Friday, September 30, 2005

Calling Oliver Stone

posted by IntrinsicBent

Boston seems to be the hub of all sports this weekend, and why not? With most other divisions locked up, everyone else in the hunt is going through their robotlike “save our strength” motions. And this is a classic matchup that even outsiders and haters can appreciate.

The Yanks come in a game up, right into the backyard of their fiercest rival. Fenway is housing 870 police officers to control the crowds from acting like….well…..Bostonians. You know as well as I do that as soon as they pawked their Olds Cutlasses in the gawrawge, that it was on.

There is nothing huger than this for them. Not having Ben and Matt there, not claiming Aerosmith, not that little tea party they had that spanked the little empire island in Europe. Not their three time superbowl champ Patriots, not the old skool rantings by Luis Tiant this week about not getting into the Black Aces club, or even a first pitch by our favorite wookie. That’s a horrible Leia by the way.

For years the Bombers have lorded their dominance over their Babe cursed enemies. Then last year in maybe the clutchest playoff performance since Kirk Gibson, the BoSox do something never before accomplished. They come back from an 0-3 deficit to rip the heart out of the whole Yankee organization like their collective last names were Boone. Oh yeah, and then win it all.

Tonight the Sox send a message by getting scoreboard with a win. Now they’re even. It’s down to the wire. It’s dance or go home time. This series could decide the AL MVP as well.

For both teams, it’s also likely the last time they go to war with the same roster around them. Both teams will most likely make wholesale changes in the offseason.

To put a little picante in this gaping competitive sore, the mlb was even caught in a little conspiracy that not even the paranoid, viagra popping director Oliver Stone could have dreamed up. It seems that this week actually accidentally posted NY Yankee Eight In A Row Division Champ shirts for sale before they realized it and yanked (get it?) them offline. But you know we take care of our Frappers…… here you go.

The best thing about this weekend is that we can all enjoy it, knowing full well that neither team will be walking up to the podium next year to get rings. Mark it down. I know this to be true. Never before have two opposing pitchers that won rings as the number 1 and 2 starters for the same team (Unit and Schill) ever gone on to the World Series after their new teams faced off in a season critical showdown to eliminate the other. Ok, I made that up and I’m not a big enough geek to look it up, but I’m trusting my gut that it’s true. And in my case that’s a sizable hunch.

I told you a long time ago that it’s been great to be an Angels fan this season. That’s true. I’m trusting my gut on this too. And it’s been built around quite a few Angel Dogs.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Don't Do Me Like You Did Me Last Year

posted by BiCoastal Bias

The Angels have won the West for the second straight year. They appear to be peaking at just the right time, putting together a winning streak of 8 games while most other playoff teams in the American League are trying to back in. They have the best starting rotation in the AL, including this year’s Cy Young front runner. In spite of these reasons to celebrate, all I can say is, “Just don’t do me like you did me last year.” To be specific, don’t leave me trudging down Lansdowne Street being forced to give high fives to Sox fans holding brooms. That’s right Angel fans, if you thought last year’s playoff sweep ripped your heart out, how do you think it felt for this diehard living in the capital of Red Sox Nation?

For this reason, even though my team has already wrapped up their playoff spot, I still find myself scoreboard watching. Though I haven’t discovered why, the Angels match up very favorably with the Yankees and White Sox, but very unfavorably with the Red Sox and Indians. The Angels have looked like minor leaguers whenever they enter Fenway Park over the last two years, and although they’ve gone 5 – 4 against Cleveland this year, playing the Indians always reminds me of the days when Troy Percival had something in the neighborhood of 45 consecutive blown saves against that team.

So what exactly am I hoping for amidst all this scoreboard tracking? Since I can’t possibly bring myself to cheer for the Evil Empire, I’m pulling for Boston to knock out the Yankees this weekend, and for Cleveland to win just enough games against Chicago to take the wildcard. In this scenario, the kids from Anaheim start the playoffs in Chicago, where they recently swept a three game series. If this doesn’t happen, I’ve got a back up bracket all prepared. If the wildcard happens to come from the East, let’s pray that the Yanks win that division; because the Angels will have to start off in that team’s stadium. Yankee Stadium has been much friendlier than Fenway.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of the Red Sox; I’m just much more comfortable facing them in a seven game series. But more importantly, if I was afraid of them, would you have any right to judge me? Were you on the other side of the Green Monster at the end of last year? Like I said, just don’t do me like you did me last year.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Living in a Fantasy World

posted by BiCoastal Bias

As long as we’re on the subject of the cutting edge of the world of sports, The Frappe has a whole new phenomenon to report on.  This is so cutting edge that we’d like to be the first to give this phenomenon a moniker; right here, right now.  It all began when Yahoo decided to add a new feature to their Fantasy Football services.  In head-to-head leagues, you can now go to each matchup page and vote for which fantasy team you think will win.  About a week into this season, someone in our league decided that we ought to keep track of how many picks we all get right.  The Frappe writers are now involved in a revolutionary endeavor; each week we guess who will be the winner of each fantasy matchup, it’s a fantasy pick’em league based on fantasy sports.  I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that one of my peers came up with this idea, the fact that others have started keeping score, or the fact that I take it just as seriously as any other part of my fantasy sports life.  

