standing in the vicinity of a BlueDouche and, not having seen the person to know that they're talking on a phone, I get the impression they're talking to me. One time I was in front of a Cherry Hill soccer mom in line at the food store, and it sounded like she was questioning every item I was buying. I place the Red Bull on the counter and hear "no, I don't think so." I put the oatmeal up there and hear "I just don't think that's a good idea." At that point I had to turn around and say "excuse me?" only to get the patented "startled/perturbed look and smartass point to the centipede on your ear to indicate you're in the midst of a phone conversation" reaction from the Queen of Suburbia yapping on her Bluetooth about letting her kids go out that night. Or at least that's what I gathered from her conversation, since she continued to yap away for the remainder of my time standing 3 feet away from her.

Here's my thing - I don't care how far our technology goes, 2 out of 3 conversations we have during the course of a day can afford to wait. Just because you can talk to a person with the touch of a button doesn't mean you need to be talking to that person at that given moment, especially when activities of normal existence are consuming you. And most of the time, if the phone call you are about to make or receive is really that important or necessary, then you shouldn't be be trying to squeeze the call in while you're in the gym locker room, the post office, or some other transient state.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stay in the Dugout

What is something that occurs too frequently in baseball? 4 HRs by a single player in a single game? Certainly not.

What occurs all too frequent in baseball is the Curtain Call. The tipping of the cap as a player is encouraged out of the dugout to acknowledge his accomplishment needs to be taken down a notch.  It needs to be held and higher regard and reserved for special moments.  Hitting back to back HRs to help your team win a regular season game does not qualify.  Especially is you are hitting .250 and your team is 10 games back from first.  Doing something rare and important are what enables you to do a curtain call.  Hitting for the Cycle works and so does cracking 3HRs in a playoff game.  Other than that complete game shut outs, perfect games, game winning hits do not require curtain calls because the game is over and your celebrating victory and the achievement in another way.

Despite him saying that he wish he had more fun when playing baseball, Ted Williams was a guy who understood the curtain call. He would not tip his cap to Red Sox fans despite their pleas on almost all occasions.

Those who attend baseball games are not always the brightest people.  Some of them vote 5 ballots for the all-star game and make sure to vote for Jason Varitek even if he is hitting below the Mendoza line or worse, he's injured.  Do not give in to their pleas all the time.  Stay in the dugout until you have really accomplished something.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Late Late Show with Landon Donovan

Soccer is a boring sport.  I don't know why anyone watches it.  I'd rather see back and forth scoring its far more exciting and holds my attention. 

Allow me to welcome you to the high drama of soccer America.  This is why we watch.  Rare moments like this happen in the sport to change the result in an instant more frequently than any other sport.  1-0 can indeed be exciting. The U.S. are going through as group C winners.  They were minutes from heading home.

Allow me to further my point of playing these matches at the same time instead of waiting until Sunday Night Football on NBC to decide the last team in the playoff.  England-Slovenia, U.S.A.- Algeria were played at the same time with two of the four teams set to advance. England scored an early goal so the United States knew a draw would send them home.  In the closing moments of Slovenia's match they were still pressing for a goal but were set to go through if the U.S. failed to score.  The final whistle blew in Slovenia's match almost simultaneously with Landon Donovan's goal.  Martin Tyler proclaimed at the final whistle of the Slovenia-England match "Well we know England are through, we don't yet know about Slovenia....Now I am getting word that Donovan has scored for the Americans, and Slovenia are on their way out." That is far from boring.

ED:  Lou, I hope you realize this isn't a swipe at you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hating the Past: Fads

Magic the Gathering- Never bought or really played.  Game was confusing and generally played by what I would have considered weirdos at the time.  No offense to anyone who played it though.  Looking back it had alot more to offer than most of the things on this list and was probably played by semi intelligent kids.

Pokemon- I can't believe I chose these over buying more baseball cards on a couple of occasions. Granted I was looking to sell them because you always got to be hustling but I owned this garbage and got sucked in.  These cards were really expensive and were a total waste of money and you do not need to catch em all.

Pogs- They were retarded.  They made no sense and yet I found myself buying them eventually. They were cheap so their wasn't much push back from the parents. Never really did anything with them including playing that dumb little game. I once attended a pog and baseball card birthday as a little guy and traded my pogs for 1990-91 proset hockey packs. 

Those Robot Pets (I think Taguchis or something like that)- Never had one but played with other kids during a school day.  Kinda fun for a day but little playback value even for $15 bucks or so.

Beanie Babies- Got in real late and had a few of the so called valuable ones.  We even had some book predicting their value in 10 years and boy was that wrong.  Had the tag protectors and cases for a few of them as well.  So lame to spend my little money or my parents money on anything but baseball cards at that age.  The expenses on these added up as you collected them.

Devil Sticks- Never bought because I'm not that skillful but I know someone in my family had a pair. They were stupid but relatively cheap.

Girls- Cats Cradle thing.  I don't know what this was but the girls seemed to play it alot.  I'd like to here some comments if you played with it.  It seemed rather harmless.

Yo-Yos- They made a comeback with our generation in late elementary school. I can remember the Fireball and I believe Duncan Yo-yos were among the best to have.  My parents bought a couple for me as gifts but my lack of skill and practice with them made them relatively useless.  A legitimate little toy that's cheap and has more staying power than most of this list.  Will probably be a fad again at some point if you can avoid giving cell phones to pre teens.

