Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Old School Thursday: Public Enemy

Go get some, Minnesota State Senator Scott Dibble?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sid Hartman Honored in Stadium Bill Amendment Form

I have no idea how I'm just hearing about this today, when it was getting reported by some folks locally a few days ago. The first photo I've seen of the amendment on the page comes from Jeff Anderson of the Vikings (who has presumably been spending a lot of time at the Capitol).

But Senator Ken Kelash deserves some sort of extra credit for proposing a hilarious amendment that establishes fees for press passes, singling out one special subsection of the press:

 "Passes for any person over the age of 90, who has been been inducted into a sports Hall of Fame require an additional $100,000 surcharge to cover additional food consumption, napkins, and ear plugs (for other media memebers)...All proceeds from the passes..shall be given to the University of Minnesota Foundation. Fifty percent of these funds shall go to the school of journalism to be used on classes focusing on ethical and respectful reporting on legislation, legislators and all elected officials. The remaining 50 percent shall be donated to the University Women's Athletic Program."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Kids in the Hall Era Dave Foley Agree on Golf

Every single time I accidentally catch even a smidgen of golf on TV, this is what I think of (god bless you, Dave Foley)

Vikings Stadium Issue: Uninformed Commentary

I was planning to write something on a couple of issues, and I think I will get to them, but some special mention has to be made of the fucking travesty of misinformation that came riding on the radio waves on KFAN this morning. I've had plenty of issues with Paul Allen in the past, mostly because of his ridiculously obvious paid for boosterism of the Vikings. He's their radio voice, sure, but that doesn't mean he has to make incredibly stupid predictions, as he did all last year. My favorite was (direct quote, ladies and gentlemen):

BERNARD BERRIAN will run up 900 receiving yards and about seven TD's. His per-catch average will be around 17 yards and he will resume his role as the team's best deep threat. Bernard adjusts to the ball better than any receiver we have and is more engaged to play than he has been the last couple of years. Milk The Great 28, go play-action, and he'll be singled more than he's not.

So, we have two choices when parsing that prediction--Paul Allen is either a total idiot (which I kind of doubt, to be honest, though he's nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is) or he's so in the tank for the Vikings that he's willing to look like an idiot just to boost up a club that no one thought was going to be very good (and was probably worse than expectations). During that same write-up, he decided to back up Adrian Peterson's prediction 2,500 RUSHING yards.

So, not shockingly, the guy hired to be the radio voice for the Vikings has a history of greatly overestimating the ability of various Vikings. But what happened on the 9 am hour of Friday's show was beyond belief. Paul Allen is joined by Fantasy Football impresario Paul Charchian and actual Minnesotan Viking John Sullivan. Not contacted at any point--anyone with an alternate point of view, a sports economist, anyone who doesn't think that the Vikings should be kept, regardless of cost. Essentially, anyone with a perspective that messes with their narrative, aside from some callers, who can always dismiss and rip after you've hung up on them.

If you can handle it, I kind of demand you listen to the actual show. I'll pull some quotes, but I really can't pull out all the dumb shit that is said. The first five seconds prove what I've said about Commissioner Goodell and Zygi Wilf not actually threatening to move. Who needs to threaten when independent media open the way this hour of radio opens?

We begin with Paul Charchian's rant. And I'm paraphrasing here

Charch: "If the Vikings leave, we'll end up building a new stadium, just like Houston and other have, and we'll end up having to pay a new franchise fee, and who knows if the NFL will even want to expand? They are pretty happy at 32 teams, after all."

Funny Charch should mention Reliant Stadium. It was completed 10 years ago, and it was one third the cost of the proposed Minnesota Viking stadium. Inflation does not explain what is happening with stadium building costs. Reliant was built mostly with tax dollars (73%), which by my math is $332 million in 2012 dollars, or roughly half of what Minnesotan taxpayer are being asked to put in. Franchise fees are not paid by taxpayers (not directly, at least), and if the story of Houston is to be believed, a Los Angeles NFL team could knock down the cost of franchise fee considerably. As for the NFL not wanting to expand? Hilarious. If the Vikings were to move (which, let's be clear, the NFL doesn't want to see happen), the NFL would fast track any opportunity to get back into the market. We aren't the ugly girl at prom, y'all!

Charch and PA: "And it will be an expansion team and it will suck"

Suck like a 3-13 team with an aging superstar at RB coming off knee surgery and a rookie QB? I am as impressed as anyone is by Adrian Peterson, but he's 27, coming off ACL and MCL surgery and probably has two or three good years left. The Vikings would be hard pressed to beat an expansion team in Week 1 of the 2012 season. Make no mistake--success matters. The Colts got their stadium built (for $200 less than the proposed Vikings stadium) after a decade of dominance. The Vikings, over the past decade? They've won more than 9 games two times.

Charch: [seriously listen to his tone when discussing this one. Start at about the 1:50 mark] You know, people talk about the poor, whatever. We built the Twins stadium, and who died? Show me who died!

