Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The NBA's New Slogan: Ride Or Die

Just a tremendous column by AOL's Jason Whitlock today concerning the thug element in Las Vegas this past weekend at the NBA All-Star festivities. I don't have much to add myself. Vegas from what I understand is lawless anyway, especially the Strip, and tossing the hundreds of sycophants and groupies that always hover around the NBA into the mix made for what I'm sure was a truly frightening weekend. I can only imagine what that town smelled like Monday morning. I actually don't blame the stars for having thick entourages surrounding them at all times--the more bodies between them and potential bullets, the better.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

It Starts

Yes folks, you know spring training has finally begun when Kerry Wood finds a way to injure himself. Again. It's a rite of spring, as consistent as a sunrise.

God, I've missed baseball.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Today is the one-year anniversary of me being an associate at J.P. Morgan Chase. Only nine more years before they can kick me out on my ass like CBOE did. But seriously, I have been taking steps to distinguish myself at this gig, like volunteering for the quality team, which makes a presentation once a month talking about productivity numbers and error rates and what we can do to improve our performance and stop pissing off our customers. The first time I spoke at a Q-board meeting was the end of December, and although I was nervous and monotone because of my lack of public speaking skillz, I could feel a sense of newfound respect from my co-workers, like they saw me in a whole new light. And I saw myself differently as well. I only volunteered for the team because my old supervisor told me that it should push me into the highest level as far as my reviews go when combined with my nearly flawless productivity numbers. But now that I've been doing it for three months, I feel more responsible, more in-the-loop with those in charge, and more of a leader when I'm doing my job because people who have questions see me as a go-to guy after hearing me preach about asking more questions and reducing errors. Last month, that's what I spoke about, customer service and paying attention to the critical care list, which contains accounts that have complained about various mistakes we've made. My old supervisor told me about a conference call headed up by the C.E.O. of Chase, Jamie Dimon, who said that other banks can get the ear of customers on our list and tell them to take their business away from us. Those banks can say, "We won't make those mistakes," whether that's true or not. I relayed that story during my speech, and the floor went silent, so at least my co-workers were listening for a second. I was told later that some higher-ups heard the part about Jamie Dimon's remarks and said, "Yeah! That's what we need! Someone to talk about those kind of things!" So I'm starting to make some kind of impression. I've stopped coming in late, I stay until all of my work is done, and I even take out the garbage at the end of the day because my team lead is preggers. (No, I didn't do it.) Somewhere in the last calendar year, I've matured a lot. I'm not totally sure why. I think it's some combination of my personal life becoming much calmer and more peaceful, my living arrangements becoming settled, and my being scared shitless by not finding a full-time job for thirteen months. Whatever happens with this gig, I'm not going down without making as hard an effort as possible to step up in the food chain and distinguish myself. This job is something I have been able to sink my teeth into because there are a ton of standard operating procedures to follow, and being an asshole perfectionist, I get off on coming up with the right procedure when everyone else is scratching their heads. In other words, I'm starting to like it here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Well, That Was Uglier Than A Bowling Shoe

Super Bowl XLI was not actually a bad game, just not very pretty. The Colts took what the Bears offered them, in the above pic's case Rex Grossman's ass, but most of the time it was well-timed running plays and swing passes to running backs. And when the Bears had the momentum in the 1st quarter and were about to sack Peyton Manning, he took what was offered at that point, which was a completely wide-open Reggie Wayne 52 yards away. The Bears were still within a touchdown of winning in the 4th quarter, but when your QB can't hold on to the fucking football, whether it's fumbling the snap or the patented Grossman Close-Your-Eyes-And-Throw-A-Wobbling-Duck move, it's a lost cause. So congrats to the much better team, the Colts. And as for the Bears, it seems like they have made the mistake of getting married to one of their players, which happens when an organization develops an attachment to someone and ignores all of their flaws and shortcomings. The Bears will not give up on Rex Grossman because they feel like they've stuck with him for so long that they're now obligated to hang on and give him every chance to succeed until he leaves the team on his own volition. It is clear to me and others that Grossman is too immature to be a great or even good quarterback right now. Will he ever be successful? Maybe. But there are a lot of veterans on that Bears team who won't be playing football anymore by the time Grossman figures it out, and I guarantee you, they are some angry men right now because there are veterans on other teams, and in the case of Brian Griese, maybe a vet on their own team, who would have discovered that secret of holding on to the damn ball that Peyton Manning discovered and would have given them at least a chance to win the Super Bowl. That's a chance the Bears had not received in 21 years, and it may be another 21 before they receive it again. Hopefully they won't be married to an erratic QB by then.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl Fever

