Some Fun Trivia to Celebrate Mariners Opening Day

It’s the home opener of our favorite hometown 9, the Seattle Mariners. So let’s take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and review some stats and trivia since the day the Mariners were bounced from the last playoff game in which they participated, October 22, 2001.

Things that did not exist the last time the Mariners were in the playoffs:

  • Xbox (launched 11/15/01), Century Link Field (2002), Facebook, Instagram, iPhone, Amazon Web Services, Seattle Sounders, Oklahoma City Thunder, Tesla, Uber, Snapchat, Link Light Rail.

Notable stats from October 2001:

  • U.S. President: George W Bush
  • 2001 U.S. House of Representatives: Democrats 213, Republicans 220
  • 2001 U.S. Senate: Democrats 50, Republicans 49, Independent 1
  • 2001 Seattle Mayor: Paul Schell through November, then Greg Nickels elected
  • 2001 Washington Governor: Gary Locke
  • 2002 Oscars (for movies produced in 2001):  Best Picture: A Beautiful Mind | Best Actor: Denzel Washington (Training Day) | Best Actress: Halle Berry (Monsters Ball)
  • Top 10 TV shows, 2001-2002 season: Friends, CSI, ER, Everybody Loves Raymond, Law & Order, Survivor, Monday Night Football, The West Wing, Will & Grace, Leap of Faith
  • 2002 Grammy Awards (for songs produced in 2001):  Song of the year: Fallin, by Alicia Keys | Record of the year: Walk On, by U2 | Album of the year: O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack
  • 10 Richest People in the World: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Karl and Theo Albrecht, Paul Allen, Larry Ellis, 5 heirs to Sam Walton – Jim, John, Alice, S Robson, Helen

Sports Champions since the day the Mariners lost in 2001:

  • World Series winners: Arizona, Anaheim, Florida, Boston (3),  Chicago White Sox, St. Louis (2), Philadelphia, New York Yankees, San Francisco (3), Kansas City, Chicago Cubs.
  • Super Bowl winners: New England (5), Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh (2), Indianapolis, New York Giants (2), New Orleans, Green Bay, Baltimore, Seattle (YAY!), Denver
  • NBA Champions: Who cares, the league ceased existing to me in 2008.

Statistical Points of Interest:

  • Seattle Population:  2001 – 570k | 2013 – 652k
  • Cost of Super Bowl Ad: 2001 – $2.2 million  | 2017 –  $5.0 million
  • Internet Advertising Revenue: 2001 – $7.2 Billion | 2015 – $59.6 Billion

Mark Cuban 2020?

Mark Cuban set about to troll President Trump, in what was surely the only newsworthy event from the NBA’s Celebrity All-Star game.

Source: USA Today

But wait a minute, does a Mark Cuban presidency make sense? Have the times changed so greatly, that this something we should consider? Let’s speculate a little for fun.

  1. He’s not beholden to a single ideology. Cuban has self-identified as a Republican. Living in Dallas, that makes perfect sense. But he also has called himself fiercely independent and supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. So while so many want to force people into binary positions of Democrat or Republican, it’s fair to say that Cuban has pro-business values while also respecting the social causes and rights of all Americans. That’s a pretty good set of qualities for a leader of the free world.
  2. He identifies with everybody. He’s a Billionaire who really did scrap and claw from a middle class upbringing. He became a reasonably successful millionaire, then managed to see the future, leveraging some simple technology deals into a $6 billion payday for his company. He is the guy the middle class high school student can look to and say, “I can do that too.”
  3. He’d be able to assemble an incredible cabinet and set of advisors. Cuban runs in entrepreneurial circles, regularly engaging with the best and brightest minds around. But he’s also part of the business establishment, being part of venture capital groups and working with the key influencers in many industries. And most importantly, he seems to value the input and opinions of others to help him make his decisions. That’s someone who could recruit a top-notch team.

So, could he win?

Well, that would probably be up to the Democrats in power today. Will the DNC have the same pollsters and strategists who mishandled the Clinton campaign running their 2020 program? So for the sake of argument, let’s say the DNC didn’t get in the way of a populist Mark Cuban campaign in the primaries and just let it play out.

Primaries:

I don’t know enough to know who the leading Democratic challengers will be. I assume Elizabeth Warren will be a front runner. So let’s focus the conversation on Cuban vs Warren and a bunch of wild cards.

  1. Cuban has his own financial resources and doesn’t need to rely on donations from fringe groups. He can buy a talented team and build a ground game. I don’t know if Warren could raise the same amount of money.
  2. He’ll win Texas, and probably all the midwest and rust belt states that Obama and Trump won. That’s a good starting point.
  3. Can he take Warren in New York, California and Florida? I don’t know.
  4. I don’t think he has an issue with women voters. He seems to have mainstream appeal across all genders.

