I Cannot Wait To Give My Baby A Name That Will Piss Everyone Off

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This may be my first and last post concerning babies. The only reason I’m bringing this up is because I apparently went on a drunken rant to an expecting couple at a wedding I attended over the weekend.

Sorry if you’re one of the people who read the title and thought I might be having a baby. For the foreseeable future, having a one-year-old nephew who I can build pillow forts with until he shits himself from laughter and then walk away as his parents have to change him is the closest I’m getting to being a dad.

But that’s not going to stop me from throwing around my two cents when it comes to naming your child.

Don’t get me wrong, you can name your baby whatever the hell you want. Call it Burger, Sesame or Yoga. Call it God’s Gift. Name it after two cardinal directions if you really must. The point is you can name your baby anything your heart desires.

What I’d like to attack in this post are the people who give expecting parents grief about what they’re going to name the baby.

Being that I’m a childless man, this situation is relatively new to me. But over the past few years as more of my friends got pregnant, I started to realize that the majority of them were unwilling to disclose the name before the baby fell out of the womb.

One couple I know made a game out of it where their friends could guess the name and get a prize if they got it right. So for a while I thought the purpose of this name-hiding was just to have some fun.

But then I heard that a lot of expecting parents don’t want to say the name publicly before the baby’s born because sometimes family members or close friends will criticize the name. Apparently people will openly question the name if they don’t like it?

I asked a close friend of mine once while she was pregnant what the deal was, and she literally said, “Well, sometimes friends and family have a lot of strong opinions so it’s just better to let the baby be born and give it the name we want before we tell people who might not love the name.”

To anyone who would tell expecting parents that they don’t like the name they’ve picked, I’d like to say you’re the true definition of an asshole.

Maybe I should make fun of the expecting couples a little bit for being scared of these dissenting opinions, but I understand sometimes it’s just easier not to create controversy or set yourself up for criticism.

But for the lowlifes who would tell a pregnant friend or relative that they’ve picked a bad name, I think you should learn to mind your own business and shut up for nine months….or have your tongue cut out if you just can’t keep quiet.

I don’t see any difference between this phenomenon and a friend showing up at your new house for the first time and saying how ugly or small it is.

That’s scum of the earth type stuff right there.

I can’t wait to have a kid some day. The moment I know what the name’s going to be, every family member, friend and distant acquaintance is going to know. And I honestly hope someone tries to suggest that maybe I should pick a different name. That person will be immediately excommunicated from my life. Never talked to again. You could be a friend, one of my relatives or one of my girlfriend’s relatives. You’re done if you try to tell me what I should or should not name my baby.

Better yet, what I’ll probably do is try to figure out what name each person in my life would hate the most and then tell that person that’s what I’m naming my kid.

If you’re a good friend who’s recently been through a horrible breakup, well don’t get mad, but we just love the name of your ex so much that we’re giving our kid that name.

If you’re one of my religious grandparents, well, you may not love this, but we decided Lucifer is a beautiful name for our baby boy.

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(Deep breath)

Sorry for that unwanted tirade of a post, but it just boggles my mind that there are people out there who think there’s nothing wrong with this.

Expecting parents of the future, don’t be afraid to disclose the name you’ve chosen ahead of time and then start making a list of people whose funerals you won’t be attending some day because they decided to give you advice on the name.

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Cohabitation Dilemma: Daily Light Cleaning vs. Once In A Blue Moon Deep Cleaning

This blog post is brought to you by the good people at relationshipcounseling.com. *

After 14 months of cohabitating with my saint of a girlfriend, I have many questions about two people surviving a longterm relationship when they have opposite cleaning habits. Most people seem to keep their homes in order by one of two methods:

  1. Clean as you go – Meaning you’re constantly picking up after yourself throughout the day so that the place stays mostly clean and tidy.
  2. Create a replica of the TV show Hoarders and then do one major disaster recovery effort – Meaning you don’t pick up after yourself for the better part of a month and then spend an entire weekend cleaning every square inch of your house.

I guess the first obvious question is whether two people can live together if one is always cleaning up and the other is always dirtying up. They say opposites attract so am I to believe that the majority of couples who live together have opposing views of how a house should be cleaned?

Is it perfectly fair for each member of the relationship to continue with his or her preference of cleanliness? Or is a compromise the only way to survive this philosophical divide?

