I’m told its a business.

The rare time I post on consecutive days, but I was thinking last night.

We’ve heard it time and time again. We’ve heard it when we are in our pre-teens and we hear it when we’ve matured. We will never stop hearing it. But do we need to be reminded of it?

Professional sports is a business.

At present, there are a couple things that should remind us of this fact. The Winter Meetings, and the NHL Lockout.

I have no problem with the Winter Meetings. It is an exciting time to follow player movements, trades, Rule 5, and whatever else may be happening in the world of baseball. Even though it is a glaring reminder that baseball is a business, it does not feel like that reminder. It feels more like an extension of baseball season, and pretty much begins the countdown to Spring Training. While the decisions tend to be as much business as they do baseball, we can take it as it is, and analize each transaction purely from a baseball stand point, and leave the money out of it. The Winter Meetings are fun.

However, the NHL Lockout is not. While, at this point I have given up any hope of seeing NHL hockey this year, and almost any hope of NHL being what it was, I am still disappointed at this. An organization whose business is hockey is willing to forego producing hockey over a disagreement is completely unacceptible, leaves your clientele, advertizers and fans angry, and its key attractions playing small venue charity events or overseas. Its about an ocean past the ultimate combination of imbicilic, moronic, and idiotic.

It has occurred to me that when fans get upset at sports leagues, owners, or players, it is because the league, owner, or player did something that reminds us of what it is; a business. The star players have been branding themselves for decades. The teams and leagues since their inceptions. They have to. That is how they get us to tune in every night, go to the games, buy their apparel. However, when they are successful, they make us put aside the fact that it is a business. It is hard to cheer for a business. I do not scream my head off for my favorite restaurant, bookstore, or brand of television. I will risk any chance of appearing on a singing talent show to see the Nationals beat the Phillies. (Don’t worry, I wouldn’t win anyway. I have no formal singing training.)

My point is, professional sports are best when they do not appear to be a business. They are best when they seem a part of the season. Baseball is just a part of summer. Football is a part of Autumn Sundays. Hockey is supposed to be a part of Winter, and Basketball is a refuge from the cold. All of them are supposed to be a venue for us to watch athletic achievement in awe, and cheer for our side.

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Sad.

So, last year, I took up the hobby of home brewing.  After trying a few batches, I decided to try something new.  So I decided to go online and look up a recipe for beer that I tried recently and liked.  A vanilla Porter.

So I went to Google, everybody’s favorite spot and ran a search for a vanilla Porter. I tried the recipe but together and waited. Because with beer it’s mostly about waiting.

After the boiling the fermentation was over I put in the bottle and waited a month at the recipe said. When I look at the bottles after the month there is still stuff floating around, not typically good sign. So I decided to leave in about for a while and after week stuff was still floating.

Another search as to why stuff  would still be floating around the bottles and I got some advice instead. That advice was put in the refrigerator and it will knock the stuff down. However, while putting a few bottles in the refrigerator  did manage to take care whatever was floating in my beer, hey decision to taste the beer did not your positive results. Not only did I feel to taste any of the vanilla that I put in, it did not taste particularly good.

In fact, subsequent tastes over the next few weeks still were not very good. And today I tried one more time. Some of the bottles still have stuff floating in them any bottles that don’t still do not taste very good. I am very sad to say that I have made my first bad batch of beer. This sucks.

I will take suggestions as to what to do with the remainder of my beer. The best one will receive the rest my beer if they so desire I would not recommend it though.

