Tuesday, December 4, 2018

When the Rare Becomes Commonplace

Never seen before together in one place
 I like beer. Chances are you do too. Actually, there's more than a chance, there's probably a pretty good certainty considering the popularity of local breweries nowadays.

Of course, some local breweries are more popular than others. One of those local breweries that has drawn national- nay, international attention- for their beer has been Russian River Brewing Company, based in Santa Rosa, CA, about 40 miles north of San Francisco (which used to be a 40 minute drive, and now it's an hour-plus. But I digress).

If you like beer, you have heard of them. You probably know about them because of their limited release Pliny the Younger, a Triple IPA that has won a zillion awards and every year causes beer fans to line up for hours around the block to consume it (and then it's randomly available at restaurants that don't advertise they have it so you can just slide in and get some- trust me because it's happened).

Now, their notable year-round release is Pliny the Elder, a Double IPA that hard to find outside of Northern California, with the occasional jaunt into Southern Oregon. It is even difficult to find outside of their home base of Santa Rosa. I do not live far from Santa Rosa, and yet for a long time one needed to know the weekly shipping day of Russian River Brewing in order to get bottles of Pliny the Elder at the store nearest to me. And there is an enforced two-bottle limit per person. Yes, two bottles per person. It feels like rationing because it is. At least Pliny the Elder has been available in bottles, even with that limit. Other RR brews, such as Blind Pig, a mere "regular" IPA, were simply impossible to find in bottles anywhere. (Although the bar attached to the home of the San Francisco Giants, Public House, nearly always has Blind Pig on draft and available on game days).

In many ways it's been more fun to have Russian River beers challenging to find. Because they insist on freshness and constant refrigeration for their brews, their distribution area has been limited. As a result, when I find one I am more than likely to get it as opposed to something else, because it makes the product more desirable. I am certainly not alone in this thinking, and have named and written about the phenomena "Enforced Scarcity."

This phenomena is not limited to beer that you can't get in a lot of places, although it is certainly one of the easiest ways to explain it. The surge in popularity of "In-N-Out Burger" over recent years is another example. Simply, people want what they don't have easy access to. You can get a Big Mac everywhere, you can only get a Double Double some places. Thus, Double Doubles are more attractive than Big Macs, even though they really are the same thing.  

The most pop-culture explanation of Enforced Scarcity, and I am not kidding, is the plot of "Smokey and the Bandit." From Wikipedia:

"Wealthy Texan Big Enos Burdette and his son Little Enos seek a trucker willing to bootleg Coors beer to Georgia for their refreshment... They find local legend Bo "Bandit" Darville... and offer him $80,000 to pick up 400 cases of Coors from Texarkana (the closest place it could be legally sold at that time), and bring it back to Atlanta in 28 hours."

Yes, Virginia, there was a time when Coors beer was a desirable product because it was hard to find outside of major shipping lines. It was a story similar to RR, where the folks in Golden, Colorado insisted it be shipped refrigerated all the time, which limited their distribution path. I remember, and I swear to you this is true, my uncle from the great Pacific Northwest wanting to drink nothing but Coors when he came to California on vacation because Coors beer was unavailable north of the California border. This is true.

The question, then, is what happens to the popularity of something rare when it becomes commonplace? Will it lessen the appeal of the product, or will that make it more popular? In many cases there is an initial surge and then a drop-off, although a steady climb back to surge levels and beyond it is certainly possible. You pass Coors in the store wherever you are nowadays and don't give it a second thought because it will always be there. There was a time not so long ago when it wasn't, but you don't go around coveting that yellow can, do you?

So when Russian River announced an expansion, I was curious to see the reaction. They built a new brewery and brewpub in Windsor, a few miles north of their base location in Santa Rosa. The brewery, naturally, is to increase the production line and make those bottle of beer more prevalent. I know for certain I am not the only Bay Area beer drinker surprised just how damn hard it is to find their beer in a bottle outside of their weekly shipping day. (I occasionally, when I know I have needed Pliny the Elder for a special occasion, have gone to the store quite close to opening time on shipping day to get my two-bottle limit because I have been there on shipping day in the afternoon and it's all been gone.)

I have never actually been inside their original downtown Santa Rosa brewpub for every time I am in Santa Rosa there seems to be something going on that would cause it to be overflowingly full. I am not interested in peak capacity crowds, I am interested in being able to stretch out for a bit.

Russian River opened their Windsor brewpub in August, with moderate first-day expectations. The place seats about 200, there's a dedicated parking lot, and they figured that would take care of everybody who wanted in.

They were wrong. In a couple of hours the parking lot was completely full and close to 1,500 people who like beer wanted inside

That takes care of the surge. Having not attempted to visit the new place I can't tell you what the line looks like now, but I expect it is a bit smaller.

And today I saw proof that the production line is up and running and Enforced Scarcity is no longer going to be an issue for RR in the Bay Area- it's that picture at the top of the column. Both of their standard year-rounders in bottles (Pliny, of course, but also the 1st time I've seen Blind Pig in a bottle in a store) and some of their even rarer brews that may now become commonplace- Consecration, Sanctification, and Supplication, and STS Pils (which I don't believe I've ever had before).   

