Saturday, January 28, 2012

Subaru--The Car For Moms Who Will Go To Hell

I thought it odder when Cadillac decided to use a song from the Pogues in a commercial that featured the line, "With a heart full of hate and a lust for vomit", but this commercial is still odd.  The song and its title is featured prominently, "If I Should Fall From the Grace of God."  Is Subaru suggesting that a mom forced to drive her triplets around would contemplate the sweet, sweet release of death and a horrible afterlife?  Makes sense to me, but to the broader consumer market, it may not.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Old School Thursday: Oran "Juice" Jones

Monday, January 16, 2012

IDYFT Playoff Pick'em 2012: Championship Round

Some outstanding games have rained sundry fortunes upon our participants. Final victory is still very much in play, as the picks increase in value.

Breaking News in the Penn State Scandal: for a party in 1997, Sandusky hired the band "Boyz II Men" because he thought they were a delivery service.

1. Miwacar: 22 pts (Ravens/Packers, Packers)
2. Adw: 18 pts (Ravens/Packers, Ravens)
3. Big BM: 16 pts (Ravens/Packers, Packers)
4. MuMuMan: 8 pts (Lions/Ravens, Lions)
5. Jess: 5 pts (Lions/Tebows, Packers)

Championship Round
1. Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots? +4
2. New York VaGiants at San Francisco 49ers? +4
3. Your Shoe-in? (+2/-4)

Bonus Questions +2
4. Which game is closest?
5. Which game has the most total points scored?
6. Which individual team scores the most points?
7. Which individual team allows the fewest points?
8. Which individual team scores a Special Teams touchdown?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hey, What's the Deal With Billion Dollar Stadiums, Anyway?

During of all the crazy Minnesota Viking stadium talk (which we have talked about, to death), one thing has consistently bothered me, but I haven't given much voice to--why is the stadium so expensive? The total cost has been estimated at just over $1 Billion. That's a lot of money, regardless of who is paying for it (if the Vikings gets their way--taxpayers about 70%, NFL pool 20%, Vikings 10%). But even if the Vikings paid for all of it, it is a shocking amount of money. When did stadiums get so damn expensive? I mean, they are always expensive, but the last few years, it seemed to me, has featured a positive explosion in costs.

And I wasn't wrong. Here's the stadium costs (adjusted for 2012 dollars*!), in millions, of every stadium built since 2000.

(*all costs as reported by Wikipedia)

The Vikings are attempting to build the 3rd Most Expensive stadium in NFL history, right behind the last two built. I don't think anyone is surprised when Jerry Jones' monument to himself topped a billion dollars. Maybe a few people were surprised that the Giants/Jets shared stadium also topped a billion dollars. Why are the Vikings attempting to compete, cost wise, with the Cowboys and Jets/Giants? Isn't shit cheaper in the sleepy urban utopia of Minneapolis/St. Paul?

And look, just five years ago, a new stadium cost less than half as much. What is going on here? Why does the cost of building a new stadium in the NFL outstrip the GDP of Liberia?

Hell, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis seemed horribly expensive, way back in 2008. It cost 75% of the estimated cost of the new Vikings stadium, and it was built for one of the most successful franchises in the NFL over the previous decade, as opposed to, in the Vikings, one of the sketchier franchises over the past decade.

And that's not the only comparison in which Lucas Oil Stadium seems to blow the doors off the proposed Viking stadium--it is in downtown Indianapolis (while the Vikings push for a stadium 10 miles outside of downtown, with little to no public transport) and it has a retractable roof (which the Vikings say they don't want, but you know that they do, and have refused to include in their estimates). It seems the Vikings are well are demanding the most expensive fixed roof stadium in NFL history.

Again--look at that chart. Look how crazily fast the costs have risen. Maybe it is time to inject a little sanity back into the argument, and instead of pushing for a Billion Dollar Stadium, just to have one, maybe it is time to compromise on that price. The Vikings don't need the 3rd most expensive stadium in league history. They just need to play in something nicer than the Metrodome (included in that category--a Metrodome with some upgrades).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Enter: Shakopee?

