A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Night of the Living ESPN Comments Section

Related to a piece by Buster "Yankee" Olney on why the Yankees missed the playoffs this year:

Maybe the steinbrenners will finally learn that the yankees need to develop their farm system because they cant buy themselves into winning a championship anymore. the thing that made the yankees so intimidating in the late 90s was that they did not have an all star lineup but had a menacing pitching staff and players that played for the love of the game like broscius, tino martinez, bernie williams, paul oneill just to name some. they would not outslug you most of the nights but they would systematically shut you down with pitching and would always have the clutch hitting that the yankees of this year did not have
At least three of those guys -- Broscius, Tino and Bernie -- made the All-Star game at least once during the 96 - 2001 run, by the way.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Got His Bell Rung" Comes out for a Blow

Gentlemen, BEHOLD! It's your newest NFL euphemism for "concussion!"

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard didn't play the final three quarters against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday after suffering what the team called mild head trauma.
Enjoy, and be safe out there.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Presidential Power Rankings, Part IV

 Before I begin, I am entertaining the idea of doing a real time running diary on this blog on election night, a la Bill Simmons. Its a massive undertaking, and I feel uniquely ill-suited (temperamentally and intellectually) for such a task. Still, I feel owe it to future generations and it might be fun.

That being said, with two months left to go, here we stand....................................................

1. Barack Obama/Joe Biden 

2. John McCain/Sarah Palin

If I'm not mistaken, Neill a few months ago predicted the GOP will win by five points. The national polls in the wake of the Republican Convention have started to consistently show a statistical dead heat (some are even showing McCain pulling ahead). Yet after looking at the latest batch of state polls, I remain unconvinced that he can overtake Obama. The clear trend that seems to be emerging, even post-Palin, is that Obama will hold onto all of the John Kerry states from 2004. Realistically, only two of those states even seem close at this point (Michigan and Pennsylvania), and I have not seen a single fucking poll that shows McCain overtaking him in either state. With even a little bit of work, money and appearances, Obama should be able to pick up all 252 of Kerry's votes, while expending not that much in the way of energy or resources.  

On the other hand, McCain has to defend way more Bush states than he would feel comfortable with. Even if we give him Ohio and Florida (no sure thing, especially with polls in Ohio going back and forth the last three weeks), McCain is going to lose Iowa for sure. He will lose New Mexico for sure. The Dems are heavily targeting Colorado and Virginia, and polls show that Obama has had a slight lead in the former for at least the last month or so. Virginia's polls are all within the margin for error.  The election info from 2006 shows that both states are trending Democratic in recent years.

I have seen multiple polls in the last two days info that suggests Nevada is in play. McCain is defending way too much. Even with the Convention bounce, he has still not made any significant inroads into Obama's states and has to expend time and resources to protect his own turf. There is no doubt that McCain has had a good montha and a half. The new aggressive "Celebrity," attack ads, coupled with the Palin pick has energized his base and put more swing voters in play than I am comfortable with. But unless I start to see polls in Michigan and Pennsylvania that show  McCain gaining significant ground, I still would rather be in Obama's position.   

Even with McCain's recent resurgence, and a reawakening of the Conservative base, Obama's field organization is quite strong in at least 20 states. While new voter registration isn't neccessarily a great indicator of much, it does hearten me to know that new Dem voter registration has easily outpaced GOP voter registration in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Virginia. I still cling to the belief (perhaps naively) that black turnout will explode, and I have also seen data where Obama is outpolling McCain amongst Hispanics by almost 3 to 1.
Yes, blue collar workers are still a problem, and I am not stupid enough to think that sending Joe Biden to Scranton and Detroit is going to completely alleviate that potential calamity. But I do think that if Obama stays on message (relatively simple narrative of change vs more of the same, tie McCain to Bush, ect) he will have a shot with these people. 

I am worried about the Silent Majority, the Nixon coalition, and the secretly racist white voter who tells pollters they will vote for Obama but will secretly vote for McCain. I am worried about vindictive former Clinton supporters, and I stress that nobody at this point really knows anything, BUT given Obama's electoral map position, I would much rather be him than McCain, even now. Democrats are prone to reflexive panicking during Presidential elections, and I am no exception. I am angry and mystified that with 80% of the country saying we're on a wrong track that the election is so close. 

But when I calm down I realize that no matter what the surrounding conditions, it is always going to be fucking hard to elect a Democrat. Always always ALWAYS. The Republicans are just a lot better at framing a national narrative. They are a lot better at going after your kneecaps. They do a much better job at putting their opposition permanently on the defensive. 
Take away Ross Perot's 19% in 1992, and Bush Sr. makes that a nail biter, despite the fucking shitty economy.

