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May 22, 2006

Have you read these?

Only two this time around, but they're rock solid.

May 17, 2006

You are interviewing to be a consultant...

For your interview, we have only one two-part question. Take your time, and explain your answer.

Of the four major American sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL), what team has the highest percentage of its season tickets owned by people who are not fans of the team (but are fans of some other team in the same sport)? What percentage of this team's season tickets do you think are owned by non-fans?

I have my answer. Will write it later, after reading your answers.

May 12, 2006

Have you read these?

A new series, in which I share my favorite links from the week in the hopes that not all my readers have seen them all. This week, we start out slowly with only four links:

Albert Pujols's Biggest Fans

Albert Pujols is on pace to hit over eighty home runs this year. I've got a not-particularly-novel thesis which states that:

Pujols's biggest fans in his quest to break 73 home runs are Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa.

You see, there's a lot of speculation that this modern trio of sluggers cheated to some extent or another. Sosa corked his bat, McGwire used andro (which was not illegal at the time), and Bonds took steroids. Heck, McGwire and Sosa probably took steroids also. Their bodies were huge, and their home runs were mammoth. Their power statistics took improbable turns for the better late in their careers. And all of a sudden they hit far more home runs than anyone in baseball since Roger Maris.

And therein lies the rub. One often unspoken piece of evidence against the big three is the simple fact that seemingly out of nowhere they did what no one had done in many, many years. And they did it all together and all at once. The obvious conclusion, the story goes, is that something unnatural must have been afoot.

Fast forward to 2006 and a world well aware of MLB's tough new drug-testing policy and stringent punishments. No one—especially not a superstar—would mess with steroids now. Finally we have emerged from the darkness and can revel in the purity and majesty of any new single-season slugging records. Of course, this also means a return to the days in which Roger Maris's 61 home runs was an unreachable feat. Unless...

Unless Albert Pujols reaches it, surpasses it, destroys it. In which case we'd all need to reevaluate the tenets of our world. Maybe the record wasn't so unreachable in this day and age. Maybe a dearth of pitching talent in the diluted expansion-filled sport is really increasing offensive stats. Maybe our current understanding of physiology really does encourage far better exercise and training routines. Heck, maybe the ball itself is juiced...

...and whatever the case, we'll all say to ourselves, maybe McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds reached their marks legitimately as well. If Pujols could, why not them?

Or maybe Pujols is using something else. Maybe he indulges in human-growth hormone (HGH), undetectable with baseball's urine-only drug tests. Maybe Pujols's power is no more natural than the other three sluggers'.

Witch hunts are bad. Speculation is dangerous. Let's watch the game; let's enjoy the game. Let's be skeptical observers in a cynical world, but let's extend our skepticism not only to the would-be-heroes but also to the evidence against them as well. Caveat baseball fan.

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May 4, 2006

Muriel Zuckerman, in memoriam

I wanted to write a short memorial tribute to my wife's grandma who passed away recently. She was a fiercely devoted, loyal, and proud friend and family member with a sharp wit and a smile that would melt an ice cube. After Lynn gave an impromptu, emotionally stirring and beautifully delivered eulogy at her funeral, though, I felt there was nothing more for me to say (and, unfortunately, I wasn't in a position to share Lynn's words with those not at the funeral service).

Last night, though, Lynn told me about a conversation she had with her grandpa. and the message resonated strongly with my own philosophies and, indeed, with the sated goal of my blog. He said:

Lynn, enjoy all of the moments that you and Lee spend together becase in the end, all that you have left are the memories. And after 61 years, it hurts so much more because I have so many good memories.

We miss you.