Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving might have become my favorite holiday of the year. Christmas has become nothing but a hassle, and a personal economic castration every December. Halloween, an old favorite of mine, has certainly lost a lot of its luster as I can’t recall the last really good Halloween party I have actually attended. What does that leave? 4th of July? Getting loaded and setting off deadly explosives is certainly great fun, but someone always seems to go home with a nasty third degree burn, or the loss of an eye. New Year’s Eve? That’s almost always a bust. Unless you have THE BEST TIME EVER, it’s considered a failure. Plus, I hate getting hosed by bars and restaurants that give you the same basic service they always do, but add a horrific bottle of “champagne” (usually a half bottle of some cut rate Spanish cava, or the dregs of Italy’s prosecco export). Example: If a steak house normally charges $50 for a dinner with appetizer/entrée/dessert, why do I have to pay $125 for the same thing but with that shitty bottle of sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve?

That leaves Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving really has it all. 1) There is no religious overtone dropped onto it by our various churches to shuttle the population into houses of worship for a collection basket shake down. 2) You don’t have to buy gifts for relatives you barely know, co workers you can barely tolerate, or creeps like the garbage man/postal carrier/newspaper carrier/etc, etc, etc…3) People get together, relax, and have a nice meal together. 4) Twelve hours of televised football to gamble wildly on! (And I was on all the chalk, so it was a big, big day in the Miller household.)

But let’s not lose the true spirit of Thanksgiving as a moment to reflect on our bounty and good fortune. With that in mind, here are a few things I am thankful for.

I am thankful I am not Hugh Hefner. Twenty years ago, you would be justified in punching me in the face for making that statement. Now? C’mon…They cart that old man out to all these Hollywood clubs and parties while he pretends to be banging all the girls in his entourage. Even the most casual observer knows he would rather be home watching “Dancing With the Stars” and having a chamomile tea with butter cookies. Instead in his “golden years”, he has to continue to create the legacy of The Playboy Brand. Enough already! Let the man rest! I’ll bet he hasn’t had an erection since the Giants won the Super Bowl.

I am thankful I am not part of today’s rap/hip hop culture. I think the toughest thing about being a rapper is trying to figure out what to do with your hands in the video. And what about those guys that only contribute the “yeahs” and “whoas”? Those guys aren’t just leeching off their neighborhood lifelong friend and slowly (but surely) sucking him back down to the socio-economic status they all came from. No, they have to figure out what to do during the entire video. (Sidenote: Imagine the rapper watching the final cut of his video, and only then finally noticing “his boyz” just stand around and run up his Cristal bill. “What am I paying these motherfuckers for? These clown ass bitches are just dancing around behind me yelling out “Yeah!” once in awhile. I gotta get these motherfuckers out of my house today!”)

I am thankful my Turkey Day feast did not include green bean casserole, canned cranberry sauce, or ambrosia. That stuff all sucks, but always finds its way onto the buffet table. Not in my house. Not this year.

Random Notes: The Browns look like a gimme this week facing a horrible Arizona Cardinal team and getting 2 points. With the basic NFL logic though, bet the Cards. Hell, last week I bet the 49ers, and they are barely a professional football team...Also, it seems inevitable Oklahoma will do their part and beat Missouri in the Big 12 championship game. Ohio State guy is pressing his dockers, icing down his Michelob Ultra, and desperately trying to hedge on his Rose Bowl hotel reservations right now. Oklahoma -3, why not?...The Pack at +250 vs Dallas on the money line is a pretty interesting little wager...I think there will be a lot of action on the Skins to win "an emotional" game vs Buffalo Sunday. Frankly, if someone I worked with got shot and killed during a two week vacation, I don't know if that would translate into more production from me. Football can be a game of emotions, but everyone remembers when teams come through and not when they don't. Example: Couple years ago, Tony Dungy's kid dies, and the Colts still lost in the playoffs. The AFC is soooo much better than the NFC, I'd get on the Bills if the line moves to 7. The Bills may not win, but they can hang around.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Hype

In the current issue of Sports Illustrated, there is an article about the latest college freshman phenoms of the moment in OJ Mayo and Kevin Love. Every year there is some new guy that has been heralded as the savior of basketball, and this year it’s these two. (Remember, for every LeBron James, there’s ten Sebastian Telfairs.) Can they play? I guess so. OJ Mayo had 32 points in his first game at USC. Of course, his team also lost to tiny Mercer College by 16 points. But then again, who cares? Basketball is all about individual stats and highlight reels now, and not winning championships.

