March Madness and the Day That Used to Be My Favorite of the Year

20 Mar

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It used to be my favorite day of the year. Someone—I think it was my friend Elliot—would bring in bunny ears for the TV. Someone else would be in charge of finding an unused television that was just lying around somewhere, and wheeling it into the far corner of our hallway, or maybe downstairs into the cafeteria, behind those fake walls. This was before smartphones and and iPads—back in my day, if I wanted to check my fantasy team in school, I had to go to the computer room, which for some reason was always open and classless—and so if my friends and I wanted to watch the first two days of the NCAA Tournament, and keep up on our brackets, this was the only way to do so.

I always thought that leaving high school and being either in college or in a job like that one that I have now, where I can pretty much watch every game, would make the NCAA Tournament more enjoyable. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to no longer have to sneak around, and watch games in increments of 15 minutes, the maximum amount of time I could stay out of history class without raising too much suspicion?

Turns out, part of what I loved about March Madness was this atmosphere. I still love the Tourney, but I don’t look forward to it the way I used to. Something about sitting there with a bunch of friends, all of us participating in the same pool with our brackets printed out and yelling at the TV, all of us (or maybe not all, but definitely some) constantly rotating between classes and quick game check-ins, it just made it all more special. Today, I’m going to sit here on my computer, do some writing, and some other work, and watch every single game. There won’t be a single major moment that I’ll miss.

And yet, it won’t be nearly as enjoyable as those days in high school were. That is unless I win a billion dollars. If that were to happen, I think I’d look back on this year’s NCAA Tournament and say that I had a pretty good time watching the games.

UPDATE: I had Ohio State, so yeah, this day sucks. I really thought I had a chance at that billion. 

Phil Jackson and the Knicks

18 Mar

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At first I was skeptical—I’m of the belief that if a man’s first response to being offered a job is How often do I have to come into the office, well, that’s usually not a good sign. Also, there are all the questions—legitimate ones—about whether Phil Jackson is actually qualified to run an NBA team. We know he can coach. But can he scout and deal with agents and recruit and hire smart basketball people and parse through advanced stats and foster change and teamwork from up in an office as opposed to from the locker room and the bench? Also, he’s kind of old.

Phil Jackson, President of the New York Knicks, is not guaranteed to be a success.

Here’s the thing, though: With the Knicks, you’re not dealing with a typical NBA team. The reality of the situation is different. Would it be nice if the Knicks could, for once, do something normal and hire a smart young guy who’s been busting his ass and who knows the modern game, and hand him the reigns, and ability, to, as The Daily Show would say, polish the turd that is the Knicks, like Daryl Morey has in Houston, and Sam Presti has in Oklahoma City, and  Ryan McDonough  has in Phoenix.

Of course it would. And it would be much cheaper, too. But this is the Knicks we’re talking about. Or, more precisely, these are James Dolan’s Knicks. They are not ran like other teams, unless that team is Daniel Snyder’s Washington Redskins. Men hired to make basketball decisions are then not allowed to do just that. You think some hotshot, 35-year-old first-time GM would be the one who Dolan finally leaves alone?

This is why the Jackson hire is something Knicks fans should be excited about. Phil Jackson is the type of person who might actually be able to operate freely in the Garden. He’s a legend, and a star, and if he works out, James Dolan will become known as the one who brought Phil home, meaning that Phil Jackson might be one of, like, five people in the world who Dolan would be willing to take a backseat to.

And that is the only chance the Knicks have. They are are not a normal sports franchise; being ran by a paranoid egomaniac kind of takes normalcy out of the air. The only chance the Knicks have of climbing out of the black hole that they’ve fallen into is for someone to wrestle the reigns away from James Dolan, something no one except Isaiah Thomas has been able to do. The key difference here is that Phil Jackson knows basketball and how to win whereas Isaiah has never proven to know how to do anything other than play basketball and run businesses and organizations into the ground. No, it’s not a sure thing that he can apply his skills to his new position.

But at least, it seems, he’ll be given a chance to do things his way. And for the Knicks, any way that’s not Dolan’s is progress..

Purim and Hamentashens

11 Mar

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Purim is the best Jewish holiday. Sure, this is just my subjective opinion, but if you think otherwise, well, you’re wrong.

It’s got everything you could want. Alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. And it’s only one day. And you get to eat a lot. Actually, that pretty much applies to every Jewish holiday. On Purim, though, there are no restrictions on using electricity—meaning that when you finish stuffing your face you can them migrate over to the couch and digest in front of the TV. Purim also has the best story of all the holidays—and to me, of the entire Hebrew Bible—in the Book of Esther, which is pretty much a  biblical version of Game of Thrones. There’s blood and sex and war and hatred and more blood and more sex  and no mention of God or the supernatural, which to me, just makes it a much more entertaining tale to read than any involving the splitting of a sea.

