Thursday, April 30, 2009

Facebook Phenomenon

Occasionally, I forgo my morning commute and "work from home".

Of course I can't actually work at my home because there are too many short people (a.k.a. my kids) climbing my leg and poking at my keyboard while I am trying to have serious discourse on the phone. I solve this problem by working at the local public library about half mile down the road.

Over the past couple of years, I have had about a dozen "library days" and somewhere in that relatively brief time span, an interesting phenomenon has taken hold.

This library has a bank of about 15 PC's along one wall. When I first started spending "a whole day at a time" there, I noted sporadic use of the PC's. Usually, at least half the stations were open at any given time. Mostly, it was 20ish men reading profiles of women on dating sites (yes, I am one of those annoying over the shoulder readers).

Over the past six months, this has changed. Now, the PC's are essentially at full capacity with waiting lists of local patrons anticipating their turn at the keyboard. The new patrons are mostly middle-aged, a mix of men and women, and every damn one of them is logging onto Facebook.

I don't know if this is good or bad but it is clearly an epic phenomenon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good Baseball Trivia

Question: Who is the one player who was on the field when Pete Rose Broke Ty Cobb's all-time hits record AND when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's all-time HR record?

This is a great bit of trivia given the importance that MLB fans have traditionally placed on those two records. It is quite amazing that one player, a notable baseball name in his own right, was on the field on both occasions given that Rose set the hits mark in 1985 and Aaron became the HR King in 1974.

To be sure you didn't accidentally see the answer below before you were ready, I wrote it backwards and inserted a "b" between each letter of the player's name.

Answer: bybebvbrbabg bebvbebtbsb

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why Do Pitchers Wind-Up?

In the old days, ball players thought pitchers could generate more velocity with a wind-up. However, that notion was briskly dispelled once Bryce K. Brown invented the radar gun.

So why has it persisted? There are obvious disadvantages in forcing pitchers to master two deliveries and two sets of mechanics. Why not just pitch from the stretch all the time?

There may be some advantage in making hitters learn to pick up the pitcher's release from two motions. If so, why not have a half-dozen motions? Why not change with every pitch?

I find it odd that the wind-up has persisted even though the founding premise of its origin has been proven false.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

#6 Prettiest Play

I didn't include it in my top 5 because it is so uncommon. When it does happen, it never seems to be an aesthetic play for some reason or another.

But this was beautiful - probably because it was a lefty at bat.

Thank you Jacoby for reminding me. The sixth prettiest play in baseball is the steal of home.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Foodies: The New Wine Snobs

There's not a menu left in America featuring a single item that I fully understand. Meat and potatoes are no longer served.

The problem is that too many people learned the rules of thumb about wine (an absurd notion in and of itself) so it became difficult for the sophisticated upper class to look down on those who were unsavvy about grape varietals.

Alas, the seemingly endless diversity of international spices and ethnic cooking techniques have given rise to a whole new world of faux food appreciation. For every person who seems to truly understand and enjoy food on some higher than average plane, I encounter ten who try to seem worldly with their food knowledge.

The give away is that these culinary wannabes never encounter foods they don't like. They ALWAYS rave about some dish or another; it is a transparent means of flashing their food IQ's.

The result? Restaurants play to these people with ridiculous descriptions of their food, and people like me, who do not wish to engage in futile, social-climbing exercises, can no longer know what we have ordered until we actually taste it.

2029: A Good Year?

I don't have a crystal ball so I can't really say for sure if 2029 will be a good year or a bad one. Heck, none of us can say for sure if we will even be here. I guess there is only one thing I know about that year, and, I am sorry to report, it is not a very good thing.

I am sad to say that I have a box of pancake mix in my pantry at this very moment that bears the proud stamp of a product expiring in 2029.

Actually, it won't really "expire", it will just be "Better If Used By 08 04 29'.

That just can't be good.