Paper football- Played quite a bit. Easy to make and I even attempted to sell well made ones for nickels and dimes in 3rd grade.  Obviously that didn't go to well but revenues did clear $1. The game itself was not so enjoyable and it was always more fun to flick them across the room.

Please add more because I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

Most fads I held out until they were near the end of their run and gave in.  Some I was able to wait out entirely and successfully avoid getting sucked in. 

Looking back it was easy to predict that I would be an individual rather than a clone.  I was still wearing hand me downs and sweatshirt and sweatpants in 5th grade because I was comfortable in them at recess. The rest of the day didn't matter too much to me.  In reality nothing has really changed.  I never created a myspace or a facebook just because everyone else was doing it. However I scooped up my name on twitter hoping it would kill facebook in the workplace. So while I take pride in not going with the crowd, I am prone at times to giving in. Don't follow the leader all the time and do what you want to do.

Country Music

Another good reason to not like facebook, practically everyone's music section reads something like this:  I'm into ANYTHING but coutry.  I understand that there is a regional/cultural gap that exists in this area because we all grew up listening to Dave Matthews and other weak crap.  Country is better than you think.  It's simple, often tells a story, and doesn't do too much.  For the most part, it's actual music, not some electronic mish mosh concocted in some studio with a soundboard.  The artists are talented (it's not a beauty contest), it's easy listening, and it's not angry.  However, I do see why some people dislike certain country.  The way I see it, there are two types of country music: happy and sad.  I much prefer the latter.

Although I do not drive a pick up or shoot animals with guns for fun, I enjoy a rambunctious country jam about beers and women.  That works fine for me when I'm in the mood for a good time song.  It's good music to have on in the background when you're hanging out.  On the other hand, dumpy sad country music I do not go for.  Why the hell do I want to hear someone sing about their Daddy going to heaven and dog getting hit by a car?  I listen to music to feel good, I don't need the emotional baggage.  Write more songs about bonfires, fishing, beer, and such.  It's worthwhile music, and people need to be more open to it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Love Story

The following story takes places in the 1960s.

Rachel and Kyle were high school sweet hearts in a small town just outside of Lock Haven.  Rachel was able to get into her dream school Carnegie Mellon while Kyle did not have the grades to justify his parents sending him to a college.  Kyle wished Rachel the best and promised to visit her whenever he could.  He remained working on his father's farm instead of trying to pursue a degree.  Kyle and Rachel saw each other nearly every weekend throughout Rachel's college career when they made the 3 hour train ride to see each other.

Rachel was getting ready to graduate in a few months and the two were preparing to get married and move to Pittsburgh when suddenly Kyle's dad passed away.  Kyle was now expected to stay home and keep the farm running.  He was not happy about this and was cursing the death of his dad and his misfortune.  Rachel agreed that she would move back home when she graduated in a few months. Kyle purchased some more property with his inheritance money so Rachel and him could start a family.  Little did Kyle know that oil would be found on the property and his fortune would change.

Kyle made $3 million dollars as a result of the discovery of oil and was set to surprise Rachel with the news on his visit later that day.  He couldn't wait to tell her that she could stay in Pittsburgh as she had dreamed and they could take care of their families as well as start a new one with all the extra money.  Rachel was set to graduate in a couple of weeks and it would be Kyle's last visit out before he made Pittsburgh his permanent home. 

Rachel was waiting at the train station for his usual 7:52 P.M. arrival but amid all the paperwork Kyle had to close on the property he missed his usual train.  Kyle was scheduled to arrive an hour later but was unable to get a hold of Rachel before he left.  The train station was poorly lit and Rachel was becoming concerned because Kyle never missed his train but decided to wait for the next one.  Rachel was raped and murdered in the extra hour that she waited for the next train.  The assailant was never found. 

WAIT. You call that a love story!

Kyle was obviously devastated by the loss of his true love.  Kyle let the police handle most of the investigation but provided all the help he could.  He was not hellbent on vengeance because he knew it wouldn't bring her back.  Kyle spent the week at Rachel's residence and slept in her bed that still smelled like her.  He shared stories with her roommates as they consoled each other.  After a week he returned home by the very same train station his love was murdered at.  After spending a week at the farm and not knowing what else to do rode the train again as if he was going to see Rachel as usual.  He decided to donate flood lights and surveillance cameras to the train station where Rachel was murdered hoping to avoid a similar fate for anyone else.  He then continued to ride the train and share stories about Rachel with anyone on the train that was willing to listen.  Kyle would continue to ride the train every other weekend (for free of course after his generous donation) until the day he died. For Kyle this was how he could express love for someone he could no longer see.

This story is heavily based off a deleted scene in Chasing Amy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Anti-Soccer Rebuttal

Allow me to first make myself clear. I don't hate soccer. I certainly do not like soccer, but "hate" is not exactly the right word. I don't hate it. I just don't buy it. I never got very much into it as a kid, and at my ripe age now, there probably isn't much hope (kind of like how I am with Star Wars, sorry John). A big part of it stems from my growing up in a decently yuppie town and going to school with kids who thought they were tough shit because they played soccer, even though the truth was that 80% of them wished they could play football but their parents wouldn't let them. From an early age, soccer became known to me as the sport you played if Mom was too scared of you getting hurt if you strapped on the good old helmet and shoulder pads. I have many reasons for my disregard of soccer, ranging from the gameplay itself, to its fans, and to greater societal implications drawn from its following here in the United States. While my viewpoint may be somewhat unpopular right about now, just hear me out.

