Two Faced: Don’t Believe Everything You Read Between The Lines

Recently, in undertaking the tasks associated with one of the hats I wear as the editor of a Chesapeake Bay boating magazine (Full Disclosure:  I’m the editor of The Mariner.  I may have mentioned that before, but just to be thorough, I’m the editor of The Mariner.  Fill Disclosury enough, you think?) I became aware of a new policy instituted by an act of Congress, the National Saltwater Angler Registry.  In short, what this does is compel all people who fish in coastal waters and the tributaries they feed into to sign up for a big list, the purpose of which is so that the Federal agency NOAA can have a better target group for its surveys on the state of the fisheries and, in theory, collect better data to make better decisions regarding fisheries management in the future.  Don’t sign up, you don’t get a registration number, and you can’t legally fish these waters.  It’s free, this year, but a fee is pretty clearly coming, likely next year, and that money goes not directly to NOAA for managing the program, but into the U.S. Treasury, where it can end up being spent anywhere.  That’s it in a nutshell.

So, being the editor of a boating magazine, and being that there are lots of people out there in my audience who fish off of their boats, I figured it would be a good idea possibly to mention this in the magazine.  Seems kind of important.  I read up on the matter, mostly from NOAA’s own website because, with matters of government, I always like to see how it’s presented by the agency in question first.  You can always tell a lot from the things government agencies try to justify when presenting their plans, particularly the ones that people are compelled to take part in.  Sometimes they even address concerns that hadn’t yet occurred to you.  It can be fascinating.

I got the gist of the deal, wrote up a nice little piece and expressed my initial reaction.  I’m the editor of The Mariner, mind you, so it’s not my job to go off on a tangential rant about a particular issue.  It’s my job to present information.  Still, I worked a little of my concerns in there, mostly about the fee and its potential uses, but I also commended the goal of improving the data NOAA collects, and the desire to make better fisheries management decisions.  Lord knows (and virtually every fisherman out there, too) that’s an effort long overdue.  Simple, straight forward, factual, a little context; gets the professional job I’m tasked with done neatly and efficiently.

Here, however, I’m not the editor of The Mariner.  I’m just a guy who occasionally enjoys casting a line in the very waters this new policy affects.  And my stated goal here is, in fact, to go on tangential rants about things that cross my path.  Read this, the very first post I put up on this site, if you don’t believe me. So, here’s the unvarnished version of my thoughts.  And let me make it clear right up front, the following is strictly my opinion, and I am in no way speaking in my position as editor or otherwise representing The Mariner or Chesapeake Publishing in any way.  Ah, clarity.

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Published in: on January 31, 2010 at 9:04 pm  Comments (2)  
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The iPad. Really?

So the newest gadget from Apple was unveiled the other day, an electronic tablet/reader called the iPad.  I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed in the name.  I thought iSlate was much cooler, and iPad is just a little too close to iPod for my liking, but maybe they were just trying to keep the alliteration thing going with all the P’s from iPod to iPhone to iPad.  Coincidentally, there has been a large influx in jokes relating to feminine hygiene product which they have left themselves wide open for.  I would’ve thought Apple was a little smarter than that.

But name notwithstanding, the new tablet was, about as I expected, not the end all, be all of technology, but another stepping stone on the road that I’m sure will evolve over time, as have their other products.  Even still, there are those out there who continue to declare that readers like this one will save publishing.  Well, unless the mainstream press is getting a commission on how many times the name iPad has shown up in print or on the web in the past week, I’m not feeling it.  I pointed out here a few weeks ago my feelings on the subject, and actually seeing the product and reading some of its specs have done nothing to dissuade me.  In fact, to me it seems the iPad has given more thought to presenting media like tv shows, movies, music and web surfing than to reading any sort of digitized periodicals.  It just doesn’t seem that high on Steve Jobs list of things to appeal to.

But that doesn’t matter, because, like all technology, it’s just a tool, a platform to be used for whatever ends creative minded people can come up with for it.  If publishers think that now, suddenly, they can slap their slightly altered print material on one of these deals and people will line up to buy, they are far more desperate than even I believe (and I think they’re pretty desperate).  One more time, the future belongs to those who aren’t held back by the trappings of what came before.  Those who don’t have to maintain vast, bloated old-school businesses like much of the print industry will be in a much better position to find ways to take advantage of this stuff going forward.  And that’s as it should be.