First off, I'll give all of you non-Minnesotans a moment to get over the giggles that may be induced by a town called "Shakopee". It sounds funny, right? Like "Shack o' Pee". You are a little off on your pronunciation, but you are pretty close. Go ahead...giggle. Shack o' Pee! Hilarious!

It is, of course, of Native American origin--the home of Mdewakantonwan Sioux Chief, Shakopee.

For Minnesota Vikings fans who want to see a stadium built for their team, the idea of Shakopee throwing their hat into the ring at this late date may also seem somewhat humorous. Shakopee is a good 35 miles from central Minneapolis. Even the crappy Arden Hills site the Vikings want is much closer to both downtowns of the Twin Cities than that.

But, wait, just a moment, because I think this argument could get interesting.

The Vikings hate downtown Minneapolis (they claim) because of the congested matter of downtown; there's no way to break ground right away, and there are businesses already there, and there is simply no room to develop the "proper fan tailgating experience" (i.e., getting drunk in a parking lot).

And to be fair, plenty of Minneapolis businesses aren't crazy about some of those plans, either. One of those businesses is the Catholic Church--the franchise in question being the Basilica of St. Mary's, one of Minneapolis' most distinctive and prominent church edifices. And there are plenty of other, secular business owners who worry about the impact on their business, if any of the non-Metrodome sites are approved.

So, Arden Hills, the Vikings favorite site is a non-starter. Minneapolis is a tough sell because of established businesses. Wrecking the Metrodome and starting over would be great, if the Vikings weren't such whiny bitches about that. "We'll have to play in a college stadium! We'll lose money at the gate! We're a bunch of babies who don't know that we make all of our money on TV rights anyway!" And so on (there may have been some unfair editorializing by me in there. I don't mind that I did that.)

And so, again, Shakopee. It is distant. But it isn't much further than the Arden Hills site the Vikings prefer. It's another 10 miles or so, in the other direction. BUT...

The roads to it are already better than the roads to Arden Hills are now. Shakopee already has a little bit of the Twin Cities playground vibe to it, what with ValleyFair, the only solid, non carnie-infested amusement park in the metro Twin Cities area; Canterbury Park, a place to gamble on ponies and cards; and one of the biggest Casinos in Minnesota in Mystic Lake Casino (owned by those previously mentioned, pesky Mdewakantonwan Sioux).

Shakopee has the added benefit, for those of us who live in either Hennepin County or Ramsey County (the counties of Minneapolis and St. Paul, respectively) to not be in either of those counties. Fundraising would have to come from Scott County--and who knows? For the residents of Scott County, paying for a stadium to have thousands of Twin Citians flock into their county might make economic sense. Maybe those drunk, sad Vikings fans head to the casino, or to the track. Maybe Shakopee can actually make money on the deal.

Which is probably why the Vikings are lukewarm on the idea. Those dollars belong to them, dammit!

Regardless, keep your eye on this seemingly ridiculous, no chance in hell idea. It might make sense!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Reasonable Owner in Oakland

I'm not a Raiders fan. However, I would never say that I hate Raiders fans...some of my best friends are Raiders fans!

They suffered through the years of Al Davis being, in their own estimation...a brilliant eccentric owner who sometimes made brilliant decisions...the owner of a funny franchise...a crazy-ass old man who is ruining the franchise.

And now, sadly, Al Davis is gone, but with all of the fresh blood that the NFL and primogeniture allows, the Raiders' have a new owner, and he's Mark Davis. He'll turn things around. He is his father's son, with his moxie, his courage, and the years and years of experience of growing up at the feet of one of the NFL's most unorthodox thinkers. Good times are here again, for Oakland fans. And then they met Mark Davis. And they all thought*, "Hey, isn't that Nick Swardson as Bucky Larson in that movie no one saw but everyone hated?"


Now, I'll never judge a man by his haircut, unless he is a fucking multi-millionaire, in which case, I will. And in this case, GUH. Good luck, Oakland Raiders!

