Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dan Uggla is Having a Rough Season

I love this bit by Aziz Ansari.

It’s simple and melds the unrealistic and the realistic while addressing what we all assume people really want to post on Craigslist. I love how the big punch line is him repeating the scenario.

This joke reminds me of Dan Uggla.

Uggla is in the middle of an impressive 31-game hit streak – the longest of this Major League season. He’s a former All-Star and just last year hit a very respectable .287, including career highs in homeruns and RBI. The dude makes more than $9 million a year.

Clearly, Dan Uggla can play a little and usually I wouldn’t think much of a hit streak. I know how hitting works and while it does take a great deal of talent, a hitting streak involves a lot of luck. I’d much rather spend my time talking about how incredibly good Adrian Gonzalez is.

My interest is piqued by Uggla’s hit streak because, despite hitting in 31 consecutive games, he’s still hitting just .224. That ranks him 148th amongst all qualified batters in baseball (out of 156). Interestingly, amongst the eight players hitting worse than Uggla, four of them earn more money than him (Adam Dunn, Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, and Carlos Pena).

Now, allow me to get to my point, and keep in mind Aziz’s punchline.

So Uggla has safely hit in 31-consecutive games, raising his batting average 46 points, and still ranks just148th in all of baseball. Can you imagine that? Is there anything worse? That’d be like hitting safely in 31-consecutive games, raising your batting average 46 points, and still ranking 148th in all of baseball. 

Or having the last name Uggla.

Aziz was funnier but you get my point.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Still Want to Hate Derek Jeter but I Never Will

Ever seen a grown child cry? Just put me in front of a baseball-centric, father-son tale and it’ll happen.

When I watched Derek Jeter 3K – an HBO special documenting the lead up to Jeter’s dramatic 3000 career hit – I was alone in my living room and consuming a burrito filled with lean cuisine. I had stumbled across the documentary while flipping channels and was very excited to find that I had an hour to watch it.

Bear in mind that I hate the Yankees. It’s easy to do and as a lifelong baseball fan you only have two choices: love them or hate them. I hate them. And Derek Jeter is the Yankees.

But I can’t hate him. I can’t hate him because of this and this and this. The term “gamer” gets tossed around quite a bit. Someone slides hard into second base and Tim McCarver wants to call him a gamer and make some obscure analogy. Mr. November is a gamer. He’s the quintessential player you point at and say to the nine-year-old at his first baseball game, “See that one, at shortstop, number 2? Play like him.”

There’s an undeniable romanticism to the sport well documented in flowing prose by many an author. It’s seemingly interwoven with the fabric of our nation. As Terrence Man (James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams) said, “[America has] been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past.” Flowing hyperbole indeed. But it’s far bigger than a sport and country. 

Watching Jeter talk about his childhood dream of playing shortstop for the New York Yankees, hearing his mom tell him before each game to “have fun and get two hits for me,” listening to the support of his father, I realized this was beyond bats and gloves. I was watching a universal story of family and a story that, frankly, any kid who ever played little league can relate to. Baseball marks the universality of childhood.

For me, Jeter’s career is interwoven with my childhood. He was the star as I wanted to be the star. He was the face of baseball when I was playing catch with my dad and when I was telling my dad I was going to be better than Derek Jeter. And while that never quite came to be – my dreams erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again – baseball is the simple game that reminds me of where I’ve come from and how I’ve come to be. 

Jeter dramatically belted a 3-2 pitch deep into the left-field bleachers, the 3000 hit of his career and second of five on the afternoon. In the mold of the gamer he is, the Yankee shortstop also delivered the game winning RBI. He talked about the pressure of it all and how surprised he was and how he agreed to do the documentary so that someday his kids could see what their dad once did. 

And I teared up, just a little bit.

And then the documentary ended. As the credits rolled, short clips of congratulations from relevant parties played: Tony Gwynn, Joe Torre, Michael Jordan, Bernie Williams, team trainer, etc.

And then his mom congratulated him. 

And then I realized it was probably good that I was home alone.

And then dad congratulated son.

And then I lost my shit. Straight up Field of Dreams style.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Day in the Life of Yourself

Recently, amongst the Bay Areans in my social networks, a blog post was being passed around.  It was a humorous piece by Rocket Shoes – a SF based blog run by a funny man with great taste in music, checkout his mix-tapes – outlining A Day in the Life of the Modern San Franciscan.

I read it and chuckled, certainly able to relate to or recognize a number of the stereotypes. But my immediate reaction was: why so cynical? Isn’t it cool that someone gets to work a creative job that starts at nine? Don’t you move to a dynamic city to experience it? Aren’t viral videos funny because, well, they’re hilarious?

With these questions and more bouncing about my head, I stood atop my anti-cynicism soap box and declared to two friends via gchat that I was going to write a counter-piece; A Day in the Life of the Modern San Franciscan; Sans Cynicism.

I started writing it, determined to convey my appreciation for the metropolitan beauty I had moved to just one year ago. I was going to strip away the sarcasm and ‘tude and highlight a place I’ve undoubtedly come to love.

But it was tough to write a compelling piece without unnecessarily romanticizing some glaring faults. I love public transportation, but MUNI sucks; I shouldn’t have to layer in mid-July; I spend too much time on social networking sites; I pay too much for the irony of dive bars; I’ve come to accept steep rent.

Now I’m not going to flip this into a social rant, dissecting the merits of human-to-human contact versus the time suck of and google+ or the drone of day-to-day. But once in awhile it’s not a bad idea to take a gander into the mirror and ask: am I just living a day in the life? Am I static and predictable? Where’s the originality?

