Friday, October 28, 2011

Quick World Series Beard-Off, Now!

I was just going to post closeups of all the ill beards in this World Series but then I got a lil brazy. And if players are gonna keep it au currant with fashionable beards that would blend right in on Bedford Ave, why aren't they going back to 80's skinny baseball pants?

old man gray beard
dirty sexy crazy love 'stache

coming up small gettin overpaid by the yanks beard

ill chin strap beard

ace beard

Shook Santa Claus Beard
Boring Beard

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Manager: [ stepping forward] Governor, I'm Kevin O'Brien, the manager, and I just want to thank you for dropping by - again. Bill Clinton: Well, thank you, Kevin. You've got a real American family place here. Is it too late for an Egg McMuffin? Manager: Well, we stop serving breakfast at eleven.. but for you.. Bill Clinton: Thanks so much. Manager: And should I check to see if I can scare up some of those sausage patties. Bill Clinton: You read my mind!

[ President-Elect Bill Clinton and two Secret Service agents jog into a D.C. McDonald's ]

Bill Clinton: Alright, boys, let's stop here for a second. I'm a little parched from the fog.

Secret Service Agent #1: Sir, we've only been jogging for three blocks. Besides, Mrs. Clinton asked us not to let you in any more fast food places.

Bill Clinton: I just want to mingle with the American people, talk with some real folks.. and maybe get a Diet Coke, or something..

Secret Service Agent #1: Fine. But please don't tell Mrs. Clinton.

Bill Clinton: Jim, let me tell you something - there's gonna be a lot of things we don't tell Mrs. Clinton about. Fast food is the least of our worries.

Cashier: Oh, my God! It's Bill Clinton!

Bill Clinton: Hey, nice to meet you! How are you? [ walks up to a young mother ] That's an adorable baby. What's your name, sweetheart?

Female Customer: [ holding baby ] Her name is Shakira.

Bill Clinton: Now, that means "African Princess", doesn't it?

Female Customer: Why, yes!

Bill Clinton: Well, she certainly is beautiful enough to be a princess. Are you gonna finish those fries?

Female Customer: Uh.. no. Would you like some?

Bill Clinton: Well, if you're not gonna eat 'em.. [ grabs the fries and eats ] ..Mmm, these are good. Shakira, you take good care of your mom now.. [ moves on ] Hi, how are you? Good to meet ya! How we doing over here?

Les Holmgren: Les Holmgren. Holmgren Hardware. Voted for you, sir.

Bill Clinton: Thank you, Les. So you own your own hardware store?

Les Holmgren: Yes indeed, sir. Since 1972.

Bill Clinton: Well, good for you. You know, we want to create a network of community development banks that lend to small businesses like yourself. I see your boy doesn't like pickles.

Les Holmgren: Nah, he hates them!

Bill Clinton: You mind? [ grabs the pickles ] Attaboy! So, good luck to you. We're gonna wake up everyday thinking about you. Oops! Missed one. [ grabs remaining pickle ]

Manager: [ stepping forward] Governor, I'm Kevin O'Brien, the manager, and I just want to thank you for dropping by - again.

Bill Clinton: Well, thank you, Kevin. You've got a real American family place here. Is it too late for an Egg McMuffin?

Manager: Well, we stop serving breakfast at eleven.. but for you..

Bill Clinton: Thanks so much.

Manager: And should I check to see if I can scare up some of those sausage patties.

Bill Clinton: You read my mind!

Secret Service Agent #1: [ whispering ] Uh, sir.. maybe you'd prefer a McLean burger.. or the garden salad is very nice.

College Student: Governor Clinton? I'm a sophomore in college, and I may have to drop out because my parents can't afford tuition.

Bill Clinton: [ glancing at her tray ] Speak of the devil, that's one of those McLean sandwiches. Are those any good?

College Student: Would you like to try it?

Bill Clinton: Well, just a bite.. [ takes a huge chomp ] Mmm.. that's not bad! You know, my National Service Trust Fund would allow every student to.. [ grabs her soda ] ..mind if I wash it down? [ takes a sip ] Ahh! That hit the spot!

Manager: [ returning ] Your Egg McMuffin, Mr. President.

Bill Clinton: Thank you, Kevin. You have any of that sweet and sour sauce. You know, the kind that you dip McNuggets in?

Manager: For your McMuffin?

Bill Clinton: Or the barbecue sauce. Whichever.