Look to the kitchen if you want a micro example of these differing methods. I’ve been asking friends and family about this dilemma recently, and there seems to be an even split between people who clean up after each step of their cooking process (as if covering their tracks after a gruesome murder), and people who make one simple meal and the result is a kitchen that looks like this:

kitchen mess 2

If that’s the case, are the aggressive daily cleaners just getting boned left and right? I say yes because their two options are to either live in a controlled filth that their partner is not bothered by, or clean up after that partner.

And when I talk about the messy person, I’m not suggesting it’s someone who never cleans. That would be grounds for immediate expulsion from the house and the relationship. I’m talking about the person who cleans very infrequently, but when she does, she makes it a deep clean…putting all of her possessions in the right spot, scrubbing bathtubs, toilets, stovetops, etc. But during the weeks in between the cleanings, you’re likely to find her clothes in every nook and cranny of the house, her work materials somehow end up in the garbage disposal and a week’s worth of her mail surprisingly covers every inch of your 800 square foot apartment.

What’s a neat freak to do?

Or is the bigger problem that one member of the relationship is usually a controlling, neurotic, OCD-denying asshole? And maybe that person just needs to lighten up and let the flour land where it may, even if it somehow ends up in the bedroom.

I’m afraid I might be looking for a solution that doesn’t exist. Maybe there’s nothing the daily cleaner can do besides roll his eyes and cringe every time his partner tries on a piece of clothing or takes food out of the fridge (because there’s no way that stuff is going immediately back into its right spot).

And maybe all the once-a-month cleaner can do is sit back and watch her partner constantly stress and pick up her possessions.

But I’ll reiterate…if that’s the case, it really seems like the neurotic person is getting the shaft big time.

 

*There is no real website called relationshipcounseling.com. And even if there was, my girlfriend and I wouldn’t need it because I just thought of a new way to compromise about this whole situation. She’s welcome to leave any possession she wants in the wrong place, but I’m allowed to give it to my dog as an acceptable chew toy.

Screw Camp, Summer’s All About Getting Drunk & Ending Up In Jail (Reviewing 5 Summer TV Shows)

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For a TV addict like myself, there has been one date circled on the calendar since the all the good shows ended in late May: August 11th. If that date means nothing to you, you’re probably not a Breaking Bad fan. To that I say, “Shame on you and what the hell are you waiting for?”

Walter White’s eight-episode swan song to finish off one of the best TV series of all time is the only legitimate entertainment on the small screen we could truly count on going into the summer months. Summer is usually the only time when I get sucked into shows that are really bad but seem acceptable because of the lack of legitimately entertaining TV.

Right now my DVR is littered with reality (American Ninja Warrior, MasterChef, What Would You Do?) and the least realistic show I’ve ever seen (Newsroom). If any of these programs were on in the fall, they wouldn’t make the cut for me.

The best thing I could probably do to get over this TV-related depression is to stay far away from the actual television. Spend my summer downtime reading books, going on scenic hikes, taking vacations or reconnecting with friends who I never see because you don’t see your friends in LA if they don’t live within a one-mile radius of your apartment.

But apparently I love TV too much and/or I have more free time than I know what to do with. So for the past four weeks I’ve been searching for new shows that would prove the summertime doesn’t have to be a TV-free zone.

Here’s my take on five shows that premiered over the past month (ranked worst to first).

[Side Note: Before you read my reviews, it’s probably a good idea to know what kind of tastes I have in television shows. I’m much more of a comedy/sitcom person than I am a drama person. For a one-hour drama to stick with me, it has to show early on that it might someday reach the level of shows like The Wire, Breaking Bad, Weeds or Lost. I’m not screwing around with hour-long TV shows. Either you’ve got potential to be an all-timer, or I’m not staying tuned. With sitcoms I’m more forgiving because the time and emotional investment is so much less than the dramas. I’m a self-admitted sitcom snob, which means I love shows like Arrested Development, Parks & Recreation and Veep, and I hate shows with a laugh track (the one exception is Big Bang Theory, a show that I was late to come around on, but now I’ll fight you over if you lump it in with “all those other bad CBS sitcoms”).]

#5. Camp

TV schedule: Wednesdays on NBC at 10 p.m.

Where you can catch up: NBC.com

There’s a decent chance I was never the intended audience for this show. After all, it’s based around a group of teenage campers and counselors at a lakeside summer camp. But it airs at 10 p.m. so you’d think it was made for adults. And I’m willing to give a chance to any show that has hints of the movie Wet Hot American Summer in it. But after a strong opening scene in the pilot where an unsuspecting camper gets a fish hook to the nose, Camp quickly devolved into an after school special. It’s being described as a dramedy, and unfortunately it’s the drama part that makes it intolerable. On the surface level it feels like a comedy, and there are certainly funny parts, but then we quickly learn about one camper’s battle with leukemia, and one counselor’s dilemma between leaving for Stanford law school or sticking around to help his gambling addict mother get her life together.

