Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The New Conversions

As big a fan as I am of sports in general, it’s frustrating to go between sports and never know how to compare what one of your teams has done to what another has done.  This conversion chart is something I have been mulling over for quite some time, as I have been dwelling on certain sports so much recently.  One, football, in which my team has just achieved the ultimate goal, and the other, baseball, in which my team has a lot to look forward to this upcoming season.  But I’ve mixed in a couple other sports as well.
Pick Sixes are the most exciting play in football, without a doubt.  If you have a team that is a threat to convert them, it gives you a game-changing play in your back pocket, and if you have a quarterback prone to throwing them (paging Brett Favre), your team is in constant danger of losing any momentum it grabs.  But is there an equivalent in baseball.  Possibly, as I’ve come to theorize.  There might be different levels of momentum changing (of creating) the equivalent of a pick-six in baseball.  At the very basic level one could argue that leaving runners in scoring position, one or no runs having scored, then scoring two or more the next inning would be an equivalent.  To really get the full effect, though, I would have to add the requirements that the pitcher worked out of a two-on-less-than-two-out jam, then the runs score the next inning on a home run.  In other words, Jim Thome ended the Sox game last season with the equivalent.
If we extend this metaphor to punt returns, too, does that make Thome the baseball equivalent of DeSean Jackson?
            Moving on to what I like to call Association Football, in my somewhat superficial exposure to it, I’ve come up with another comparison between it and normal American sports.  Goals (soccer) equal Games (baseball). Bringing this thought up with a friend of mine at work who is a huge soccer nut, he agreed, in that Premier league teams tend to reach a comparable amount of goals as MLB teams do games won.  I think it’s appropriate for several reasons:  A soccer game has similar frequency to series in baseball, and similar results, “scoring”-wise.  Soccer fans probably also go about as nuts for each goal as a ballpark goes when their team wins one game.  And the goals in soccer generally mean about as much in the standings, because even if you haven’t won a lot, you could also draw (giving you a point in the standings), and the first tiebreaker is goal differential.
            “Traffic Light” (FOX) equals “Better With You” (ABC) equals “Perfect Couples” (NBC) equals “Rules of Engagement” (CBS).  What do all of these programs have in common?  They all follow the unabashedly unoriginal theme of following three different couples at three different stages of their relationship (unless you consider that David Spade’s character on RoE is never in a steady relationship.  Also, they just added an Indian guy- it’s fun).  But these three comedies might be proving that TV really is running out of ideas.  All but “Perfect Couples” have a good chance of staying, if only because Traffic Light and RoE are now slotted behind really successful comedies, the former Raising Hope, the latter Big Bang Theory.  But in the spirit of un-originality, this idea was actually gleaned from the Onion AV Club’s “The Hater”.
            “Sunday Afternoons” equal “Never Saw This Coming.”  What I mean by that is, I’m pretty sure the universe is conspiring to get me to watch NASCAR on Sunday Afternoons for the foreseeable future.  We’re not getting cable soon in this house, so apparently, thanks to the new FSN agreement, we won’t be able to watch baseball on the tube at all this summer, Sundays being our last bastion of hope.  Football and Basketball are both going to get locked out soon, either of which I would have taken in the past.  And is Hockey even on TV anymore?  (To their credit, I have enjoyed the Mid-Winter Classics.)  The funny thing is though, for a guy who up until recently didn’t even want to consider Auto-racing a sport, I’m really enjoying it.  I watched most of Daytona, and even turned on some of the Cobalt Tools 400.  (The fact that I remember even the name of that race is the scary part.)  But the 500 was epic and I’ve come to the conclusion that more technology can only help their broadcast.  I’m also not sure if my having a car makes me more excited for the sport, or vice versa.  Just don’t tell my parents.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Small Pleasures in the Digital Age

The more technology grows, the further we become disconnected from people- or so conventional wisdom grows.  But I think if that’s the case, it’s only because we’re not using the technology the right way.  In many ways, we can cut ourselves off from other people by becoming more adept at sharing our thoughts and opinions to a much wider array of people.  Look at the guy who tweeted Shit My Dad Says.  His account (and the book he eventually wrote) became a crappy TV show on CBS. 
But I do think tweeting is the way of the future. And while it seems like Not Social Networking is the new Social Networking, there are so many simple joys it can provide us. Ignoring people who aren’t really your friends on Facebook, for example.  But as far as the more active uses for these products of the Web 2.0, one of my favorites is definitely watching a big sporting event while on Twitter.  In fact, any event whatsoever provides endless enjoyment from a variety of personalities who will criticize or lampoon anything or everything.  It's really like you're there watching a game with all your friends, wherever they are.  And some of your friends are celebrities.  At times it has even clarified situations at times for me.  The Oscars, for example, gave me the FunnyOrDie people’s tweet that “every time Anne Hathaway references an at-home drinking game, you have to drink all the alcohol in your house.”
Probably the best way to keep up with this coming wave is to get an iPad.  An iPhone, like I have, would work quite well for those who do this frequently.  It’s less cumbersome than an laptop, but also looks less toolish than an iPhone.  It will probably make you squint less, too. As for playing games, though, I would have to recommend the smaller device.  Speaking of which, you know what a fantastic game-playing device is that’s going to be forgotten soon?  That’s right- the deck of cards.
I’ve been noted as a very slow shuffler- but the important thing is that I can shuffle.  I can also confidently start a game of cards.  For me, that game is usually Presidents and Assholes.  I have been playing this game since before I knew it was also a drinking game, and I honestly have played almost every version of it in the five state area.  Six states, if you include Illinois.  The idea is to get rid of your cards first, whereby you become President, but I hope most of you knew that.  In some places you can lay doubles on singles and so forth, in others you can just give away your twos if they’re your last cards.  But the rule I insist on playing with now, that’s revolutionized the game for me is Socials.  You ought to be able to complete the set of four (if you can) whenever you can.  And…drink.
But what’s become so under-rated in the digital age, I’ve found, is going out to things.  You never really know what you can find when you look around.  This past fall there was a Labor Day bluegrass festival down at Minnehaha Park, which was really enjoyable- highly recommend the band Sawtooth!  But even just getting out instead of watching from screens will put you in a better mood.  If you can say I Was There (or tweet it, or Facebook it), you were really part of that thing happening.  You can even go on ESPN Passport and tell the world you part of it.