A parable and the media

First, the parable: There are three children riding in a bus. David, his sister Sara in the middle, and Jonathan. An adult is driving and intently watching the road. David doesn’t like that Jonathan rides with them everyday, and began poking and hitting Jonathan by reaching around his sister. Jonathan looked up from his book, and asked David to stop. David relented relented for a minute, and began doing it again. This time, Jonathan alerted the bus driver to the issue, and David relented again. But it only lasted so long. Sure enough, David was at it again, and more viciously. When he saw Jonathan ready to take matters into his own hands, he started hiding behind his sister. Jonathan, having exhausted all other options, realized he was going to have to defend himself after the next attack. Sure enough, David, from behind his sister, found a way to hit Jonathan. Jonathan immediately took a shot at David and hit him squarely, but, because of his positioning, accidentally caught Sara in the process, despite his best efforts to not touch the girl. Immediately, both David and Sara cried, “BUS DRIVER!! JONATHAN HIT ME!!” For which, Jonathan was reprimanded. Now: the Media Many people on the losing side of a public controversy or conflict will begin complaining that their image in the mainstream press are not being fair. They will say that the mainstreampress hasa bias toward one side or the other, or has a stake in the other side winning. And then begin complaining that they are the victims. Perhaps, in some rare cases, this maybe true. But it cannot be true in every case that it happens. This is because there is a reason that the mainstream media is mainstream for a reason: they have proven themselves trustworthy in their reporting. Mainstream news outlets have proven over and over that they are able to find reporters who can report the facts and remove themselves from the story and report the facts from a journalistic point of view. Whether you find the facts favorable to your side is a different story. So, suppose you’re side is losing the conflict or controversy, but you are not ready to give up. What can you do? Well, some choose to try to paint themselves as victim. This includes focusing on one unfortunate event in a sequence of events, skewed context of photos, maybe even faked photos, and then, complaining that the press doesn’t show “their side of the story.” Back to the parable: Jonathan explains to the bus driver he was trying to stop David from hitting him, and was sincerely sorry that Sara got hurt. Sara explains that she wasn’t doing anything, and was suddenly hit by Jonathan. David says that Jonathan not only hit him and his sister, but targeted his innocent sister. The bus driver isn’t sure who to believe, and he is responsible for what happens on his bus. He listens to the other riders coming to him with what they saw. One or two may say,”Jonathan definitely took a swing at those two.” Another may say, “David had that coming a long time.” But just about everyone else says,”David spent the whole trip tormenting Jonathan, and Jonathan ignored it as much as he could, but he couldn’t let it go anymore and had to defend himself.” David can keep trying to say he is the victim all he wants, but the bus driver knows that 90% of his bus did not decide to paint David as the villain, the facts did. The mainstrem media reports the facts, in most cases, without slant. YOU decide if you like the facts, not the media.

A suggestion for basketball

…or at least for broadcasts. 

First, I’m going to have my obligitory apology for not having posted recently.  Sorry, just not too much to say.  Still have a super awesome girlfriend, my job, getting ready to switch apartments, and hoping to get my degree next summer.

Next a short mention for it being my day.  Thank you to all the veterans, past, present, Nd future, and to all the guys I served with during my short time in the Coast Guard.

Now, a short rant.  This post would have never had to happen if there was a damn hockey season right now. Seriously, NHL can’t afford to keep doing this. You’re losing fans who will not return because they do not trust the consistency of your product.  Probably time for the owners to replace Bettman. 

Finally, what my point is. 

Watching football on tv, if you look to one corner of the screen, you can see the score, time remaining, corner, posession, t.o. remaining, flag on the play, play clock.  You can also tell field position, where the first down is, by watching the game.

Watching baseball, if you look at the same corner, you have score, top or bottom of what inning, runners on base, count for at-bat, pitch count, pitch speed, and scoring of the previous play.  You can tell pitcher and batter pretty easily.

Watching hockey, in that same corner, you have score, period, time remaining, and any current penalties assessed.

In each of these, just about all of the pertinent information that someone following the game would need.

In basketball, that corner shows score, time remaining, quarter, time outs remaining.  Something is.missing that would help me follow the game.  It would be helpful to know team fouls or fouls to give, wouldn’t it? I would like to know if my team is in the bonus, penalty, or both, or how close they are to it.  It would be great to know these things and track it through the game.

I have a feeling I willbe learning a lot about basketball this winter, not only because there is no hockey, but because that girlfriend I mentioned? Huge basketball fan.

Baseball and Beer

So, this month, the first half of my semester ended, which means that I have had a little extra time on my hands this week, which means I can get into the things I care about as much as learning about business administration. 

First off, this means that I have a little more time to follow baseball.  Which is quite convenient, because baseball goes into its post season in October.  This was great.  Because my local teams were both in the post season; one for the first time since I last went to a post season game, and the other for the first time since I remember having a team in D.C. 