Which leads to the question- will more RR beer becoming available be a bad thing? Coming from a place of scarcity, that seems like a very silly question. Of course not, is the first response. But if it becomes readily available, and consistently, will you want Pliny or will you want something else?

You're right, it is a silly question. More Pliny will never be a bad thing.

But still, remember the story of Coors...

photo of beer by author, the Bandit courtesy IMDB

Sunday, December 2, 2018

CFP Rankings Review: Have We Learned Anything?

Before the first college football playoff rankings of the season in October, I wrote a college football playoff primer about what you needed to know about the committee and their thinking (this merely based on watching the committee operate). I included a few rules for the Final Rankings that determine the playoff, so let's revisit the rules and see how the committee stuck to them.

A. Any undefeated Power 5 team will get in

Well, this one seems pretty obvious but bears repeating. And yes, I included Notre Dame as part of the "Power 5" for these purposes. To not include an undefeated team from the big conferences would say that they played a terrible schedule, and since the Power 5 conferences created the playoff, that would look very, very bad for them.

So even though Notre Dame's best win was over Michigan in week one before the Wolverines knew what they were doing, and almost lost to a Pitt team that got stormed over by Clemson in the ACC Title game in the rain (thus the "storm" pun), and looked very sketchy against USC in their last game of the regular season, they won all their games so they're in.

You could also make a fair case that Clemson's schedule was pretty darned soft- their closest wins were against Texas A&M and Syracuse- but considering out of the 120 or so teams that could be considered for the playoff only four of them finished undefeated and three of them play in Power 5 conferences (sorry, UCF), they are going to the playoff, end of story.

B. A conference that doesn't get into the Playoff will most likely get two teams into the "New Year's Six" Bowls.

Okay, so this one was the sketchiest of my three rules because it hasn't happened every time- and it didn't happen this year, as Washington State got passed over for a New Year's Six Bowl and the SEC got THREE teams in (I have no idea how 9-3 Florida got a big bowl over 10-2 Wazzu that was in contention for the playoff until two weeks ago, when they lost to Washington).

Florida lost to Kentucky, Georgia, and Missouri. Washington State lost to USC (on a non-targeting-call that was revealed to have been overturned by a Pac-12 executive who is still part of the review process) and Washington. The Cougs were shut out of a prominent bowl in favor of a team that lost to Mizzou? The Cougs are ranked lower than a team that was not even heard from outside of Gainesville after the last week of October? Maybe they're just trying to really let the Pac-12 know that they're a joke (not that they need any outside help in that regard).

C. A two-loss team will never get in over a one-loss team

Ah, here's the one that I knew for certain. There seems to be a lot of people out there who still don't understand that this is a rule that will never, ever be broken. Even though the committee- no matter who's been on on it- has adhered to since the first year.

Look, there was no chance Georgia was getting in the playoff. None. Zero. A two-loss team will never get in as long as there's a one-loss team. It's what happened in 2016 when Penn State, a two-loss conference champion, didn't get in over one-loss Ohio State, whose only loss was to Penn State.

Losses. Are. A. Big. Deal. For. The. Committee.

Is Georgia better than Oklahoma or Ohio State? Probably. But if two-loss Georgia gets in, then what the hell is the point of going undefeated? Take a "scheduled loss" like teams do in the NBA and don't worry about it. No, that's not how it works.

A one-loss team looks better than a two-loss team.

And as for one-loss conference champion Oklahoma getting in over one-loss conference champion Ohio State? Well, maybe Ohio State's one loss shouldn't have been by 29 points to Purdue. Considering Oklahoma's only loss was on a neutral field to Texas who they then beat in the Big 12 Title game. That's as near as I can figure how that worked out, which is probably how it went down.

Which leads me to the final rule which I thought would never have to be written down.

D. No Team That Loses To Purdue By 29 Will Ever Made The Playoff.   

Yet, it's still true.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Kansas Football: Is Les Miles More or Fewer?

Will Les mean more?
A long time ago, when my non-sports fan family discovered the name of the then-LSU head coach, they were appalled. Being English majors and VERY knowledgeable about the use of plurals, they are more than happy to tell you when you use plurals wrong. Especially the difference between "fewer" and "less." It's incorrect English to say you have "less things." If it ends with "s" you (most of the time) use "fewer." It means you have "fewer things" and you have "less stuff."

So when they discovered the LSU football coach was named "Les Miles," like I said, they were appalled. They didn't understand how his parents could have intentionally done that and made that big of an English grammatical error.

So we jokingly called him "Fewer Miles."

Every place I have worked, and Les Miles has come up in conversation, I have told that story.

Little did I know then, years ago when "Fewer Miles" was named, that he would become Kansas Football's head coach. My alma mater's head coach. Who cycles through head coaches like I do jobs.

I will continue to tell anyone who will listen that David Beaty got a raw deal as KU head coach. There have been a lot of KU coaches who brought their dismissal upon themselves. A lot.

