Monday, January 22, 2018

Spread Too Thin

Imagine if you only had access to one brand of peanut butter for your whole life.You loved it. You proudly wore t-shirts with the peanut butter logo on it and you frequently toured the factory to watch peanut butter being made. A few other brands briefly popped up with great fanfare but were laughed at and ignored and then it was back to the brand you grew up on. The peanut butter was so popular that it was a source of pride for the area in which you lived. In fact, a kid from your high school got a rare and highly sought after job at the peanut butter factory and it was the talk of your town.
Everyone ate the peanut butter at least once a week. It was just a given. This was your peanut butter. There was no reason to question it. Until one day there was; rumors started that the way they made the peanut butter was causing the workers to have chronic illnesses. It made you wonder, but you dismissed it. People had dreamed their whole life of getting a lucrative job at the peanut butter factory, nothing's perfect, it was the sacrifice they were willing to make... you were still gonna enjoy your peanut butter. 
Then there were whispers that consumers were finding hair in their jars of peanut butter. Gotta be an isolated incident, right ? This is the peanut butter we grew up on! This peanut butter is an institution.They'll do whatever they can to make sure no more hair gets in the peanut butter. But then the reports of hair in the peanut butter became more frequent.
The company had to issue a statement. They promised that they are working on the problem. Hair continued to be found. They released another statement saying they were still exploring theproblem but due to mechanical and personnel issues, there was always going to be a chance that some hair would enter the peanut butter.
Then one day it was in your jar of peanut butter.It was disgusting, but other people had experienced it and it didn't kill them. Suck it up, it's just a few hairs. Pick it out and enjoy the peanut butter.
So you did, you went on, finished that jar and got a new one. And there was even more hair. People said " Do you realize how hard it is to make peanut butter ?" You realized that making peanut butter is a difficult task, but you also remember when they somehow managed to make it without the damn hair. 
And now, when you went to work on Monday, that was the topic of conversation. It seems every single jar has hair in it.It was the rule and not the exception.
For a while, every time you opened a new jar you hoped that this jar would be like the old jars. It might not be perfect, but it would be better. And for years, every time you opened a jar of peanut butter with that hopeful thought in mind, you were disappointed.Then one day your jar was more hair than peanut butter. You didn't care if the whole world was willing to overlook the hair to get their hands on that peanut butter, you were sick of it. 
You had written letters asking the peanut butter makers to explain and even though you got a letter back, it didn't answer any of your questions. They seemed to realize "We're the only peanut butter manufacturer. We don't have to make our peanut butter any better. In fact, people are willing to defend our peanut butter for free. Why should we change ?"
And your response was " There's no law saying I have to eat peanut butter at all".
That's me and the NFL.I didn't watch the divisional round. I didn't watch the conference championships. I won't be watching the Super Bowl for the first time in my life. It has nothing to do with anyone kneeling, standing, doing jumping jacks or backflips. It has everything to do with what happens between the lines and in the boardrooms. The peanut butter is terrible now and I refuse to buy it. You wanna keep buying, keep buying. But don't complain to me about hair.Hair is part of what you agree to accept every time you unscrew that lid.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

"I'm a Fan of Tightrope Walking Except The Height and the Balancing"

