Friday, April 24, 2009

Real Hope

I feel refreshed this morning. Not physically--because I didn't sleep very well--but I feel refreshed psychologically. You see, I visited one of the local screenings of Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope last night. Several hundred turned out at Oakhaven Church--where I caught the show. And hopefully they left refreshed as well.

There were no teabags in sight, no placards claiming we have become a socialist country and nobody lining up with their hands out for a bailout or a stimulus check. Just people tired of the negative hype and the government interference--looking for reassurance that they still control their own fate. And that was Dave's main message: We the people still run this economy.

Dave did not sugarcoat the situtation--and he did not pull any punches when it came to assigning blame. Republicans, Democrats, big banks, reckless investment houses and those who borrowed money to buy things they could not afford to ever pay back all must have had their ears ringing last night. Those who have taken the steps necessary to continue running their businesses successfully despite the challenges were lauded. So were those willing to start from scratch in this economy.

There were plenty of chuckles when Dave talked about the economic conditions my grandparents endured in the Great Depression--and my parents lived through during the recessions of the 1970's and early '80's. You know what? We really don't have it that bad--but try to convince anybody in Washington or at the news outlets in New York or Atlanta.

In the wrap up, Dave told a great story about a "Jonathan" that worked at his favorite sub shop--who knew everyone's name and favorite order. Just a couple of months after "Jonathan" left the shop to go back to school--the place shut down--blaming the economy. Dave thinks it was because no one was willing to work as hard as "Jonathan" to make the business successful. He then encouraged everyone to be a "Jonathan" in their workplace--or to acknowledge the good work of that "Jonathan"--maybe pay that "Jonathan" a little bit more right now since, he is more valuable that ever. This Jonathan will be waiting patiently for those kudos today.

A friend who is dealing with some real hardship right now attended last night as well. I know that friend left feeling much better about that situation and with hope for the future. As Dave asked all of us last night, I will continue to give what I can to help that friend--as well as others I know that may need it. As Dave said "maybe we can give the Government out of business".

We can only hope.

Monday, April 20, 2009

There's No Comparison

This weekend provided the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast the NHL playoffs with the NBA playoffs. There were games all over the tube both Saturday and Sunday, and they served as compelling evidence as to why hockey is 100-times better than NBA basketball.

Let's start with the intensity level. Both sports have first round series that are best of seven games. Saturday's Bruins versus Montreal game featured several real fights!! And that was just game two of the series. Just think what it will be like if it goes six or seven games? One member of the Bruins finished game one last week with a ruptured spleen--practiced the next two days--then finally went to the hospital for surgery. Meanwhile, over on the NBA side I didn't see a single hard foul on a guy going to the basket or even a hard pick. Maybe they plan to pick up the intensity in games six and seven. Or the fourth quarter of game seven. And how many NBA guys (or fans) would give up shaving for the entire playoffs?

And just how seriously can you take a contest when they continously play music DURING THE PLAY!! Does the NBA realize how boring their product is that they need a little hip hop to keep the fans entertained? I can't remember the last time I heard music during the game in hockey. During the stoppages, waiting for a faceoff yes, during a power play? No way. And especially not "Lady of Spain".

And speaking of fans, you've got to love the passion of puckheads. Philadelphia had the "Orange Out" going yesterday. Pittsburgh had the "Whiteout" going the two games before that--as all of the fans in the arena put on their team colors in a great-looking show of solidarity--which by the way, started in Winnipeg back in the 1980's and has now been copied in the few cities that care about NBA basketball. Los Angeles would not be one of those. Yellow or purple apparently not that big with the Hollywood set. Plenty of empty seats shown on camera at the Staples Center as well. I guess the "real" playoffs don't start until the finals.

There are also upsets in playoff hockey. The top seeded San Jose Sharks are already down love-two to the 8th seeded Anaheim Ducks. The second seed in the East--Washington--lost its first two at home as well. Eighth seeds have caught fire several times in the NHL Playoffs over the years and made Cinderella runs to the Cup Finals. When was the last time such a thing happened in the NBA? I'm surprised ABC isn't already running promos for the Lakers and the Cavaliers in the Finals.

So don't be afraid to check out the "other playoffs" this spring. I realize that Versus isn't the easiest channel to find on the cable system (Ch 68 on Time Warner)--and that the same three teams get all of the national exposure (Detroit, Pittsburgh, and New York)--but you might like what you see. Sure beats watching the NBA sleepwalk through its most important games.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Put Me In Coach, I'm Ready to Play

I know it's election day--but it's also Opening Day for the Brewers and I just have to make my bold predictions for the upcoming season.

I predict that Jeff Suppan will get shelled in his opening day start--and will be out of the rotation by the end of July. How many years left does he have on that $10-million a season contract?

I predict that Ricky Weeks will be booed by Miller Park fans often this season--but will still achieve career highs in batting average and home runs.

I foresee a "lost" season for Ryan Braun as he continues to battle muscle pulls in his side that will likely put him on the Disabled List at least once this year.

I predict that Prince Fielder will be traded before the August 1st deadline--with the Brewers getting some much needed pitching help in return.

I predict a strong season for Manny Parra--now that Mike Maddux isn't around to screw up his approach to pitching. Parra needs to pound the strike zone--not try to nibble on the corners. That aggravated me no end about Maddux--he wanted everybody to throw like his brother. The only problem is, only his brother gets strikes called four inches off the plate.

I foresee a drop in attendance at Miller Park this year. There just isn't as much disposable cash in many families' budgets this summer--and tickets that went up five-percent this season won't be as popular.

As for the season itself, The Cubs will likely win the National League Central again this year--then fold in the playoffs, crushing their fans's spirits for the 101st consecutive season. The Brewers will likely be up and down giving their young pitching rotation. I see 86-wins for this Crew--good enough for third in the Central--and not good enough to make the playoffs.

Let's play ball.