Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Lionel Messi Should Join Sheffield Wednesday

The biggest news in the sports world (and possibly the entire world) is that Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest active soccer player, apparently wants to leave Barcelona. Already, there are rumors that some of the biggest European clubs like Manchester City, Manchester United, Juventus, and Paris Saint-Germain are interested. And sure if Messi wants to leave Barcelona, it makes sense for him to go to one of these clubs where he'll make millions of dollars, have the opportunity to win the Champions League, and continue to get major media coverage. However, after having so much individual and team success at Barcelona, perhaps Messi wants a brand new challenge. And that's why I think he should play for Sheffield Wednesday!

Look, I know what you're thinking. There is as good a chance of me, a guy who barely played on my below average high school soccer team, um, several years ago, playing for Sheffield Wednesday as Messi playing for the Owls. And you're totally right. But why would that stop me from writing a blog post where I can speculate it happening? I mean not many people know this, but LeBron James was so inspired by my blog post that he almost played basketball in Pittsburgh a decade ago.

So why do I think Messi should join Sheffield Wednesday? Well, SWFC definitely needs a proven goal scorer. As for what's in it for Messi, he could be the guy who leads Wednesday back to the Premier League for the first time in 20 years. You might think that this shouldn't be a challenge for one of the best players in the world regardless of the rest of the roster. However, Wednesday is also starting this season at a disadvantage getting a 12-point deduction for some shady financial bookkeeping. Basically, the season will start with 23 teams tied with 0 points and Wednesday in 24th place with -12 points. Messi never faced this type of adversity at Barcelona, and he likely wouldn't have this type of challenge again. 

It's all going to come down to money though, right? Well, from the ESPN story linked above "Reports from Argentina claim Messi believes a clause in the contract should oblige Barcelona to let him leave for free." That's fantastic since Wednesday could never afford the likely millions of dollars in transfer fees. But what about the salary? Messi makes approximately $80 million at Barcelona. Wednesday doesn't have that kind of money, and who knows that kind of ticket revenue there may be for the 2020-2021 season thanks for COVID-19. Well, maybe Messi will be happy just earning a few million from Wednesday. Seriously. He makes millions and millions of dollars each year from Adidas, Pepsi, Gatorade, and others. Really, he has plenty of money. 

As for his quality of life, I liked Sheffield from the 3 hours I spent there 20 years ago. Plus, the cost of living has to be lower than Barcelona. Maybe things will be a little quieter for him in Sheffield. People will just leave him alone to live his life. Maybe? Besides, it looks like there are plenty of fun things he and his family can do.

Again, I know that this isn't going to happen, but I can dream. (And it gives me some blog content today!)

UPDATE: So, um, never mind. According to Steven Goff in The Washington Post, "The release clause — the amount a suitor would have to pay Barcelona for Messi’s rights because he is under contract until next summer — is $835 million, though such astronomical figures are deterrents more than anything else." Wednesday doesn't have that kind of money.

Photo of Messi by Joan Monfort/AP.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Found In My Basement: Harry Potter

I tried reading Harry Potter to The Moose (now 9) several times over the last few years, but he was never really interested. I don't think we made it past the first chapter or two. Since we're stuck at home during the pandemic, I tried again a few weeks ago and now we're only two chapters away from finishing the first book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." He still doesn't have the patience to read more than a chapter or so a day, but he seems to be enjoying it. (Of course, he does have the patience to sit and watch hours worth of Dude Perfect videos. Those guys seem to yell A LOT!)

Anyway, now that we're almost done with the first book, I thought it would make sense to find the other books so that we can continue reading the series. Many people have bookshelves filled with books easily accessible. Not in my house! While we have bookshelves in the kids' rooms, those generally contain books appropriate for preschool and early elementary school kids. Any other free space in our home has been overtaken by toys and games and now learning areas as we prepare for The Moose (4th grade) and Pedro Tulo (1st grade) to begin the school year at home. Books are generally in boxes in various parts of the house, mostly in the basement storage closet. So I spent Sunday trying to find the Harry Potter books.

