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.

A Dumb Idea for Gun Control Compromise

If there’s one thing I know for sure about the gun control debate, it’s that none of the sides are absolutely right.In a country of 350 million people from hundreds of thousands of different cultural backgrounds, you aren’t going to find a solution that appeases everyone. Rather than discuss this point, I’ll direct you to this very well written piece on the complication of legislating gun control.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t take baby steps in one direction or another to at least try to make things a little bit better. I have one such idea for making things just a little bit better.

For the purposes of this discussion, we are going to ignore assault weapons and even hunting rifles. We are going to simply address handguns.

Now, the argument FOR handguns is personal protection. Some people feel a God-given, or 2nd Amendment given, right to bear arms for the purpose of self-preservation. The problem is when people use that purchasing opportunity to go on the attack instead, sneaking into a school or restaurant and rattling off as many shots as they can before using the last one on themselves.

So if the true purpose of a handgun is PROTECTION, what can we do to make it a purely defensive weapon?

The answer, is to make it non-lethal.

A non-lethal handgun could cause immense amounts of pain. It could render an attacker helpless. It might even knock them out. Either way, it would be powerful enough that if you were attacked and got off a couple of shots that hit your assailant, even an MMA fighter would be down long enough that the police could be called, or at least for you to flee to safety.

We could make these guns available anywhere, no background check at all. Shooting someone would be the equivalent of hitting them with a baseball bat and we could treat it as such.

Now sure, you are still mostly defenseless against a group of trained and heavily armored assassins carrying AK-47’s into a French bistro. But you are less likely to get anything ore than a major headache if some guy goes nutso in a movie theater.

We need to get a few minuscule wins if we’re going to get any real compromises underway. Maybe this could be one.

Saving Greece and Soccer at the Same Time

In case anyone wonders, this is a completely facetious comment. I don’t honestly believe this is a good idea… But in a make believe world, here’s how you could save Greece and International Soccer at the same time.

Qatar buys Greece.

Think about it. It’s win-win-win-win.

Win 1: Qatar gets the recognition it desires.
Qatar has a ton of money that it can’t spend. They want to change their image and have a larger presence in terms of global awareness. By buying Greece and renaming it “North Qatar,” they get all of the history that comes with it. Just like Gary Payton is somehow the leading scorer in Oklahoma City Thunder history, North Qatar would be where the Olympic games originated. Zeus and the rest of the Qatari gods lives on Mt. Olympus in North Qatar. And where would the world be without the contributions of famous Qataris such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle?

Win 2: Greece pays off its debt.
The banks want to get paid. The Greeks don’t want to pay anyone back. Qatar has dump trucks of cash sitting in gold plated garages. Let’s redistribute some of that cash and keep the country – and Europe – from collapsing.

Win 3: We don’t have to play soccer in 120 degree weather.
The 2022 World Cup can stay in Qatar – it’s just going to be played in North Qatar. (Except they’ll make Germany and the U.S. play their games in South Qatar out of spite.) Tourists will now want to attend the games. And Qatar can send all those poor abused migrant workers home.

Win 4: FIFA moves to North Qatar
Nothing significant in the world can happen without it benefitting Sepp Blatter in some way. This works for him. Qatar can revoke any extradition treaties it has with the U.S. and FIFA can build a 200,000 square fit office complex overlooking the Aegean Sea.

Could it happen? Of course not. Should it? Hmm….

My Crazy Idea For the Month

So it’s been a while, but here’s a new and ridiculous idea that might not be so ridiculous.

1) The problems with trying to build a profitable business delivering food or items with same day service (such as Eat 24), are the extreme set up costs to buy a fleet of vehicles, the complexity of hiring drivers who know the area, and the ability to launch branches in every key neighborhood.

2) The U.S. Postal Service is losing tons of money every year. But they have a fleet of delivery vehicles that go unused every evening, drivers who know the area and an existing branch in every neighborhood.

It seems to me that a forward thinking postal service with a strong CTO could figure out a way to deliver mail during the morning, and same day local deliveries in the afternoon and evenings.

Would love to hear why this couldn’t work.