So Frappers, what shall we call this new creation?  “Fantasy-Fantasy-Sports”?  “Fantasy Squared”?  “Hot Fantasy on Fantasy Action”?  Vote for these or any other ideas you come up with, just don’t forget that you heard it here first.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Power Of The Frapp

posted by IntrinsicBent

The Frapp is blowing up! We recently were linked by Richard Oliver's San Antonio Golf blog and our counter has been speed dialing ever since.

But I want to take you back when we were first rolling after deciding we would provide only fresh, insightful takes on issues mostly involving sports. We always felt that our hunches were rock solid, and this was proven yet again this week.

It seems when the Frapp talks, .................the market listens. If you dig through our archives (I'd toss you a link, but it will be much more fullfilling if you dig it out yourself. Plus, I'm allergic to dust.) you'll find a post advising you to get in on the Ultimate Fighter craze before it was cool.

Notice the part in this current article which states the UFC is breaking into the mainstream. Duh....old news if you are a regular Frapper. We don't mean to brag, but we're way ahead of the curve. And our Frapp don't stink. That's right, I said it.

Where else can you get such a well rounded diet of solid information? We love ya, there's no two ways about it.

Do your friends and family a favor, and refer them here. You'll be a hero. And you'll probably get much better gifts at family functions. Just tell them to bring their own cup. And whipped cream.

Arroyo Flop

posted by BiCoastal Bias

In case you haven’t heard, Bronson Arroyo put out an album this season, called “Covering the Bases.”  I already have one blog about the positive relationship between baseball and rock and roll, so consider this blog about the negative relationship.  I downloaded a few of his songs last week.  I didn’t break any copyright laws, since I was only sampling the music to decide if I would have liked to purchase it . . . and I definitely do not plan on purchasing it.

Don’t get me wrong, from what I’ve heard, the album isn’t terrible.  In fact, I kind of like Arroyo’s rendition of “Dirty Water,” an appropriate song for a Boston player to cover if ever there was one.  But the album hits an all time cheese-point with the song “Destiny,” and if I could bring myself to listen to the song a second time I’m sure I’d pick up on the allusion to the magical 2004 Sox team.  Certainly it was a smart move on Arroyo’s part to stick to singing other people’s tunes; but still, I have to wonder how satisfying it can really be to put out a full disc of music that someone else has already done better than him.

I guess the real issue here is that this Red Sox team is starting to remind me of the Cleveland Indians of “Major League II.”  With Arroyo playing the part of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn who lost his edge after he went Hollywood, wouldn’t it be perfect if Big Papi had found some obscure eastern religion to add a Pedro Cerrano to the mix?  This is the one season in which Sox fans took a playoff spot for granted; but they’re waking up just in time to realize they are tied with the Yanks with a week to play.  

The problem for Red Sox Nation is that life only imitates art for so long – there will be no Hollywood ending for this “bunch of idiots.”  (The Angels already used the score-on-a-bunt-from-second-base play this season, so there’s already a hole in that page of the script.)  There’s too many hungry teams in the American League; so while you can expect the Sox to lock up a playoff spot, someone else will play the part of lovable overachievers come October – and Arroyo can record “A Fallen Star” for his sophomore release.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Christmas Every Weekend

posted by BiCoastal Bias

In terms of sports, the Pacific time zone is almost always preferable to the Eastern time zone.  There is nothing more luxurious than rolling out of bed Saturday morning and already having a plethora of college football games on the telly to choose from, not to mention the satisfaction of having all major league baseball games seen to completion by the time I go to bed each night.  (If I had a nickel for every time I fell asleep while tracking the Angels on “GameCast” . . .)  Don’t even get me started about how weird it is to find myself flipping the television back and forth between Letterman and Monday Night Football.

That being said, NFL Sundays are the one day that I’ll happily take the eastern seaboard’s schedule; and if you grew up in a house in which church attendance was not optional, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  But living on the east coast, none of that matters; it’s like Christmas every Sunday.  Being a kid, you know on Christmas morning that the gifts you get are getting are coming off of that 5 page list you made, you just don’t know which ones.  Likewise, you already know what games are being played around the league, but only three of them are going to be on television, and if you’re like me, you don’t find out until game time which ones they are.  Now why, between CBS and Fox, there are only three games every Sunday is beyond me.  Sometimes CBS will play two games, sometimes Fox will play two games, but never at the same time.  