So yeah, I’m excited about Purim’s arrival. I love everything about it.

Except for the Hamentashens. Those I just don’t get.

For those non-Tribespeople who unfamiliar with this food, a hamentashen is a cookie, usually filled with jelly—though if you’re lucky, you get your hands on a chocolate chip one—that is rolled into a three-corner shape. Why three corners? Because Haman, the evil villain from the Book of Esther who pretty much was Hitler 1.0, supposedly wore a three-cornered hat when he was prancing around town.

Well, that’s not really the why, and this—and jelly, I don’t like jelly!—is what bothers me about these cookies. That why explains what three corners represents. What it does not explain is why we celebrate a holiday, and the Jewish people’s survival of an attempted genocide, by making a delicious cookie in the shape of the villain-of-the-story’s hat. This would be like celebrating the end of the Holocaust and downfall of Hitler by baking swastika-shaped cookies and sprinkling sugar on them. It just doesn’t make sense.

Make a cookie in the shape of a crown, to honor Queen Esther. Or a horse, for Mordechai. If you want to incorporate Haman into the rituals, do so in a way that mocks him (like booing him during the reading of the Book of Esther, which is already done), or makes people think about the vile person that he was. Don’t bake a dessert shaped like his hat that kids can’t wait to get their hands on.

Perhaps I’m missing something here—if I am please let me know—but to me, none of this makes sense, and this Purim I will be taking a stand against Hamentashens. It’s time to put an end to this nonsense.

Unless someone brings some chocolate ones. Or chocolate and peanut butter. Those are delicious and I’m sucker for pastries.

The Mets Are Still Looking for a Pre- and Post-Game Show Host. Here’s My Application:

28 Feb

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For some professional sports franchises, ineptitude is just contagious. It travels down from the owners box, into the front office, spreads onto the field, and oozes into every other part of the organization. The business and marketing side. Customer service. Ticket sales.

Even, in some cases, the broadcast booth.

This afternoon, WOR, who acquired the radio rights to Mets this winter—meaning for the first time since 1987 the Mets’ Lol-ness will not be heard on WFAN—will broadcast its first game of the year. A spring training affair against the Washington Nationals. As I write this, we have about three hours to go until the first pitch. 

And, as I write this, WOR has still yet to hire a pre- and post-game show host.

Ed Coleman, who has been doing pre- and post-game work for the Mets, and who I now assume is living on the street since I’m pretty sure he’s spent the past 35 years sleeping in the broadcast booths at Shea Stadium and Citi Field, is staying at WFAN. One would have assumed that filling this role would have been somewhat of a priority for the Mets/WOR, since, ya know, it’s kind of an important job. For that matter, though, so is that of the man who handles the majority of your investments—and yet Fred Wilpon seemed to have no problems letting things skate there. Why start now?

Anyway, since the team and station have apparently yet to see a résumé they like, I figured why not give it a shot. No, I haven’t spoken into a microphone since my senior year in college when the brilliant Chase Kressel and I managed to get NYU’s radio station to stop playing super-underground-indy-garage-drummy-wailing sounds for a half hour so that we could give scorching hot takes on sports. But I don’t see why that should be a problem.

Here’s the job description.

Clear Channel Communications, Inc. is the world’s largest radio and outdoor advertising company with leading market positions in each of its two business segments; Media & Entertainment and Outdoor.  Clear Channel is also one of the most innovative media players in the market – a leader in the converging media space, having developed best-in-class integrated media offers (e.g Radio/Web) and having built significant positions in the HD arena.

 We are on the hunt for a superstar with talent.  The successful candidate will have the proven ability to host pre- and post-game sports shows (including, but not limited to, live and recorded on-field interviews with players and coaches) as well as play-by-play game coverage.  Candidate should have an understanding of sports, news/talk and general radio programming principles.  Candidate should have a strong knowledge of baseball particularly.

And here’s my application.

Required Skills

Have the ability to think clearly and quickly under pressure situations: 
Last night, I woke up at 3 a.m because I have the bladder of a 97-year-old man. It was dark and cold and I had a friend sleeping over. Also, I just had knee surgery last week and am rocking a huge brace and walking with crutches. But, I needed to go, and I needed to quickly. Oh, also, without glasses my eyes are about as useful as American Hustle. They certainly leave me as confused. And yet, here I am now, a happy man working on a good night sleep and a piss-free sheets. You want pressure? Try finding the bathroom on one leg with no eyes in the middle of the night and in the dark. Oh, and my aim was perfect too.

So, let me ask you: Do I seem like the kind of person who would struggle talking about how the Mets’ incompetent bullpen, and lack of ability to hit baseballs, and catch baseballs, and do anything to make David Wright not feel like the Varsity kid playing on the JV, led to yet another loss?