There's a huge difference in the subtle differences between the statements "I play guitar" and "I'm a guitar player".
The former calls to mind a probably-not-in-tune acoustic that sits in the corner of an apartment living room and kinda makes you look cool until the person you brought home from the bar asks you through a cloud of Fireball breath to play Stairway to Heaven on it.
The latter conjures up someone who is perfectly happy talking guitar gear and guitar gods all night,could probably sit in with most cover bands on any given night, and in a burning building scenario might have to flip a coin between his axe and his cat.
It's much harder to discern what someone means when they say "I'm a Lions fan". Most of the time, they're lying. People often make it easier by adding "but"...followed by a whole list of complaints, excuses, caveats, restrictions, voids where prohibited, etc.
And the Lions have certainly given Detroit football fans plenty of reasons (32,618 last I looked and that doesn't count drafting a tight end #1 all but two of the last four hundred drafts) to get down on them. There are things true fans would like to see changed, but we're still going to be loyal while we're waiting. Look at it this way: You might want your girlfriend to get a breast augmentation, but would you tell her you're not going to spend time with her until she does ?
If you hate the ownership, the front office, the coaching staff, the offensive line, the defensive backfield, the quarterback, the absence of a number one running back, and the only two players you've ever liked are Barry Sanders and a certain Dancer with Stars, you probably aren't really a Lions fan. And that's fine. You are a football fan who resides in a city with a traditionally underachieving team and it pisses you off. I get it, trust me.
 *BUT* you are not, by definition, a fan. 
Owning a dusty Chris Spielman jersey is not a membership card. If you were a fan and you gave up, that's fine too. I don't blame you. 
If you would like to see the Lions implode against the Seahawks because you think it will prompt the Ford family to sell, you're not only not a fan, you're dumb enough that I could sell you Natalie Portman's soiled panties, except they'd be skidmarked BVD's in my size.
Being a true Lions fan is much different than being a disgruntled fan of the sport they play in who secretly wishes he would have grown up in Joliet so he could claim the ONE SUPER BOWL VICTORY glory of the Bears in his lifetime.
I'm not even going to waste my time listing what makes a true Lions fan, though owning a Don Muhlbach jersey is a good start.
Fans of 10 NFC teams will not be watching their teams in the playoffs today. If you are not watching the game tonight because you are convinced of S.O.L., then you are in no way, shape or form a Lions fan. Do not ever say you are. If you don't like the manner in which they qualified for the playoffs ( none of us really do ) so you're not gonna watch, you're not a Lions fan, you're an ice skating judge worrying about style points.
If you are watching but you're gonna claim Dak Prescott's superiority to Matt Stafford the first time they don't convert a 3rd and 7, laugh and say "I told you so"any time the Lions turn the ball over, say the words "Mel Kiper" at any point during the contest, or volunteer to pick up the pizza during gametime, you're well on your way to not being a Lions fan.
In 1965, Ralph Nader told the world that riding in a Corvair would kill you, but there are still Corvair owners clubs in the United States. 
And there are still true Lions fans out there, who are gonna watch this game tonight, cheering, agonizing, screaming, maybe even crying, believing that this patchwork bunch of guys in Honolulu Blue can stumble over to the corner, tune up that acoustic, and play this town Stairway to Heaven.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Check the Couch Cushions at Suite Level, I Think You Guys Can Fix This