The iPad (poorly named or not) seems to be a pretty cool little device with definite possibilities down the road.  The price is still too high, even though $500 for a base model was less than I was expecting.  And the functionality is far less than it will need to be, but that will change, I’m sure.  But is it a savior for ailing publishers?  Not a chance.

By the way, if you’d ever like to read the single most backward, asinine piece of writing on the subject of media and its digital issues, check this guy out. For a reporter, he pretty clearly doesn’t have the least bit of an understanding in the fundamental dynamics of publishing, print or otherwise, nor does he have any clue about what it is that people have been paying for all these years, and what they haven’t.  Just a little tip, if by some magical spell, publishers the world over could end all free content everywhere, they’d all be out of business in a year.  It’s not the end-user cost of the products that matter, it’s what they do with that audience.  Publishers are hurting not because they gave stuff away for free online (they’ve been giving stuff away much more expensively in print for as long as there’s been a press), it’s because they lost sight of the competition, took their products, employees  and audiences for granted, and spent the past thirty years of so leeching every possible dollar they could up to the executive suite.   No digital reader, no matter how many bells and whistles it has, is going to save this greedy, clueless brigade.  It’s the next generation of companies that will save the industry.  These old-guard guys are toast.

Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Conference Championship Sunday

Okay, so I’ll never make it as a football prognosticator.  Last week, I somehow managed to get three out of four games wrong, properly selecting Minnesota to beat up on an over-rated Dallas team as my only victory.  And while 1-3 is nothing to brag about, it wasn’t as bad as it looked.  Sure, the Colts beat the Ravens by a final score that made it look easy, but they in no way played particularly well or looked very much the part of a Superbowl team.  In fact, as I sat  watching the game, I could only think that if Baltimore had any skill position receivers at all outside of the geriatric shell of Derrick Mason, they’d be winning this game.  Indy has Peyton Manning, but his career playoff performances in big games have been far removed from his regular season brilliance, and last week’s showing, while not catastrophic, certainly wasn’t Hall of Fame-caliber.  And the Ravens didn’t stay with the run like they should have, forcing a clearly-less-than 100% Joe Flacco to throw way too much in what was basically a one-score game for much of the duration.  Don’t get me wrong, the Colts played an excellent defensive game, but they’re a small and quick defense, the kind that gets worn down with a strong running game.  Baltimore dropped the ball and they’re sitting home because of it.

What can I say about the Jets-Chargers game?  San Diego simply failed to show up.  The Jets played well on defense, but they weren’t dominating in the way Minnesota was against Dallas.  There is simply no excuse for the Chargers to play as poorly as they did, especially at home.  Phillip Rivers threw bad interceptions, Nate Keading missed three field goals, Antonio Gates looked like he was sleep-walking for stretches of the second half, LaDanian Tomlinson looked every bit the washed up running back that he has become, they had several horrible, bone-headed penalties and the onside kick decision at the end is, in my opinion, a worse mistake that Bill Belichek’s 4th down call earlier in the season.  If I was the Chargers owner or GM, I wouldn’t have been able to fire Norv Turner fast enough after watching this amazingly talented team come out and look completely unprepared to play.  But what did they do?  Norv just got a four-year contract extension!  In 2006, after a 14-2 season and losing their first playoff game at home, the Chargers couldn’t wait to give then-coach Marty Schottenheimer the ax for his playoff failures, replacing him with Turner.  They still haven’t reached the Superbowl, and this year they were 13-3 before losing their first playoff game at home.  Turner should be fired immediately.  What do you think someone like Bill Cowher could do with San Diego’s talent?  I also expect Marty took a little bit of pleasure watching his son Brian, the Jets offensive coordinator, celebrating the upset in San Diego on Sunday.

I still think the Jets are a fraud.  The way they played, San Diego should have been up two or three touchdowns by midway through the second quarter.  That being said, the Colts didn’t play much better than the Chargers against a similar team in the Ravens, without all the stupid mental mistakes, of course.  If they put in the same effort this week, the Jets could sneak out with another win.