Good news, Oakland Raider Nation: the 17th century Dutch boy who is dressed as a 21st century, sixty-five year old man has hired a pretty incredible support staff made up almost entirely of former Green Bay Packers. Presumably, Mark Davis is going to be too busy trying to replicate the experiments in Weird Science (who can blame him for that?) to give a shit about actually running an NFL franchise, and that's fantastic news for those who want to see the Raiders succeed.

*I would have been shocked if I were the first person to make this connection. I wasn't.

Monday, January 09, 2012

IDYFT Playoff Pick'em 2012: Divisional Round

Congratulations! You may have already won!

As a bonus of appreciation, everybody gets a touchdown's worth of points just for participating. But don't expect such largesse to continue. The divisional round is going to be higher stakes, higher points and higher pants.

Standings and Superbowl Picks
1. Miwacar: 12 pts (Ravens/Packers, Packers)
2. Adw: 8 pts (Ravens/Packers, Ravens)
3. MuMuMan: 7 pts (Lions/Ravens, Lions)
4. Jess: 6 pts (Lions/Tebows, Packers)
5. Hawks: 4 pts (Patriots/Packers, Packers)
Garwood: 4 pts (Patriots/Saints, Saints)
6. Big BM: 1 pt (Ravens/Packers, Packers)

Divisional Round

1. New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers? +3

2. Denver Broncos at New England Patriots? +3
3. Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens? +3
4. New York Giants at Green Bay Packers? +3

5. Your Shoe-in? +2/-4

Pick one team that will definitely win this weekend

Bonus Questions +2
6. Biggest Point Differential?
7. Closest Game?
8. Most Total Points (game)?
9. Fewest Total Points (game)?

Saturday, January 07, 2012

So, Wait--Peter King Was Kind of Full of Shit, Wasn't He?

Right around Christmas Day, ProFootballTalk "broke" the news that Peter King was saying on NBC that it was no matter of "if" but "when" the Vikings got a new stadium deal. Minnesota Vikings Fan Blogs and Threads came all over themselves with the exciting news.

But even at the time, something about that report kind of stank--and it was right there in the ProFootballTalk article--"It’s unknown whether the stadium will be built in the team’s preferred location of Arden Hills in Ramsey County, or whether the stadium will be constructed in Minneapolis."

That should have set Bullshit Detectors through the roof, right there. No one knows where the stadium is going to be built, but it is basically a done deal? When the stadium that is being planned needs at least $300 million from the locality that is being built in?

How done can a deal possibly be, a bitter cynic might have asked, if we don't even know WHERE it is going to be built? Was it expected that the Ramsey County people had decided to agree to a horribly regressive tax without their (OK, our/my. Full disclosure, I live in Ramsey County, and I've not heard anything about a groundswell to get this thing built in the most remote corner of our County, like the Vikings wanted) knowledge?

Was there some super offer from Minneapolis that really made the Vikings think again, and had Minneapolis secretly lining up the votes in their City Council to get that nagging $300 million from their people?

The answer, as it we begin to slide into NFL playoffs and mid-January, seems pretty clearly, to be "Nope." Nothing has been decided. Not the site. As of January 5th, Minneapolis was still busy issuing press releases explaining why a central location was better for fans and football. Which is absolutely true--compared to the Arden Hills site, all of the Minneapolis sites are better in terms of central location. But the Vikings/Wilfs want Arden Hills, where the land is cheap and the development can be prodigious. But then again, the City Council members of Minneapolis don't seem to be super psyched to get that stadium, either.

But, wait, stay a moment--if we are still arguing over location, which is possibly a Huge Argument, how can the issue be, as Peter King says, just a question of "When"? In an election year, with many Minnesota Republicans genuinely believing it when they said no more subsidies to anyone? Even for rich folks from out of town who happen to own the local Footballing franchise?

Maybe, just maybe, Peter King is getting his info from the NFL itself, and maybe the official he talked to basically said, "No way are we letting the Vikings leave Minnesota." That would be an unsurprising thing for an NFL official to say--the rivalries are great, the TV dollars are great. Even the terrible, Godforsaken HHH Metrodome fills up when the Bears, Packers or Lions are in town.

