Friday, August 29, 2008
"I can't imagine there's going to be a big market for Lugo in the offseason, but the Sox can't continue to have him as their starting shortstop. He was awful this season, offensively and defensively."
Well Amalie, tell us what you really think. We all know Lugo has been bad, but did you have to be so brutal. I mean...he did hit .385 in the World Series last season. Does that count for anything? His average through 82 games in 2008 was 31 points higher than in 2007. Tides can turn quickly. Don't forget the $14 million grandslam.
"Lugo, by the way, is signed for 2009 and 2010 with a vesting option for 2011. That's a long time."
Is this backlash for the fact that Lugo was the 1 of 25 Red Sox players who stuck up for Manny Ramirez (rumors have it). Maybe Manny will convince the Yankees to include Lugo in his future $80 million golden parachute. "Yes....I would like $20 million/season, hair extensions, and Julio Lugo."
Be careful Amalie, this town can chew you up and spit you out. But, I admire the khutspe. It usually takes years of experience before members of the Boston media take unwarranted shots at the athletes in this town.
Gawker says it's the most Onion-like newspaper article in history. Pax Arcana says it is simply the greatest newspaper story ever written in the history of mankind and the whole wide universe.
According to an article in the Sioux City Journal, Olive Garden is coming to Sioux City! You would think this story could be amply finished with a simple... "on Monday." But....oh....you would be SO wrong!
My favorite quote from the article (and believe me, it was hard to choose):
"To recognize Hagarty's role as head of the Olive Garden family in Sioux City and to emphasize the importance the company places on its general managers, Olive Garden honored Hagarty by setting his name in stone. Travertine marble imported from Tuscany was chiseled with Hagarty's name and placed prominently by the front door."
Pax Arcana breaks it down better than a Bill Simmons running diary:
Olive Garden arrives in Sioux City and holy hell is the local paper excited about it
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I can hear it now. "Andy...who is this Joanne? I didn't know you were friends with a Joanne. And what is all this poking you've been doing? Didn't I bring you up right? How come I haven't seen these pictures of you in Las Vegas?"
Serenity now! Serenity now!
Friends, colleagues, Internet acquaintances--you may be getting a hi5 invite from me in the near future. Please advise.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Still seeking my first U.S. title of something.
Two men were arrested in Massachusetts for doing just that. A neighbor living near the school busted the men when she heard power saws cutting through metal about two hours after seeing a man carrying aluminum through the woods.
I'm guessing these guys had a different high school experience than I did.
2 Charged With Stealing School Bleachers For Scrap [wbztv.com]
SI described the danger:
"In recent years right-handed pitcher Rick Helling, while pitching in the minor leagues, was impaled in the left arm by a broken bat, a 15-inch shard penetrating three inches into his arm."Alex Rodriguez expressed his concerns:
"I've never seen anything like it. Even if I'm 140 feet away [at third] base I'm in danger. In the last year or two I've seen more bats break. Why not ban them? They've banned everything else."A lot can be said about that ARod quote, but let's focus on the topic at hand. An MIT grad is saying he has a solution to the maple bat problem in the form of a new bat he designed. Ward Dill's "Radial Bat" is made in a way that it will not suffer a 'catastrophic break.'
Even if Dill has solved the safety issue, will the bat's performance be similar enough to bats used today? A college player who tested the bat commented that it had more pop than traditional bats. Would modern day stadiums be able to contain the power potential of these bats?
Cost is another issue. The retail price of a maple Radial Bat for an adult is $150 and $130 for the ash model. MLB could probably float the bill, or buy the company. But, those price points would have to come way down to become viable for amateur and scholastic teams. The bats can still crack, meaning a team of 20 players could conservatively need 100 bats to get through a season.
MLB has not been afraid recently to implement change. A new steroid policy....instant replay.....will bats be next?
New bat designed to take 'ping' out of baseball [SportingNews.com]
The danger of maple bats is a major problem for MLB [SI.com]
This mandate seems to be aimed at the South Koreans, who have become a dominant force on the LPGA in numbers (45 of 121 international players) and competitively. In a 5-week span this summer, the winners of LPGA tourneys were Seon Hwa Lee, Yani Tseng, Eun-Hee Ji, Inbee Park (US Open), and Seon Hwa Lee again.
Hilary Lunke, president of the Player Executive Committee, summed it up,
“The bottom line is, we don’t have a job if we don’t entertain. In my mind, that’s as big a part of the job as shooting under par.”The LPGA is looking to its stars to cater to sponsors, communicate with the media, and appeal to the general English-speaking public. Is this an unreasonable thing to ask?