Part I - The Game
I'll start with the on-field stuff. Does it take a tremendous amount of skill and athleticism to play soccer at a high level? Of course it does. However, does that fact alone obligate me to take an interest in the sport? There is also a tremendous amount of skill on display in a sport like archery, as well as an insane amount of toughness and conditioning on display in MMA, but that doesn't mean I'm making plans to watch either of those anytime soon. The issue here is that the display of skill in soccer pales in comparison to the display of skill in the sports that are prevalent in America. Tell me, do you see anything on a regular basis in soccer that is on the level of hitting a 95-MPH fastball, threading the needle to a receiver in traffic while getting your clock cleaned by a 280-lb defensive end who runs a 4.5 40, draining a 3 with a 6'6" defender's hand in your face, snatching a 90+ MPH slap shot out of the air with the glove hand, or sticking a 190-yd 5 iron six feet from the pin? Sure, there are diving or leaping saves and well-executed sequences of passes and shots, but how often do you get those - once or twice a game? The other 88 minutes amount to a ballet, and on a side note I think I prefer ballet costumes to the stupid sponsored jerseys that professional soccer teams wear. Call me a curmudgeon but I kind of like the outlandish idea of a team's uniform prominently bearing the team's name or city.

Contrary to popular belief, the lack of scoring in soccer is a non-issue to me. I love low-scoring baseball games and even low-scoring football if it's played crisply. It's not the lack of scoring in soccer that irks me, it's the lack of structure. Two of my three favorite sports (baseball and golf) are often derided (by soccer fans, ironically) and labeled "boring" for their deliberate nature. But let's be honest, soccer ain't exactly a 10 on the heart-thumping scale either. The pace of soccer is so monotone, it allows for very little of the dramatic buildup you get in the other sports on a big 3rd-and-goal, a 3-2 pitch with bases loaded, or even the final sequence in a one-possession basketball game. A soccer game plays out like some kind of amoebic stream of consciousness. My favorite part of being a sports fan is trying to manage or coach along with the game as I watch. American sports fans value the chess match of what play to call on 2nd-and-1 or 3rd-and-4, what pitch to throw in this 2-2 count, when to bunt or send a baserunner, etc. Soccer is too free-flowing to provide those fan-captivating moments of strategy.

Part II - The Fans
The out-of-the-woodwork soccer following that takes place in this country every four years for the World Cup is enough to put you off your food. Americans will get all juiced up for soccer for the next four weeks, packing the bars and pubs decked out in USA soccer gear like they a.) actually give a shit, or b.) can name 6 players on the team. You know what the fervor is really all about? It's about the drinking holiday. It's about having the popular excuse to go to a bar at 10am on a Saturday and howl away at odd chants and songs in an effort to pretend to be European. And when it's all over they'll go back to ignoring the sport for the next 47 months. So why not just be real about it? Are you really feeling that left out from the party if you don't buy into all the World Cup hype fed to you by ESPN? Kevin made an interesting point in his post (immediately below this one) that following soccer is not necessarily the cool thing to do in the country. But for at least these four weeks it is the cool thing to do, and the amount of people that are becoming temporary soccer fans in the US right now give me all the more reason to turn a deaf ear to the goings-on in South Africa. This would drive me up the wall if I were an actual legit soccer fan like Kevin is. The "four weeks out of every four years" soccer fan is akin to the "championship parade" fan who saw less than 50% of the games that year.

American soccer fans, even the reputable ones, are a unique bunch. Through my years I've never seen a group of people get so offended when you say you don't like their sport. Go and try it sometime. Tell an American soccer fan that you don't like soccer and he'll react like you just called his mother a slut. He'll undoubtedly launch into a sales pitch for the game and try to insult my sport-watching intelligence while doing so. "Oh, but you just don't get it, it's the most popular game in the world, you just can't appreciate it because Americans' attention spans are too short, blah blah blah...." Nobody else does this! Hockey fans don't do it. Auto racing fans don't do it. MMA fans don't do it. If someone tells any of those fans that they don't like their sport, the response is usually along the lines of "that's your business, not mine." What is it about being a soccer fan that makes you more defensive than the post-career Roger Clemens?

And by the way, can we put this "world's most popular" argument in mothballs please? We all know it's the most globally followed game. But does that mean it's a rule that I have to like it, just for that fact? You're in America. Soccer may be the most popular game in the world, but not in this corner of the world. Accept the fact that your beloved soccer is a second-tier sport in the country in which you reside. If you want to go somewhere where soccer really matters, then feel free to move across the pond. I'll even help you pack. If I happened to move to France or Spain, I'd have an easy time accepting the fact that baseball is irrelevant there. Sense of surroundings, people. Sense of surroundings.

Consider this: America is comprised largely of the descendants of European immigrants, yes? These immigrants came over several generations ago from countries where soccer was king. Over time, sports like baseball, football, and basketball came into the fold and took over in the still-young-and-forming-its-identity United States. Soccer fell by the wayside as alternatives were offered. America, thanks to its size and diversity, has had a greater sampling of more sports than most other countries, if not all. And America as a whole has chosen other options over soccer.