But the league not wanting the Vikings to leave is not the same thing as having a new stadium plan in place. And Peter King knows that. I think he was just full of shit when he issued his proclamation that the stadium deal was going to happen. I think he saw it as likely, and maybe thought that no one would remember his overly confident reporting if it didn't happen, or he could always fall back on, "I said it was a matter of when."  Peter King is rolling a 20-sided die, and he just needs to hit 11 or better to be right.

Let me be clear--Peter King isn't operating on any special knowledge. It's been a few weeks, after all, and we don't even have a location for this guaranteed new stadium in place. We don't have some $600 million of the public funding needed. What Peter King "reported" was what we've all been saying--there is simply no way the NFL let's Viking Greed break up the NFC North. But that doesn't make a stadium deal a matter of time. Not with the current parameters in place.

The parameters are a bitch. Where is the stadium going to be? Who is going to pay for it? Is it really necessary for the Vikings to have a One Billion Dollar Stadium? Those are three questions that haven't been answered. And to suggest that a new Vikings Stadium is going to happen when those questions haven't been answered is to engage in bullshit. Which is what Peter King, NBC, and ProFootballTalk engaged in when they made it sound like they had a scoop. There is no scoop. There is no deal, not yet.

Oh, and Peter King was full of shit to suggest otherwise.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Old School Thursday: Us3


Tim Howard lives out the secret shameful wish of every goalie. Adam Bogdan lives the public nightmare of every single goalkeeper.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

IDYFT Playoff Pick'em Returns! 2012 Liquid Gold Edition

Welcome back, dear friends, and thank you kindly for your patience.

This is week one of the NFL Playoff Pick'em. First prize will be one To The Last Drop t-shirt, the official t-shirt of my novel. This prize is so awesome that I keep giving it away!An alternate prize will be one high-quality book guaranteed worth reading by a published novelist from his personal collection.

If you are reading this, or even if it's being read to you, please feel very welcome to join this competition. It's free + easy, the prize is hip and you're smarter than Colin Cowherd so prove it.

Everybody starts out with zero points; whoever has the most points at the end of the playoffs will win this competition. Enter your weekly picks in the comments section. And good luck to you!

Wildcard Round
1. Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans? +/-2
2. Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints? +/-2
3. Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants ? +/-2
4. Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos? +/-2
5. Your Shoe-in? +1/-2
Pick one team that will definitely win this weekend

Bonus Questions
6. Biggest Point Differential? +1
7. Closest Game? +1
8. Your Superbowl matchup? +3/+3
9. Your Superbowl winner? +7

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Timberwolves 1-3 Start Stinks Real Good

You will know a Timberwolves fan by their signs--an almost preternatural ability to cope with (or flat out accept) failure; gallows humor when it comes to trades and free agents; misty eyes with the letters K and G are said together.

I won't go through the entire history failure here--we might simply run out of Internet if I even attempted to do so. But I will point out that a lot of people were confused during the Chris Paul trade that somehow the Wolves #1 pick for next year was involved, but the Wolves themselves weren't. That's because a half-decade ago, the Wolves decided that Marko Jaric was worth a First Round Pick and Sam Cassell. And they were happy about it, back in 2005. (It is stuff like this that makes me angry at the folks who have no patience with David Kahn--he's still dealing with shit like this, you see.)

Here's Kevin McHale on that deal--"We're extremely excited to have acquired Marko...He is a very versatile player who has the ability to play the one, two or three spots on the floor. With Marko, we've added another player who can break down the defense and is a pass first point guard. Lionel [Chalmers, another player acquired in the trade] is a player that we think has some upside and will compete for a roster spot in training camp."

The Chris Paul deal notwithstanding, when you get taken to the cleaners by the Clippers, you done fucked up. Jaric is playing in Italy this year; Chalmers is in Russia. So, yeah. But Jaric did help us out, by being part of the Draft Night Deal that sent Minnesota draftee OJ Mayo to Memphis in return for Memphis' draftee, Kevin Love. Now, at the time, I had some worries about Kevin Love:  one post was titled in part, "Kevin Love? NOOOOO!"