Babe Ruth hit a home run every 11.76 at bats.  That's a little less than three average games. When he promised a sick kid a home run, he had a 33% chance of making good. More importantly,  with those gestures, he spawned a tradition of pro and college athletes interacting with chronically ill and disabled children in their communities. NCAA bowl activities for every college football team I have checked on so far includes a trip to a children's hospital. Certainly it's part of the PR machine, but out of these trips the occasional true friendship is forged ( I'm not gonna do your holiday Awww-grab-a-tissue reconnaissance for you, you'll find em if ya want to ). 
Today I heard about this disappointing, infuriating and not necessarily surprising piece of news:
The cuts directly impact various speech and occupational therapies that could affect 60,000 kids.
Sixty Thousand.Disabled. Kids. In a fucking sports obsessed state.
So say to me "That's too bad, Jimmy, but maybe Texas doesn't have the money. "
The same Texas that just spend 70 Million on a high school football stadium in McKinney. So, yeah, um, they might not have all of the 350 million, because kids who can throw and run and catch get to do so in a state of the art-- I'll repeat,( more as catharsis for myself than an insult to your reading comprehension) SEVENTY MILLION DOLLAR  facility while kids who can't run or throw or catch can go fuck themselves when they want to learn how to hold a fork or pronounce the word "touchdown" ?
I don't live in Texas and I don't vote in Texas. I sit on my ass and watch sports on TV in Michigan. And whilst doing so, two guys who own teams pop up on my screen quite a bit. Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban. Owners of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys and the NBA's  Dallas Mavericks.
These guys are colorful, give better interview than Charlie Sheen at the LAX arrival gate from Peru, and are not gonna be waiting by the mailbox so they can sprint up and cash their tax return at the party store.
Their shared passion is taking fantastically physically skilled young men and drafting them (yes, they have people who help them, but they are two of the most hands-on owners in the history of professional sports) to perform for their teams. These guys can't watch an American high school football game (Jones) or global amateur basketball game (Cuban) involving kids under the age of 18 without dreaming (Jonesin' ?) to have the most physically gifted kids one day play for their teams.
Same goes for their lesser known counterparts in baseball -MLB's Texas Rangers' Ray Davis,( net worth 2.6 Billion) and hockey- The NHL's Dallas Stars' Tom Gaglardi, (net worth 2.24 Billion).
The two latter gentlemen's leagues actually allow them to draft and sign minors to professional contracts. 17 year old kids and younger, who ostensibly attend high schools with kids who can't speak or walk, much less hit a curveball or skate. So,by gift of a healthy DNA helix, some kids become millionaires before they can legally vote while others who weren't so lucky are denied access to therapies that can improve their quality of life and in some cases help them find employment.
And we are not talking about a veto of proposed programs, we're talking about programs and therapies to which these kids have had access and to which they've become accustomed and rely on.
Go ask the Cowboys of the 70's glory teams and I'll bet most if not all of em managed to make the NFL without the benefit of the kind of facilities the kids will have in McKinney and other areas of Texas.
No one truly needs a 70 Million dollar stadium to play high school I even have to finish typing the flip side of this coin ?
Healthy= new cleats, bright lights, whirlpools and weight rooms. Disabled= Sorry, Colt, your speech therapist ain't coming back. She's slinging chicken fried quail appetizers at AT&T Stadium during Cowboys games because the state is too broke to pay her. Sort of. (And I swear on Staubach's Naval Academy hat that chicken fried quail appetizers really are on the menu at AT&T).
Sixty thousand kids will be deprived of educational and therapeutic services while ninety one thousand plus blue star clad maniacs suck down $8.50 beers at Cowboys games until they sound like they need a speech therapist. Bow Hout Dem Curboys, indeed.
Don't mess with Texas ? Ok, I can't take on the whole damn state, but I can ask and I am asking the owners of Texas's pro sports franchises to do something.
Mr.Cuban, you make Joe Cocker look like the statue of Sam Houston when one of your guys gets fouled without a whistle, you cannot sit by and let disabled kids get fouled by Medicaid cuts.
Mr. Jones, I just saw highlights of your talented and ridiculously good looking grandson QBing his team to the Texas State High School  Football 5A Division Championship. You were happier than Michael Irvin at a Motel 6. I'm sure John worked very hard to attain his football goal, but he was given every resource imaginable to do so. Surely you agree that someone else's grandchild who just wants to work hard to propel his own wheelchair in front of the TV to watch Dak Prescott heave one to Dez Bryant should be offered the physical therapy to help him do so, correct ? You know how you can make that happen ? Cocktail parties with the world famous cheerleaders. Silver socks from one home game auctioned off. Countless ways you can chip away at this shortfall without even dipping into your own considerable financial resources.
Hey, Bob McNair of the Texans, (net worth 3.3 Billion). You're on the Board of Trustees of the Baylor College of Medicine. Betcha anything the faculty there has solid evidence of the benefits of therapy for disabled kids. You can't let your rival Jerry get all the good PR. Disrobe JJ Watt after a three sack game and your cronies in biotech will fall all over themselves to outbid each other for every item he wore. Through in Hopkins and a couple of the other guys, multiply it by 16, see where I'm going with this ?
Peter Holt, of the San Antonio Spurs, not only do you have more rings than every Liberace tribute show in Vegas, you're a decorated Vietnam Vet with a Silver Star. Bro. You didn't have to serve in Vietnam, your great granddad Benjamin invented the track-type tractor. So you're already a guy who goes above and beyond. You were Chairman of the United Way, which doesn't have a sterling rep, but it's still a charitable organization. An evening, dinner, drinks, etc. with Tim Duncan or David Robinson would pull huge corporate dinero and you know it way better than I do. Shit, an autographed Kawhi Leonard Fathead would probably fetch speech therapy for a month for a kid.
Jim Crane of the Astros, you're the new guy, but you're in that 2 billion dollar range, so you're not exactly Screech. You gave over a million bucks to both your high school and college in Missouri to have baseball fields named after you. That's good for the ego, my man, and I love baseball, but if you want to have a real impact in your adopted state, how about a little somethin' for kids who won't ever have the luxury of playing baseball like you did ? They say you wouldn't even have finished college if it wasn't for your baseball coach. Don't ya think some kids have that same kinda relationship with their physical therapist ? If ya can't answer that, can you tell me how much you paid to have the B-52's play your ex wife's birthday party ? I actually don't really care, I'm just pointing out that you could use this cosmic thing called the prestige of owning a major league baseball team to raise some dough for kids who truly, truly need it.
Do you get it, fellas ? 350 Million is a lot of money, but with a concerted effort--or for that matter, a competitive effort to see who can raise the most money-you are all capable of eradicating this problem. In the words of  The Simpson's Principal Skinner: "Make it a game". It's far more important than a game, but you guys have proven that you live for competition. You certainly have a better than 33% chance of success.
The kid that Babe Ruth most famously promised a home run for in the 1926 World Series was named Johnny Sylvester. He had osteomyelitis in his skull from a horseback riding accident.
The Babe wrote the promise on an autographed ball and he hit not one, but three.
Not only did Johnny recover, he graduated from Princeton and went on to be a business executive.
You guys have about 60,000 Johnny Sylvesters out there in Texas, waiting for you to hit them a home run.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Making The Designated Hitter Rule Great

