Thursday, October 31, 2019

Washington Nationals World Series Videos

The Washington Nationals won the 2019 World Series. Living in Northern Virginia, this is kind of a big deal. Of course, I also saw a guy wearing a Steelers long-sleeve T-shirt on the Metro this morning, so maybe it's not a big deal for everyone.* Anyway, if you're a baseball fan, I think you have to appreciate this series and the Nationals. The road team won every game of this 7-game series which has never happened before in major league baseball, the NHL, or the NBA. Juan Soto just turned 21 and is about to become a superstar. Stephen Strasburg represented San Diego State well too. Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick are also awesome. I thought I would share a few videos to celebrate the Nationals.

This is from the final out of the game.

I'm really happy for Daniel Hudson, the Nationals pitcher who got the final out. I'm also really happy that there is a net behind home plate and down the third base line. That glove being thrown at approximately 200 miles per hour could have really hurt someone. Anyway, Jeff Passan's book "The Arm" followed Hudson after he went through Tommy John surgeries. After reading this, I've rooted for the guy, even though he struggled in Pittsburgh.

The next video is one that I took from Washington's FOX affiliate. I apologize in advance that the sound is poor. I love the guy saying, "I don’t know how I feel right now. I feel amazing.” Then, watch how he interacts with the camera after they go to someone else. And by someone else, I mean the woman who has been a die-hard Nationals fan from all the way back in 2012.

Finally, one of the reasons why this team is fun to watch is Gerardo Parra and his walk-up music of Baby Shark. (Another reason is because Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth are no longer on the team.) This is a video of Parra at bat during an August 30th game I attended with The Moose and Pedro Tulo.

Congrats to the Nats!

* Full disclosure. That person was me!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

College GameDay Should Go To NJ/NY

College GameDay is the biggest show/event in college football. Each week during the football season, ESPN broadcasts live from the marque game of the week. Generally, College GameDay goes to places like Columbus, Ann Arbor, Baton Rouge, Tuscaloosa, Norman, Gainesville, Clemson, and Happy Valley. However, on November 16th, I believe that GameDay should go to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey for the Cortaca Jug game between Ithaca College and the State University of New York College at Cortland (SUNY Cortland).

You're probably thinking, Sean, why would GameDay want to go to East Rutherford? Isn't that where the New York Giants and New York Jets play? First, I applaud you on knowing your geography. Yes, that's where the Jets and Giants play, outside New York City. That's also where the 61st annual Cortaca Jug game is taking place. With the game still a few weeks away, ticket sales are at around 40,000. This will set the attendance record for a Division III game. GameDay should be in New Jersey just for this reason alone.

While I'm sure that only a handful of you are unfamiliar with this game, "Sports Illustrated" once dubbed the Ithaca-Cortland game as "the biggest little game in the nation." Both schools have successful traditions as well with Ithaca winning three Division III championships and Cortland regularly making the playoffs since the late 1980s. Now, you might be thinking, that's great, Sean. Sure, this is a cool rivalry and both schools have histories, but what about this year? Good question. Ithaca College is currently 7-0 and ranked #7 nationally. Meanwhile, Cortland is also 7-0 and ranked #18. Those seem pretty good to me.

Maybe you're still not convinced. You're thinking, GameDay deserves to be at a college campus and not at an NFL stadium. I agree with you. I also know that GameDay has been live at various bowl games and conference championships and at the Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas in Dallas and the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party between Florida and Georgia in Jacksonville. Basically, they can take a break from being on a college campus once or twice during the season.

Based on the history, attendance record, quality of the teams, and the uniqueness of this game, College GameDay needs to be there for the Cortaca Jug. As an added bonus, I will be there too! Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit, and company can have the rare opportunity to meet me in person. Let's make this happen, ESPN!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Cerebral Overload

Apparently, Sunday was National Bloggers Day. It seems like I missed this national (international?) event the past 15 years or so. To celebrate this special and historic occasion, I am reviewing the Cerebral Overload blog, which, possibly ironically, does a lot of reviewing itself!