Lucky for me, I got to go to Game 4 of the NLDS between the Nationals and the Cardinals with Robyn.  I have to thank a secretary at work for those tickets, because this game illustrated just about everything I love about baseball, and why I need to write about it more often.  Or why I need to write more often, period. 

Image

(this picture will be burned into my brain for a long time coming)

Unfortunately, the next day was probably one of the more crushing games I had watched in a long time, and an overall crushing days for baseball all together.  It took five games, but the Orioles couldn’t keep up with the Yankees one more day, but I certainly cannot be disappointed with their season.  The Nationals just needed one more strike about 5 different times, but the closer was just off enough to let the Cardinals back in the game.  If anything has been learned from watching baseball, you just cannot let up on the Cards at all.  Cardinals score 4 runs in the ninth, and my girlfriend is on the phone trying to make sure I wasn’t crying. I did start swelling up, but I held it together, baby.

However, the story does not end there.  Because it is still October, and I have the free week.  So I decided it’s time to start another home brew.  I found a recipe on the web and just had to try it.  I took the recipe, grabbed my brother, and headed up to The Flying Barrel in Frederick.  Dropped a good chunk of change on the ingredients for a vanilla porter.  My understanding is porter is a relative of the stout, both of which lend themselves to smooth flavor adjuncts, like dropping a vanilla bean in the wort.  The temperatures outside have been perfect for this brew for a long time, that I can leave my windows open, and still love the smell of fermentation in my apartment. 

While the beer won’t be ready until well into November, likely even into December, I still consider it, along with baseball, a part of what makes this month great. My birthday being in October doesn’t hurt any, either.  

Honestly, I think we should just get the whole month off to enjoy it. 

A vision for the future of the post season

I meant to call into MLB Network Radio with this idea, but I got to my girlfriend’s place too quick. 

Some of the people here know I am not a fan of the second wild card.  I think it allows too many teams to dilute the pool of the playoffs.  I do see how fun it makes the end of the season.  I think we should make the post season at least as fun as the regular season can be.

In order for this plan to work, a few changes might need to be made to the regular season. First, we need to go back to 4 teams.  Four is the best number for the format I am proposing. I think five is an awkward number anyway for any form if tournament, but especially for this.

Second, it might be best to scrap divisions.  Just bring the absolute four best teams in each league.  Division championships are something to celebrate, but it muddles the seeding some.  It also will keep some of the fun of the end of the season that we have now. Who’s in, who’s out? Who’s hosting?  Trust me, you will want hoe field for what I am proposing.

So, at the end of the season, you have each league’s four best teams remaining, seeded one through four.  The league championship is not decided yet.  Fourth seed travels to the one seed and three travels to two.  There, you play two best of three series.  The losers of which travel to the home of the higher seeded loser, where another best of three is played.  The winners play a best of three at the home of the higher winner. 

The team that loses the losers series is done.  The winner of that series travels to the home of the loser of the winners series. Another best of three takes place.  The winner travels to the undefeated team.  If the undefeated team wins this (sixth best of three) series, it is over and we have a pennant winner.  If the 2-1 team wins it, they travel to the home of that winning team for a final (seventh) best of three series to determine the league champion.  The team that emerges from this chaos is the league champion and advances to the World Series.

An easier way of saying what I am proposing is a best-of-three double elimination League Championship Series. 

Tell me that wouldn’t be fun to follow. 

Reflection on the last 11 years

When I first started this blog, one of my first posts was about my thoughts and feelings about a disturbing trend of hate in America, followed by a post about my thoughts and feelings on September 11, 2001.  This year, that particular trend of hate has seemed to have dissipated, though, there is still hate in our country.  Today is the 11th anniversary of our generations most solemn event.  This weekend will also mark the beginning of the High Holy Days, which makes this, for me, a particularly good time to reflect on myself, and how I am growing.   

