Sunday, April 30, 2006

ESPN vs. Brian

As many of you know, i love baseball. Especially, the New York Mets. Despite loving the Mets, i also like to see scores/highlights/analysis from other teams in the league, not just for personal enjoyment, but also for Fantasy Baseball reasons, and to see how different teams are affecting the Mets whether it be divisional play, to see if a team is hot when coming to Shea, etc.

So where would i turn for such coverage? Well, i would, like you, assume that i could turn to the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network or, to friends, ESPN. ESPN promises comprehensive coverage of all major sporting events from bass fishing to NASCAR, as well as the non-white trash sports in between. However, of all of the "Big 6" of sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, College Football, College Basketball), Major League Baseball gets the least screen time, as well as least analysis.

For instance, right now Barry "Hindenburg Head" Bonds is a few HRs shy of becoming the 2nd all time home run hitter in MLB history (i say this because there is a Japanese player, Sadaharu Oh, who is technically the all-time leader). On top of this, Bonds is currently under a grand jury investigation for perjury, and steriod allegations abound. Many people claim that "hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in professional sports." If that is true, than shouldn't this be a bigger story? The last week, ESPN has dedicated more time and analysis to the NFL Draft - a sporting event in name only - than any other news story. This is during both the NHL and NBA playoffs, during Bonds' home run chase, and during St. Louis Fist Baseman Albert Pujols' record breaking 14-homerun April. But no, focus is placed instead on whether or not No. 2 Draft Pick Reggie Bush's parents were involved in some innapropriate deal that may require him to forfeit his Heisman Trophy. Granted, this is a big story, but it is NOT bigger than the Bonds story.

Granted, the NFL has far surpassed MLB as the 'nation's passtime' despite claims to the contrary, and college sports only dominate the headlines for a small part of each year, but baseball seriously gets the shaft coverage wise. I have a few theories why:

1) Violence = Ratings

Despite the occasional hit batsman or outfield collision, baseball is a relatively peaceful game that doesn't have a lot of confrontational highlights. Slam dunking over someone's head is meaner and more agressive than a beautiful 4-6-3 double play, and gets thrice the coverage because of it.

2) Statistics

The average sports fan wants fodder to discuss over the water cooler, and seeing a home run, a strikeout, and the score of a ballgame is apparently enough to do that. We typically don't see a pitcher's WHIP, or a batter's OPS discussed on TV, because the average viewer doesn't care about statistics. The average viewer, like the average Yankee fan, cares more about wins-losses than any other useful statistic. However, to fully understand a 1-0 game, or even an 11-4 game, you need more than just that info. You need a least a line score, if not some analysis - was it the starting pitcher or the bullpen that gave up the majority of the runs? Were they all earned? Was the ball flying out of the park, or was it a slapping the ball in the gaps kind of day? You bet that you'll see the Lakers highlights talk about assists, blocked shots and technical fouls and during football season you'll see enough analysis to make you sick. So is it really the stats?

3) Pacing

Baseball is a patient sport - an at bat can last 7-10 pitches, plus throws to the first baseman, a catcher's visit to the mound, etc - ie. a good at bat can last a few minutes. Compound that by the minimum of 27 batters per team, and we're talking about a long game. There are not always easy ways to edit a game to make it into a fun, 25 second clip. Sports and the news have a lot in common this way - and that is why a serious sports fan and a serious citizen will read a newspaper for their news over a blurb inbetween the naming of Tom Cruise's baby and Bush taking softball questions from some hicks in Georgia on the evening news.

4) Baseball Fan's Literacy > Any Other Sports Fan's Literacy

Baseball fans pour over box scores, the blogs and the daily sports pages daily, as the huge number of fantasy baseball leagues will tell you. No other sports have really gotten as big fantasy wise as baseball has. Why? Because the fans care about the actual stats and dig deeper than fans of any other sport. I suppose this is also because baseball is simply a more complicated sport and therefore the fans will tend to be more intelligent, or else they wouldn't understand what consitutes a balk, or a quality start, or the difference between a curveball and a slider.

So because we read more, understand math more, and are more patient and peaceful, we suffer. I hope that perhaps we will see a sea change in this area, and come to a place (or a network) that will give more comprehensive analysis to those fans out there, like myself, who really care.

