Sport Superstitions and Jinxes

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Despite this blog being about rational thought, I will admit there are times I'm deeply irrational. Most of those instances has to do with sports.

I love sports and I'm a hugely devoted fan. I actually get very upset when the team I'm rooting for starts to play badly. I'm also very prone to believing in superstitions and jinxes. For example, today I was watching the Lakers and Spurs in their playoff game. The game was back and forth throughout much of the game.

The Lakers were doing well at the beginning but at one point in the game, my host, walks into the room. Now mind you, I'm at my friends place and he is being kind enough to let me watch the game because I don't currently have cable TV. Sure enough, as soon as he walks in, the game starts going south for the Lakers. My friend, who is also a devout sports fan, kindly says, "I'm a jinx, I'm leaving." Later in the game, I realize that every time my girlfriend rubs my shoulders, the Lakers start doing better. Seriously. She stops rubbing my shoulders, and BAM, the Spurs go on a run. I point it out to her and ask her to start rubbing again, and the Lakers go back up by seven points.

Deep down, I know I'm being completely illogical. I know all these things are merely coincidence and there is no way any of these actions are related to the outcome of a sporting event. But when I'm watching sports, the rational side of me goes right out the window. If I have to stand on my head while wearing only one sock to ensure victory, I probably will.

Why do you think we are this way? Why do sports fans think that their inane actions has any bearing on a game that quite frankly doesn't mean all that much?

Athletes and Drugs

Monday, May 26, 2008
The other day, Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls was charged with possession of marijuana. Yet another story of an athlete doing something absolutely stupid. I could devote an entire blog on this subject. Whenever I read stories like this I have to think, "Really?"

I mean seriously, if you are a professional athlete why would you ever smoke pot? Is it really worth it? As an athlete, you have the ability to get paid several million dollars over the course of your lifetime. Are a few puffs of Mary Jane really worth that? Here are my big problems.
  • Just don't do It - If I offered you a million dollars or some weed, which would you choose? Most rational people are going to take the million dollars. Some would argue that athletes don't deserve to be paid that much in the first place. Do you really need to give them another reason to be right?
  • At least do the right drugs - If you have to do an illegal substance, at least do something that will help your career. I mean, at least if you do steroids, you will be improving your chances as an athlete. But a drug like pot? What possible reason would you do this? I could maybe even understand a drug like heroin, which would give you an intense high and is highly addictive. But Marijuana?
  • Be smart about it - Noah was an idiot on several other levels as well. If you are going to do pot, at least do it in private. I mean really. You are going to get caught with it in your pocket while you are in public? He was caught because he was drinking a beer in public, another no no. How about when you have something on you that could end your NBA career, you don't do another illegal thing? Finally, is it really necessary for YOU to be holding it while in public? How about if you find it absolutely necessary to transport the pot from a private place you ask one of your friends to carry it. Offer him $1,000 to do it. Hell, offer him $10,000 to do it. It's much better than you being caught with it and your friend gets $10,000. It's a win win.
As much as I believe athletes get paid what they deserve, its times like this I think they deserve anything they get.

American Airlines Baggage Fee

Thursday, May 22, 2008
There seems to be a lot of uproar about American Airlines starting to charge its passengers $15 for their first checked bags. They aren't the first airlines to charge for baggage, but they are the first to charge for the first checked bags. Others who have implemented similar policies normally only charge for the second bag.

This is in response to several factors, most notably of which is the rising cost of fuel. Just today, oil sped past $135 a barrel before coming back down to around $130. This is causing American Airlines, and others as well, to try and find new sources of revenue.

The thing is, I'm not sure why people are so upset. A few things make me understanding. First of all, I understand that companies can't run at a loss forever. Consumers seem to forget that companies are in business to make money. American Airlines is hemorrhaging cash. If they need to raise their prices to meet cost then that's what they have to do. This brings me to my second point. Consumers have a choice on whether or not to fly American Airlines. There are a dozen other carriers that don't charge this fee which you are free to take if you so choose. That's the beauty of capitalism. So long as consumers have choices, then it doesn't really matter what any one company does. If one company tries to charge higher prices than their competitors for the same product, consumers will eventually migrate to the other suppliers.

So let them charge whatever they want. Don't like it, buy a ticket somewhere else.