On a cultural note, (and thanks to our blog follower Tony for this one) earlier American generations embraced these new "American" sports in part as a way to carve an identity for themselves as US citizens and separate themselves a bit from the countries from which they emigrated. It seems more and more now that people in America try to embrace soccer as an effort to be anything but American. I'm not against being open to other cultures, but seeing people walking around in foreign soccer jerseys with those multicolored scarves that make you look like you belong on a coffee logo bothers me as much as seeing 4th- and 5th-generation Americans with tattoos and/or car adornments depicting their ancestors' home country. Pride for your heritage is fine, but going over the top to act like you're actually from that country when in truth your family has been over here for 120 years is not. You get that point because we've gone blue in the face illustrating it in the past, so no need to dive back in. But let it be known that soccer fandom in this country goes a long way in feeding the xenocentric beast.

In conclusion, I'm indifferent to soccer itself. I can't ever see myself spending time or money in an effort to follow the sport in any way, but I'm not exactly starting a picket line against its existence either. What I want is for it not to be in my face for maybe 4 months out of every 4 years in an attempt to make it relevant in my home country. Have all the fun you want with the World Cup, but do not call my sports aptitude into question for simply sticking to my ways and conscientiously objecting to the blitz of soccer hype. Please cool it with the crusade to try to instantly rearrange the pecking order of American sports. If soccer is ever going to be truly that big a deal in the United States, it is going to take a few generations, because the appeal of sports is very much a generation-to-generation handoff. And in the mean time, you're just going to have to live with the fact that "Dad, you wanna have a catch?" is much more American thing to say than "Dad, you wanna go out and take some penalty kicks?"

(image borrowed from ESPN.com Page 2)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Examining Your Reasons For Hating Soccer

Am I allowed to hate soccer for this?

1. It's Not America's Game.

We did not create the game and we are not the best at it.  Some Americans struggle with the concept that America is not the best.  They ignore things that are not the best or most popular. Some people want to fit in and following soccer is not the cool thing to do.  Ever notice the amount of front runners and bandwagon jumpers you come across. In the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB the champions are considered the World Champions.  No reasonable individual would dispute that the champions of this division are considered the best. 

The sport of soccer is light years behind in this country compared to others.  Some Americans are slowly getting into it and at a young age.  I would not expect Americans to choose soccer over football but it can serve as alternatives to other sports that cannot be as easily played at recess (IE. hockey, baseball). Few kids grow up dreaming of playing pro soccer because our league (Major League Soccer) is far from the best in the world.

Answer: No.  You can't hate the sport for this but your allowed to change the channel..  If you didn't grow up playing I don't blame you for not watching but I don't understand the unabashed hating of the sport.  I never had the chance to play hockey but I don't bash the sport. I watch and can enjoy it from time to time.  Lacrosse is a different story though, we may get into that later.

2. Diving and Stretchers.

This can take some getting used to.  Players diving for fouls and penalties is sickening, especially in a sport where it can be the difference in the outcome of the game.  Don't act like it doesn't happen in other sports though.  Quarterbacks falling looking for late hits, Punters dancing for roughing, basketball players flopping for a charge, NHL players looking to draw penalties.  I won't defend the diving and dishonesty in all sports.  I am someone who is more likely to play psychical.  I honestly believe that diving is more in Italian leagues like Serie A or by anyone named Ronaldo, and are less commonplace among English players.  In the English Premier League referees have done a better job of policing this.  Yellow cards are typically issued for dives in all leagues but it rarely stops some from trying especially if its in the box. 

Americans are used to seeing stretchers for the badly injured or in war scenes.  They are tough to come to terms with when a player is carried off on a stretcher and then is running around on the field five minutes later.  The stretchers are designed to get the player off and keep the game moving.  In some leagues and countries its more prevalent than others.  I won't defend it but don't compare it to how you normally see stretchers used. 

Answer: Yes. You can hate soccer for this.  It is a problem that is significant enough to not respect the sport, however if you give soccer enough of a chance you will find that it is a physical sport. It is not uncommon for legs to be broken by slide tackles and concussion to occur from collisions. In a way I can except this as a reason to dislike soccer because at least it shows that Americans are more used to players showing more toughness.

3.You Can't Use Your Hands

Well I don't know why this is but if it's that big of a deal to you watch some Australian Rules Football.  I think it makes the game all the more impressive that its played with your feet and head.  In all other sports your hands are the dominant body part used to move the ball around. The idea of soccer is to always have the game moving and catching the ball or knocking the ball with your hands would take away the flow of the game.

Answer: No.  The rules of the game of soccer are the simplest in the world.  The only major sport that comes close is baseball.  There is offsides to explain to newcomers as well as learning what is a yellow card and red card.  That's pretty much it.  Try explaining football or rugby to a newcomer and get back to me in a month.  Interesting enough, soccer is even more bullheaded about replay than baseball (Not even over the line goal calls).

4. Low Scoring

There is not enough action for you.  Despite the fact that the clock is always running and play is moving too much to make the trip to the bathroom its not good enough.  You want goals.  If you want up and down scoring you can watch the NBA.  However, when can you any sooner tell me who will win a game?  Is there much of a difference between a 2-0 lead in soccer and a 15 point lead in basketball?  Usually not.  So I don't understand and never will understand the public desire to watch high scoring games. 

I'd prefer soccer where the drama builds up as the game goes along in a 0-0 game where each time is pushing for a winning goal at the end.  Because when it happens its usually more exciting and certainly more definitive then a go ahead 3 pointer with 1 minute left.