Male Customer: You can use mine.

Bill Clinton: Great. Just pour in right on.

Male Customer: [ pours the sauce on ] I have a question.

Bill Clinton: That's it. Just pour it all on!

Male Customer: Do you support the decision to send troops to Somalia?

Bill Clinton: [ chews his McMuffin ] Mmm.. that's a good question. Yes, I do.. and let me tell you why. See, right now, we're sending in.. [ holds us McMuffin ] [ puts McMuffin in front of Male Customer ] Somalia.. but it's not getting to the people who need it because.. [ brings McMuffin back to himself ]'s being intercepted by the warlords.. [ chews McMuffin some more ] And it's not just us. It's other countries, too.. [ grabs a McNugget from another customer ] Your McNugget is aid from Great Britain.. [ takes it to other customer, then gibbles it down ] ..intercepted by warlords! [ grabs someone's Filet-o-Fish ] This man's Filet-o-Fish over here is relief from Italy.. [ pops it in his mouth ] ..warlords! And you can send all the food you want.. [ grabs different items ] ..a McDLT, hot apple pie.. it's just gonna end up with.. [ puts it all in his mouth ] ..the warlords! Now, with a broad-based international military force, we can make sure that the McRib sandwich.. [ grabs one and places it on someone's tray ] ..gets to the people who need it. [ picks it up and gobbles it anyway ] Can I get a Coke?

Secret Service Agent #1: Uh, sir.. I think we should probably continue your jog. We've only gone about an eighth of a mile.

Bill Clinton: Alright. You guys up for a real run?

Secret Service Agent #1: Yes, sir.

Bill Clinton: Race you to Pizza Hut!

[ Clinton runs out of the McDonald's, as the Secret Service agents follow right behind him ]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Suck for Luck Bowl

The Dolphins and Colts could each easily reach 0-16, leading to the inevitable conclusion of Roger Goodell, sitting somewhere in the Hamptons flipping a coin with Jim Irsay's mug on both sides. Just like how the Spurs landed Tim "Big Fundamentals" Duncan in the one year The Admiral sat out.

More fun idea, the Dolphs and Colts play a 17th game of the season for the first draft pick, maybe in Palo Alto with Andrew Luck nervously stroking his beard from a luxury box filled with concord grapes and ipads. Dolphs part-owner Marc Antony can do the halftime show on mute. If the Colts win, Peyton Manning can go to the Raiders to replace Carson Palmer, who in turn can return to what he does best; namely drinking lite beers and trolling the L.A. Coliseum parking lot for USC froshes (born in 1993 b-t-dubbs).

It would do quintuple the ratings of the World Series.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why Watch the World Series?

Is a sport still major if no one watches it?

Why Ratings are Relevant:

Ratings for the just-concluded ALCS (4.4) and NLCS (2.9) were abysmal. Sunday's dreary Vikings-Bears match-up on Sunday Night Football drew a 6.6. The pre-game drew a 5.3. Forget football, the NBA Eastern Conference Final this past Spring between the Heat and the Bulls averaged a 6.2  The ALCS and NLCS numbers are even behind the Stanley Cup Finals. The numbers are trending down toward MLS Cup levels.  

It's not about small-market versus big-market. After all, last year's World Series between the fifth-largest market, Dallas, and the sixth-largest market, San Francisco, tied for the lowest rated Series ever. 

Now, in our modern sports culture, plenty of people absorb and follow sports without ever watching a minute of actual game action, which speaks to just how sick a hobby following sports is. (Imagine meeting a metalhead who says "Me? Oh no, I don't pump Maiden, I just read Metal Circus." or a cinephile who says, "Oh, I never go to the movies but I play box office fantasy and read Entertainment Weekly and Sight and Sound.")  But tv ratings are important because it means the vast majority of people do not want to see baseball actually being played. And while I don't suggest that baseball will disappear, it can continue to become more irrelevant in this country.

How much less fun would baseball be to follow without being able to share it with our fellow fans? How many of us are planning to get together to watch the World Series together? Compare that amount with the throngs filling the bars on Saturdays and Sundays (including those arising very early on those mornings to watch soccer). And if fewer people watch will fewer people in this country play? Where would the game be today without the 30% of players that come from abroad? 