General Election:

  1. There will never be an election in which more Democrats come out to support whoever is running against Trump. So he’ll have that going for him.
  2. After 4 years of being beaten up by Trump, every media outlet in the world would be giving Cuban free air time.
  3. He can be a unicorn – a Democrat who wins Texas. Assuming Democrats also win New York and California, he’s almost halfway home at that point.
  4. Then he wins the middle of the country, the people who didn’t get what they were promised by the current President.

It’s a far out scenario, but reasonable at the same time. The question is if it’s a job he’d actually want.

Should We Provide Free College Tuition

I’m seeing this topic brought up more and more. College is too expensive and even the middle class can’t afford it anymore. And those who come out of school with a mountain of debt will never be able to own a house, much less have enough discretionary income from the low paying jobs they’ll earn with their degree.

So the easy answer is to make college cheaper – or even provide college for free. It works in countries like Sweden, so could it work here?

Well the 1st thing that would have to happen would be a gigantic increase in taxes. Someone still has to pay the professors, administrators, janitors, etc… who make the school run.

But suppose in the short-term, we had a hybrid model that solves a specific problem for one sector of U.S. Business.

Let’s provide education that is free – but on loan – to people who choose to enter a track specific for math, science, engineering or computer programming. Here’s how it would work.

  1. Test into a program for aptitude or potential ability in the subjects, not existing grades or knowledge. Any age.
  2. Choose a specialized track includes some General Education but really focuses on the technical subject matter.
  3. Like the military, mandate required service time to pay off the loan. One suggestion: within 8 years of graduation, require 2 years of part-time teaching at a community college, high school or workshop level. This will help with the burden that we have a lack of professionals who can teach these subject matters. It also gives graduates a full 6 years to get their career situated and mature as adults who can mentor others.
  4.  If the graduate has made enough money to pay off the loan, they can spend money rather than time in service. That money would be able to hire others who wanted to teach.
  5. The tech companies would be asked to underwrite some portion of the project. You’d want to make the numbers work so that overall, the cost of recruiting technical talent would decrease even after their financial commitment. They’d be investing smart money to grow the labor pool rather than paying premium salaries and recruiting commissions in a battle for scarce resources.

I don’t know how the numbers would net out, but I’m not in government. Maybe someone will read this and see if the math works.

Any other thoughts? Email me.

What We Are Going to Do in 5 Years With All Those Non-Driverless Cars?

I’m not really a car guy. I like when other people have really nice cars, and I could certainly afford to have a nice car, but for some reason I’m wired to be perfectly happy driving the same Acura for the last 16 years. But 16 years is a long time and the reality is that my car will die someday. So I have started looking around for my next automobile.

However, my research hit a snag almost the moment I started. You see, everything I read is that driverless cars are somewhere between 5 and 10 years away. Which begs the question? Why on earth would I buy a regular car today, if no one will want to buy it when the driverless versions start coming out?

And the bigger meta-question is, what the heck will happen to the millions and millions of regular automobiles out there? Here are some options.

  1. Some really smart people are going to figure out how to transform regular cars into driverless ones. Or, I suspect the GM, Ford, Acura, Toyota, etc… will all figure out a way to do it.
  2.  In 3 to 5 years, leasing becomes such an attractive option that there’s just no reason to buy a new car. You’ll have one last regular car for 3-5 years and in your next lease you’ll get a driverless one.
  3. There will be an amazing glut of really nice 5 year old cars on the market.  In 2022, the supply of 2019 BMW’s will so outpace the demand that people who don’t choose a driverless option will be able to get a car that’s nicer than anything they ever thought they could afford.

But the crux of the issue is this. What do I do? Do I just wait until my car dies? Or do I hope it lasts 5 more years and be the first kid on the block with a driverless car? Thoughts?

Totally Unfounded Speculation About Alex Rodriguez

There is almost zero percent chance that this hypothesis is accurate. But suppose…

  • Rather than release him outright, the Yankees offered Alex Rodriguez the role of “Special Advisor” because they could make sure the contract he signed and the $20+ million they still owe him would be contingent on him actually being a Yankee Special Advisor.
  • So in order for him to go play for another team, he would have to negotiate an end to his current contract, since he is now contracted to be a Yankees Special Advisor until the end of 2017.
  • Remember, the Yankees cut him at 696 home runs, BUT instead of waiting until the end of the year, they left him with enough time in the season to get 4 more HR’s to get to 700.
  • So, maybe they specifically did that so some team out of the playoff race would try to sign him on the cheap for the marketing exposure of his chase to 700.
  • And if another team does want him for that purpose, there’s no way a guy wth his pride and ego would turn down the chance to join the 700 club.
  • So then the Yankees could either choose to keep him from playing for another team, or make him cancel the remaining salary he is owed.
  • And then he would have to choose what is more important… $20+ million more dollars on top of the $500 million he’s earned, or the chance to get 4 more HR’s and join a really exclusive club.

