Alex’s All-Childhood Team

August 10, 2013

For one day in 2013, 90s baseball was alive and well. Ken Griffey Jr was honored in Seattle, while Hideo Nomo, Eric Karros, and Tommy Lasorda shared a laugh pre-game in Los Angeles. All this got me thinking, what would my All-Childhood Team roster look like? Of course, it’d be a bit biased towards Dodgers. But besides that, who would it be? So here we go. This is strictly based on how I will remember baseball during my childhood, who I followed, and players who, to this day, stand out in my memory. 25 man roster.

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Catcher – Mike Piazza

1st Base – Eric Karros

2nd Base – Craig Biggio

Shortstop – Derek Jeter

3rd Base – Chipper Jones

Outfield – Ken Griffey Jr, Tim Salmon, Shawn Green

Starting Pitching – Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Hideo Nomo, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz

Relief Pitching – Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Eric Gagne, Troy Percival

Bench – Cal Ripkin Jr, Tony Gwynn, Todd Helton, Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez, Raul Mondesi, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra

Manager – Tommy Lasorda

These players couldn’t make the 25 man roster, but they deserve a shout-out.

Honorable Mention: Eric Young, Chan Ho Park, Tim Wakefield, David Wells, Mark McGwire, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Larry Walker, Tom Glavine, Mark Grace

Not mentioned above, but worth mentioning just because 13 year old Alex thought they were awesome…these guys:
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Michael Jordan

February 17, 2013

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*I apologize in advance for being yet another Michael Jordan 50th Birthday post.*

I remember exactly where I was when Michael Jordan made his “Last Shot” versus the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals to clinch the championship for the Chicago Bulls. I know exact spot  I was standing in and exactly how I was standing. I remember what I was wearing. I then remember the day he retired (after the 1998 season, his second retirement). I remember seeing the newspaper and being upset. I still have the LA Times from that day saved.

I still have the Sports Illustrated for Kids poster on the back of my door.

Why the hell would an 8 year old Laker/Clipper fan from Los Angeles care about this? Why would he remember all of these exact details 15 years later? Michael. MJ. Air Jordan. 23. That’s why. If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, there was no one cooler than Michael in all of sports. It didn’t matter if he was on your favorite team or not. He was your favorite player. We all remember that video games didn’t have “Michael Jordan” on the Bulls roster. We all remember the shoes and commercials. For thousands of kids my age across the country (if not world), one of the first posters they remember hanging on their wall was Michael.

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This exact poster was pinned to the wall next to my bed from 1996 until (about) 2003.

I remember when I got my first jersey. The same night I got the poster seen above. It was at the Mulholland Grill in 1996. My parents, sister, and I were meeting my grandfather and his wife for dinner. They had just returned from a trip to Chicago. They said they had a gift for me. I first unrolled the poster. I was ecstatic. MJ leaping. Tongue out. Flames at his feet. It was so cool. Then they handed me a bag. I opened it up to find a red Bulls jersey. #23. Jordan. To be completely honest, I was a bit disappointed at the time that it wasn’t the black jersey with red pinstripes, but who cared?! I had a Michael Jordan jersey and was literally jumping up and down I was so happy. In retrospect, the red jersey was perfect.

I remember the first time I saw Space Jam. My sister and I had just spent the night at my grandparents house in Brentwood, CA. I usually loved staying with my grandparents house, but that day was different. I eagerly waited, looking out the window for my Dad’s car. I knew that when my parents came to pick us up, we would be going to see the new Looney Tunes movie with Michael Jordan in it! They finally arrived, and we drove to the brand new AMC movie theater in Woodland Hills. I guess I was pretty hungry, because instead of the usually popcorn and soda, I opted for a movie theater hot dog (a decision I would regret later that night). But we sat as a family in the theater watching MJ, Bugs, Daffy, and the rest of the gang fight for their freedom versus the MonStars from Moron Mountain. I thought it was the best movie I had ever seen. I don’t know how my sister felt at the time. I had the action figures, the games, the height chart, the bed sheets, the soundtrack, and the poster on my door. (I still love the movie, and got the DVD for my 21st birthday).

Been tracking my height since October 1996. (And we all agree Bugs. We all agree.)

I had a North Carolina #23 jersey. I had a Wizards #23 jersey. I had the shoes. I had the book. I had a rookie card…a BASEBALL rookie card. I still have a pennant hanging in my room at home commemorating the Bulls as 6-time NBA Champions.

I originally thought it was amusing that ESPN and Sports Illustrated were making such a big deal about an athlete’s birthday. But then I really started to think about it. Every generation has that defining athlete that everyone wants to emulate. To think that that player for my generation is the greatest player to ever play professional basketball…that’s something. And for majority of us (myself included) we never saw him play in person. He was a living legend on the court. A mythic figure we all watched whenever we could. Whether you are a basketball fan or not, you all know Michael Jordan. Enough has been said about his impact on the game and his impact on marketing/branding/merchandising. But for the sports fan children of the 90s, his impact is one that helped shape our childhood perception of what athletes should strive to be like. He made a number sacred and made it that only the best could wear it. He took the bar and not only raised it, but placed it out of reach of anyone and everyone. The best athletes are (and always will be) compared to him. It doesn’t matter the sport. The question will always be, “Is he/she the Michael Jordan of ____?”