If it was a pure sitcom, I’d give it more time. But it’s the dramatic cliches that made it the summer show I permanently deleted from my DVR the quickest.

#4. Under The Dome

TV schedule: Mondays on CBS at 10 p.m.

Where you can catch up: All episodes are on Amazon Prime Instant Video, and CBS.com has the two most recent episodes

I’m out on this show. I gave it four episodes because I really wanted to like it. The pilot was impressive enough that I was telling people it might be the closest thing to Lost since Lost. Initially it seemed to have the elements that made the ABC island drama such an addicting show: a mysterious “something” forcing a group of people together (the island/the dome), characters presenting themselves as different people than their backstories suggested, everyone trying to figure out what logical reason there is for them to be in the situation they’re now in.

But then a few episodes passed, and it was like the entire town of Chester’s Mill no longer cared about the dome. Everyone was so wrapped up in the soap opera-like dramas of their fellow townspeople that the real main character, the dome, became just a background image. What pulled us in during the first season of Lost was not just that these were interesting characters with checkered pasts, but that they desperately needed to get off the island, and they were always in search of answers about the mystery surrounding them.

How am I supposed to be invested in these characters escaping the dome when they don’t seem invested in it? A typical episode has the town’s leaders (police, city council member, priest) running around trying to stop something bad from happening inside the dome (police officer going AWOL, outbreak of meningitis), but never do we see anyone spending time trying to get out of the dome or make contact with the outside world.

Rather than capture the magic of Lost’s season one, Under The Dome seems to have fast forwarded to Lost’s season three. And anyone who was a fan of that show knows this is bad news for the longterm prospects of the Dome.

#3. The Bridge

TV schedule: Wednesdays on FX at 10 p.m.

Where you can catch up: fxnetworks.com

After a disappointing pilot (not nearly as bad as it was described by one of my friends on twitter: “about as awful of a pilot as I’ve seen”), the second episode was much better. Really this show is no different than any other crime show where the authorities are chasing a serial killer. The big gimmick that was supposed to create some buzz is the fact that the first body was found right on the border between El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico. This means the “by the books” American detective must team up with the “shoot from the hip” Mexican detective. Classic odd couple police procedural.

If you are into the CSI’s, Law & Orders and the other typical police shows, you’ll probably enjoy The Bridge. If you usually aren’t entertained by that format, don’t waste your time. There’s nothing so special about this show that you should give it a chance if it’s just not your style.

#2. Drunk History

TV schedule: Tuesdays on Comedy Central at 10 p.m.

Where you can catch up: comedycentral.com

Here’s how I would describe Drunk History in as few words as possible: Each episode contains three seven-minute skits where well-known comedians and actors try to act out a historic event as told by a ridiculously drunk person.

I shouldn’t have to say anything more for you to run over to your DVR right now and set up a season pass. It’s fulfilling my always-lofty expectations for a comedy, and even the less interesting skits will still cause you to laugh.

Maybe it’s not a great thing to be glorifying the act of getting so drunk that you can hardly form complete sentences, but that’s something for concerned parents to worry about, not me.

Do yourself a favor and start watching this show ASAP. It’s about the only comedic effort worth watching this summer.

#1. Orange Is The New Black

TV schedule: Netflix Instant, all 13 episodes available

Where you can catch up: Netflix, dummy

OK, Netflix, I’m in. You got me.

Between the Arrested Development reboot, early returns on Orange Is The New Black and what I hear about House of Cards, it seems like Netflix is taking over the TV world.

In what has become a staple of shows produced for Netflix, all 13 episodes of Orange were released on July 11th. Even though I’ve only seen the first two, it’s a matter of days before I plow through the other 11. This show is that good.

I guess you’d call it a drama, since the subject matter revolves around a woman sent to prison for being part of a drug ring and the people she comes into contact with at the prison. But similar to a show like Weeds, Orange gets a ton of humorous mileage out of the fact that this middle class woman is suddenly thrust into an unknown and dangerous world. And it makes perfect sense that Orange would share many traits with Weeds since both shows were created by the same woman, Jenji Kohan.