Friday, April 24, 2009

NFL Draft: A Major Media Event

Is the NFL a Juggernaut or what? More than 34 million people watched the draft last year and this year the coverage is doubling.

I heard about an ESPN poll showing that, far and away, the most eagerly anticipated sports event of this weekend will be the NFL draft. Sorry NBA play-off fan; sorry NHL play-off fan; college kids are going to find out which team they can try out for and the whole world thinks that's more interesting than the conclusion of your season.

Sorry Red-Sox/Yankees rivalry fan; we know your little hate fest is a good show but not as good as watching Dan Snyder trade the future for his latest man-crush or Al Davis moving up to draft a track star.

I didn't respond to the poll but I guess I am with the masses on this one. There's something about the draft that just can't be ignored.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Misplaced Moral Outrage

I'm watching the news, and I'm reading the papers, and I'm listening to NPR, but I just can't seem to get worked up about American soldiers using torture tactics on prisoners of war. Isn't that what's expected?

I've never deeply contemplated my own capture by an enemy nation but, at some basic level, I think I have always understood that if it came to that, I would not be treated very gently by my captors. I am 100% in favor of kindness, but when the well-being of entire nations hangs on the timely conclusion of a military operation, I can understand the need to get information out of a prisoner.

Before all you imaginary readers go off on me, I get the fact that our recent Iraqi operations were conceived on falsehoods and bungled at every step. I also hear (and agree with) the argument that mistreating prisoners out of meanness or hatred can never be tolerated. If Americans used torture tactics for any reason other than to gain strategic information and conclude the ongoing atrocities as quickly as possible, then I agree that they behaved immorally and should be punished. But if you are paying attention, you know that is not the center of the current public debate.

The most difficult part for me to comprehend is that everyone seems to accept the soldier's mandate to kill. Isn't that an order of magnitude more reprehensible than torture? No moral problem there?

You don't have to accept "kill" but if you do, then you must also accept "torture" as a far less grievous assault. The current public attitude that accepts killing but not torturing doesn't add up and seems to have prevented me from conjuring any moral outrage about this issue.

Top 5 Prettiest Plays

Following last night's post on the prettiest play in baseball, my imaginary inbox has virtually overflowed with opinions. Let me set the record straight about the top 5 prettiest plays:

1. This has already been covered; it's the 3-6-1 DP with Micky Lolich on the mound. I once saw him hit a triple and thought that Lou Brock could have circled the bases two times before Micky lumbered into third.

2. Clearly, the second prettiest play is the 1-2-6 strike-em-out throw-em-out double play.

3. Our top offensive entry on the list is the hit and run with a right handed hitter grounding through the hole vacated by a 2nd baseman covering the steal.

4. I always love the bases loaded double play on an infield grounder that leads to a force play at home and a throw-out at first. I guess the 5-2-3 is the prettiest.

5. Duh, it's the suicide squeeze. But only when it works.

There you have it. No need to email me your pablum about run-downs and pick-offs and triple plays; they are all interesting but rarely pretty.

Brown out.

Contributed by Auggie: Respectful fan of the NFL.
I see where Eagles CB Sheldon Brown wants to be traded because the club won't renogiate his contract which has 4 years remaining. If you've paid attention to previous blogs you may have already surmised that Sheldon's ultimate objective is not to add to his Ferrari collection or upsize any of his houses. As he told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio "I feel like it has been a total lack of respect". Apparently respect has a price tag which is good to know. These guys must have Aretha Franklin playing in their iPods for their pre-game routines.

Prettiest Play in Baseball

I expect there will be many different opinions out there in imaginary reader land but I probably won't allow any of them to sway me.

Certain baseball situations produce certain baseball plays over and over again. Some times such a play is routine and looks the same no matter how may times you see it. I would say a two hopper hit directly at the shortstop with a strong accurate throw to first is pretty common and looks pretty much the same every time you see it.

That is not to say that every 6-3 put out looks the same as there are clear aesthetic differences between the high chopper that must be aggressively charged and followed by an across the body throw and the ripper up the middle that must be scooped from shallow center and flicker to first at an obtuse angle.

