Archive for June, 2010

The issue of tradition versus modernization has always been a hotly debated one in the world of sports. Purists believe that departing from time-honored traditions will be the downfall of the game, while progressives feel the same about stubbornly refusing to change with the times. Everybody–the professional commentator, the casual fan, and my friend Nick, who inspired this post–has their own opinion on the matter. Personally, I’m somewhere in between. I can see the value of sticking to tradition and of changing with the times, but neither of those should be the sole reason for doing anything. Sticking to an obsolete, outdated tradition just because “That’s the way we’ve always done it” isn’t beneficial to anybody, and it can greatly hinder the natural evolution of a sport. But at the same time, doing away with perfectly valid traditions just for the sake of being modern can be just as harmful.

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Here at Joe’s Place, my motto has always been “Mi place es su place.”  I took 4 years of Spanish in high school, you’d think I’d know the word for ‘place.’  Anyway, this blog is just as much about you guys as it is about me, so I want to know what sort of things my readers (yes, both of you) want to read about.  If you’ve got a topic you’d like me to weigh in on, let me know in the comments section.  If your topic is chosen to appear in Joe’s Place, you’ll receive a special gift as a thank you for contributing–your choice of a high-five, a shout-out in the blog, or the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to the coolest blog on the internet (limit one item per person per suggestion).

I’m free… freefalling

Earlier I wrote about something that stresses me out and makes me want to start killing people, so I thought I’d balance that out today by writing about something that makes me happy.  Let me tell you about the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.  Last summer, my good pal Adrian (one of the A’s from Road Rage with A&A) reached a milestone by losing 100 pounds, so to celebrate, he dragged me, my girlfriend Stephanie, and our friend Amanda to a little town in Georgia to go skydiving.  Skydiving had always been one of those things that I told myself I wanted to do, but that I never really expected to be able to work up the nerve to try. So this seemed like just the push I needed to get over my fear and just get out and do it.

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It has been brought to my attention that I’ve been slacking off on writing lately.  The thing is, I have a hard time coming up with ideas of what to write about.  I’m new at this whole blog thing, so it may take me a while to find my groove.  Just bear with me, because I can promise you, once I get going, it’s gonna be legen — wait for it… dary.  Legendary.  Yeah.

Anyway, this morning I thought I’d talk about something that really bothers me.  I like to think of myself as a pretty laid-back person, and there’s not a whole lot that really gets under my skin and makes my blood pressure go up.  But if there’s one thing that always manages to do the trick, it’s traffic.  Now, I’m no fan of the general public to begin with, and it seems like when the average person gets behind the wheel of a car, their brain just shuts off.  And when a whole bunch of these braindead menaces get together on the road, it’s a nightmare.  Usually it looks something like this:

So, without further ado, here is my Official List of Stupid Things People Do in Cars that Make My Blood Boil™.  This list is in no particular order, and is by no means exhaustive.

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One thing you’ll find out about me very quickly is that I love baseball.  I’m cool with football, I can deal with basketball, and soccer is tolerable in small doses (as long as the fans aren’t blowing those ridiculous horns), but what I really love is baseball.  And if you follow baseball, you know that the MLB All-Star Game is coming up in a few weeks.  This is the game where the best of the best in professional baseball get together for one game.  Being labeled an All-Star is a huge achievement in a player’s career.  It’s the baseball equivalent of the Honor Society, or the Dean’s List, or one of those other ridiculous things that the smart kids get to put on their resumes so they can gloat about how much better they are than the stupid kids.  It’s kind of a big deal.

So the starting players (with the exception of pitchers) are selected entirely by vote from fans.  Think about that for a minute.  100% fan vote.  Am I the only one that sees something wrong with this picture?  It’s kinda like when you were in middle school, getting ready to vote for class president, or prom queen, or some other stupid thing I never got picked for.  Who did everybody vote for?  Was it the guy that had the well thought-out campaign speech about all the reasons he was the best man for the job, and all the things he planned on doing for the school if elected president?  No, it was the girl who was popular because her boobs developed early, or the guy who everybody thought was cool because he played the guitar and handed out candy to the audience after his speech.

Bottom line, it’s a popularity contest, nothing more.  Players on teams like the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Phillies have a huge advantage in the All-Star race because they have a huge fan base.  They’re the popular kids in school.  That’s right–the Yankees are that girl whose boobs developed early.  The Red Sox are the guy that played guitar and gave out candy.  The Phillies… well, I’m out of metaphors, but you get the idea.

When the fans are doing 100% of the selection, things like statistics, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, and all those other crazy things that make a baseball player great take a backseat to things like what team he plays for, or how popular he is.  Good example, take Braves’ second baseman Martin Prado.  He’s #1 in the National League in batting average (.336) and hits (103), and he’s #2 in runs scored (53).  He has been red-hot this year.  He’s played like an All-Star all season, no doubt about it.  The problem is, he’s almost a million and a half votes behind Phillies 2B Chase Utley, who trails Prado in just about every hitting-related stat.  It has nothing to do with the stats.  Utley’s a good second baseman, and I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star, but with numbers like those, there’s no reason he should be that far ahead.

