At Least Metamucil Isn’t Doing Sports Marketing

Tor from “Torwegian” notes with disapproval the ChiSox’ new stadium:

With some corporate marketing people, you just can fix stupid or financially desperate.  Count among them White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, quoted by WGN-TV:

“We are pleased to find, in Guaranteed Rate, a new naming rights partner founded in Chicago by Chicagoans, which shares our commitment to the city and to our fans. We view this partnership as an opportunity to connect a successful Chicago business with a historic baseball franchise, and we look forward to growing this important relationship over the coming years as millions of fans enjoy White Sox baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field.”

Dumb name?  Probably – but not as dumb as the taxpayer support that went into it.

I’d happily go to “Pepto-Bismol Park”, if they and the teams’ billionaire owners did the building.

Put another way – if “Guaranteed Rate” could guarantee us a rate of 0% taxpayer subsidy, I’d swallow my pride and root for the ChiSox.

“In Your Best Interest, Peasant!”

The Midway.

I’ve lived in this neighborhood off and on for 29 years, and continuously for almost 23 years, now.

The neighborhood gets a bad rap from people who don’t know Saint Paul – which is about 95% of the population of the Metro Area.   When most of them think of the Midway – if they think about the Midway – they think University Avenue; hot and treeless in the summer, cold and wind-swept in the winter, lined with tatty big-box stores at Snelling, check cashing shops and Popeyes at Lexington, and little H’Mong, Lao, Latino, Black and African shops down by Dale and Rice that probably strike visitors from Eagan and Circle Pines and Kenwood and Crocus Hill for that matter as “sketchy and dangerous”.

The part they miss is that people live, work, play and socialize here.

Even at the McDonalds and Perkins in the huge parking lot by the Midway Center strip mall.  The two franchises are much-loathed by hipsters and pseudo-sophisticates and the entire Whole-Foods-shopping, NPR-listening, Subaru-driving, free-range-alpaca-wearing Macalester/Carlton/Saint Olaf set that sees itself as soccer fans, most of whom would likely crap a kitten if dropped into the colorful diversity of University Avenue street life that uses the two places as its social center.

It’s up by Snelling that the Saint Paul City Council gave approval yesterday to start working on building a Major League Soccer stadium, paving the way for billionaire Bill McGuire to get hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to build a stadium for a sport that resonates with precisely three classes of people:

  • Immigrants – many of whom play soccer, and many of whom don’t have the money to go to a big-dollar Major League Soccer game, with the inevitably inflated ticket and concession prices.
  • entire Whole-Foods-shopping, NPR-listening, Subaru-driving, free-range-alpaca-wearing Macalester/Carlton/Saint Olaf set, with their quadrennial “pretend to give a crap about the World Cup” ritual figuring prominently on their social “see and be seen” calendars.
  • Suburban soccer families – kids and their “soccer parents”.

Do the immigrants have the money to come out and see games?  Will the hipster class do soccer for more than a year, until the “been there, done that” sets in?  Will soccer families from Blaine and Apple Valley chance coming into the city, especially given that the stadium is going to have fairy minimal parking, deliberately forcing people onto the “A Line” bus from Rosedale and the “Green Line” train from other places suburbanites hate going to?

I doubt it in all three cases.

But that isn’t stopping those who seem themselves as members of the taste-setting class from trying to tell the Midway what it really needs; no more McDonalds or Perkins.

At the thought of “6,000 people” (dream big!) crossing McDonalds’ and Perkins’ property, one sniffed:

Yeah, soccer fans are a pretty tony lot:

Sign me up for the high freaking tea concession!

But no – let not the little people and their “businesses” and “social framework” get in the way of their betters’ plans:

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 9.30.05 AM

Can you imagine if a Walmart proponent had tweeted any such thing?

Tradition!

If you can say one thing about “Minnesota United” – who, if all goes according to plan, will benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer largesse when they build their alleged stadium in the Midway one of these years – it’s that they’re a typical Minnesota team, through and through:

A Minnesota team?  Why yes – after leading the league in 2014 and coming in #2, MNU has dribbled down to #5 so far this season.