Answer: No, No, 1000 times No.  This is the worst reason you can have for not watching the sport.  If you actually watch a game of soccer, then you can see a goal building, sense its coming as a team draws closer and closer.  When the moment comes its more rewarding as a fan.  I love a low scoring baseball game.  Good pitching, strategic baseball and timely hitting is more exciting then long balls galore. A single to lead out the ninth followed by a sacrifice followed by a single is a better way to see a game end then a walk off home run over a 300 foot fence. 

5. It's for Liberals

This is kinda a stretch but I think people have this viewpoint.  Soccer is heavily popular among immigrants, illegal or otherwise, and I think for some people its hard to get behind this.  Some people like what they know and are afraid to try something different. Soccer is very popular in liberal parts of the country such as Seattle and Portland.

Answer: I think this is a reach and its likely not your sole reason for disliking soccer.  If it is, well then at least your vote is likely to be more useful.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

911 Calls Shouldn't Be Public

This call may be recorded for quality and training purposes.  You have certainly heard a version of that phrase before. It typically applies to customer service departments but also to 911 calls.  And it should.  What shouldn't be legal is the public release of these 911 calls. These calls need to kept private in almost all circumstances.  Exceptions for releasing 911 calls would be in the courtroom or identifying a unknown voice (Ala Zodiac). 

Normally I wouldn't even know about this call but its been all over the radio.  Gary Coleman's ex wife, Shannon Price can be heard on this call seemingly showing little effort to help Coleman. Now she has a media firestorm on her hands and a rush to judge before police have fully investigated the matter.

Somethings should remain private and you can argue that I shouldn't have posted this if its indeed the way I feel.  However, the large issue is that 911 calls and autopsy photos shouldn't get leaked to the public out of respect for the deceased and the surving members.  Can we at least have some privacy in this age of technology?

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Joys of Clutter

I simply cannot be bothered with certain things.  Constantly organizing my surroundings is one of them.  I will never understand the neat-freak mentality.  I understand organizing your house before company arrives, or making your workspace presentable.  Look clean, sell clean.  I get it.  However, why organize a space that will pretty much never be seen by anyone except yourself?  For example, my bedroom has quite a bit of clutter.  However, I know precisely where everything is.  The map of my clutter is thoroughly laid out in my head.  I can see it.  When an outside party attempts to intrude upon my space and rearrange things...all is lost.  Clutter is a sign of intelligence because the clutterer is mentally aware of all his posessions through the use of mental notes.  Furthermore, I feel those who excessively organize and label everythng are compensating for something.  Can you really not remember where you put things?  I think some people would label their left and right shoe if they could. 

First of all, do NOT attempt to organize or clean my area.  I do not need the help of outside parties to keep my space organized.  My living and work space may appear to be a mess to the untrained eye, but I know exactly where everything is, and I am the only one that needs to know where everything is.  Whenever I find that my space has been tampered with in an effort to make it conform to the norm of organization, stuff gets misplaced, and all my work ruined. 

I don't make my bed.  Actually, YES I do.  I make it EVERY DAY....right before I get in it.  Why on God's green Earth would I make my bed in the morning???  I don't get in the damn thing until 15-18 hours later, why would I waste the precious 30 seconds in the morning when I could be on the sofa scratching my balls while watching SportsCenter???  WHY??????  I will never be sold on making my bed in the morning.

Furthermore, who needs the anxiety of maintaining all that organization?? I would much rather focus elsewhere.  I will not look at a life of achievement and wonder if I could have been more organized.

My advice to everyone is to relax the excessive organization, and focus more on bettering yourself in more practical areas of your life. 

Consider It History

I'm not someone who usually watches the History Channel.  I'm not one of those guys who enjoys watching the channel over sports or can be found watching the channel for more than a few minutes.  However, yesterday I tuned into the History Channel in observance of D-Day.  D-Day June 6th, 1944 is one of the most important days in the history of the world.  So naturally I expected to partake in a story or two on the History Channel.  Apparently I had severally underestimated the power of reality TV because the History Channel was airing a marathon of Ice Road TruckersIce Road Truckers is fairly self explanitory and now so is the fact that the History Channel sucks.  The least they can do to honor the men who fought and to stay true to their orgin was to air a D-Day marathon. 

Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised with channels like Music Television barely revolving around music and Entertainment Sports Programing Network featuring more talking heads then CNN.  I expected more from the History Channel, and was forced to pull out a Band of Brothers DVD to commemorate the day.  Perhaps I should send a calendar to the History Channel and circle dates they can't forget about.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Amid the hustle and bustle of perfect games, would-be perfect games, instant replay debates, the Finals in basketball and hockey, the passing of arguably the greatest coach of the past century, and Americans preparing for the one month out of every four years in which they turn their attention to some European sport where you can't use your hands, we all had to wave goodbye to a big part of our childhoods. With considerably less fanfare than anyone would have predicted 5, 10, or 15 years ago, Ken Griffey, Jr. retired this week.