The Fanciful Vision of a Combined US and Mexican Professional League

So here’s an idea that will never work…

My friend Luke is a supporter of the Mexican National Team. He brought up a great point – Both the USMNT and El Tri get screwed because everyone else in Concacaf stinks. Sure, every once in awhile Honduras or Costa Rica may beat the US or Mexico, but really, our fellow confederation mates are the equivalent of Iceland and Liectenstien.

Luke’s point is that it’s up to the US and Mexico to improve the quality of the other countries. Without quality competition, we’re almost assuredly headed out in the round of 16 every World Cup – maybe the round of 8 if we get lucky and the wrong team wins another one of the Groups. But when the rubber meets the road, we just don’t see enough quality competition to beat Brazil, Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal or Argentina. We’d be considered underdogs to France, England, Russia, Uruguay and Japan.

So how can we improve Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, etc… so that they can provide worthy competition throughout the cycle?

The easiest answer is to make sure their best players have a top league to play in. Now it’s been well documented why the Mexican League and MLS can never be TOP leagues. But…what if Mexico and the U.S. combined for ONE league? Could that be a TOP league?

Now before you come up with all the obvious reasons that this would never work, indulge me for 5 minutes and play along. Ignore all the limitations and just imagine the possibilities.

Here’s the loose format Luke and I sketched out on the back of our beer cups:

  • Start in 2015 with two leagues, a Premier League and a Championship League.  The top 10 teams from each league start in the Premier League. The rest from each play in the Championship.
  • Each season, the bottom 2 U.S. and bottom 2 Mexican teams in the Premier league get switched out with the top 2 of each from the Championship. (We have to do it this way to avoid rampant cheating at the end of seasons, as well as to keep it fairly balanced.)
  • We flip to the international schedule that the rest of the world uses – August to May. You can schedule the U.S. teams on long road trips into Mexico during the November, December, January months. (There are actually great tourism opportunities along with this – why wouldn’t someone who lives in a northern city like Seattle want to travel around Mexico in late December for some sun and soccer?)
  • Mexico would get to shed their ridiculous 2 season system.
  • A league featuring teams in New York, LA, Seattle, Mexico City, Guadalajara, etc… would generate solid TV revenue.
  • The extra TV revenue would help recruit the best players from other Concacaf nations. We’d start to recognize some of the players that we see more often on the international stage. These players would have bigger roles than the’d have in ortugal or France or a European League like that.
  • The U.S. vs U.S. rivalries can be kept in tournaments like the U.S. Open Cup which now would have more importance.

I get that there are 200 reasons why it can’t work, and you need revenue sharing for all 38 teams which would be a nightmare. And I know scheduling would not be easy (though it’s not that easy now either.) But from a pure fan perspective, I really like the idea of a league where watching a game featuring National team members is the rule, not an exception.

Any thoughts?

Maps of where the teams in each league are now:


MLS


Mexican_League

My Dumb Idea to Help with Homelessness

If you were to line up all the causes I wish I could support more, Homelessness comes to the front.  It’s not that I think it is more or less worthy than others, but it feels like something we should be able to make more progress against.

Every time I go into my neighborhood QFC, I pass between 1 and 3 homeless people asking for money.  One man stands at the front of the store with a “Homeless Vet” sign, one woman sits across the street by the parking lot and occasionally there is a representative from “Real Change.” Clearly, we can do better than this as a society.

Now, there are a couple of problems that we all face.  If we write big checks to a charity that helps with homelessness, we don’t know where the money goes and if it is being used to help people get out of their situation or just make their situation more tolerable.  If you give money directly to a person, you don’t know if they’ll spend it down the street at 7-11 on a bottle of Boone’s.

So here’s my dumb idea that will likely offend a bunch of people.

I would like to try to focus some efforts on the homeless who are closest to climb their way out.  The  people who have cleaned themselves up, paid their debts to society or taken other steps to get back to a position where they can succeed.  There are plenty of people who just need that little burst of cash to get the first and last months rent, a nice set of clothes, a moped or bus pas, or whatever is keeping them just 1-2 degrees from that point.