The Greatest

RIP Buddy Ryan:

The defensive mastermind that was, perhaps even more than Mike Ditka, behind the greatest team in the history of NFL football, Ryan had a long, long career:

Beloved by his players and hated by opposing offenses (and sometimes hated even by his own offenses), Ryan masterminded Chicago’s 46 defense that won Super Bowl XX. He later served as head coach of an Eagles team that had a great defense in its own right, and ended his coaching career as head coach of the Cardinals in 1994 and 1995.

Ryan’s 35-year career as a football coach began in 1961 as a defensive line coach with the University at Buffalo Bulls, and in 1968 he moved to the Jets, helping them win Super Bowl III. He spent two years with the Vikings in 1976 and 1977 before George Halas hired him to coach the Bears’ defense in 1978.

He and his ’85 Bears were the subject of an ESPN biopic last year; he really wasn’t looking good (and either was Jim McMahon).

But we’ll always have ’85.

Sox It To Them

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

It’s baseball season, time for the professional complainers to start whining about sports team names.  I have a suggestion – change them all to Sox.

 Baseball teams traditionally wear tall leggings.  We already have the Red Sox and the White Sox.  Change every team to Sox.

 ROY-G-BIV won’t get you very far, there are too many teams.  That’s okay, have contests to let the fans choose their new team name, maybe something linked to their location or history.

 Atlanta – Georgia – Peach State – obviously, they become the Peach Sox.

 Phoenix – desert – they become the Hot Sox.

 San Francisco – gay rights – Fabulous Sox (team color becomes lavender).

 Texas – everything is bigger – Big Sox.

 Minnesota – Twins – identical – Matching Sox. 

 Detroit is tough.  Their water is poisoned – Dry Sox?  Their infrastructure is in ruins – Wrecked Sox?   They seek a federal bailout – Need Sox?  The town is run by Democrats – Your Sox?  Tough one.  Besides, why does a town that has no running water need a baseball team?  Move them to somewhere prosperous and call them the Silk Sox.

 Or we could just ignore the whiners and get on with life. 

  Joe Doakes

Cleveland could be the Buckskin Sox.

Made In ND

Sports are entertainment to me.  They’re something I watch, not something I live.

But watching North Dakota State dominate the FCS in recent series has been – I’m not gonna pussyfoot around – a blast.

And NDSU’s star quarterback (and new Eagle), Carson Wentz, is the nephew of a high school classmate, so I’m gonna give some homer props over this piece.

Pullquote:

You don’t get through winters with an average temperature of 12.8° without being a certain kind of tough — the cracked-skin-dried-blood kind of tough.

That toughness comes in handy in a place like North Dakota. You see, up there, jamming your numb fingers against someone’s ice-cold helmet happens every practice. Getting decked on the cement-like dirt is just how a play ends.

And here’s the thing: I love it.

Because in North Dakota, we don’t care for flash or dazzle. That’s not our game. We don’t do things the fanciest way. We do them the right way.

Going through the draft process, you find yourself answering a lot of the same questions over and over. I get it. This is basically a very long, very public job interview. But the question that seems to come up the most is one that almost makes me laugh at this point:

“Carson, coming from North Dakota, are you worried about playing against tougher competition in the NFL?”

There’s this belief that I’m at some sort of disadvantage coming into the league because of where I’m from. But if you get to know me, you’ll understand that being from North Dakota isn’t a disadvantage. Not even close. In fact, having been raised in North Dakota is probably one of my greatest strengths.

I’m rooting for him in the big show.

 

The Flying Scotsman

Just a brief diversion from politics today.

Today would have been the 80th birthday of James “Jimmy” Clark, perhaps the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time.

A big claim?  Perhaps.  There are eight drivers who’ve won more than Clarks’ 25 F1 contests;  there are others who’ve won more than his two F1 World Championship titles.   Nobody may ever dominate the sport like Michael Schumacher did in the 2000s.

Clark in his ’67 Lotus/Cosworth – one of the great engine-chassis combinations in F1 history.