At the time, I was a student studying Music at the local community college.  I didn’t have a car or a license, so I was taking the local Ride-On bus to and from school, and spending a quarter each day to lock up my trumpet.  Apart from a few vacations and school trips to New York, Boston, and Williamsburg, VA, All I really knew was Maryland. Anything that happened outside my area was just something the news reported.  The most important things in my life were music and sports, and trying to get a female classmate to go out with me, without my car. 

I wasn’t near a tv when the tragedy happened.  I didn’t know it was happening.  Neither CNN or WaPo news alerts really existed, and moble internet was in its infancy.  Even though it was a community college, word of mouth was the best way to get information.  I heard snippets from classmates.  After each one, I figured I had the whole story, and everyone was going to be ok.  Classes were cancelled, I saw some scrambling helocopters and fighters, and saw the ABC News feed when I habitually turned on ESPN when I got home.  Then I realized why no one seemed to have a whole story.  It was because the story wasn’t over.  I remember my family went over to my Aunt and Uncle, where we watched tower after tower collapse

For the next few days there was no music or sports.  There was social networking in its infancy.  Anyone remember AIM?  That was how we stayed in touch when phones were tied up and we wanted to talk to friends.  That and the constant news was just about all we had.  Though, I never seemed to be anywhere good enough for my professors, I did lock myself in a basement room and practice as my own little getaway. 

When we decided it was time to start healing, we had football come back, and baseball, and music started going through the airwaves again.  Some of it was sad, reflective, and some of it understandably pissed off (The Angry American by Toby Keith, anyone?).  There was more red, white, and blue than I had ever seen before.  We had, at least on the surface, come together like never before.  I don’t know if I ever found the “right” amount to donate to the causes.  I may have over done it out of a want to just help somehow. 

I attempted to be a music major for another year and a half after that, but I just wasn’t mature enough to handle college at the time.  Worked full time at the bowling alley, tried volunteer fire department for a few months, then enlisted in the Coast Guard.  I say now that I joined as a means of hoping to find a career and away to see something away from home.  That was in 2005.  I remember my mom saying I was still feeling something from the September 11 attacks.  I didn’t feel it at the time, but they did have a strong effect on me.  That may have been a larger part of my decision than I realized.

11 years later, I am out of the Coast Guard, and I am a student again.  I am now in my last year of study looking for a Business Administration degree from University of Maryland, University College.  I have had my license for over 9 years now, but am not trying to get a date from any of my classmates.  I’m not married, but I am taken.  I still make music on occaision, but usually when that happens, I’m strumming a guitar.  I still have all of my trumpets though.   

I am in a way back where I started, in school, but I am more ready for it and its challenges.  I have an idea where I want to be, just trying to figure out the best way there.  I am still an introvert, and always will be.  Our country has healed from this, but we are still working through another crisis that we are trying to figure out how to handle. Life goes on.

Life will always go on.

I Concede My Sundays to Football.

All summer, I have been railing on local sports talk radio for talking Redskins twenty hours a day.  I know I should have expected it, but when you have two huge stories in a sport that helped define your youth, i.e. surprisingly good baseball teams, one whose winning is inexplicable, it gets a little annoying.  The four hours not devoted to Redskins talk was devoted to either Stephen Strasburg’s innings limit, and maybe a score noted here or there. 

This past weekend, college football started.  I heard very little on local radio about this aside from a couple local scores, including a glance-over of a 7-6 Maryland game.  I would have figured that the Hokies would have made an appearance after a thriller last night. Alas, RGIII is still being talked about, although we know about as much about him now as we did in January. 

That leads me to now.  I hereby resign my Sundays to NFL.  Not that I really have a problem with the National Football League itself.  I enjoy watching the Redskins and Ravens as much as anyone  Just the media deification and demonization of all things NFL.  It gets to the point where I’m not sure, at times, if I walked into a multi-party political convention or a room full of Steelers and Ravens fans, or Redskins and Cowboys fans.   I also get confused if Robert Griffin III is a rookie quarterback or the leader of a new cult.

Ok, maybe I can tell the difference, but it is a little ridiculous at times.  I dislike the Cowboys and the Steelers. Especially from September till they are eliminated from any hope of winning anything, but I’m sure some of those guys are ok when they aren’t wearing a uniform.  I’m pretty sure I had a crush on a Steelers fan once.  (Then I found out she was a Steelers fan.)