Pro golfers probably interact with 'outsiders' more than in any other sport. During the week of an event, they are called on to play in Pro-Ams with corporate sponsors, give clinics to fans, and attend other functions. During the tournament, pros and fans share air. In what other sport do so many fans have such close access to the athletes? Because of all this, I can see why speaking the language of your fans and your sponsors is even more important in golf than in other sports.
Beyond that, it's not a coincidence that this is happening simultaneously with the retirement of the LPGA's media darling (Annika Sorenstam). Who is going to fill her shoes as the face of women's golf? I can assure you it's not going to be somebody with a translator.
Could the LPGA have taken this issue on without a press release? You better believe it. Professional athletes in all sports have speaking coaches to help them with interviews and other public appearances. The LPGA could have done this behind closed doors but instead decided to make it a public debate. They had to know it would create a whirlwind of media coverage. Hmmm...not such a terrible thing for a league looking for some ummm....media coverage.
The LPGA has to be careful not to alienate their athletes. They need to be sure not to piss off sponsors, who might not like the negative press that this story generates. But, my sense is they know exactly what they are doing and have already prepared their partners for this news.
What do you think? Will this bold move pay off for the LPGA?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
According to David Latourell of Starbucks,
"Vacuum-press technology pulls the coffee through a 70-micron filter in which every hole is like a hair's breadth."Sounds delicious...I love when "hair" is used when describing beverages.
Starbucks is feeling the heat from competitors, with quality coffee now readily available at McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, and your local convenience stores. Their response seems to be...you think you can make premium coffee? Well...we're going to make super premium coffee.
Will Dunkin' Donuts retaliate with wicked premium coffee? Come on now...we're not selling razor blades here. This is not the Gillette-Schick battle to see how many blades they can fit onto a handle.
I question whether the average consumers' palate will really be able to discern the difference in quality with this magical Clover machine. Even if the coffee is noticeably better, will you be willing to pay more and wait longer? Prices are expected to be about 40% higher for Clover-brewed coffees, and they will take about a minute to brew (not exactly well suited for the morning commute crowd).
The Clover debuts at select locations in Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco in early September. The timing isn't exactly ideal with Americans trying to save pennies here and there to pay their mortgages and fuel their cars.
But what do I know? Maybe The Clover will blow your mind. Let me know how it tastes. I'll be sipping a cup of Dunkin' Donuts and beating the traffic while you wait in line.
Amidst a tight wild card race and clinging on to hopes of catching the Tampa Rays, the Sox enter Yankee Stadium Manny-less. Without one of the best righthanded hitters to ever live, the Sox have kept their heads above water. But, they haven't played the Yankees. And, Manny owns the Yankees. Ramirez has hit .321 with 55 homeruns and 163 RBIs against the pinstripes over the course of his career. If you check his numbers over the past few years, they get even better. This is not to mention the impact he has had on David Ortiz's success against the Yanks.
At the end of Manny's tenure with the Sox, he acted like a little brat. He whined. And when his whining wasn't being heard, he stamped his feet and whined some more until it pissed off his teammates. The Sox brass was left with no other option but to trade him.
But, why did it have to happen this way? I fear the worst for the 2008 Sox. Even if they can find their way into the playoffs, they'll need to face the best pitching in the American League without the American League's best hitter. Manny critics, who claimed that his numbers had fallen off in recent years, failed to recognize that Manny can hit the best pitching. When you're trying to win a World Series, it all comes down to who has the best pitching and who can get clutch hits off of the best pitching. Newsflash...Ramirez has the most postseason homeruns in baseball history! That's six more than Mickey Mantle, and 24 more than Jason Bay.
This midweek series in New York could be a great indication as to how the Sox will play the rest of the way. And, it doesn't help that it will probably be Yankee fans' last chance to torment the Sox in the House that Ruth Built. As much as Sox fans want Manny to fail in L.A., I doubt a Dodgers' collapse will be consolation enough for a playoff-less season.
It was a tough way to go for a man who wrote about running with the bulls in Pamplona and "land diving" on the Island of Vanuatu.
One thing family members were able to say was that Dave Freeman lived his life the way he wanted to live it. The books reads,
"This life is a short journey. How can you make sure you fill it with the most fun and that you visit all the coolest places on earth before you pack those bags for the very last time?"
A Yahoo article about Freeman's death mentions that he inspired other like-minded books. My favorite is definitely "100 Things Project Managers Should Do Before They Die." My life will be a major disappointment if I hit my head before increasing market share by 50%.