Beaty was put in a place where he needed at least seven years to become successful, because his first year KU had 38 scholarship players (I wrote about this) and when Penn State lost a bunch of scholarships because of their scandal they were reduced to 65 scholarship players, or the amount of players Beaty finally had on scholarship THIS Year, in his 4th year. He was not put in a very good place to succeed.

As a result, when we all found out that new Athletic Director Jeff Long was friends with Les Miles and had been for at least 20 years, Beaty and all of us knew his days were numbered if he didn't take KU to a bowl game this year.

No coach can win six football games in a season with 65 scholarship players, unless his name is Saban.

Thus, Beaty is out and Miles is in.

Which, if you've been following KU football for several years, is exactly what got Beaty hired, and Charlie Weis hired, and so on and so on and so on.

The pattern is this: Athletic director hires new football coach, whom he knew previously. Football coach does poorly. The athletic director leaves his position, voluntarily or otherwise. Football coach continues to do poorly, and leaves his position, voluntarily or otherwise. Athletic director hires new football coach, whom he knew previously.

There is another, ominous pattern here: The previous experience of KU head football coaches.

Let's go back to the hiring of Glen Mason, way back in the glory years of two Aloha Bowl wins in three years, and go through the results. (If you haven't been drinking up until now, let me warn you that this will only make you want to start, and start heavily.)

Coach                     Ever Head Coach before?    KU record                             why did he leave?

Glen Mason               yes                                  47-54-1 (2 bowl wins)       he thought Minnesota was a better job

Terry Allen                 yes                                   21-35                                  fired

Mark Mangino            no                                    50-48  (3 bowl wins)               ate the buffet

Turner Gill                  yes                                   5-19                                        fired     

Charlie Weis               yes                                   6-22                                     ate the replacement buffet

David Beaty               no                                     6-42                                    had his eye on the replacement replacement buffet

Les Miles                   yes                                     ??                                                 ??

Anything jump out at you? For me, it's after Glen, everybody who'd been a head coach before was terrible. As for the guys who hadn't been, well, you know how I think Beaty got screwed, and Mangino won as many bowl games as KU had COMBINED in the previous 100-whatever years of the program (of course only 20 schools went to a bowl game a year until ESPN realized it was a teevee cash cow and now 70 schools go to a bowl game a year).

The next big strike against Fewer Miles is his age. He's 64, easily the oldest guy on this list whether you count age of first game or age of last game. When I was there in the Glen Mason era I thought he was easily in his 50's, maybe 60- and he left for the Minnesota job when he was 47.

Weis was hired when he was 55. Mangino is the same age as Weis, meaning he was hired when he was 46, or one year younger than Mason when he left. Beaty was 44.

A 64-year-old is gonna turn this thing around? A 64-year-old who was fired at LSU partially because he refused to change his offense?

Is it too soon to fire Fewer Miles for Kliff Kingsbury?

photos: twitter/KUFootball

more or fewer?


Monday, October 29, 2018

A CFP Rankings Primer

 We're just about to see the first week of the College Football Playoff Rankings, which means people are about to go insane complaining about nothing.

Which is fine, kind of, because it gives people something to talk about, and god knows there's ten thousand hours of radio and podcast time to fill up nowadays. Seriously, who listens to all these? It's really easy to talk for an hour, it's much harder to listen for an hour. I subscribe to more than a few podcasts that are done by people whose opinions I like because they seem well informed when they write stuff, and their 'casts are about ten minutes of good content and 90 minutes of nothing. I learn more reading their stuff for five minutes than I do listening to them talk. My general rule is that if your podcast is more than 45 minutes, you've gone too far and need to do some serious editing and thinking about what kind of gunk you are spewing, because as a good writer you would never allow that stuff to be published.

But that's not why we're here. We're here to remind ourselves the crucial unwritten rules of the CFP committee and what they're trying to accomplish. The committee will never say this out loud, but you need to remind yourself of this when the rankings come out every week.

1.  The first rankings mean nothing

The first top 4 of the year could very well be undefeated Alabama, undefeated Clemson, and two of the three one-loss teams: LSU, Michigan, or Ohio State, with undefeated Notre Dame on the outside looking in.

This would naturally cause Lou Holtz, wherever he is, (and that is currently on YouTube doing a show with Mark May that's averaging fewer than 100 views a go) to blow a gasket. A lot of purportedly neutral CFB analysts who went to Notre Dame would also argue that ND should be in the top 4.

And you need to remember that should this happen.... it doesn't matter.

Because Alabama is at LSU the very next week (November 3rd) and Michigan plays Ohio State the final week of the regular season, there's no way two of those teams will stay in the top 4 over Notre Dame (provided, obviously, the Irish stay undefeated... a one-loss Notre Dame team is probably out, but we'll get into that as the weeks unfold.)

Here's a true thing: since the 2014 season, when the CFB Playoff, the first rankings and the eventual playoff teams have NEVER been the same four teams. (Check them all here)

The closest they got was last year, when Georgia, Alabama and Clemson were all in the first rankings and made the playoff. The 4th team that didn't make it? Notre Dame, replaced by Oklahoma. (After being ranked 3rd in the initial rankings at 7-1, Notre Dame lost two weeks later to Miami and never contended seriously again.)