I realize that there are ways to find out what games will be televised in your area ahead of game time, either through the newspaper or internet or what not, but I feel that this should be frowned upon, much like my parents frowned upon my brother and I searching the house for our hidden gifts the week before Christmas.  

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Priority Of Sports

posted by IntrinsicBent

When I was a kid, once a year there was this very touching movie called Brian's Song. (A quick sidebar for the kids..this is the "old" version with Lando Calrisian and the dude from Las Vegas in it). Weird thing was my friends and I always wanted to watch it together even though we had an uncomfortable moment of silence when Brian Piccolo died and we would turn our heads and act like we weren't crying.
Because of this movie, I collected football cards for Piccolo and Gale Sayers, bought the book named after the movie, and an autobiography by Gale Sayers called, "I Am Third". This was the saying Sayers lived by. It wasn't an original motto, as he ripped it from the plaque on George Halas' desk that said the same. The book was autobiographical and had a little coverage of his relationship with Piccolo. Before too long, it begins to center around the title.
The title is actually the third (ironic) line in a very short statement that goes like this:
God is first.
My family and friends are second.
I am third.
The devastation handed out by Katrina and now Rita (as I write this) always exposes the frailty of life, the brevity of this time we have on earth, as well as the charity of the American people (for the most part).
This was illuminated during the surreal period after 9-11. Many movies were shelved from release because noone really wanted to see violence, pain, and sometimes, inane laughter. It seemed like a long time before we laughed together when Letterman finally broke the ice, then SNL and then everyone slowly, and mildly began rebuilding the fabric of American life.
It was during this period when there was much discussion about sports, whether or not the games should be played, and whether they'd ever feel as important again. I heard these same discussions when the NFL opened their season this year. The rallying cry is, let them play!
Is that callous, cold, unfeeling, or maybe even selfish? I don't believe so. You see every american seems to have a grain in them of that never say die spirit that our forefathers built this country on.
You see, we believe it when we're told growing up that we can be anything we want. Backyards are filled everywhere with young Jeters, Vlades, Bradys, Kobes, Shaqs, and even TO's.
I would not trade my time in the backyard where as Maravich or Reed I counted down the final seconds while hopefully draining the final shot. Or when I was Staubach dropping back for that flea flicker that would win the big one. Or when I was tossing the horsehide against the pitchback as a pitcher named Stottlemeyer.
So sports is simply a distraction that allows us to connect to each other, our teams, and our heroes. Especially during times of upheaval. I saw those Saints fans cheering their team's opening game victory from the shelter. It offered distraction and connection to home.
That doesn't mean that we should stop praying for those in peril, praising God for putting us in this great country, or giving our time and resources unselfishly as our brothers and sisters need. It just means, "Let them play!"
Over the years, I've reworked Coach Halas' and Gale Sayer's life motto to fit my outlook. Mine goes:
God is first
My family is second
My church is third
My friends are fourth
I am fifth
My job is sixth
Sports are seventh
Ok, let me let you in on something. Sports is really sixth, I just put it there in case my boss reads this. Shhhhh!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Individual Team Sport

posted by BiCoastal Bias

I’ve got a confession that may come as a shock to some of you loyal Frappers out there:  Since the founding of The Sports Frappe, the BiCoastal Bias has been blogging without the help of cable television, including ESPN and all other local sports networks.  Up until an hour ago, my roommates and I had been just too cheap to sack out for the full cable package.  With the baseball races heating up and the installation of the new NFL season, it was just too much pressure and we buckled, culminating in the installation of a small black box sitting above our TV.  

You may feel betrayed, with thoughts like, “The one person’s opinion I held above all others doesn’t even rank sports television above his cheese-pizza-by-the-slice addiction,” and you have ever reason to react this way; but at this point I’m just going to keep writing in the hopes that you’ll have forgiven me by the end of this blog.  It’s quite possible that two weeks from now, you’ll decide that my rants and ravings were much more original before my thinking was tainted by Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser.

But all of this is just setup to my main point.  You see, I was watching “1st and 10” this afternoon, just after the cable guy left.  This show involves a few dudes sitting around arguing about various sports topics, pretty much like every other show on ESPN in the afternoon.  At one point, the hosts of the show held a discussion about who was pivotal to the Cowboys’ dynasty between Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin.  I’ve grown weary of these types of discussions.  I brought it up at our most recent Sports Frappe production meeting, (we have them daily, after all) and we decided that as an organization, we’re not going to participate in these types of “Who is the best individual,” arguments, at least not until we have to decide how to cast our AL MVP vote.  Isn’t the point that Aikman, Smith, and Irvin got together and dominated their team sport for a few years?