Other than the Weeds similarities, Orange should also play well with fans of the Lost format. Just like we slowly learned about Jack, Kate, Sawyer and the rest of the island gang through flashbacks, we’re getting the background on the Orange main characters through that same device.

At least through the first two episodes, both the dramatic plot lines and the lighter comedic moments play very well together.

It’s doubtful you’ll see another blog from me until I devour the rest of this terrific new show.

So there you have it. Skip the cheesy summer camp and dome experiences, get on board with buddy cop experience only if you like seeing the same crime show format over and over again, and make a date with Drunk History and Orange Is The New Black.

At least until August 11th, that’s about all we’ve got.

Going Once, Going Twice, Sold: Auction Fantasy Leagues Are Far Superior To Those Sleep-Inducing Traditional Leagues

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With only seven weeks remaining until the 2013 NFL Season kicks off, you’ve probably noticed that your fantasy football commissioners have begun reactivating the leagues, sending out emails about rule changes, and trying to find a good time on the calendar for all the team owners to do the draft.

(It never quite works out perfectly though, right? Some idiot claims he can’t even find two hours over the entire month of August where he can sit down and draft. Or one of your friends who smoked too much pot in college forgets about the draft entirely even though you texted him seven times on the days leading up to the draft.)

Before you automatically accept all the invitations back to your leagues, do yourself one huge favor: Strongly urge your commissioner to turn his league into an auction format.

If you truly love fantasy football and want to have the best experience possible, you will do what it takes to graduate from the standard snake draft format to the addicting auction format. Blackmail the commissioner, organize a boycott of his league, hold him at gunpoint until he makes the change…WHATEVER IT TAKES.

You won’t be sorry.

[Side Note: Debating between a standard draft league and an auction league is like picking sides in a bacon versus pork belly argument. They’re both delicious and everyone’s a winner. It’s just a matter of personal preference.]

I broke free from the grip of the snake draft only two years ago, but already I could never imagine a time when I wasn’t all-in on the auction. The more I talk to people about fantasy football, the more I realize that auction drafting hasn’t caught on with the masses.

I look forward to this opportunity to try to sway some of you auction league holdouts because I know you’ll enjoy fantasy season that much more.

But first, it feels necessary to quickly set the stage for my arguments by giving some details on the rules.

[Side Note #2: While I’ll touch on some of the rules and strategies of an auction league in this post, I won’t cover everything. You can find a lot more details on the logistics of it HERE.]

In an auction draft, each team is operating with a set budget (call it $200 per team). This money can only be used during the draft period to bid on the players you want on your team. As you’d expect, you’ll be bidding in a live auction against other owners who may want that same player (the entire thing is automated via ESPN’s draft application). An owner will nominate an available player by bidding at least $1 on him, and then the rest of the owners can jump in and bid increasingly higher amounts on that player. If the cost of a player exceeds the amount you’re willing to pay for him, you simply stop clicking the “bid” button. A player is awarded to the owner with the highest bid once no other owner is willing to go at least $1 higher than that bid.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

This process goes on until all teams have filled all required roster spots. It doesn’t matter if you have extra money leftover. Once your roster is filled, you’re done with the draft. And whatever website you use for the draft will automatically make sure each team has enough money at all times to fill up their roster spots with at least $1 players. So a team can’t spend all $200 on five players and then have 11 empty roster spots that they get to fill via free agency.

Those are the only parameters enforced on you during an auction draft. The rest is your choice. Want to spend 95% of your budget on four studs and then fill in the bulk of your roster with $1 scraps? Go for it. Want to create a communist team where all 16 players cost you $12? You’re free to do as you please.

This leads to my first point…

1). A sense of control – In a traditional snake draft, you really have little control over what your team ultimately looks like. Yes, you can abandon the ESPN draft rankings and reach for a player you like who isn’t rated as highly as you think he should be, but for the most part it’s luck of the draw in terms of which “best players” are available once it’s your turn. On the contrary, you can walk into an auction draft saying “I’m getting these four players no matter what” (assuming you’re being reasonable and not targeting the four best running backs or something equally ridiculous). Nothing can stop you from getting your favorite players.

Now let me be clear: fantasy football is still a crapshoot regardless of your drafting format. But an auction draft gives you more control over that crapshoot. For instance, last year I spent $103—51.5% of my total budget—to acquire LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte. They combined for 304 fantasy points, or just four more points than Adrian Peterson had on his own (and Peterson only cost his owner $29). In that same draft, one of the owners grabbed Alfred “Who the fuck is Alfred Morris” Morris for $1 towards the end of the auction. While my $103 worth of “studs” was busy getting injured or being inept, this guy’s $1 no-name ended up as the fourth-ranked fantasy running back in 2012.