Let me pour myself a little Edgar Martinez with some anchovy Tony Olivas and let's have a Frank Thomas discussion about the DH.
Some of you hate it, have always hated it, are never gonna like it and you want it gone. Your aunt with the mole like a corncob pipe that insists on kissing you can have that removed. The DH is not going anywhere, so this whole discussion takes place in the real world...
                                                         Eye black, and she was a
                                                         "free swinger". That makes
                                                         her a DH in my book

...a world where there's no way in hell the MLB Player's Association is gonna allow baseball to cut short the careers of guys who are making 8 figures a year and aren't even allowed to order an Ove Glove from late night infomercials.
And now, according to published reports, the DH is coming to the National League.
If you're into symmetry in general, this is a good thing. Both leagues, same rules, you don't have to juggle your fantasy lineup because that coveted subway series between the Mariners and the Marlins is taking place all weekend.
But what are we gonna lose when the DH hits the senior circuit ?
Strategy, mostly. The artistry of guys like Bruce Bochy, who make lineup cards look like Timothy Leary invented Sudoku.
Managers who don't care about the social media impact of bringing in Perez to pitch to Helton. (Perez Helton! Get it ? Don't get it ? It's funny to your son who is gonna transition to be your daughter in two years, trust me).
Losing that strategy will take away some of the charm of the game, not to mention the extra couple beers you can quaff at Wrigley while the guy who is gonna throw one pitch to a left-hander is taking 45 warmup pitches.
But it doesn't have to be this way: Here is Jimmy Doom's Official Suggestion as to how to have the DH  in the NL and not sink strategy by running into a North Atlantic Blomberg.
                                                                His bat is in the HOF.
                                                                His mustache is not.
In both leagues (and that's the Kruks of this whole debate, right ?) the starting pitcher bats until such time as the manager removes him for a reliever. The DH then takes the plate appearances for all subsequent relievers, though the DH could be pinch hit for by someone then deemed ineligible to play in the field during that contest.
My idea could change the entire dynamic of the bullpen; make the long reliever not just the guy you go to when your 4th starter is getting shelled like a bag of pistachios on Willie Nelson's tour bus, but a guy you bring in in a scoreless tie because your ace is pitching against Kershaw, who Pharell Williams couldn't get a hit off of, it's late in the regular season, he's leading off the following inning and you might wanna Bumgarner him 3 days from now, so if you keep his pitch count low you have that option. That scenario also makes guys who hit for average a viable option at DH and would still keep the double switch alive.
Whatta ya say, Kenesaw Mountain Manfred ? I think it would work. So do three of my friends and four of my dearest acquaintances.
C'mon, Commish! Don't tell me to go to Hal... Give my idea a McRae of sunshine...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

OK Lions Fans, Who Would You Rather Have?