There’s been a Bill James led trend in baseball to emphasize stats like OPS and de-emphasize the old classics like batting average, RBI, and runs scored; all in an effort to rank players without the bias of how good or bad the teams they played on were.  I find this shockingly na├»ve.  The ultimate goal of a batter is to propel his team to score more runs than the other.  So shouldn’t run production be the ultimate measure of a batter?  Of course this is dependent on the rest of his team; it’s a team sport – you’ll never find an adequate stat that won’t reflect that fact.  It should be a crime to even try to disassociate a player’s production from his team, unless you’re an agent trying to sign your player to a big free agent contract, then it should just be frowned upon.  Now of course there are good players on bad teams, and in that case, their stats should reflect the fact that they are the main offensive/defensive force on a crummy team.  

I’m going to sign off now, because Jim Rome is about to discuss how great David Ortiz would have been if he was batting behind Lou Gherig for the Colorado Rockies, and I need a slice of pizza first.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Circle Carney Fever

posted by IntrinsicBent

I was trying to go to sleep and made the mistake of having Sportcenter on in the background. Coverage of a Nascar race came on, and I thought, "Awesome, I'll nod off in like 17 seconds."

It was like this surreal circus of carneys with purposeful crashing, guys strolling out on the track and throwing helmets at moving cars, all around the backdrop of cars making only left hand turns.

Yeah, I know the left hand turn Nascar smack is not fresh but it is still funny. While watching this pandemonium occur, I suddenly realized what causes all this bizarre and erratic behavior.

It's what happens when you make rednecks drive in left hand circles nonstop. It's like when you were a kid and you'd look up to the sky and then spin until you fell down dizzy as all get out. You all did that, right? And your Moms all made you guys wear helmets to go play in the backyard too, right?

Before you start with the emails about not being politically correct, save them. You see I R a redneck. Sorta. And yes, some of my best friends are in fact Nascar fans. And I totally don't get it, but that's fine. Many of them don't understand my fascination with the Westminster Dog Show.

Still need more proof of my heritage? Let me just say this in regards to my beloved Sooners this year. That dog won't hunt.

'Nuff said.

Trick Or Treat

posted by IntrinsicBent

Here he comes.......walking down the street........gonna ask for candy..........from every one he meets...........hey hey it's Randy......

Ok, it kinda broke down at the end there, but I want to give you fair warning. Randy Moss is probably coming to your house for halloween this year. And you better have the good stuff, and not those cheesy candy corns or orange pieces of sticky sugar, er I mean "taffy".

Randy Moss has his own halloween mask and it's comin' to your hood. Wild flowing fro and all. It beats the Darth Vader mask in a Raiders jersey. And it definitely beats the weak costumes that the 16 year old gang of dudes in my neighborhood wear while carrying pillow cases and bagging on me that I don't give them enough candy. I got some ball bearings for those guys this year. (They'll hit the bottom of those pillowcases hard).

So who would dare to spend $49.95 for a moss mask for little Jimmy? Just look at the investment in shoes that little Jimmy is sporting and you have your answer.

Sigh.....gone are the days of Green Lantern with the plastic mask with the cheap gray rubberband that snaps the first time you put it on, and the high water pant leg costumes. But thankfully, for the kids today, so are the apples and the homemade popcorn balls.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Call to Arms

posted by BiCoastal Bias

Each autumn, his voice enters homes all over America through the television; no, I’m not talking about the Fox promo-guy making the new fall line-up sound like World War III.  

He has made remarkable strides towards ruining every baseball postseason of the 21st century; and I’m not referring to George Steinbrenner.  

You can almost hear Joe Buck cringe as he bumbles his way through playoff game after playoff game; and now we all know who I’m implying, the infamous Tim McCarver.

I considered saving this blog until the playoffs, building up material against McCarver and listing them here, but that’s been done before and this matter is too urgent to wait that long anyhow, (I have this fantasy that thousands of Frappers will simultaneously rise from their computer screens upon finishing this reading and form an impromptu march on Fox Sports headquarters).   It’s been well documented and discussed that McCarver says stupid things on the air; I even found a website dedicated to compiling these “gems.”  While these inane comments certainly irritate me, they are not what inspire the deep level of disgust that McCarver brings to my life.  After all, most popular “color-men” make their share of stupid comments; John Madden and Rex Hudler come to mind.  And while my reaction to the latter two is often an eye roll or groan, my reaction to McCarver usually involves my roommates stopping me from taking a hammer to our TV.  