So yes, it’ll always be a crapshoot for the most part, but don’t you want to feel more responsible for your gems and busts?

2). Strategy, strategy and more strategy – Let’s face it, a standard draft has almost no strategy to it. You might want to pay attention if there’s suddenly a run on a specific position, but that’s pretty much where outsmarting your fellow owners begins and ends.

In an auction, when it’s your turn to nominate a player for the bidding, you may choose to select a guy who you do not want on your team under any circumstances. For instance let’s say you’re a Patriots fan and there’s a certain quarterback who’s burned your team in two recent Super Bowls. You may be thinking, “I’d rather have Aaron Hernandez pick me up in a rental car at 3 a.m. than end up with Eli Manning on my fantasy team.” In a snake draft, you stay far away from him. But in an auction draft, you nominate him right away for $1. Eventually the bidding ends and another owner shells out $12 for Manning. You just helped yourself out because that owner now has $12 less to bid on the guy you actually want, and he has one less roster spot available.

When you start researching auction strategies, you’ll see everyone recommending that you never spend more than $1 on a defense, a kicker or an individual defensive player. This is going to seem counterintuitive, but it’s not the worst idea to nominate the defense or kicker you actually want at the first chance you get. Why? Because either you get exactly who you wanted for the minimum bid, or someone goes over the top and bids $2 on that player. At which point you can laugh as your rival owner wins that player. I looked at one of my auction leagues from the 2012 season, and I found one owner who paid a combined $9 for his defense, kicker and three individual defensive players. He should have paid exactly $5 for those five positions. And trust me when I tell you that he could have used those wasted $4 towards the end of the draft when decent running backs and wide receivers were going off the board for only a couple bucks.

Bad strategy in an auction draft will come back to bite you in the ass, hard.

3). No reward for the guy who doesn’t check his roster – Seriously, how come the guy who doesn’t even check his team after the draft always gets the best player year after year? Oh, because he’s consistently the worst team. Right, got it. Why should that loser get first dibs on Adrian Peterson this year? With the auction he can still have him if he wants him, but now he’ll have to fend off nine other owners and be willing to pay a ransom.

Everyone should get a chance at every player. Outbidding your buddies with fake money to put together the best fake football team is your god-given right. Instead of treating the fantasy draft like an actual sports draft, we’re treating it like what would happen if tomorrow the NFL said, “You know what, this is boring. Every player in our league is now a free agent. Have at it, owners.” And that’s a lot more fun than just picking the player with the best value when it comes to your turn. BOOOOOORING.

4). No more waiting – Speaking of boring, how much does it suck when you have either the first pick or the last pick in your snake draft? You pick a player, and then you wait upwards of 30 minutes before it’s your turn again. I’ve actually fallen asleep during this downtime in the past (with the help of a sleep-deprived night before a morning draft).

With an auction, you can be in on every player. No more impromptu naps. And if you’re an adult with real world responsibilities who can’t justify sitting online for three hours drafting a fake football team, you’re free to spend all your money within the first 30 minutes and then leave the draft. It’s probably not a wise way to build a winning team, but you’re welcome to do it.

5). Auction chaos is the best kind of chaos – Have you ever been to a live auction in your life? It’s pure insanity. People start bidding absurd amounts just because someone else is doing the same thing. People go way over their preset budget for an item because they fall in love with the idea of having it. And people try to drive up the price for other bidders and end up stuck with something they never wanted in the first place.

This all happens in a fantasy football auction too. When people have money to spend and the pressure’s on, they just can’t help themselves. There’s absolutely no downside to this…unless you’re the guy who ends up with Drew Brees for $73.

That actually happened in my league last year. Someone bought Brees for more than 35% of his $200 budget. As a comparison, Tom Brady went for $53 and Aaron Rodgers for $61. So what happened with Brees? This owner apparently decided he was the last elite quarterback and he was getting him, balanced roster be damned.

6). Unintentional comedy is unmatched – By now you should be getting the sense that an auction draft is frantic. During a snake draft you have all that waiting time to plan your next move and some contingencies, but during the auction, things move at a ridiculous pace. Your best laid plans go out the window in a flash, and suddenly you’re sitting there with no backup plan. This is when hilarity ensues.