First, full disclosure. Ben, one of the individuals behind Cerebral Overload, and I are in a fantasy football league together. Therefore, I thought I should point out that this review will not be clouded by the fact that Ben defeated me in week two and has a much better record than me this season. So with that in mind, let me tell you that Ben’s blog would be significantly better if his team lost to mine earlier this season!

Cerebral Overload focuses on technology news and reviews and has its own podcast. This really shouldn’t be shocking or cutting-edge, but I’m impressed that Ben’s product reviews are done by video instead of in written posts. Any reviews I have ever done have always been written posts, so this seems revolutionary to me. His recent reviews include one of a Pittsburgh photography coffee-table book, headphones (I love the “What’s In The Box” post title), and a very cool flashlight. Ben is quite thorough and gives you the information you need to decide whether or not you want to purchase the product. Cerebral Overload provides tons of useful information on cars and NASA news and is a good source for both. I’ll admit that I haven’t listened to the podcasts, but I heard Ben appear on the Ya Jagoff podcast and he definitely knows his stuff (technical term).

So celebrate National Bloggers Day by checking out Cerebral Overload. A great site if you’re interested in new technical products, cars, and much, much more!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

One Year Later

The horrific shootings at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh occurred one year ago this weekend. I shared my thoughts in the immediacy of this tragedy and wrote another post about the victims. So what has happened in the last year? Did Pittsburgh become a turning point and become the last mass shooting in America? Sadly, we all know the answer to this. Shootings in El Paso, Dayton, and Virginia Beach rightfully received significant coverage, but there have been even more shootings in the last 12 months. "Time" listed those that occurred through in 2019 July. Did the government finally decide that enough was enough and enact legislation for background checks or restricting certain types of weapons? Of course not. With that written, I’ll give Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto credit for trying to do something, even though it will likely be tied up in courts for years.

So what has changed in the last year? I’ll write about my personal experiences 250 miles away from Tree of Life, the synagogue I attended growing up and where my brother and I had our Bar Mitzvahs. My current synagogue underwent a security assessment resulting in numerous changes including things related to locks and cameras with the most notable being an emergency alert system inside the building. (It’s basically a fire alarm system, but instead of pulling it to immediately contact the fire department, this immediately contacts the police.) Naturally, none of this was in the budget which necessitated a fairly substantial fundraising campaign. There are always police at the building for services and during religious school. My kids probably don’t think twice about this and are used to seeing police every time they go to the synagogue, but I am not. Yes, I’m glad they are there, but I don’t want them to be there. I don’t like having to think about someone potentially attacking the synagogue and needing a police presence to discourage or stop this every time I go to pray or to drop off my kids.

What really struck me was the rabbi saying that she was encouraged (presumably by law enforcement) to keep her cell phone on during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in case she needed it for an emergency. I get that cell phones are everywhere, but the sanctuary is one of the few places where you don't expect them, and particularly on the podium used by the rabbi.

I’m sure that my synagogue isn't alone. Many churches, mosques, and other religious institutions around the country have likely done similar things. So what has changed in the last 12 months? Besides additional security and the costs associated with it, I don't know. I wish that I had some type of insightful or meaningful conclusion here, but I don't. The people who lost family and friends much too soon certainly honor and remember their loved ones. This will especially be the case this weekend on the anniversary. You just hope and pray that something like this doesn't happen again. You thank the police officers for helping protect people (particularly the Pittsburgh police officers who were wounded in the line of duty when responding to the Tree of Life shootings). And perhaps we can also see more instances of people coming together like what happened in Pittsburgh in the days and weeks after October 27, 2018.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Random Ramblings

There are several different items that I want to share, and it seemed to make sense to put them all into one post.