If you knew me during Griffey's days with the Mariners, you'd never have expected me to write something like this. Part of that may have to do with Junior tattooing Yankee pitching to the tune of a .311 average, 36 bombs, and 102 RBI in 501 career at-bats, akin to full season's worth. And there's also the image of him sprinting around third and sliding into home plate for the series-winning run in the 1995 ALDS that reduced me to tears as a 9-year-old. But another part of it was, despite his otherworldly talent and charisma, the guy came off as a bit of an asshole during his most productive years. He was a polarizing figure. Some saw his ever-present backwards hat as a testament to youthful exuberance, and others saw it as a "look at me" disrespect to the game. His patented bat-slam and slow walk out of the batter's box (at the :20 mark of the video) when he knew he'd just went yard was a staple of mid-'90s Sportscenter highlights, but was also the textbook example that taught me what it meant to show up an opposing pitcher. Almost everyone my age loved him, but I couldn't stand him.

Then he gets traded to Cincinnati between the 1999 and 2000 seasons, and proceeds to morph from The Kid to The Old Man. After 10 straight All-Star appearances and Gold Glove awards with Seattle, Griffey couldn't get out of his own way in the Queen City. From 2000-2008 (8 1/2 seasons with the Reds, and a forgettable second half of '08 with the White Sox), Junior played over 140 games just three times. As the numbers indicate, he was still a good player in the second half of his career when he could stay on the field, but nowhere near the perennial MVP candidate we remembered. To see him keep coming back from injury after injury was a sad yet inspirational image. Despite the severely curtailed on-field production, the mid-2000s version of Ken Griffey, Jr. was the one that skyrocketed in my estimation, and ultimately gained the same admiration out of me that my whole generation had bestowed upon him 10 years earlier.

Why, do you ask? Why did it take a late-career decline for me to finally give a nod to the greatest player of my generation? Because the decline itself, as weird as it sounds, was refreshing. It made him 100 times more likable in my book. At the very same time that Barry Bonds' production in his late 30's and early 40's was making a mockery of the game and raising every eyebrow in the nation toward the steroid issue, Griffey was experiencing the down end of the classic career bell curve. The handwriting was on the wall - Griffey was famously one of the few players of his era who eschewed lifting weights and instead went the flexibility route to generate his bat speed and power. So when the flexibility started to decrease and the body got more brittle, Junior became a shell of his former self in his last few seasons. And that's totally OK. If anything, it restored us to a time when a guy could put together a few monstrous seasons and not be immediately suspected of using PEDs.

It's funny, but these days the best thing a superstar can do for his legacy is have a few down years to close out his career. Junior simply did what guys like Aaron, Mays, and Mantle did in years past- he got old. And you know what that allows us fans to do? It lets us look back on the guy's legendary career (devoid of juiced-up late career numbers) with admiration instead of speculation. For that I'm willing to look the other way on the things I disliked him for in the '90s, and instead focus on the unbelievable catches, the shows he put on in the Home Run Derby, and that wide, captivating smile. I'll remember Junior from now on for being the best baseball player of the division-play era, and for doing so by natural talent, not by anything that came out of a syringe.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jersey... Sure

To the creators of Jersey Shore, I hate you. Its bad enough with the reputation of Philadelphia fans but when I run into people from other parts of the country I'm sure to get a Jersey Shore comment.  Yes, they are ignorant for believing that everyone from Jersey is Guido douche bag but I still rather not listen to bashing of the state and local area.  Television creators fail to realize there impact on people's perceptions of us.  I'm tired of it. 

People in foreign countries think American life is like the OC and Americans lack values.  Maybe some but do lack values but certainly not all.  In a matter public opinion, perception can become reality.

Jersey Shore is a show I finally had the displeasure of viewing recently and it wasn't much different than I expected.  In this area we all know people who act like characters in the show but they are also a little over the top.  "The Situation" are you kidding me?  Id imagine that Guidos are thinking the characters are a bit much.  I guess that's what you get when you put a camera on retards and tell them they are going to be on TV. 

Seaside Heights was the shore that my family went to growing up until about the age of 10.  The last of our regular trips occurred when on our way home we drove by a bar that featured a full on fist fight in the streets with broken beer bottles and a crowd.  It was quite a scene for a youngster to see and my Mom said we weren't coming back. So I have been back only been back about once a year since.  I have an idea of what goes on at Seaside Heights and certainly A.C. where the cast was going in the episode I saw.  MTV produces garbage television that appeals to teenage girls I get it.  However the success of Jersey Shore has transcended to the casual viewer. This is where the problem rises and the ignorant remarks about Jersey run rampant.  I suppose other states and areas deal with stereotypes too but I doubt its as bad as our area is bashed.  O well, maybe I should get over it and just stop conversing with people that cannot think for themselves and consider MTV entertaining.

World Cup Predictions

Two Teams From Each Group Advance

Group A
South Africa

This is a difficult group to predict. The host country has always advanced although a higher percentage of teams advance in the past.  France are the favorites to win the group but have an insane manager and an underage sex scandal involving a few of their stars. Mexico is playing well since I shared an elevator with Javier Aguirre last summer.  They have won the Gold Cup and finished qualifying strong. Uruguay are a solid team and are more than capable of advancing. I will take history and the hot hand though.
To Win the Group: Mexico 
To Advance: South Africa

Group B
South Korea

General consensus throughout the tournament should be to take African teams to advance because they are more familiar with the climate and should have home field advantage even if its just the South Africans backing them. However in this group I am taking chalk. Argentina took it to the final day to qualify but they are still the favorites of the group.  Euro 2004 winners Greece failed to qualify for World Cup 2006 so here is there chance to prove themselves on a big stage again.
To Win the Group: Argentina
To Advance: Greece