Hey, Charch--poor people die all the time, whether you hear about them or not, and yes, money that you want to go to pay for a stadium might save some people. If you spend the $600 million dollars you want to build a stadium with and spend it on mental health for people without medical insurance in the Twin Cities? Yes, more people will be live, and many more people will have an improved quality of life. Without a doubt. Probably a lot more people.

I've been planning on writing a special compendium of the false equivalence between Target Field and this Vikings Stadium. The difference? $cale.

NFL backers should NEVER compare their stadiums to baseball fields. Target Field was less than half the cost of the projected Vikings stadium, and they bring people into the neighborhood 81 times, compared to 8 in the NFL (playoffs not included). It is, on its face, a ridiculous comparison. Oh, and the Twins were riding a decade of playoff visits, and quality management, compared to the stumble-wumbly nature of the Vikings.

I haven't even gotten into the economics these buffoons bandy about, like they know anything about it. John Sullivan at one point says, "Listen, I'm not economist, but I read that a Super Bowl brings in $400 million dollars to the city that hosts it." and Charch says, "That's almost half of the stadium right there!" Yeah, if only those numbers that John Sullivan quoted were at all real. They aren't.

I only got two minutes into the broadcast, and the amount of misinformation in those two minutes was enough to fuel this entire post. This is what the typical Vikings fan is hearing in the morning on their radio, and yet, the support for the Vikings Stadium is, at best, apathetic.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Vikings Stadium Issue: Fear and Self-Loathing in Minneapolis

Jim Souhan's April 18th column in the Star Tribune generated a lot of heat without a whole lot of light. Most blatantly, perhaps, was the mischaracterization at its heart (indeed, if such a cyncially wayward piece of writing could be said to have one) that Representative Dean Urdahl was showing the cognitive powers of a Kardashian in asking a baseline question about stadium financing. Souhan, in case you aren't up on your reality TV references, made sure his point was made by calling Rep. Urdahl "shallow." Which would be fine, I suppose, if it had been at all accurate. Representative Urdahl's response does a better job explaining just how off the mark and lazy Souhan's column was than I could. It is a sign of the times that just about every sports columnist in the Cities is willing to vilify a state representative who is, for all intents and purposes, working towards a new stadium, based on one sentence quoted somewhat out of context.

I'm hoping to write in length about the work of our sports columnists in a larger piece this weekend. For now, I want to get at something that I have seen presented in a number of ways. Let's use the salient quote from Souhan's woe-begotten column, though:

"A new Vikings stadium would, like Target Field, become a destination, another bragging point for Minnesota residents and job recruiters." **

This is almost always mentioned in arguments for why the Vikings are worth many hundreds of millions of dollars in public financing. Dan Barreiro on KFAN mentions it almost daily and he did again today. He uses (somewhat grudgingly) the words "cultural impact", and without much hint of embarrassment, the word "intangibles". "Cultural impact" for my money, should be reserved for museums and playhouses, and places that don't threaten to leave because they can make more money elsewhere. The Walker Art Center has never said, "If you love Spoonbridge and Cherry, and don't want to see it in Disneyland getting humped by an animatronic Sulley from 'Monsters, Inc', give us more money." And believe me, people would pay money to see that.

"Intangibles" is a word used in sports journalism when no one can really figure out why a player or an idea is any better than another player or idea. In that sense, it is totally apt. Why is important to spend over a half-billion dollars of public money on a professional sports stadium? "I can't really explain why, but the reason is's like why Tim Tebow will be a great NFL QB, even though he can't throw...INTANGIBLES."

We, as the Twin Cities, the implication goes, need The Vikings in order to stay as great of metropolitan region as we are. Maybe so, I suppose, but it feels like a bit of self-loathing to me. Minnesota, employment-wise, managed the Great Recession as well as any state did, and has bounced back as quick as any state has. Minnesota is a solid 2.5% below the national average in unemployment, and a lot of those places have NFL teams, too. Shockingly, when people go looking for jobs, whether or not a city has a NFL team isn't their #1 deciding factor (otherwise, there would only be 32 major cities in the nation, and Green Bay would dwarf Los Angeles and Portland and Las Vegas).

The Twin Cities, whether the folks who packed the Metrodome to watch terrible football last year (and will again this year) care to admit this or not, will be just fine without the Vikings. The Cities will still have the NHL, the NBA, and MLB. I'm not rooting for the Vikings to leave and I don't think the Cities will be better without them, but let's be clear--the Twin Cities don't need the Vikings to recruit talented people to come work here. And let me also be clear--if the State of Minnesota can find over 400 million dollars, and the City of Minneapolis can find $150 million, they have bigger funding priorities that are more important to keeping both Minnesota and Minneapolis viable as a destination for the best and brightest in the nation than a funding a Jerry Jones-like monument to NFL excess.

