31 October 2008

Easy on the"poor me"s

First, I'm going to begin by saying congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies, who defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4 games to 1 in the World Series and are Major League Baseball's 2008 champions. They outplayed the Rays and outlasted the rain and proved that age and treachery do beat youth, innocence, and a bad haircut.

That said, don't count me among those who feel the slightest amount of pity for Philadelphia's "long-suffering" fans who had to endure a 25-year wait between championships, because I don't want to hear it.

If you take a look at the major-league sports franchises in the “big four” sports (football, baseball, hockey, and basketball), you’ll see that there are 114 teams spread out across 40 metropolitan areas within the United States (I'm omitting Canada for a reason). Those metropolitan areas would be: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, New York-New Jersey, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco Bay area, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Washington, DC.

Out of those 40 cities, 17 have won a championship in the last 10 years (this includes Philadelphia's World Series title this week). Here's how they break out:

Championship cities in the last 10 years:

Metro AreaChampionships
Los Angeles5
New York-New Jersey5
San Antonio4
St. Louis2
Tampa Bay2

Of course, if we look back further, let's say the last 25 years, the list gets considerably longer. Now the cities where a championship was celebrated grows from 17 to 25 and now includes: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Minneapolis/St. Paul, San Francisco Bay area, Washington, DC.

Which means that the following cities have NOT won any sort of a championship in the last 25 years: Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Jacksonville, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle.

The problem with that list is that we have a lot of cities which are either new to the whole major league sports scene (Columbus, Memphis, OKC to name a few) or have only one team (or both). So, let's remove the cities that only one team calls home and those whose teams have been in existence for less than 20 years, we see list become a lot smaller. Buffalo, Cleveland, Milwaukee, New Orleans, San Diego, Seattle.

Hmm, that really draws a stark map of sporting futility, doesn't it.

Metro AreaLast TitleMantle of Futility
Buffalo19654 straight Super Bowl losses
Cleveland1964how many losing seasons since?
New Orleans-zero winning seasons in first 19 years
San Diego-
Seattle1979only franchise to actually win a championship left town

Looking at it this way, it kind of makes that whole "haven't won a championships in 25 years" thing seem a little silly, doesn't it?

21 October 2008

General update

I've been ranting about politics for a while now so I thought that I'd use this time to talk about some other, non-political things.

I'm going to start by sharing an update on the status of my fantasy football team. We stink.

After 7 weeks, I've compiled a wretched 2-5 record and I'm averaging less than 110 points a week, which ain't all that good. A healthy part of the problem has been the status of the players I drafted. In general, I think that my strategy (focus on receivers who have lots of catches and rookie running backs) was sound, but that my execution could use serious improvement.

Anyway, here's the status of the guys I drafted:

Still with the squad:
Round 1: Braylon Edwards, WR, CLE
Round 3: Jason Witten, TE, DAL
Round 4: Wes Welker, WR, NWE
Round 5: Matt Forte, RB, CHI
Round 7: San Diego Defense
Round 8: Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR
Round 11: Jake Delhomme, QB, CAR

Round 2: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, CIN (traded for Amani Toomer and Randy McMichael, both of whom have been subsequently cut. Ironically, Housh has been subsequently traded)
Round 9: Felix Jones, RB, DAL (traded with Jackson and Fasano for Lee Evans and Eli Manning)
Round 10: Vincent Jackson, WR, SDG
Round 13: Anthony Fasano, TE, MIA

Round 6: Marc Bulger, QB, STL
Round 12: Davone Bess, WR, MIA
Round 14: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, NYG
Round 15: Kevin Jones, RB, CHI
Round 16: Phil Dawson, K, CLE

I replaced Dawson with Gostkowski. I replaced Bulger with O'Sullivan and then cut him. I dropped Bess, Bradshaw, and Jones, and have worked through several WRs and RBs, including Steve Smith (from the Giants, not the Panthers), Reggie Brown, Koren Robinson, Duece McAllister, and Ricky Williams.

Now, what have I learned from all of this? Next time, I shouldn't simply go with WRs who rake in passes because situations can change and without proper research, it can blow up in your face. Had I known that the Bengals gutted their offensive line, I might have been able to avoid selecting Houshmanzadeh that high because a WR is only as good as the QB throwing to him and Palmer hasn't had the time in the pocket to make the throws.

Also, when it comes to any player whose job it is to catch the ball, see how often they get the ball thrown to them. Something I heard about a week before my draft was that while TO is Tony Romo's deep connection, his favorite receiver is still Jason Witten. That was all I needed to hear to bump Witten on my board.