Group C

The group that you should be paying the most attention to.  If not I will get INS on you.  Saturday June 12 2:30 England vs. U.S.A.  It may be a bigger deal to us but you can bet England will come out firing.  More on that later.  Algeria beat Egypt in a rare playoff to get here and shouldn't really challenge.  Slovenia on the other hand could ruin a happy ending of the US and England.
To Win the Group: England
To Advance: USA

Group D

Another tough group to predict because of injuries to captains Michael Ballack and Michael Essien for Germany and Ghana respectively.  Serbia has been picked as a dark horse to make a run in the knockout stages. Australia probably has the best goalkeeper in the group in Mark Schwarzer and that could be enough to see them through.
To win the Group: Germany
To Advance: Serbia

Group E

The Dutch always disappoint but they are the overwhelming favorites here.  Cameroon and Denmark should provide a test as well.  Japan may be able to sneak up on some more athletic teams by playing a defensive game.
To Win the Group: Netherlands
To Advance: Japan

Group F
New Zealand

Probably the easiest group.  Italy should easily advance and then it should come down to Paraguay and Slovakia.  New Zealand became the best team in the Oceania region since Australia left is still far away from being competitive on this stage.
To Win the Group: Italy
To Advance: Paraguay

Group G
North Korea
Ivory Coast

It's been called the Group of Death, and not just because North Korea is in it.  In fact, North Koreans will not be able to see their team compete in the World Cup unless they win, then they can watch on tape delay.  So basically North Koreans will not see their country compete.  Even if you take everything else away, this alone makes Kim Jong-il evil.  Other teams will try to run up the score on the North Koreans for Goal differential reasons (the first tiebreaker).  I'm not sure if we should feel sorry for the players on North Korea and cheer for them or root for them to get their heads kicked in. Ummm...heads kicked in. Any of the other three teams can win the group.  It would be interesting in Brazil is eliminated.
To Win the Group: Brazil
To Advance: Ivory Coast

Group H

Spain is the the overwhelming favorite after winning Euro 2008.  Any other team is capable of advance but Honduras are probably the underdogs.  A Jonathan Bornstein goal in the final minute of extra time drawing the US level with Costa Rica sent Honduras to the World Cup Finals. Honduras like other countries are enamored with the World Cup.  The country remembers the last time they were in the World Cup in 1986 when they tied Spain.  They talk about it as a great accomplishment for their country.  I wonder what they will say if they get a win this time around. Still I can't pick them to advance, but I'll be rooting for them.
To Win the Group: Spain
To Advance: Chile

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Two Tickets to Paradise?

A great deal of buzz has been going around this week about the Florida Marlins selling tickets to Roy Halladay's perfect game, which took place last Saturday evening, May 29. You're reading that right - the Marlins, one of only three organizations with multiple World Series championships in the post-1993 Wild Card era, are selling tickets to a game that not only already took place, but featured their team fail to put a single runner on base. Not only are the tickets selling fairly well, but this is not even an unprecedented move. OK, I get it. You buy a previously-unsold ticket to a perfect game for face value, hang onto it for a few years, keep it in good condition, maybe even frame it. Then one day you hope to be able to toss that bad boy up on eBay and sit with your feet up as the bids roll in for such a vaunted piece of memorabilia.

Normally you'd expect me to blast the Florida organization for chasing dollars this way and essentially giving a big F-you to the 25 men who wore a Marlins uniform that night. But oddly enough I'll give the Marlins a pass on this one. Take the revenue where you can get it. I see it more as a passive-aggressive jab by the Marlin organization at their relatively disinterested fan base for coming out to the ballpark in putridly small amounts despite the team being consistently respectable and competitive. It's like they're saying, "ok, all you South Floridians, maybe if you guys did a bit better job of showing up to our games and acting like you really cared about the team, you'd have the right to be miffed at the fact that we are somewhat celebrating a game in which we were dominated. But until then, we don't want to hear it." I'll stop short of saying I applaud the Marlins for doing this. Let's just say I "golf-clap" them for doing it.

But of course, if I didn't have anyone to chide, I wouldn't be writing this. I've got to tweak the few thousand people who actually went online and bought these after-the-fact tickets. Like I said before, I get what your reasoning is - you want that little piece of baseball history and the prospect of selling it at a profit in the future. But do you have no personal pride or sense of what is genuine? Are you really going to anxiously await for your prized May 29 Phillies/Marlins tickets to arrive and then cherish them as if you were actually at the game? Are you going to display the ticket(s) prominently somewhere and pass stories down through the generations about the view from your seat that night, at what point you realized the perfecto was in reach, how nervous you were not to jinx anything, or the lump that went in your throat before Shane Victorino tracked down that monster fly ball to center for the first out of the 9th inning? No, my friend, you are not going to do any of that.

If you bought a ticket to that game after it took place, please look yourself in the mirror. You are now on the level of the guy who buys a $1,000 driver to try to make up for the fact that his golf swing stinks, or the guy who uses his buddy's dog or toddler son to try to pick up women, or Charlie Sheen one night in 1996 when he bought up all the left field lower deck seats at an Angels game in a fruitless effort to get himself a home run ball. Stop trying to cheapen and dilute the experience of the 25,086 who were indeed present at Sun Life Stadium that night. Money can't buy life experiences. That's what makes them so valuable! Yes, I'm certain I read that somewhere.