So how do we do this? I’d like to propose a kind of combination of Anonymous LinkedIn and Kickstarter managed by some reputable organization.  In this system, i could look at the anonymous profiles of  everyone who is applying for personal donations and what they will be need the money for.  They set personal goals and achievements that they need to hit.  With each success, they get closer to collecting their donation from me and the others who are rooting / supporting them.  The reputable organization then makes the purchase of the apartment, clothes, car, whatever on behalf of the client.

So in a nutshell – the homeless person “earns” the money they need by achieving some set of goals and objectives, people like us get to choose the unnamed profiles we want to support based on our preference, and there is a group in between making sure everyone stays anonymous in the process.

I can already hear the 100 reasons this is unfair to a whole set of people and not a solution to a massive problem.  But I’m not trying to boil the entire ocean here.  I’m just trying to help a few people out.  Anyway, that’s my latest dumb idea.

Big Move in the Scrabulous vs Hasbro Battle

So, just when you thought Scrabulous was dead…..when you thought they had no letters left to play, the team of Rajat and Jayant came back with “Quartzite” for a Bingo Triple Word Score.

It seemed like the war was over when the guys behind Scrabulous bowed to the legal pressure from Hasbro and pulled their wildly successful application from Facebook.   I stated that I hoped Hasbro would simply pay the guys what the game was worth and buy the application – and the users – from them.

But instead, the tables have been turned and the guys from Hasbro must have the same look as the Seattle City Council Members who were shocked that Clay Bennett was moving the Sonics.

In a Kasparov-ish type move, the Scrabulous guys have relaunched Scrabulous as “Wordscraper.”  Now at first look, the board and the game sucks.  Then you look at the rules, and you see that in Wordscraper, you have the ability to create your own board.  You can create ANY TYPE of board you want.  Maybe you want 20 Triple word score spots.  Or…….maybe you want the board to look just like a real Scrabble board…….In just a few minutes, if I wanted, I could make a board that looked like a real Scrabble board and use that for every game moving forward.

This my friends, is what it looks like when 2 smart guys take a winnable battle against a board room full of people without a creative thought in their head.  Congrats to the Scrabulous – I mean Wordscraper – guys who just played the death blow in this silly Facebook battle vs Hasbro.

Behind the Scenes at an Original Planning Meeting for the White River Amphitheatre

I recently attended a show at the White River Amphitheatre.  I was curious how the thing was conceived, so I found some notes from an early planning meeting….

——————-

(Setting: Starbucks, 2001)

Melvin: Well, Tommy,
Carline, you say you have a proposal for the new outdoor concert venue?

Tommy: We do.  Can we show it to you now?

Melvin: Please do.

Carline:
Thanks.  We couldn’t get our printer to
work, but we sketched it out on these napkins.  Will that work?

Melvin: Perfect – not a
problem at all.

Tommy: So first off,
thanks for the opportunity.   We have
really thought about this a long time. 
And after careful review, we think we have the perfect location for a
concert arena marketed to Seattle citizens.

Carline: Yes, the
perfect spot is………..halfway between Auburn and Enumclaw.

Melvin:
I’m intrigued.  Please explain.

Tommy:  Well you see, Seattleites never go to Auburn
or Enumclaw.  They have this impression
that it is either too rural, or too far away. 
By forcing people to attend shows down there, we will raise the profile
of these vibrant towns.

Melvin: I see.  Now, I’m concerned about the fact that there
is only a single 2-lane road from Auburn to the proposed arena site.  Walk me through how this would work from a
traffic perspective.

Carline: Both Tommy
and I feel very strongly, that part of the problem with today’s society,
especially the young people, is that people are in too much of a hurry.  If you have one lane in, people will be
forced to take their time and really enjoy the camaraderie of being together.

Tommy: Yes, there is
an old proverb – “The joy is in the journey, not the destination.”

Melvin: Does that
tie into putting the arena on Muckleshoot land?

Carline:  Exactly.

Melvin: So that
proverb is Native American?

Carline:  No not at all.  We think it’s Buddhist.  But Buddhism originated in China, and India is
close to China.  Native Americans here in
the US have been referred to as “Indians.” 
So this ties together ancient teachings and wisdom of both
spiritualites.

Melvin: Yes, that’s
very moving.  Please continue.