High Attendance is a False Sign of Life:

Major League Baseball argues, through attendance figures, that the sport's never been healthier

Attendance is a terrible way to track baseball's health. People will always want to sit outside on a sunny day to inhale hot dogs and guzzle beers. The very existence of the minor leagues is a testament to the appeal of getting drunk under the sun. No one filling the Brooklyn Cyclones' ballpark is there for the baseball, well, except for the solo Bellevue escapees with yellow AM/FM walkmen, enormous 1980s eyeglasses, and greasy WFAN giveaway sweatshirts. All the new ballparks, for all their talk of optimum viewing angles are really designed to maximize our consumption while limiting our viewing of the game. "Listen, I'm gonna go grab some garlic fries, a donutburger, I'll be back in five innings."  Fuck you, Feed Me. 

Think of the way bars have evolved. When I was coming up in the booze game there were many old-man bars. Dark places where you could while away the daylight in boozy silence. Now, every bar has to have amusements, shuffleboard, fusball, trivia, beer pong for chrissakes. Even the old-man bars now have to have flatscreen tvs wallpapering the joint. You can't look deeply into the bottom of your pint without being distracted by the roast highlights on the eigth showing of SportsCenter. Shea was beautiful because there was little to do but watch the game. That era has passed, and it's largely for the sport's betterment because teams would be bankrupt if, like football, it had to rely on tv money. 

TV money is king, and without decent tv numbers we can genuinely be concerned about the long term health of the big leagues. Look at college sports, where perfectly healthy basketball leagues like the ACC and the Big East are being dominated by their football teams because despite the crappiness of the football in those two conferences, the football money dwarfs the basketball bucks. 

The Playoffs Insult Common Sense and Two Solutions:

So why watch this year's World Series on TV? There are two compelling reasons not to, one is the game's length the other is the format. A lot of attention in recent years has been on the late start time, so baseball moved first pitch up to 8:05. It doesn't matter when it starts, it matters when it ends. A friend of mine has a great quote, "basketball is about tempo while baseball is about tension." But there needs to be a baseline rhythm to the game, a rhythm that is sorely lacking in today's game. The biggest difference between watching a game today and one from 20 or 30 years ago is the stepping-out-of-the-box after every pitch.

This is easily solved by limiting the pitcher to one time off the rubber during an at-bat and limiting the batter to one time-out during an at-bat. Or leaving the matter entirely up to the umpire who would only be allowed to grant the batter a time-out after a brushback or near-beaning. This one rule change could shave 30-40 minutes from the game without changing how the game is played. This rule change will never happen, however, because it is to the owners' advantage to have long games because it means more time for the home fans to eat hot dogs. Short cheese, it's always the short cheese over long. 

The second problem is the postseason format. Baseball, for decades, had the most meritorious postseason format. Win your league, and advance directly to the World Series. Then in 1969 we got a League Championship Series and divisional play in 1995. 

The small divisions mean most fans don't follow teams in other divisions which means come playoff-time few teams have national followings. Moreover, the structure is fundamentally unfair in that an AL West team must only beat out three teams for a playoff spot while an AL Central team must beat out five. Worst of all, in many seasons, a non-playoff team finishes with a better record than a playoff team which happens to win a weak division. 

2008 is one example of many, the Mets, Marlins, Astros and Cardinals all finished with records as good or better than the N.L. West Champion L.A. Dodgers. Toronto would be a contender in almost any other division or in a bigger division format that awarded playoff berths on wins. Baseball once rewarded teams based on wins, now it rewards them based on geography. 

So if the postseason is not a meritocracy baseball may as well make arbitrary changes to force excitement. Changing every series to 5-on-5 would reward flukier teams (so what? The wild-card Cards, who finished six games behind the Rangers were rewarded with home-field) but it would make each game super-tense and would greatly increase the chance of a do-or-die Game 5. 

The two most popular postseason tournaments in American sports are the NFL playoffs and March Madness, which are both single-elimination. The last World Series Game 7 was in 2002. Baseball can't afford to have long gaps between Game 7s. Look at how Horse Racing has suffered in its Triple Crown drought. Plus, making each round best-of-5 could help competitive imbalance by making it easier for cheaper teams to compete. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox have extraordinary depth. But in a best-of-5 system, teams could get by with less. 

Would it mean that the best team would not advance? Without a doubt, but that's the system we have now anyway. 

Are these ideas extreme? I don't think so. But in an era of ratings that approach hockey levels, the status quo is simply not good enough.