Monday, August 25, 2008
I love the Little League World Series. In a day and age of high paid, crybaby professional athletes it is refreshing to see the kids playing the game for pure joy and competition. And, it's not just effort I'm seeing. These kids are ballplayers. And due to the size of the diamond, their domination of the playing surface at times even mimics pro ball. On top of all that, the games are over in an hour. It's crisp, clean entertainment that leaves you wanting more.
Give credit to the Disney/ABC/ESPN empire. They saw the TV appeal in Little League and packaged it into a money making machine. There is a long list of high powered sponsors including Kelloggs, Snickers, Bank of America, and Honda to name a few. And, when Erin Andrews is working the crowd you know it's a big time sporting event.
Is there a problem here? ESPN is happy. The kids are happy. Little League is happy. As it turns out, Little League is VERY happy.
According to Scott Wetzel from Yahoo Sports, the non-profit Little League Baseball, Inc. made $3.4 million in profits on $21.4 million in revenue in 2007 and had a reported $70.4 million in cash reserves in September 2006. Can you hear the cash registers ringing?
Should the kids and their families get a slice of the pie? Basketball players at Duke and football players at USC don't see any piece of the millions made by their universities on their athletic abilities. Should Little League be any different? How about the parents who take weeks off of their jobs to follow their kids around the country through districts, regionals, and then to Williamsport? Do you think they deserve compensation for skipping work and in some cases quitting their jobs?
Is it even socially acceptable to be highlighting kids in this way? Is it ethically OK that ESPN is tapping these 12 year olds to pad their pockets? I ask you, how is it any different than American Idol or the Olympics? Maybe Kelly Clarkson was out of her teenage years but many of the Olympic athletes were still feeling growing pains in Beijing (see Chinese gymnastics team).
Lots of questions. For the time being, the current formula seems to be working pretty well. Don't be surprised to see Little League bobblehead dolls in the not so distant future.
Deadspin's take on the LLWS
Due to the popularity of last week's crab rangoon recipe, I'm back again this week with more food for you.
I'm a big fan of canned tuna fish. And, apparantly I am not alone. According to the National Fisheries Institute, the average American eats 3.4 pounds (about 9 cans) of the stuff in a year.
If there is any complaint about tuna fish, it's that it smells like a fishy fish. Our friend Tyler Florence at the Food Network says the trick to avoiding that fishy taste is to buy the tuna in water and not oil. The two are sold next to each other on the shelves so be sure to read the label carefully. You should notice a big difference.
Tyler's Ultimate tuna salad recipe
The true spirit of the indie-hipster doesn't lie in this accoutre-mon, it comes from a special place deep in the soul. Someone who truly believes their individualism makes a difference in society, that is what makes a real hipster and that's why they are so cool (possibly true). Most of us like to think we can change things around us but the vast majority of us go about life day by day trying to get by, pay the rent, buy groceries, impress girls/guys, and we get caught up by the culture, unable to effect change much in grand scheme of life. Now the hipster may not change anything either, but they keep struggling and that is cool (true).
And this brings us to the recent Bigfoot story that has been widely reported on. If you've been out of the country, read at a first grade level, or, more likely, don't tend to keep up on your crypto-zoological related news, here's the jist. Two dolts from the back-woods in Georgia "discovered" a dead Bigfoot while camping, and attempted to become rich promoting it. (Side note: the body was found in the same area that Deliverance was filmed in so it may have been the decomposing body of Bert Reynolds).
Obviously, it turned out to be a hoax, just a gorilla costume stuffed with possum parts, but many people bought into the hype these men created. They had a press conference in California that was attended by many in the main stream media and the story ran on CNN and the other news networks. Anyway, it seems a lot of people were disappointed that it wasn't Bigfoot, I, however, am not one of these people.
You see Bigfoot, along with the Yettie, is the only real hipster left in the world. He lives alone in nature non-conforming to social mores, staying away from consumerism, eating completely organic and most likely not leaving much of a carbon footprint. If he smokes cigarettes, he rolls his own, he wears vintage t-shirts but not by choice, he probably doesn't do much bee bopping but I'm sure he leaves tons of scat. Much like Daniel Day Lewis, he's the last of his kind, a true original. And that's why I'm glad no one has found him. He'd just be used to sell products, like a sequel to Harry and the Henderson's, and none of us, with the exception of John Lithgow, needs that.
You see, the true hipster spirit can only live on if it remains legend, so be free sweet prince I'm glad they haven't found you.
Will the success of Microsoft's Seinfeld campaign mimic that of the puffy shirt?
