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Im in ur noun, verbing ur related noun.
During the instances of watching the World Cup out at bars, it occurred to me once again that I might get really into English soccer if I gave myself the chance to do so. This has also occurred to me while watching that Sox-Yankees game a while back in what was obviously a soccer bar and also whenever I've had an Irish breakfast at the Phoenix Landing in Cambridge. The problems with this fancy are mostly logistic; I do not have cable or DirecTV so my only option for watching is going to soccer bars like those. Unfortunately, that's a lot of 10am drinking, even for me.

I know I'm not alone here and, like clockwork, Bill Simmons conducted a run-off of the Premiership teams to determine who will be his new rooting interest. Naturally, I loved it; I probably learned more about English soccer in 20 minutes than I would have been able to suss out on my own in days. I'm still a better paying job, TV and satellite service away from being able to follow the sport in any meaningful way but the Sports Guy did bring up a relevant comparison to American sports that I find lamentable.

The American stadium approach to fan participation is close to the point of no return. It isn't gone completely (in fact, it's one of the things I miss most about Fenway) but the majority of sports franchises try much too hard to rev up their crowds. So much so that it has had the exact reverse effect, which is disastrous. Simmons seems to concede this point; he states that he has no answer to it, which he doesn't have to since it's an article about English soccer anyway. But I'll take a crack at it. For simplicity's sake, I'm going to deal with Baseball. Football (which doesn't do half bad anyhow), basketball and hockey are on their own.

1. Turn off the PAs. This has to happen first before any progress is made. The booth guy/gal is there to read the names of the players as they enter the game. Anything else coming out of the speakers is aural assault. You'll never get a roomful of people to play Scrabble with the TV on and you can't get a stadium of people to spontaneously make noise when you're constantly telling them when you want them to. This goes for the Jumbotron or scoreboard too. Yeah, I've seen the clever animation that goes up there. It's very cute.

2. Enough with the between-inning "entertainment". Seriously, how long is that gap, 90 seconds? 2 minutes? There's no better buzzkill after a huge defensive play to end a threat or a three-run inning than watching kids (or adults) spin around a bat and try to cross a finish line. Or being displayed on the Jumbo guessing between three options for the benefit of some sponsor's "prize". All this does is distract from whatever crowd energy that was achieved by reminding everyone that they are in a safe, fun little place where the things they are witnessing bear no consequence or implication. If that were true, I don't know why they didn't just go to a movie, which is 60% cheaper and never changes, no matter how many times you see it.

3. Encourage cheerleaders or hire your own. Using the same scrutiny used in employing spirited tour guides, teams should have several of these people on staff at games to jazz up the crowd. I don't care how mesmerizing the "Make Some Noise" animation on the screen is, it is guaranteed to create exactly 10 seconds of noise or less. But charismatic (this is the operative qualification) people who bring their own style and enthusiasm to the park will rub off on people. Think the crazy drum beating guy for the Indians. Why did anyone show up for Indians games in the late 80's? I'm going to say it was him more than the team.

4. Gee, thanks for the Amtrak fanny pack. If the sole reason for having a promotion is to hand out ads for a company, maybe it shouldn't happen. But the Baseball season is long, why is one game any different from the next? I think the first game of any homestand after a road trip of more than 6 games should be a Homecoming game. Hold costume contests, cheering contests, creative sign-making contests. Have a student rate. Make up nicknames for opposing players. Getting people weaned off of the amplified direction won't happen overnight, but if you sprinkle these types of promotions into the season without the multimedia assault, people will figure out that these are the games to be at. When everyone's into the game, it doesn't matter that there are 81 of them - they'll all be fun, win or lose.

"Come see your first place (insert team here)!" only works when your team is in first place. That shouldn't be the biggest deciding factor for people in buying a ticket. As soon as it does, they stop coming when the team stops winning. Which is almost every team's problem eventually because there are 2,430 losses in the Majors every year, never any fewer than the number of wins. One of the reasons Simmons decided to get into English soccer is because the fans are always into it. It's hard for me to believe that every team's fans have a uniform expectation of winning any given game. Somehow, we have to lose this idea that the likelihood of seeing our team win should be exactly proportionate to our interest in giving them a chance.