Maybe… well played Yankees?

The Meat-Free Experiment is Underway

I’ve never contemplated vegetarianism. And no matter how long I live in Seattle, I can never see myself paying an extra $3 for a “sustainable” sandwich.

But I like experiments, so I have one underway. From May 17 – May 30, I’m going meat free.

I’m trading the steaks for salmon, bacon for yoghurt, and sandwiches for salads. Just to see how my body reacts to a meatless diet.

I’m starting this experiment about 20 pounds above where I’d like to be. I’m not changing any other aspects of my diet or exercise plan, to truly see how meat affects weight gain or loss. I’m also curious what this will do for my mood, sleep habits, energy level and more.

So, if I seem grouchy in the next few weeks while you inhale a T-bone and I choose the Ahi salad, this is why. And if you have tips on how to replace meat with other protein, please let me know.

6 Business Lessons To Learn From Bruce Springsteen

3 hours and 45 minutes. That was the amount of time Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played at Key Arena on Thursday night. What can a musician teach a business person in 4 hours? Here are some simple lessons of which I was reminded.

1) Treat your customer right
How do you get you most ardent fans, all who have seen you play multiple times, to spend hundreds of dollars to see you again? Deliver them something so over the top, that they can’t say no to you. Do something unheard of – like playing “The River” from front to back for 2 hours, and then delivering another hour and 45 minutes of your hits. No intermissions, no fake encores, just turn on the lights and start playing.

2) Deliver consistent product
Once Springsteen hit his groove, he continued to deliver what his audience wanted. Sure, he dabbled here and there with some things like Tunnel of Love, but for the most part he has kept driving updated versions of what his customers were clamoring for. And when he wasn’t producing new material, he was on the road reminding his customers why they loved him.

3) Work with a strong team
Look at the folks he works with, and those who have passed. Solid musicians who do things better than he can. You don’t see him doing a vanity song on the piano or sax to show us he can play any instrument. He has the E Street Band, who are a key part of his storyline, and critical to the customer’s overall experience. Oh – and don’t be afraid to bring on someone like Eddie Vedder for a freelance consultant role.
IMG_7629

4) Let your team discover their own creative outlets
I bet there are fans of Silvio Dante who has no idea he was the lead guitarist for Bruce Springsteen (while even fewer Lilyhammer fans had a clue.) And plenty of Conan O’Brien lovers didn’t know who Max Weinberg was hanging out with on weekends. These were creative outlets where the guys in the shadows could get some spotlight and be known for being more than, “That guy who plays in Bruce’s band.”

5) Work harder than everyone else
Did I mention 3 HOURS AND 45 MINUTES. Without a break. With stage diving. At 66 years old. You don’t just do that. You train for it. You eat right, train better, and have the will to get it done. You practice so that you know exactly how to be the most efficient with your effort. You plan so that you know how to give everyone a couple of minutes here and there to get some water (or whatever they need) to stay on top of their game. This isn’t stumbling onto a stage at Bumbershoot and goofing around for 45 minutes. Any half-ass band or company can fake it for a little while. But that’s why he’s been selling out stadiums for 30 years.
IMG_7593

6) And of course, it’s good to be The Boss.

American Politics are Dead, and I Blame Social Media

I hear the gasps now. “But Andy, your mortgage gets paid because of social media. How can ANYTHING be social media’s fault?”

In the beginning, we all promised that social would lead to the democratization of media. Finally, one person with a great point could be heard by the masses, without the media getting in the way and distorting the message. That was the goal, the dream, the vision.

But what do we have instead?

Everyone in my Facebook feed who posts something political, made their decision who to support months if not years ago. I have yet to see a single post where someone says, “Here is a really well thought out article that discusses two sides of a complex issue. Please read it so we can discuss as mature adults in a reasonable fashion.”

No, every political post is along the lines of, “Another example of how Trump sucks.” Or, “Here’s why Hillary is going to jail.” Or, “Look, GOP is imploding. LOL HAHAHA #DemsRule.”