But Clark was notable for a couple of things.  First, he was one of the most prominent racers at a time when an F1 race wasn’t a whole lot safer than flying a bombing mission in World War 2.  In Clark’s second F1 race, the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, two drivers were killed.  Clark was also involved in one of the most horrific accidents in modern F1 history; at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix at Monza – with its steeply banked curves that were the inspiration for the Hot Wheels tracks you may remember from your childhood – German driver Wolfgang Von Trips tangled with Clark in a turn and veered off the track, killing Trips and fifteen spectators.   So surviving long enough to win a significant number of races, much less multiple championships, was no mean feat.

It only seems like Crosstown during rush hour. Ugly crashes like these – in the days before rupture-resistant fuel tanks and full roll cages – were pretty normal fifty years ago.

Second:  Clark excelled in just about every kind of racing car imaginable: in addition to being the premiere F1 driver of his era, he won the ’64 British Touring Car championships, was a competitive Rally driver, placed in the money at Le Mans twice out of three attempts, and even drove in a NASCAR race (the 1967 American 500 at Rockingham).  He competed several times at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in an Aston Martin DBR1:

Clark in his Le Mans Aston Martin DBR1.

And, most notably, he competed in five Indy 500s; in ’64 and ’66, the cars crapped out in the first 40 laps (they were British cars, after all).  In the other three – ’63, ’65 and ’67 – he never finished below 2nd place.   He came within a whisker of winning in ’63, his rookie race, but for a controversial decision not to black-flag Parnelli Jones’s car, which was gushing oil.   He earned “Rookie of the Year” in perhaps the most specactular rookie turn in Brickyard history.

After going out with suspension failure in ’64, he came back and won in ’65, leading in 190 out of 200 laps – the first foreign-born driver to win the Memorial Day Classic since the 1910s.

Clark’s 1965 Lotus 38 – the car with which he won the ’65 Indy contest. It looks like a glorified go-kart – don’t you love that single roll bar that doesn’t even come up over the driver’s head? But this was the first car to finish the 500 miles at an average of greater than 150mph.

And while many drivers have surpassed his total wins, total points and total championships records, he holds one that can only be tied – he won 100% of the possible championship points in ’63 and ’65 (tying Alberto Ascari’s record) – and two that may he never be beaten (he held the lead in nearly 72% of the laps he raced in ’63, and he holds eight “Grand Slams”  – races where he held the pole position, won the race, and led the entire race).

How talented was he?  Most F1 drivers are as persnickety about their cars’ setups as three-star chefs are about their kitchens.  Clark was famous for jumping into cars pretty much as-is, running a few laps, and molding his style to the car’s setup, and never really changing anything.   And going on to win.

Aside from talent, the big draw with Clark – for me, at least – was that he spent pretty much his entire F1 and Indy career with one team; Lotus.

And Lotus built the most beautiful F1 cars ever.  Bar none.   Certainly compared to today’s F1 cars, which are engineering marvels that, unthinkably in ’60s terms, rarely kill their drivers, but look (and sound) like vacuum cleaners.

A moment of silence, please.

It was a time when British engineering may have been troublesome to keep running – but dammit, it looked good!  Whether it was fictional spy cars…:

You knew it was coming.

or tanks,

A British “Chieftain” tank, which served from the sixties into the early 2000s. It may have been marginally more reliable than an E-series Jaguar – but it was what a tank should look like. Modern tanks, with their squared-off Chobham armor may run and shoot rings around the Chieftan – but the Chieftain’s design says “Tank. James Tank”.

or aircraft,

A Bristol Buccaneer of the Royal Navy. That is one beautiful plane – one of many the Brits built, starting with the Spitfire, and ending about the time the Brits stopped building their own aircraft. I need to do a series on British design someday.

or prestige roadsters,

An E-series Jaguar. In its natural state – sitting still.

Clark’s dominance coincided with the great, and final (?), age of British engineering dominance.

Help Me Out Here

To:  Colgate
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Your Super Bowl Ad

Colgate,

So I watched the teaser for your Super Bowl spot:

I get it.  There’s big money in appealing to the altruism of the soft-core social justice warrior.  There’s a whole generation of Millennials out there who are impressed by symbols.

And I am not one of the people who “wastes” water like the guy in the ad.  I’m way too frugal for that.

