Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Death of Sports?

Professional Sports are dying. At least, I think they're on the edge of something bad, unless drastic changes are made.
How do I know this? First of all, apparently televised sports have become so boring and run-of-the-mill that the networks had to resurrect AMERICAN GLADIATORS of all things. Also, Baseball used to be our "national pastime". By the 70's, Basketball started to make a big impact on the sports scene- and let's not forget Pro Football edging out basketball in the 90's. Soon this too will change. Here's a list of some sports below, and the various problems I see with them. MY humorous "fixes" for the sports are at the bottom of this blog.

Baseball: What killed baseball? Some would take a bat and beat me on the head saying that it's still very much alive. However, I don't see prime-time preempts for baseball games on TV anymore like when I was a kid. You have to get cable to even see a game anymore. Even event ticket prices should tell you how it's doing. Last time I WENT to a ballgame was only $10 to get in- and that was the GOOD seats.
The death of baseball started in the 70's and early 80's with the onslaught of the new "pumped" players. These overmuscular players hit the ball over the fence all the time, and their outfield counterparts hardly ever drop a catch. Blame steroids, or just thick-headed jocks, but all the home runs and instant outs have made the game, well...boring. Baseball used to be played by blokes who also had regular 9-5 jobs (or at least, part time somewhere else). They'd make you think- hey, hes just a regular Joe like me. There was strategy in the game, not just "run fast, hit hard". But anymore, it's just a guy running in a circle. (or most of the time, not even making it to first).
Occasionally Baseball would pop back in the limelight briefly. For example, Sosa & McGuire home run war- but even by the end of that, people really didn't care WHO finally beat the record. I remember there was more of a stir about the record-winning ball not being given back by the fan who caught it, than by who actually HIT the ball.
As for what can be done to fix this problem in baseball? Weight limit caps. -under 200 lbs should be the cap. That would knock off the steroid freaks, and pave the way for interesting games again.

Basketball- Basketball is currently in it's "death-throes". It's still highly popular- but only because football has an off-season, and sports fans turn on basketball like a hungry pack of wolves.
The main problem I see with basketball is player's salaries. They need to permanently cap ALL salaries at 25 Million or less. What the hell can a college dropout buy with 50+ Million that you CAN'T buy with 25?? Besides, endorsements will bring in more cash for them on the side anyways, so why are you paying them so much at the arena? All that high salaries cause is for them to have more games and higher ticket prices to cover the salaries. But the players are playing more games, so they want higher salaries....see the loop?? Eventually we're gonna see a basketball game every night. Then the popularity will sharply drop off. again, it's the "boring" factor, causing attendance to drop, teams to bankrupt... They're already starting year-round basketball now!!
Another thing they need to fix is the playoffs. They need to take a page from football or hell, college basketball. In the playoffs, teams should play each other ONCE, then you're out if you lose. The ONLY reason they have the 'best of 7' crap is to cover players salaries- stretching out ticket prices and advertisements over 7 games and not just one. Fix the salaries, you'll fix basketball.

Football: Football is at it's peak right now. The leagues have done things right. Keeping televised interest high with the clever use of "funny commercials", the playoffs are elimination-based, salaries aren't TOO crazy -you do have a few up there, but for the most part, the leagues have good caps. Great halftime shows in the Superbowl help keep the viewer locked into that channel. Plus, the sport itself is always a mystery. One dropped ball in football can sway the tide to the underdog. And, just because you run the correct pattern, things may NOT go correctly. It keeps every game 'interesting'. What I can see in the long run, is if Baseball or Basketball gets their act together and becomes our nations "#1 sport" again, football will have trouble keeping it's advertising- which is what pays the players. However, I don't see this happening anytime soon.

Golf: Golf's popularity swings up and down (no pun intended.) ;) It was big back in the day with Robert Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and the "gold jacket guys". It disappeared in the late 80's and early 90's, until fresh blood came in with Tiger Woods and Anika Sorenstam. Eyes, and fans, are slowly turning back to the 'ol Scottish game. I don't see it ever being as big as football - it's not a very "exciting" sport to watch. But I don't see it disappearing forever either. I think it will continue to wax and wain in popularity forever.