What I also learned was that you should really think twice before picking a QB higher than the 8th round. Yeah, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady put up gaudy stats, but when your league gives you 1 point per 25 passing yards and 1 point per 10 receiving yards (plus a point per reception), receivers offer better value in the higher rounds.

And, lastly, never draft a defense/special teams unit before the 12th round. Unless you're going after the Chicago Bears, there isn't any significant difference between the #2 ranked defense and the #12 ranked defense so don't waste the draft pick.

I guess those are things to think about next year.

Another thing on my mind is music. I was digging through a stack of old backup CDs and I came across a CD with a bunch of MP3s on it. On of them, was a track from Tribe of Judah called "Left for Dead" that my buddy Joe hooked me up with. Tribe of Judah is Gary Cherone's post Van Halen project. The track isn't bad at all. Thanks again, Joe!

And of course, we have the Red Sox. The dirt dawgs made a season out of it by not only beating the Angels
(who only posted the best record in baseball this year) in the Division round playoffs, but took the Rays to Game 7 of the ALCS after being down 3 games 1 and trailing by 7 runs going into the bottom of the 7th inning of game 5. Kudos to them because I really had moments this year when I doubted their ability to make the playoffs, let alone win a game or a series. They really surprised me and I'm very happy to have enjoyed the season as much as I did.

I'm also looking forward to seeing how things transpire this offseason. The Sox have some very hard decisions to make regarding two guys who've appeared in 5 American League Championship Serieses with the Sox, namely Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek. They need to add depth to their bench as well as a quality right-handed bat to the bench. There's also the starting pitching which is very much in flux right now as well. It's going to be a very interesting November in Red Sox nation.

My last thought before I close this post is this: the most anticipated (at least, most talked about) album of the decade is actually due to be released next month. Yes, Guns N Roses' "Chinese Democracy" actually has a release date, November 25th. I'll wait until I hear something from it before I even consider buying it because the idea of GNR without Slash, Duff, or Matt is almost as bad as Boston without Brad Delp.

15 October 2008

The Devil and Ms. MILF

If the McCain-Palin ticket has anything going for it, it's that VP candidate is a total MILF. Aside from that, they got nothin'.

What's McCain's energy policy? Where's he stand on health care? How does he plan to address Iraq? What does he think needs to be done about the economy? I don't know because I haven't seen squat from his campaign. I've gotten something from the New Hampshire Republican Party urging me to vote for the party's "leadership team" (as if I'm that stupid) but not piece of literature from the presidential candidate's campaign.

Now, while I don't agree with all of his platform, I would be lying if I said that I didn't know where Barack Obama stood on an issue. This is evidenced by the sheer volume of literate which I have received in the mail from his campaign over the last 6 weeks.

The contrast is startling. And the irony of a Democrat sending out such a volume of paper products which will undoubtedly need to be disposed of is not lost on me.

However, what's disturbing is the message that I'm getting from all of this. If there's one thing that I've noticed about the Obama literature, it's that it has taken a decidedly negative turn. 6 weeks ago, it had a very pro-Obama, "here is my stance on the issues" tenor. Now, it's an incredibly anti-McCain, "this guy will hurt you" tone. I don't like that.

Yet, I've seen nothing from McCain which refutes any of these claims. Obama says McCain is for more of the same "failed policies" of the Bush administration. McCain says nothing. Obama says McCain wants to tax your health care benefits. McCain says nothing. Obama says McCain is going to keep pouring billions of dollars into fixing Iraq while the US crumbles. McCain says nothing. Obama says that McCain is going to harvest the kidney's of US school children and sell them at auction to international tycoons suffering from dialysis. McCain says nothing.

OK, I made that last one up. But the point that I'm trying to make here is that the only reason why any politician in this country doesn't defend himself against accusations, however outrageous, is because they're the true. That frightens me.

John McCain is (allegedly) running as the conservative in this race. Well, he's clearly not running as a fiscal conservative, that's for sure. In fact, he looks to be running on the same "more of the same" campaign that got George Bush I elected 20 years ago. This terrifies me.

The mere possibility that we could elect a candidate for president in this country that is so out of touch that he doesn't acknowledge (or refuses) that the country is screaming out its demand for a change in direction and approach at the highest level of government would drive me to drink myself to sleep at night if I were to dwell on it longer.

12 October 2008

Why Columbus Day is more important than you think

Columbus Day, typically believed to be October 12th and, like most other holidays in this country, has been reduced to merely being observed on the Nth Monday of the month. The original purpose of the holiday was to mark and celebrate the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus and, by extension, western civilization.