As you can see from the picture, I was successful. Not pictured is the amount of time it took to find the books and to move things around the basement closet. I also found this Pittsburgh Steelers commemorative bag of potato chips with a coupon for $10 the purchase of $50 at Dick's Sporting Goods. Unfortunately, the coupon expired in January 2003. I'm throwing these chips out with the garbage tonight.

You might be wondering why there are only five books pictured of the seven-book series. The first book is on the couch, but I'm missing the fourth book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." When I went to England in 2000, I bought this book at a London bookstore not long after it came out as a gift for my mom. She got me into the Harry Potter series, and I read the first three books during my time in England, particularly traveling to and from Lancaster on the weekends. I finished the fourth book on the flight back to Pittsburgh, and my mom still has it today. What's neat about this edition is that it's in British English rather than American English. Oh, here's a picture of Ziggy wanting to see what I was doing.

By the way, this blog is so old that I can still read posts from when the sixth and seventh books came out. I wrote two posts of my eagerly awaiting the sixth book to arrive via UPS that would basically be tweets today. I also shared predictions for the final book, and briefly how I dressed up as Dean Thomas when this book was released at midnight at a Harry Potter party.

Please click here to read more of the Found in My Basement posts.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Random Ramblings

* Ziggy turned 12 on Saturday. To celebrate, he meowed a lot fairly early in the morning, and then proceeded to urinate on a bathroom rug. I'm still not exactly sure why. His litter box was clean, so I suspect that he was a little spooked by a toy near his litter box. I moved some things around in the basement, and he successfully used his little box again not long after I did that. He's definitely getting older, but I think (or at least hope) that this is an isolated incident. (Ziggy might be a little embarrassed, so he's hiding from the paparazzi!

* The Democratic National Convention begins tonight. While I saw a list of speakers posted online last week, I honestly had no idea that the convention is this week. I mention this because I think Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, and Ariana Grande should reunite to introduce Kamala Harris. 

Bonus points if Katy Perry can wear the Dumbo costume she wore during a Disney singalong back in May.


* I don't want to jinx anything, but I wrote a blog post to appear on a website that's not Sean's Ramblings. Even though there's no money involved, it might turn out to be a regular thing. It's very, very subject specific, but I'm excited about the opportunity. It sounds like it's going to happen later this week, so I'll let everyone know on my Facebook and Twitter pages if/when the post is published.

* Baseball writer Peter Gammons wrote a tweet about the historically bad Boston Red Sox pitching staff which included this, "And next June's draft order will not be in order of the 2020 finish, but a combined formula based on 2019-2020." As a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, this is depressing. The Pirates are awful with a 4-14 record. In a typical year, this pace would allow them to get the #1 overall draft pick. However, in 2019 they were 10 games better than the Kansas City Royals, 12 games better than the Miami Marlins, and an incredible 22 games better than the Detroit Tigers. While I don't know how the formula works, it seems like the Pirates could finish 4-36 while the Tigers could 20-20, and the Tigers would get the better pick. 

* I've now watched the first two episodes The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Breaking news: It's really good. Who knew? (Other than all of the Emmy voters.)

Friday, August 14, 2020

Friday Video: Happy Endings

You may not remember this, but Modern Family seemed cutting edge when it first debuted. I mean a story partially about a husband and wife with three kids? That was definitely unlikely for many people in 2009. When I recorded Modern Family on my DVR, it picked up the first minute or two of the show Happy Endings. I found that minute or two consistently funny, and I eventually started watching Happy Endings too. Unfortunately, Happy Endings only lasted three seasons. I guess that it didn't get great ratings, but I found it to be one of the funniest shows on television.