Car Racing: I cringe to even put this on the list. I personally (notice I said 'personally') don't consider this a "sport". To me, it's more akin to dog or horse racing. Plus now, cars driving in a circle for 4 hours can only be fun if you consume beer to dull your intelligence, and 'yuk-yuk' with your buddies between laps.
Open-wheel racing, to me, died when the IRL took over Indy Racing. Gone are the days when the races were exciting because someone had a new type of engine or car design to race with. IRL clamped the rules down to make thing's "fair" so that the idiots with hardly any sponsors could compete with the guys who had all the cash to buy whatever they needed. It's boiled the Indy series down to "who can hold the wheel left better than the others", and NOT about what RACING is all about: Who's CAR is better.
Nascar has become extremely popular in recent years, but I think it's reached a plateau itself. Anymore, most people go to the races to see a wreck, and not a race. For me, Nascar is even more boring than the rule-restrictive Indy series. The cars go slower (hard to get used to 100+ mph races when I'm used to watching 200+ mph ones), and they wreck more, causing yellow flags to be out for hours, slowing the cars on the track down even MORE. *yawn* Tell me, how can Nascars, going SLOWER, get in MORE wrecks than cars going twice their speeds?? I'm STILL confused on that one.
But, I DO see the popularity out there. I see Nascar staying the same over they years. It's got a solid & loyal fanbase. I don't see it declining a lot, unless something about the tracks or rules is changed to piss people off. I'm still hoping for that resurgence of Indy racing... minus all the car spec rules.


Well, What can we do about the sports of today? Take a page from the movies Starship Troopers or Running Man- put some more 'danger' in the sports to get people to watch- here are MY suggestions to take extreme sporting into the future!

Baseball- You're allowed to carry your bat with you around the field to use on opposing team players near you. Give the basemen gloves with spikes on them so they can fight back. Plus, the ball is weighted on one side- letting it fly wobbly or roll funny - so it's harder to hit, catch, or throw.

Basketball- take out the "foul" system. you're allowed to trip, elbow, punch or kick your way around the court- ONLY if you have the ball. Also- hogging the ball should be discouraged. Each player has only got 10 seconds to pass or shoot, before the built-in-taser sends a debilitating jolt thru the ball, knocking you out.

Football- We should liven up the mystery of the game with randomly buried land-mines. Plus, the ball is a bomb, set to go off randomly thruout the game. This should bring back the lost art of "lateraling".

Golf- How about making more than just sand or water hazards? Lava, crushed-glass, and rattlesnake pits would be interesting. Oh, and if you don't make it in on par, it becomes full-contact golf on the green with your rivals until you putt it in.

Racing- I'm taking a page out of the new Speed-Racer movie: ramps, loops, and drop-offs would make exciting additions to any track. Plus, all racers hate the "wall", so why not make it more dangerous too? have sections suddenly swing out or pop up from the ground for an 'instant roadblock' effect to avoid!

Anyone else have any ideas or comments???

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Summer of Heros!

I am all pumped up for this summer's round of 'hero' movies. Here's a list of the upcoming ones...with links!! Not all are traditional "superhero" movies... but hey- they still look awesome!

Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull- YAAAY!! It's about time! Altho undoubtedly the last Indy film with Harrison Ford, I still have been waiting for this one for quite a while! The previews look awesome...AND...we get to meet Indy's SON!

Forbidden Kingdom- I went and saw this one last weekend. I highly recommend it for fans of wire-style Kung-Fu films, as well as anyone who knows the legend of the "Monkey King". Good action, effects, and the lead boy character wasn't annoying!

Iron Man- Every preview I see of this makes me want to see it more. I wasn't sure about Robert Downy Jr. as the lead, but it seems as if he did a bang-up job...we'll see...

Wanted- I never heard about this one till I saw a preview for it- and it looks awesome! (ok a liiiittle far-fetched, but hey, what action movie now a days ISN'T?). It kina looks like a secret assassin group with superhuman "powers". Just watch the preview (trailer) on the site- you'll be hooked. OH YEAH..and ANGELINA JOLIE. what else needs to be said? LOL

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army- Sweet! loved the first one, probably gonna love this one!!!

Speed Racer- Liked the cartoon, hopefully will like the movie. Kim wants to go see this one in IMAX.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince- Need I say more? Harry Potter, Man!!!

Chronicles of Narnia 2: Prince Caspian- Looking forward to this one too- loved the first movie. (I've read the ENTIRE series- hope they make them all!)

