Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Some thoughts on LeBron James and the NBA Finals

The moment a large chunk of NBA fans were dreading has arrived. Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh are playing in the NBA Finals in their very first season together.

LeBron James became public enemy #1 in the eyes of many in the aftermath of "The Decision" but as I said it then I find that stance from people quiet funny. I said back in July that I had no problems with LeBron leaving for Miami and remains true to this date. Unlike most I always wasn't rooting against them in the playoffs. What do you think of his decision to leave Cleveland now? Is it the same as it was back in July?

By the way how much crazier does Dan Gilbert's rant sound now? Unless you count University of Virginia's lacrosse title the Cavaliers will not win a championship before the Heat.

I actually wouldn't have had a problem with any of the conference finalists from this year winning the NBA Championship. I don't know if I am cheering for the Mavericks or the Heat because I honestly wouldn't have a problem with either of the two winning. A Miami win would be fun because of uproar it will cause from hypocritical NBA fans. I call them hypocrites because very few of them would have had a problem with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh signing with their teams. Now I'm supposed to buy into their arguments for hating these guys? I have encountered plenty of Knicks fans here in the NJ/NY area who have knocked LeBron for his decision to sign with Miami but I can guarantee not one of them would be saying a thing. It becomes even more laughable when many of those same Knicks fans are fans of the New York Yankees who's entire business model revolves around signing the big free agents from around the league! I'm not trying to make this into a New York thing at all. Most of the people knocking LeBron happen to be Kobe Bryant fans. Yet again though they don't see the hypocrisy in their views. For whatever reason they have chosen to forget that Kobe basically forced his way to the Lakers after being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets. LeBron James honored his contract and took the franchise to heights it had never before seen.

Dirk Nowitzki has been one of my favorite players in the league for quiet some time. I definitely would like to see him win a championship and that is why part of me leans towards the Mavericks this year. The three guys in Miami will have plenty of chances to win a title, this could very well be the last time Nowitzki has a shot. Plus, how cool would it be to see David Stern hand the trophy to Mark Cuban? I couldn't care less about Jason Kidd though. I get that he's a future Hall of Famer and generally well liked player but that doesn't change that he is an idiot.

Have you heard about the "Cavs for Mavs" fan group?

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Shahid Afridi retiring from international cricket

If this is true it is somewhat surprising news. I just saw a tweet from Faizan Lakhani of GEO News saying Shahid Afridi is retiring from international cricket.

I guess we should have seen it coming given the public comments that were being made by Shahid Afridi and the Pakistan Cricket Board. I was definitely on Afridi's side in that fight though. It makes no sense to me that the captain doesn't get to decide the squad he will take the field with. How do you expect someone one to lead if you aren't giving them the tools they need? His is a career that was ruined because of the incompetence of the PCB.

Pakistan missed the boat big time on Afridi in the early part of the last decade. He was in and out of the team far too often. I have always said and will continue to say that the PCB dropped the ball on him as a test player. His test average of 36.51 is no joke. Lets not forget that most of those test opportunities were long before he really matured as a cricketer. He took his ODI and Twenty20 game to new heights with his bowling and fielding and I have no doubt he would done the same had he been given a proper chance in test cricket. He should have been playing as a 2nd spinner on the test team consistently.

His ODI career was mishandled as well. Pakistan has struggled to find good opening batsmen for a decade now. Shahid Afridi should have been used as an opener much more frequently. As a fan I was willing to take the gamble of him getting hot over pretty much anything else Pakistan cricket has had to offer for the past decade. I would have let him wreak havoc with fielding restrictions in place, it certainly wouldn't have produced results worse then what we got with the guys Pakistan has trotted out.

Cricinfo is now reporting that he has retired as well.

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 Cricket Game - Cricket Power - Import - Game for PCSlazenger Crown Cricket Ball, Red, 5 1/2oz Standard Size

Sunday, May 29, 2011

VIDEO: Dale Earnhardt Jr. runs out of fuel on final turn

Today just wasn't a good day to be leading a race on the final turn. Earlier today J.R Hildebrand crashed into the wall on the final turn of the Indianapolis 500. Later in the day Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of fuel on the final turn of Coca Cola 600. What are the odds of both of these events happening on the exact same day?

Hats off to the race officials though for not brining out the yellow flag on that crash during the second to last lap. It was cleared in time the lead pack came around for the final lap.

If you missed the finish to the Indy 500 earlier today here it is.

Both cars are sponsored by the National Guard. How's that for a Memorial Day tie in?
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VIDEO: Leader crashes on final turn of Indianapolis 500

I have watched a lot of open wheel races in my life but today's Indianapolis 500 definitely provided one of the craziest finises ever.

I was flipping back and forth between the race and the French Open all afternoon and thus missed the news that Danica Patrick was low on fuel when she took the lead. It is a shame she is going to NASCAR because I am more of an open wheel race fan. Would have loved to see her win.

How can you not feel bad for 23 year old rookie J.R Hildebrand? He was leading the race on the final turn of the race when he crashed into the wall trying to pass a car that he was about to lap. What a shame.