Andy Katz 360 was not the only blog to take some swings at Microsoft. Adweek pointed out that the blogosphere was uber-critical of Microsoft's decision to sign Jerry Seinfeld for its new ad campaign. Gawker and Maelstrom chimed in with knocks on Microsoft's decision. Pulse of Hollywood added,
"Microsoft doesn't like being 'cast as a stodgy oldster' by Apple's advertising and has turned to Jerry Seinfeld. Oh, so they want to be cast as late-middle-age almost stodgy oldster."
Maybe we are all being a bit premature with our criticism. The campaign has not even been launched yet. When the dust clears, Jerry and Microsoft could be masters of the tech domain.
"These people are not freaks, they are not nerds." -Tony Dottino, founder of the US memory championships
The 11th USA Memory Championship was on TV over the weekend. Contestants competed in superhuman memory feats such as memorizing the order of an entire deck of playing cards, memorizing a long, unpublished poem, and recalling the names of 99 people whose photos had been shown 15 minutes earlier. Riveting television.
After much thinking and remembering, Chester Santos, a 31 year old software engineer from San Francisco, prevailed as the 2008 US memory champion.This story further affirms my belief that I can be the US champion of something.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Southern CT has long been the casino capital of New England, boasting two of the largest casinos in not just the region but the world. Located just 9 miles apart, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have been going head-to-head to attract visitors--expanding their properties with bigger and better amenities.
This summer, Foxwoods had the grand opening for its new MGM Grand tower (a $700 million expansion which included a casino, 26-story hotel, 4,000-seat theater as well as high end restaurants and shops). Mohegan Sun has its own plans--a $925 million Project Horizon expansion which includes the Casino of the Wind , scheduled to open next week.
Part of the Mohegan Sun expansion will include a 42-table poker room. This is not a minor point. During the poker boom, Foxwoods has housed the only poker room (114 tables) in New England. Foxwoods has leveraged its poker-focus to attract more visitors, land nationally televised tournaments, and tap it all for tremendous PR.
With another fighter in the poker ring, who will be King in Connecticut's Casinoville?
On August 4th, Utah state workers shifted to a 4-day work week (four ten hour days). According to USA Today, the change will apply to approximately 17,000 state employees. This new structure will mean major savings for the state if you consider the cost of keeping state offices and facilities open. From an employee perspective, higher gas prices will hurt just a bit less.
I really like this idea. The quality of life improvements could really boost productivity and employee morale.
What would you do with an extra day off every week?
Do you think corporate America could ever shift to this standard?
With the U.S. Open starting next week, Nike is launching an ad campaign focusing on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The two are on top of the sport, and recently played in a classic five-set battle at Wimbledon that some are calling the greatest match in tennis history.
The ad features boxing promoter Don King and pits to the two athletes against each other as if they were about to face off in the ring.
It seems like a good idea. Federer and Nadal have the tennis world wrapped around their fingers. But, with any ad campaign that focuses on athletes there is always a risk that they will be eliminated early in the tournament. The risk is even higher when you pit two against each other.
Nike gambled and won when it ran this Sampras/Agassi ad in 1995, and the two met in the U.S. Open finals.
More recently, they have taken this risk off the table by focusing on ummmmm non-athletic qualities of one of its tennis stars.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
New technology is being developed to completely eliminate wall outlets, chargers, and even batteries from our day to day lives. This week, Intel demonstrated a system that wirelessly transmits electricity. In the demo, electricity was sent wirelessly to a lamp on stage, lighting a 60 watt bulb.
How can this be safe? According to Intel researcher Josh Smith,
"It turns out the human body is not affected by magnetic fields; it is affected by elective fields. So what we are doing is transmitting energy using the magnetic field not the electric field."Now...don't get too excited. Intel's chief technology officer estimates that this type of technology will not go mainstream until 2050. The Energizer Bunny will have quite some time to add to his nest egg.
Golf manufacturers are losing millions of dollars to counterfeit sales, many of which go through online channels like eBay and Craigslist. On top of the lost revenue, golf companies are spending millions to investigate the crime because Chinese officials are being less than helpful. Acushnet (makers of Titleist) spend over $2 million per year to fight this crime.
What does this mean for Joe Golfer? You can find some great deals online if you don't care about minor imperfections in the product. If you want the real thing, be careful of the channels you buy from. Fakes may not be so obvious to detect.
Video describing how to identify a real Pro V1.
I can't help but think Lil Jon would have been a more appropriate spokesman:
I hate to make excuses but what is the real point of having a baton at all?
Isn't track all about speed--who can get from point A to point B fastest? Why are we throwing in a test of hand/eye coordination? How about a simple hand slap? With today's technology, put some sensors on the runners' hands to make sure they connect.
I want to see whose steroids work best, not who can hold onto a stick.