* Matchbox restaurants (primarily in the DC area) hosted a pizza competition where people created their own salads. Just making sure that you're paying attention! The Matchbox chefs chose the top four entries and worked with the winners to bring their pizzas to life. All four creations are on the menu throughout October, and the top-selling pizza will stay on the menu for the rest of the year. I mention this not because Matchbox is a sponsor of Sean's Ramblings (which would be fantastic) but because one of the finalists is Ben, the son of a friend who I've known since fourth grade. You'll also notice from the video below that three of the finalists are adults. Even though Ben is likely taller than the other finalists (seriously, Ben towers over me), he's the only finalist not old enough to vote. Ben's creation is the 3.6.9 with zesty tomato sauce, certified angus beef, pickles, mozz, onion straws, and pecorino. According to his dad, it’s a Slider Pizza, basically a deconstructed cheeseburger with onion straws on top like they do. And it’s called the “3-6-9” like how they list their regular sliders on the menu.

So if you go to Matchbox before the end of October, please order Ben's 3.6.9.

* Chesapeake, Virginia takes trick-or-treating really seriously. So serious that this law is on the books:

(a) If any person over the age of 14 years shall engage in the activity commonly known as "trick or treat" or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. Nothing herein shall be construed as prohibiting any parent, guardian, or other responsible person, having lawfully in his or her custody a child 14 years old or younger, from accompanying said child.

(b) If any person shall engage in the activity commonly known as "trick or treat" or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever after 8:00 p.m., he or she shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Apparently, a lot of people aren't happy with the fact that this misdemeanor exists in which kids could get fined and/or receive jail time (up to 6 months if over 14). Therefore, the City of Chesapeake had to provide this statement:

Chesapeake Police staff will focus on making sure the evening is safe for everyone, not actively seeking out violations of the time or age limits. For example, a 15 year old safely trick or treating with a younger sibling is not going to have any issues. (Sean's Note: That's not what the law says!) That same child taking pumpkins from porches and smashing them in the street more likely will. (Sean's note: Smashing Pumpkins is destruction of property - and a band - and has nothing to do with the law.) The City’s trick-or-treat ordinance was updated in 2019 when City Council voted to remove the (never before used) penalty of jail time and to raise the age limit to 14, making it one of the least restrictive ordinances in all of Hampton Roads.

Oh, in that case, maybe they should just cancel trick-or-treating in all of Hampton Roads!

* To a different police department in Virginia, the Fairfax County Police Department has a blog where they post official news and information. On Monday, they shared this item:

GRAND LARCENY/FOOT PURSUIT: 6699 Springfield Mall (JC Penney), 10/19/19, 8:53 p.m. A man and a women walked into the JC Penney’s store and stole merchandise. After a short foot pursuit through the shopping center, officers located the two and arrested them without further incident. Alfonce Powell, 27, of Maryland, was charged with grand larceny and failure to appear in court, and Shardaisha Slater, 25, of Maryland, was charged with grand larceny.

What really stood out from the article is Powell's mugshot. He looks so happy and photogenic!

* I have a friend who appeared in one of (if not the) opening scene of the incredible 2007 movie Michael Clayton. Based on some of the checks he's still receiving from the film, he's close to retiring...or buying lunch.

* Yahoo published an article titled "5 Influencers Share How Much They Get Paid Per #Ad Post." Yes there's a hashtag in the title. Anyway, I figure that I'm only about 975 followers away from being an influencer! And yes, I'm definitely willing to be a model for any interested clothing brand/company.

* Finally, one of the best things on the internet is The First World Problems of HGB & MAB series on The Steel Trap. I'm featured in three different entries in the latest post.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Moose Plays Recorder

The recorder. Like the harp or flute, many people think of the recorder as an instrument with the most relaxing and soothing sounds. Or not. Especially when played by a third grader. The entire third grade at The Moose’s elementary school recently got to bring home recorders from their music class. While they are apparently playing or learning to play the instrument at school, they were able to bring them home to practice along with a song book called “Recorder Karate” with five or six songs. The idea is when you complete a song, you get a belt. Successfully play the recorder classic “Hot Cross Buns” at school, you get a yellow belt. Ideally, I suppose that everyone in third grade gets a belt. Oprah can probably explain this better.