And really, this is our fault. We took a channel that we could own, and turned it into a circus. People complain about how biased FoxNews, CNN, and MSNBC are. But they need to look at their own Facebook and Twitter feeds. Individuals pander to their friends and followers worse than the media does. No Democrat reads an article about John Kasich and posts, “Hmm, I hadn’t thought about this before. He seems to make sense.” No, everyone moves on to the next article in their Flipboard hoping the headline says something like, “Donald Trump declares he likes to eat puppies.”

Ari, Chris and I learned this in 2007 when we built MyElectionChoices.com (ironically we lost the url to some Chinese spam company). People were really happy when their results confirmed the beliefs they had entering into the survey. They were very displeased to learn that they had something in common with the opposite party. Sometimes I wish we could try that experiment again. But I bet we’d find the same results.

So instead of a place to learn, social media has become an echo chamber where like minded individuals like each other’s posts, which triggers the algorithm to deliver more of the same types of posts that the same people can like even more. Social media is now built to make sure you don’t see a differing opinion, especially one that requires reading and/or thought. We’ve built a channel where everyone who believes the same thing can put on blinders and believe everyone sees things the way they do.

And that is the exact opposite of what the democratization of media was supposed to be about.

Imagining Presidential Candidates as League Commissioners

I don’t know what made me think about this, but indulge me if you will. If you took the remaining Presidential candidates and put them in charge of the sports leagues, which ones would they run? Here’s my proposal.

1) MLS
Let’s start with the easiest one first. Major League Soccer is by definition a socialist endeavor. The league revenues are split, the labor force has few rights for negotiating wages, and all transactions must go through the league office. This is Bernie Sanders’ league, plain and simple.

2) NFL
The country’s most powerful league is going to need a member of the establishment to carry out its charter. Someone who knows everyone on Wall Street as well as the rest of the Billionaire owners. They must have political clout to wield or they’ll be a lame duck. But also, the NFL needs someone who can deflect controversy, pretend things that are happening aren’t actually happening, and show a strong willingness to tiptoe on the wrong side of the rules. I think the NFL goes to Hillary Clinton.

3) MLB
This league is much harder to determine a proper commissioner for. Its leader must have the clout to appease 30 billionaire owners, manage municipalities to get stadiums built, and negotiate billion dollar TV deals, all while presiding over a sport that is losing its appeal to much of America. In some ways, to some people, MLB has become somewhat a relic of days gone by. A memory of what once was, rather than what will be. And with that in mind, I hand the keys to Jeb Bush.

4) NBA
Another tough decision. We’re looking for someone who can see the international picture while not overlooking the inner cities. Someone who can manage across different cultures. But also someone who can simply step into the shoes of his mentor and merely continue to operate the machine rather than create a new one from scratch. I think this role is given to Marco Rubio.

5) NHL
Here we have a league that not enough people get excited about. It rarely registers on your sports mind, even though the few times you pay attention to it, you find it quite enjoyable. It is the epitome of being John Kasich.

6) NCAA
With this organization, we’re looking for a few key qualities. This leader must be fairly tone deaf to the cries from its labor force who want to be paid. The leader must embrace the idea of the 1% receiving all of the money, and have strong convictions about who should be let into the system. Plus this leader must be stubborn, resistant to the opinion of others, and able to hold true to their beliefs. I believe Ted Cruz is our answer here.

7) WWE
Come on, is this one really that hard? There’s only one Presidential candidate capable of running the circus that is Worldwide Wrestling. The one and only, Donald Trump.

Have I missed a league that needs a Presidential candidate as a commissioner? Let me know.

A Request to the Writers of The Daily Show

Dear Trevor Noah and the rest of The Daily Show writing team,

I have a request for this election season.

Every candidate is busy lining up endorsements from the people they thing will most energize voters. Candidates need endorsements from all the individual politicians, tastemakers and influencers, from President Obama to Jay Inslee to Ed Murray.

But here’s what I would find REALLY interesting. Not who the thought leaders are endorsing. But who the crackpots, weirdos and psychopaths want to see in office. I would learn way more about a candidate by knowing if they are being supported by the craziest of the crazy. After all, candidates can try to hand pick and choreograph the endorsements they get from positive figures. But they’re helpless to defend themselves against endorsements from the “wrong people.”

So Mr. Noah, this is where you come in.

You have the power, the prestige, the connections and the brains to pull together a list of some of the biggest wackos in America AND get them on camera and find out who they are endorsing. You all can dive in and find out why. And as Americans, in some cases we’ll have to reconcile the fact that we support the same candidate as someone we’d never invite over to dinner.

I think the rare combination of ratings winner and public service. Thanks for your consideration.

Your loyal viewer,

Andy