I find it interesting, when watching a McCarver announced game with someone new, to wait for them to react before I do . . . and they invariably do.  In fact, I’ve heard people bring up how much they hate McCarver during games he’s not even announcing.  What I find most fascinating is that most people tend to believe that McCarver is biased against their favorite team.  At first, I took this as a sign that these fans were being irrational, and simply looking for something to complain about; after all, how could the man be biased against all 30 major league teams?  But the more I thought about it, I realized that this gets to the heart of what I hate about him so much:  He is biased against every team!  This washed up catcher will watch a slow motion replay of a bunt down the third base line while ripping apart the fielder for thinking it would roll foul, which of course is painfully obvious in slow motion.  He’ll criticize pitching moves by the manager with the best bullpen in baseball, as if it was dumb luck that got the coach through the regular season.  Apparently, McCarver is of the school of thought that a good TV announcer finds each mistake – or even potential mistake – and dissects it, explaining to the fans at home why said player or manager should replace their local village idiot.  Obviously we want our announcers to discuss errors or misplayed balls, but second guessing decisions that happen in a split second, when it’s not even clear that it was the wrong decision, is a bit hyper-critical.  

What I’m most concerned about is that McCarver’s style will catch on.  He must be stopped before the new generation of color analysts is making it impossible to watch games without the sound on mute!  And while we’re at the job of getting McCarver fired, let’s start auditioning for the soon to be vacant microphone in the booth, I vote we give the Fox promo guy first dibs.  

Friday, September 16, 2005

Pop Ups Suck!

posted by IntrinsicBent

This is not a baseball, or a sports take at all. And I don't have a website to support it. But I'm sick of Pop Up Ads. They make me sick.

Why don't we find who engineers these things and send them to Pakistan to find Bin Laden. That way we will have less pop ups, plus they can get around anything seemingly so they would definitely be able to help our Special Forces.

I feel a little better after getting that off my chest.

And I know that's important to you.

Here To Help

posted by IntrinsicBent

One question that consistently comes up during our daily Sports Frappe production meetings is this: "How can we enrich our faithful flock of Frappers' lives again today?."

Well, here's your next life lesson, and it's about time management.

I traveled for work this week (don't get excited, it was just Raiderland in NoCal). While holed up in the hotel, I was reminded of a trick I learned the last time I traveled. Not being a party boy myself, I'm the dude that hunkers down in the room working like a mutant on my laptop. It drives my associates in my home office nuts, cuz they get these action items that fill their inboxes like Ed McMahon awards. All at 12:30 am.

So I had ESPN on in the background when I realized a disturbance in the force. I was about to doze off and I realized it was because the talking heads (not the group) were discussing whether or not Lance Armstrong's marketing power would diminish if he retired after winning his seventh Tour De France. What?

I took a break before I jumped off my first story balcony, and I did what comes natural to the male species. I picked up the remote and began to troll. About 32 complete revolutions. Then I finally settled into The Terminator (yes, there was an original kids) which was about a third of the way through. Perfect!

That's when I realized I had just invented the ultimate gauge for determining my viewing priorities. Now when I come across something that may be drivel, but I'm not smart enough to figure it out, I ask myself one simple question: If Terminator were on, would I turn to watch that, even if it was only for ten minutes? Voila! Problem solved!

Now I know that Terminator may not be your choice. But trust me, you have one, and it could very well be an Arnold movie (Total Recall?). If not, it could be Tommy Boy, or even Vegas Vacation. It could be anything that TNT might cycle twelve times in a week. (Please save your emails that share the redeeming points of Silkwood or Steel Magnolias. I don't roll like that.)

So please feel free to amaze your friends and families with this new technique and even claim credit for coming up with it. Consider it my version of that free ebook on "How To Sell On eBay" that you see all over the web.

Plus, your gonna need to loosen up your free time by the time BiCoastal and I start dropping our frappcasts on you (stay tuned amigas y amigos).

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Bonds and T.O. conversation

posted by BiCoastal Bias

I find it ironic that Bonds and T.O. are making their comebacks in the same week.  The more I think about these two, the more I’d love to see the two of them sit down across from each other and have a conversation.  They’re both controversial figures; two guys that the media loves to see stir the pot, or stir the pot with.  In fact, I think Barry Bonds owes the quiet lack of scrutiny over his first game back to Terrell Owens’s Monday night reunion with McNabb.

I guess what fascinates me about the two of them is that I think they might be able to learn from each other.  In my eyes, T.O. is a character constantly looking for attention.  Up until last Monday night, Owens had scored a touchdown in each of his nationally televised games.  From appearances, this is a guy who spends all season planning his celebrations for these moments.  

Bonds, on the other hand, claims to not want media attention.  And yet most of his actions would say otherwise.  Reporters in the Giants’ locker room say that it’s only after one of his teammates gets hot and attracts a crowd that Bonds gets grumpy and vocal, setting up chairs around his locker that others aren’t supposed to cross.  Bonds is that kid with a secret who knows he can hold your attention longer by acting like he doesn’t want to tell it to you, but the moment you lose interest he’ll come up with some way to remind you of it.

