Monday, January 30, 2006

San Diego is a lovely place... but still!

The Mike Piazza deal looks like it's official now, with the former Dodger, Marlin and Met heading out west again where it all began. Back in the day, Piazza was the next in a long line of Dodger greats (and Dodger rookies who won the Rookie of the Year award in the 90s) with a big bat and star power galore.

Now, he's heading back out west with a dimming star and a hole in his bat. Many (myself included) think a change of scenery is just what he needs. However, while some will argue that leaving New York is the key to the deal, I think he needs a lesser change of perspective. Not from east to west coasts, but more like 90 feet up the first base line. Or maybe to the bench as a DH.

Philly entered the race late because he's a hometown boy there, but there were a few teams that badly need help off the bench. Minnesota, we're looking at you...

I wrote this to another baseball crazy friend of mine last week:

"From the Mike Piazza runaround - he's talking to Philly and ESPN reports that the Phils are looking at him (he isn't physically able to catch anymore, can only DH or maybe (maybe!) play first and why did Thome get shipped to the South Side? Oh, yeah...

So Buster reports that the Yanks are in the running, edging out the Padres. Oh, and his agency? The Beverly Hills Sports Council - no lie, you can look it up.

I thought the whole damned point was to get him a slot in the AL where he can DH and and catch every few days to spell the everyday catcher...There are only a handful of AL teams that don't have a great DH and a deep enough catching bench. In an era where Sammy and Corey are shopped in back-to-back years, Kevin Millar signs for a million plus for one year, Furcal breaks the bank (I could go on and on here) Mike Fucking Piazza isn't enough of a draw (if not so much a bat anymore and I contend that his numbers will get better when he's not squatting on Jake Taylor's knees) to maybe check in with the Beverly Hills Sports Council? Or maybe they can't make a few calls?

Seriously, right now go through the AL and knock off anyone with a solid DH. Then, eliminate Tampa and KC for being Tampa and KC and there isn't a need for a big name, probable HoF'er with some gas in the tank?

We know owners are dumb, so I think this one falls on the jags at the Beverly Hills Sports Council."

I stand by all of the above.

(Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Fuzzy Math

Unemployment is a tricky little bitch to deal with.

Endless hours of scouring job sites trying to find things to apply for (if for no other reason than to feel you've accomplished something), having afternoons free and losing all track of days and dates unless you live with someone who is working to at least differentiate between weekends and weekdays. It's not all bad, though. Being able to catch matinee showings, having time to volunteer and play and explore hobbies and other options are all great things... Until the bills come rolling in.

Apparently personal growth has its price.

This all leads to the strange world of unemploymen-nomics. Malcolm Gladwell can start puckering up now, because this untapped corner of the economic world needs a little light and I got here first.

It's a strange enough economy for young folks without kids. A life with dinners out, extravagant cable TV options and random crap bought for unknown reasons. Unemploymen-nomics is even stranger.

Take this simple exercise:

Let's say your car, truck or SUV is perched on 'E' as you pull up to the pump. Do you?
a.) Fill up the tank a quarter of the way.
b.) Fill it up halfway.
c.) Fill it to the top.

Now, without even thinking about it, this is probably a tougher question than it appears. I've done the quick math in my head of when I get paid, what bills are hanging in some online system, how often I plan on driving in the next 48 hours and if I can find cheaper gas to or from work. All of these factors are out of play in the unemployed world.

None of them really matter because you have no income. So, $35 today is the same $35 next week - it is a finite pool of cash that keeps lowering every time you make any purchase. With this in mind, you're more likely to say, 'Screw it,' and fill the tank.

Where is all of this going? I tend to think you spend even more when you're unemployed because of crap like this. Not to mention, you're buying more food because you're home all the time and if you have my supreme gift for self-delusion, you make concessions like, 'Oh, if I have to be stuck home, I should at least get a new video game.' or 'For 10 bucks, I should go catch a movie... life's bad enough with no job, it'd be good to get my spirits up.'

King Kong starts in a half hour at the Mall of America theater.

On a farm, with room to run and play... he's better off there

I went out with friends Friday night to a bar downtown that featured live band karaoke. Let me just say I can't begin to express what an unadulterated mess that is. The only time I'd seen a similar act was in D.C. when a San Francisco band named 'The Amazing Embarasonics' played before an anti-Bush rally at a club near Howard. More on this later.

As I was sitting there watching drunks bull rush the stage for their 3:30 of fame and lifetime of ridicule and embarassment (simply by singing in as low a register as one can does NOT constitute a good Johnny Cash song, merely a bad Johnny Cash impression) I couldn't help but notice the bouncers.