My favorite example is 1976. Barely two years post Watergate. The atmosphere for Republicans was fucking TOXIC. Nixon was loathed by even swing voters, and not a mention of his name was made at their convention in Kansas City. Republicans had absorbed a drubbing at the Congressional elections in '74 and were synonymous with Spiro Agnew, HR Haldeman, Gordon Liddy, and scandal. The Dems were running a squeaky clean southerner pledging to restore honesty and transparency to government, and was running against someone (Ford) who was reviled for pardoning Nixon, and was a pretty rotten candidate in his own right (falling down the stairs of Marine One, even declaring in a debate with Carter that "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be in a Ford Administration"). Yet in an atmosphere even more blatantly hostile to Republicans than the current one, Carter only won by 2 percent and 50 or so electoral votes. No way should it have been that close. But the Republicans know how to win national elections, and this being a fundamentally center right country, it takes quite a bit in terms of organization, message, strength and environment to elect a Dem. Even though I get fucking nervous from time to time, I remmeber 1976, and I also remember that Obama;s organization is simply superior, on par with what Karl Rove was able to formulate in 2000 and 2004. David Plouffe and David Axelrod have done a fantastic job of understanding what's needed, targeting key areas, mobilizing volunteers, and framing a message. I feel like if you can take down the Clinton machine you can do just about anything.

I know that there are a ton of ways this could get screwed up in the next two months. Whether its in a debate, or someone makes a gaffe on the campaign trail, or McCain is able to frame an anti-Obama narrative that inflicts lasting damage. The national polls look bad. But I would still much rather be in our position than theirs. 

Am I crazy?


That's it. I'm done. It took less than a week for me to be done with any sports report involving football, maybe even watching football broadcasts themselves. Very close, maybe worse in its coverage than baseball. Tough call--they both feature the same meaningless truisms. But it's even worse because football has the whole male tough guy thing around it worse than any sport in existence. What makes football worse is how pro-management the whole business is, and is revered as such by the fans. Ugh.

Here's some examples from one segment of ESPN First Take. I first watched a segment talking about how the Tennessee Titans are very unsatisfied with Vince Young and that the team feels they are "better off with Kerry Collins." To start the whole thing off, there is no way this is true. I don't think Vince Young is some great talent, but to imply (as everyone nods in agreement in the team and the media) that the team is better off with shitty journeyman arm Kerry Collins at quarterback? What. The. Fuck.

They went on to imply (and the team is apparently legitimately thinking), beyond performance, that Vince Young was negative for the team because he was squirrley. They gave two inexplicable examples of this. 1) He moved to Austin Texas in the offseason and didn't spend much time in Tennessee. Huh? This is so bullshit it is unreal. By everyone's account, players are forced to come in a billion weeks early and stay from 3 in the morning until 10 at night most days during the season. Really? They can't go home and not think about football for like 3 months? That makes them a liability and not committed to the team? Then, and this is the kicker, is 2) Young was reluctant to get back on the field last week, and his head coach had to harangue him to play. Vince Young sustained an knee sprain this week that will keep him out 2-4 weeks. He was supposed to play through that? People were talking about an MCL tear not a day or two ago.

Example two followed this discussion. They were talking about some shitty Cowboys player--Ware or something. They were saying he wasn't playing as well as expected when drafted. Fine. They then detail the problem. Apparently the team "has been concerned about his motor since they drafted him." They have seen nothing to think that his motor will improve. WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? He needs to work on speed? Do more cardio for endurance? He needs to "get tougher?" No, the team is waiting for improvements on his motor.

Now here's the thing. Part of this is the media. But on the other hand I have absolutely no doubt that the media is speaking to team sources and hearing exactly the same shit from them, in the same terms. The NFL has come very close to having its own inexplicably code that doesn't really relate to reality for evaluating players and especially their mental state. Reminds me off European football--"We are now benching the best player on the team for no reason; he has fallen out of favor with the manager."

I can't believe that NFL players put up with the shit they do, they'd have to be retarded--most popular game in the country, sell out every week, money surging through the veins of owners, and yet they have non-guaranteed contracts in the most dangerous sport in the world and many players make low to mid 6 digits since there are so many players to pay and a relatively low salary cap to do it with. Fuck that. I don't want to hear about how some guy didn't play through some horrific injury--he has no fucking incentive to do so since he can and will be cut and lose all his non-guaranteed money that offseason by the "loyal" team.

Also. Fuck fantasy football. I never want to hear about it again.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Has enough time gone by?

I just had the displeasure of watching about two minutes of the new game show Hole in the Wall, in which contestants must contort their bodies to fit through a hole in a moving wall. Fail, and they are pushed into a swimming pool.

I think what this country needs is another good old fashioned terrorist attack. 

Remember 7 years ago? For a couple of weeks, there were no talk shows, no Entertainment Tonight, no QVC, no game shows, no stupid sitcoms and no award shows, because, for some reason, they just didn't seem important anymore.

Is it too soon to wish for another attack?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Brown Man Death Ray?

Alright. What kind of fucking secret assassination technology has the US developed and is running in Iraq since the surge that Bob Woodward would describe as equivalent of the invention of the tank? So dangerous that insurgent leaders, if they knew about it, would "get their ass out of town?" Stuff that "military novels are written about."

What does that even mean? I'd say it's just CIA death squads, but Woodward made it sound like it was technological in nature. Additionally, if it wasn't Bob Woodward I would think it was total hyperbole.

Labels: , ,