Monday, April 24, 2006

_____ of the Week

Song of the Week - "Rubber Shirt" - Frank Zappa (What is so cool about this track is that if you listen to it, you assume that it is a drummer and bass player jamming. That is not really the case - the drums and bass are from two different live jams of two different songs, that were 18 months apart! Zappa simply isolated the drums from one and the bass from another, and randomly dumped one on top of the other. It sounds like an incredibly tight jam, but its just Zappa luck.)
URL of the Week - Global Warming - Not funny
IM Conversation of the Week - See previous post
Meal of the Week - Pork Fajitas at On the Border
The Onion Headline of the Week - (from their podcast) Fat Family Has Fat Pets
Beatles Song of the Week - "Hey Jude" (as performed by the Mutato Muzika Orchestra during the opening credits of the Royal Tenenbaums)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

From the Desk of Ed Kelly


So i texted Ed last night, "As much as a i hate the Mets black uniforms, the camouflage Padres jerseys are the worst," to which Ed hillariously replied "YOU HATE AMERICA." This is the IM conversation he had with my away message afterwards:

ZapRowsdower8: i hope you didnt take my "You hate America" text message to heart
Auto response from GringoStarrRock: ooh ahh
ZapRowsdower8: i know you don't hate america
ZapRowsdower8: JUST OUR TROOPS!!!
ZapRowsdower8: Go back to Italy where you belong!!!
ZapRowsdower8: (BTW I agree, Padres camo is worse than the Mets black) Love you!

I love you too sweet man.

(By the way, that is the less offensive of the two camo jerseys - i couldn't find the more sand colored one)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hey...Bob drinks...so i should drink like an asshole!


So last night i had the extreme pleasure of seeing Mr. Robert Pollard, formerly of Guided By Voices, at Irving Plaza ("New York's Premiere Rock Nightclub"). Bob is known for being quite possibly the most prolific songwriter working today (in 2006 Bob will release at least 5 full length records, plus probably some singles/EPs) and also for being quite a drinker.

Bob does not simply have a few beers on stage. On the drum reiser there is a cooler filled with beer, and a half-finished bottle of Jose Cuervo tequilla. The drinking only adds to Bob's mystique, along with his microphone-swinging, chain smoking, leg-kicking, jumping up and down routine that he still pulls off at 48 years of age.

Now, this is probably unhealthy, as well know, but it is Bob's deal and i respect his decisions. What i don't respect are the people in the front of the stage begging Bob and his band (featuring former Frank Black sideman Dave Philips) for beers and shots of tequilla. This was infuriating me for a number of reasons:

1) There is a bar 100 feet behind you. I know they sell beer, and i'm pretty sure you could get tequilla too. And yes, i know it is expensive, but don't you think that its somewhat rude to ask a stranger ("We're not strangers, we're Bob-heads!" Fuck you, you're fans, not the guy's personal buddies) for a drink that they paid for (or earned as part of their deal for playing the club).

2) All of these people had wristbands, ie. they are old enough to buy their own. Once again, i would not approve of a bunch of high schoolers shouting at a musician and asking for a beer, but i would understand the thought process: Uncle Bob is cool, he won't card us - bring on the free hooch! But no, everyone was of age, and i'd say they were all probably older than i am as well.

3) Shouting requests are something that bugs me to begin with, but shouting requests and drink pleads so much so that i couldn't hear Bob's famously hillarious between song comments. "HEY BOB!! TEQUILLA YOU FUCKING BITCH" Yeah, that was much better than hearing what song is coming next. Not only that, but you're calling the guy you paid $20 to go see a bitch. What is the thinking there? He's playing for over 2 hours, he's giving it his all, he picked NYC as one of the only spots he's hitting on this tour - what exactly makes him a bitch? Does he look like a bitch? DOES...HE...LOOK....LIKE A BITCH? (Pulp Fiction anyone?)

On top of all of that, there was a guy in front of me (i eventually moved over to stage left to get away from this guy) who was shouting in his friend's ear the entire time and dancing like he was at a club. He openly said he's never heard GBV or Bob's solo stuff, but he was there "to drink and have a good time." Once again, in theory this doesn't bug me, maybe he'd walk out with a new record or at least a respect for Bob, but the guy was also saying he only listens to hip hop. Now, i'm trying to understand why this kid would want to spent $20 on a ticket, plus drinks at the club, which are $5-6 a pop...hey, maybe i understand why THIS guy would be asking Bob for a beer - which he was doing repeatedly. I don't know who was more annoying - that guy, or the two frat guys to my right who were hugging so much and shouting for beer so much and just draping over one another that i swear these two macho ddues were about two seconds away from making out. I have a feeling their frat would NOT like that very much.

So this begs the question: Does the fact that Bob drinks on stage actually hinder his performances, but not for the reason of his own drunkenness, but because of the 'bad example' he sets for his audience? If so, that's a terrible consequence of Bob trying to unwind on stage. Reportedly, at a GBV book signing in the last year, Bob had a cooler of beer next to him even there. Maybe he struggles with stage fright, and the drinking is the only way he can bring himself to perform. Or maybe he really does have a problem. However, that is not my decision to make. Nor is Bob up there telling his audience to be irresponsible and be obnoxiously drunk. He didn't tell that girl right in front of me to get up on stage, and instead of stage diving, to simple step off the 2 1/2 foot stage. She, no doubt, fell to her knees in pain. And she crushed the poor girl next to me's feet. Is this the type of behaviour that i have to expect the next time (and hopefully there will be a next time) i see Bob perform? If so, i'll be safe at the bar, drinking my beer with the other quiet, respectful drunks who are spending their hard earned $6 for a Guinness in a can.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why was Arrested Development cancelled? Because you are lame




Dear America,

Last night, because i like to re-open old wounds (and because Erin hadn't seen it yet), i re-watched the series finale of Arrested Development. This is a shame on so many levels - yes, the last 4 episodes were great, but not as great as another season would have been. There are many reasons i could give for why the show wasn't more popular: the documentary-style camera work, the obtrusive voice-overs, the endless supply of in-jokes that carry over from episode to episode (and even season to season), but only one thing is really true: The show didn't succeed because you suck.