However, we now know that Columbus didn't discover America. It was, in fact, right where the Irish, Scandinavians, and Portuguese would have told him it was, had he actually bothered to ask them.

So, why celebrate this day of discovery (or invasion, as certain groups are want to call it)? Simple, the day also marks a triumph in the ever-continuous battle between truth-seeking science and power-mongering religion.


When Columbus' fleet set sail from Spain in 1492, he didn't just embark on a journey to extend Spain's imperial reach (although, that is how he sold the trip to the Spanish crown), he set forth on a journey of faith. Not faith in God, but faith in science. He set forth to prove that the pope and his minions were wrong and that the Earth was actually the sphere the ancient texts claimed it to be. And, upon landing in the West Indies, he shattered the lock and chain which the Roman Catholic church had used to bind the truth.

So, for that, Cristoforo, old boy, I salute you. Happy anniversary.

02 October 2008

Don't insult my intelligence

At some point in my life, I'm going to make the effort to walk up to a politician running for federal office and ask them to their face if they think I'm an idiot. When they they say "No" (because there's no way in hell that they'd tell a potential voter "yes, I assume all of you are mindless sheep"), I'm going to ask them why they insist on insulting my intelligence.

My point of issue today is an item of campaign literature I received from the Obama campaign. In short, it informed me that Mr. Obama has an energy plan which will help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It also informed me that the plan advocated by Mr. McCain is just out to help "big oil".

Clearly, the point of this little bit of propaganda is to link McCain to the oil industry which we're supposed to assume is evil and out to cause us (and our bank accounts) harm. What Obama and his cronies aren't telling you is where all that oil that gets imported goes. They want you to assume that all of it, every last drop, goes into energy products, be it gasoline, home heating oil, or something else. However, the truth is that it isn't the case. The proof exists in one little word.


Plastics are an integral part of American life. Your computer is made with plastics, so are your TV, your car, your microwave, your shoes, your coat, and your bed. Have you purchased a soft drink recently? Chances are it was sold in a plastic container. Bought a candy bar? Packaged in plastic. So are CDs and DVDs, which are, oddly enough, also made out of plastic. Your iPod is made with plastic as well as your cell phone and your digital camera. In fact, plastic is so ubiquitous that you would have to go significantly out of your way NOT to purchase things which make use of it in some way, shape, or form.

However, what too many people seem blissfully ignorant of is that the companies that make those products don't just harvest the fruits of the PVC tree or raise herds of polypropylenes, plastics are a petroleum product and you make them with oil. And the reason we make all these things out of plastic is simple: it costs less to manufacture things with plastic than metal, wood, or glass and those things last longer. Damn, there's that whole free-market economy getting in the way again.

Getting back to our villan, "big oil", the truth is that the oil industry has been pushing for ways to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil for years and that Obama's party has lead the effort to block attempts at opening potential new sources for various political reasons.

Look, I'm all for exploring our options in terms of non-fossil fuel-based energy sources. I'm waiting for the day when Home Depot and Lowes start selling photovoltaic cells that you can mount on your roof. However, I steadfastly refuse to blindly advocate this "Green Everything" agenda because it has distinct limitations. For starters, it seeks to have everything be powered by electricity. I'm sorry, but internal combustion engines just do somethings better than electric motors, such as work without wires. Not to mention that I like to cook over flame, not electrical coils.

Of course, since this is politics, I'm also curious to know who stands to benefit from Obama's energy policy?. For those who do not know, I don't buy this "global warming" crap for a minute. (More on that in another blog entry.) So, when I hear all of the comments about needing to adopt a more environmentally friendly energy approach, it really makes me want to ask "who's going to gain from all this?". The knee-jerk reaction is that it will help save the planet. Sorry, but in America, altruistic movements (like saving the planet) do not gain this much traction without there being a chance for financial gain somewhere.

The sad fact is that, if you do the research into a lot of alternative energies, you see that most of the technologies being proposed are being developed by large companies that are not part of the oil industry. Translation: big companies are still going to benefit from this governmental policy, just not the ones who have been benefiting from previous governmental policies. And I'm sure if you followed the money, you could trace those companies to the candidates espousing a green agenda. They're out for green alright, just the old-fashioned kind, not the new kind.

On the whole, I think I'd have a lot more respect for Obama's campaign had they merely sent me a little card that reads "shut up and believe everything we say, you mindless sheep". At least I'd know where I stood.