For my money, the play that always looks sweet is the 3-6-1 double play and the fatter the pitcher covering first the better. Anyone disagree?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Puzzling behavior: Follow Up

Contributed by Auggie: Confused fan of the NBA
I saw what I thought to be a disturbing picture after the Philadelphia-Orlando playoff game (see inset). I fully expected the caption to say “NBA player seeks to maim opponent, restrained by teammate”. But then I noticed the teammate was happy and I said to myself (in a robot voice, strangely enough) ‘This Does Not Compute’. So I read the caption and it seems that Mr. Iguodala just hit the game winning shot - in a playoff game no less. That explains the smile on the face of his teammate, but . . . . ahhhhh, so you’re allowed to show happiness if you’re not the one who actually made the shot. But if you make the play you must look like Johnny Rambo after Murdoch hung him out to dry. Slowly, I’m figuring this out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

American Dream?...or Nightmare?

That's right, this is a comment about home ownership. You know, the institution that has been subsidized by the US government for some 50 years with the mortgage interest deduction and the property tax deduction. Powerful forces have bribed and brainwashed all of us to pursue this "dream".

I know that home ownership has a very clear track record of being a good financial investment. My home has been, and remains so even in the soft housing market of today, the best financial investment of my life. Nonetheless, there is more to home ownership than a financial return.

Owning a home means maintaining a home which can rapidly undermine the quality of your life. If you have a family and you consider the time you need to spend working at your job, caring for your children, and sleeping, your calculations will most likely reveal a stark reality. You might conclude that you have about three or four hours per week to do everything else you either need or wish to do.

Now throw a home into this equation. And just for fun, throw in a home that was built in the last twenty years in the rapidly expanding sunbelt regions of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The majority of these homes were hastily built with shoddy materials and have become contraptions of constant maintenance. Sure, they have appreciated and increased the wealth of the owners. But what good is that wealth if you spend your few free hours per week interrogating contractors who want to fix your air conditioner in the most expensive possible way?

Imagine you are a renter. Imagine you come home and the roof is leaking. Imagine calling the landlord and saying "the roof is leaking, we're going out for pizza". Doesn't that seem pretty tempting compared to the drama of calling your home insurance company, negotiating coverage, finding a contractor, and solving the roof problem yourself during your 3 free hours per week? I'm just saying.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Draft Buzz

Contributed by Auggie: Director of Auggie's scouting service.
If you're one of those sick NFL fans who awaits the draft like a 7 year old awaits Christmas, take heart, we're only week away. Here are some tidbits to hold you over while you wait for your "presents" to arrive.

Everyone knows that the draft is not an exact science. There are countless examples low round or undrafted players that thrive (e.g. Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Wes Welker), and high picks who flounder (e.g. Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Tony Mandarich, Mike Mamula). But it seems like every year there are players that are obviously overrated and underrated by the pundits. And it's not just the media pundits, real NFL decision makers often make glaring mistakes that seem so obvious to the rest of us experts. Here are two examples to watch for in the upcoming draft.

If Roger Goodell walks to the podium with your favorite team's pick in his hand and announces, "with their first round pick, the [fill in team here] selects Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey", don't get too excited. In fact, be disappointed. He would be a nice 3rd round pick but certainly not a 1st. So why is everyone so enamored with him? He's big and fast. So is Usain Bolt but I don't see him climbing the draft boards. There is always this small matter of actually being able to play football, which goes far beyond the physical measurables. Without thinking about it too much, the name Troy Williamson comes to mind. He was drafted 7th overall by the Vikings in 05 despite the fact he wasn't all that productive in college. He hasn't been all that productive in the pros either, but he is big and fast.

