Category Archives: New York Giants

The Year in Review: Politics, Sports

2008 was only the second time in ten attempts I’ve voted for a successful Presidential candidate – any guesses to the other time?

I also voted for Obama in the New York state primary. My, that was SO long ago, back in early February. Like many people, I suffered from election fatigue. So silliness such as the Barack the Magic Negro song kerfluffle, played on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, doesn’t even register.

But here’s a terrible thought: perhaps the Republicans were (gulp) right in in their winner-take-all primaries. In the same vein, I have also finally figured out what’s so very RIGHT with the Electoral College. People say, correctly, that it’s undemocratic. EXACTLY! It wasn’t designed to be democratic, it was meant to be definitive. Obama won with about a 53-47% vote. BUT he also won with a landslide ELECTORAL vote. The results of the election were not in question. And the system works most of the time. OK, not in 2000. Or 1888. Or 1876. Or 1824. But most of the time.

Imagine a close election, say 1968. Nixon and Humphrey were virtually tied in the popular vote. But Nixon’s Electoral College victory codified the race. Let’s say there were no Electoral College. There would have been canvassing of votes all over the country. Or even 2000, where the canvassing was limited to Florida.

There’s some merit, though, in doing what Maine and Nebraska have done; allocate electoral votes by Congressional district, with two votes going to the winner statewide. This would put more conservative parts of “blue” states and more liberal parts of “red” states in play, and that we in upstate New York would be barraged with the same campaign of ads that the folks in Ohio and Florida get. Wait, I said there was merit to this? Well, for the local media bottom line, for sure.

Caroline Kennedy for Senate? Don’t much care. Whoever is elected would have to run in both 2010 AND 2012. But she’s getting killed in the “vetting” process. There’s also the more parochial issue that upstaters in New York want an upstate Senator, since there hasn’t been one since Charles Goodall finished the term of Bobby Kennedy. An AP story this week suggested that some “caretaker” take the seat now, someone with no desire to run in 2010, like Bill Clinton, or Mario Cuomo, or Eliot Spitzer. OK, not Eliot Spitzer; seeing if you were paying attention. But Governor David Paterson does not want a caretaker candidate; he wants whoever he appoints in 2009 to be on the ballot in 2010, possibly, one could speculate, to enhance his own chances for being elected governor in hios own right.

I’ve been pretty obsessed with the Constitution this year. Do you know which Amendment took 203 years to be passed?

BASEBALL

Congrats to the Phillies and the Devil Rays. What a difference a season, and a name change, makes.

I started reading a Bob Costas book from 2000, which I seemed to have misplaced. Regardless, the points he made helped me realize that interleague play, as it’s currently constructed, is fatally flawed. Where in the NFL, all the teams in a division play common opponents (the NFL East playing the AFC North in 2008, e.g.), Major League Baseball has this romanticized notion of Yankees-Mets, White Sox-Cubs, etc. Nice, but When getting into the playoffs is determined by this, it’s not particularly workable. Let’s say the White Sox had a weak team, and the Yankees a strong one. This is advantageous to the Cubs and problematic for the Mets.

Also, how is it that the AL West has only four teams, while the NL Central has six? This is competitively unfair. Short of expanding MLB to 32 (four 4-team divisions in each league a la the NFL) or contracting two teams to 28 (two 7-team divisions, maybe with two wild cards, in each league), I don’t know how to make the system more equitable.

I’m also distressed that the Yankees can afford to get two front-line pitchers in the offseason (LHP CC Sabathia’s seven-year contract; RHP A.J. Burnett’s five-year contract). They are playing by the rules; it’s the rules that have to be fixed, with a greater amount of profit-sharing than the “luxury tax” has created. (Oh, and why isn’t the Mark Teixeira deal showing up on the MLB transaction list?

Will Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) be the end of late-season collapses for the Mets?

FOOTBALL
There’s a bowl game today at noon on ESPN2 that I never even heard of, the International Bowl, played in Toronto, ON CANADA, but I have a rooting interest: the Buffalo Bulks, which had been a terrible team, but won some incredible games down the stretch this season. Not only is it an upstate team, it’s a SUNY school (as is U Albany and SUC New Paltz, my alma maters), the school declined its only other chance to go to a bowl game 50 years ago.

On the pro level – Go, Big Blue! (That’s the defending Super Bowl champs, the New York Giants, to the uninitiated.)