I bring this all up because last month there was a Happy Endings reunion as a fundraiser for Color of Change and World Central Kitchen. Sure, a 2020 episode of the show where the characters are all on Zoom isn't the same as a regular episode, but the writing is still there, and the characters are just as fun as they were in the early 2010s. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Vice Presidential Olympics

The news is obviously being dominated by Joe Biden's selection of California Senator Kamala Harris to be the Vice President on the Democratic ticket. (I promise that this post isn't political, but I would be shocked if more than 10 people decided that they would vote for Trump or Biden as a direct result of this selection.) Trump loves attention and publicity, so he's probably sitting in the White House trying to figure out a way to bring the spotlight back to him. Want to make major news? Suggest that you're considering replacing Mike Pence as the VP on the Republican ballot. However, it wouldn't be fun just to interview Pence and other potential candidates. Make them earn the spot. Introducing the Vice Presidential Olympics!

First, let's meet our candidates.

*Former Presidential candidate and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
* U.S. representative for Ohio's 4th congressional district, Jim Jordan.
* Former South Carolina Governor and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
* Fox News TV host Sean Hannity.
* And finally, looking to retain his position current Vice President Mike Pence.

If there's one thing that Donald Trump knows it's reality television. Therefore, these five candidates will compete in a variety of contests all on national TV based on current and past reality shows. Considering the lack of new programming right now, this could be ratings gold. 

We all know that Trump loves to golf, so he needs a Vice President who can join him on the course. Enter a huge favorite in my household Holey Moley!

There really is some skill needed to putt on the various holes of Holey Moley, but the true excitement comes between shots. Is Lindsey Graham nimble enough to run through the windmills on the Double Dutch Courage hole? Can Jim Jordan race through Hole Number Two before the porta-potty doors open? 

The true test of the Vice President is his or her loyalty to Donald Trump. Sure, it's easy to defend him or attack anyone who disagrees with him, but how far would they go to show that they would do anything for Trump? Would Sean Hannity eat worms to show that he is the right person for the job? Would Mike Pence lay nearly naked in a tank of snakes to demonstrate that he deserves to keep his position?

Naturally, there would be a rose ceremony at the end of each round to see who must leave the White House. Oh, and no one would wear a mask during any of these contests because that would show weakness.

I guess there could be other contests like seeing if any of the candidates could survive 30 minutes getting interviewed by Rachel Maddow, but I can't see Trump going for this. Instead, let's see how far Nikki Haley and the others could go on an American Ninja Warrior course!

This would be fun! 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Welcome To The Jungle

Overall, I think I've been pretty positive during this pandemic. I mean I absolutely miss seeing my friends and family. As I mentioned a few months ago, we're not comfortable traveling, so we didn't go on a family trip to Hilton Head and we haven't visited my mom in Florida. I guess I'm distracting myself by keeping really busy. Even though I'm working from home, I just realized that I haven't taken a day off (except for Memorial Day and July 4th) since I got home from my dad's funeral right when everything started shutting down in March. I find that I'm doing work or checking work email at all hours of the day and even on weekends. Part of this is because I'm not working a traditional 9:00-5:00, so there are many days where I feel like I didn't get enough done. That's when I end up opening my computer after the kids go to bed.

That first paragraph didn't sound very positive, so let's go with this. I am definitely spending more time with my kids than I have before. We play outside  or in our basement every day, and it's nice having three meals together. (Now if they would eat more!)

Over the last few months, I've become accustomed to knowing things would be cancelled or postponed. I was disappointed that Celebrate Fairfax didn't occur in June, but I expected it. I think we all knew that in-person school wouldn't happen for the kids this fall too. I was supposed to see Green Day, Weezer, and Fall Out Boy on Saturday night, but that was postponed until 2021 weeks ago. 