Which was stupid, of course. In my defense, I didn't know that KLOVE would lose almost 50 pounds over the course of two off-seasons, or that the Wolves would ship Al Jefferson for two First Round Picks. KLOVE is clearly the face of the franchise now, with Ricky Rubio very quickly moving up the Fan's List of Totally Awesome Timberwolves who also have gorgeous big brown eyes.

So this gets us, finally (and very eventually) gets us to 2011, with Ricky Rubio in the fold, Derrick Williams his rookie cohort, and Rick Adelman leading this young team. (Real quick though--remember when the firing of Kurt Ramis was going to mean that no quality veteran coach would come to Minnesota? Yeah, that was bullshit.)

After an 0-3 start, despite competing mightily with both the Thunder and the Heat (the listless loss on the road to the rag-tag bunch of sucks Bucks in Milwaukee hurt, sure), the Wolves have heard some of the same complaints as before--inconsistent defense, uncertain play at center, and turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. I've personally heard some really stupid shit on the sports radio about how they need to worry about Michael Beasley's personality (which is all heart, all sleeve, all the time) "rubbing off on the young guys." Seriously--the media here sometimes seems to forget that Michael Beasley is 22 years old. Younger players? There aren't many on the roster, even a roster as young as the Timberwolves, than Michael Beasley. (We may not have to worry about Michael Beasley's super-talented, somewhat mercurial nature for a little while. He got injured tonight, and you can hear him freaking out over "being able to see the bone". Not good.)

The Wolves did get a win tonight. Against the defending World Champions Dallas Mavericks! Who I'll admit have been playing exactly like a bunch of guys in their mid-30's who had been trying to win a ring for a decade, and had finally done it. They now have the same record as the Wolves (1-3) but I don't think their opening schedule has been as tough as the Wolves' (seriously--Thunder, Bucks, Heat, Mavericks? You'd assume the Wolves at 1-3 had beaten the Bucks, and had lost to the other 3 teams by double-digits. You'd be wrong). All the same, it seems clear the Wolves have a game plan and personnel that could cause trouble for lots of teams.

What they have is a collection of tall shooters in KLOVE, Derrick Williams, Anthony Tolliver, Beasley, etc who can space a floor, and let their new whirling dervish Rubio take the action to the defense and find the open man. Which he excels at. And now that he is proving that the rap on his game (not a great shooter) is kind of bullshit, it will just open up those guys more. Luke Ridnour, as good as he's been (and he has been quite good--he had the fourth highest 3-point shooting percentage in the league last year, and is a capable assist man, too) is about become the 2nd or 3rd point guard off the bench for the Wolves.

Ricky Rubio's stock was never higher than it was prior to him falling to the Wolves. People were raving about him and about how he could be one of the best point guards in the NBA. When he did fall to the Wolves in the 2009 Draft, there seemed to be some agreement in the media that there must be something wrong with him--that if the Wolves drafted him, the teams in front of the Wolves knew something that they didn't. To be fair, with the exception of Hasheem Thabeet (drafted #2 overall) the players in front of Rubio have all worked out pretty well, too--Blake Griffin, James Harden, and Tyreke Evans have all found happy homes, after all. In fact, after only a couple of years, one could argue that the 2009 Draft Class was exceptional. But that's neither here nor there).

Rubio's stock was never lower than right after the Wolves drafted him, except maybe during the intervening years in which national guys were convinced that Ricky would never play for the Timberwolves; that they had wasted the pick, and it was just another Kahn cock-up. After four games, I think it is safe to say that Rubio's stock is right back where it was during the 2009 draft, that Kahn's proclamation that Rubio is a "transformational player" is no longer getting greeted with eyerolls. The Timberwolves have a point guard who can drive the line, make passes and yes, hit shots like no one they've had at the one since either Terrell Brandon or Stephon Marbury, and I'll say this--six games in, (2 pre-season, 4 regular season) I think Rubio has made my jaw drop more than any of those guys did in twice as many games.

Fuck it. Enough talking. Just look at what this llama-eyed Spaniard can do.

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