The worst thing is the unchecked hyperbole these two kids run out there. Check out these quotes prior to the season even starting. Kevin Love: “I feel like I am the best passer in the country. You’ll see me laughing on the court sometimes this year. It’s funny to me. I’m almost playing a game with them.” Hey Fuck-O, why don’t you keep a lid on it until you have played one college basketball game? (By the way, after three games so far, The Greatest Passer in the Country has seven assists against the likes of Portland State, Youngstown State, and Cal State San Bernardino.)

How about OJ Mayo…He’s 18 years old, and living on his own for the first time. He’s now talking about going into real estate, and opening restaurants in his home town of Huntington WV after his playing days “kind of like what Magic’s doing.”. I love the fact that Sports Illustrated prints this crap. It’s as if the championships, and Hall of Fame basketball career will take care of themselves. That’s a lock. Now I have to listen to business strategy from some 18 year old that has never even had a job? That kid is so smart, he got busted driving around in March with a bunch of weed in the car. Shit, I gotta get together with him so he can explain how I can exploit opportunities in mid-cap stocks over the short term. In turn, maybe I can help him out by explaining how to do the laundry and use a microwave oven.

The real problem here is Sports Illustrated. They are not doing anyone any favors by feeding into the hype, and printing the ramblings of some greenhorn spoiled high school jock douche bag. How that reporter took either of those two quotes with a straight face is one thing. How he wrote it in the article without pointing out how ridiculous it is must be even worse.

In the end those two will get what they deserve…Playing in a half full arena in Toronto on a freezing February Tuesday night with Gary Glitter’s “Rock N Roll Part 2” blasting on the PA while the crowd urges them to hit a free throw during garbage time so they can get a free chalupa at Taco Bell. Live the dream kid, live the dream.

Random Notes: The Patriots have now covered every week except that game against Indy. That is unheard of in NFL wagering. I would continue to play them until that worm turns…That Detroit/Green Bay Thanksgiving game is a big game for the first time since what, 1967? Green Bay looks legit, so I’m going Pack unless the number is ugly. By the way, did you see how Detroit once again ignored the fact that they got their asses kicked (by the Giants this time) and talked up how good they are? Last time I checked, good teams won games…The new Sadies record “New Seasons” is really cool. I'm not sure, but I think those boys might have ben smoking some marijuana. You can almost smell the pot when you look at the cover. It’s their take on a late Byrds/Burrito Brothers psychedelic country record, and they do a great job. It’s a sound they have been experimenting with for the last 2 full lengths, but this time they went all the way. I’m interested in whatever they do, and this is no exception. If you have any interest in “Dr Byrd and Mr Hyde”, Beachwood Sparks, or “The Gilded Palace of Sin”, this record is for you…The new Wussy record “Left For Dead” received a glowing 4 star review in Rolling Stone. How about that? The first song “Trail of Sadness” is worth the entry price alone…No word back yet from The Pirates.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Pirates

The Pirates haven't won dick in a really long time. Why? They have a bad farm system, a bad big league organization, have made bad decisions, and ultimately can't afford good players because they have no revenue. I saw they just hired a new manager who will fail because the players stink and no free agents will sign there because it's hopeless. These guys need to get themselves out of hiring the same old baseball guys doing the same old bullshit. They got to shake it up down there, no?

It's with that in mind that I have written a letter to their GM Neal Huntington to offer my services to turn that thing around...It's in the Nov 15th mail. Let's see if they decide to answer the door when opportunity knocks!

Greg Miller
P.O. Box 771101
Lakewood, OH 44107

Neal Huntington
Pittsburgh Pirates
PNC Park
115 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Dear Neal,

It has recently come to my attention that you have decided to hire John Russell on as your manager for the 2008 season. Now, I don’t know John personally, but he seems to be “a good baseball man”. Without question he has a proven track record in the minors, and seems to have the enthusiasm necessary for the task at hand. But you and I both know that the long Bataan Death March of an MLB season can take a toll on even the best of intentions when your starting pitching is as shaky as a house of cards on a windswept beach.

Neal, let’s cut to the chase here...I think both you and I suspect that this team might go south on John before you sneak into the playoffs. In 2008 you'll have that grace period of being in the first year. I would recommend spending a lot of time in the press next year talking about "building a foundation" and "creating a championship core of players". That will keep those sons of bitches in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette sports section off your ass for at least the first year. We're both rational, educated men. You and I both know that no matter what happens, you'll be able to point to the 4-6 players that produce next year and dangle the carrot of unrealistic expectations with them as key players in a Utopian future. It's when it all goes south in Year II that you'll need a scapegoat, and A New Plan For A New Tomorrow. That is when I step in...