Happy Birthday MJ. And thank you.


#SBXLVII

February 3, 2013

First and foremost, congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens on their victory in Super Bowl XLVII (47). The game proved to be just as exciting as everyone had hoped.

But now let’s get to the real reason we’re here. Over the past few years, the Super Bowl has gotten more and more social media friendly. The addition of hashtags and making ads compatible with apps like Shazam are just two examples of how companies have found ways to continue their advertisement past the 30-60 second mark (and also saving a few million dollars). However, I feel that something happened this year. Social media was much more prevalent, ran successful campaigns, and companies were ready to go at a moments notice.

Here are some examples (my opinion) of the top social media moments of Super Bowl XLVII…

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Fixing The BCS

October 28, 2012

As some (or most) of you know, I took a class in my Sophomore year at the U of O called “Information Gathering.” That was the formal name. What it was (the class no longer exists) referred to as by students and faculty alike was “Info Hell.” An intensive research paper, 100+ pages, with extremely annotated bibliography entries. I lost sleep. I lost weight. It was Hell. However, besides the academic experience, I did take away one BIG thing from this class.

I know how to fix the BCS.

University Presidents, I’m waiting for a phone call…
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Issues With Journalism Today

August 14, 2012

You know what really grinds my gears!?

Earlier today, at about 1pm on August 14th, a radio host for ESPN Radio Wisconsin sent out a tweet:

“@ESPNChrisLarsen Rumor re: possible #Oregon sanctions. 4 years probation, 2 year bowl ban, 30 scholarships over 3 years.”

He continued:

“@ESPNChrisLarsen No off campus recruiting for Campbell or Pellum in 2013.”

One of Chris Larsen’s 331 followers saw the post, and retweeted it. Which warranted another retweet. And what started out as a pebble rolling down a small mound slowly quickly became an avalanche down the side of the Three Sisters (that’s an Oregon reference for those who don’t get it). Avid Pac-12 fans jumped on the news. Oregon fans were worried and shocked, as there has been no Notice of Allegations from the NCAA. UW and OSU fans rejoiced, as it looked as if their biggest rival was about to get the hammer.

Then Larsen sent out one more tweet a few hours later…

“@ESPNChrisLarsen There is no concrete information out there regarding possible #Oregon sanctions. Just twitter and message board fodder rumors I saw/heard.”

Adding to the madness, Larsen deleted the original posts stating the possible sanctions against Oregon.

I don’t know whether to laugh, be furious, be shocked, or be completely and utterly disgusted. Let’s go with all of the above.

This, in my opinion, is a perfect example of what is wrong with journalism today. I am one of the biggest proponents of Twitter. I love the site. I think it’s service is invaluable. However, it’s biggest flaw is that you’re allowed to say anything. I can go online right now and say that I heard from “sources” that University of Notre Dame is becoming a Jewish institution. No one’s stopping me. And if one person believes it, let the avalanche begin.

This man went onto a rival schools message board, saw a post that had no source or credibility, and posted from his Twitter account which features four extremely important letters in the world of sports.

E. S. P. N.

By simply having the letters ESPN in front of his name, he is instantly given credibility by anyone who is quickly looking through their Twitter feed. “Wow. Look what this guy from ESPN said!”

In my opinion, Larsen was trying to get the attention of “The Mothership.” If he’s right, then he ends up on SportsCenter talking about his findings and giving analysis. But unfortunately for Mr. Larsen, he broke a few major rules of reporting.

He initially reported a major story without citing a source. Not just a credible source, but ANY source.

Once the source was cited, it ended up being “message board fodder.” That’s like using Wikipedia on your grad school thesis paper.

And finally, the biggest error of them all. He deleted the original post. If it can’t be seen, then it never happened, right? Wrong. Once something is out on the internet, it is truly never gone. You can click delete all you want, but it’s still out there floating in cyberspace, waiting for someone to find it. Not to mention the screenshots that everyone took of your original post. One of the first things you learn in J school is that if you make a mistake, you need to own up to it. You can’t just click delete and hope no one saw. Larsen was retweeted over 5,000 times. Other news sources picked it up, saying “Chris Larsen from ESPN Radio is reporting…” If none of this information ends up to be true, his name and reputation will be soiled forever. And in reality, for using the “sources” he did and then deleting the initial report, his name and reputation already are soiled.

Companies like ESPN need to crack down on who is using their names. For Chris Larsen, he probably chose to go with @ESPNChrisLarsen because it made him seem more credible than any other handle stating that he worked for ESPN Radio in Wisconsin. Four simple letters change everything. And Larsen knew this.