So let’s let these two rub off on each other, shall we?  Bonds could learn how to get a little positive attention every once in a while, just by giving the world what they want from time to time, a smile and a positive sound-bite.  T.O. could figure out that every once in a while, he doesn’t have to throw himself in the limelight, he can get some attention by avoiding the media just as easily; not to mention the fact that he might be able to increase his staying power by decreasing the chances for people to get sick of him.  

So there you have it, Bonds and Owens in combination could be the ultimate off the field athlete.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Behind Enemy Lines

posted by BiCoastal Bias

Nothing beats going to a game in your home stadium and feeling the energy of the crowd, but it’s an entirely different experience going to see your team in a different city.  While Yankee and Red Sox fans seem to be pretty good at this, (seeing as they have a near majority regardless of what city their team is playing in), the rest of us might have a tougher time of it.  I experienced this for myself this week and thought I would share some of my observations.

The first question is, “What to wear?”  No matter how under the radar you wish to be, you must represent your team somehow in this department.  Otherwise, you will run into a myriad of other problems.  If you aren’t sporting some opposing team gear, everyone you talk to that night will assume you are on the home team side.  And worse, if you run into some fellow out-of-towners, they won’t know that you’re one of them.

When it comes time to decide how much to cheer, this totally depends on your situation.  Are you surrounded by others who can exchange clever banter with you without resorting to violence?  Do you have a small contingency with you so that your noise might actually be heard in the stadium?  If not, I’d rather just enjoy the game and keep my joy and/or misery to myself; but this does bring me to my next scenario . . .

Be careful when buddying-up with fans of your own team.  Being fans in the minority is not reason enough to start up a friendship.  In my recent experience behind enemy lines, I was given “Big ups” by a guy it turns out grew up just 30 minutes away from me; but I quickly realized that I had nothing else in common with him and chose the next opportunity to hit the concession stand.

Hopefully your team will give you something to talk about, in which case you can fulfill my motto: “Be as obnoxious as the opposing team’s fans have been in your home stadium.”

Friday, September 09, 2005

There's No I in Team

posted by IntrinsicBent

And there's no team in SoCal. How are those two related? As usual they're not. I just think it's funny. And just like Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer, I have a keyboard and you don't. So you will listen to every word I have to say.

So last night I'm sitting in the second largest market in all of this great nation, being forced to watch the hideous post game show after the NFL opener. You know the drill...they throw the local affiliate's sports guy a bone....and a head mike, slap him into the ESPN Zone and give him random old skool NFL guys that are geeked to be on camera. In our case it's Ex Rams and Raiders players.

Don't get me wrong, I'm Old Skool and love the old players, and am happy that they get some notoriety and a paycheck. After all, they missed the big payday. And selling cars ain't always that easy.

I hate the fact that 10+ plus years after football left SoCal, we're still sitting here without a team. I also hate the fact that seemingly, everyone clings with white knuckles to the teams that left us. It's kinda like the dude that won't get out of bed for days after his girlfriend leaves him.

The Rams won't be back, and although I'd never throw dirt on the Raiders' grave, they seem to be enjoying Oakland just fine.

So we're left with three competing factions: 1) The Rose Bowl, 2) The Coliseum, and 3) The Los Angeles City of Anaheim of Anaheim vying for the big bucks a franchise can offer. These three groups have divided our chances of getting a team here, and allowing cities like Houston punk us in the process.

The other part is, noone here really seems like it's that big a deal. We get an extra network game out of it. There's other things to do. Plus we're right smack dab in the middle of "come late and leave early" country. But you better make sure there's sushi available.

So hurry up and get us a team. Or don't. Whatever, dude. Meanwhile we'll be surfing, snowboarding, hitting a casting call, playing water polo, drinking bitterly strong coffee out of those ridiculously small cups, or sitting on the freeway.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Economics of Baseball (and Only Baseball)

posted by BiCoastal Bias

To begin, I’d like to remind you that the economics behind major league baseball is nothing like the economics the rest of us experience.

We are in the midst of a top notch September.  There are five playoff spots still in contention; just over a decade ago, a fifth playoff spot didn’t even exist.  With the American League East, West, and wildcard still up for grabs, as well as the National League West and wildcard within 5 games, this month sports 16 baseball cities dreaming about October.  

Not to say that 2004 wasn’t a good season, the playoffs were nothing short of historic, but the regular season only saw two races come down to the wire, (the AL west and the NL wildcard).  So what’s the secret to a competitive playoff race?  A typical answer would involve something about competitive balance, and how the large market teams need to be put under certain restrictions so that the small market teams have a chance.  I’d like to put a slightly different spin on this common response.  