That situation down there is no pretty picnic. It's a thankless job to toil in the sweatshop of MLB. Those two smug little Ivy League wunderkinds Epstein and Cashman don't have to deal with your Wal Mart payroll and limited revenue streams, now do they? Hell, everyone seems like a genius with $30 million to blow on a utility infielder and situational left hander. It seems to me that the situation down there needs a bit of a paradigm shift for any chance of success. Here's what I propose: Install me as the manager at the first sign of trouble. Granted, I have NO BASEBALL EXPERIENCE, but I do tend to succeed at everything I do.

The shocking move of installing a complete baseball outsider as a manager will, at first, be universally panned. Those clowns at ESPN will go crazy. What do they know? They're a bunch of C student journalism majors that couldn't cut it at the NY Times for God's Sake! Now they're making wise cracks while running down MLS soccer highlights in some fluorescent lit compound in Bristol, Connecticut. Do we really care about them?

The people of Pittsburgh...Now, that's another matter. These folks are tired of the losing. The people of Pittsburgh will probably call for your head on a stake outside of Gate A. Don't sweat it. The security installed at PNC Park makes the US Embassy in Iran green with envy. Your position between the rivers is a perfect defensive position. If necessary, I'm sure the staff can beat them back with fire hoses and tasers. The fans will be on board soon enough.

Now, I'm sure you are asking yourself what the possible upside is with me as your manager...

1) I have consistently guided my fantasy teams to the playoffs year after year. Granted, sitting in a major league dugout on Gameday may be different than knocking back cold PBR's on my couch watching the game on the tube, but the decision making process is the same. Take your best guys, put them out there, and give them a chance to make plays. Managing pitching? When Zach Duke gives up a couple screaming line drives to the bottom of the Padres order, it's time to bring in anyone to take a shot at getting the next few batters out. Jack Wilson shows up hungover after a tough loss in Houston? Shove him out there if he hit Wandy Rodriguez well last time and see what happens.

2) A manager effects 3-5 games a year in the won/loss column (depending on who you ask). As long as I don't pinch hit myself in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game, what could possibly go wrong? Tony LaRussa hits pitchers eighth, and sportswriters talk about him like he's Albert Fucking Einstein. I'll show up everyday, manage more by the book than Mike Hargrove, and look like I just split an atom. It's baseball. It's not like I'm trying to figure out those pesky tiles on the space shuttle.

3) Think about the mind crushing novelty of having a fan take over the dugout. I'm as personable as a hooker during Fleet Week. The fans will take to me like a bad habit. I'm one of them. Plus, think of the message you send to those under performing players. "Hey Jason Bay...We're paying you big money, and you hit .247? We just named a guy with no experience our manager. You think we won't put you to work in the right field bleachers selling Lemon Chills unless we see some production? Think again my little Canadian friend, think again. You are under contact, and we own you."

The bottom line is you have finally differentiated the Pittsburgh Pirates from the other also rans in MLB. The Pirates are the "Fun Team". The team that takes chances. The team that The Common Man can root for. How much am I worth in merch sales? $90-120 million easy. We'll be America's Team in a way the Dallas Cowboys could only dream of...Rap stars will wear our gear...Springsteen will write a song about us...Men will want to be us, and women will ache to be close to us. If we take a third of that estimated $100 million in merchandise into payroll, what do we have? You guessed it...a competitive ballclub.

Look, you made a commitment to John. I understand that. I'm not suggesting you don't see that through. I hope it works out. I really do. But from my vantage point, I'm just seeing the same plan producing the same result. It's time to shake it up. It's time for a new direction. It's time for a clearly under qualified manager to take the reins, and lead this organization back to the greatness of yore.

I look forward to you and I getting together to discuss the future of The Pittsburgh Pirates. Drop me a line to let me know the best time to get together. It looks like I may be in town in early December. I really think we can accomplish great things together. I anxiously await your response.


Greg Miller

P.S. I might have to miss a few weekend games due to gigs with my band The Whiskey Daredevils, but my buddy Rocque could fill in for me while I'm gone. I'd make him Bench Coach at the start of the season so the guys wouldn't feel weird about me being gone. He knows baseball really well, so I don't feel as if there would be much of a drop off while I was out. Once you get to know him, I'm sure you'll agree.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate Vacations

Here's why Mexico is a great place. I was in Cabo San Lucas at the Riu a couple weeks ago on business. The first night there, the company hosted a client dinner on the patio of the casual steakhouse restaurant at the resort. A single long table sat about 24 people, mostly middle aged to older couples that had just met each other and were engaged in "get to know ya" light conversation. After the entrees were served, a young woman quickly stalked into the room, walked up and down the back end of the table, and suddenly shoved one of the seated men in the back. It was very bizarre to see a woman in her early twenties, dressed in a nice sundress, shove a stranger and then stomp off without any apparent provocation. It was as if the resort had hired a surreal dinner theater troupe to add a little spice to the evening meal.