For the first day or two after The Moose brought home the recorder, he basically just blew it creating lovely original tunes. (Again) Or not. Finally, we sat down to try to work with him on the specific notes and songs. He (and we) lost patience with each other pretty quickly. We decided to try a different route and found a how to play recorder series on YouTube. The Moose watched probably four or five videos, but he didn’t exactly get the point that you’re supposed to master the notes or sounds on the video before advancing to the next one.

A few minutes later, I noticed that he was watching a video about how to play “Old Town Road” on the recorder. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t quite master this, but apparently you can play this song on the recorder.

He had to take the recorder back to school, so we haven’t been blessed to hear the majestic sounds of The Moose playing the recorder the last few days. However, he said that he’s earned two belts, so maybe he did learn how to play some songs. In that case, thank you to his music teacher and of course Lil Nas X!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Vote Against Tom Wilson

I generally don’t write much about politics on this blog. I mean, sure I looked into starting an exploratory committee to run for the President in 2020, criticized Donald Trump for calling Eat ‘N Park by the wrong name, and questioned Sarah Palin’s allegiance to any particular NFL team, but I prefer writing about many other topics. However, I saw these campaign signs driving around Northern Virginia, and, well, let’s see if you have the same reaction as me.

Tom Wilson for school board? TOM WILSON FOR SCHOOL BOARD? Look, I understand that he has name recognition. Being a professional hockey player on the Washington Capitals and winning the Stanley Cup with them is going to garner a lot of positive support in community. But why school board? What experience does he have with American public schools? I mean, he was born in Toronto, didn’t go to college (not a requirement for school board, but it seems like you want someone with some college on their resume in this position) and has only lived in the United States for the last 6 or 7 years. During this time, has he become familiar with the Fairfax County Public School ("FCPS") district, only one of the 15 largest public school systems in the United States? It seems like he’s spent most of the time figuring out the best way to injure his opponents. To be fair, maybe he has spent significant time learning about FCPS and American school systems during all of the time away from ice rinks during suspensions.

Based on his character alone, I will not vote for Tom Wilson. Granted, I don't live in his district, but I will do everything I can to support his opponent, whoever that may be. Go Pens!

So, um, it turns out the Tom Wilson on the Tom Wilson for School Board Facebook page (per the picture above) looks a little different than the hockey player. In addition, he's already on the FCPS school board and is running for reelection. I'm starting to think that maybe it's not the same Tom Wilson. In that case, please disregard what I just wrote.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday Video: Barenaked Ladies and Hootie and the Blowfish

During the 2019 Sean summer concert series, I saw the Hootie and the Blowfish and Barenaked Ladies twin-bill at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia. Since I am always write about recent events, I thought now would be a good time to share some videos, pictures, and thoughts from the, um, July show.

Barenaked Ladies are awesome. They look like they are having so much fun on stage. Lead singer Ed Robertson enjoyed saying the word “Lube” when talking about the concert venue name and also shared a story about smoking a certain substance with Willie Nelson at the same location 20 years ago. There was also a funny moment when they announced that their friend Sarah McLachlan was there only to have the big screen show a bald guy. They ended the show with an awesome medley that included "Shallow," "Old Town Road," and this:

I thought it was a nice touch that drummer Tyler Stewart and Ed Robertson changed places.

Hootie and the Blowfish came next, and I don’t know if there’s a better voice in music than Darius Rucker. He just has the coolest voice. There was also a heated (well, maybe not so heated) exchange where he saw a few people wearing Clemson gear in the audience. With Darius and his band mates being graduates (or at least students) at rival University of South Carolina, Rucker said something like, “Let me know if anyone from the school up north ever wrote a song like this” and went into "Let Her Cry."