In my 2012 draft, Michael Vick got nominated and his price was hovering in the mid-teens with only a couple people in on the bidding. Keep in mind that most of the top QBs were still available. All of the sudden an owner jumps the highest bid by nearly $40 and “wins” Vick with a $55 price tag. Why did this owner go from $17 to $55? I have no idea, but it was the second funniest moment of the draft.

The funniest moment also comes with a word of caution to all owners because this will happen in every auction draft. You will be minding your own business, planning your next move, and then you’ll see that Adrian Peterson has just been thrown into the ring. You will say, “Obviously AP is gonna go for a lot, I’m gonna open the bidding in the thirties.” So you’ll up the current bid on Peterson to $35. And then you’ll get briefly confused when no other owner bids on him. And then the anger will set in. Because, buddy, you just paid $35 for the OTHER ADRIAN PETERSON…the free agent Adrian Peterson. Yes, that owner is a complete asshole, but you’re the one who just blew his load on a player who isn’t even signed to an NFL team.

This is a dangerous game we play. It’s fast-paced and unforgiving. Take a deep breath and make sure you’re looking at all the information. Otherwise you could end up with Michael Vick and the wrong Adrian Peterson for $90.

But I promise if you can avoid being that guy who accidentally spends all his money on two players who won’t combine to outscore Mark Sanchez in fantasy, then you’ll have the most enjoyable fantasy draft (and season) of your life.

Here are three more considerations to maximize the fun potential of your fantasy football season:

1). Bring on a co-owner – I’m not kidding. The league I’m in where I share a team with my brother is the one that’s most fun year after year. Why wouldn’t you want a partner to celebrate the victories with, lament the losses with, strategize about waiver wire moves and trades with. You know how everyone hates your fantasy football stories? If you didn’t know that, I hate to break it to you…nobody likes listening to other people’s fantasy stories, even if that other person is an owner in your league. But if you have a co-owner, you’ll actually be able to have lively conversations about your team and all the other teams. And of course, if you play fantasy football for money, it isn’t the worst thing to have somebody splitting all the costs with you.

2). Increase the winner’s pot with waiver wire money – In an auction league, the waiver wire process works differently than you’re used to. If you want to pick up a player, you’ll be submitting a blind bid in hopes that your bid is the highest. If you aren’t playing for real money, you’ll have a limited waiver wire budget so that each team has to be somewhat disciplined (i.e. so someone doesn’t bid $150 on Kirk Cousins after RGIII goes down in week 2). But if you’re playing in a money league, why not make the pot even that much sweeter by turning the waiver process into a real money situation. Sure, you can bid $25 to pick up Matt Barkley after Vick and Nick Foles get injured in the same game, but you’ll be putting $25 of your real money into a pool for the league’s eventual champion. Not only is this a decent way to police the waiver wire from ridiculous bids, but it also gets more money into the league. More money is almost always a good thing.

3). Make it a keeper league – There are a million different versions of keeper leagues out there. But here’s one way to do it in the auction format: Allow teams to keep up to three players from their previous year’s roster, but for each keeper they must pay the price they got that guy for the previous year plus 10 additional dollars. (Example: I drafted Andre Johnson for $32 in 2012. I’d say he was worth that money since he was the eighth best fantasy wide receiver. But if I want to keep him on my team for the 2013 season, I’ll have to pay $42 out of my $200 budget. Is he really worth more than 20% of the salary cap?)

Doing keepers this way means every couple years even the best players will be thrown back into the draft pool. No one’s going to keep Aaron Rodgers on their roster if it costs them $85.

I’m not saying this is the only way or the best way to do keepers in an auction league. I’m just saying it’s the way we do it, and it works.

Ultimately you may choose to ignore this article and stick with your old standby bacon, but I think you’ll regret not sampling the pork belly.

The Death of SportsCenter: How The Once Mighty Highlights Show Lost Its Way

As a proud member of Generation Y, I grew up in a privileged time where television and breakfast weren’t mutually exclusive.

We had a little 13-inch Zenith sticking out of a cabinet in our kitchen. It was white, there was no remote control, and I believe in its fifth or sixth year the power button stopped working so plugging it in to the socket and then unplugging it became our on/off switch.