Tommy: Plus, The traffic
situation will encourage carpooling, so every concert attendee will leave a
smaller carbon footprint on their way to the event.  And since they won’t be able to drive more
than 4 miles per hour, everyone will get much better gas mileage than if they
were driving on a freeway.

Melvin: That’s
really fantastic.  What about public
transportation?

Tommy: We kind of
figured that neither Sound Transit or local metro buses really want to deal
with crowds that may be drinking at the event. 
So again, having one way in and out makes a bus route unnecessary, and
even silly.  We were afraid that if we
build buses or trains into the transportation plan, we’d get pushback.

Melvin: Yes, that
was really smart.  Now, who would handle traffic
control?  Is that Seattle PD?

Tommy: Actually no.
SPD has a ton of experience organizing traffic flow around Mariners, Seahawks
and Husky games.  Do they really need to
handle anymore?

Carline:  I mean, it really isn’t fair.  When you think about it, the King County Sheriff’s
department doesn’t get any chances. 
Because SPD steals all the big gigs, the King County sheriffs have no
skills, competency or ability to handle traffic flow.  How
can they be expected to grow professionally if they are denied these chances?  It just – just – makes me so mad.

Tommy: We talked to
them, and they said if they had the chance to run traffic for this, in about
15-20 years they would have developed the intelligence and competency to handle a 5,000 person
event. 

Melvin: Well it’s
clear they deserve the chance to learn.

Carline: I’m glad
you feel that way as well.

Melvin: Do you think
that could create problems on the roads?

Tommy:  Well, we think we can alleviate some of the
road problems, if we make sure there are only 2 lanes out of the arena parking
lot.  If we limit it to let 2 cars out every 5
seconds, then that’s 24 per minute.  On a
night with 12,000 cars, it would take about 500 minutes to get everyone out.  That should really keep the roads from being
too clogged.

Melvin: That really
is clever.

Tommy: Carline, tell
him the best part.

Carline: Ooh, ooh.  This is
what I’m most excited about.  We can have
the King County Sheriffs direct people down different country roads, having
them wind around for no apparent reason, and completely devoid of logic. 
But from the air, what you’ll see is this amazing array of parking and
headlights that will create organic, wonderful shapes along the ground.

Melvin: That sounds
beautiful.  Will people like it?

Carline: Like it?!
They are going to love it.  Close your
eyes and imagine this with me if you will. 
You start the day with a 2-3 hour long drive with your close friends and
family, communing with each other through a marvelous journey of patience.  Then you enjoy music, art’s purest form.  The love spills out into the parking lot,
where you sit for hours reminiscing about the magic you have just been exposed
to, sharing your feelings with strangers and friends alike.  And then, on top of it all, you are
transported into a real life piece of living art.  You are now PART of the art of the evening,
one set of lights among a giant sea of red and white bulbs.  You are at the same time an individual, and
part of something much bigger than yourself. 
It will be truly nirvana like.

Melvin: Oh I’m
tingling just thinking about it.  How do
we staff the parking lots?

Tommy: Again,
embracing the art has wonderful business results.  In most lots, with multiple exits, you’d have
to hire people with reasonable skills in deduction, logic or basic
organization.  But in this set up, since
the art of chaos is the end-goal, we can hire a much different set of
employees.

Carline: Yes, we
felt that we need Yin and Yang together for perfect harmony.  And if the people attending the events can
afford expensive tickets, we needed poorer employees to balance that out.  We can employ anyone, regardless of
education, income, ability to speak, or really, even to see.  All they need to do is hold a flashlight and
point people towards nothing.

Melvin: So they
would offer no advice or facilitate the exit in any way.

Carline NO! THEY CAN’T!!!!!
I’m sorry.  But for the art to be truly
free-forming, people must be allowed to choose their own way.  They have to actively decide to get in the
line.  If they are told to skip the
lines, the entire chain would be broken. 
We can’t allow the employees to have the ability to be helpful at all.

Tommy: Plus, from an
economic perspective, this gives you the chance to hire people who really have
no other ability to work.  It’s very
socially conscious.