Here are a few videos from their performance:

To close the set (but before the encore), Barenaked Ladies joined them on stage.

I could probably include 30 seconds of my own poor video of Hootie and the Blowfish covering R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion, but I'll close with a few pictures that I took of the show instead. My streak of taking awful pictures at concerts continues.

Oh, it was nice seeing St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina at the show!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Moose Runs For Office

My eight year old son, The Moose, is running for his third grade classroom Student Council Representative. The Student Council is made up of two representatives from each classroom and meets once or twice a month to improve the school and community. I have no idea what that means. I mean, I know what it means, but I'm not sure how they accomplish this. I'll share his platform and portions of his speech momentarily, but it's nice to see him following in his father's footsteps.

Yes, I was a class officer during my junior year of high school (and also served in Student Government in college). How did I get elected an officer in my 450+ high school class? I still have no idea. I knew it made no sense to run for President or Vice President. The President during our sophomore year was (and still is) intelligent and very popular becoming Homecoming Queen during our Senior Year. She was also possibly the best soccer player I played against. I remember shadowing her in a game when I was probably 13 or 14 and was excited to hold her to one goal in our team's victory. I'm pretty sure that she's a doctor now. Our Vice President was known in the area for her acting, and she was the lead in our high school musicals. I believe that she also earned a Gene Kelly Award nomination during our Senior year. She continued in acting after graduation appearing in at least one Sex in the City episode and the film Failure to Launch. All I remember about the movie was that Terry Bradshaw was awful in it. Actually, was he naked in it? That's something I don't want to think about ever again. She's now a lawyer (the vice president, not Terry Bradshaw).

Anyway, I decided to run for class secretary. While I don't remember making any speeches or having any type of platform, I made a few posters that weren't very exciting. Somehow I won. I helped put together our homecoming float and organize the Junior/Senior prom (even though I didn't go). Apparently, this was not enough to get reelected during my senior year. Of the four class officer positions, the president, vice president, and treasurer were all the same all three years. The secretary was the same during my sophomore and senior years. I went down as a footnote only to be remembered if someone is looking in our junior year yearbook.

As for The Moose, he has a solid plan. He wants hour-long PE (physical education), music, library, and technology. I mean, it’s not like the teachers and school administration can extend times for specials in the middle of the year, but his third grade classmates don’t know this. He also wants longer recess with more gym equipment (specifically balls) and monkey bars. The extra physical activity makes sense since the kids will need to work off the calories from his plan of having cookies available for sale in the cafeteria every day. He also wants to have a school shirt day. I’m pretty sure the school already has a school spirit day, but I like the idea. Besides his platform, The Moose wants classmates to vote for him because he is friendly, likes sports, and wants to make the school a better place. He has my vote! Plus, I can guarantee that he won’t threaten, bully, or insult people on Twitter (or in person).

I'll let you know how he does. The Moose practiced his speech that he's giving to his class many, many times.

Update: Although The Moose did not win, he said that he finished 2nd out of 6 candidates. He was very pleased with himself and his speech, and I'm really proud of him for trying this. Now, I'll have to teach him how to lobby his classroom representative to try to extend PE, music, etc. and get cookies in the cafeteria every day!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Worst Professional Sports Team: Pirates vs. Redskins

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. Sports was definitely a big part of my life growing up and continues to be today. I’ve been fortunate to see both the Penguins and Steelers become champions. I’ve also lived in Northern Virginia, just outside Washington DC, for over 18 years. I’m not as passionate about any of the DC area teams, but I follow how they are doing and regularly watch games of the local teams. Because of my fandom and geography, I think I’m in a unique position (along with thousands of other members of the Pittsburgh diaspora in the DC area) to evaluate who is worse between arguably the two current worst franchises in American professional sports, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Washington Redskins. Let’s start with the Pirates.