Oh yeah, and they should lower ticket prices.

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The past two nights of hot sweaty Red Sox has me split on the prospects of a third. I'd like to keep this ball rolling as long as possible but even if the AC is fixed at PT's, it's going to be warm in there. And my legs are tired enough from standing in the heat for 3 hours but on top of that, I banged my left knee into an exposed pipe last night, so movement there is limited. Still, I'm nothing but excited for Schilling/Glavine, for 12 straight, for going up four games in the division. This is going to be a game-time decision. I may need help from my Decision Maker. I also have have have to do laundry, so let's see how much dilly-dallying I can get done today.

Last night was great. I swear I almost couldn't tell that the bar was approaching the approximate temperature of Venus' surface.

(Which, by the way, I love the place but a bar is certainly no place to have 200 people crammed into with no climate control. I think I saw orchids spontaneously blooming from the beer tap spill grate, it was so humid in there. No one should have to go outside into the summer to cool off. This is obviously the ugly american in me talking. I would be so embarrassed if I found Al Gore behind me right now, watching me type this, shaking his head.)

Everyone was jazzed from the get-go. I was wearing my subtle MetSox getup - royal blue Red Sox cap and Metropolitan-orange button up. (Yes, the long-sleeve shirt was a poor choice.) It was great to see everyone from PT's to Fenway giving Pedro a big ovation. I learned today that the Sox sort of gave the Baseball equivalent of an Applause sign on the scoreboard, to possibly forestall any negative crowd reaction. I can almost hear the wheels turning with that decision. I think the Sox front office has, if not invented, then at least revolutionized the passive-aggressive high-road.

The game itself was a blissful anticlimax. Pedro didn't pitch well, the Mets didn't field well, and Beckett was the Grizzly Man we saw at the beginning of April and in his last start, instead of the Grisly Man we saw for a bunch of starts in between. I want to get my hands on the Anger Drink he has before games, just in case I ever need to pull a tree out of the ground by its roots.

I say the Mets didn't field well but it was really just Lastings Milledge, for the second night in a row getting bested by the wall. Honestly, it looked like a guy who had grown used to the padded walls of the minor leagues and most of the majors. He wasn't expecting something he might bang into to literally "bang". The Sox weren't done tagging Pedro so there's little you can say to peg this one on one play. Still, it isn't the nature of the miscue that drew my concern for the Mets, it was Milledge's reaction to it afterward. He didn't look disappointed, or mad, or even determined. He looked like he didn't just make a mistake, for the second straight night, maybe more excusable than the first but way uglier too. He looked like he was thinking, "Who the fuck put that wall there anyway?" A lot has been speculated around here regarding his attitude, so maybe I'm reading too much into what may have just been a blank expression to shield himself from the guaranteed left-field mockery 10 feet above him.
Some are cutting him some slack because he's shown just enough talent that a lot of what he does can be written off as rookie exuberance or misjudgment. I'm still not sold on him though. Plus, since when does a corner outfielder get to be called "the gem of the farm system"?

So, I might as well just come out and say it. This journal is going to be, for the time being, almost entirely Baseball oriented. Baseball is not the most important thing in the world but that's precisely why it's going to be what I'm writing about for the foreseeable future. I may have time to throw in the occasional political "insight", and if something really notable happens on the job-search front, I'll say what I have to say about it. But in the last week, my life has gotten about 50% less interesting to me (which was so not noticable from the riveting haircut and pest control report) so I'm going to sticks to whats I likes. Besides, now that theres no more hockey and basketball and very little soccer left to distract me, the Baseball-sensing lobes of my brain will likely take over the visual and olfactory cortices as well as the hippocampus, which sounds like something brain surgery students would torch into the lawn of a rival medical school's quad, deriding the general attractiveness of their students.