As a sixth grader in 1994, I can remember waking up as late as humanly possible—6:50AM I think—frantically showering while most likely skipping over key body parts, getting dressed in my Catholic school blues (navy blue pants, light blue shirt, navy blue knit tie), and then sprinting to the kitchen table to eek out as much breakfast and TV time as possible until Bus 2 showed up to bring me to St. Joe’s. When my brothers and I got to that kitchen table every morning, my Mom would change the TV from the news to “SportsCenter” on ESPN. This is why the getting ready process needed to happen so quickly, so I could maximize my time watching the previous day’s sports highlights. And like clockwork, two minutes after I sat down at the table my Mom would put a plate of perfectly cooked Eggo Waffles in front of me, with just the right amount of syrup on top and some extra on the side (to this day my Mom regrets the one time she burned my waffles and had to endure nine years of me instructing her before bed each night to “put the waffles into the toaster carefully” the next morning).

I’d like to think I was a pretty typical 12-year-old back then. My mind was usually focused on girls (if I’m not mistaken, Allison Cotton was the girl I obsessed over during sixth grade) and making sure my homework was perfect (how things have changed). But for those 15-20 minutes each morning, SportsCenter was all that mattered.

It was perfect. A bombardment of highlights from every major sporting event around the country. Things that I could never watch live back then, either because I wasn’t allowed to stay up late enough to see it or because there was literally no way to get that particular game on our cable package.

Today’s sixth graders will never know that feeling of putting the TV on one channel and getting the quick-hitting highlights of all their favorite sports. I imagine the kids who are watching SportsCenter while they devour their Lucky Charms these days are very educated in the subjects of Tim Tebow, LeBron James, PEDs, Brett Favre’s yearly unretirement speculation and the sad circus that is the New York Jets.

Those poor kids have 15 minutes before Bus 2 comes, and instead of seeing highlights of the 10 baseball games that were played the previous night, they’re getting Stephen A. Smith screaming at them about Derrick Rose refusing to come back from his knee injury. Those poor kids.

I might be at risk of sounding way behind the times here, but I see no reason to put the TV on ESPN for one of their highlights shows ever again. SportsCenter, Highlight Express, ESPNEWS, NFL Live, Baseball Tonight….all dead to me.

Some of you may be like “Dur, Ross, SportsCenter became irrelevant years ago, dummy.” Well excuse me for being slow on the uptake. I have a feeling there are plenty of non-early adopters who are wondering why I’m saying ESPN is obsolete.

Well, let me explain from the average sports fan’s perspective. You may think I’m going to tell you to simply watch highlights online, but that’s not the case. I don’t watch many highlights online because I still like the analysis that the in-studio personalities provide. Instead, I tape the NHL Network’s “NHL Live” and the MLB Network’s “Quick Pitch” every night, and when I wake up the next morning, I plow through the two hours of programming in about one hour.

When the NFL starts up in less than two months, I’ll be taping the NFL Network’s “NFL GameDay” for my football highlights.

Now that these individual sports channels exist and have perfected their highlight shows, I can see exactly what I want—no more, no less—without having to endure all the bullshit that floods ESPN’s shows (the Jets quarterback controversy! Lebron doesn’t have enough rings! the Yankees hate A-rod!).

I think the downward spiral of SportsCenter began in 2005 when ESPN baseball reporter Pedro Gomez was essentially embedded in San Francisco for the final three years of Barry Bonds’ career. We would get daily updates not only on Bonds’ fictitious pursuit of the home run record, but also of every off-the-field moment concerning his legal battles with BALCO and the perjury case. At the time, ESPN was probably just giving us what we were asking for. But then it really spiraled out of control with nonstop coverage of Brett Favre’s daily indecisiveness…and the rest is history.

Maybe you’re the type of person who won’t believe me when I tell you that ESPN doesn’t hold a candle to the other sports channels’ highlight shows. Maybe you need analytical evidence. That’s fine because I have that for you too.

Earlier this year, I crunched some numbers on SportsCenter’s morning show and the NHL Live morning show. The night before I sat down to study these shows there were only two major sports going on, three playoff hockey games and 10 baseball games.

I found that NHL Live ran highlights complete with player sound bytes and in-studio analysis on all three games within 13 minutes of going on the air. That’s not too bad, right? Sit down with your bowl of Cheerios, and 13 minutes later you’re completely caught up on last night’s action. If you had a full hour, you could have sat around to watch more player interviews, analysis of the playoffs and updates on non-playoff hockey news. But if you were in a rush, you’d still be completely caught up in less than 15 minutes.

With SportsCenter that same morning, they led off with highlights of the most intriguing playoff hockey game—Penguins/Islanders—but then we had to wait until minute 44 of the program to see highlights of the third and final hockey game from the night before. Forty-four minutes!

