Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stop Letting Fans vote for All Stars [Mondays with Gus]

When I think about how much rides on the decision of who makes the all-star teams in MLB, I start to cringe that fans would be allowed to have any involvement whatsoever. The size and length of contracts and home field advantage for the world series are the two big ones I'm talking about here. I understand that MLB (and any corporation or non-profit organization) want their fans/customers to feel personally involved in the success of the franchise, because that drives sales. And I know that fans probably have a lot of fun watching the numbers and seeing who's on top at what position. That's all good and well, but it's really too large of a decision for regular fans.

For starters, most fans only know as much about baseball as they watch on television or read on websites with official ties to MLB itself (MLB.com, individual team sites, ESPN). This means that whatever stories ESPN and MLB think will generate revenue determines what the fans hear about. There is a limited amount of information the average fan knows (or can comprehend, depending on how much they know about the game itself). The average fan that votes can't go to games of every team and make legitimate determinations on who is best at his position. They just vote for whoever they see as their favorite (read: most talked about on TV), which brings me to Derek Jeter.

You know Jeter's going to make the All-Star team. You also know that he doesn't deserve this distinction in the slightest. He's on pace to bat .258 with 6 HR's and 49 RBI's. That's awful. One glance at his numbers (without realizing he's THE Derek Jeter) [editor's note: this fact cannot be put into words or measured with new fangled 'statistics] would make you think he's in the minor leagues. But, he's going to get the fan voting, which is likely going to hurt the American League's chances of getting home field advantage for the world series. What if Jeter loses the game for the AL? Does that mean that the Indians/Red Sox/Rays have to pay for it? I'll admit that the stupidity of the all-star game determining the world series is worth discussing. But, the potential disaster it could cause is magnified by the fan vote.

Furthermore, contracts and their values are determined partially by distinctions such as whether or not a player is of all-star caliber. There are a lot of great players that are not making to all-star games, and therefore missing out on bigger contracts because of it. I'm not gonna sit here and say we should all cry about someone who will “only” sign a $10 million deal instead of the $12 million that he might have got, but it's worth talking about. The fan vote is changing which teams can afford certain players.
For all the good things that the fan vote creates, and there are many, it also puts too much in the hands of the fans. They are in no condition to be determining who gets home field advantage in the world series. For my money, I would rather see the fans just be the fans, while players and managers can be players and managers and analyze the game internally to determine who the best players are. While I am all for giving power to the fans (See my previous post on why fans shouldn't pay for stadiums), I cannot justify allowing them to tarnish the game with their lack of expertise.

-Gus Rafeedie

Monday, May 23, 2011

Golf and Trash Talk: The Next Royal Wedding? [Mondays with Gus]

If golf wants to take itself seriously and move up to the next level of popularity in this country, it's going to need to throw off the culture of being the gentleman's game. It can do this very simply by bringing trash talk front and center. Gentlemen aren't supposed to talk trash, but that's exactly what most sports fans want to see. The golf community doesn't come off to me as the kind of group that would accept a debate like this, but I think it's time to try to stir the pot. It's good for the game, and it's good for the fans.

From a business perspective, it's a simple matter of attracting a more diverse group of fans. Some people cannot get into golf because they see it as boring. Baseball gets the same type of criticism, and there is a similar answer: The people who say that simply don't play the game. Nor can most people play the game. 

Golf is expensive and time consuming. Most people in America can't cough up the thousands of dollars required for clubs, balls, shoes, green fees, etc. At least if people can't play the game (and how many of us play football regularly, but still watch?) they should be able to still get into it if golf wants to grow in popularity. The perfect way to do this is through trash talk, because to some degree everyone in America can relate to it.
Imagine if Tiger Woods, while in his prime, came out and started pulling out some Ali-level trash talk. What if he took it a step further and started talking trash about Augusta National and it's lack of black members? That's exactly the kind of thing that would boost ratings. Why do sports fans watch the Yankees and the Red Sox? Because everybody in America absolutely hates one of those teams (or both, in my case) with a passion. That's what golf needs. People screaming at the TV, not sleeping in front of it.

Not only does it make sense from a ratings standpoint, but there's also the actual trash talk itself to consider. There's the obvious material, like most golfers being white and all that. But, the beauty of golf and trash talk is that in golf you don't have teammates (usually). You can talk all the smack you want and not have to worry about how other people that have to stand up for you will respond. That's why Ali was such a great trash talker, and why people like Tom Brady and Michael Jordan never could talk like him. They have teammates to worry about. Sure, MJ and Tom Brady have their moments of smack talk, but nobody can even come close to screaming “What's my name, Uncle Tom?!” to another black man, like Ali once did. You can talk more freely in individual sports like golf because you are the entire team. It's not that you're on the best team, you are the best team.

There's something wrong with a sport when most guys that play it would prefer to smoke a cigar, drink beer, and be really nice and respectful to those around them. I'm not buying it. So, come on golf. What do you say? How about some trash talk?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

C'mon Royals

That's gorgeous

Why did you leave this kid in there for 14 runs? Clearly he was getting people out at the same frequency as Aroldis Chapman this year. Not going to do him any good emotionally or mentally knowing that his ERA went out after the game to buy beers.

Supersize Me. Cute movie, Morgan Spurlock. Thought it was tough doing it for a month? This guy is slamming Big Macs (Terry Tate voice) EVERY SINGLE DAY! 

I don't have any advanced metrics or good reason why this is happening...but since April 25, over 21 games, the New York Yankees have scored more than  five runs just twice. Two times. Dos vez. Pathetic. A May record of 5-10 is not a good look for the pinstripes.

Darren Rovell has to be kidding with this article right? A bit of hyperbole (did I use that word correctly?) to already think this pony is winning the Triple Crown to begin with, and furthermore, that one out of every five people paying $20 to what - look at a horse, maybe take its picture - is conservative... This guy usually give great insight, but then every once in a while he tosses out some droll like this that makes me think he has no idea what the business of sports and entertainment is about. One out of five people!? HA! Try one out of 40 or 50.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Retire Already! [Mondays with Gus]

Seeing Jorge Posada attempt to be the first person in MLB history with a negative batting average got me thinking about how players decide to retire. There's a lot that goes into a decision like this. You have to not only be ready to walk away from your chosen career, but you also have to have something you want to walk toward. It's a complex decision, but I think it's one that is worth discussing.

As a fan (read: customer) of the game of baseball, it's important for me to at least be able to understand the product that I pay big money for (tickets, jerseys, commercials during the game, etc). In looking at when players decide to retire, I want to know what these guys are thinking when they play for so many years that it becomes tough to watch. The cliché answer is that they can't walk away from a game they love so much. But logically, if they love the game so much they should also be concerned with what they're doing to the game.

For Jorge, this is the third year in a row that his batting average, slugging percentage, and on base percentage have all gone down. He can't possibly be walking into Yankee Stadium thinking he's helping his team, his fans, or the game of baseball. There's bound to be some selfish reason for wanting to be out there. Maybe he wants the $13 million he's making this year. Maybe he wants to hang on to the fame, or reach some statistical milestone. I can't, nor would I want to answer for him. But I can't sit back and watch a guy struggle like this. To me, it just seems inherently bad on every level. It's like watching the Pirates play. It's depressing.

Here's what really kills me about this whole thing: There's absolutely nothing the fans can do about it. If you have a guy who has played his entire career for you like Jorge has, you have to show him the respect that he has shown your favorite team. I could not in good conscious boo someone like that. If Yankees fans were to stand up and tell Jorge to get out of town in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of way, it would be pathetic. That's not to say it won't happen. But it would really be an awful thing to do. This whole situation feels like a divorce case. Even if you “win” and take a bunch of money, you did it by taking it away from someone that you promised your whole life to. Ugh.

With that analogy, I want to suggest a solution. I want all players to sign a pre-nup before every season after they turn 32. The players get to pick when they walk away, and how they do it, but we fans at least get a little bit of a warning and some closure knowing when is the last time we're going to see a certain player. It could read something like “When I get dropped to ninth in the order while I'm a DH, I'm out!” At least then we could focus on how much we loved each other and how to move on instead of always wondering when it's going to happen.

-Gus Rafeedie

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rock Paper Scissors is NOT A FREAKIN' SPORT

Gus, Gus, Gus. All Sports

IF it is a sport, THEN it will call itself a league, association, series or federation, not a SOCIETY, like the RPS tools call themselves. I know of another society, it's call the Red Hat Society...are those golden girls to be deemed athletes? Obviously not. What about the Dead Poet's Society? Again no. American Cancer Society? Not a chance. You want to be called a sport, act like it.

Rock Paper Scissors just does not have enough similar characteristics with other sports to join that group. It has some tiny bursts of physical activity, lots of gamesmanship and strategy, but no continual effort, no chance for major physical harm, no amazing feats of athleticism, etc. Can't call it a sport. Have fun being an activity.

I will take no more rebuttals. Final word, I'm calling house blog on this one.