Assuming the deal doesn't include other benefits, would you subscribe?
It will be interesting to see if Apple packages subscriptions with devices. For instance...$249 for an IPod. $299 for an iPod including a year subscription to iTunes.
In a related story...
Despite gas prices that remain stubbornly high, Americans are still getting behind the wheel and driving themselves to work.
About 77 percent of respondents say they primarily drive to and from work, with only 7 percent taking public transportation and only 4 percent carpooling.
A full 68 percent of respondents who work outside the home say the price of gas has not changed how they get to and from work, according to the survey, which was conducted online, in July.
Gas prices are really changing the way Americans commute to work.
1 out of 10 commuters are now taking public transportation or carpooling.
1 out of 3 respondents who work outside the home say the price of gas has really changed how they get to and from work.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Noticeably absent from the cast will be Ian Ziering (Steve Sanders). When asked why he won't be involved in the spin-off, Ziering remarked,
“I’m really looking down the line pretty far and this might be a step backwards.”Ziering is currently involved in the filming of 301: The Legend of Awesomest Maximus Wallace Leonidas.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
According to boston.com,
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services will unveil a new citizenship test in October.
Here is a sample of some of the questions you must answer to become an American:
Why does the flag have 13 stripes?
Name one U.S. territory.
What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?
Why did the colonists fight the British?
The House of Representatives has how many voting members?
How did you do? Are these really the things you should know in order to become an American citizen?
And you're telling me that Manny Ramirez passed a similar test? Fo real?
Monday, August 18, 2008
Andy Katz 360 is handing out our first muzzle of 2008 to Mr. Schapp. I believe it is long overdue.
Our friends at deadspin hold an approval poll of Jeremy. Vote here.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
One of my absolute favorite appetizers is crab rangoon. According to a Food Network episode, it seems as if they are not so difficult to make. All you need is cream cheese, crabmeat, garlic powder, vegetable oil, and wonton wrappers. And I almost forgot the secret ingredient--steak sauce. Prep time: 15 minutes. Cook time: 12 minutes.
I'll let you know how it goes. I might add some scallions for a little crunchy crunch.
Click here for step-by-step instructions.
If you have been watching the women's gymnastics competitions in the Olympics, you have heard the accusations that some or all of the Chinese women are too young for Olympic eligibility. US coach and gymnastics icon Bela Karolyi has not been afraid to publicly express his opinion on this matter. On the NBC telecast the other night, he flat out accused the Chinese of cheating. (The rule states gymnasts must be at least 16 years old).
Will there be any recourse?
You have to admit there is an advantage in having a smaller body in gymnastics. I remember how I used to be able to contort my body at a young age. Today, I have trouble lacing my sneakers without pulling a hammy.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
A few weeks ago, I made my first trip to Wrigley Field (long overdue). Below I compare the two oldest major league baseball stadiums: Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.
Close call on this one...
Fenway has done a great job to integrate the surrounding streets into the ballpark experience. But, I am turned off by the bar scene which has been "upgraded" from dive bars with great atmosphere to swanky sportsbars with flat screens and blasting hip hop.
The neighborhood surrounding Wrigley really gives you that classic baseball feel. Solid bar scene. The clincher...they built stands on top of the apartment buildings.
Wrigley's menu makes you feel like you're at a baseball game. Fenway's menu makes you feel like you could be at a Cheesecake Factory. What happened to, "Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack?" AND...Wrigley sells beer in the stands.
Proximity to Field-Fenway
The main seating bowl at Wrigley is noticeably larger than Fenway's.
Unless you are tucked away in the rightfield corner or way up in the bleachers, the Fenway experience is as tight as they come in major league baseball. Recent seating additions above the Green Monster and to the roof boxes really frames the stadium nicely and gives fans an even greater feeling of intimacy.
No video scoreboards. Very little advertising. How do they resist the temptation?
Red Sox Nation is in the game. Wrigley Nation is in the bag.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I've been spending more time updating my baseball strategy blog (BaseballThink), and my co-authors have clearly used Andy Katz 360 as a launching pad for their own blogging careers (visit my friends at Pax Arcana and Karl & Betsy's Excellent Adventure). Now I know how the Minnesota Twins feel(or the directors of the Mickey Mouse Club).
But, I assure you that the interns at 360 are working hard to bring you MORE in the months to come.
Before signing off, I wanted to mention the Olympics. I've never been an Olympics enthusiast but the US Men's relay team caught my attention last night. They put forth an amazing performance last night to beat the favored French team, coming from behind. If you have no interest in swimming, you still have to be impressed with the marvel that is the natatorium in Beijing. It is appropriately named "The Cube."