In a country that elected a man who fell off of a device even Gob could ride, where, like Buster, people enjoy watching Skating with Celebrities, and where people only think of Parmesan as a delicious cheese, not enough people watched this fantastic show. Blame Fox if you like, but really, blame yourselves.

Blame yourselves for not introducing others to the show - if every one of the 5 million weekly viewers told their friends about it (like i tried to do), maybe enough people would have watched or Tivo'd it weekly.

Blame yourselves for not writing letters to Fox demanding another chance.

Blame yourselves for not buying the DVDs.

Blame yourselves most of all for your lack of trying. People often told me "i can't follow the show, its too confusing." I'm sorry, that is bullshit. If you gave it the old college try, you could easily follow the show. Yes, it is extremely self-referential, but that leads to some of the best gags the show had.

If a show's guest stars tell you about its quality (which i don't really believe - see Will and Grace - every unfunny episode of that show has some decent celeb sitting in), then argue with this: Zach Braff (Scrubs, Garden State), Liza Minelli (adored by gay men everywhere), Henry Winkler (the fucking FONZ!), Martin Mull (the guy who tried to bed Terri Garr in Mr. Mom), Scott Baio (Chachi! Charles! Diagnosis Murder!). Not to mention the cast itself: Jason Bateman (Teen Wolf Too!), David Cross (general hillarity), Jeffrey Tambor (The Larry Sanders Show, Muppets in Space), Jessica Walter (PCU). The comedy gods gave us the perfect television show: smart, funny, subversive, well written, well acted, multi-layered and just plain funny. And what did we do with it? We squandered it, you fucking robots!

So basically, next time you hear someone bemoaning bad tv, punch them in the neck - you had your chance America, and you blew it. Enjoy your Freddie!

Love and Kisses,
Brian

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Best of the Internet This Week So Far

From Do The Math, the Bad Plus's Blog:

Condi's PR piano

We are appalled by the classical music establishment's interest in Rice's music-making. (It's not just the NY Times. Recently, Some of our fav blogs have been guardedly respectful of her too.)

No.

When you are that personally connected and responsible for extensive murder and mayhem in the world, your amateur piano playing is NOT a news story.

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Google's Quote of the Day:

Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.
- WH Auden

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From Matthew Cerrone's Metsblog:

In 23 at-bats this season, Mets 3B David Wright is batting .435, with two HR, 10 RBI, a stolen base, two walks and he has yet to strike out…

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From Popmatters:

JAZZ TODAY: The Strange, Mixed Fate of Steely Dan

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And finally, a Catch-22 quote from Dan. I love this book SOOOOO much.

"Do you think it does you credit to have your chaplain hanging around
here every night? He's in here every goddamn time I come."

"You're right, sir, absolutely right," Colonel Cathcart responded. "It
does me no credit at all. And I am going to do something about it,
this very minute."

"Aren't you the one who ordered him to come here?"

"No, sir, that was Colonel Korn. I intend to punish him severely, too."

"If he wasn't a chaplain," General Dreedle muttered, "I'd have him
taken outside and shot."

"He's not a chaplain," Colonel Carthcart advised helpfully.

"Isn't he? Then why the hell does he wear that cross on his collar if
he's not a chaplain?"

"He doesn't wear a cross on his collar, sir. He wears a silver leaf.
He's a lieutenant colonel."

"You've got a chaplain who's a lieutenant colonel?" inquired General
Dreedle with amazement.

"Oh no, sir. My chaplain is only a captain."

"Then why the hell does he wear a silver leaf on his collar if he's
only a captain?"

"He doesn't wear a silver lead on his collar, sir. He wears a cross."

"Go away from me now, you son of a bitch."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Emo Test

1) Do you cry a lot?
2) Do you listen to Dashboard Confessional?
3) Do you dress like a jerk?

If you have answered yes to any two of these questions, you're emo.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The first _____ of the Year!

Song of the Week: "Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down" - Scott Weiland (anyone remember this song? Dan? Kenny?)
URL of the Week: Nintendo Sixty FOOOOOUUUUUR
Exchange of the Week: Brian: You know, Orson Welles was on the cover of TIME magazine at
24, i think. Maybe 25.
Kenny: Wow, that's depressing.
Scott: Oh man. I'm going to go shoot the president!
Meal of the Week: Sausage and Peppers at Shea Stadium
The Onion Headline of the Week: My Adopted Daughter is the Most Beautiful Child in the Third World
Beatles Song of the Week: "Wait"