On the other hand, if your team selects CB Alphonso Smith from Wake Forest in the second round they got a steal. Why isn't he a first rounder? The poor guy has the misfortune of being short. So was Darrell Green who keeps tripping over his hall of fame plaque and other awards. And so is Antoine Winfield who made the pro bowl in 08 and is considered one of the more physical corners in the NFL. He and Smith are about the same size. But perhaps the best example is Bob Sanders, the Colt's safety who recently won defensive player of the year. He is 5'-8". He was drafted in the second round of the 04 draft but I remember one scouting report saying "if he was three inches taller he would be a top ten pick". I bet a lot of teams wish they had a do over on that one.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

End of an Era

One thing I always wish I had not taken for granted when it was around was the brilliance of Howard Cosell as a sports broadcaster. I've felt this way for many years, imagining that if I could do it over, I would tune in, take note, and appreciate his skill and creativity as a communicator. If only I could go back in time, I would not be sleeping at the wheel when there was something so worthy to appreciate.

While driving to work today I heard the news that I have indeed been asleep at the same wheel that I kicked myself for sleeping at during Cosell's reign. Now John Madden is done. He retired yesterday. There is no way to ever again hear him calling a live football game.

Thank goodness for the NFL network where I can probably tune into a Madden-called game at least once a week if I wish.

I'll keep this post short because I think the Dodgers are on TV and I want to go soak up a performance by Vin Sculley before he moves on as well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Smoking Solution

I understand that addiction is a difficult matter to overcome and I think the evidence is pretty clear that nicotine is addictive. As such, I agree with the prevailing wisdom that the best strategy for reducing the prevalence of smoking is to prevent teenagers from ever gaining the habit.

In considering possible approaches to this, I am not in favor of sweeping regulation that would outlaw smoking (such regulation could never be passed anyway) and cripple an entire industry that employs many. Often times, new regulations create an enforcement conundrum that cannot be overcome without more funds than the regulations were designed to save. Frankly, that would likely be the case with any all-out ban on smoking. Here's my suggestion.

We know from extensive research that the major reason (practically the only reason) anyone begins smoking cigarettes is to embrace an association with independence, adulthood, and rebellious maturity. How about an economically-innocuous law that requires cigarettes sold in the US must be orange (or bright lime green, or obviously "uncool" in some other physical characteristic). I suspect that such symbols of disparagement might drag fewer teens, desperate to add some trace of hipness to their persona, to the rebellious brotherhood of smokers. If we could focus the public imagination on just how uncool smoking is, and pass on a little well-meaning mockery toward those who choose to do it, I think we could knock down the adoption rate a bit.

I guess what I am saying is that people who want to smoke (or are addicted to nicotine) will certainly smoke. But let's not allow the enduring image that smoking is cool to continue attracting teens to the tobacco lifestyle.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pirates: Don't Make 'em Like They Used To

So I guess many Somalian pirates have been complaining loudly since the US Navy killed three of their brethren over the weekend. The killings occurred during the rescue of Richard Phillips, the captain of an American vessel recently taken hostage when his ship was seized by the pirates.

Are you kidding me? Pirates complaining about rough play? Pirates?!?

I've never applied for a job as a pirate, nor have I read a pirate employment contract, but I have to believe that "plunder", "rape" and "get shot in the eye" are all common terms in a standard agreement. In the good old days, I'm pretty sure you could chop up a pirate and throw him overboard without hearing him whine, but maybe I'm wrong on that.

I can understand why there may be some angst in the International community where some 250 hostages are currently held by Somalian pirates. If the pirates retaliate by harming these hostages, it could bring dire consequences to many innocent victims.

It is hard to know the facts but easy to surmise that, perhaps, the US Navy should not have acted so forcefully given the broader implications to so many hostages. In any case, these new pirates sound like sissies.

Frivilous lawsuit?

Contributed by Auggie: Proud member of the USGA (Underachievers Society of Golf Apprenticeship)

I’m thinking of suing golf. Negligent infliction of emotional distress, that should do it. I’m not sure who will actually pay for damages, but the lawyers are good at figuring out those details.