The other game I lost was the Saints.  Do you think Cardinals’ coach Ken Wisenhunt misses last year’s defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast much?  Arizona gave up 35 points to Green Bay in the second half last week, and them promptly gave up 35 points to New Orleans in the first half this week.  That’s 70 points allowed in four quarters, giving up an amazing 10 touchdowns in 12 defensive possessions (not counting the Aaron Rodgers kneel down to end regulation).  And then Kurt Warner got hurt.  The Saints were much better than I had anticipated, but the Arizona defense was simply pathetic.  Minnesota, if the injuries don’t take too much out of them, will not be that kind of push over.

Just a side note on the Packers-Cardinals game.  When Aaron Rodgers badly missed a wide open Greg Jennings for what would have been a game-winning touchdown in overtime a couple plays before the game-losing fumble, the first thing that popped into my mind was, “there is no way Brett Favre misses that throw.”  In the past week or so, I’ve seen more than a few Packers fans blowing off that miss, while claiming that Rodgers throws a better deep ball than Favre.  Well, did you all happen to catch the 47 yard touchdown to Sidney Rice in the first quarter against the Cowboys?  I know they desperately want to move past the whole Favre drama, and stand behind their guy Rodgers, but let’s not be irrational.  Rodgers seems to be a very good to excellent quarterback, likely a Pro-Bowl caliber player for years to come, but he’s no Brett Favre.  He may develop into that kind of player someday, but it’s not today.  If Minnesota goes on to win the Superbowl, and in my mind at the moment, they are the favorite, the decision to run him out of town will never be justified until Rodgers wins one of his own, no matter how good his stats are.  Just live with it, already.

So, at the risk of further humiliating myself, here’s what I think will happen this weekend.

New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts

Say what you want about the Colts, but I would be shocked beyond all reason if they come out and play as sloppy as San Diego did last week.  Still, they are on far more tenuous ground than most people believe.  I doubt the Jets will score more than 20 points.  The only question is whether Indy can get it together enough to top that.  The Colts don’t run the ball well, and if the Jets can get pressure on Manning, they can make something happen.  But, unlike Minnesota, the Jets have to blitz to get pressure and Manning can eat that up.  I think the Colts win this game by at least 10 points, but this won’t be one of those 45-17 games.  It’ll be 24-14 or something like that.  Still, I can see the Jets controlling the clock with the run, and the possibility that they can eek out another win is definitely there, at least for this week.  It all depends on the Colts staying grounded.  If Indy makes a ton of mistakes, a la San Diego,  they’ll lose.  But I don’t see that happening.

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Both of these teams won fairly easy games last week, but Minnesota was far more impressive in completely dismantling what was a hot Dallas team on both sides of the ball.  The Cardinals gave up 45 points the week before, so that marks a trendingly awful defense more than a great offensive effort from the Saints.  Minnesota has a lot of injury concerns, and they will be on the road, but I’m going to go with Brett Favre and his menagerie of offensive weapons.  Even if the defense slips, and New Orleans can score points in bunches, the Vikings can win a shootout.  The Saints have been a great story so far, but this season is all about Brett Favre.  Forty years old, 4200 yards passing, 33 touchdowns, 107.2 QB rating, only 7 interceptions, career highs in passer rating and completion percentage, career low in interceptions.  This, simply put, is one of the best seasons for a quarterback ever, certainly one of his best years and, remember, he was an obvious Hall of Famer who had broken nearly every quarterback record in the books before this season even started.  A Superbowl win, and Favre is staking a legitimate claim on the mythical best quarterback of all time crown.

On To The Divisional Round

So I’m batting .500 with my NFL playoff picks after last weekend.  I correctly nabbed Baltimore winning in New England and Arizona topping Green Bay, although just barely.  How great was that game, by the way?  The two teams combined for four field goal attempts (two made, two missed) and 13 touchdowns.  At least Arizona played defense in the first half, the Packers were never close to stopping Kurt Warner, as evidenced by his four incomplete passes, five touchdowns and zero interceptions.  Can we please end the argument about whether or not he’s a Hall of Famer now?  All the guy’s done is take two teams that were league-wide jokes before his arrival and turn them into legitimate championship-type clubs in the Rams and the Cardinals.  If I was Detroit, I might consider making a trade offer.