Now, I've worked as a doorman, a bouncer and a bartender in Chicago, but I was always careful to shy away from the 'bar celebrity' status that any of those provides. Just because you can walk behind the bar and grab bottles without someone shoving you out the door doesn't make you any more as a person. It just seems that way to drunks, I guess.

The bar Friday had show quality meatnecks working the door and patrolling the bar for trouble spots. Beefy, underpaid men with tattoos and goofy caps milling around the front door in case they needed to throw a 95-pound 19-year-old and her miniskirt out in the cold should they try to slip by the keen eye of men who have received minutes if not whole quarter-hours of training in spotting fake IDs.

I realized that outside of Roadhouse and Chicago's very own Green Mill, I've enver seen a bouncer over 30 (and I've been to a LOT of bars in a LOT of places). Big cities, small towns, dive bars, ritzy piano bars and old school gin joints and I've never really seen older guys working as doormen.

Where do the meatnecks go? Do they work their way up the food chain to bartender? For men with no other discernable skills than being large and self-important douchebags, what do they do next? When you head out this weekend, pay close attention to the man in the motorcycle/gym/sports jersey who takes your ID. Then, try to imagine him working the counter at Starbuck's or filling out your tax returns.

It's a strange little subculture - much like the music scene - of nocturnal humans who kick around after waking up at 3 p.m., grab a bite to eat and head off to work. Speaking from exerience, night jobs rob you of a lot of motivation and energy, but it's hard to tell where these guys end up. Honestly, it's been bothering me for three days now.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Like Punching Ghandi in the Face

Before the player-hatin' commences, let me offer a few preemptive 'shut up's.'

I will more than likely take many, many uncalled for shots at Minnesota, the Twin Cities, the people therein, their quirks, the way they look, talk, drive, dance and the massive umbrella of oddity that is 'Minnesota nice.' This is a given. If that will bother you, stop now and go let your eyes glaze over as you slobber over the state tourism site.

By nature, I am a complainer - this will also begin to wear on you after a while. The only reason I've been able to live with other is that I'm neat. If I begin bitching and ramble along, it may be hard to deal with, considering I have no plans to come over and scour your oven. Not saying it'd never happen, just that I don't have any current plans for it.

Now, had I begun to complain about Chicago or New York, I'd probably be pretty careful about not upsetting the locals. With the time I have on my hands, if I were to come across a site that began to take uncalled for shots at my hometown, I'd send e-mails every day and twice on Sunday just to harass the joker on the other end. There are many more like me who have a.) unhealthy attitudes and b.) an undying love for our hometown.

Up here, while they do love their cities, it's not the same and they are really, really nice. It's sick and it makes me uncomfortable at times. The bottom line is that I don't think Minnesotans have it in them to be truly nasty. Inherently, this isn't a bad thing, but it gets weird after the first weekend. While I'd worry a bit more in a major city, I think I'll be pretty safe here, if for no other reason than the worst mischief these knuckleheads can think of is to throw day old birthday cake at my house.

I'm not saying that the whole focus of this blog is just to thrash Minnesota, butconsider this a warning that it's bound to happen. Like soon. Like within two or three posts soon. Just saying is all...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Oh, how the mighty have fallen...

I was the last person who ever expected to start a blog.


I was working in newsrooms in Chicago and Green Bay as the Internet was first rising to power and have to admit I was a bit resentful of the early ones. They could choose hit or miss topics and no one would hold them accountable or they would grab hold to one tiny piece of inside info and parade around for the next week and a half (or longer) about just how right they were.

In theory, a small, agile press is a great idea.
In theory, communism works, too.

After stepping away from the business, blogs really took off. All of a sudden every jackass with a keyboard and a DSL line could post pictures of their new babies, puppies and bowel movements for all the world to enjoy.
There is one in particular run by an acquaintance of mine that is best described as HTML-encoded hate because I lose it every time I happen across a posting.

I think blogs are great places to advance and defend ideas, theories and possible MLB trades, but when it's an open-ended dumping ground for every stupid little thing you do, it drives me bonkers.
In a nutshell, there is no real problem with intermittent posts about the ins and outs of one's life, but when that's the main focus I see red (and I'm colorblind, so that takes a lot).


Keeping all of this in mind, I know that I'm possibly one of the most self-centered human beings on the planet. While we are all concerned with self-preservation, self-improvement and keeping our cable bills current, I'm worse than most. There's an old tip when you're on a first date to just keep conversation focused on the other person, as they are their own favorite subject and I am the person that rule was made for.

As of right now I'm not even sure when or how I'll ever release the web address to this thing, but we'll see. For now, it's enough just to get started and to finally cave to the pressures of a blog-centric world.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step.