But I have a question.  Several, actually:

  1. If I did leave the faucet running, what do you think would happen (other than inflating my water bill)?   Would the water disappear from the face of the earth, never to be seen again?    Of course not; it runs down the drain, through the sanitary sewer, back to sewage plant and a holding pond, where it evaporates, turning into humidity, clouds, and eventually rain or snow, falling…somewhere in the world, usually to repeat the cycle over and over and over.
  2. For that matter, what do you think happens to the water I drink?  That it disappears from the earth for good?  No – it comes back out in one form or another; #1, #2, sweat, tears, spittle, whatever.  It eventually gets back to the environment, where it evaporates and becomes humidity, clouds, fog, snow, rain, ice, glaciers, or something.  And then repeats the cycle, over and over again.
  3. You end the ad with a young, ethnically-ambiguous girl (Asian? Central American?  Briilliant casting, actually) thirstily and heart-rendingly slurping up every drop of the “wasted” water she can get her hands, literally, around.  Now, I live in a part of the world blessed with a lot of water.  My city water comes from the Mississippi River.  And any water I don’t physically consume eventually probably gets back there, or seeps down into an aquifer, or evaporates back into the atmosphere to go heaven-only-knows where.  So please tell me; if I don’t use a gallon of water, how do you propose that it gets to that little girl in Myanmar or Honduras?  Can I pack it up in a jug and send it there, with Colgate paying the freight? Will you be holding a water drive?  How is my use of water – which, between nature and a government that handles basic services with some degree of competence, is plentiful where I live – related to the availability of water in a third-world hellhole beset by banana-republic socialists, corruption and incompetence?   Can the water I don’t use be re-purposed to drowning the successive waves of dictators that have managed to make places like the little girl’s hometown short of water, even though they’re by a freaking rain forest.

Thanks in advance.

Get That Popcorn Ready

“Black Lives Matter” has announced that they intend to protest at, and attempt to block, the Twin Cities Marathon.

Let’s make sure this is clear; after months of protesting at things that the DFL elites in Kenwood and Summit Avenue revile (the Mall of America) or are outside their frame of reference (the State Fair, the Green Line during a Vikings game) or that isn’t part of their lives (or rush hour on I94 in the Midway, I35W in South Minneapolis, or Snelling Avenue), they may have finally gone a bridge too far; they’re not just inconveniencing the proles this time; they’re going to mess with one of those things of which white, upper-middle-class, MPR-listening, St. Olaf-alumniing, Volvo-driving, Whole-Foods-shopping Minnesota is most proud; an institution that is one of the A-list faces of the part of Minnesota that wants to look at the rest of the world and say “yeah, we’re a little like New York!”.

As I started thinking about writing, I got an email from a regular reader:

I’ve been minimally following the BLM plans to protest the marathon.  I know people who run the marathon who have never supported BLM, so their reaction is obviously anger.  However, secretly I kind of like that the group is finally disrupting something other than poor and working class people getting to and from work.  Especially when I read comments on Facebook that suggest the mindset of “why are you protesting us?  We support you.” to which BLM protesters respond with something like “if you support us, what have you done to make real changes?” (not exact quotes, but enough similar sentiments on the Facebook pages that [the operator of a local political discussion listserver] linked to) Liberal types who tend to think they’re helping by voting for all of the stuff that Liberals like probably are scratching their heads at that, which at least makes this protest fun to follow.

It’s more than just Schadenfreude, of course…

…although there’s plenty of that, too.

For example:  what must it be like to be Betsy Hodges or Chris Coleman, right now?  They’ve bent over 90 degrees past backwards for BLM – who, being liberal and (partly) black, they consider their electoral property – allowing them to block city streets numerous times without the protest permit every other group would need to bet, much less blocking interstate highways and mass transit over and over again.  And now – after all those favors – BLM ungratefully wants to screw with one of Hodges and Coleman’s marquee events?

Will either of them decide to “get tough”, as the eyes of the marathon-running world are on them?

But beyond that?  As the emailer pointed out – how will “progressive” Minnesota react to their own hypocrisy being sent up on a world stage?

The Love Of The Game

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

When you see the headline “First Female Football Coach,” does it make you cringe?  Probably some Affirmative Action hire to please Social Justice Warriors, making the NFL more inclusive and welcoming?  A ploy, like hiring Denny “The Knee” Green to be a Black coach – he’s Black all right, but not much of a coach?

