Category: Rants and Raves

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people who complain all the time. You know who I’m talking about: those folks who never have anything positive to say about anything, but feel the need to chime in at any given time about how terrible their lives are. Odds are you know at least a few of these people. You might even be one, for all I know. But every time I hear one of these people talk, this is all I see:


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The Second Amendment to our Constitution reads as follows:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

That one little sentence may be the source of more debate than any other issue in the entire Constitution. Gun control has become a very hot topic lately. The pro-gun camp demands the right to own firearms to protect themselves, while the anti-gun folks say they won’t be able to protect themselves at all while people are carrying guns around. Both sides have arguments they love to throw around, like crime statistics, and the ambiguous wording and the original intended meaning of the Second Amendment.

I think the founding fathers were pretty clear on the issue of bear arms

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Everybody knows Jesse Jackson, right? Outspoken civil rights activist known for his excessive use of the race card? Normally the two of us don’t see eye to eye–I don’t really buy into his sensationalist agenda, and I think he’ll say whatever he thinks will get him the most attention, whether it’s good or bad. But for once–and I never thought I’d say this–I think he’s got a point.

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The last few years in politics have been extremely polarizing. We’ve got Republicans and Democrats at each other’s throats, each party trying their best to discredit the other. Long-term friendships have ended, feuds have begun, and our country has been divided over political issues in a way that this country has rarely seen. Now, I live in an area that leans very strongly toward the right, so I may catch some flak for this, but I cannot and will not ever consider myself a Republican.

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All right, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t follow basketball. Nothing against people who do, it’s just not my cup of tea. So to say that I didn’t get caught up in the hype surrounding LeBron James and his decision to sign with the Miami Heat would be an understatement. But from the way everyone’s been talking, apparently this is some kind of an earth-shattering decision, so I guess I’ll throw my 2 cents in.

I may tick some basketball fans off here, but I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. One player became a free agent, and made a decision to change teams. It happens all the time in the sports world, and the entire universe doesn’t come to a standstill every time a free agent signs with a different team. Yes, I understand that he’s an amazing basketball player, and that he’s one of, if not the best player in the game right now. But I just don’t understand everyone worshiping the man like he’s some sort of a basketball god. He’s just a player, and this is a team sport.

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So the state of Arizona recently passed a law that makes it a state-level crime (i.e., enforceable by local and state police) to be in this country illegally.  This has stirred up a lot of controversy, and made a lot of people pretty upset.  I don’t normally get involved in political discussions, but this is something I have a pretty strong opinion about, so I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in there.

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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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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.