The idea came to me in an airport recently when I overheard (along with everyone else in terminal D) a young man on his cell phone weeping about his ex, and explaining his strategy to sue for emotional distress. It was eerie, his words had a haunting familiarity like he was describing my life – except, he wasn't describing my life at all. And then it struck me like a wayward tee shot, he was describing my relationship with golf. He talked about the extreme high points [check] followed by the depressing lows [check]. He spoke of the pain and suffering he has endured since the relationship began [check and check]. It was uncanny really. Why hadn’t I thought of this avenue before? Sue the wicked witch and move on with my life.

This relationship analogy is strangely accurate. My friends often ask “why do you stay with golf when it always brings you pain?” And I’ll reply “no, no, we’re just going through a rough patch that’s all, everything will work out fine”. I usually say this after a successful day. And just when I think our relationship is flourishing beyond my wildest dreams – WHACK! – “take that boy, get cute with me again and there's more of the same”. Golf slaps me around and embarrasses me in front of my friends. Next thing I know I'm shanking balls into people’s swimming pool, you know, the ones who thought a house on the golf course would be a lovely idea. And then I vow to end the miserable relationship, and to find a more benevolent companion like extreme Scottish hammer throwing. And I dream of spitefully donating my clubs to a corrosion research lab where they’ll meet their slow, grisly but well deserved death. But anyone who has been in a passionate relationship knows you can’t stay away. You just can’t. So I come back for more and sure enough, I’ll hole a shot from the green side bunker as if golf is saying to me “I didn’t mean to hurt you, I wasn’t myself, just give me another chance, I promise it won’t happen again”. And I believe it, because I want to believe it.

Oh, we’ve tried counseling. We even went to see a “Pro” as they call them. But of course golf was on her best behavior then. Casual observers would watch us and think “oh, what a wonderful relationship those two have”. And the pro convinces me there is nothing wrong with the relationship and perhaps I just need to be more understanding and give it some time. So there you have it - it’s really my fault.

So I bought some new clubs this year. There’s nothing like a shiny new gift to add spark to a relationship and regain the old magic. I better withdraw that lawsuit idea - she would never take me back if I pulled a stunt like that.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Freedom to Smoke

I love freedom. I support freedom. Freedom is fun.

I think everyone should be free to do any thing they want, even if it is harmful to themselves, as long as two conditions are met. First, the chooser of the freedom in question must have reached an age when they can make the decision responsibly. Second, they must be able to enjoy the chosen freedom without harming others or disrespecting others' freedom.

To choose smoking and meet these conditions, smokers obviously need to be sure they are not harming the health of their children and/or family members via second hand smoke. Difficult but manageable I would think.

More difficult and less manageable is how to choose smoking without consuming more than one's fair share of health care expenses. We know smoking is very unhealthy and that it leads to many costly medical conditions. The burden that smokers put on society to pay for their poor health is enormous. I know that medical insurance premiums are higher for smokers but "smoking habits" are one of the most famously misreported lifestyle choices in the history of the medical insurance industry. Let's be honest; non-smokers pay for the majority of smoker-related health care problems and, since smoking is a choice, those who choose it impinge on the freedom of those who do not.

I support freedom but smoking is not free and is difficult to do freely.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bravo USAir!

If you fly enough, or maybe even if you fly at all, you will accumulate some stories about being wronged or inconvenienced by an airline. Occasionally however, they surprise you.

I recently booked a USAir flight itinerary from Orlando to Philly to Phoenix to Santa Ana. If perfectly executed, this plan would get home moments before my kids fall asleep which is important to me. Obviously, having multiple connections increases the likelihood of a snag.

Upon arriving at the gate for the first flight (moments ago), I noticed that it has been delayed by 15 minutes but I quickly concluded that this probably will not cause a major problem for me. The gate agents announced that "weather in Philly has delayed some take-offs" and we cannot land there until our arrival gate is evacuated. As I was thinking through the implications of this, the agents called me to the counter.