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before the good wildlife news, some weird feral-life news...

I fear that the roaches in this building may have happened upon my achilles heel. now, there aren't a LOT of roaches in the building, not by any means. of course, i'm measuring this from my perspective of living in a sub-tropical, forrested habitat. this is Brooklyn, which is neither forrested, nor sub-tropical (but this week has been warm and wet).

anyway, my new fear is based on a sighting of a roach... IN DISGUISE! i saw something crawling along the baseboard and at first glance i thought it was a dreaded SBOAT. but it wasn't moving fast or wiggly enough. then i realized, it was a roach with a dust bunny on its back! it was a roach in sboat's clothing!

again though, he wasn't very fast-moving, which gave me a chance to fetch something heavy. let's just say i finally found a good use for the New Yorker.

okay, so that was the weird news. the good news is so good, it actually leaves me with a weird feeling. today Bush signed something that made the largest protected marine area in the world in Hawaii. The northwest chain of atolls, shoals and seamounts portion of Hawaii, that is. This area is so important, i was actually more surprised to hear that it wasnt already protected, considering its the only known permanent breeding ground for the Hawaiian Monk Seal (our state mammal!) in the world.

well, i don't know what bush is trying to do here, making me say good things about him twice in as many months. but i'd be a sourpuss if i didn't give credit where it was due. the Dems had chances before now to make official the protection of NW hawaii. but it was Bush who finally was inspired to do this. so props, you dirty bastard, props.

a cynic might say this was an easy move, that, with no major commerce affected by the restrictions now in place, the gesture is ironically as empty as it is important. i don't believe there is such a thing as empty environmental protection, and i was actually taken aback at the speech Bush gave after the ceremony. he spoke of keeping the environment intact, not just for human benefit, but because it is a blessing on this earth. wait, so does this apply to the other non-contiguous state? or just hawaii?

where did this born again conservationism come from? from a movie. Bush was shown "Voyage to Kure" a documentary by Jacques Cousteau's son. 15 years of virulent anti-environmental ignorance was undone by A MOVIE!! i know he said he's not interested, but someone needs to figure out how to get Bush to An Inconvenient Truth, pronto! not an easy job, but here's how it works:

Lazy Saturday afternoon in the Oval Office. George is suffering from ennui. A precocious staffer who doesn't share this admin's dismissal of global warming asks Bush if he wants to see a movie. Which movie, which movie?? CARS! Oh man, I can't wait! Then she takes him to a private screening of AIT in the White House film room, with Charlton Heston's face photoshopped over Al Gore's. This can't miss.

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addenda to the previous postCollapse )

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In order to keep up appearances that I write about things other than Baseball:Collapse )

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On AnticipationCollapse )

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Who's ready for a funny story without a trace of tragedy or sadness?
I can't hear you!!

Good. So a couple days ago, I write Sherry to ask if it was crazy of me to consider staying at a job I had recently been trying to think of ways to get out of, staying for the sole reason of being able to meet once more someone who works for the ticketing agency of which we are a client. We only work with these people when we have a show, which is two or three times a year. I had just met this person a few weeks ago but had a great time working with her. I would have looked forward possibly to making a new friend in the city had I not neglected to secure alternate means of contact.

If there is an ulterior motive to be detected above, I won't deny it. Rather than confirm it though, it's helpful to keep said motive in perspective.

Probability of Stranger Courtship
Measured across axes: Proximity, Feasibility, Similarity
Expressed on 0-100 scale
**Caution: Non-scientific; for entertainment purposes only**

With the fulcrum is set on me and the scale measured against all strangers:
A Scientology-practicing, National Party member, lingerie model whose permanent address is Perth, Australia would score a zero.
Someone in a Pedro Martinez t-shirt, obsessively scribbling my name in her notebook, three chairs away from me in a class titled, "The Collected Works of Tim Burton and the Coen Brothers: Making the World a Better Place", would quite probably score a 100.