Ok, so I’ve moved off one soap box and onto another, an existential one at that, but having wanted to get back into blogging and having done nothing about said desire, Rocket Shoes’ satirical if not cynical expose was eye opening. Was I driven to write my rebuttal because reading R.S. was like reading my own memoir? Had R.S. looked deep into my soul and pointed out my insecurities about living a monotonous, unoriginal and inauthentic existence? No. But it did hit a little close to home and it’s good to have the boat rocked a little.

I did write that less cynical piece but it read just about the same. I capitalized on stereotypes and bitched a little about this, that, and the other. Sure, I gave a few more shout-outs, perhaps showing a touch more appreciation. But ultimately I grew to appreciate R.S.’s perspective: laughing at the day-to-day can keep us sane. It certainly helped me.

It’s good to be back.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back Like Taxes

So a little break we took.  Attempted some other ventures which is a fancy way of saying we've been getting drunk, watching sports, traveling, and not writing.  Our respective bad.

That said, look forward to exploits and rants.  Because we're back, upgrading here, improving there, mashing out content we want to read and imagine you will, too.

We're back like the NFL, this guy, this guy, and this guy.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Run in March

Everyone talks about their love for March Madness.  College basketball fans clamor around televisions on Selection Sunday and feverishly scratch out their brackets convinced they have the winning combination of upsets and chalk.  When Thursday finally rolls around fans are worked into a frenzy and frantically follow games via computers, iPhones, text messaging, phone calls, two hour lunches, hooky, and sick days.  It truly is madness.  In fact loss of work productivity during the tournament costs American companies an estimated 1.7 billion dollars annually.

However, for most college basketball fans, their love of March Madness flows from their love of one team.  They grew to love the tournament because nestled in the midst of thirty two basketball games over two days was one game; one game fans cared more about than any other.  That one game you cleared your calendar for; the game you smuggled a radio into middle school for; the game that was on TV in the library at lunch; the game you got updates about in the dugout; or simply, the Arizona game.

Of course, your love of March Madness hinged on that one game.  Somewhere in the back of your mind you knew that if something went wrong on a lazy afternoon in March your professed love for March Madness would quickly dwindle to a passing interest, no matter what your bracket said.  Somehow the rest of the games lost their CBS-blue-blocked-letter-scoreboard-luster when your team was no longer involved.

However, when your team finds a way to win, steals a victory and moves on, is anything sweeter?  All of a sudden you find yourself watching, and even caring, about all the other games.  The CBS College Basketball tune plays on loop in your head; you track down obscure articles about your team; and drink up all the analysis you can find.  You're a part of the madness; your team is relevant; people ask you for insider info; the question is not, "Are you watching the game?" The question is, "Where are you watching the game?"

And isn't that how it should be?  Isn't that how Tucson remembers it?

Remember those warm Sunday afternoons in March?  Remember fidgeting about all day, trying to find something to do but always watching the clock--is it 4:17 yet?  Remember turning the TV on and standing in front of it before sitting down?  Do you remember those few minutes before your parents would anxiously walk in from whatever yard work they were doing?

How about those yards on Saturday afternoons in March--filled with barbecues, laughter, football, and lawn games--that would fall silent around tip-off.  Do you recall refusing to change the chair you sat in?  Wearing the same shirt?  Refusing to watch the game anywhere but the back room of the house?

Do you recall the streets in Tucson on game days in March: dead quiet; one or two cars driving around a ghost town--out-of-towners.  Or what about the giant "Go Cats" sign hanging off the scaffolding on the construction site at UMC?  

Do you remember being 12 years old and running outside with your dad--both screaming--when Arizona beat Kansas?  Or what about your neighbor playing "Bear Down" on his trumpet?  Honking horns?  Fireworks? Do you remember defeating God in the Elite 8?

Of course you do Tucson, because that's how March is supposed to be.  And damn, doesn't it feel great to be back...

This video was uploaded to YouTube by user "bchesin" and was not created by W.C. Homer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Laughable Pride in the Desert: ASU and Marketing and Full Bladders

On Saturday I was fighting a nice hangover.  That morning I would also make a less-than-shocking realization.  To combat said hangover, I had consumed a multi-vitamin and a medium coffee.  Black.  Overall it was shaping up to be a nice morning: laundry, homemade egg sandwich, that coffee, lazy wake up, some good college hoop.  Indeed, Saturday morning was glorious.

And, per most mornings, I had to urinate at some point.

Now, let’s briefly recap: hangover, multi-vitamin, coffee.  Such a consumption combination and subsequent urination is what led to my less-than-shocking realization.

What I realized Saturday morning as I urinated was how little Arizona State has to be excited about.  It’s a miserable athletic program with little going for it.  They are the worst basketball team in the Pac-10 and they had to apply for bowl status (denied).  They’re ranked below NAU in the Director’s Cup rankings and their primary color is the same as my hungover/multi-vitamin/coffee piss.

This is their current marketing slogan: You Are Proud.  You Are Bold.  You Are ASU.  You Are Our Home Court Advantage.  So, ASU fans are not proud or bold?  They don’t constitute the fan base?  What sort of advantage might they provide?  The athletic department, so averagely run by Lisa Love, is literally reminding their fans to be fans; how to feel and what to be.

Their position of mediocrity neither angers nor saddens me.  It feels about right.  The chants of “U of A” echoing through the emptying Wells Fargo Arena felt about right, too.   Ultimately, Arizona State’s athletic deficiencies are irrelevant to the things I care about, like conference and national championships; so Bear Down.

Allow me to spell out the beginning of what I started here: ASU gold looks like piss.  And piss is bodily waste.  Let’s take that logic and add one more line to ASU’s marketing slogan: