Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nurse the Hate: Hate Kid's Sports

When I was a kid we used to have Little League. Every summer six teams were formed from the neighboring communities. We'd get some boring sponsor, a logo would be placed on the back of the jersey, and the Shannon's Auto Wrecking Pirates would hit the diamond. We'd win some games, lose some games, and have fun. About six weeks later there would be a championship game, a few kids got trophies, and everyone would go home. Good fun without a lot of hassle...

I am shocked at the current state of kid's sports. When did this shit get so out of control? I've got friends of mine getting up at 5am on a Saturday to drive four hours so their kid can play in a double elimination tournament all weekend. Another one cuts a check for $1500 to their 9 year old kid's team manager. What, is this guy the pre teen version of Joe Fucking Torre? "Listen Brendan, I know you like to chew gum when you bat, but if I let you chew gum, the next thing you know Dylan and Tristen will want to chew gum too. You and I know those kids can't hold your tiny little jock strap, but still, we're building a championship caliber team here. I need everyone on the same page. I need you to lead these kids out there. Now...let's get those shoes of yours tied and go beat the crap out of the Bay Village Lil Rockets."

The source of the problem appears obvious; unfulfilled dreams of the parents. They figured the only reason they flamed out was because they just didn't have the right coaching. Or maybe if their parents had only pushed them into more practice. If only I could have attended a specialty baseball camp for $5000! Well, if that had happened, that might be me out there right now hitting fourth for the Red Sox fist bumping Big Papi in the dugout on Fox's Game of the Week!

This just in...the reason you and everyone you know doesn't play professional sports is because you are not a freak of nature. When scouts go to look at kids they want to know the following: how tall are you, how much do you weigh, how fast can you throw the ball, and how fast can you run. Do you think these guys give a shit if Brendan was MVP at the Twin Oaks invitational when he was 14 years old? Do they look at batting stats and measure the level of competition? Nope, they want to see if that awkward 6 foot 4 inch kid on the bench nobody pays attention to can chuck a ball through a wall. If he has the genetic gifts, they'll teach him how to pitch/hit later. The Giants starting center fielder went to something called Mississippi Shores Community College. If you have the gifts, they'll find you. Don't worry. They'll find you.

So, are you going to teach your kid how to run a 4.4 forty? Maybe teach him to grow out of that 5-10 frame? Sorry kid...maybe you can walk on at Ohio Dominican. The good news is that the payoff of that decade your entire family spent driving around the Midwest to kid baseball tournaments from age 8-18 is that you can now play college ball in front of 19-37 somewhat interested onlookers in lawn chairs. Live the dream...

Despite the fact that all these suburban families must know in their heart of hearts that's true, they just can't give up chasing The Dream. For argument's sake, let's say that their intentions are noble and they want their kids to have The Good Life. (Although, I have a sneaking suspicion they want to hang out in a luxury suite, get on network TV shots, make outrageous demands of the Professional Sports Team, and spend the kid's money like drunken sailors. Forget that.) Why put your efforts into something you can't really control for the most part? The kid can either throw 95 mph or he can't. Why expend all this money and effort at baseball camp, when you could actually get some return for the effort at let's say, Math Camp.

There are 750 players in Major League Baseball at any one time. These players are from the entire planet. I think we can say it's a fairly large pool of prospects we are pulling from, no? Let me put into perspective the chance of playing at the major league level, even for just one at bat. If you are a high school baseball player, you have a 16,000-1 chance of appearing in a MLB game. Meanwhile, if you walk up to an average American walking down the street, there is a 15,000-1 chance they speak Cherokee Indian. Kind of gives you an idea of the chances of playing pro ball, no?

Here's the good news. The average major league salary is just shy of $3 million a year. That's pretty good cake. The average career lasts for 5 years. So if you somehow make it, you'll gross $15 million. Now you have to pay your agent, taxes, etc... Let's say you have a great accountant that you actually listen to. You don't buy a diamond house with mink sinks, and don't marry that gold digging 22 year old bleached blond with the breast implants you met at BW-3 while you were playing AA ball in New Mexico. I'd say you keep a third of our money. That puts you at 5 million (give or take) to be one of 750 guys that "make it".

Meanwhile, let's look at 350 of the largest corporations based in the United States. The average salary is $6 million a year for a CEO. Of course, you don't have to hit a 94 mph splitter to get that. You blow your knee out, you just show up at work in your knee brace and keep plugging away. That's the kind of gig you can stay around and get comfortable in. You can bank that $6 million for 10-20 years. On top of that, since you are a CEO, you help make the rules regarding tax laws with your crafty lobbyists at your beck and call. Even if you only keep half of what you gross (which is highly unlikely...I'd say 75% is more likely), you're at $60 million dollars.

So why aren't families talking about how they've got their child on the road to study with Bill Gates or Jack Welch for two weeks? "Yeah, Billy's breaking down some P&L numbers with Jack this weekend trying to figure out what the best move is on the home appliance division. It's costing us $1200, but after this weekend, he'll be networked in with everyone at the top of GE." Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't that be a better long range plan for the well being of the child as opposed to thinking he's destined for Cooperstown? Clearly, this driving around the country for overblown child sports tournaments and dreaded "travel leagues" is not for the kids. (Side note: I live in NE Ohio. There are 1.75 million people here. You mean to tell me that 9 kids have to drive three hours away to get a competitive game up with 9 other kids their own age? Do you mean to tell me that 12 year olds in Avon Lake OH really have the itch to see how they stack up against other 12 year olds in Morgantown WV?)