This is a completely unscientific, no-faith based, gluten free, high fat poll: Please post in the comments section of Victory Charade.
Who would you rather have on the Lions roster next year? NO deviations.
                                                "Don Juan" Demarco Murray

                                               Darrelle "Fantasy Island" Revis

Your third choice is "Neither".
Don't add other names, but feel free to tell me why you chose who you chose, or why neither. {No, voting neither does not give you the right to tell me why the Lions should trade for Tom Brady, Tom Sizemore, Cindy Brady or Grady Sizemore } If you vote neither, you can explain why you dislike the two other choices, but that's it.

Monday, March 9, 2015

"Sports World Utterly Mystified When Star Athlete Signs The Most Lucrative Contract Offered"

Billboards, to the best of my limited knowledge, are rented by the month. And now billboards are popping up around town taking a rip at Ndamukong Suh for leaving the Detroit Lions and signing a mega deal with the Miami Dolphins.
As routinely maligned as Detroit is, I've rarely been embarrassed by my city. There are a few notable occasions when I cringed at something that transpired here, but I figured that whatever the issue was would be out of the headlines within days. I don't know how many months the billboards are rented for, but I'm already sick of them and embarrassed by them.
I don't think anyone who spends money to rip a guy who is already a millionaire and leaving fucking town for a city thousands of miles away probably has any business commenting on another individual's business decision in private, or in public. But public it is: Honolulu Blue with two vertical lines written through the white S in the big defensive tackle's surname. Here's a single vertical line for ya with two smaller horizontal lines coming off it: "F" for originality.
Do I have to remind you how long the average NFL career is ?
Do I have to ask you what you would do if the car company who you started your career with-why not use Ford as an example ?- allowed you to test the market for your services and GM offered significantly more money and a state-tax free income ? You'd stick with Ford out of a sense of loyalty right ? No you wouldn't. You wouldn't even hesitate to take GM's offer and you'd consider it ludicrous that your kids were crying because they'd miss their friends."C'mon, kids, you'll make friends at our new quad level in Boca!"
Now you're mad at a guy who did the exact same thing you would have done under the circumstances.
I am a Lions fan. I've been called a slappy Lions fan. If the Lions won a Super Bowl, it would be in the top ten greatest days of my life-top five if I didn't father two healthy children. I wanted Suh to stay. Badly.

Almost as badly as I wanna bang Autumn Calabrese on a ferris wheel with a faulty bolt so I can die really, really happy.
 But I cannot fault Suh for his decision to leave.
People are constantly bemoaning their high taxes and can't wait to axe a film tax incentive because they think it's gonna save 'em a couple pennies are furious at a guy who decided to move to a state that doesn't have an income tax ? Here's two vertical lines bisected by a tiny horizontal line for your fucking billboard: The H in Hypocrite.
The same town that vilified him for his stomping incidents is now pissed that he left ? A town whose kids are gonna be hunting for easter eggs in snowmobile suits while icicles are still hanging from the gutters is hurt and dismayed because someone got offered a gig in Miami ?
The same Miami that happens to have a pretty rich football tradition itself, even if they have blown goats and tweeted about it for the last few years-they have '72, we had '57. Fans in Miami aren't any less hungry for a Super Bowl than we are, and in the scheme of things, Suh can do far more good with all those millions than just a damn Lombardi Trophy and a parade. This is a guy who gave over two million bucks to his alma mater before he signed his first pro contract. He endows an engineering scholarship. His father was raised in Cameroon, where the average per capita income doesn't even crack $4000 a year. Was he supposed to turn down millions of dollars out of some intangible sense of right and wrong and "honor" when he can take that money and do tangible and honorable things with it ?
You want to hate him ?
                                             This photo is about as close as I get to disliking him.
{If you mention the occasional unsportsmanlike behavior incidents, there's a little Teddy Roosevelt speech I'd be happy to share with you}.
 Wanna like him more, or at least understand him better ?
Here's a link to his charitable foundation, though you probably don't care and you're probably content with your 672 square foot, 14 x 48 idiotic pout. Honolulu Boo Fucking Hoo.
Congratulations on the new contract Ndamukong, and best of luck in Miami.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Strange,Because Her Dad Rarely Missed a Period

This guy
…is a grandfather.
Congratulations to The Great One, Wayne Gretzky. His daughter Paulina
who is getting cannonballed by suspended pro golfer "Dustin" Johnson
gave birth to a baby boy, who is gonna have a way easier time in pee wee hockey with the name Johnson than he would have with the name Gretzky.