In the other two games, I wasn’t so good.  The Jets beat up on the Bengals, which goes to show you how quickly things change.  If the playoffs happened after week 10, Cincinnati stomps the Jets, but since then, New York has gotten on a roll and the wheels have fallen off for the Bengals.  Philadelphia also surprised me with its lack of effort in getting pushed around by the Cowboys (again).  I think it’s time for Donovan McNabb to move on.  It’s Kevin Kolb time  for the Eagles in 2010.  Here we are on the cusp of the second round of the playoffs, and I’ll look at each of the four games this weekend, in the order I think will be the worst to best games.

New York Jets at San Diego Chargers

This game has all the ear-marks of a blowout to me.  I may regret saying this in a couple days, but the Jets are a fraud.  Some people think that beating a Cincinnati team that went in the tank weeks ago vindicates them as a playoff team, but I’m not one of them.  Of all the teams left playing, New York is by far the worst.  They only got into the playoffs because Indianapolis tanked the game in week 16, and Cincinnati tanked the game in week 17 and still managed to show the Jets enough actual stuff to give them a good game-plan for the real show.  Don’t get me wrong, the Jets have a very good defense and a solid running game, but they are no better than a .500 team if everyone’s playing all-out.  San Diego, on the other hand, is playing the best ball in the league right now.  If this game is within two touchdowns, I’ll be surprised.

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

Here’s your test case, along with New Orleans, for whether or not it’s a good idea for teams that clinch early to essentially sit on their hands for weeks waiting for the playoffs.  I’ve always believed that it’s the wrong thing to do, and, much like the prevent defense all too often prevents teams from holding leads, this kind of decision is acting out of fear; namely the fear of injury.  But, even though New England got burned when Wes Welker went down in Week 17, acting out of fear simply doesn’t work.  Anyone can get hurt any time.  Football is a game of rhythm and confidence, and pulling players off the field damages both of those things.  I think that the Colts will, once again, pay the price and lose this game.  Baltimore is playing well, they can run the ball as well as anyone in the league and, last I checked, the Colts run-stopping machine Bob Sanders is still sitting home on injured reserve.  Baltimore came right out of the gate and smacked New England in the mouth last week.  The Patriots never recovered.  They’ll do the same to Indy this weekend, and you can make return reservations to the AFC Title Game for Joe Flacco, John Harbaugh and the gang.

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings

Everything Brett Favre has done so far this season has been great and all, but this is the reason why Brad Childress brought him to town.  He’s in Minnesota for three simple reasons, to win this game, the next game and the Superbowl.  The Vikings have struggled of late, both defensively and with the running game behind a suddenly mortal-looking Adrian Peterson.  If they don’t get that together fast, the Favre experiment will amount to little more than helping to pad his already gaudy stats.  Dallas, despite my earlier misgivings of them as a viable contender has been playing very well.  Take a closer look, however, and they beat a Saints team that seemed to be trying to lose for several weeks, a Giants team that gave up long ago, and the Eagles twice, who never really got things going consistently despite a nice winning streak. And before that, they lost at home to San Diego (a real contender) and they were the one good team that managed to find a way to lose to the Giants down the stretch. Can they go into Minnesota and win?  Yes, if they run the ball well, stop the Vikings’ running game cold, and Tony Romo doesn’t fall back into bad end-of-season habits like bad turnovers.  Will they win?  I don’t think so.  Favre didn’t go through two years of strife to get to Minnesota for a one-and-done playoff appearance.  It’s going to be a close game, but Minnesota, and Brett Favre, will live to play another day.

Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints

It seems like every year, there’s a team or two that comes unexpectedly out of the gate blazing, running over people and running away with their division and a bye week only to show up on Divisional Weekend and piss it all away.  Last year, it was Tennessee and Carolina.  This year, it’ll be Indianapolis and New Orleans.  The Saints are done.  After reaching 11-0, they barely beat the Redskins, having to go to overtime against one of the worst teams in the league, eeked out a win against Atlanta, then lost three straight to the Cowboys, Tampa Bay (inexplicably) and got mauled by Carolina.  Their defense is looking more like the Saints D of last season than the one who played the first 10 games of this year, and the running game has taken some big steps backwards.  Plus, in case you didn’t notice, the guy on the other side of the field just torched the second best defense in the league for 5 touchdowns, and Arizona was pretty good on the road (6-2).  Last year at this time, the Cardinals destroyed a Carolina team on the road who had opened the season red hot, and faded a bit down the stretch.  They do it again this weekend, sending the feel good story of the year home without a Superbowl yet again.  Whatever the end result, this will be an exciting game with lots of points scored and big plays.

