June 14th, 2007
I'm not really sure what happened. We were doing so well. Now the Mets have lost 9 of their last 10 games. Ice cold. And they're going in to Yankee Stadium tomorrow to face the red hot (8w in a row) Bronx Bombers.
The most startling thing, though, is that though the Yankees are playing like a first-place team, and the Mets are playing like crap, the Mets still hold a 2-game lead over Atlanta, while the Yanks have finally come back to single-digit games behind the BoSox.
A-Rod, who's hotness in April was matched by his coldness in May is back to his earlier form, with more home runs so far just under halfway through June - 6 - than he had in all of May - 5.
But I don't care about A-Rod. I am a Mets fan. I do not hate the Yankees, and I could surely rant about how fucking stupid many Mets and Yankees fans are when it comes to each other. But I'll save that for another day.
I'm here to talk about the Mets sucking it up, hard. I will give them some leeway, because there was a point during this skid when their entire starting outfield from opening day was injured. Indeed, as one player finally came back, we'd lose two more. But, that only gets you so far. Even injured teams can win a game occasionally. The Mets, at the moment, can not.
I am not worried about them. I know that they will start to win again. But right now, while they are not winning, focusing on the present is torture. Poor fielding, poor base running, poor batting, and poor pitching. How many times over the last 10 games has Jose Reyes or David Wright booted a play they make a thousand times out of a thousand on a normal day. Last night, Reyes fumbled an easy double play, making an already unmanageable 6-1 game more of a blowout. But where many times not turning the double play means still getting the out at second, Reyes couldn't hold the ball. The run scored, no outs were recorded, and a pitching change was forced.
And so Jose briefly lost concentration. I'm not going to jump all over him for that. He's not the first player to do it, and he won't be the last. But it is symptomatic of the whole team right now. They are unfocused.
I love watching baseball, in particular the Mets, and right now, I can't watch because invariably one or two players will lose focus, and the team implodes, and implodes quickly. John Maine pitched a great game the other night. Except for those back-to-back-to-back home runs he gave up in the 2nd inning.
And Willie Randolph, I love you man, but sometimes it seems like you leave your relievers in a tiny bit too long. When a more conservative manager might pull a pitcher, you leave them in for another batter or two, and it is, at least currently, coming to bite you in the ass. You can't trust in your players as much as you always do during stretches when they're questioning themselves.
The standings for the Mets and Yankees are directly opposite at the moment. Mets L10: 1-9. Yankees L10: 9-1. And that's fucked. Let's go Mets. Step it the FUCK up.
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June 6th, 2007
Apparently there is a furor in the "blogosphere" over comments by a guy named Andrew Keen, who founded Audiocafe.com. I'm not going to get in to exactly what he said, but I am going to sound off on a topic that is similar and has long been on my radar screen.
Keen essentially says that the web is full of amateurs who are destroying or marginalizing works by professionals. Or comes close to saying that. Click on the damn link above to find out what he said, ok? Great.
Now, who the hell this guy is, I'm not really sure. I've never heard of audiocafe, and when I tried to go there, I got a 403 Forbidden error, and i've certainly never heard of him. So, I dunno if he's some jackass trying to get his name out there a bit more as a way to generate press for his upcoming (or possibly just released) book. Quite frankly, I don't care either way.
I may not agree entirely with what he says - I don't know all of what he says, and don't plan to find out, so it's a moot point - but I do agree on the premise that amateurs are destroying the internets.
BLOG. B - L - O - G.
It's short for "WebLog" and may be the single worst word in the English language. It represents, to me, the devil incarnate. Nothing makes me angrier than blogs. [PAUSE] Once again, this is not a Blog, this is a Personal Online Ranting Space (Pors) [/PAUSE] The reason I hate blogs is that people who should not be able to influence people suddenly become able to reach millions of potential readers and influence their opinions, points of view, and lives.