Normally, I’d agree.  But this particular woman doesn’t sound like it.

  • College rugby.
  • 14 seasons Women’s Football Alliance (full-contact, tackling football, not flag or lingerie).
  • Running Back for Texas Revolution Men’s Indoor Football team (3 carries, -1 yards rushing).
  • Two Gold Medals for Team USA in International Women’s Football.
  • Master’s in Sport Psychology and PhD in Psychology.

If she only had the academic degrees, or only had flag football experience, I’d suspect this was a publicity stunt to get the team some good PR.

But she’s actually played the game and taken hits.  She might know what she’s talking about.  And if she can teach inside linebackers to play a better game, well, that’s what coaching is all about. And who knows, maybe she’ll bring back some decorum. “When you get into the end zone, act like you’ve been there before” could apply to linebackers . . . not every tackle requires a victory dance.  Huddle up, get your head back in the game.

I might become a Cardinals fan after all.

Joe Doakes

She may have rushed for more yardage than all current Vikings running backs whose last names aren’t Swedish.

Thanks A Billion

To:  Governor Dayton, the Minnesota DFL, and just enough Republicans to make it a community embarassment
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Thanks For Nothing, Idiots

All,

We – those of us on the real right – tried to warn you.  But you were too busy gettign yoru arm twisted by Zigi Wilf, or entertaining sentimental stories about families going to Met Stadium in -25 blizzard conditions, or wiping foam from guys in helga braids off your face, to pay attention.

So pay attention now; you were wrong, and we were right, and the deal you were browbeaten into or were too stupid to know better than to oppose “crafted” to build the new Vikings stadium is one of the worst stadium deals in the US.

However, I’m sure the Downtown Brotherhood has made their thanks known.

On behalf of the rest of us?   Oh, yeah – we don’t count, except if we don’t pay our taxes on time.

That is all.

 

Disappointment

When I first saw this illustration…:

IMG_3600.JPG

… I thought for a brief moment that there was an event that involved bicyclists chasing after fleeing packs of terrified runners through the streets of Minneapolis.

Upon further reading, I see it’s just a duathlon.

Opportunity lost.

Priorities

With the Minnesota Wild’s current hot streak, we’ve seen the usual parade of scolds.  The quote usually runs something like “Yeah, now that the Wild are hot, we see the bandwagon fans coming out”.

Now, let’s be clear; I don’t really care about hockey.  It’s just not my game.  I doubt I’ll watch any Wild games, even if they go to the Stanley Cup, which they won’t [1]

Main point?  Of course I’m a “bandwagon fan”.  You think I have time to waste on losers?  What the hell is the point of spending precious time slogging along behind a team that is only going to turn the whole thing into a collossal waste of time, money and effort?

Except for the Bears, of course.

[1] Which I say not because I genuinely doubt their ability to make it downtown, but because while I don’t know much about hockey, I do know that Berg’s Fourth Law of Media/Sports Inversion (“A Minnesota sports team may be a contender until the moment the local media actually believes they will be contenders. At that moment – be it spring training, late November in the NFL season, or week 72 of the NHL playoffs – the season will fall irredeemably apart”) applies to all Minnesota sports teams equally.

I’m doing it for you.

You’re welcome.

Bert Circles Detroit!

Fox Sports North commentator Bert Blyleven called the city of Detroit “ugly” on Twitter.

When Detroit fans respond via Twitter, Blyleven urges them to do something that is… anatomically unlikely.

Now, I’ve been to Detroit a couple times. And I’m sure Blyleven was only referring to the parts that aren’t abandoned, stripped of all their copper and lead piping, caked 3 inches deep in graffiti, and completely devoid of all signs of decent human life.

Because if you leave that out, it’s not half bad!

The State Of Hockey

The state of Minnesota sports is such that Minnesota’s media is turning cartwheels that the Wild might get into the NHL playoffs.

Maybe.

Provided they not only win, but win in regulation time, or win in extra innings or whatever the hell overtime is called in hockey, since I don’t give a rat’s ass about hockey, and another almost-equally-woebegone team loses.

So kudos, Wild.  Maybe.

(Shrug)

The Closer

I’ve always liked Curt Schilling.

