Ken Burns, Buckeyes, and the NFC West

December 27, 2010

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Buy Stuff

As you know, I am a huge baseball fan.  For many years, I have had my eye on the Ken Burns miniseries Baseball.  The new price never dropped below $100, and used copies were hard to find for a good price (if you’re a big enough baseball fan to buy it, why would you sell it later?)  A few days before Christmas, I was pleased to find the miniseries – including the new 10th Inning – for just $49.99 on Amazon.  It was temporarily out of stock, but I immediately jumped at the chance to pick it up for that price.  It’s still temporarily out of stock, but the price has begun to climb – it’s now $50.99.  To grab your copy before the price jumps more, head over to Amazon today (note: we do receive a small commission on Amazon sales).

While you’re at Amazon, pick up a copy of Ron Shandler’s 2011 Baseball Forecaster.  Shandler’s approach on predicting performance is based on component analysis – rewarding players for the skills they exhibit rather than the resulting numbers (which can be skewed by external factors or just plain dumb luck).

Ohio State Suspensions

Five Ohio State football players are being suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season after running afoul of NCAA rules regarding improper benefits.  Players are being accused of trading autographs for tattoos and selling rings, jerseys, and awards.  The suspension may cause those players – include quarterback Terrelle Pryor and running back Boom Herron – to jump to the NFL instead of returning for half a season next year.

Why aren’t the players being suspended for the Sugar Bowl on January 4?  The NCAA says it is because the players “did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred.”  I call BS on that.  If that’s a valid excuse, then why would the NCAA lower the boom on them with a 5 game suspension?

The real reason, of course, is money.  Take those players out of a BCS bowl game, and ratings would plummet.  Sponsors would not be pleased.

NFC West

My wife’s St. Louis Rams and their adversaries, the Seattle Seahawks, both won their games on Sunday.  The two teams now head into next week’s game with identical records of 7-8.  The winner of the division will end the regular season at .500.

For the past few weeks, many of the talking heads have expressed concern about the possibility of the NFC West champion qualifying for the playoffs with a 7-9 record – while a 10 win team from another division could be left out of the playoffs.  I was hoping this would happen, just for the novelty.

Andrew Gallo

Andrew Gallo, the drunk driver who cause the accident that killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others in 2009 (and injuring a fourth person), was sentence to 51 years in prison.  Was the sentence influence by the fact that one of the victims was an athlete?  No.  It was influence by the fact that Gallo has previously been convicted of DUI and at the time signed an acknowledgement that if he cause a fatal accident while drunk, he could be charged with murder.  This has become common practice in Orange County, California – the Gallo case was not an aberration.

Why Bloggers Hate Christmas

As readers of The Soap Boxers (and search engine visitors) headed out to visit family and friends for the Christmas holiday, traffic to the site fell off a cliff for a few days … and traffic will likely be a bit slow until New Year’s Day.  Sadly, advertising revenue takes a similar hit.

But do bloggers actually HATE Christmas for this reason?  Nah.  I sincerely wish my readers a happy Christmas season.

McCourt Case

September 18, 2010

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For the second time in recent years, a divorce threatens to tear apart a team in the National League West.  In 2008, Padres owners John and Becky Moores filed for divorce, and a substantial share of the club was sold as a result.  Now it is the Dodgers caught in the crossfire of a divorce.

Frank and Jamie McCourt (no, not the Frank McCourt who wrote Angela’s Ashes) bought the Dodgers in 2004.  Before she was fired (by her husband) at the end of last season, Jamie McCourt, as CEO of the Dodgers, was the highest ranking female executive in baseball (granted, this is a bit easier to accomplish when you own the team).

With the Dodgers a non-factor in the competitive NL West, the focus of Los Angeles is on the marathon divorce trial.  The trial began on August 30th and will pick up again on Monday after a two week recess.  It is expected that legal fees will total $20 million by the time the case concludes.  This is not going to be an amicable settlement.  Both sides are accusing the other of wrongdoing.  Frank McCourt has accused his wife of cheating with her driver.  On the flip side, Jamie’s lawyer are accusing Frank of legal shenanigans with respect to a post-nuptial agreement the couple signed.  There are six copies of the agreement.  Three of them list the Dodgers as Frank’s separate property, the other three do not (in which case they would be joint property).  Forbes has recently pegged the value of the team at $700 million … so you can understand why the two sides are willing to pony up $20 million for the best lawyers money can buy.

Lots of interesting tidbits about the couple are spilling out.  Perhaps the fact that I found the most interesting is that they employed a hairstylist who worked on their hair five days a week – at a staggering cost of $150,000.  How vain must you be to spend that sort of money on your hair?  I spend $0 on haircuts per year.  Heck, I doubt that Warren Buffett spends $150,000 on haircuts annually.  Or $15,000.  Or $1500.  Probably more than I spend, though.

In other news:

The trial of Andrew Gallo began on Monday.  Gallo is charged in the death of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others as the result of a fatal auto accident in April of 2009.  Gallo was drunk at the time of the accident (registering a .19 blood alcohol content two hours after the accident) and was driving 66 mph in a 35 mph zone.  Gallo had previously been convicted of DUI and had signed an agreement acknowledging that if he caused a fatal accident while under the influence, he would be charged with murder.  Because of this agreement, Gallo is being charged with 2nd degree murder.

The defense attorney in the case is accusing the DA of overcharging Gallo because Adenhart was a celebrity.  The DA countered by saying that 10 drunk driving cases have been prosecuted as murders since 2008.

Personally, I think it makes perfect sense to charge Gallo with murder.  He was clearly aware of the consequences of his actions, since he had previously been notified that this sort of accident would result in a murder charge against him.  He killed three people, was driving 30 mph above the speed limit, and had a blood alcohol level more than two times the legal limit (again, this was two hours after the accident – the level would have been even higher than the .19 at the time of the accident).  Celebrity victim or not, this is EXACTLY the sort of case that should trigger California’s “DUI as murder” statute.

In closing, I’ll turn this into a short public service announcement.  If you think you have a drinking problem, you’re probably right.  Seek help, either through a doctor or an organization such as Alcoholics Anonymous.  It’s not too late to get help.