To me, the key stat difference between 2004 and 2005 playoff races has nothing to do with the front runners, but with those teams whose seasons are all but over.  In 2004, 9 teams finished the season 20 games below .500; whereas this season, only 6 teams are headed for such an abysmal record, a 33% decrease.  My theory is essentially this: when the bad are really bad, it spreads out the standings significantly more, thus creating a bigger cushion for those heading toward the postseason.

So while I condemn the New York Yankees for having a payroll of over 200 million dollars and agree that they should have to shoulder a luxury tax, my proposition for ensuring we have Septembers like this more often is a salary minimum.  You can’t buy a championship, but you sure can cheapskate your way to a terrible season; hence it is no surprise that the three teams with less than 41 million in payroll make up half of the group headed toward 91 losses this season.

At this point, some of you may stop to disagree.  “Wait a minute; it’s not the poor franchises’ fault.”  We all love to take the side of the underdog.  But this is when I would like to remind you of my first statement, that baseball is different.  How?  None of these franchises are really poor!!!  They are all owned by millionaire individuals or corporations, and even if they might have to take a loss initially in order to raise the level of their team, eventually you’ve got to believe that fielding a playoff caliber team will result in profits down the road.  When the worst teams’ seasons improve, all of our seasons improve; and a step toward making this happen is a salary minimum.

To close, please don’t make any attempt at abstracting my philosophy on baseball economics into any other spheres of the world.  In most other economic sectors, people are poor because those that aren’t poor are doing things that keep them poor.  But in baseball, I suggest we look at the bottom rung of the ladder and say: “Step it up!!!”

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Let Them Play

posted by IntrinsicBent

Yep, this is was the battle cry when the Bad News Bears were being shortchanged in their big game.

C'mon, don't act like you don't remember, or say you never saw it. It was Bad News Bears Breaking Training. It was back before sequels had snappy names like "2", "reloaded", or "Empire Strikes Back".

Anyway, the boys earn the right to travel to the Astrodome and play against a team of Texas rednecks that appear to be a good 4 years older than they were. This was well before Danny Almonte made us aware that this was a problem. But I digress.

So the boys have a van, but don't have an adult driver. Kelly Leak does the trek from California to Texas in the driver's seat. Timmy Lupus doesn't make the trip which prompts Tanner to give the boys a "Win one for the Luper" speech. Kelly's conflicted about seeing his Dad that moved away after divorcing from his Mom, but not too much to ask his Dad to coach him and his buddies. Chachi's annoying cousin (Jimmy Baio) plays a New York pitcher with little real game. Tatum O'Neal's gone, but at least Walter Matthau is too. And even though Tanner goes Tony Robbins with the Luper speech, he still tries to throw down with anybody that disses him.

In between innings, the Astros are kind enough to let the two teams play about seven minutes of ball before telling the kids the game was over. The Bears and their coach, Kelly Leak's Dad (William Devane) are bent. Tanner refuses to leave the field and a chase by security ensues like when a squirrel, or cat gets loose nowadays on a field.

Coach hears someone from the crowd yell, "Let Them Play!", and starts running around like a cheerleader getting the whole Dome crowd to join in the chant. The mlb ballplayers join in from the dugout, which means that the officials have no other choice than to let the game continue.

I won't ruin the outcome of the game for the six or seven of you that couldn't afford the 75 cents back in the day. All I'll say is that it doesn't turn out like the first movie where the Bears end up losing.

So now I just want to say, "Let Them Play!"

Of course I'm talking about superstar pro athletes that time their retirement well after their peak performance days are over. And no, this isn't about the cheating first baseman in Baltimore that recently wore earplugs like he was seven. Next time, why not just stick your fingers in your ears and go "La, La, La, La, I can't hear you!" You'd hit just as well.

I'm talking about players like Jordan, The Babe, Willie Mays, Magic, Emmit Smith, Joe Montana, and this week's Bronco waiver victim, Jerry Rice. Real Hall Of Famers each of them in their own right.

I used to be like you and shake my head when I'd see someone continue to play after their game diminished to that of the play of the local high school.

But, then I had an awakening. It allowed me to continue my active daydreaming that with just a couple different career decisions, I could still be playing pro sports. The fact that my game was below average at my peak doesn't matter. If I wouldn't have devoted so much time to table tennis (ping pong for those undercultured), and spent more time on my Nerfoop, I could still be on the end of the bench for the Lakers. Heck, John Salley did it, and he has like 4 rings.

It's not like I'm that old dude that still recalls his first single single basketball game, or keeps his own stats weekly while playing church league softball. Ok, maybe I am that dude, but I won't wear one of those wrist rocket things when I bowl. I mean, if I were to ever bowl. Plus the stats are printed out automatically as part of the league fees. Ok, I do have a report framed and hanging in my office showing I'm batting a 1000. Who cares that it was the first game of the season, and I only batted once.