The good people at USAir had reviewed my itinerary, taken note of the risk that my multiple stop itinerary would be disrupted, and booked me on a completely different route through Houston that will get me home 1 hour earlier than the original plan. No cause for a major celebration, right? After all, if they cannot get me to my destination, it is a problem for them as much as it is for me.

Here's the remarkable part. They re-booked me on a Continental flight thereby transferring the revenue from USAir to their competitor. Based on my many attempts to pull off such a maneuver for my own convenience in the past, I can tell you that airlines are extremely reluctant (and that's probably an understatement) to transfer revenue unless it is an absolute last resort. They would usually prefer to pay for your hotel to stay overnight in some connecting city rather that do this. Today, USAir did it for me voluntarily based on what they thought would be best for me.

This is especially remarkable given that, at this point, it looks like I could still probably get into and out of Philly in time to make all downstream connections. I am sitting at the Continental gate now; we'll see how it all turns out but I am quite pleased with USAir for having anticipated a potential problem and taken costly steps to prevent it from coming to fruition.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blue Collar Coffee

Will one of you imaginary readers please take this can't-miss business idea and implement it so that, in the future, I can get a convenient cup of coffee without going to Starbucks. The idea is simple: open up a chain of coffee shops and call the product "coffee". Not venti or grande or latte or mocha....just coffee.

In terms of delivery, the coffee should be all brewed so when some one orders it, you need only pour it in a cup and hand it over for fifty cents. The only discussion required between the customer and the cashier (that's right, no baristas at Blue Collar Coffee) will be aimed at determining how many cups are to be purchased.

In terms of training and communicating, this approach will be easy on your employees and your customers will appreciate the simplicity as well. Regardless of how they try to obscure the fact, Starbucks just sells coffee. I can't fathom the rational for making it all so complex (a process that leads to me waiting in long lines behind incredibly annoying people). After all, coffee is a "commodity". If you look that up you will learn that, when dealing in commodities, one sample is essentially identical to any other sample. There is no escaping the fact that your business will be selling the same product as Starbucks.

I know that location is everything and that the research for identifying a key retail location is both complex and expensive. I recommend you just open up shop across from Starbucks locations; they've already invested in the traffic flow studies.

Let me know when you are opening in the OC, I will be your best customer.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Has Human Evolution Ceased?

I dwell quite frequently on the forces of evolution, particularly on how they have shaped human social behavior. This has been a life-long curiosity and a topic of more formal study and extensive reading over the past decade. For most of my adult life, I have naively accepted the notion that human evolution had essentially ceased.

The argument supporting this is easy to understand and has been almost universally accepted in expert circles during my lifetime. It goes like this:

In the past, mutations conferring a survival advantage were propagated in the gene pool while those hampering survival were pruned by the cruel forces of nature. This process wrought stark changes in human intelligence, posture, and demeanor (specifically with regards to an affinity to cooperate and to trust) and kept the wheels of evolution turning toward higher and higher standards of fitness.

Now, so goes the argument, agricultural abundance and modern medicine ensure that humans, even those who are “weaker”, enjoy survival advantages conferred by a benevolent society. As such, the gene pool is no longer driven toward increasing fitness because “last year’s DNA”, though not competitive with the latest mutations, stays in business with the help of agro-medical subsidies. Social forces have brought evolution (for our species) to a rather abrupt halt.

That is a nice little argument with a tidy conclusion. I cannot believe I never noticed the screeching logical flaw it abides.

The blind spot comes from the framework (inferred above) that “surviving to a reproductive age is a major challenge and the ability to meet that challenge is the primary driver of adaptive mutation. According to that framework, when survival is no longer difficult, then the engine driving change loses its power.