Everyone seated at the table became abuzz about trying to figure out exactly what the hell had happened when suddenly, in the main dining area, a crash resounded. This woman had stomped away from our area, and decided she was going to make a statement of some kind (which she did) by knocking an entire pastry tray to the ground. The odd thing was she didn't seem upset or angry, but rather pleased with her actions. Just as suddenly she left the dining area, walked out of the restaurant, and jumped into the nearby pool.

Who amongst us hasn't been on vacation and overdone it on the complimentary tequila? And who amongst us hasn't jumped into a resort pool fully dressed, and then shucked off our clothes to continue our night in our underwear?

Now the scene picks up a couple notches...The girl is now in her thong and bra, soaking wet, and has stepped back into the restaurant behind the grill area. The Mexican cooks don't know what to make of this, and they sure as hell are not going to wrestle some gringo chick fueled up on ecstasy, LSD, and too much well tequila to the ground as long as she keeps twirling that big spatula she took off the wall. The cooks literally do nothing but stare at her blankly. They don't call security. They don't try to get her out of "their" area. They don't even talk to her at all. They just stare straight ahead while the patrons of the restaurant start to chant "Jerry! Jerry!" in homage to the similarity the scene has to an episode of the Jerry Springer Show.

The woman is now posing for tourist photos (see above) and starts breaking plates. Tiring of this, she stomps out of the restaurant again with the entire restaurant population following her at a respectful pace to see what will happen next. After a quick walk around the pool, she decides she's heading back to the restaurant for more action. The problem is that now the diners have blocked her way as they are standing on the sidewalk in front of the entrance. Focused on the prize like a world class athlete (albeit soaking wet in a thong), she heads straight into the crowd, shoving men and women alike out of the way. It was then that she shoved a 60 year old woman down onto the tile. It was almost as if you could visibly see the years turn back, as her 60 year old husband shoved her in retribution into a nearby cactus. It was a real "bang-bang" play. Wife knocked down/girl chucked into cactus and sand...Bang! Bang!

Complete chaos then ensues as people tend to the fallen woman, another group took the underwear girl forcibly to a lounge chair, and the speculation about what had just happened and what would happen began. Two men held the out of control woman down to the chair, and her friend tried desperately to get her back under control.

Friend: "If you don't settle down, you're going to go to jail!"

Underwear girl: "I don't care! I don't care! Hahahahaha!"

The crowd begins to disperse, disappointed the real action has ended, and I notice a Mexican kid in a red t shirt standing around the edges of the crowd saying to no one in particular, "She was drinking all day. She was drinking all day." An intrepid fella like myself noted the girl had no loss of motor skills, spoke clearly and if I didn't know any better seemed a little cranked up. Hmmmm....Perhaps this young man sold her and her friend a little something and it might have been a little out of their league? No matter now, the cat is out of the bag, and the authorities have arrived.

At last, two security men show up after noticing a mob of people attending to a 60 year old woman with a busted head, and another group of men holding a young girl in her underwear down in a chair. One would think that might draw some attention, but it is Mexico, and weird shit happens all the time. It was then I noticed The Man With The Bag.

Look, if this had happened in a US resort town, she would have been wisked off and that's the last we would have heard of her. (In Vegas they might have chopped her hand off and left her to fend off buzzards in the desert with her bloody stump.) Everyone in the restaurant would have gotten a comp dessert, and a shot of some cordial like Bailey's. A couple minutes later, it would have been like it had never happened. Mexico is a little more forgiving of tourists (and their full wallets), so they let some things slide. Still, they have to try and get this clearly out of control woman in her underwear through the lobby and into some private room somewhere on the complex where she'll eventually get these cheap street drugs out of her system (and get back to the job of spending some dough on overpriced tropical drinks and souvenier sombreros).

The Man With The Bag had a leather satchel like a villain from a Sean Connery era Bond film. I don't know if he was a doctor, or had any medical training at all for that matter. All I know is that when most of the guests had drifted off to speculate amongst themselves the cause of such wild unrestained behavior, he very quietly produced a syringe full of something and shot it into our favorite little party girl. After about 10 minutes, the security team had poured her in a wheelchair, and she was very relaxed laughingly saying "Vamanos! Vamanos! Hahahaha!" as they wheeled her discreetly to a side exit.

Two days later, I saw the same girl walking by the pool like the whole thing had never happened. The woman she knocked over even had a pleasant little talk with her. All was forgiven, and it was all out in thr past. No litigation. No crazy threats of civil action. Everybody just went back to what they were doing.

Isn't Mexico great?