Horse Racing? Really? [Mondays with Gus]

If you've ever sat around thinking to yourself “I would love to watch some tiny adults slap a horse on the ass enough times to make it run really fast for about a mile and a half,” than I have the perfect event for you. Sure, it happened this past weekend, so you'll have to wait an entire year to enjoy it. But, that's the fun of it all! It's the Kentucky Derby. You're supposed to enjoy the hype more than the event!

They call the Derby the most exciting two minutes in sports. Realistically, it doesn't even hold a candle to other sports. I would love to hear an argument that the Kentucky Derby is more exciting than a game winning drive in the final minute of the Super Bowl, better than the last at-bat during a World Series game, or more thrilling than the last possession of a game in the NBA Finals. Since I have never heard this argument made, I will take that as a small glimmer of hope for humanity.

Now, you might think I'm being condescending about the whole idea of the Kentucky Derby. If so, you'd be right. But, the exciting thing about the Derby is everything else. You don't have to like the race, or the horses themselves to enjoy the event. I mean, seriously how many people that watch this race can actually tell me how fast a horse is by watching it eat oats while some millionaire rubs it's ass? To me, this is why horse racing is probably dying. I can't say it is or isn't, because I don't pay much attention to the sport at all. In fact, I watch exactly two minutes a year of coverage. But, when people like me can get actively involved, your sport has a serious issue.

While I drove to Kentucky to a attend a Derby Party (an annual event that could easily have a new book written about each party), I didn't actually go to the Kentucky Derby. The reasons are many. I don't drink mint julips, I prefer pizza pie over derby pie, I'm certainly not a slave to (or fluent in) fashion, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna pay hundreds of dollars to watch two minutes of horses running in a circle. I'd rather claim to pick dead horses out of a hat while doing a derby pool and telling the only single girl at a party that this is proof of how rigged the system is (true story, she flipped out on the host in a remarkable fashion. Shockingly, I remained single for two years after that). I decided to get updated via my friend Mimi, a very fashionable woman (she had a big hat and everything!) going to her first Kentucky Derby who is blunt enough to make me comfortable in knowing I'm getting the truth about what the derby is really like.

When I asked her how much she learned about horse racing, and whether or not the infield was the place where people pay attention to the race more than the hype, she responded with “No one even knew who won.” In case you're wondering about fashion, which is apparently what everyone was concerned with during the race, many girls were seen wearing hunting boots with their dresses. Mimi tells me “It was kinda cute!”

In three texts and a tweet I was told about “tons of drunk, trashy hillbillies,” “Colonel Sanders,” and “two girls who were making out” that “passed out” during their session. Needless to say, the Derby is a classy party, just the way you see it on TV. But don't worry, “There are normal ppl (like us) in the infield too.”

I go crazy for the Derby party each year. In fact, I drove 10 hours (round trip) just to be there. The girls absolutely love to dress up, which means the guys have to obey and dress up, too. Plus, the hosts have to have classy liquor because that's what people do for derby parties. This adds a certain level of class and sophistication to the party. At the same time, everyone's there to do little more than get drunk and yell at horses on TV. It's fantastic. How often do people dress up while yelling at a farm animal for not listening to a person it has never met?

When derby culture forces me to learn about the complexities of their sport (game?) to enjoy it, maybe I'll take it seriously. Until then, I'm going to have a hell of a time watering down the sport of kings.

-Gus Rafeedie

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wash your Hands After you Pee? [PG-13]


I don't. At least on personal time. At work, I wash my hands like a regular sucker, of course.

Here's why, when I'm at the bar, home, dinner, a friend's the stadium, etc....I don't wash em up post urination. Let's see, I took a shower today, maybe even tonight and I'm pretty sure we all spend more time washing our pits and bits more often than anything else. Then I put clean underwear on (because as our mothers told us, you never know when you could end up in the hospital) so I know my penis was clean and in a clean area when I left the house.

Throughout the day, as I'm a normal person and NOT a nudist, my penis stays in my underwear, in my jeans all day long, which I'll remind you, are clean. When it's time to pee, I unzip and pull it out with my hands, naturally. MY HANDS. Which have been touching money, keys, door handles, computers, phones, mugs, dogs, magazines, beers, stranger's hands and who knows what else. Pee is sterile, and I just touched my clean penis with dirty hands, so what should I wash my hands for after I pee?