However, I am ONLY resigning my Sundays, and certain Monday nights, to the NFL.  Oh sure, I will certainly talk about the game the next day.  But, the rest of the week is still reserved for my Nationals and Orioles, and, when the time comes, Capitals.  There will be priority when there is conflicting game schedules. But these are my teams. The ones that seem to get shafted in coverage because D.C. thinks it has a football team still worth the hype.   

What do I make of this?

For 7 years of my immature adult life, I followed this guy.  I watched him win the world’s biggest bicycle race 7 times.  I followed as guys after him were caught cheating.  I followed as guys slower than him were caught cheating.  I followed as he was never caught.

Then, for the past few years, others were saying he cheated.  Others said they watched him cheat.  He cheated, but used masking agents perfectly 500 times? The guys who helped him win went beyond the 8 other guys on his team?

The UCI wanted to investigate, and they found nothing.  The US Government wanted to know what was going on, and they found nothing.  Then the USADA wanted to know, and they got the same thing as the government.

Then Lance finally just told them believe what you want.  He said he was done fighting this.  From the time he won his first in 1999, he’s been facing this, and won.  He says its an unfair process that the USADA uses.  He says they break their own rules in an effort to just win.

USADA says his refusal to fight is admission of guilt.  They now want to strip him of those 7 titles I watched him win.  Those 7 titles that made him an inspiration.

Cycling is a dirty sport.  Is he simply guilty by association?  Is it that hard to believe that someone could win clean in a dirty sport?  Or is it the only way to win?  Is he saing he’s done fighting because he’s sick of it, or is there still something to hide?  Is he the victim of a witchhunt, or am I to believe USADA finally got their man.

I have these questions because I hear, “he was a user,” but where is the proof.  USADA is taxpayer funded, so I think they should have to release they’re information before they take action.  Lance had become more than a cyclist to many people.  If they are going to treat him as a user, they should have to prove he was a user beyond an ex teammate saying that he saw something.

Until then, I won’t know what to think.

The games are over. . . for now.

I have been pretty much addicted to the Games of the XXX Olympiad these past couple of weeks.  I know this because I have been going through withdrawl these past couple of days.

Seriously, I went to the ER last night around the time the closing ceremonies started yesterday.  

Not that there won’t be anyway to satisfy my athletics viewing kick for a while.  It is still baseball season. Football season is right around the corner.  I’ll even watch MLS.  While I will be in school this time next week, I can find plenty of things I enjoy very much to carry me to the next Games. 

I am passionate about my baseball, football, or basketball teams.  However, I quite frankly scared myself with how into the Olympics I got.  It’s part of the beauty of the games.  We get excited over events we rarely care about.  What’s the most excited your average American ever gets over volleyball, water polo, or freestyle wrestling?  My guess is once every four years.  

Truth is, I really cannot wait the next two years.  That will be the next time we see anything like this.  Lets face it, we’ll have skiing, speed skating and curling.  Anyone even thought about looking for those since a couple winters ago?  Didn’t thing so.  But come Sochi in 2014, you’ll be yelling even louder for an American to place a stone right on the button.  

The way I see it, the Olympic Games are essentially a world wide party.  That is why they are so great.  There the only party I know where people who are essentially enemies can go to and there isn’t an awkward moment out of it.  In Beijing, when Russia and Georgia were at war over South Ossetia, A Russian and Georgian were in the final of a shooting match.  After their match, they hugged it out, and probably grabbed some drinks together. More notably, you have the medal round of the 1980 ice hockey tournament.  

That brings me to another point about the Games being a huge party. The medals.  Every party has party favors.   What do you think the medals are, but just expensive party favors?  You won your game? Here’s a little something for you.  

Finally, the party starts, there’s introductions, music, displays put on by the host, some mingling. and fun.  When the party ends, there’s music, mingling, the lights go out, and everyone goes home happy.  Lets face it, it isn’t the easiest party to get an invite to.

Yeah, These past two weeks were crazy, but now they’re over, and the world goes back to reality.  Until two years from now, then the party starts up again.