The committee can claim the first rankings are to "give you an idea what the committee is thinking." That is poppycock, because....

2. The in-season rankings are designed to make money 

Panorama photos make movement look weird (Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn)
CFP Director Bill Hancock has said many times when asked about expanding the playoff that the regular season is the most important regular season of all and they have no plans to change that.

This is executive code-speak for "the job of the CFP committee is to make the schools money, and adding more playoff teams will lessen that."

Take the above example, with LSU/Bama and Michigan/Ohio State in the top four and still having to play each other in the regular season. Those games will absolutely draw more interest because there's only a four-team playoff. In an eight-team playoff, the loser of those regular-season games is still virtually assured of making the playoff as the 7 or 8 seed. In the current setup the loser is out, which means those games are much more important.

Thus, more eyeballs on those regular season games, thus, bigger ratings of those regular season games, thus more ad dollars spent on those regular season games.

You argue, what's the real difference? As a college football fan you're probably going to watch those games anyway.  Yes, you are, but the casual fan in a non-college football town will be more likely to watch the game if it "means something" as opposed to hearing that it doesn't make a real difference.

You counter-argue that an 8-team playoff makes more money. Well, maybe it does overall for the conference, but an important regular season game in Ann Arbor or Eugene or Austin means more revenue for the host school that they don't have to share with anybody. An extra playoff game, even if it involves the Wolverines or the Ducks or the Longhorns, wouldn't be played on their turf, thus an overall loss of revenue. That is what they mean by "the regular season matters."

So, now that one and two are clear, three becomes more of a corollary than an actual point, but it's still worth putting out there in bold type:

3. The in-season CFP rankings are a complete smokescreen designed to make the schools more money

Why, how convenient it is that LSU and Alabama are ranked in the top four and have yet to play each other.

Why, how convenient it is that if Michigan and Ohio State win out until The Game that they will both be ranked in the top four, or close to it.

It's almost like the committee is intentionally tweaking the rankings to make those games more important so those schools can make more money.

How conveeeeeeeeeennnnient.
Autzen Stadium, home of the Oregon Ducks
4.  The final rankings are the only rankings that really count

As you have seen, the in-season rankings matter absolutely zilch. They could rank 3-5 Kansas over 8-0 Clemson in November and it would make exactly zero difference in the final rankings.

This is why in 2015 Iowa, who remained undefeated until the Big 10 title game against Michigan State, remained ranked over Michigan State (who ended up making the playoff) until the very final week. It just didn't matter.

Rank LSU over Alabama right now if you want. Hell, put one-loss Kentucky and one-loss Washington State in now and leave Michigan and Ohio State out. There are seven 7-1 teams right now in the Power 5 Conferences. And then there's 7-0 UCF (again, a discussion for future weeks) and three more "Group of 5" 7-1 teams- Houston, Utah State and Fresno State.  Put one of them in and leave LSU out just to rankle people. Doesn't make a difference in any ranking until the final one.

The best example here is from the first year of the playoff, 2014. Ohio State was 16th the first week and sixth the final week of the regular season. They won the Big 10 title game, moved up two spots and made the playoff. And then they won the whole thing. So yeah, a one-loss Big 10 champion is going to the playoff every year, bank on that action.

And now, rules to remember about the final rankings:

A. Any undefeated Power 5 team will get in

If Iowa had won that game and remained undefeated, they would have been in regardless of the fact their strength of schedule was atrocious.

And it should really be called "Power 5 Plus Notre Dame," because if Notre Dame finishes undefeated, they are in.  Their schedule this year is pretty doggone bad except for the 1st-game win over Michigan, and that was when the Wolverines really had no idea what they were doing.

Remember: the CFP and the resulting committee was created by the Power 5 for the Power 5. To not include an undefeated Power 5 team would undermine the entire thing.

B. A conference that doesn't get into the Playoff will most likely get two teams into the "New Year's Six" Bowls.

It is not a coincidence that last year when the Pac-12 and Big 10 got left out of the Playoff that both USC and Washington made "New Year's Six" games and that the Big 10 got three teams in (Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State).

Obviously, this is not a given. Two years ago, the 10-team Big 12 didn't make the playoff and only had Oklahoma in a big 6 bowl because Western Michigan (ROW THAT BOAT) "qualified" as a "group of five" team- aka forcing their way into the big boys party in lieu of a lawsuit that would bring the NCAA to its knees as a monopoly. But that's not important right now (even though it is).

C. A two-loss team will never get in over a one-loss team

Never. Gonna. Happen.

Look at last year, the best chance for it to happen: Two-loss Ohio State (who didn't win their division) or Penn State (who did win the Big 10 title game) over one-loss Oklahoma, the Big 12 Champ? Over one-loss Alabama (who didn't win their division, either), whose only loss in the regular season was to the team that was number one?

Zero. Chance.

If there are four one-loss Power 5 teams, they will be your final four, no matter what the two-loss teams have as credentials. You see, losses make the committee look bad in the eyes of the Power 5 schools, who, as we have mentioned, control the committee. It is the committee's interest to keep the Power 5 schools happy.

Now, go do your podcast and let the rankings commence.....

Levi's Stadium, home of the 2019 Championship

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Best Worst Last Series of the MLB Season

do you really need a caption to tell you it's a Marlins game?

Everyone wants to go to the best games, the best matchups, the most important tilts. Nobody wants to go to the worst. Well, except me.

Consider all the MLB playoff spots that will come down to this final weekend. The Dodgers, Cubs, Brewers, Rockies, Cardinals A’s and Yankees all have something at stake.

But I don’t want to be at any of those series, because those are the obvious things to pay attention to. I have always thought it would be great- as a baseball fan that doesn’t need to have playoffs on the line- to go to the worst last series of the year.

This really galvanized in 2012, when the Astros and Cubs, when they were both in the NL Central, were both 100+ game losers and played each other to end the season. It was the first time two teams with 100+ losses had played each other in more than 50 years.

I thought that would have been a great series to attend merely to see who the hell else went to that series voluntarily. It was at Wrigley, so obviously it was well attended just because it was a Cubs game, but what the hell would that have been like in Houston, or anywhere else for that matter? I would like to go and talk to who's there. Is it parents of the 40th man on the roster waiting for his MLB debut? Is it all die-hards? Is it people making their ballpark tour and needed this one to finish the season? Who is there, exactly, and why? I think it would make a great documentary.

So now, every year, I check to see which would be the worst last series to attend. In truth, the worst last weekday series would be the “best” to attend because on weekends there’s generally some sort of crowd regardless. For the final Monday-Thursday series there’s usually not much of a crowd for teams well out of a playoff spot (for instance, the Padres-Giants series featured more seagulls than people).

I have rather simple rules to determine the best worst final series of the year. Obviously, it should not involve any playoff teams. It should also not involve any teams over 500. Thus, the 112-loss Orioles, who should be in the mix, are not an option because they are hosting the AL West champion Astros. Similarly, the 102-loss Royals are hosting the AL Central champion Indians. You understand how this works, there needs to be zero things at stake for either team. The White Sox have 96 losses and are hosting the 84-loss Twins, so there’s our first real option. The 94-loss Tigers are at the Brewers, who are fighting for the NL Central, so they’re out.

Side note, the AL Central has been abysmal this year. The Tigers have 94 losses and they’re likely going to finish 3rd.

On the NL side, the Reds have 93 losses but the Pirates are potentially going to finish 500, so forget it. The Padres have 95 losses and are taking on the D-Backs, who despite a horrendous collapse could still finish 500.

I’ll spare you going through the rest of the teams to say that this year’s “winner” is Marlins at Mets. Yes, they have the same exact records as the White Sox-Tigers series, so if you preferred that you could be there. There are actually standings in play, as the Tigers are two games ahead of the White Sox for 3rd, so there’s kind of something for both teams to play for, which goes against the entire idea of this.

So I pick New Shea because it’s a last place team (Marlins) versus a 4th place team (Mets).

For those of you who might argue that it’s a series with something to it because the about-to-retire David Wright will make an appearance, I say this:

Your argument for this series being relevant is that a guy who hasn’t played in three years is going to basically pull a Minnie Minoso and play like an inning just to say he did? Maybe you should re-think your thought process, because you just successfully pointed out why this series is useless. 

photo: si.com

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Case For David Beaty, 2018 Edition

Wanted: For Killing Kansas Football
You remember when the Penn State football team lost 20 scholarships for several years when that whole Paterno/Sandusky incredible example of power and corruption and disgustingness went down. You remember when most people said Penn State would be hard-pressed to recover anytime soon because they were limited to just 65 players on scholarship, out of a total of 85. You remember that people thought Penn State was done because they only had 65 scholarships to award to football players.

You also thought you were going to read about Kansas Football.

What does Penn State's scholarship reduction have to do with saving David Beaty's job?

In his first year as Kansas head coach, in 2015, David Beaty had 38 players on scholarship.



It is only now, in his fourth year, that they are even close to surpassing 65 scholarshipped players. In other words, Penn State's lowest, NCAA-sanctioned level was still higher than anything David Beaty had to work with for his first three years at Kansas. 

That, my friends, is why Charlie Weis is still killing Kansas football. And it's why David Beaty has had no chance to succeed. And that is why the #FireBeaty hashtag is completely unwarranted. It should really be #FireCharlieWeisAgainAndAgainAndAgainAndAgain.
So when I hear that new KU Athletic Director Jeff Long says that the football program is constantly being evaluated, I can only hope it means that they are considering replacing it with an Ultimate Frisbee team and not considering firing David Beaty.

I imagine that not many of you have heard why David Beaty only had 38 players on scholarship his first year, or still is well below the maximum limit of 85, because if you are not in Lawrence proper or are not a subscriber to The Athletic, you may have not heard this story. Thus, when Kansas lost to Nicholls, the #FireBeaty hashtag sprang up around the country from various KU Alumni, including many who are my friends. Thus, this column.