Be able to work well with your producer:
I’ll one up you! In college, when I was breaking shit down on the radio, I was the producer! And me and myself always got along great.

Demonstrate solid news judgment:
This Tweet from yesterday is all me, baby. How’s that for news judgement!

Exercise self-discipline and time-management skills: 
This is one of those trick questions, right? Like list your greatest weaknesses. Asking a broadcaster who you are about to hire after the start of the season how his time management skills are? Also, I have never invested in anything that is too good to be true and always know where my money is. Actually, maybe I’m applying for the wrong job.

Ability to work well and in a professional under pressure and tight deadlines: 
Well, it took me  about two seconds to catch the typo in this sentence. That shows something, no? And if by tight deadlines we mean working at the same speed that you guys are to fill this position, well then I’m your man.

Enjoy being promotionally active with listeners and clients: 
I’d say about 80 percent of my Friday nights are spent at a Shabbat table with somewhere between 8-14 people. Jews are bred for small dinner parties, the way Kennedy’s are for politics, and nobody I know is better at entertaining a handful of people than me.

Required Experience

Minimum of 3 years on-air pre- and post-game, sports talk and play-by-play experience:
Experience is overrated. Just ask your manager and general manager and owners. I mean, I’m willing to bet the person in charge of filling this position in time for the season has tons of experience—and look how well that’s going.

Candidate would need to travel to all away New York Mets baseball games: 
You guys can still cover expenses, though, right? I should add, kosher food is more expensive.

Be social media savvy:
Ah, and here I was about to explain how I have an understanding of Twitter that rival’s Darren Rovel’s. In fact, I think his list is too short. But then I realized that this is probably where most applicants are stumbling. The Mets (who I believe are in charge of these hires, or at least involved them. If not, whoops.) don’t want employees who are savvy in social media the way other team’s employees are. The Mets like to be outside the box. You guys want someone who knows how to keep fans guessing and on their toes. Who knows how to keep all information coded, and who can engage the fan bases without even removing the phone from his pocket.

So, here you go:

Have a deep knowledge of all FCC rules and regulations:
If it’s a word or phrase I’d usually use to describe the Mets or one of their games, I promise not to use it.

Cabin Fever

25 Feb

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I’m currently watching Super Troopers—a classic, by the way—for the second time in the past 12 hours. In the past five days I’ve watched Olympus Has FallenSkyfallMission Impossible 4Manhattan-figured I should add some actual cinema to my movie binge—Never Back Down, Fast and the Furious 2 and a handful of other awesomely awful films.

I’ve gotten thirty seconds of fresh air in the past five days.

I’ve spent about 36 of my past 48 hours sitting in the same recliner. It’s seat now permanently carries an imprint of my ass, which I’m pretty sure is actually starting to meld with the chair’s leather.

My armpits have rashes, the clearing out of my morning coffee is no longer a relaxing part of my day that I look forward to since I cannot bend my left knee, and taking a shower is now as exhausting as biking a mile.

Last Thursday I had knee surgery to repair my apparently slightly torn meniscus, an injury that I’m not really sure how I sustained. Now I’m going stir crazy; I believe cabin fever is what it’s called. I’m working on a bunch of stories, but some of the reporting has currently stalled and now, well, I. Am. Bored.

I have nothing really interesting or insightful to add—unless anyone wants to read a review of Gerard Butler ability to portray a secret service agent defending the White House against North Korea. What I do have is an extremely sweaty and sticky back.

I better be able to dunk when this is all done.

Michael Sam

10 Feb

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Chris Kluwe says he was cut by the Vikings because he had become such a loud proponent of gay rights. His special teams coach at the time said that all gays should be dropped on an island and then nuked.

Jonathan Vilma said just last week that he wouldn’t want a gay teammate because oh my God they won’t be able to keep from checking out his glorious body in the shower. Adrian Peterson, the NFL MVP just one season ago and one of the faces of the league, has said that he’s “not with it” when asked about his thoughts on gay marriage.

Kerry Rhodes, a former All-Pro safety who is just 31-years-old, can’t seem to find a job in a league full of defenses struggling to contain opposing passing units. You see, Rhodes might be gay, and teams like the Jets apparently would rather have the more incompetent, less-jacked Landry brother lining deep for them because at he likes girls. And these are just the stories we know about.

This is the league and society that Michael Sam will now be entering.

This is a big deal, and something that matters.

Michael Sam is the man.

(After writing this, I decided to elaborate a bit more on these thoughts over on TDdaily.com. Check it out).

Super Bowl Boulevard

30 Jan

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Time to pimp some more of my work. I spent Wednesday walking around Super Bowl Boulevard and freezing my ass off. Here’s what I wrote about the experience, and here are some of my favorite pictures from the day. Hope you enjoy.

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