Partly because he was a great pitcher, instrumental in breaking the Red Sox’ World Series curse.

Partly because he’s one of very few baseball players to come out of the closet as a conservative.

And partly because he opened a can of medieval online whoopass on some internet creeps who tried to professorbilly his daughter online.

Some Twin Cities leftybloggers might be feeling the heat.  Just saying.

Winging It

There’s an old Hungarian saying; “the best way to become wealthy is to appear is if you already are”.

It’s true – and it applies far beyond wealth.  One good way to get promoted is to dress, and perhaps act, like your boss.  Acting as if one is happy in a relationship can make you…happy with the relationship.

Amid all of the squawking and clucking about college educations and credentials – how little we got for all of Barack Obama’s education, how much Scott Walker has accomplished without a formal piece of paper – one of the most important lessons for people to learn, especially younger people just starting out, is how to take what you do know and turn it into something useful.  And sometimes, it’s more a matter of taking what you think you know and you’re sure you can do.

I’ve told a few of those stories; how I wasn’t actually formally qualified for either of my post-radio careers, technical writing and user experience; I’d had no formal training in either.  I just found opportunities, did what it took to get hired, and then worked like a sled dog to deliver the goods.

I love a good Horatio Alger career story; I’m drawn to them.

And NPR gave us a great one over the weekend – the story of Adrián García Márquez, who’s been a spanish-language sportscaster for, well, pretty much every spanish-language sports broadcasting operation the past decade and change; he’s pretty much turned into the Jack Buck of spanish sportscasting.

And he had a start for the record books; he started out as a strugglingl minor leaguer – until he and his girlfriend got pregnant:

So he got a part-time job with the promotions department of San Diego radio station Jammin’ Z 90. A few months in, he started DJing overnight.

“In my heart, I didn’t want to be a hip-hop disc jockey,” he says. “I mean, I loved it. But I wanted to go to sports.”

But a radio station was a radio station, and working there was better than nothing.

Actually, these days it’s frequently not.  But this was still the nineties, and Spanish radio still makes decent money, so let’s rejoin the story:

Then, he remembers, a colleague told him, “I have a buddy of mine who told me that he has a buddy that knows this guy” who wanted to broadcast a handful of San Diego Flash games in Spanish on TV. (At the time, the Flash were an A-League soccer team — basically a minor league team, Garcia says.)

There was a problem, though. To get a sportscasting job, he says, you have to have a demo tape of yourself actually calling a game — a college game, a high school game, any game.

“How do I get a demo, on the fly, out of nowhere, having zero experience? Make one. Fake one, basically.”

I did the same thing, back in 1986, to cajole my boss at KSTP into letting me have a talk show.  It worked – although not as well as it did for Márquez.

But Garcia didn’t have one.

“So how do I get a demo, on the fly, out of nowhere, having zero experience? Make one. Fake one, basically.”

He looked around the house to see what he could use.

“I did have a Sega. I did have [the video game] FIFA Soccer, 1995 edition,” he remembers. “So I pop that into the console, I recorded the beautiful crowd chants that they had. Because technology was advancing, so it sounded like a real soccer game. So I figured, I’ll grab that crowd noise, and put it on the tape.”

He put the soccer chanting in the background, called the video of a recorded soccer game, turned it into a tape…

…and the rest is history.  More or less.  Read the whole story.

And pass it on to a kid.  Because ones own ingenuity is as important as ones credentials, unless you’re trying to be a cardiac surgeon or an engineer.  And college (and education in general) these days seems to do a fine job of squeezing that out of kids.

Hunter Hits His First Single

The Twins re-signed Torii Hunter. 

Say what you will about the move – signing a 39 year old fielder whose numbers are just a tad off – but I’ll give the man mad props for his first press conference:

When Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press asked Hunter about his previous, well-documented statements against gay marriage and support of political candidates who share his viewpoint, he called Berardino a “prick” and said he was done talking about the topic.

And Hunter is right.

Berardino – and most of the rest of the mainstream media who’ve commented on the acquisition – have burned a lot of column inches babbling about Hunter’s support for traditional marriage, which, let me remind you, the mainstream media has declared trayf via, I presume, “settled science”. 

All dissent must be scourged. 

The media are the new Spanish Inquisition.