Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Football In Jolly Old England

Now that the Pats are home from their splendid experience across the pond against the Junior Varsity Buccaneers, I think it would be appropriate to make some observations about the NFL's obsession with American football in London, and their desire to put a franchise there. Only in America do we associate football with pigskin. Football means soccer everywhere else in the world but here. This is the main reason why football wouldn't work in the UK. It's not part of the culture. There are no Pop Warner or youth leagues in London, nor are there any High School programs that I know of, and there certainly is not any college football. It's just another chance for the owners to cash in on another marketing opportunity. And for those of you who work in Marketing, you know how often the truth is up for interpretation. So they want to put an expansion franchise in London. Before they do, I have some questions I'm sure every football fan is asking themselves:

Could Plaxico Burress stay out of trouble considering the fact that not even police carry guns in London?

Would the Gatorade buckets be filled with strawberries and cream?

Would British players wear two mouthguards because they have bad teeth?

Would the parking lots smell like fried fish?

Would fans buy beer even though its warm and called bitter?

Do the bloody players have to clean the bloody blood off their own bloody uniforms?

Could teams like the Cowboys and Bengals(the All-Convict Teams) deal with pubs closing at 11PM?

I think we can all agree, sarcasm aside and NFL owners excluded, that the NFL in London is a bad idea. For starters, travel would be a 12 hour flight each way for teams like Seattle, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco. Not only that, if they do have an afternoon game in London, say 1PM, people on the West Coast would have to be ready for kickoff at 5AM on a Sunday. Yeah that'll get good ratings. There's no benefit for players either. The only ones, who benefit? Surprise, the owners. And even Bob Kraft is pushing the NFL in London idea, despite the fact that he won't give up a home game. Could that be because every game since 1994 in New England has been a sellout, and Kraft would also lose over 1 million dollars in parking revenue? Having lived in London myself, I love England's grandest city. Not for American football though. Try something else NFL.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oysterfest

There are a number of things that make Autumn in New England special. Football in Foxboro, Fires in the fireplace, foliage and frost on the trees. But one festival on the Cape brings my family back every year, and it's not Octoberfest. It's the Wellfleet Oysterfest, and the world's best oysters. Wellfleets have the best flavor by far, but this festival is much more than just shellfish with a smooth, salty ocean flavor. There are almost 100 businesses selling arts, crafts, food, beer, and other items native to the Cape. For the ninth year, Wellfleet holds this festival honoring the town's long history with the shellfishing industry. There's a 5k road race, facepainting and activities for the kids, shucking contests, cooking demonstrations, live bands, wine tastings, and tennis round robin among other activities. There is also speaker series that takes a look at the history of an industry that dates back to ancient Roman times, and how shellfishing survives today despite limited resources.

You can eat oysters in just about every way possible at this festival: grilled, fried, on the halfshell. There's oyster stew, oyster fritters, and Sam Adams even created an oyster stout specifically for this event. Unfortunately for those of you who like your oysters at the bottom of a shot, I didn't see them serving oyster shooters at this open air party. Head over to the Bookstore Cafe by the harbor, and I'm sure the bartender will hook you up. I like mine stright from the cold water, high salt beds of Wellfleet Harbor. There is no substitute for the briny, salty, ocean flavor of a Wellfleet oyster. Add cocktail sauce, champagne mignonette, or tabasco if you'd like; but for me it takes away from the fresh flavor. Thousands make the trip out from all over the country and the world. Crowds can make the weekend feel an upscale version of Harpoonfest, and northeastern rudeness can make it's way into this quaint little village on the Cape. But if you enjoy oysters, chowder, and everything seafood, this is the place to be in the middle of October. Why? because as it says on a number t-shirts for sale, "Eevryone can use a good shuck."

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Most Secure Job You Can Find

Under these brutal economic circumstances over 15,000,000 are out of work with more than 150,000 people losing their jobs each month. There is a job however, where you can make a lot of money, have great job security, and never pay any consequences for your mistakes. From 2001-2009 this job was known as President of the United States. Today, this job is known as a Major League Baseball Umpire, a National Football League Official, or NBA referee. Yes sir, ladies and gentlemen screwing up on the field may mean a trip to the minors for many baseball players, but for umpires it means a trip to the playoffs and a chance to work the most important games of the season. And if you play your cards right, maybe you can affect those games too. Same thing in the NFL and NBA. All you have to do is look at how poorly the Super Bowl was officiated last year. The NBA is probably the worst of all the leagues and even had an official, Tim Donaghy, bet money on games that he officiated.

Recently, officiating in professional sports has hit an all time low. The baseball playoffs have been a prime example. CB Bucknor gave the Angles two extra outs in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox with two missed calls at first base. In the Yankees-Twins series Joe Mauer hit a double that was ruled foul, when you clearly see at full speed that ball was about 8 inches fair. The Colorado Rockies lost a game last night where the umpires blew two calls on ONE PLAY.

During yesterday's Pats game, an official through a flag on Brandon Merriweather for Pass Interference, and then changed the call to Taunting. The problem was, the official threw the flag before Merriweather taunted the Broncos receiver. In other words, he knew Merriweather would taunt the opposing player before it happened, or he didn't want to pick up yet another ill-advised penalty flag. So they made something up. These calls even happen on the tennis court. The famous incident where Serena Williams verbally abused a line judge happened when that line judge called a foot fault at match point. I don't excuse Serena's behavior, but making that call at match point is like passing gas during the blessing at Thanksgiving Dinner; not an appropriate time.
I did a little searching on MLB.com on how to get an umpires job, and how much they get paid. This is what I found.

Professional umpires currently begin their Minor League career at $1,800 per month. At the Major League level, salaries range from approximately $84,000 to $300,000 per year.

Even more disturbing is the job description I found on MLB.com for umpires. It's listed below. Look at the second question asked. This is where the problem lies.

How to Become an Umpire
Have you ever stopped to think about what it would be like to be an umpire? To know the fate of a game rests in your hands? What would it be like to suit up and call the shots each day?

I always thought the fate of games should be left in the hands of players. But if you like control and 300,000 dollars a year, you too can be an umpire. Not a bad gig.