Or perhaps this is pneumonia I am feeling, since it has been 15 degrees or less every day this week. Anyway, some final thoughts the morning before Le Grande Game:

  • This town has lost all reasoning when it comes to breaking down the actual game and how it's going to go. Because every single soul on ESPN and most of the "experts" in the local papers picked the Saints to beat the Bears in the NFC title game, basically everyone is overcompensating now and calling a Bears victory in a game in which they're a touchdown underdog. That's ridiculous for the entire sports community in Chicago to seriously believe that. Some people, yeah, but not virtually all. The national sports talk shows that were stationed in Miami this week, the host city of the Super Bowl, were reporting that you could hardly find anyone picking the Bears. So how do all of our guys figure that the Bears are gonna wipe the Colts out? It's like Da Superfans have all infiltrated the spirits of our normally (somewhat) civil-minded people. Honestly, it seems like every caller to the local sports talk shows were trying to look at the game rationally before their minds warped and spit out the party line. "Well, the Bears can rush the QB and have a chance that way, but Peyton Manning usually gets rid of the ball quickly, so it might be up to the offense to score a lot in order for us to have a chance...uh...but we all know what's gonna happen, Grossman will trow 5 TDs, and we're gonna pound Manning into da ground. Bears 43, Colts 6...DAAAA BEARRRSSS!" I haven't seen overcompensation like this since--nah, I won't say it. I'm trying to be nice.

  • As one of the local afternoon sports talk shows signed off Friday, one of the co-hosts said, "And if the Bears win, please people--riot safely." The response from the producer, who is black, was one of the funniest things I ever heard on the radio, and it will probably get him fined, if not fired. He says, "And don't destroy your own communities in celebration." The white co-hosts agree on that point. Then the producer says, "Go destroy the white folks' communities. Do something different this time." The co-hosts go virtually silent, then one of them chuckles nervously and says, "I can't believe you said that!" before they go off the air.

  • I'm very excited about the quality of the game because of how the past week unfolded. There wasn't any bulletin board material, except for Bears QB Rex Grossman, he of the 20 interceptions this season, telling some members of the media that they were ignorant and didn't know what kind of offense the Bears were trying to run. What, the close-your-eyes-and-throw-the-fucking-ball-to-the-other-team offense? I didn't know teams actually called plays for that. But I was impressed by the poise and calm both teams showed, at least externally. The Bears played that "No one respects us" role even though they were favored in nearly every game this year. That's fine, and it even works sometimes. But the Colts were so relaxed, it seemed like nothing could faze them. Their QB, Peyton Manning, who in the past has always let pressure consume him and make him curl up in the fetal position, was cool, calm, humorous, breezy, and really seemed like nothing affected him. He mentioned that he hasn't felt this nervous since performing the tango on stage in high school, then mentioned that no one should try to look for the tape of that because it was "deep in the Manning vault." The next day, said tape was all over SportsCenter. I bet that tape wasn't deep in the vault at all, and I bet Manning mentioned it because he knew people would run and find that tape and give him and his teammates something else to laugh at him about besides the bulge of commercials he's filmed. And he did it because it's something to focus on besides the actual game. The Bears are going to come on the field fired up and spitting about no one giving them a chance because of their bad QB and their status as champs of a shit conference, the NFC. This would theoretically put the pressure on the Colts, since they're supposed to take this group of Bears and handle them. It would be a beautiful thing if Manning led the team on the field and all of them were doing the tango. But even if they're not, I guarantee they have all screened the tape of the tango within the last 32 hours and belly-laughed until they were nauseous, and the effect that has of bringing a team together in a way that takes their minds off the game is huge. The Colts should win, but if they don't, it won't be because they were too nervous in the big moment. All indications are that they are not feeling the pressure at all. If they lose, it will be because the Bears flat-out beat them. Either way, I'm getting a feeling that this game will be one of the best of all time. I cannot wait.