What’s wrong with journalism in the age of Social Media? The same thing that makes social media great. Instant results. You post something and it can be picked up and spit back out to a few thousand people in a matter of seconds. How did you find out about Osama Bin Laden’s death? I found out from Twitter. News travels faster than it ever did before. And if the news is wrong, it’s still out there. Larsen’s information had no credibility, no legitimate sources, and all the momentum in the world. It just takes one click to create an avalanche.

It is possible that services like Twitter may be dumbing down journalists. But that is where the debate of journalist vs reporter comes into play. Some believe that Twitter is allowing for everyday people to become journalists. However, that’s really not true.

If you see a car accident on the road and you tweet about it, congratulations. You are a reporter. You reported the news. But you are not a journalist. A journalist goes the extra step to find out more information, gather credible sources, give updates, and stay with the story until it is over.

What Larsen did today was report something that he heard. He failed to take the extra steps necessary to become a journalist. Having a Twitter account with four highly respected letters in front of your name does not make you a journalist. Creating content which is thoroughly researched (and cited) and keeping good ethics will allow you to earn those four letters and then become a journalist.

UPDATE: Larsen changed his Twitter handle, removing “ESPN.” He also made his account protected (private). I think that is just as low as deleting the tweets. At least he stepped up and removed the “ESPN” from his name (or was forced to). It will be interesting to see if ESPN Wisconsin has any statement on the matter in the morning.


Penn State (NCAA Sanction Reaction)

July 23, 2012

Serious question. What is the point of vacating wins? Not just for Penn State, but in general. It really is pointless in my eyes.

For the PSU scandal, how does vacating wins help the victims and their families? You’re taking away wins from a man who died just so that he isn’t the all time wins leader in NCAA Division-1. Whoop-de-freakin-doo. That doesn’t change anything. As I said in my previous post, the wins still happened. As did the cover-up.

Pete Rose bet on baseball. Illegal. The games he managed still count. Mark McGwire took steroids, then (while not accused) committed obstruction of justice by refusing to speak on the matter to Congress. Illegal. All the games he played in still count. Tim Donaghy bet on NBA games and even effected the outcome of some. Illegal. All those games still count. Michael Vick was running a dog fighting ring out of his house while he was playing for the Falcons. Illegal. Went to jail. All games still count.

Joe Paterno and his cronies in the Penn State Athletic Department committed obstruction of justice. Illegal. All victories to be vacated.

The NCAA is the only organization which takes away things that happened. There’s no way to avoid it. The USC-Oklahoma National Championship game? IT HAPPENED! USC won. The 2006 Orange Bowl? IT HAPPENED! Penn State won!

Now, imagine you were a player for PSU in that 2006 Orange Bowl or the 2005 National Championship. Imagine that you didn’t even play. You were a bench warmer. The game is over. Your team wins. You are rewarded with a nice little piece of jewelry for your finger which reads “Champion.” You get that for the rest of your life. No one asks you how many minutes you played. The only thing that matters is that you were on a championship team. That is, until you find out that someone did something bad and the NCAA is going to pretend your victory didn’t happen. Your ring means nothing because in the age of instant media where anything can be looked up in seconds, it shows that the winner of the 2005 National Championship was [vacated] and the winner of the 2006 Orange Bowl was [vacated]. And worst of all, as a player, you didn’t even know what was happening to make your victory go away. Do you think any of the players on that 2006 team knew anything of what was going on? It’s called a cover up for a reason.

How is that fair? The players worked their asses of to win a game. They won. Not Paterno. Now they have their championship taken away. The players were innocent. The coaching staff is gone. The Athletic Director and University President were fired and face jail. Sandusky is in jail. Paterno is dead. This scandal isn’t about college athletics. It is about human lives. The NCAA has no right to be the ones administering punishment. Let the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and the legal system take care of that. By continuing to punish people who had nothing to do with the scandal you continue to think about the scandal and fail to try and move on.

I’ve been told not every sanction is about the victims. This time, it is. The NCAA put down harsh sanctions because they thought it would help the victims and their families feel better. What will make them feel better is when everyone involved is behind bars. The NCAA just told the families, “You remember that game in 1999 vs. Purdue that Penn State won. Well, we took that way from them. Sorry about everything. Feel better?”

So answer me this. What is the point of vacating wins? How does it help/solve problems, not only in this situation, but throughout collegiate athletics? If you were a family member of a victim, would you be relieved that a Penn State game in September of 2002 vs. Louisiana Tech didn’t count as a win anymore?


Penn State

July 20, 2012

I wrote the following post on July 12th. I now sit here, posting this on July 20th after hearing the news that Penn State officials have decided to remove the Joe Paterno statue. I continue to stand by the comments I made in this post. I may be the biggest Barry Bonds hater of them all. However, you cannot make things vanish. You cannot make things disappear. Bonds hit more home runs than Aaron, whether it be legally or illegally. You can asterisk it, you can keep him out of the Hall of Fame, you can throw him in jail, but the fact of the matter is, they happened. Paterno’s legacy may be tainted, but the things he did still happened. You can take away the statue, but you cannot make his actions disappear; not his victories, not his championships, and not his failure to act.

The following is my original post, intended for 7/12/12:

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