So between being busy with work and family and expecting things to be cancelled, I've tried to remain positive. I feel like that's important for the kids and my own personal sanity. Yet, considering everything, it was this that made me sad:

This is Herr Metal, a cover band of 80s hair metal (hence the name) who play hits from groups like Guns 'n' Roses, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Poison, and more. They put on great shows, and I've probably seen them 6-7 times over the last few years (including at last year's Celebrate Fairfax). The link to the video above is from a livestream concert put on by Herndon's Friday Night Live. It sort of hit me the other night that I really miss going to live concerts. A staple of our summers has been attending various free concerts and performances organized by local government agencies and shopping centers. It's something that I really enjoy doing with my kids. My oldest has outgrown some of the kids performers, but I think now he'd enjoy some of the more all ages concerts. That's obviously not happening this summer, and I really miss not going to these shows with them and/or my friends.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Pirates Lose 5-2

In my first post as a Pittsburgh Pirates/Sheffield Wednesday/Ziggy blogger, I'm writing about the Pirates 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins. The Pirates are now 2-10 and are on a 7-game losing streak. Trevor Williams pitched well giving up only 1 run and 3 hits in 7 innings. Unfortunately, the Pirates offense only had three hits (and no runs) through 8 innings, so when the bullpen gave up 4 runs in the top of the 9th, a 2-run Josh Bell home run only prevented a shutout. Let's see what Ziggy thinks of the game.

You know what? I don't think this Pittsburgh Pirates/Sheffield Wednesday/Ziggy niche blog thing is going to work. I just like writing about too many topics. I barely wrote about one Pirates game, and I just can't do this after every game. I mean do you really care that the team optioned Guillermo Heredia and Jose Osuna to Altoona? Now, if the Pirates sent them to Toronto to take the place of Jack Johnson on the Penguins roster that would be interesting!

I'm just not going to be a niche blogger. Sorry. I mean if companies or individuals still want to advertise on Sean's Ramblings, I'm definitely available. Now, will I write about the Pirates and Sheffield Wednesday? Of course. The Pirates are the first team that I followed and I'm considering buying whatever package is available next season so that I can actually watch some Sheffield Wednesday games. I'm also going to continue to write about Ziggy (and share pictures of him), though I don't think he's interested in sharing his opinion on these teams.

With all of this written, if my niche is to have a blog about a wide variety of topics, this is the place!

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

The New Sean's Ramblings

Although I'm not the target audience, I checked out a recent online blogging event organized by BlogHer. What stood out for me the most from the various speakers was that your blog should personify yourself, and more importantly, you should create your own niche. If you've read Sean's Ramblings at all over the last 15 years, you know that I definitely don't have a niche. I write about my kids and being a dad. I write about sports. I write about television and pop culture. I write about free food and grocery shopping. Really, I'm all over the place.  

So after 15 years, I think it's finally time to create my own niche. Welcome to new Sean's Ramblings! The only place where you can find news about Sheffield Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and my cat Ziggy. 

You're probably thinking, Sean, aren't there already blogs about the Pittsburgh Pirates and about Sheffield Wednesday? The answer is, um, yes (though I don't think I've ever seen a Sheffield Wednesday blog). But have you ever seen an all-in-one Pittsburgh Pirates/Sheffield Wednesday blog? No you have not. I have found my niche! You're probably also thinking, Sean, this sounds like it could be a really depressing blog. The Pittsburgh Pirates are the worst team in baseball with a 2-9 record through Tuesday. They are going to be terrible for several years if not longer. Meanwhile, Sheffield Wednesday finished in the middle of the table in the English Championship League, but they were much closer to relegation to promotion this past season. Plus, they are looking at starting the 2020-2021 season with a 12-point deduction because of some shady financials. Basically, they don't look to challenge for a spot in the English Premier League for a few years either.  

You're still a little confused. I get it. This could be a dramatic shift to what you're used to reading here. Plus, after seeing the description of the Pirates and Sheffield Wednesday, how much fun will it be to read about two struggling (I think that's being optimistic) teams? Well, here's the exciting part. I will include a picture of Ziggy in every blog post. And I'll include commentary from Ziggy in each post. Want to know Ziggy's thoughts on the Pirates pitching staff? Come to Sean's Ramblings! What is Ziggy's opinion on Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk? Come to Sean's Ramblings! 

While I'm not sure if this will work, I appreciate Ziggy looking at hockey cards to see if any of these players could also play baseball or soccer!