ROG

Sports Fan QUESTION

Siena College, which is very near Albany, did a <a href="
http://www.siena.edu/level2col.aspx?menu_id=562&id=14981&#8243; target=_new>Sports Fanship Poll, which claims that 73% of All New Yorkers (i.e., people from NYS, not just NYC) are Sports Fans: 89% of Men, 58% of Women. SRI reports that 18% of folks are “Avid” fans, 31% are “Involved” fans, 24% are “Casual” fans and 27% are “Non-fans.”

There was certainly a time when I was an avid baseball and football fan, and briefly, an avid tennis fan. I was at least an involved basketball fan. But now, I’d put my interest level at least one level down. I don’t participate in fantasy leagues or listen to sports radio, though I’ve been known to comment on a sports blog or two.

It also revealed that people think athletes are poor choices for role models, though Derek Jeter and Tiger Woods are a couple exception. For me, it usually has to really stand the test of time. I’ve been fond of Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (a JEOPARDY! champion). Muhammad Ali standing up to the US government forever affected me.

The survey said that people believe that kids learn teamwork, discipline from sports, but that the coaches need to lighten up. I think some of the parents need to lighten up as well.

I’m interested in how you see yourself.

1) Are you an avid fan, involved fan, casual fan or non-sports fans?

2) Who, if anyone, would you consider a sportsperson who is a good role model?

3) What are the positive and negative aspects of sports?

4) Stolen question: what is your favorite times of the sports year? Mine is early September: the NFL season starts, the baseball races heat up, and the U.S. Open (tennis) is in its second week.

5) If you have a subscription to Sports Illustrated, do you receive the swimsuit issue or do you opt out? If you do receive it, do you have an annual conversation with your significant other about it?
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I went out and bought one of those instant publications after the Giants’ Super Bowl win. On page 1, the editorial mentioned the fear that the team wouldn’t even get a “playoff birth”, rather than “playoff berth”. Having read Evanier musing about typos, this definitely made me chuckle. It wasn’t the ONLY typo I found so far, but I’ve been looking.

ROG

Book Meme

Before I get there: I’m not sure I’m happier about the Giants winning the Super Bowl, 17-14, or the Patriots going 18 and ONE.

I generally gauge a Super Bowl commercial by whether I can remember it he next morning, without notes, without notes. I remember hot air balloons fighting for Cokes, the annual “awww” commercial from Bud of dog training horse, a talking baby throwing up on e-Trade, that GoDaddy commercial tease to see Danica Patrick on their website, and those pandas in Chinese “dialect” for some career builder site which I expect to engender some warranted controversy (after it aired, I said, WT…). Oh, yeah, the first Victoria’s Secret ad since 1999, but I had read about that in AdAge; it was tame for VS.
***
I’m fairly sure I’ve done this before, but since Nik tagged me, not only will I answer it, I will endeavor to give answers different from the ones I gave last time. Whenever that was. If I can remember the answers I gave last time.

1. One book that changed your life?

The Closing Circle: Nature, Man, and Technology by Barry Commoner. It came out in the 1970s, and I ended up voting for Barry Commoner for President in 1980.

2. One book you have read more than once?

The Fate of the Earth by Jonathan Schell. Despite the dire predictions, it’s also such a hopeful book that a segment was used at a wedding I was at.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

Oddly enough, Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles text. It will allow me to recreate some of the songs in my mind.

4. One book that made you laugh?

Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton. I swear this children’s story was inspired by rap music.

5. One book that made you cry?

This is so hokey and cliched – Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.

6. One book you wish had been written?

The Bible. I’d leave in the good stuff.

7. One book you wish had never had been written?

I like Nik’s answer: “Well, the whole genre of right-wing Let Me Tell You Why Liberals Suck books by O’Reilly, Coulter, Limbaugh, et al I guess. I find them bankrupt as literature and usually preaching to the converted anyway.”

8. One book you are currently reading?

A book about cubicles that I hope to review soon.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

I have shelves of them. If I pick one at random: Wired by Bob Woodward.