Melvin: I love
it.  Great for the soul, great for the
economy.  I gotta say, you guys are
really knocking the cover off the ball here. 
One last question.  I notice in
your design of the building itself, you have the stage amphitheatre face one
direction, with a closed back.  But then
you put all of the food and drink all the way behind the stage.  I’ve been to shows before where they put the
food courts high and far away, but in front of the stage, so people could walk up from their seats to buy food and drink and
still watch the show.  Walk me through
your idea here.

Tommy:  Well there are a couple of thoughts.  One, it’s really just rude to get
up and leave a performance and go order food and drink.  The artists train for years for this,  so we really don’t want to encourage people
to be distracted.

Carline: Also, we
have a severe problem with over-eating in this country.  We can cut down on the number of calories the
attendees consume, by making it nearly impossible to buy food.  You’ll also notice that there are not nearly
enough stands to accommodate everyone, and that buying food would require at
least a 30 minute wait in line.

Melvin: (Laughs) Oh
I noticed that – very savvy move.

Tommy: But I bet you
did not notice one other little part of the design.  There’s not enough storage to hold food to
feed 25,000 people.  So even if they
wanted to eat fattening food, were willing to walk behind the stage, AND wait
30 minutes, we have it set up so when they get to the front of the line, all
they can order is a coke.  You see, there’s
just no way to serve everyone.

Melvin: Wow, you are
right, I completely missed that.  And I
thought I had you guys on that one.  Well
played.

Tommy: Thanks.

Melvin: Last
question.  Suppose Seattle builds an
outdoor amphitheatre?  Would we suffer?

Tommy: We looked
into that.  An outdoor concert venue inside
Seattle proper is necessary, would be profitable, and could easily be part of a
larger overhaul to Seattle Center.  It’s
a project that makes sense both socially and fiscally, and would benefit
hundreds of thousands of people,  so
there’s really no threat that the City Council will ever consider it.  Right now, they are focused on self-cleaning
toilets that a few homeless people might use. 
That’s really more the kind of project they are interested in.

Melvin: Great
point.  Well I’ve seen enough.  Everything seems perfect.  When can you guy start work?

Tommy:  Well I need to talk to my mom, but Carline
and I get done with school at 2:40 every day. 
So, if one of our parents can drive us, we could be here by 3:00. 

Melvin:
Perfect.  Let’s get this project moving!

 

People, You Cannot Control Social Media

One of my favorite things to watch is when businesses choose to ignore a technology or shift in human behavior, and honestly believe that if they ignore it well enough, it will simply go away.

We saw this in the music industry, where executives refused to believe that anyone would rather listen to thousands of songs on a device the size of a credit card rather than using a clunky cd player and devoting an entire wall for storing that same music. 

The newspapers were no better, refusing to consider that carrying a dirty glob of paper with old news was less appealing than simply logging on to a computer and getting the freshest info. 

This makes a story Garrett found even more humorous.  The Chicago Sun Times has some sports columnists who occasionally draw the ire of their readers.  Jay Mariotti is one such columnist.  Apparently, people were responding to his articles in a negative way, so the Sun Times made the decision to stop allowing readers to comment on his columns.  You can almost hear the conversation, "Well if we turn off the technology that allows readers to write negative things about Jay, then no one can write anything negative, and we won’t have to worry about it anymore. Problem solved!"

Except of course, that it’s 2008 and the world doesn’t work like that anymore.  Maybe in 1970 that was a good idea.  But nature abhors a vacuum, so if people want to write negative things about Jay Mariotti, and the Sun Times won’t let it happen on their site, the people will find a new home for their vents.

And they have, thanks to crosstown rival, the Chicago Tribune, who have geniusly embraced Social Media by developing a forum where readers can post comments about Jay Mariotti. And for that matter, other Sun Times writers. 

And guess what, two giant ads on the page.

So, you have one paper pretending that taking away the voice of the people would be helpful.   And you have a other that is profiting on the idea of letting people have their say.  By foolishly thinking you can control the voice of the people, you lose all control of the situation, because now you can’t even moderate out the particularly distasteful ones.  And your competitor gets the ad money. 

Lesson to be learned here: No one has 100% approval rating.  The only way to have any control of the situation is to let the people speak on your turf.