My first argument when people use #FireBeaty is to say "and replace him with whom, exactly?"  Yes, somebody will take the job. But nobody wants the job as bad as Beaty, or his defensive coordinator, Clint Bowen. Anybody else would have quit by now because the circumstances are so stupid. Beaty hasn't. Neither has Bowen.

Which brings me back around to why the circumstances are so stupid for Beaty and Bowen and Long and Kansas football, and it is because Charlie Weis was the worst hire in Kansas football history. It might be hyperbole, but not by much.

When Charlie Weis was hired as Kansas football coach, he believed the way to make the program kind of competitive quickly was via transfers. It makes sense. Get some guys sitting on a bench somewhere prominent, or some juco guys who slipped through somehow, and use those guys to get a foundation going. (I didn't need a subscription to The Athletic to tell me that. What I learned in the story was the next part.)

So they brought in about 30 guys like that. By the time Weis was fired, he had given away 56 scholarships, and 12 of those players were still on the roster.

That is unheard of.

That, friends, is how you get to 38 players on scholarship.

Who could win with 38 scholarship players? Maybe Nick Saban, because he could get anybody. But no other football coach could win with those restrictions. And certainly not a football program that has been spiraling down like a man without a parachute for a decade. 

According to NCAA rules, you can only give away 25 scholarships a year. So even if Beaty had maxed out his numbers, it still would have taken two years to get to 85, even if all of those 38 guys had stayed on the roster. Of course, with graduation and expiring eligibility and so on, that's impossible.

Which is why, maybe, they're at 70. In year four. And, honest to Pete, Beaty is thrilled they are even approaching 70.

This is the quote:

"I'm excited about being 15 short. That's unbelievable. I'm so fired up about being 15 short which tells you where we came from. I would say it'll take a few more years. I'd say at least three, maybe more, to get to 85, because the attrition that happens naturally from medicals is what keeps you from being able to continue to make up those numbers."

What. The. Hell.

Penn State got cut to 65. Beaty might be at 65 this year.

You can't win with 38 players on scholarship.

You can't fire David Beaty.

Charlie Weis killed Kansas Football.

His horrid mistakes are still killing Kansas Football, four years after he was fired.

And now you know.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Summer MLB Weekday Day Games 2018

Where would you rather be?
It's post-All-Star Break, which means it's time to enjoy summer to the fullest. And one of the best ways to do that is by skipping work completely and going to weekday day game baseball. Frankly, this is also a good idea in April. But when the weather is good and the games can be a lot more meaningful, it's an even better idea.

There are more teams doing weekday day games this year because of a new rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement requiring "getaway day" games to actually be day games if a team has to travel more than three hours. For instance, last year the Braves scheduled a Thursday night series-ender against the Giants. That game was delayed due to rain and did not start until 9 pm Eastern. It ended after midnight, so the Giants didn't get out of Atlanta till close to 3 am and had a game at home the next night. They got shellacked, as you might expect. Now, you know if the Braves had been the ones heading west after that game they damn well would have scheduled a day game. Because it was the visitors the Braves didn't give a damn. Similar situations helped get the rule changed. This year, that game would be a day game.

The biggest issue regarding a day game is, what is a cutoff time for a day game? For me, it's a 2 pm start. Anything after 2, it's an afternoon game, which is different than a day game. 4 pm games are right out.

The Dodgers and the Orioles are notorious in my book for refusing to schedule any summertime weekday day games. I'll give it away right now, it's impossible to go to Dodger Stadium or Camden Yards for a weekday day game the rest of this season, unless they do a make-up game sometime.

 The Angels, Red Sox, Rangers, Pirates, Braves, Padres and Marlins rarely do summer day games. A few of those team you can understand why because of the summer heat, but the others... will we be able to get to them on this travel itinerary? Oh, the suspense!!!!

I used to have a rule saying "games on holidays don't count," but I allow for the Blue Jays to be home on Canada Day and the Nationals to be home on the 4th of July, because they're always day games. It would be a great trip, and it was again possible this year. So that's where we start this journey...  

Sunday, 7/1: Tigers at Blue Jays

Our lone Sunday day game qualifier, because it's Canada Day. (and also I really want one of these giveaway hats. Yes, I could buy one very similar and have it shipped to me, but that ruins the "I got it at the Canada Day game" idea). 
Wednesday, 7/4:  Red Sox at Nationals

I hit upon this idea of the "Independence Day Double" a few years ago and I think it would be amazing to compare how its done in both places. Last year probably would have been great, considering it was Canada's 150th birthday, and I wrote it up here. But really, it would be great any year. (Note that why the Blue Jays give away hats, the Nats give away zilch.)

Naturally, the team with the most day games is the Cubs. The number has been dwindling, but generally they have from 25-30 home day games, which is less than half of their total home games. But that's still twice as many as most other teams. The ballpark at 1260 West Addison also is the only place to have any Friday home day games, which means that it'll be easy to get to Wrigley.

I'll note all the Cubs home day games along the way, starting with

Friday, 7/6: Reds at Cubs.

Most weekday day games are Wednesdays. And so we'll kick off our journey in earnest on...