There are several types of evil blogs. I will start with News Blogs. Blogs that purport to report news. [Please note, I do not mean blogs on news sites like the blog on CNN.com.] The news has been headed slowly and surely down the highway of mass consumerism. Local news no longer reports on the news, but on human interest stories. Cheap gimmicks are thrown in, product placement added. Local news has, for the most part, become so sensationalized as to no longer report anything of interest. Fortunately, the world news/nightly news shows are still, more-or-less, reporting on news and news-worthy events, but even they fall in to the human interest abyss. The news, once a dignified, believable pillar of America, has become victim to TV Ratings. They don't show what people need to know anymore, they show the kinda crap that people want to see. Water-skiing squirrels and a family that got ripped off by the gas company.
But that is not the news blog, that is the news. And it is that "news" which has forced the rise of the news blog. John Doe, sitting in his home in Minnesota, suddenly becomes a news blogger. He searches for stories that should have gotten more coverage and covers them himself. He takes a journalistic tone to his writing, trying to report just the facts of the situation. But he fails. News blogs are the worst source of information possible. They are biased. They are factually incorrect. And there is no accountability. If John Doe reports a complete falsehood on his blog, he does not get fired from the blog when it comes to light that he has lied. He does not get suspended, docked pay, fined, or punished in any way. Some readers may stop reading his blog, but will all of his readers leave? No. They won't. Because they like what John has to say and how he says it. And to me, that is the death of news, more than TV Ratings driving what stories are shown on the local news. More than anything else.
And half the time, John Doe can't even write that well. I know my limitations in my writing. There are many. My vocabulary is not as large as I'd like. So what do I do? Avoid using words that I don't know the meaning of. And my knowledge is limited. I know what I've been taught, what I've read, and what I've figured out myself. And I try to avoid topics that I don't understand fully. Would it make sense for me to sound off on a Supreme Court ruling on Patent Law when I am neither a lawyer nor patent holder? Probably not. But John Doe will sound off. He read the AP article on CNN or FoxNews and has an opinion, and he'll share it with you. He will say exactly where the ruling is correct and where it is incorrect, and I'd bet that he never even read the actual ruling. And that is another reason for me to hate blogs.
I will stop for a moment to discuss why this bothers me. I enjoy reading the news. I think it is interesting and important to know what is going on in the world at large and the world around me. Sometimes I like to find the more amusing stories from around the globe, and then I turn to Fark or something similar. And I do think that the internets have helped increase the flow of real news. It has made information much more easily accessible to anyone and everyone who can find a computer with internet access. But the downside is that uneducated, unprofessional, unknowledgable, unaccountable assholes are suddenly let loose on the world and reporting "news" to anyone who will read it. If you don't have a press pass or an editor, you are not reporting the news. If you try to weave your opinion in to a story while reporting it, you are not reporting the news. As much as Fox may strive to be "fair and balanced" and CNN may claim that the "liberal media bias" doesn't exist, both suffer from pre-existing political biases. CNN does generally report on conservative topics with slight scorn in its tone. FoxNews does the same about liberal topics. They both use quotations from the people that will help drive home their viewpoint under the guise adding first-hand knowledge to the news. And it is effective, albeit subtle.
But John Doe does not have to be subtle. He doesn't have to verify that a witness was a witness. He just writes what he wants and people read it as if it were real news. And that drives me crazy. A blog is opinionated, almost by definition. And the incredible thing is that people read other people's opinions, and assume that they are factual representations. And it is unbearable.
I read FoxNews and CNN and the NYTimes with an understanding that although they are trying to report the news as unbiased as possible, a bias may still exist. I read the information and read between the lines when I see a bias surface. Critical reading is required to get the news from the news. And people don't always apply that to the real news they read. So why would they apply it to news blogs?
The result is the dumbing down of America. The news is reporting crap, and the crap is being read as news. CNN's most popular stories on cnn.com aren't about world news or national news, they are sensationalistic crap about Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, human interest stories, stories about people's responses to American Idol and the Sopranos, not news.