Plus, do you know what an advantage it is while playing basketball and going up with the ball while pretending you're Willis Reed? Exactly, and the young dudes I play with don't either. It's called competitive A-D-V-A-N-T-A-G-E.

So let them play! If someone is willing to give them a job, they should be able to play. Even if they don't realize that the team is using them to sell tickets. You'd probably do it. I know I would.

Oh yeah, if you ever made it all the way through the movie where the Bears go to Japan, you're a bigger man than I am. And that is saying something, trust me.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Buehrle Conspiracy

posted by BiCoastal Bias

After being bombed by the Texas Rangers earlier this week, all star pitcher Mark Buehrle did not respond with the normal “I didn’t have my stuff,” after the game.  Instead, he unveiled a conspiracy theory in which someone on the Rangers’ staff sits in centerfield, steals pitch signs from the catcher, and relays this information using some sort of “high-tech light system.”  Buehrle claims that everyone in the league is talking about this, and that he is simply the first to publicize it.  Of course this practice would be illegal under baseball rules; while stealing signs on the field is considered standard practice, having a spy outside the lines is a major no-no.  
     This revelation by the White Sox ace has caught my imagination on fire; suddenly I’m seeing cheating conspiracies in every ballpark.  For instance, the Royals’ Kaufman Stadium disguised their outfield fountains as pleasant and serene additions to the ballpark, when actually they are sending Morse code to batters!  The Fenway out-of-town scoreboard is really a complex web of pitch giveaways.  And have you noticed the mysterious absence of the Rally Monkey from Angel Stadium?  It turns out he was a spy!
     Seriously, couldn’t you picture Mark Buehrle replacing Russell Crowe in the baseball version of “A Beautiful Mind;” cracking imaginary codes in every ballpark, working for a make believe baseball secret service commissioned by Bud Selig himself?
     All joking aside, I find absolutely no reason to believe Buehrle at this point.  Is it coincidence that this allegedly much-talked about conspiracy was outed by an opposing pitcher, right after he got hammered on the mound?  Even Buehrle’s manager didn’t back him up, saying the Rangers wouldn’t have needed any help that day based on the way Buehrle was throwing.  Nevertheless, I still have a secret hope that it turns out he’s right.  Can you picture what a huge scandal this would be?  An entire team of hitters indoctrinated on some sort of code delivered with flashing lights, right before the pitcher goes into his wind-up?  And best of all, we wouldn’t have to talk about steroids anymore.  Some dumb, juiced up jock getting suspended for 10 games would pale in comparison to the ultimate unsportsmanlike image of the Texas Rangers; the evil, conniving, and devious cheaters who use lights and binoculars to win instead of ill-begotten strength like the rest of the league.

Friday, September 02, 2005

That's A Small Price To Pay For Rock N Roll

posted by IntrinsicBent

At least that was the snappy saying we used to have when I was in high school.  It was multi purpose.  

Someone: “Man, I was way too close to the speakers at last night’s concert. I think I may be deaf”  Someone else: “That’s a small price to pay for rock n roll.”  Someone: “Huh?”  

Or even “I was so hungry that I ate three McRibs.”  “That’s a small price to pay for rock n roll.

In one instance it makes sense, and the other it doesn’t.  Ok, neither one does, but we’re heading somewhere with this.  The crazy thing was how cool we thought we were.  Two years previous in Junior High it would have made us bad.  Afterwards it would have meant we were awesome, tubular (I know), rad, down, and well… cool.  I guess.

But what are you laughing to yourself about?  You know as well as I do that a quick look at your yearbook, family pictures, or worst yet, family movies could dig up fros, mullets, skinny ties, leisure suits, white capezio dance shoes, salt and pepper goatees and sailboat shirts.  Wait…how did we get back to me?

Last week the Stones played a concert in Fenway while the Sox were away (I believe while they were playing America’s Team).  Believe it or not, having thousands of footsteps digging into the turf in a party atmosphere does not have the same effect as Miracle Gro does.  Amazing.

The Sox had to move their next scheduled game back and brought sod in at 4 am, worked all night and finished at 1 pm the following day.

Guess what?  The Strolling Bones did it again.  They tore up U Conn’s Rentschler Field right before their home opener this week.  

So now that I’m old enough to not be close to cool, I’d still agree that it’s a small price to pay for rock n roll.  

Unless your concert revenue is eaten up by the cost of labor and sod.  Or if you can’t get the smell of Metamucil out of your clubhouse.  Or in the case of  The Sox, one of your World Series Champion team players wrenched their ankle in the new laid carpet of sod.