Wednesday, 7/11:  Nats at Pirates

I did not expect to cross PNC off the list this early, if at all. The Pirates, despite having a beautiful ballpark on the river, rarely have weekday day games. They attribute this to the tendency for summer afternoon thunderstorms, and they do have delays, but I'd rather be at the ballpark in the summer rain than a lot of places.

(other optional games on this day: Royals at Twins, Cubs at Giants, Tigers at Rays)

Thursday, 7/12:  A's at Astros

A back-to-back to get started, because if you're gonna go for it, you gotta go for it. About a three-hour flight, but the reverse time change makes it two hours and totally do-able in the morning. As World Series champions, the Astros have kicked up their slate of weekday day games, possibly because of the new CBA, but also perhaps because people are more likely to go see the champs no matter when they play. They could schedule a game for 6 am or midnight and people would go.... this year.

(other game today: Dbacks at Rockies)

Friday, 7/20: Cards at Cubs

Tuesday, 7/24: Braves at Marlins

Tuesday day games are weird, and two-game series against teams in the same division are weird, and Marlins day games are weird because they have attendance problems completely opposite the Astros. So this game should be weird.

Wednesday, 7/25: Padres at Mets

Now the day game that makes sense today, given that we're already in Florida, is Yankees at Rays. But because the Mets next and last home weekday day game doesn't fit, we're headed to Flushing for our first back-to-back.

(the multitude of other day games today: Dodgers at Phillies, Cardinals at Reds, Pirates at Indians, Nats at Brewers, Tigers at Royals, Dbacks at Cubs, Giants at Mariners)

Thursday, 7/26: White Sox at Angels

And make it back-to-back-to-back with our first cross-country flight in order to get the Angels on the list. Going from NYC to LA with the reverse time shift should make it a little easier.

(also today: Dbacks at Cubs)

Tuesday, 7/31: Giants at Padres

Another Tuesday day game, another two-game series between division rivals, and despite being in a great place to be in the daytime during the summer the Padres rarely have weekday day games. Or maybe that's why they rarely do. That's the only thing I can figure out.

Wednesday, 8/1:  Astros at Mariners

I originally had Reds at Tigers here, but I like to avoid flying cross-country as much as possible, which would happen if I kept them here. As is, the San Diego to Seattle flight is 1,000 miles, so about three hours, but perfectly reasonable.

(also: Mets at Nats, Orioles at Yankees, Indians at Twins, Blue Jays at A's, )

Thursday, 8/2: Rockies at Cardinals

 Back-to-back-to-back, part II. Seattle to St. Louis is closer to a four-hour trip with the time change, but you gotta do what you gotta do. For allegedly being a great baseball town, St. Louis rarely has summer day games. Of course, it's slightly humid there in the summer. But Stan Musial and Dizzy Dean played their entire careers in wool during the day in St. Louis, so what the hell?

(also: Royals at White Sox, Angels at Rays)

Friday, 8/3: Padres at Cubs

Tuesday 8/7: Astros at Giants

a Tuesday day game finishing a two-game series against a non-division rival- interleague, no less- makes sense. Any excuse to go to AT&T is a good one.

Wednesday, 8/8:  Phillies at Dbacks

an easy flight and we can be glad for domes in the desert in August.

(also: Reds at Mets, Mariners at Rangers, Pirates at Rockies, Tigers at Angels)

Thursday, 8/9: Padres at Brewers

back-to-back-to-back, part III. three hour flight, not bad at all from PHX to MKE (Milwaukee's airport code is MKE because Milan is MIL. Although Italy would be a good vacation, that's not keeping with our plan).

(also: Braves at Nats, Twins at Indians)

Friday, 8/10: Nats at Cubs

And our first back-to-back-to-back-to-back! (Yes, there will be another.) In my early planning into seeing day games a few years ago I realized that because Milwaukee and Chicago are so close it would be very easy to do a back-to-back with them. I even have the travel figured out: stay in Milwaukee after their day game and then take the morning commuter train to Chicago with the rest of the working stiffs, making them jealous.

Tuesday, 8/14: Brewers at Cubs

Wednesday, 8/15: White Sox at Tigers

I originally had Mariners at A's for today, but because tomorrow is going to be travel-heavy, I switched it to Minnesota hosting the Pirates, and then to Detroit because we'll get to the Twins. It seems like they have a lot more day games in Detroit this year, at least that's how I see it. Maybe that downtown revitalization thing is really working?

(also: Brewers at Cubs)

Thursday, 8/16: Rays at Yankees AND Mets at Phillies (4pm DH)

And here it is. The plan as it stands now: fly from Detroit to NYC, either early morning or late after the game (2-and-a-half hours flight time), find a good deli and hit Yankee Stadium for the early game, then train it to Philly for game 2 of the DH, which shouldn't start until 8 or so. This allows for a special night game exemption. And late-night cheesesteaks. Pat's and Geno's, let's do both because we've earned it.

Wednesday, 8/22: Twins at White Sox

Checking off New Comiskey. It'll be us and 50 other die-hards.

(also: Orioles at Blue Jays, Reds at Brewers, Rangers at A's, Astros at Mariners)

Thursday, 8/23: Indians at Red Sox

What a change that will be, going from empty Comiskey to full Fenway. should be a pretty good game as well.