Star Trek (XI)- ??? looks like a "prequel", or maybe 'how Kirk got the Enterprise'..or something... *sigh* after the horrible "enterprise" series I'm kinda wary...

Batman: The Dark Knight- If it's as good as Batman Begins, I'll be a happy camper! Altho it is also sad, knowing this is Heath Ledger's last appearance.

James Bond 22: Quantum of Solace- WTF is up with the title? there's no "live, die, day" or any of the other normal words in it! LOL I'm seeing it anyways.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D- It uses the same 3D filming technique as 'Beowulf 3D' I'm definitely going to go see it just for THAT.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine- YESSSSSS!! Finally, a stand-alone Wolverine Movie! SOO going to this one!

Hulk- Good! Glad to see they aren't leaving the crappy Hulk movie alone- they're giving Hulk a makeover! Ed Norton is Bruce Banner!

And here's a list of other movies in the works and being filmed right now! Sorry, none have "official" sites yet, but I added some info links if you're interested in them.

Terminator 4: Salvation
The Hobbit (prequel to Lord of the Rings)
The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Angels & Demons (prequel to Da Vinci Code)

Are there any coming out that YOU are excited to see? Let me know!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pizza Dude's got 30 Seconds...

Pizza dude's got 30 seconds...

After much discussion with a friend today about the various Pizzerias around town, I guessed it was time to jot down my opinions about all of the various good 'ol Pizza-Pies.

I'll list them from my worst to my favorite. Don't get me wrong tho, just because somethings not down further on the list doesn't mean it isn't worth the trip- Pizza is the "sex" of the food world- when it's bad, it's still pizza.
(check the links out if you're hungry!)

Non-Pizza restaurant Pizza: There's a reason why you guys aren't a pizza place, but just serve it on the menu. Stick to the other stuff, will ya?

Uno's: Too much sauce, crust was greasy and floppy (and it was PAN sized!), there was a HALF of a tomato on our pizza as well as various other toppings the chefs forgot to cut into better-manageable pieces. Price was high for the "value".

Noble Romans: They have really let themselves go. too much franchising i think. I miss the Purple Monster commercials. Pizza's "ok", but there are other, better places. Their prices are climbing too. (and they failed at the "Tuscano's Subs" too- they're expensive, and not tasty!)

Frozen Pizzas: The "redheaded stepchild" of pizzas, but, amazingly- if you buy some extras- add some shredded cheese, a few extra pepperonis, some mushrooms or olives, and presto- cardboard becomes almost passable. Good in a sinch if you want a whole pizza but only have two bucks and a fridge full of extras.

School Lunch Pizza: 'So bad it's good' is why it's climbed up the list a little. It's the "cult classic" of all pizzas. Throw some salt on these rectangle-cut thin slices, and you'll have a quick meal for any Friday- and again on Monday!!! Besides- who Doesn't remember pizza day with fondness?

Showbiz (Chucky Cheeze): School lunch Pizza's younger, slightly fresher, cousin. They tried to go for a "pizza King" style pizza, but fell short. But hey- you're not there for the pizza- you're there to blow thru your allowance in tokens!

Roselli's- A place at 106th & Michigan Rd. It's OK pizza, but the sauce is a little different (tangy sweet, perhaps?) that kept me from ranking it higher. Also- price for value is a little low, too- ESPECIALLY at lunchtime on the pizza buffet- they only bring out maybe 2 pizza choices, and a "dessert pizza"- for $9!.

Papa Johns: Fresh ingredients? you bet- but the peppers are still too crunchy sometimes, the crust seems to be BREAD and not crust, and the sauce- well, sometimes there's a flood dripping off the edge, and sometimes the dough is only slightly pink with a thin layer of it. I think consistency (i.e.- knowing what you're getting) keeps this from climbing the list in my book. Value for the price is OK sometimes, and other times too high- depending on how they made your pizza that day.

CiCi's: Is good for if you want a LOT of different types of pizza, fast. The pizzas themselves are hurriedly made, so their quality isn't exactly fine-dining, but there's enough different types rarely seen other places (such as spinach alfredo pizza, chicken BBQ pizza, & Cheeseburger pizza) to keep one's interest. The value for price is great- all you can eat buffet!!!