Please See Doctor Jack: Nancy Grace

I have been looking for a proper way to debut this new series. Nancy Grace is possibly the worst talking head on television and that is saying something. She hosts a nightly show on CNN titled "Nancy Grace." My first memory of Nancy was during the breaking of the Duke Lacrosse scandal. She vehemently declared that the accused were guilty, which we know now is untrue. She commented that only 8% of rape cases were found untrue and the fact that they were charged made them as good as guilty. Night after night she dragged the poor kids through the mud and refused to listen to anyone with a differing opinion. Girl accusing rape doesn't make automatically condemn the accuser. Innocent until proven guilty Nancy. Duke winning the Lax title Monday reminded me that I needed to blast this bitch. When I did some farther digging into her past I found even more dirt.

Before landing a job at CNN, she was a Prosecutor in Georgia. She was cited numerous times for improper conduct in the courtroom including withholding evidence. Apparently her lack of ethics makes her qualified to pass judgement on TV.

Journalists and Television personalities need to have accountability if they are wrong. The least they can do is admit they are wrong and apologize. People don't forget. Nancy Grace is above this standard though. She failed to acknowledge that she was wrong about the Duke Lacrosse scandal and even failed to appear on her own show the day after charges were dropped. She has power to influence public opinion on her show but is irresponsible time and time again.

Nancy Grace has an agenda and prays on the destitute for ratings. She tries to act like a caring mother but she's really a bitch hellbent on profiting off the tears of others. Elizabeth Smart is a woman who has more strength than me but even she can't tolerate Nancy Grace.

This is yet another example of her complete disregard for the feelings of others.  It's all about pushing buttons and getting the story.  Sometimes there actually are questions you shouldn't ask out of respect for others.

It's a bad sign when your subordinates don't respect you and will go through great lengths to screw you over.  Can you imagine how she behaves off the air?

Please visit NancyGraceMustDie.com because apparently I'm not the only one who wants her off the air.

Worst Casting in Movies

When I looked up at the billboard I didn't notice anything strange about Prince of Persia.  Then when I saw Jake Gyllenhaal was the star I did a double take.  How about casting someone that is a better fit for the role?  Maybe someone who is actually Persian? Perhaps that's just too much to ask from Hollywood but apparently we are supposed to believe that Gyllenhaal is a Persian who is a great warrior in great shape.  I don't buy it for a second.  The long hair, the supposedly muscular, Persian, Gyllenhaal is an insult to even those who enjoy movies such as Sex in the City 2.

Colin Farrell in Alexander
First of all Colin Farrell is Irish. Alexander the Great was a Macedonian.  Second of all he has a reputation of being a ladies man, Alexander the Great is considered a mans man....especially in a sense that he likes dudes.  Alexander the Great was a blood thirsty tactical genius.  I'm not buying Colin Farrell as a tactical genius nor blood thirsty because I subjected myself to two of his awful movies (Swat and Phone Booth). 

Tom Cruise in Last Samurai
Tom Cruise might be slightly insane, but surely he can't believe he can pass for a Samurai.  The plot of the film is ridiculous.  Somehow Tom Cruise goes from an American Soldier to a Samurai and tries to transform into an Asian sword wielder. Maybe this is more of a bad movie than a bad casting decision but neither is plausible.

ED: Blogspot is pissing me off and I can't get out of center alignment.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kill This Character

There are TV shows you have seen that have that one annoying character that detracts from the show.  The following is a list of TV characters in TV shows that should or should have been killed off.

Berta- Two and a Half Men
The fat old house keeper seems to try too hard to always make a mean spirited joke.  She can occasionally make a funny joke, but mostly she is obnoxious and the show would be better if she left.

Phoebe- Friends
You have seen the show even if you don't like it.  She is slightly more tolerable in later episodes when she is not playing the dumb character.  Her cluelessness is over the top and she is in her own world far too often.  It is actually not even believable that she is "friends" with the other characters.

Dom- Entourage
Dom plays the gangs old friend from Queens.  He was so obnoxious that even though his contract was not up his character was removed.  Fans were so put off by his character that his run was cut short.

Shauna - Entourage
Vince's publicist is a bitch to everyone on the show except Vince.  She constantly curses like New York truck driver and adds little to the show. Normally, I wouldn't complain about a female cursing but it makes her as unattractive on the inside as she is on the outside.

Buster- Arrested Development
He is the definition of a Momma's boy.  His character goes a little too far with the wimp act and his character doesn't really pick up until he meets the seal.

Izzie- Grey's Anatomy
Obviously not a fan of the show but I have been objected to it.  The sole reason I hate Katherine Heigl is this show. 

Kimmy- Full House
Ok the show clearly sucks now but I watched every episode as a little guy.  Kimmy always bothered me and you'll be happy to know she didn't find anywork after the show.


They are called Vuvuzelas.  I refer to them as atmosphere killers.  If you plan on watching the World Cup in South Africa you better get used to hearing the annoying horns blaring constantly.  Fans have complained and coaches and players hate them.  They make it near impossible to communicate between players and coaches on the field.  It's one thing if its yelling and screaming from the stands that prevents players from communicating it's a another thing when it's the following.

The horns rob the game of creative songs and chants that make soccer unique from other sports in the United States.  And for most Americans that watch the game every four years you wont get a chance to appreciate chants between The United States and England supporters.  Fans watching on Television will have to choose between the prospect of muting the sound or missing out on Martin Tyler calling the match, which is very different from Joe Buck calling a game.