10. Now tag five people.

Well, I have to pick Eddie, who broke the pledge that Nik had been holding to;
Kelly Brown, because of her mysterious mind;
Deborah, in the hope that the meme will travel through Europe;
Uthalena, who hasn’t posted since early September;
and
Fred, because it’s been a long time since I’ve asked him to.
ROG

More January Ramblin'

I should have written this yesterday, but I was in the midst of doing something (which will become evident), taped the end of the NFC championship game Sunday night, but neglected to account for it running long. The game had about two and a half minutes to go when the recording stopped I turned on ESPN’s Sports Center and saw all the important remaining plays, including those in overtime.
GO, GIANTS!! I suggested three weeks ago that the Giants playing New England tough then, when it “didn’t matter”, was a good idea, and now they have the chance to play them again, when it does. I worry, though, that the transition that NYG coach Tom Coughlin’s face will suffer going from -4F Green Bay – was he suffering frostbite? – to sunny Arizona will be a shock to his system.
***
Johnny Podres died. I got totally into that Boys of Summer storyline. The 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, with Jackie Robinson, finally beat the hated New York Yankees, finally beat the hated Yankees, with Podres winning Game 3 and the decisive Game 7, for the only time before they moved to Los Angeles.

Allan Melvin died. He’s one of those guys who you would see on TV (I remember him from Phil Silvers, Dick van Dyke and All in the Family/Archie Bunker’s Place, plus a commercial) and you might say, “You know, THAT guy.” (By Archie Bunker’s Place, even I knew him by name. If you don’t, see what ME had to say.

Suzanne Pleshette died. That last episode of Newhart, in which she reappears as Emily Hartley, probably THE best TV ending of all time, I was watching, and yet I missed it. From IMDB
The final episode (“The Last Newhart” Episode: #8.24 – 21 May 1990) ran for 30 seconds longer than the typical episode. WRGB Channel 6 in Schenectady, NY was the only CBS affiliate to not get the message, and halfway through the concluding joke in the entire series, the control room cut to a local newscaster. As was typical at the time, he was to read teasers for that night’s 11 o’clock news but he was visibly surprised at his own face appearing on the monitor since he was watching the end of the episode as well. The station DID show it during the 11 pm news, but I didn’t watch that program, and I never saw the end until it was reprised some months later. Most of the early obits missed the fact that she had been married to Tom Poston, another Newhart cohort, until he died last year.

Richard Knerr died. Who was Richard Knerr? He was only the co-founder of Wham-O, that made the hula hoop (I had one, never that good at it), Slip ‘N Slide (I had one, loved it), and the Frisbee (STILL have one; most of the knockoffs aren’t aerodynamically as sound as the original). Part of my childhood has passed as well.

ROG

Roger Answers Your Questions, Chris and Scott

Our next contestant is Chris Black from across the pond, as they say.

Hi Roger

Do you have a favourte fictional librarian or library?

What got me thinking was there’s one in a science fiction novel that I read this year (- I’ll tell you about it sometime – ) called Glasshouse by Charles Stross. The book is set several centuries into the future and the hero finds himself working in a simulation of a late 20th century American public library.

First off, I must say that I cringe every time I see It’s a Wonderful Life, and George Bailey discovers that, without him, his would-be wife is reduced to this…librarian!

Yet I enjoy, on a radio program in the United States on National Public Radio, a segment on A Prairie Home Companion called “Ruth Harrison: Reference Librarian” that takes on the stereotype in a fun way. The last segment I heard, just last Saturday, she becomes the Scrooge character in A Christmas carol and at the end becomes wildly spontaneous.

If you are interested in the topic, you might want to check out this piece.
***
Scott has a number of questions:

1. What do you think the Baseball Hall of Fame should do about the steroid problems?
I think we’ve already gotten an inkling of this last year when Mark McGwire, who was NOT specifically named in the Mitchell report but who was mum before Congress on the topic a couple years back, got less than 25% of the votes. HoF voters are going to determine whether a player would have gotten in without “assistance”. They’re going to decide whether the morals clause applies. As this guy notes, Gaylord Perry got into the HoF by doctoring the ball. My own sense of things is that, assuming the allegations are true – and the Mitchell report was not really designed for that purpose – the heavy users should all get lifetime suspensions. I would make a distinction between someone who tried it once or twice (Andy Pettite, assuming he’s telling the truth) and regular users. However, I would make it possible that they could all get into the Hall – Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, McGwire, Sammy Sosa (who’s been implicated in this by a different source) – when they’re dead. Same with Shoeless Joe Jackson, who played quite well in the Black Sox series, and Pete Rose. They’ll be there in the history of the game, but they will not be able to personally profit from it.

But I’m less worried about the Hall than I am in baseball cleaning up for the future. I agree that there should be an outside lab doing unannounced testing the players, which is what happens in most sports. The players’ union would be foolish to fight this, but I suspect it will.