In between minute one and minute 44, SportsCenter covered some baseball, but the focus seemed to be more on two controversies from earlier in the week—the Angels’ protest of the way the Astros substituted pitchers, and the lingering frustration of the A’s over the umpires’ blown home run call in their game against the Indians a couple days before.

Out of the 10 baseball games played the previous night, SportsCenter didn’t provide a single second of highlights for three of those games (four of the six teams ignored by ESPN were above .500 at the time, and three of those teams were in 1st place…so it’s not like they ignored an Astros/Mariners game, which no one would complain about).

Over the course of a one-hour show, baseball was given nine minutes of highlights and updates. Hockey was provided seven minutes.

Why would you watch one hour of programming just to get 16 minutes of actual highlights? Maybe you like seeing the 3,000th package of Tiger Woods’ career and his chase for more majors, or you enjoy a sound byte montage of every NBA player and coach saying how hard it is to win in the playoffs.

If you like that sort of stuff, fine, keep watching SportsCenter. But if you enjoy sports for the actual games that are played on the field/court/ice, it’s time to ditch SportsCenter and its offspring entirely and get on board with relevant highlights from each sports league’s flagship TV channel. It’s the only way to get all of the information you want and none of the information you hate.

A few days after I studied SportsCenter’s lack of relevant material, I saw this tweet and started shaking my head:

sportscenter tweet_5-31-13

If I had seen that tweet as a sixth grader in 1994, I would have agreed and probably retweeted it. But in 2013 it’s just a reminder of how ESPN lost its way.

Summer Movie Review: World War Z…Brad Pitt’s Magical Scarf & A Plaxico-Like Shooting

[Editor’s Note: With my blog exploding in popularity across the globe, it shouldn’t be a surprise that other bloggers are trying to snatch me up. Starting today, I’ll be lending my genius creative services to the Baltimore-based sports & pop culture website I Hate JJ Redick. Specifically I’ll be doing movie and TV reviews for them as well as some football posts. Apparently they were willing to accept me regardless of my palpable hate for the Baltimore Ravens. Any time I do a blog post for them, I’ll be sure to post it on my own website too. That way no one misses my stuff while ensuring I don’t have to put in any extra work.]

World War Z has been in the theaters for three weekends, but you’ve had no urge to see it, right? I get where you’re coming from. On the one hand, it’s already the most successful movie of all time in its genre, and it stars an up-and-comer named Brad Pitt. But on the other hand, it’s a zombie film coming out at a time when we’re starting to get a little worn out from all the zombies invading our movie and TV screens. WWZ also did little to differentiate itself in the pre-release marketing from the somewhat tired plot of “normal guy suddenly becomes the only person who can save mankind from certain extermination.”

I finally dragged myself to see it the other day (movie-going is a key procrastination tool for the semi-employed writer), and I gotta admit, my low expectations were exceeded by a long shot.

The movie’s main question isn’t so much about whether the undead will take over the world, but rather how Brad Pitt will eventually find a cure for or put a stop to the madness…because you just know he’ll figure it out eventually. And the movie’s writers were kind enough to tell the audience in the beginning that we should be looking for clues along with Pitt to figure out the zombies’ weakness. So it’s a fun little scavenger hunt to see if you can come up with the solution before the protagonist does.

You should see this movie if: You’re OK with Brad Pitt dominating a zombie movie (the zombies just aren’t given that much screen time); you enjoy a traditional hero movie where the main character does everything perfectly: he’s the best fighter, the bravest man, the greatest husband and father, and of course he’s the smartest guy involved; you want to see the most absurd example of someone shooting himself since Plaxico Burress’s waistband let him down in November 2008.

worldwarZ_2

You should NOT see this movie if: You’re going to be bothered by the fact that Brad Pitt’s scarf stays perfectly slung around his neck while he spends the entire movie fighting off zombies (after much consideration, I think it’s an infinity scarf, so it’s not that impressive after all); you’re one of those people who spazzes and jumps out of your seat every time a character (or zombie) pops up on the screen unexpectedly; you’re a zombie snob who can’t enjoy the movie unless the zombies function exactly how you believe real zombies would act.

On the Ross Watchability Scale (RWS), I give World War Z a 6.5 out of 10.

And if sequels are your thing, well I have a feeling we’re only two years away from seeing the trailers for World War Z2? The Second World War Z? World War Z+1? Based on the way this movie ends, there will definitely be at least one sequel.

There’s a lot more story to tell, and depending on your love or hate for zombie movies with a perfect hero, that could be a good or bad thing.