It comes down to: Give the people what they want or give them what they should have / what they need. And slowly but surely, real news outlets are caving to the ignorant demands of the masses and giving them what they want rather than what they should know. But, in the meantime, the internet is full of people spreading more info about what people want to hear, and spending less time focusing on things that people should be paying attention to. And that's fucked.
I can't stand blogs. I don't care if you want to become a writer one day and are trying to get noticed. I don't care if you think that the world is out to get you. I don't care if you want to make a difference or become famous or get rich quick. None of that is real. That's all bullshit.
There are some blogs out there that provide information. Mark Russinovich's blog, formerly called SysInternals, is one such site. The man is an expert on Windows, Windows Programs, Windows Processes, and in general, the backbone of your PC software. His blog is misnamed, because it is not a blog at all. It is an expert in a field providing information for everyone's use. And that is fine. I have no qualms with an expert sharing knowledge with the world.
The problem comes in when someone decides that they are an expert about something when they, in fact, are not. Or when someone who is not an expert and doesn't pretend to be one is suddenly viewed as an expert by others. And it happens way too much.
Ok, I'm starting to get repetitive, so maybe I'll cut this one off here.
May 22nd, 2007
This past Saturday I'm sitting in my living room watching TV. There are 2 things on. Game 5 of the Buffalo Sabres / Ottawa Senators playoff series which started at 2:15pm on NBC. And the 2nd game of the Mets / Yankees series at Shea Stadium which started at 3:50pm on Fox.
A few things about me before I angry up the blood a bit more. First, Hockey is my favorite sport, followed closely by baseball. Second, I am a (NY) Rangers and Mets fan. Third, given an opportunity to watch playoff hockey not involving the Rangers and a Mets / Yankees game, I will be unable to choose which I want to watch.
So, now, let's jump back to last Saturday. Unsurprisingly, come 4 o'clock, I'm torn. I decided that since the hockey game was further along, it would get more attention, so I watched mostly hockey, jumping for commercials over to the Mets / Yankees game. And now the fun starts. Buffalo ties up the score with 45 seconds left, and the game is going to OT. I hit the channel+ button and begin watching the Mets/Yankees. The inning came to an end and I flipped back to watch the intermission recap and analysis of the hockey game only to see pre-race coverage for the Preakness. WTF? Excuse me, I was watching that...
Apparently what I (and presumably many others as well) missed, was that NBC said "We're going to be moving our coverage over to Versus." So, I sat there, dumbfounded as to where the hockey went. It would not occur to me that they would simply turn off the coverage on one channel and two minutes later pick up the coverage on another channel. And, oh yes, there was a two-minute delay. But, I didn't know any of that, so I went to my computer and pulled up the box score so that at least I would know the final score. And I sat there and watched baseball. Happily, might I add, because I do love a good Mets / Yankees game.
A few commercial breaks later I'm starting to flip out there. There is overtime playoff hockey afoot, but I didn't know where it was. On a whim, I decided to turn to Versus. Maybe, I thought, they would put the game here. And sure enough, there it was. Daniel Alfredsson had his arms in the air, his teammates were mobbing him, the Ottawa Senators were going to the Stanley Cup finals, and I had not seen the goal or the overtime. And that's fucked.
But there's more to it. For, you see, the Playoff game ended at 5:14pm, and the main event at the Preakness wasn't scheduled to start until 6:09pm. So, instead of running playoff hockey overtime for 14 minutes of their Preakness coverage, they started their Preakness coverage early (at the end of the 3rd period) with barely an announcement as to where the game went. There was no reason for that. There was no reason to deprive people of watching the game. There are plenty of people around the country who don't get VS, but most of them get NBC. What were they supposed to do if they wanted to watch hockey instead of horse racing? You can't do that. It's total nonsense and unfathomable. In the spring of 1994, that wouldn't have happened. But 13 years later, the NHL is such a weak draw that things like that do happen, and that doesn't just make me angry, it makes me sad. It makes me sad to see that one of the most beautiful displays of athleticism and team work is so downtrodden now that it is broadcast on a network that no one had heard of before it picked up hockey. And, many people still have not heard of it even now that it does have hockey. I've already ranted about this, though, so I'm not going to again, but it's a fucking disgrace.