If I wash anything, I should be washing my PENIS after I pee. Either that, or my hands BEFORE I pee. Poor guy just hanging out all day, then gets grabbed from his home by these big germ-infested mitts.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Love for the Officials [Mondays with Gus]

I'm writing this article to make up for all the times I've blamed officials for all that is wrong in the world of sports (and the world at large). Sure, officials make their share of mistakes. They have taken over games instead of letting the teams try to outplay each other. I understand all of this. But, it's about time someone stood up for them. We know the NFL and the players union only care about themselves, and this is a small token of my appreciation for some of the victims of this whole lockout situation.

The best analogy that I can use for officials is to say they are the customer service representative of the sports world. “No, you can't do that. It's not allowed with your plan. I understand that you're angry, but I didn't write the rules. In fact, I don't do anything other than read the rules to you that were given when you purchased our service/product.” This is an awful situation to be in for any human being. Working with people that hate you is awful. It's almost as bad as being a dentist.

So, to make up for this constant hatred toward officials, every now and again I like to send some love via e-mail. If you remember a few years back, there was an extremely controversial play in the NFL where the wrong call was made by Ed Hochuli. I have always been a huge fan of Ed, because he's a great official. But this time, he screwed up big time. We all do every once in a while (or daily, depending on the person), and I felt like he was being nailed by the fans, players, and the media. He's human, so I decided to cheer him up. Here's the e-mail string:

Gus wrote:

Mr. Hochuli,

My name is Gus Rafeedie and I had a chance to see the play that most people are talking about this past weekend. Let me start by saying that no man should be judged solely on his worst moment in his career. I hate what the media is doing to you and how some fans are responding. You deserve more support.

I think you're the best official I can remember seeing in any sport at any level. I may not be the most wordly sports fan alive, but my statement still stands. I'm a Browns fan and God only knows how few of us out there would tell an official that they're great at what they do.

I look forward to seeing you officiate the Browns in the super bowl one day.

Thanks for being a great official.


P.S. I was hoping your e-mail address would be something like sunsout@gunsout.com, but this is good too.

P.P.S. I'm sorry if I wasted company time!

Ed wrote:

Thanks for the chuckle on the email address, Gus. I needed it. And thank you for the supportive email. Very much appreciated.


I meant everything I said in the that e-mail. Not only is the guy a great official, but he sets a great example for everyone involved by being ripped enough to uproot a tree with his bare hands. He's not some obese ref telling the world's best athlete what they did wrong.

So, to all the officials out there who are yelled at, insulted, sworn to hell, and blamed for everyone else's life problems; I'm sorry for everything I've done to you, and you deserve better. And, if Ed Hochuli is actually reading this, thanks again for responding and showing us all that you're actually a human being that appreciates a little kindness.

-Gus Rafeedie

Monday, May 2, 2011

This is Why I Love America [Major League Guest Blog]

This is why I love America.

Really, if you are reading this blog site, you too love Merika. It’s just not about the fact that we totally kick ass at spending money that isn’t ours, inventing badass sports like every sport except soccer and hockey (note that soccer is not a badass sport). It’s that we can rally around something as tragic as the events of 9/11, and feel a pang of hope when the figurehead of that act is taken down. Over the course of the last year, I think I’ve seen George W. Bush fire a heater down broadway about 40 times, Marvin Gaye and Whitney Houston belt out nasty versions of the anthem, and seen John Mclaine destroy a bevy of Russian foreigners who had no right being in Merika in the first place.

I love Merika because we overindulge. Binging is a way of life. Debt happens. Stupid people can become famous (i.e. Keanu Reeves. I mean seriously, he’s in Point Break, The Matrix, AND Bill and Ted? How the hell did that happen? Was Paul Walker just too young? Speaking of Paul Walker, is there anything more Merika than Fast and the Furious excluding Tokyo Drift? Fast cars, fast women, bad acting, lots of guys wearing sleeveless shirts, drugs, guns, cars, probable steroid abuse by Vin Deisel. That’s Merika. ). Every staple of life is copious in quantity (food, clothes, shelter), you can say whatever’s on your mind at any time, and can pause live Tv now.

Do we still have flaws? Of course. We’re becoming more unhealthy as a whole, racism still exists (too a much lesser degree however, but still), Title IX is still around, people still like Nickelback, and reality TV is now the majority of television programming. Is it anything we can’t work on to overcome? Of course not. And just like how we took down a figurehead today, we’ll have to do it again tomorrow. But just keep driving that Hummer your parents got you during your super sweet 16th party, because when the Middle East runs out of oil, Al-Qaida will run out of money, and then they can’t afford the swing sets they need to do conduct their monkey bar training.

Osama Bin Gone


(In related news, Mondays with Gus will resume tomorrow, as will my final crushing argument debunking Rock Paper Scissors as a sport)