2. Keying off of Chris’ question, do you have a favorite fictional character (librarian or not)?
Understand that I haven’t been reading it in the last decade or so, though I’ve seen the first two movies, but it’s Spider-Man. Or that duality of Peter Parker and the webslinger. On TV, possibly Pembleton (Andre Braugher) from Homicide: Life on the Streets.

3. What is the hardest part of your job?
Boredom. “Oh, golly, not THAT question again.”

4. Do you think those of us in the US are getting too politically correct by saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” and worrying about the fact that Santa is too fat?
It’s a pluralistic society. “Happy Holidays” doesn’t bother me. I must admit that I was surprised, though, when I wished someone “Mery Christmas” a few years ago, and he said, “I don’t believe in Christmas.” I was in church at the time.
But slim Santa is dumb.

6. What is your favorite non-secular Christmas song? What is your favorite religious Christmas song?
I actually answered this question a couple weeks ago. But I’ll answer it again, and differently.
Secular: What Christmas Means to Me – Stevie Wonder; Christmas Wrapping – the Waitresses; Christmas All Over Again – Petty/Heartbreakers.
Religious: almost anything in a minor key (What Child Is This); anything with counterpoint (the chorus of Joy to the World); Adeste Fideles and Stille Nacht, in Latin and German, respectively.
Now let me me tell you what I hate: bad pronunciations. On Angels We Have Heard on High, it should be “glo ree ah” not the ugly “glor ee ah”. And the little town is “beth leh hem” not “beth LEE hem”; professional singers botch this often.

7. If the Patriots go the entire season undefeated, do you think people will complain more about it then about Barry Bonds breaking Aaron’s record?

Well, no. I think the Jets were going to lose that first game of the season. Yeah, there were a couple close games – Philadelphia and Baltimore, I think – that had some questionable referees’ calls. But they are a quality team, as much as I despise them.
BTW, I don’t understand the commentators’ point last weekend that the Giants should rest their best players this weekend now that they’re in the playoffs, rather than trying to stop New England from going 16-0. Bollocks! The psychological lift of NYG knocking off New England would be a tremendous for them going into the second season, especially now that’s going to be nationally simulcast on NBC and CBS.
That said, if the Patriots lose to Jacksonville (the best shot of the streak ending, I think), the Colts or an NFC team in the Super Bowl, then going 17-1 or 18-1 will be just a footnote in an ultimately disappointing season.

BTW, Scott, I saved one of your questions because it ties into some questions from Anthony that I’ll answer NEXT time.

ROG

Pigskin musings

I try not to follow football until the baseball season’s over. There are pennant races to follow – boy, I hope the Phillies aren’t the wild card and end up playing the Mets in the playoffs, because they seem to have the Mets’ number – and milestones to reach – last night, Jim Thome is the third person THIS SEASON, after Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas, to reach 500 career home runs.

Still, I can’t help but notice that, after two weeks, the three NY/NJ NFL teams are a combined 0-6, losing by an average of double digits, while the former dregs of the league, the Detroit Lions and the Houston Oilers, I mean, Texans, are each 2-0. Even the lowly Arizona Cardinals have managed to win a game. It’s gonna be a LOOOONG season.

But there were three stories that caught my attention, all involving teams in the AFC East, sorta. One was the New England coach Bill Belichick spying story. I think I was more annoyed by the “It’s over, and we’re moving on” comment than the actual cheating. “Moving on”, without acknowledging responsibility, is hollow. The one silly thing that came from this is this video that someone found called Leave Belichick Alone. It’s based on Leave Britney Alone. (And if you haven’t seen THAT classic, or its many imitators, go to YouTube and search Leave Britney Alone (or Leave Brittany Alone – spelling doesn’t seem to matter.)

The second is the continuing saga of former Buffalo Bills running back Orenthal James Simpson, accused of stealing sports memorabilia that may or may not have been his. Someone commented, “You know, if he’s convicted, it’ll be a first offense.” That boggled my mind, but as far as I know, the only judgments against him so far are of the civil, not criminal, variety.

The final story is that ultimately heartwarming story of current Bills running back Kevin Everett, who suffered a potentially life-threatening spine fracture in a game last week. But thanks to innovative treatment involving the cooling of the body temperature, Everett, doctors are encouraged that, instead of being a paraplegic, he may actually actually walk again. Damn, I love this story.
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The New York Times will stop charging for access to parts of its Web site, effective at midnight tonight.

ROG