Using this handy scale, we find that this ticket rep falls in the 40-range, chiefly because she is not located in Perth, Australia. Still, with few other positive things to occupy my mind, I had give staying in this line of work more serious consideration.

Fast-forward to late in the day, I've given all my reports and day's work to my boss, and she asks if I have time for a meeting. Sure, why not? Meeting, day after a long weekend, the show I was house-managing had just wrapped; what could go wrong? Answer: Nothing.

And by nothing I, of course, mean that I've been laid off. Budgetary cut-backs, seasonal transition, etc. My boss commends me on taking the news so well. Naturally, I do not tell her that it feels like a huge weight has been taken off my shoulders. I'm doubly glad this happened late in the day, as I was soon free to laugh all the way home. Laughing because of the burden-removal, laughing because the situation was just so confluential, laughing because the whole situation was just too dang funny.

Laughter may be an unseemly way to celebrate impending unemployment, but it was facilitated by the knowledge that the company seems, in a surpising act of apparent no-hard-feelings, willing to help me bridge the gap until either they are financially solvent enough to re-hire my position or until I obtain new work elsewhere. This would entail going on unemployment but putting in part-time, under-the-table hours with the company. I wouldn't mind going on UE all that much, but I don't especially enjoy working under-the-table. (This seems to say something about my philosophical orientation, but I can't say precisely what.) It's a nice gesture, and one that I may in fact have to take. But hopefully not for long.

It was almost one year ago that, with assets amounting to almost nothing, I started the on-the-ground operations of my last major job search. I suppose it's apropos that I begin a new one now.

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I was fresh out of Netflix to watch last night and I tired of the Heat-Pistons game before it was over. (But I did see Wades's crazy-ass-levitation-backwards-fingertip-no-look three point play. Can Shaq just retire already so I can actually LIKE the Heat?)

So what I'm getting at is I wanted something to assuage my less than steller Memorial Day weekend. With the Mets game wet, uncertain and not on the air, the Red Sox having lost, and the Yankees having won, I turned to one thing that would cheer me up.

2004 ALCS Game 4

I owe a debt of gratitude to both NESN and birdmaddgirl for, respectively, re-airing the 2004 postseason games and having the idea of recording them and making copies. Games 4-7 are all good and I have terrific memories from each of them. But Game 4 has to be my favorite and, oddly, the one I have the fuzziest memories of, despite being there in person. The whole evening was sort of a frenzied blur of shouting, clapping, holding my head in my hands, and epinephrine.

Because of this, watching Game 4 isn't so much reliving that game but rather a tidy little cross section of my entire close-up experience of the Red Sox and living in Boston.

It was easy for me at the time to be too critical of their foibles and, conversely, take too lightly their strengths. Seeing them all over again reminds me of how much I did appreciate them, even if it was too easy to forget to say so at the time.

Maybe Pedro said too many things in public that I wish he hadn't said.
Maybe Derek got too emotional sometimes and couldn't be calmed down.
Maybe Kevin and Mark and Alan all did things that made me wonder, "Why the hell are you doing that?"

Of course, the Red Sox still exist. They're still good, just different. Most of what makes them different are players that I've always liked, and now they play for Boston - what's not to like about that? My love for the Red Sox hasn't changed, but they did change, like I knew they would, like I knew they had to do.

I don't need anything out of the ordinary to enjoy Baseball. But the 2002-2004 Red Sox team was out of the ordinary and they proved that even a supposedly dispassionate Baseball fan like me can always use one more reason to love something. It was Baseball and it was fun, like always. The unusual part being that the team was more than willing to be my team in a city that was happy to be my home.

That team isn't likely to come back and I'm not likely to go back to Boston. It's possible that I'll never have a team like that again but that shouldn't keep me from looking and waiting for one. Until then, I'll have Games 4-7, waiting to get into the Common Ground, jumping like a lunatic on the sidewalk as Johnny Damon killed the Yankees.

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No day at the ParkCollapse )

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This is really childish.Collapse )

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