The Chicken Littles calling into KFAN or 1500 ESPN keep fixating on a strange number for football fans to fixate on--metropolitan market size. "Holy poops," they yell (I paraphrase), "Los Angeles is the #2 or #3 metropolitan market, depending on how you measure it, and the Twin Cities are only #15! We can't compete with that." Hey, Twin Cities, #15 is really damn good, especially when you consider that if you head west from the Twin Cities, you don't hit another metropolitan region our size until you hit the West Coast. Be cool, Twin Cities, be cool. You don't have to be faster than the bear, as the old joke goes.

In my health classes in middle school, we were tasked with writing the letters IALAC on a piece of paper. After we had done so, were told that IALAC stood for "I am Lovable and Capable", and that the way we wrote those letters on a piece of paper--small in the corner? large, taking up the whole sheet? said a lot about how we perceived our individual selves. It stank like bullshit at the time, and it still does. But I've found it to be a helpful shorthand, when I need to reference emotional health in a way that no one else will understand. Well, now you know what I mean when I say that the Minnesota Sportswriter wants the Minnesota (particularly the Minneapolis) taxpayer to have a tiny, tiny IALAC.

A common refrain amongst the sports columnists and radio guys who are frustrated about the lack of stadium progress, and the apparent deluge of anti-stadium opinions they are receiving is to say, "Let's be grown-ups about this." Yes, let's. Let's be grown-ups, and recognize that we are not some poor girl with low self-esteem at the Senior Prom. We don't have to do dirty things with those dudes with weird moustaches to be appreciated. We are lovable and capable! Maybe we are lucky to have the Vikings, but the Vikings are also lucky to have the Twin Cities.

**Don't be surprised if this quote reappears in another piece I'd like to write--Target Field, the false equivalency.

Old School Thursday: Fancy Sundance Documentary Edition

They could have made this whole trailer nothing but Doug E. Fresh beatboxing, and I would have been happy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Old School Thursday: MC 900 ft Jesus

Sunday, April 08, 2012

RIP, Giorgio Chinaglia. Chinaglia Can Score From That Place!

I could maybe blame myself for not realizing that Giorgio Chinaglia passed away--I sometimes have tunnel vision during the NCAA tournament (hence the lack of updates this past month on this here blog. I could write about the tournament, or I could really watch the tournament, but I couldn't do both.)

Or I could blame ESPN for maybe giving short shrift to one of the true legends of the NASL, because it cut into their time asking the important questions--will Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez get along long enough to make the Jets talk about themselves some more? Does Tim Tebow think the noise that wide wale corduroys make them kind of sinful? What is the higher number: the number of different women that Mark Sanchez has ejaculated into, or the number of times Tim Tebow has ejaculated in his life? You know, important ESPN stuff.

Sports Illustrated (and other media) state that Chinaglia came over from Italy "during his prime". Strikers, aged 29, aren't normally considered to be in their prime, but there is no doubt that Chinaglia's numbers were quite impressive during his years with the Cosmos. One might argue that the defensive competition in the NASL wasn't near what Serie A or even Serie B had to offer. One might suggest that having even a much-past-his-prime Pele assisting led to some great service. Regardless, Chinaglia was the NASL's greatest scorer.

I was ten years old when the NASL (the real one, not the one of now) folded up its tent. Which means I was just old enough to appreciate that there was a professional soccer league, but not old enough to really get who was who and all that stuff. I think I saw the Washington Diplomats play once, in an exhibition match (and certainly not in RFK). I know Pele wasn't there, but was Cruyff? Maybe.

Regardless, Chinaglia maintained his amazing ego up through to the end. Please to enjoy: a documentary about the Cosmos narrated by one of the Dillon brothers (pretty sure it is Matt).

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Old School Thursday: Special Edition

Bone Pugz-in-Harmony. Brilliant.

BONE PUGZ from Bone Pugz on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Puppets + Bert + Fart Joke = Lottery

Let's be absolutely clear here--I'm against lotteries as a fundraising mechanism, because they prey upon (to quote a good friend) "the poor and stupid." But on the other hand, I'm all for fundraising mechanisms that help keep Minnesota environmentally sound. And you know what? Few states do the environment like Minnesota does. You've got your Boundary Waters at Voyageurs National Park, where, for a small fee, bears and moose and wolves will hunt you down and kill you. You've got an amazing State Park just minutes outside of the Twin Cities that says, "Oh hi, you wanna camp here? YOU GOTTA LUG YOUR SHIT IN." God bless you, Afton State Park!

And I'm absolutely for really tight references to Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas, but with either Kent Hrbek or Bert Blyleven showing up. Especially when a skunk and Bert share a fart joke (even though Bert appears to be castigating said skunk for said joke). I feel, deep down in my soul, where I'm soft, soft like a woman, that Jim Henson would surely approve of this more than he would any of the marketing tie-ins the actual Muppets have been up to lately.

Let's Play For... Minnesota (Bert Blyleven) from MN State Lottery on Vimeo.
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