Thursday, March 26, 2009

When Pigs ....

Race? On a recent trip to Texas, I saw the back of a semi truck that I couldn't help but find a bit odd. The back door was not closed all the way, and it clearly stated on the door why. Because there were racing pigs inside. My first thought was, you can race pigs? And my second was, I've got to find my camera because no one is going to believe this.

So, unbeknownst to me, you can race pigs. Immediately, several comical pictures came to mind as to what a racing pig may look like. In my mind, they have numbers tattoed on the side of them and are covered with decals. Then, the practical start coming, do the pigs know they are racing? What do they get if they win, the chance to avoid becoming bacon for another day? What is a pig's motivation to race? How in the world do you train a pig to race? Is there mud and slop across the finish line and at the starting line it's clean and sterile? Are there professional pig trainers like in horse racing? Is this legal? Can I bet on it? How do I know which pig to bet on, are there odds like in horse racing? I guess being new to the 'sport', I just have a lot of unanswered questions, but I have to say, racing pigs sounds a whole lot better to me than flying pigs.
What an amazing revelation, racing pigs, now if I can only find where these happen at. I've created a mockup below of what a race pig looks like in my mind. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


So, I just learned that there is an ongoing debate out there as to whether there should be one or two periods after the end of a sentence. I had no clue. All through school, we were drilled that there should be two spaces after a sentence. Now, I'm hearing that for professional letters, memos, acedemic papers, etc, you only need one. You should only use two spaces if you need an additional pause for affect, email, personal correspondance or if you are publishing a work of fiction. The two space rule is left over from typewriter with monospaced typsets, today's word processors have proportionally spaced fonts which make the text easier to read with just the one space. In fact, some people consider the extra space "distracting and unattractive". To me, it's absurd that this argument even exists. Does it really matter? Do people really shutter when they see two spaces at the end of a sentence? If so, they shouldn't read this blog because I feel like it looks better that way and plan to continue to use it in this context. And all my papers for school will continue to have two spaces to make them a few lines longer. ;) One wonders that if the great minds of this world worried about things other than how many spaces are at the end of a sentence what a difference we could make. Hey, starving kid in Africa, one space or two?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Comments on websites

Almost every major website now has a comments section where you can make comments on the article or post that you just read. It's really getting on my nerves. Why? Because all it does is highlight how immature and stupid we are as a society. It's all drivel. That's what discussion boards are full, I don't need a discussion board for every ESPN article. And I'm not saying that everyone is stupid, there are a ton of smart people out there. Plenty of smart people are reading these articles (I am afterall ;)), but they aren't the ones commenting. I think in the hundreds of comments I've read over the years, maybe one or two have added to the conversation positively. Most of the time its just people pointing out to the whole Internet how stupid they are, trying to cause an argument or putting down the author. Mostly, it's just idiocracy. If you read comments on CNN, you know exactly why the economy is bad. No one commenting on CNN has any idea about what they've just read. None of the people commenting on the article are intelligent enough to read, comprehend and come up with their own opinions about the article. And none of the commenters have the educational background to know what parts of the article are media fluff and scare tactics. So, I know that the big sites can't moderate every comment, there are just too many comments coming in to filter it. My suggestion is to just cut it out. We don't need it. Some of you are thinking, if the comments bother Phil so much, why doesn't he just stop reading them? Well, he can't. It's like a train wreck. It's like I read an article and I just have to browse over a couple to see what people are saying about it. And it always surprises me how incomprehensible they become with each passing day. So anyway, that's what I hate about the Internet lately, comments on web articles. Vent complete.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Can fantasy hockey save the NHL?

Those of you who know me may be shocked to learn that I have a fantasy hockey team. Because I'm not really a hockey fan, at all. I know next to nothing about hockey actually. However, 3 years ago I played and won a Yahoo! public league. So, I'm playing in a Yahoo! public league again, I just like to feel like a winner every once in a while and I enjoy beating up on Canadians and yankees. So, fantasy football has not only helped out the NFL, it's changed NFL broadcasting to be more fantasy focused. It gave people a reason to start caring about baseball again after the steroids scandal. It's given basketball new life after no one could relate to any of the players in the 90s and given people a reason to follow the NBA again.
So, can fantasy hockey 1) bring fans back to hockey after the horrible season long strike and subsequent difficulty in getting TV deals to broadcast games by adding fantasy broadcastability, 2) add new fans that are following teams and players because of their fantasy team and therefore may buy the occasional ticket to a game or watch a game on TV, and 3) create an Internet following in order to generate revenue from online ad sales.
The answer, I think, is no. There are two main reasons and one minor reason. The first main one is that no one's name is pronounceable. I have a team and I can pronounce maybe 3 players out of 18 on the team. Because of that, it's difficult to feel attached to any of your players. In fact, I know Roberto Lungo is on my team and Chris Mason is on my team. I have the number one player in the league and I don't even know his name. Evan? Anyway. Thats an issue and it's probably not fixable unless you give everyone nicknames or make all star players change their name (which would be for their own good anyway, might help them earn a few extra promotional dollars). Another major issue that also may be unsolvable is the lack of stats. Out of the 20-25 players who get significant playing time each game, only half of those or less are going to put up a decent amount of goals, assists, or shots on goal. So, the other categories are Power Play Points and Penalty Minutes. Not much, so they have this contrived +/- category. If you are on the ice when your team scores, you get +1, if you are on the ice with the oppostion scores its -1 point for you. Ok, that's fine, that way defenders can earn stats of some kind other than penalty minutes, I get that. But we are stat hungry fans lately and unless they can contrive a couple more things, I don't see it taking off.
The other minor thing is something that the GMs recently met about and that's fighting. I know it sells tickets and that its an integral part of the game. But I also think that it takes away from the integrity of the sport as well. What if after a hard pass interference play in the NFL, the players could just fight it out and the penalty is that both players have to stand on the sidelines for 5 minutes and the teams play down a man during that time? You wouldn't take football as seriously, would you? I just think that it takes away from the sport aspect of it and adds a street and barbaric aspect and keeps it from gaining mass spectator appeal. We simply can't relate as fans to being able to fight as part of your job or sport. In the long run, I don't think you can rely on only a portion of your sport to be popular and maintain growth and fandom, i.e wrecks in racing, fighting in hockey, etc. You need for people to be intrigued by the sport itself. So, maybe you need to tweak some rules to make the sport as a whole entertaining and leave the fighting to boxers.
So, there, I provided no answers, but concluded that fantasy hockey alone can't save the NHL and the obstacles that stand in the way of hockey becoming a major sport may be unsolvable.