It’s Playoff Time!

So the NFL playoffs will start this weekend.  First off, let’s look back and see how I did with my preseason picks.  In the AFC, I got three of the six playoff teams, correctly picking Indianapolis, Baltimore and San Diego and missing on Pittsburgh, Miami and Houston.  In the NFC, I got four out of six, getting Philadelphia, Minnesota, New Orleans and Arizona right and whiffing on Atlanta and Chicago.  San Diego was the only one of the four bye teams that I got right, picking Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and (hack) Chicago as the others.

In the preseason, I missed totally on the Jets, stating bluntly that they just suck.  Well, they did get into the playoffs thanks to two teams with nothing to play for tanking their final games (thank you, Indianapolis and Cincinnati), but in retrospect, given Baltimore’s occasional defensive struggles  and the Jets ending up with the best defense in the league, maybe Rex Ryan did a little more than just benefit from great defensive talent with the Ravens.  To my credit, I did say that Cincinnati would surprise some people this season, but I still didn’t pick them to get into the playoffs.  And I had New England just missing the playoffs, predicting another Tom Brady injury that would kill them.  Well, Brady didn’t get hurt, they won the division, though they are far from dominant, and it looks like it’s going to be an injury to Wes Welker that will ultimately kill them.  Kinda close, I suppose.  In the NFC, I said the Dallas Cowboys would be Wild Card contenders (of course, I said the same thing about the Redskins) but I had them just missing the playoffs.  Same for the Green Bay Packers, close but not quite.  Well, they both made it, obviously.

One good thing, though, my preseason Superbowl picks are both still in the field, with San Diego looking very, very good and Arizona looking like it may have a shot with the inconsistent teams in the NFC if they can get it together for more than one week at a time.  That’s more than those who picked the Giants, Steelers, Bears or Titans to go to the big game can say.  This weekend is the Wild Card round, and here is how I think it will go.  Surprisingly (or rather, boringly if you prefer) three of the four matchups are rematches from last week.  Is there anything more anti-climactic or unfair than how the NFL wraps up its regular season?

Saturday, 4:30 p.m.-  New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals

The Jets, fresh off crushing the Bengals last week, will probably have a lot of confidence going into this one.  They have a very good defense and an excellent running game, two key elements to winning post-season games.  But they also have a rookie quarterback with a low completion percentage, a low QB rating and 8 more interceptions than touchdowns.  The Bengals may have struggled down the stretch, but I think they win this pretty easily.  I think it’ll be a somewhat low-scoring affair, thanks to good defense on both sides, but Mark Sanchez will throw picks at the wrong time and Carson Palmer won’t.  The Bengals move on for the first time since 1990.

Saturday, 8 p.m.-  Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

So the Eagles, who unlike a few other notable playoff temas that tanked last week, actually had something to play for when they went out and promptly got stomped by the Cowboys.  In addition, Dallas beat the Eagles twice this year, counting the 24-0 pasting just the other day.  So Dallas wins this game and advances, right?  Nope.  This is the playoffs, folks, and if there is one team I don’t want to play in the post season, it’s the Eagles.  Watch out for another Tony Romo choke-job, a big game from Brain Westbrook, and Wade Phillips back on the unemployment line after seemingly staving off the inevitable by putting together a nice late season run for a division title.

Sunday, 1 p.m.-  Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots

Just how big of a loss is Wes Welker to New England?  Big enough that they’re going to lose this weekend at home to one of the most inconsistent teams in the league.  Baltimore can play defense and run the hell out of the ball, two things the Patriots have struggled with at times this season.  And without Welker’s presence to bail out Brady when no one else is open, the Pats will struggle to score points.  Baltimore behind Joe Flacco will get one game closer to a return trip to the AFC title game.