Here is a better framework that exposes the fallacy. During most of the 4 million year history of homo sapiens, death has been a serious constraint on our ability to propagate characteristics of weakness. Now that a large percentage of us gets all the food and medical care we need, all sorts of unhealthy mutations can persist in the human gene pool. From this perspective, we should be (and by many accounts are) evolving faster than at any other time in history.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Case for Signing Vick

I love to consider the contrarian view and believe strongly in the notion that good opportunities are often found at the point, away from which, the masses are uniformly stampeding. The trick, of course, is not to simply contradict the prevailing wisdom but to discern why it should be contradicted and how to optimally implement your contradictory plan.

Let's look at the point from which the NFL owners are currently stampeding. It is Michael Vick. Convicted felon. Tortured Dogs. Bad human being. Never proved himself as an NFL passer. Been out of the league for 2+ years. Baggage. Disruption. Bad press to all who associate with him. Run away.

The NFL team owners may well indeed all run away. A bankruptcy judge tossed Vick out of court yesterday because his solvency plan, which included a hefty NFL salary, was too uncertain. The judge, no doubt, had taken into consideration the hegemonic opinion that Vick brings too much bad press for any NFL team owner to consider signing him.

But I think the owners may be overlooking a gem. Vick is an extraordinary athlete and only 28 years old. While I don't think he is a good candidate to come in and take over the most intensely judgment-oriented position in all of pro sports (NFL QB), I do think it highly plausible that his speed and running skills are intact. As such, he could likely contribute meaningfully as a special teams player.

An NFL team is a business and the owners run these businesses to make money. Winning is the most well-proven (and probably most enjoyable) strategy for profitability but there are other approaches. Certainly filling the stadium and selling merchandise help the bottom line and for those, the more press the better. As the old cliche goes, all press is good press -- Vick WILL be a news story if he returns to the NFL. Sure, most of the news will be negative but the effect can be clearly predicted, people will want to watch.

A gutsy owner could seize on the fact that Vick would be the most motivated guy in the league to rebuild his reputation and his life through a strong and productive social presence. Said gutsy owner could help him do that. He could give him an incentive laden salary of up to $2M (being cognizant of the salary cap situation) and require Vick to donate 50% of his net income to charities that the team supports. The owner could require Vick to participate heavily in community goodwill programs at the behest of the team, even in (especially in) the off-season.

A roster spot is a valuable commodity that should not be wasted solely to garner PR. Therefore, Vick would need to work intensively on his kick return and special team skills (a player type increasingly sought in the Devon Hester era). If two years in prison has taken too great a toll and he can no longer compete at the NFL level, then he could be cut and replaced with a better talent. However, if his athleticism allows him to contribute, he could be a PR boon and an overall success story.

Remember, the stars have the furthest to fall but it is the most downtrodden who can rise most dramatically. Based on the depths to which he has sunk, Vick has the potential for a spectacular turn around.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Blog Therapy

Picked up the LA Times today. Not my first choice of daily news as it is the very publication responsible for my former habit of "talking to newspapers" and served as the primary force that first propelled me into the blogosphere.

There it was, prominently positioned in the center of the page and my eyes went to it immediately; a story about the latest "problem" that American society "needs to address". Know what it is? It's this: No one seems to be very interested in the Women's NCAA Basketball Championship, especially compared to the hype around the Men's tournament. They are playing the games in empty arenas. Ghastly!

Nothing against women or women's sports, but if an event is not interesting to the masses, that is not a problem for society to address.

But I'll tell you this, if we collectively decide to start addressing such travesties, then I want a redo on the Stompers. What? You don't know who the Stompers are? They were a band from Boston in the 70's and my cousin was dating the lead singer. If they could have just leveraged their one quasi-hit (Heart for Sale) into mega-stardom, I could have attached myself to their inner circle, ridden their coattails, and walked the red carpets among the glitterati. Unfortunately, the masses were not interested in the Stompers' mediocre brand of pop entertainment and society utterly failed to address that problem.

Point is, my urge to mutter aloud while reading the story was somehow dampened by the knowledge that I could spew about it here. Blog therapy seems to be working...