Let's put an end to this fiasco. To save face, we can chalk it up to the new #1 excuse in America: The High Cost of Gasoline. "Brendan, due to The High Cost of Gasoline, we can't drive to Dayton this weekend for your games. Let's just head to the local park and play there. Oh yeah, afterwards, let me see your math homework."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nurse the Hate: Hate Gettin' Old

I thought I should share this photo someone sent to me. It's shocking when you see what Keith really looks like... Wow. (Last weekend Keith went to Ron Wood's scary looking daughter's wedding. I think he was there to make the bride look nice on "her special day".)

Random Notes: Now is a good time to pound the Brewers at home. They seemed to have turned some kind of corner at the plate and are smashing the ball. The public hasn't caught on yet, so the lines are pretty reasonable... I lost a big one last weekend on that Miranda/Abraham fight. It looks like Miranda is done as a legit contender at 160 lbs. I wish someone would have told me that before Sat night!...That new My Morning Jacket record is a piece of crap. Yet another band that has fallen into the trap Johnny Ramone said must be avoided at all costs. To paraphrase Johnny, "What band ever got better by changing what they did that first made them noteworthy? There's only one in rock history...The Beatles and you ain't them.". Smart guy...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nurse the Hate: Hate Keith Richards

I am about to utter the ultimate rock and roll blasphemy...Keith Richards is a blowhard. There it is. It's out there. Now, before you lose your mind and dare ask how I defile the original rock n roll diety, let me explain.

About a month ago I read an article in GQ about Keith Richards. It was a piece that was seemingly placed with the sole ambition of promoting Keith's new sponsorship deal with Louis Vuitton luggage. (God knows he must need that promo money. Quick, what's more leathery? Keith or the $5000 bag? shot!) In that article, there was the usual free pass that Mr. Richards enjoys in the press. Every article goes like this..."Keith, can you still party like you did in 1972?", asks the breathless interviewer. Keith answers vaguely, "Argh, Mate! You know, it's rock n' roll! Heh Heh Heh..." Uh, what? Follow up question: "So, what's it like being a dangerous man?" Keith then pulls out some knife or something, "I just gut anyone that gets in me way!".

As far as I know, Keith Richards has never actually gotten into a real fight with anyone except that hapless kid that got belted with Keith's guitar in the back of the head when he ran onstage towards Mick in 1981 in Hampton. Yet, he somehow has started to believe this press about him being some kind of pirate, and he thinks he's going to cut people up with his knife. C''re a 64 year old kazillionaire that hasn't so much as wiped his own ass since the early 1960s. Even that flimsy story about him pulling a gun on a local in St Tropez during the Exile sessions doesn't hold up under the light, and he really was out of control then. By the way, that was thirty six (36) years ago.

Anyone read that "interview" where Keith preens in front of Jack White and Hollywood's #1 starfucker Johnny Depp in Rolling Stone a few weeks back? Johnny has apparently latched onto Keith as New Father He Never Had #2, since Hunter S. Thompson inconveniently died leaving him orphaned. "I couldn't have pretended I was a pirate unless I saw Keith pretend he was a pirate first!" Then Keith responds with "Argh Me Matey!" Really heady stuff...

Anyway, that's all fine by me. The guy has definitely earned a pretty wide berth. Wrote some good songs, and so on. Did a few noteworthy things. Lived a very interesting life. However, I pick up an issue of Blender in a waiting room yesterday and see this stuff...

"Keith Richards still carries a knife for self-defense. The 64-year-old Rolling Stones' guitarist keeps a knife with a six-inch blade tucked in his pants.

According to Richards, he learnt how to use the knife while he was in Jamaica. As he told Blender magazine, "The actual cut doesn't hurt. All the blood comes down, and then you kick the f**ker in the balls. It's a very efficient way of dealing with problems. I learned it in Jamaica. I've always carried one."

You know how big that tough guy is? He's 5-10 and 138 lbs. I've taken bigger shits than him. You're telling me that this millionaire musician and his posse of pale Brits were getting in knife fights with Kingston street thugs when the Stones recorded there in the 70s? Uh, I don't think so... Those Kingston guys shot Marley and Tosh. You think they're going to give some 138 lb English drug addict a pass? "Quick back into the ghetto! That little leathery guy just knifed Toots! " Enough already...Keith, the stories swirling around you are good enough. Don't be like the 75 year old at the VFW Hall and start embellishing your war record. We know you were there. You don't have to impress us. You already did that years ago. Sometimes you say the most when you say the least. You don't hear Jimmy Page talking shit about conjuring up demons, do you? No way. Dude keeps that nice and private.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Nurse the Hate: Hate Deadlines

I realize I have been very quiet, but I have been hard at work trying to tame the lengthy tour diary document. Look for it this week as the cover story in the Cleveland Free Times, and a more full length option on their web site. That comes out Wed June 10th? 11th? Something like that...

Quick Notes: It's a real drag to come home to the United States and see what a bunch of slobs live here. The gate at Newark going to Cleveland was a horror show. Really, is there any reason to be 275 lbs and waddling around in sweat pants? How about wearing some clothes that match? Was that unicorn tattoo on your calf really necessary? Here's another idea! How about straightening out that stupid gold baseball cap on your head. Take some pride in your appearance, and get your shit together. It's embarrassing...I love the Twins today at +150 vs the White Sox. Those slugs from Chicago won't keep scoring runs like they have this week, and Hernandez is the perfect guy to slow them down. At +150 it's well worth the risk...Does the NBA Finals smell like professional wrestling? What good luck to have the Lakers v Celtics in the Finals right after a point shaving scandel was quickly swept under the rug. It seems a little too according to script, no?