What I’m getting at is that 100% fan voting just doesn’t provide an accurate sampling of the best players in baseball.  There are plenty of great players who aren’t even contenders in the race because of significantly worse players who play for popular teams.  The label of “All-Star” is meant to indicate that the player is among the best of the best in the sport, not just the most popular with the fans.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing fans for voting for their favorite team’s players. Everybody does it, that’s is just the nature of being a fan.  Case in point: I’m a huge Braves fan, and I’d love to see Jason Heyward play in the All-Star game.  It’s his rookie season, he’s been considered the most exciting new prospect in baseball, everywhere you turn you see him described as a “phenom” (a word that I honestly had never heard before I started reading about Heyward), and he’s been a driving force in the Braves’ offense this season.  I think seeing him as an All-Star in his rookie year would be pretty darn cool, so I voted for him.  Like 300 times.  But in all honesty, there are outfielders in the National League who have played better than he has this season, who aren’t even close to the 1.7 million votes he’s received, which put him a close second place to Brewers’ Ryan Braun.  Reds’ outfielder Johnny Gomes is far ahead of Heyward in batting average, slugging percentage, and RBIs, but he plays for the Reds (and come on, let’s be honest–nobody likes the Reds), so nobody’s ever heard of him.  Because he, like Prado, is a relative unknown to the mainstream baseball world, he’s sitting at 547,000 votes, to Heyward’s 1.7 million, despite his stats.  I’m not saying Heyward isn’t All-Star material based on his playing ability–I honestly believe that he is.  But if Heyward wasn’t in the picture and, say, Matt Diaz posted the exact stats that Heyward has posted this year, would he have shot to the top of the race that fast?  Maybe I’m crazy, but I really don’t think so.

The point is, Jason Heyward was one of the most celebrated new prospects in baseball at the beginning of the season, and he has received a lot of national sports media attention.  That makes him popular.  I hate to say it, but Jason Heyward is going to start in the 2010 All-Star game not because of his numbers and performance, but because his boobs developed early.  Metaphorically speaking.

So 100% fan vote doesn’t seem to work, but taking fans completely out of it doesn’t seem right to me, either.  So my proposal is, maybe 50% of the vote could come from fans, and the other 50% come from managers and players, who aren’t as affected by the hype and idol worship, and should be able to come up with a more impartial idea of who deserves to be an All-Star.  Maybe throw in some other rules, like you can’t vote for yourself or any player on your team, and the percentages could be different… I’m just throwing an idea out there, because if you ask me, something’s got to change for this to really be fair to the players.

Anyway, that’s just my 2 cents, for what it’s worth.  Feel free to comment, I’d love to hear some other opinions on the matter.

Lately a few of my friends have started their own blogs, so I figure, eh, why not?  I love to write, and I have some pretty profound ideas, if I do say so myself.  Also, I desperately, desperately want to fit in with the cool kids.  Seriously–I went through a phase where every Thursday at work, I would wear the exact same shirt as my pal Adam (one of the A’s from Road Rage with A&A).  Good thing I grew out of that phase.  And by “grew out of that phase,” I mean the hole in the armpit of my shirt got so big that my girlfriend refused to be seen in public with me wearing it, so I had to trash it.  Psh… women.

So this is it: my first step into the blogosphere*.  I can’t tell you how excited I am right now.  Seriously, I think I just peed myself a little bit, I’m so excited.  I just want to welcome everybody to my brand new blog.  This is just gonna be a place for me to talk about whatever’s going on in my life.  If my life seems interesting to you, that’s great, I’m glad to have you here.  If not, that’s okay too, it’s not gonna hurt my feelings if you don’t like my blog.  But seriously, if you don’t like my blog there’s obviously something wrong with you, and you should seek some sort of professional help, because my life is awesome.  You know those beer commercials about “the most interesting man in the world”?  The actor they cast doesn’t do me justice, but those commercials were written about me.   I’m not even kidding–sharks actually have a week dedicated to me on their version of the Discovery Channel.  True story.

Anyway, a little more about myself.  I’m 22 years old, and I’m about halfway college educated.  As I mentioned earlier, my life is awesome.  I’ve got a good job, some good friends, a great family, and an amazing girlfriend.  What else could a guy ask for?  I don’t take much of anything seriously, least of all myself.  Life’s way too short to stress out about stupid crap.  Two of my biggest pet peeves are people who complain all the time and people who take themselves too seriously.  You’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself, otherwise you’ll drive yourself crazy.  And in my case, I’ve got plenty to laugh about.

Well, that’ll about wrap up this intro blog.  Don’t worry, there’ll be more where this came from.  I’ll be back when the day is new, and I’ll have more ideas for you.  And you’ll have things you’ll want to talk about… I will too.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go change my sweater.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: If I ever, EVER start using words like “blogosphere,” somebody hit me with something.  I am not that guy.  It’s okay this time because I’m being ironic.