How to Fix the NBA draft ...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

as well as the regular season. The problem with the NBA regular season is that by the midway point, half the teams have given up because they know they have no chance to make the playoffs, and the worse they do, the better chance they have to get a high draft pick.

Last night, despite long odds, the Chicago Bulls ended up with the first pick. Despite having one of the better records, the ping pong balls bounced their way. Most people might not like the fact that a decent team now looks to get that much better. I don't. Here is why.

There is a real easy way to fix the first problem and it is related to what happened to Chicago. Don't make the chances of getting the top picks increase by rewarding teams with the worse record. They should take the three teams that almost made the playoffs and give them the top three picks. The team who just barely missed the playoffs gets the first pick, the team right behind them gets the second pick, etc. Starting on the fourth pick, just put them in reverse order of finish so that the worse team gets the 4th overall pick.

Life is all about incentives, and this one creates the right incentives. The current system rewards those teams that lose at the end. Now, there is no guarantee that you will end up with the best pick if you continue to lose, as proven by Chicago, but the odds of it are greatly increased. Rather than incent teams to just lose, they should incent teams to win. If teams like the Bulls, through dumb luck, are going to end up with the high picks anyway, you might as well take chance out of the equation and actually make it worth a team's time to fight till the end. While the rich get richer, in this particular instance, I think its the right thing.

The Americana At Brand

Sunday, May 18, 2008
I went to the new Americana mall in Glendale. It's a new outdoor mall with apartments that sit above the shops. Much like the Paseo Colorado in Pasadena. Overall, it was pretty nice. There weren't many shops open yet nor were there lots of places to grab a quick bite to eat, but I can see how this place will be successful for years to come.

Probably not such great news for the adjacent Glendale Galleria. I'm not much for the Glendale Galleria, something about the atmosphere just isn't right there so I prefer a place more like the Americana. A couple of things to note about it though

  • It's a very open mall. This is good and bad. On hot days like today, there are very few places you can get away from the sun.
  • If you don't like American Capitalism, don't come here. It is way over the top and excessive.
  • Most of the stores are the higher-end boutique shops, so I'm not so sure they have a lot ot offer your regular joe consumers.
  • The water fountain seems to have an hourly shoe set to music. Reminded me of some of the shows I've seen in Vegas. See second point.
  • Paying for parking just sucks. You can get validated and not have to pay but it still is a pain in the ass.
  • The number of workers there was unbelievable. There were people to help you everywhere. Valet, people guiding traffic, people helping at the pay stations. There was even this huge hotel lobby looking desk for what seemed like the residents of the mall.
Not so sure I will go back too often. Wasn't a lot for me there. But not a bad place to go see once.

Electric Drill - A Must Have

Sunday, May 11, 2008
The older I get, the more I just want things to be easy for me to do. I find that I will now pay for things that are convenient or easy rather than just do the work myself. I think it has to do with the fact that the older I get, the less time I have and the more money I have.

Case in point, the electric drill. I bought an electric drill a few months ago to put together a dresser I bought. At the time I bought it because I didn't have a drill. I didn't realize that the best part of the drill would be the electric screwdriver attachment.

Today, I was putting together some furniture and was dreading how long it was going to take. I suddenly realized I had the electric screw driver and quickly went to grab it. What a lifesaver. I mean seriously, do you realize how much time and effort you can save with one of these things? Putting together furniture becomes a lot easier when you have an electric screwdriver. It's one of those things I can't believe I went so long without. Even though I don't use it a lot, the few times I do it becomes well worth it. So seriously, stop abusing your arms and go get one. You'll thank me later.

Getting Older

Monday, May 05, 2008
I know I'm getting old. I know this for two reasons.
  • I played in a softball game yesterday. It was literally the first time I played in a game in over 18 years. The fact that I can say I did it 18 years ago is bad enough but not why I'm old. I'm old because today my legs are quite sore from running the bases twice and fielding a few balls. Just sad.
  • I keep hearing the song "No Handlebars" and I just don't get it. You know you are old when you can say, "I just don't understand today's music."

It also doesn't help that I am starting to be one of the "older" guys at work. I'm actually probably right in the middle at this point, and I work in a pretty youthful company. But still, when the heck did that happen?