(also: Phillies at Nationals, Padres at Rockies, Giants at Mets,- this is that Mets game I mentioned we couldn't get to earlier- and White Sox at Tigers, a rare case of two consecutive day games for a team and not involving the Cubs at all. That's because Tigers are starting a series with the White Sox in the daytime under the guise of "Grandparents Day," apparently to ensure you can make the game and the early bird special at whichever chain restaurant you like the best.)

Friday, 8/24: Reds at Cubs

Saturday, 8/25: Yanks at Orioles, split DH

our only possible Saturday exception to get in Camden Yards, a split doubleheader with a 1:05 first pitch. The Orioles never have weekday day games after Memorial Day, which I really can't figure out. It's such a nice park. 

Wednesday, 8/29: Tigers at Royals

the Kaufman/Arrowhead Stadium complex is out in the country but it's really well done. One of the best examples of 70's ballpark architecture. Actually, it is the best because it still exists. Very glad they had the land to build two parks and didn't do a Vet/3 Rivers/Riverfront type thing, since all four were built around the same time.

(also: Mets at Cubs, A's at Astros, Mariners at Padres)

Thursday, 8/30: Twins at Indians

and staying at least an extra day to visit the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. Too bad the Browns aren't home.

(also: Brewers at Reds)

Monday, 9/3, Labor Day: 

this is the day to get to Dodger Stadium, even though it's a 5pm start hosting the Mets. I have to check it off if at all possible, and here it is possible. They have a Sunday day game, so maybe either. or both.

(day games: Cards at Nats, Phils at Marlins, Red Sox at Braves, Reds at Pirates, Cubs at Brewers, Tigers at White Sox, Twins at Astros, Giants at Rockies, Yankees at A's)

Wednesday, 9/5: Red Sox at Braves

Few fans realize that the Red Sox and Braves have a long history together, for they were both in Boston for more than 50 years. And for a lot of that time, both of them were terrible. Ted Williams is largely responsible for swinging loyalties to the A.L. team. Over the '52 off-season Braves were keen to move to Milwaukee, where the Brewers were their top farm team. Just weeks before the '53 season started, as soon as permission was granted to move to Milwaukee, they just flat left. Braves Field was supposed to host the All-Star game that year! (They hurridly gave it to Cincinnati.)

(After the Braves moved to Atlanta, Milwaukee also got the one-time Seattle Pilots in spring training, but even later- a week before Opening Day! The big rig hauling their equipment stopped in Provo, Utah, and waited to see what interstate he would take. The move happened so late that the new Brewers played in Pilots uniforms with the logo ripped off.)

(also: Royals at Indians)

Wednesday, 9/12: Dodgers at Reds

Cincy off the list!

(also: Indians at Rays, Astros at Tigers, Pirates at Cardinals, Braves at Giants)

Thursday, 9/13: Dbacks at Rockies

The Rockies tend to have a lot of weekday day games, so in making the schedule I always end up getting to them late. In a way it's their fault for having so many, but it's a nice problem to have.

Friday, 9/14: Reds at Cubs

Tuesday, 9/18: Red Sox at Yankees

You think we're not going to a Red Sox-Yankees day game with playoff berths on the line? Are you crazy? 

Wednesday, 9/19: Rays at Rangers 

Frankly, I don't blame the Rangers for not scheduling a lot of weekday day games in Dallas in the summer.

(also: Cardinals at Braves, Twins at Tigers)

Thursday, 9/20: Angels at A's

I don't like cramming in the Coliseum like this. But it almost makes sense because the light-rail to the Oakland Airport starts at the Coliseum Station. So easy in and easy out.

Friday, 9/21: Cubs at White Sox

because we are absolutely going to a Cubs/White Sox game at Comiskey. I don't care that we've already been to Comiskey, we're doing this.

Thursday, 9/27: Yankees at Rays

in the final week of the season, we're crossing Tampa off the list, even though we were really close when we saw the Marlins in July. Blame the Mets for not having more day games. Just another thing the Mets suck at.

(also: Phillies at Rockies)

Friday, 9/28: White sox at Twins (noon split dh)

Now, would it make sense to end this day game adventure at Wrigley, Cards and Cubs? Of course it would. But that would mean we'd have to re-engineer the schedule to get the Twins in there, and they have already scheduled a makeup of a rainout against the White Sox to be part of a split doubleheader on the final weekday of the season. So we're going to a doubleheader to finish this out.

So how many ballparks? How did we do?

For the first time since I've been making this proposed journey, we've hit EVERY PARK!!!!!

And we'll be seeing weekday day games in 28 of the 30 parks, the only exceptions being, as I told you at the top, Baltimore and Dodger Stadium. We'll be in Toronto on Sunday, but that's a special exemption for Canada Day.

We'll be at Wrigley Field twice (with plenty of optional stops), Comiskey Park twice, and Yankee Stadium twice.

The cost? Money is.... uh, not an object here. Weekday day game baseball is, and that's what we've accomplished. Let's do it again next year!

all photos by the author (while watching the Giants)

I'm here, where are you?