Monday, December 31, 2007

Monday 12-31

Today everybody is making their resolutions for the New Year--so I may as well make a few here as well.

I hereby resolve to not do any stories about Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan or Paris Hilton. Nobody over the age of 13 really cares what these idiots do with their lives. I just wish the major TV networks would make this same resolution.

I resolve to tune out all of the attack ads coming our way this year. If there are more than three candidates still in the running before the Wisconsin Presidential primary--you may want to keep the TV off for the entire month of February--because it won't be pretty.

I resolve to continue to publicly bash the idiots running the Big Ten Network for taking away Badger basketball from the fans just so the schools can keep the revenue for themselves rather than share it with standard cable networks and the athletic departments.

I resolve not to be disappointed when the New England Patriots crush the Dallas Cowboys again in the Super Bowl. Nobody is slowing down that juggernaut.

I resolve to do a better job of keeping the house neat. I promised my wife I'd get that one in there.

I resolve to knock eight strokes off my gold handicap this summer. There is no reason that I should be a 15--considering I spent more than a thousand dollars on new equipment this year--and played more than any year since I was in high school.

I resolve to get Senator Herb Kohl to actually do an interview this year. He's been in office for almost 20-years and he has never been on any of our radio shows. Does anyone actually know where he stands on any issues?

Finally, I resolve to continue to bring you the best in local news coverage in the Fox Valley. It's the least you deserve.

Happy New Years everybody.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday 12-28

Don't believe for a second that the reason the NFL is allowing CBS and NBC to show tomorrow night's New England Patriots--New York Giants game is because they don't want fans to miss out on a potential historic moment. This decision is based on nothing more than money.

I can guarantee that some time this week the head of CBS Sports called up Commissioner Roger Goodell and reminded him that the network pays a large chunk of the one-billion dollars the league gets in television rights revenues. The CBS exec likely pointed out that they would have broadcast rights to the game--since the Patriots will be the road team on Saturday--and that there was a very good chance they could have seen huge ratings for a show that would have spilled over into the important prime time hours. And that CBS executive most certainly reminded the Commish that his network may not be so keen on paying a billion dollars to air the NFL in the future. So Goodell capitulated and gave CBS permission to simulcast the game.

It probably didn't take ten minutes for the suits at NBC to find out that CBS was going to show the big game--so their head man was on the phone to Goodell as well. The NBC chief likely reminded Roger that his network also pays a fair chunk of that one-billion dollar rights deal--and that they have exclusive rights to prime-time Sunday night games. NBC also has the right to reschedule start times to get the matchup they think will bring the biggest audience--and they almost certainly would have put Pats-G-men on during the coveted prime time hours. And the NBC officials most certainly told Commissioner Goodell they would not be so keen on paying up to a billion dollars to air the NFL in the future.

So the Commish would find himself in the difficult position of granting another network rights to simulcast a game already on two channels. I can flat out guarantee that none of the men involved in these discussions at any time mentioned the word "fans". "Viewers" and "ratings" were likely tossed around--but "I'm concerned about the fans missing this historic moment" didn't roll off anyone's tongue.

By the way, if this is so historically significant--why isn't CNN or Fox News showing the game as "BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!!"

Now, if the NFL really cared about the fans--they would take the clueless Bryant Gumbel off the broadcast and get a play-by-play man who actually knows the players names and which team has the ball.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday 12-27

Do you trust Iowans to decide which candidate would best represent your favorite party on the November ballot? How about the people of New Hampshire? Or South Carolina? Even though Wisconsin moved up its primary date to mid-February from March--there will likely be little drama--or choices--left in the races.

I'm not sure how the tiny states of Iowa and New Hampshire got to be the first to vote (or caucus) on the Presidential campaigns--but I don't think its fair. Based on the fact the campaign started three years ago in those states, every resident has probably had at least two face-to-face meetings with each of the candidates. By the time the campaigns reach Wisconsin in a couple of months, the rallies will all be huge events with tight security and the candidates speaking from their scripts from the stage. Maybe I want Hillary Clinton to hear about my concerns personally. John Deer of Corn Lick, Iowa and Edith Kennedy-Smith-Shepardspie of Gobblers Knob, New Hampshire probably got the chance.