Sunday, 4:40 p.m.-  Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals

This is a tough one.  Arizona has alternated between looking like a legit Superbowl team and looking like a 4-12 mess.  Green Bay has managed an impressive turnaround after a 4-4 start and two humiliating defeats to Brett Favre.  The Packers are going to be highly motivated to try and force another trip to Minnesota somewhere down the line, but will it be enough.  Kurt Warner is nothing if not a big-game quarterback.  If he can avoid the turnovers, the Cardinals can and will take this one.  But they’re going to have to score because Green Bay behind Aaron Rodgers has the offense humming.  Don’t read too muich into last week’s blowout by the Packers, either.  The Cardinals had nothing to play for.  I’m going to stick with my original Superbowl pick and say Arizona takes this one in a close game decided by a late turnover.

Update: Only The Hawk Gets To Go

Okay, not to take anything away from Andre Dawson, I definitely believe he deserves to be in the Hall, and I would have voted for him, but come on. Bert Blyleven, who got tantalizingly close at only 5 votes short, still didn’t make it, continuing to make the election process an absolute joke.  And as good as Dawson was, anyone who thinks he was better or more deserving than Roberto Alomar (who fell only 8 votes shy himself) should immediately surrender their vote.

It’s likely that Alomar was kept off of some ballots because of the spitting incident and the mythical prestige attributed to first-ballot induction.  He’ll likely get in easily next year.  Blyleven who, next to Alomar, were the two most obviously deserving candidates in this list, I’m not so sure about.  Barry Larkin, Jack Morris and Lee Smith will all be back and all appeared on around half of the ballots, as well as Alomar.  Plus, newcomers Rafael Palmiero, Jeff Bagwell, John Franco, Kevin Brown and Larry Walker are all likely to garner at least some support.  I can only hope that some wisdom actually prevails and Blyleven gets in before his 15 years are up.  Otherwise, it shames the entire process and the Hall of Fame itself.

But again, congratulations to Andre Dawson.  At least the voters got something right.

Yet Another Update:

After perusing the full vote, which you can do here, I made a couple of observations.  One is that no one of consequence will fall off of the ballot, although Harold Baines was really close, getting only 6.1 %, just above the 5% minimum threshhold to stay on.  Also, considering how close both Blyleven and Alomar were, it makes it that much more ridiculous that such all-time Major League luminaries as Ellis Burks, Eric Karros, Kevin Appier, Pat Hentgen and the immortal David Segui all garnered votes.  Sure, they were all good players, All Stars even, but this is the Hall of Fame!  And while I did really like Edgar Martinez as a player, seriously, do you expect me to believe that more voters actually find him more deserving than Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, Dave Parker, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy?  And like I mentioned in my previous piece, Baines was a better, more consistent DH for a much longer period of time than Martinez.

I understand that baseball, perhaps more than any other sport, is a subjective game with many subtle levels to consider, but I seriously have to question the criteria for earning a vote when I see results like these.  Maybe it’s time to consider giving current Hall of Famers a vote, like they now have on the Veterans’ Committee.  A view from the actual field might be useful, and I would imagine that members would take the responsibility for voting very seriously.  At least more seriously than the two folks who voted for Eric Karros.

Published in: on January 6, 2010 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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It’s Hall of Fame Day

At 2p.m. this afternoon, the Baseball Writer’s Association of America will announce the results of their voting for the Hall of Fame.  Already today, the Veteran’s Committee has inducted former St. Louis Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog and former umpire Doug Harvey.  Herzog skippered the Kansas City Royals to 3 division titles in the late ’70s before moving to his more well-known role in St. Louis, where he won three National League Pennants and one World Series in 1982.

A few weeks ago, I went through all the serious contenders for induction here. At the risk of making a prediction, I’ll go out on a limb and guess that Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven will get in, Andre Dawson is distinctly possible and Barry Larkin is a dark horse, mostly because, unlike Alomar, Larkin doesn’t have  sure-fire, first ballot career numbers.  It is also possible that no one gets elected this year.  Alomar, who is the most widely accepted candidate, does have the spitting incident on his resume that could keep him off some ballots; Blyleven and Dawson have been turned down for years now; and nearly everyone else on the ballot has solid cases that can be made against.   A player has not been elected only 7 times in the history of Hall voting, and it last happened in 1996.  Ironically, five guys on that ballot have been inducted since then, including ’96 top vote getter Phil Niekro, Tony Perez, Don Sutton, Jim Rice and Bruce Sutter.

