Monday, December 29, 2008

Sam Huff, Meet Donovan McNabb
I listened to the end of the Redskins game yesterday on the radio. Campbell ran in for the touchdown with a little over a minute left, the extra point tied the game.

Sam Huff then observed that this game will end in a tie. Sonny Jurgensen asked him what he was talking about; Sam said, in effect, "There's a minute left, and it's tied, this will be a tie game." Sonny then reminded him about overtime. "We'll see," said Sam, who I think was trying to make us think that he was saying that the 49ers wouldn't score in the final minute, then neither team would score in overtime. When we were really thinking that he had forgotten about overtime.

It's been another rough season for all of us, Sam included, I guess.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Sports Radio's Anti-Gift
I freely admit I have a sports radio compulsion. I have formerly XM, now XM/Sirius or whatever, in my car, and instead of listening to any of the great music stations that existed before the merger, I usually listened to sports talk. Since the merger, the good music stations are either gone or someplace that I can't find, yet the sports stations are the same. So I can find them. I'm partial to the baseball station, but during the holiday they run old stuff.

Consequently, I listen to Fox Sports Radio. Which is a mistake. That whole strategy of getting the dumbest former NFL players (James Washington, Lincoln Kennedy, Ray Buchanan) makes it a hard listen, at best. But things at Fox Sports Radio get worse every year about this time. When the first string guys are home for the holidays, Fox brings in a guy named Bruce Jacobs, who is the worst sports talk show host  ever.

Jacobs' schtick is this: He loves the New York Jets and hates everything that has to do with the Miami Dolphins. His hatred for the Dolphins outweighs his love for the Jets, so what you end up with is a radio show with a guy with one of those modified Wolfman Jack/NYC Shock Jock voices insulting Miami, with all the sophistication of the dumbest kid on the second grade playground. Dolphins fans are Stupid! They're Ugly! They're Unsophisticated!  And I don't like them!  That's it. However long his show is, that's what you get.

This afternoon, he was on with Buchanan, who was talking about what a nice season the Falcons have had. Such discussion didn't involve praising the Jets or bashing Miami, so Jacobs burst in to ask how many game the Falcons won last year -- 4 -- and how many games they've won this year -- 10. "That's a turnaround of 14 games," Jacobs ranted. "The Jets won 4 games last year and 9 games this year. That's a turnaround of 13, you should be talking about them, too!"

I think that would have been a turnaround of 5 games, Bruce, and when you were in second grade instead of making fun of Dolphins fans in your class, you should have been paying attention to math.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yankees Panic Unfounded
Christmas has taken a back seat to Yankee-related panic, following yesterday's announcement that they signed slugger without a known personality Mark Texeira for a zillion dollars over eight years. They had previously signed two pitchers that many considered the cream of the free agent crop -- C.C. Sabathia and A. J. Burnett.

According to some, this means that the Yankess will win the World Series each year for the forseeable future.

I don't think so. Let's go back to the off-season prior to 2005. It was a magical time. The Yankees emptied their wallets to sign Randy Johnson, who was getting old, but had just completed a season where he pitched 245 innings to the tune of a 2.60 ERA. That's nice. They also signed young Carl Pavano, who had just completed his break-out year.

Randy Johnson had pretty decent seasons in 2005 and 2006, pitching over 200 innings and winning 17 games in each. He got pounded in the play-offs, although not to the extent that Sabathia has in recent years. Pavano, as everyone knows, had a lot of girlfriend-related issues and was a huge bust, only pitching 145 innings for the Yankees.

So I'm comparing the current situation to 2005, when it also appears as if the Yankees signed the two best free agent pitchers in baseball. It's different now, though, because of Mark Teixera. In 2005, though, the Yankees had their own Mark Teixera, his name was Jason Giambi and they committed themselves to paying him millions and millions of dollars before 2002. Giambi played well back then. You would think that the Yankees were pretty well set going into 2005. Yet they haven't won a play-off series since then.