There is a reason these states keep moving their "First in the Nation" contests earlier and earlier to stay ahead of all the other states. If they didn't, nobody would ever consider going there. Do you think Rudy Giuliani really relates to the "great people of the heartland" or that any of the "old-timahs" in New England can understand half of what Mike Huckabee says?

I would rather see a series of national, elimination primaries where total votes knock off the stragglers. The first round could trim the field to four in each party, the quarter-finals would leave us with two candidates and the finals would give us the November tickets. Maybe we could put the candidates in brackets like the NCAA Basketball tournament and we could all have office pools. That might increase interest in politics--the chance to win big bucks.

The key to my plan is that it establishes who would really have the national appeal needed to win in November. It would also neutralize the influence certain sub-groups within the parties would have on selecting nominees. The downside? More endless political ads--and therefore more money influence. But at least you and I here in Wisconsin would have some actual say in who represents our party--instead of letting Iowa and New Hampshire have all of the fun.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday 12-20

Thank you celebrity obsessed national media for creating another embarassing situation for parents to deal with. Jamie Lynn Spears--the sister of you know who--and the star of Nickelodian's "Zoey 101" announced in OK magazine this week that she is pregnant. Normally that would be OK--but Spears is just 16-years old and is not married to the 19-year old father of the child. I'm sure more than a few young fans of the show will have some tough questions for mom and dad about what happened to Zoey.

Can we please do a few stories on young women who are doing something positive with their lives? I can't imagine what its like to be a girl nowadays--being bombarded with "breaking news" about every successful young woman running afoul of the law, getting pregnant out of wedlock, going to rehab and leaving their husband of a whopping two years.

I guess that goes hand in hand with the marketing campaigns of all young females with big, fake breasts, exposed by low-cut outfits and high-rise skirts. Remember a few years ago when we did stories on the problem schools were having with too-revealing clothes on female students? The response from parents was "that's all the stores carry now for teen fashions." I guess I picked the wrong time to go to high school. When I was a teen, it was the late 80's and multiple-layers covered with baggy sweaters were all the rage. The only girls who showed what they had played on the volleyball and basketball teams.

The male population doesn't make it any easier for girls either. Sometimes when I'm reffing a high school game I can't believe the lyrics of songs played over the PA system during warmups and timeouts. And there are the girls singing along with the suggestive and degrading lyrics.

And don't even get me started on the internet. One of my favorite websites features musical playlists posted by users. There is also a feature that allows the poster to put on a picture of themselves and to "chat" with other users. It never fails that the most "provocative" pictures are put on there by 15 and 16-year old girls--who then get dozens of responses from the thirty-something guys inviting them to chat at a different site.

My wife and I are trying to have a baby--but I fear having a girl. I wonder how I'm going to get her to have a positive self-image if she is not a size two and how I'll keep her away from all the dirty old men in cyberspace and real life. It would help a lot if being over-dressed and undersexed would become popular again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday 12-18

Monday's response to the phony bomb threat at Merrill Middle School got me thinking about how we deal with these incidents. I'm not that disappointed in the school--which had cops at the door and bag searches yesterday--but rather with the parents of the 50 or so students who were kept out of classes because of the threat.

It must be tough living in unfounded fear all the time. I say that not from the position of knowing this threat was a fake--but rather from the position that all of the threats written on bathroom walls over the years have turned out to be fakes.

I know there have been a number of highly-publicized incidents of school violence in recent years--but how many of them have been preceded by a note in a bathroom or a call on the school's voice mail system? The shooters in the Columbine attack never left a note warning everyone they were about to attack. Now they did make some disturbing videos showing their preparations for the attacks--but those were kept secret and never shown on Youtube or mailed to a local tv station. The kid who gunned down his principal at Weston High School never issued any threats either.

The Green Bay East High School attack plot was foiled by another student turning in his friends--not by a note left at the school. Ironically, parents should be more afraid of the days when their are no threats at the school than in the days following one. If the threat includes a "hit list", I can see keeping the kids at home--but for a note written on a bathroom stall??? Let's show a little more common sense and courage.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday 12-14

I hope asterisks aren't any more expensive to print than regular numbers and letters--or I won't be able to afford the next edition of the Major League Baseball record book. The Mitchell Report is out and it implies that there was "widespread" abuse of steroids and human growth hormones in the sport from the mid-90's until the recent adoption of mandatory testing.