And there's still more. NBC broadcasts in HD and that HD channel is available to most viewers with HD capable cable boxes or satellites. Versus also broadcasts in HD, but I have yet to meet someone who has VS HD as a channel available to them. So, if I had figured out quickly enough where the game was, I wouldn't have been able to watch it in HD anymore. A small complaint, maybe, but hockey is a sport that is meant to be seen in HD. It looks so much better, it's mind-blowing.
The Mets beat the Yankees 10-7 that game. David Wright hit 2-run home runs in his first 2 at-bats before getting intentionally walked his next 3 times to the plate. That wasn't so bad.
April 26th, 2007
My list of complaints about the Versus network is long and all-encompassing regarding their NHL coverage.
It's a real kick in the face to the NHL that the games are broadcast on Vs. Vs, the home of such other great sports as WEC - World Extreme Cagefighting, PBR (no, not the beer, the bull-riding), the NLL (indoor lacrosse), and Hunting and Fishing. If I have to see another WEC commercial during a hockey game, I may have to get a brick to throw at the TV. It's just absurd.
Meanwhile, ESPN, the former partner of the NHL, is promoting sports like Arena Football and MLL Lacrosse like they're real sports (and, to be fair, compared to the rest of the Vs lineup, they are). The NHL is a joke at the moment because it is on a network that, before the NHL came to it, no one had heard of. In fact, there are still plenty of people who haven't heard of it. It's disgraceful. They've allowed the NHL to become a weirdo sport that can be stuck on a channel with other crap.
I'd rather see the NHL make a deal with ESPN giving them the games FOR FREE than take another cent from Vs. Even Fox, with all of it's stupid gimmicks (glowing puck, anyone?), had much better coverage than Vs and people could see the games, because everyone has Fox. Bettman's trying to "grow" the league? Well, here's a thought, maybe you should start by putting it somewhere that people will see it.
And then, as if just the concept of being on Vs wasn't enough, the coverage is horrendous. The announcers are third- and fourth-rate, the camera work is appalling, and the producers obviously don't know how to broadcast a hockey game. To put anything over the ice while the puck is in play, a graphic, anything, is unacceptable. And this is the network that for the first 5-6 months that they had hockey put the SCORE on the bottom covering the ice.
But what really put it in perspective for me is when Vs was broadcasting the TSN or CBC feeds of the late-night games last round.
CBC and TSN have their cameras zoomed out a bit. You can see the whole offensive zone while the players are there. It was wonderful to watch. So there's a bit of extra crowd on the top and bottom of the screen. That just means that the score isn't covering anything important. Meanwhile, Vs has zoomed in so far that oftentimes the camera man loses track of the puck. Hockey's not an easy sport to watch on TV, but if the puck's not on the screen, it's impossible. You can't follow something that's not there.
The announcers sit there and promote Vs and their sponsors during the play-by-play. It's an art, play-by-play announcing, and it's an art that gets tainted when they're forced to pitch products and sponsors rather than tell you what's going on in the game. And, one last thing, ENOUGH WITH THE ADJECTIVES and SYNONYMS. I don't need you to find new words to describe things that are happening in the game. You can use the same words over and over again. It's not going to make me lose interest, I promise. I don't care if someone "feathered a pass towards the cage." You can say that he "threw it on net" instead and then tell me something else in the time it took you to think of a different way to say that.
And now, I'm forced to watch the Vs coverage for Games 1 and 4 of the Rangers-Sabres 2nd round playoff series? And some of you who aren't so lucky as to get MSG will have to watch it for all of the games besides 3 and 6? It's a slap in the face. Hockey fans deserve better than this shit, and Hockey deserves better too.