- Since reaching the National League Championship Series for the third consecutive year in 1992, the team finished under .500 every year until 2013. The team made the playoffs via the Wild Card game in 2013-2015, but despite finishing over .500 (82-79) in 2018, the team hasn't truly competed for the postseason since 2015 and finished 69-93 in 2019.

- The team fired long-time manager Clint Hurdle, yet it doesn't appear that Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington or President Frank Coonelly are going anywhere. Bob Nutting, the owner, is certainly not going anywhere.

- The Pirates #1 pitcher, Jameson Taillon, recently had elbow (Tommy John) surgery and will likely be out for the 2020 season.

- The team’s best trade asset, Felipe Vazquez, is currently in jail for child sex charges. Yes, it is as awful as it sounds. While people can, should, and do criticize the front office for lots of things, the Vazquez arrest is definitely not on them.

- Speaking of trades, recent blockbuster deals have worked out poorly for the Pirates. The team traded now all-star Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow (who is only starting game one of the American League Division Series) for Chris Archer. They also traded possible Cy Young award winner Gerrit Cole for Joe Musgrove, Jason Martin, Michael Feliz, and Colin Moran. Yeah.

- The team ranked 27th in attendance in 2019 out of 30 MLB teams.

- Bob Nutting is almost uniformly disliked by Pirates fans.

Now, the Washington Redskins:

- Since Dan Snyder took over the team in 1999, the Redskins have two playoff wins in 20 seasons.

- Arguably the team’s best player, offensive tackle Trent Williams, isn’t playing right now. Usually when players hold out, it’s because of money. Not this time. Williams is unhappy with the medical staff and front office in how they treated him last season.

- The team is 0-4 so far in 2019 and might only be favored in one game for the rest of the season.

- The Redskins had an NFL-low 74.4% home capacity during the 2018 season, averaging about 61,028 fans per game. Many of these fans are rooting for the opposing teams.

- FedEx Field is expensive and extremely inconvenient to get to. The team is looking to build a new stadium (though the location is uncertain) when the current lease ends sometime in the next decade.

-Many people consider the team name to be racist which may complicate the team moving back to Washington.

- When the team fired General Manager Scot McCloughan two years ago, they leaked that it was because he had a drinking problem.

- Owner Dan Snider and (to a slightly lesser extent) President Bruce Allen are almost uniformly disliked by Redskins fans.

So who is in a worse situation going into 2020? Your winner (or I guess loser) is the Pirates.

There is really no hope for this team in the next few seasons. Yes, the team has some nice offensive players like Josh Bell, Starling Marte, and Bryan Reynolds, but that’s about it. The only pitching prospect is Mitch Keller, and even if he turns into 2019 Gerrit Cole, that’s not going to get the Pirates into the playoffs. You can rightly justify that the Pirates really can’t compete economically with the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, and Astros. However, poor drafting and development obviously doesn’t help nor does the apparent inability or interest of the team to spend significant money on free agents. Plus those trades mentioned above have been awful for the franchise. You might be thinking, if the team is so bad, maybe they can draft a big-time player. The problem is that the Tigers, Orioles, and Marlins among other teams had even worse records, so the Pirates only have the #7 pick in the 2020 draft, not the #1 or #2 pick.

As for the Redskins, they have a young quarterback with a lot of promise in 2019 1st round draft pick Dwayne Haskins. He certainly gives the team some hope, if not for this year, then the next few years. With the NFL’s salary cap, it seems like teams go from last in its division to first regularly. In addition, a potential franchise quarterback already on the roster should allow the team to score a major prospect with a likely top 5 pick in the 2020 draft after the top few teams select quarterbacks. The Redskins may even be able to trade its draft position and acquire even more picks.

In both cases, the owners aren’t going anywhere. They are making good money and likely live extravagant lives, so why would they sell? They are among a small and prestigious club of American professional sports owners. While we hope they sell and the teams’ results improve, that seems unlikely.

So what do you think? Who is in a worse situation?

Photo from FoB&D Sports.