By using the term "widespread"--but then only putting 77 player names in his report, Mitchell is telling us "We know more people were cheating--these are the only ones somebody ratted out." I was hoping there would be no Brewers on the list--so that fans could claim their long run of futility is due to not enough guys trying to cheat. But alas, Fernando Vina (a former Brewer) and Derrick Turnbow are on the list. Just imagine how many save opportunities Turnbow would have blown if he wasn't on the juice. And the team is apparently going for the "all steriods All Star team"--as new closer Eric Gagne is also named in the report. Gagne's "punishment" for breaking the law and cheating...a one-year ten-million dollar contract from the Crew. That will teach everyone that cheaters never win.

The biggest losers in all of this are not the guys named in the report--or we the fans for being handed a sham and a mockery for nearly a decade--but rather all of those guys who might have made it to the Majors if some of the players in the Mitchell Report hadn't been 'roiding. I had a chance to help Terry Jorgensen with some of his off-season workouts when I lived in Green Bay. Terry is a native of Luxemburg and was a standout here at U-W-O. He used to work himself to near death with fielding drills and quickness drills and hitting off the tee and weightlifting. I'm pretty sure he wasn't shooting up in the locker room after those workouts. But despite all of that hard work, Terry had just a few "cups of coffee" with the Twins and the Marlins. Each time the team went out and got someone with a little better power and a little better arm. Were the guys who beat out Terry just more talented--or juiced?

The biggest winners in the wake of the Report: Not the players who cheated and weren't named--but rather all of the guys who played in the time before the mid-90's. How much better do all of their records look? My favorite player in high school and college was Will Clark--the firstbasemen for the San Francisco Giants. He was a career .300 hitter and finished with about 350-career home runs. Not Hall of Fame numbers compared to all of the brutes who came after him--but we know those were honest numbers. The same goes for guys like George Brett, Robin Yount, Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs. All HOF'ers we know truly earned their spots in Cooperstown. Heck, even Pete Rose is looking more honorable today.

Major League Baseball had better hope nobody ever fingers Alex Rodriguez for steroids. He could be the "magic eraser" that will rid the record books of the steroid era--as he breaks all of the major records before hanging up the spikes. Until then--all of those numbers mean nothing to me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday 12-12

A few random thoughts:

The Fed has cut interest rates again. The few of us on the "savings" side of life take another hit--while those on the "free spending" side catch another break. How did it come to the point that the national economy is so dependent on people having to continuously borrow and live beyond their means?

I have just as big a problem with the new sub-prime mortgage bailout plan proposed by the President. These were people who were given money who obviously had no business borrowing it. What's the matter with a little "tough love" and forcing them to repay it at the interest rates that are a true reflection of their credit risk? Those who say "I had no idea the interest rates could go up that much" either have poor memories or were just ignoring the realities of their situation. Besides, I don't recall any stories about the rash of homebuyers forced at gunpoint to take out ajustable rate or balloon mortgages in recent years.

As for the companies that made the loans, you reap what you sow. Sub-prime mortgages would not have existed if you stuck to some of the tried and true money-lending practices: require a down payment, keep interest rates fixed, loan money only to those with a real chance of paying it back. Maybe if the Fed would raise interest rates a little bit, you could recoup some of your losses.

And now for something completely different:

Am I the only football fan completely disenchanted with this NFL season? My favorite team--the Dallas Cowboys--have the second best record in the league and the inside track to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. But the prospect of that does not thrill me at all. I was watching the New England Patriots totally dismantle the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday thinking "why do we even bother playing the rest of the season?"

New England has already put a beat down on the Cowboys once this season--and I don't see any change the second time they might play in the Super Bowl. So what's the point of rooting for it to happen? I'd be better off pulling for Green Bay or Seattle to knock off the Cowboys in the playoffs--to spare me the embarrassment that would follow two weeks later. So let's go Pack, let's get some different road kill ready for the Patriots juggernaut.