Not getting in won’t be the end of the line for this crew, either.  The next two years will see almost zero legit Hall-worthy candidates coming onto the ballot other than Rafael Palmiero (the true test case for steroids as Mark McGwire was simply a one-dimensional player, anyway) and closer John Franco (if Lee Smith can’t get in, I have a hard time believing Franco sniffs Cooperstown).  The 2012 crop is especially bereft of candidates with the best (cough, cough) of the lot being Bernie Williams, Ruben Sierra or Tim Salmon.  Next year will at least see a couple guys who can make an argument, anyway.  Other than Palmiero or Franco; Jeff Bagwell, Kevin Brown, Larry Walker and Benito Santiago get on the board.  Great players who had their moments, but not exactly first-ballot guys (or any ballot, for that matter.)

Still, I think we’ll see at least two guys get in this year.  And just for the record, if one of them’s not named Blyleven, then someone seriously needs to rethink this whole baseball writer’s voting thing.

He Rode In On A Pale Horse And His Name Was Death. And He Carried An iSlate

The web is all abuzz with thoughts, dreams and excitement about Apple’s soon-to-be-unveiled tablet, the iSlate (or iTablet, or whatever the hell Steve Jobs wants to call the thing.)  Newspaper Death Watch has a nice starting point and roundup of some of the action surrounding Apple’s planned Jan. 26 press announcement.  More than one person seems to believe that the new tablet might be a game-changing event for not just publishing, but for media in general.  While I’m not quite that optimistic, primarily due to the sure-to-be exorbitant price that will keep these devices from being household items for quite a while yet, Apple does makes some pretty cool stuff that has had a sizable impact on their respective markets.

The computers themselves are far, far superior to anything else out there.  Whether that’s due to the hardware, the software or some combintion thereof, I’m not sure.  Of course, when compared to Windows, it’s kind of difficult not to be far, far superior.  The iPod revolutionized how the music consumer goes about acquiring, listening and storing music.  The iPhone changed the expectations we all had for the uses of a cell phone and communication in general.  The iPod Touch is a damned cool little device.  I’m certain that whatever this new entry might be, it’ll alter the landscape for technology and what we expect as consumers from that point forward.  But will this be the savior for publishing?

Yes and no.  And to explain that, let’s look at the iPod and what it has done for the music industry.  The iPod unquestionably has helped usher in an age of digital music free from the hindrances of cassettes, vinyl or CDs.  It has helped open the channels of distribution of music far beyond the controls of the few major industry players.  This age allows far more musicians to earn a comfortable living from their music without relying on the corporate bohemoths, something that generally wasn’t possible in earlier times.  So, yes, for musicians and the industry on the whole, the iPod and resulting upheavel has been a good thing.  But if you are one of the previous dominant, monopolistic players, it has been anything but.  In fact, if you recall, they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to allow their catalogs to be sold on the iTunes music store in the first place.  And with good reason.  For them, these changes have signaled a loss of control over the channels of distribution, the means by which they made their profits.  So the iPod was good for consumers, good for musicians, good for smaller, more innovative companies, and not so good for monoplistic superpowers.  Think there’s a parallel here?

The Publishing industry, at least the monopolistic legacy superpowers, have traditionally made their exorbitanat profits through capitalizing on their dominance over information distribution.  As that dominance has flagged over the past few years, their profits have dried up.  If the iSlate has an impact anywhere close to that of the iPod on the muisc industry, these legacy players may be taking their last breaths.  That’s not to say that money can’t be made; it undoubtedly can.  But the legacy players have been virtual monopolies for so long now that I doubt they even know how to compete anymore.  Plus, as the iPod has made it more difficult to make big bucks from lousy music, this new iSlate could possibly put all the emphasis on top qaulity content.  How much top quality content do you see coming out of legacy media these days?  And how, exactly, will they develop some having already gutted their content creation employee base and devalued their own products through cost-cutting?

Personally, I’m excited to check  out this new venture from Apple.  I think it may be the opening salvo in rejuvenating the fading publishing industry, and it could be a driving force to opening up doors for people like me.  But if I were a legacy media executive, I’d be very afraid.

Published in: on January 5, 2010 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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