Pizza Hut: Has slipped in the past years. They had the market cornered in the late 70's/early 80's, but i think they are now more like the "fast food" of pizzerias- Fills your belly, and you can honestly say "that was good", -but set a better quality pizza next to a pizza-hut one, and chances are, the Hutt will be eaten last. Like others- prices are getting higher here.

Domino's: I like them because they are the "generic" pizza makers. I mean, if you say "peperoni pizza"- the picture that comes to your mind IS domino's hand-tossed peperoni. Dough, sauce, cheese, and then the toppings of your choice scattered on- not too much, not to thin. No frills and lack of super-fresh ingredients keep them from being near the top, but I like the fact you KNOW what you are getting, every time.

Pizza King: School Lunch Pizza's brother on 'roids. The toppings are the only thing that throw me- I like to know what I'm eating, but pizza kings toppings have been thru a blender, then just coated on the top. is that a tomato, chunk of peperoni, or a pepper? it's red, small and cube-shaped, so it could be anything. Price for value is a little steep, but the pizzas seem to be more "filling" because of the topping-mash. Spicy ingredients and availability keep this one closer to the top of the list.

Donato's: Some good-eating pizza, if you like spicy pizza. even the cheese pizza is spicier than it really should be. Their peperoni pizza is one of my favs, but is WAY greasy, and the spiciness combine into an evening of heartburn and MORE for me. value for the price is good, and ingredients seem fresher than some other places.

Godfather's: Man, I miss them around here. They were the place to get pizza when I was a little kid. What happened to them in the area? The pizzas themselves were similar to Domino's, but with what seemed to be better toppings, and the crust was just right. Can't comment on the price- never paid for it, I was too young. :P

Sbarro: Some awesome-eating mall pizza. They have The "huge" slices that I'm a fan of. Even tho the crust is a little floppy on the thinner pizzas, the flavor is impressive. Usually a good selection of different types. Value for price is pretty good.

Lucca Pizza: I have it on good authority that a guy knows a guy who knows that Lucca is owned by THE "Family". And it shows- Awesome ingredients, great crust, old-world style taste, and good selection. Only thing keeping this from the top of my list is availability- You don't see them hardly anywhere anymore. Price for value is equal.

Little Caesar's: I miss that little funny roman guy! And the pizza too! *(update)* It seems Little Sneezers has been making a comeback with a new idea- Pizza as "fast food!" They offer ready-made LARGE pizzas for $5! drive up, pay 5$, and drive away with a pizza- no wait! I tried this hoping for the old Little Caesar's quality...and was severely disappointed. They've changed some sauce recipes, and the crust is more doughy. (not undercooked, just more bread-like). However, price for value (and time getting the pizza) exceeds expectations, so they still are near the top for a fast, cheap, and somewhat tasty pizza. *also* see " Hungry Howies" for more little Caesars info!

Papa Murphy's: Frozen Pizza's bigger, tastier, fresher, and better cousin! Combine a menu list of a bazillion pizzas & ingredients with the fact you control how done you like your OWN crust (it's a take-home-and-bake pizza store), equals some awesome pizza-eating! Value for price is exceptional!

Hungry Howie's: I have it on good authority that Hungry Howie's Pizza (founded as a different company long ago) got a hold of SOME the recipes for ...(or hired an ex-high-ranking person of)... *drumroll* Little Caesars. Their Pizza is awesome. Great taste, good toppings, and hey, they even have Crazy I mean, "Howie Bread" a myriad of flavors and toppings. Good value for the price, and they are QUICK on the making of your pizzas!

Goodfella's Pizza: This shot up to the top of my list after only ONE pizza. We went to the one located on Olio road in Geist. The crust is amazing, and i think, is one of the biggest contributors why its tops on my list. the toppings were all so full of flavor. and the sauce was perfect- just tomato-y enough, but not to goopy or spicy to detract from the other tastes. I can see this place falling down my list a few notches (but not too far) as I eat there more, because their list of toppings was kinda small (altho they did have some of the more "unusual" toppings like Provolone cheese or Prosciutto ham.), and they only had two or so 'styles' of pizza. Their menu has tons of other Italian food items, but they insist they were a pizzeria first. Value for the price was ok- but only because the $25 for one pizza is WORTH it there, at least once in a while. - It's no wonder they've been voted "Best Pizza in the World" several times!

So- Anyone out there agree or disagree? What are some of YOUR favorites? Comment me! :)