It's possible that Sabathia, Burnett and Teixera give the Yankees what they need to reestablish their dominance. It's also possible that Sabathia starts hanging out at clubs with the Giants, that Burnett never again has a season as good as last year, and that Teixera does the same workmanlike job that he did while not leading the Rangers, Braves or Angels to post-season victories. And it's a certainty that Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera will show diminished skills and a more likelihood of injury as they continue to age, and that Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera will show that they're not too good. So don't panic.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Be Nice to Your Election Workers
I was a poll worker during Tuesday's primary in Virginia.  Anyone registered to vote in the state could vote in either primary, they just had to make a decision once they got to the polling place.  This caused some logistical issues for the people that administered the election.  In Arlington, each precinct had two identical polling books; as voters got to the front of the line, they would announce their name, and workers with both books would look up the name, and ask which primary they'd like to vote in.  Workers would put a mark by their name in the book corresponding to the selected primary.  Both books had to be available and checked when every single person checked in to avoid someone voting in both primaries.

This was disastrous.  It was a big election, and by 7:00AM there was a long line of early morning voters, puzzled by the fact that we could only help one person at a time, and figuring that it had something to do with the idiocy of the workers, like me, who were doing exactly what they were told.  So they'd finally get to the front of the line, and suggest other ways for us to do this, apparently thinking that we had some say over the broad election policy.  There is nothing more annoying than being told by some ridiculous 25-year old Capitol Hill staffer that you're running an inept operation and you're making him late for work.  My tongue was bleeding, from all the biting.

Things got more manageable later in the morning and through the afternoon.  But then the ice came.  Which caused traffic jams, which, of course, interfered with voters' plans, which then caused them to act like complete assholes.  There was the guy who just barely made it, but was on his cell phone talking to his friends who were stuck in traffic and wouldn't make it.  "You all need to keep the polls open," he told the woman working next to me.  Who was a senior in high school.  That guy eventually asked for the telephone number of the county election office.  I'm sure that'll be a great intellectual discussion.

We closed down, as we were legally supposed to, at 7:00PM precisely, at which point we had to run the results and complete an amount of paperwork that probably would have been easily done under reasonable circumstances, but always gets a little tricky when you've been working since 5:00AM.   A couple people showed up to vote shortly after 7:00PM.  They were gracious about the fact that we had to turn them away.  Graciousness met its death, suddenly, at about 7:45PM, when Queen Bitch showed up.  

She burst into our part of the community center, and announced that she was there to vote.  

Precinct captain:  "I'm sorry, but you can't, we closed at 7:00PM."
Queen Bitch:  "I was stuck in traffic, are you aware of the ice storm out there?"
We were "aware" of it to the extent that we had been told about it, and realized that our cars were encased in ice, but we were prohibited from leaving the windowless room for the past 14 hours, and we couldn't watch tv or listen to a radio.
PC:  "I understand, but we have to run this election based on the instructions we get from the county."
QB:  "In Maryland, they extended the polls, there's no excuse for that not to be done here."
PC:  "Ma'm, we have been given no instructions to extend voting hours."
Me, in my head:  "Maybe you should move your ass to Maryland.  Or maybe you should have taken your broom to work, instead of driving today."
QB:  "So you're telling me that YOU are denying me my right to vote?"
With the YOU, she dramatically moved her arms in a sweeping gesture, implicating us all -- high school students, kindly retired grandmothers, sporadic bloggers.  That's right, we were all involved in this conspiracy to prevent this jerk who lives in Arlington and works in Reston from voting. 
PC:  "Ma'm, I'm just telling you how we've been instructed to do things."

The Queen then stormed out.  I was watching my colleagues during this exchange, and it was a sad sight to see the looks on the faces of the workers, who had volunteered for a job that is not a lot of fun, and were being yelled at by some self-important asshole.  

Our shell-shocked, exhausted crew finished the job at about 8:30PM, then skated, literally, to our cars.  We helped each other chip away the ice that totally encompassed our cars, and headed back home, a long day of tedious work and being abused by idiots completed.

So when you vote in November, please be extra nice to the poll workers.  And hope for some good weather.