Where does this crash rank all time in sports history? I can't recall ever watching something similar. It is surely one of the biggest choke jobs ever right? Heck, it probably is a bigger choke job then Rory McIlroy at The Masters this year.
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Hot Wheels IZOD Indy Car Series 1:24 scale GO DADDY DANICA PATRICK approx 8" longHot Wheels IndyCar Series Indy 500 Big Sounds Danica Patrick

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Self checkouts at Fast Food Restaurants

Self checkout lanes are popping up everywhere these days. Here in Central NJ I see them quiet frequently at Patkmark, BJs and Stop and Shop. I was a little surprised to see them at a Burger King recently though. I was driving to Virginia and took a stop in the "Delaware Welcome Center Travel Plaza" which was constructed not too long ago. They have built this place as a 21st century rest stop. They use solar power for energy as well.

The Burger King there had traditional lines where you could order your food as well as two "self checkout" machines. The machines accepted credit cards as well as cash.

Yes, I know that is one more person without a job but as a consumer I loved the machine. The order didn't take long at all to place and they even give you the option of saving your order through you cell phone number just in case you think you will be making the exact same order in the future. I liked the idea of ordering my food without being stuck in line behind the person who takes forever to place their order although sooner or later those people will find their way over to these machines. I always seem to get stuck behind the person who has no idea how to use the self checkouts at grocery stores but do so anyways and hold up the line.

McDonald's recently announced that they would be placing 7,000 similar machines in their stores in France.

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McDonald's Frankie the Fish Singing FishBurger King Wacky Wobbler

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

JFK's Challenge to NASA

By 1961 the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union was well under way but even then few would have dreamed of what ended up happening by the end of the decade. On this date in 1961 John F. Kennedy put forward a goal for NASA and the country to chase. You can find an 8 minute clip of the speech on the JFK Library website.
I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.
It is one of the iconic quotes in American history and is meaningful even today as America ponders its future in space. Former Apollo commanders Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Eugence Cernan have penned an open letter voicing their disappointment about the future of NASA.

While the future of manned space flights from NASA is far from set in stone they did announce a plan earlier today to explore Asteroids starting in 2016.

Earlier today the JFK Library also released audio of JFK discussing the space program with NASA officials.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Smartphone makes NJ woman overnight media star

startHave you been following the story of Stefanie Gordon (a.k.a @stefmara on twitter) this week?

She became an overnight media sensation thanks to a series of photos and one 13 second video she took of Space Shuttle Endeavor from her seat inside a Delta Airlines flight.

Photo from Stefanie Gordon

Now how cool is that? She has been everywhere the past week. The Associated Press did a story on her and according to this article are paying her royalties for the photos. I had seen the photos being posted on my twitter stream by a bunch of people. There have been some who are using her photos without giving her credit. Now that is just a shame. How do we avoid in this age of social media? I've been reading that Twitpic's rules are that media outlets have to ask only Twitpic permission to publish a photo and not the user. Now there is something we all need to be aware. If you get a photo or video like this make sure you don't just post it in a venue where everyone but you profits from it. Hats off to those media outlets that have paid Stefanie. Why shouldn't she be treated like any journalist who might have produced a photo like that in the past?

You can find her blog here.

Twitter has been pretty good to me. I've won several gift certificates. I've been quoted for stories by the Washington Times, CNN and I like to think that I was the inspiration behind the "Tweet of the Week" section of Peter King's "Monday Morning Quarterback" as I was the first person ever quoted there. I've been lucky with this kind of stuff but obviously not to this degree. Once again, hats off to Stefanie.

If you're interested there is another YouTube video uploaded as well.

As I have also mentioned in the past, I almost got to see a shuttle launch (just so happens that was an Endeavour launch as well) from very close to Cape Canveral. I was in Florida (in Orlando to be exact) in the week leading up to the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing but was not able to attend any of the festivities at Cape Canaveral. The launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-127) that I went to see ended up being called off 5 minutes before launch time. That wasn't even the worst of it, the 40 minute drive back to Orlando took us 4 hours because of the traffic backup exiting from the vicinity of Cape Canaveral. I did mange to catch the launch of the Shuttle from the airport. A huge crowd gathered at the airport gate as we all looked out the window and saw the orange glow shooting towards the sky. It was an amazing site watching all the planes grounded on the runway as they waited for the shuttle to clear their airspace. I seem to mention this story every time I mention a Space Shuttle mission but being so close to the launch site and missing out still annoys me!

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Jon Stewart/Bill O'Reilly

Jon Stewart went over to Fox on Monday and taped an interview that aired on Monday and Tuesday. The full unedited video can be found on Comedy Central's "Indecision" website.

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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human RacePinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

McDonald's Ad Campaign

Earlier today in the mail I received the following coupon from McDonald's.

"Aapke Liye" translates to "for you" in Urdu/Hindi. "Try kare Naya" means "try the new" while "aur" means "and".  I wonder how many different languages does McDonald's advertise here in the US. It is not the first time it has happened but it is impressive nonetheless. I don't know why more companies don't attempt similar advertising schemes. A couple of years ago I also received something similar in the mail.

“Taste zyada, price kum” roughly translates to "More taste for less”

Now if they only got their acts together and added a Halal menu!

Has anyone else received something similar in the mail? If so, what language? I'd be interested to know what mailing list they got our names from.

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Grinding It Out: The Making Of McDonald's

Monday, May 16, 2011

Maryland hidden ball trick

If you haven't seen the video of Maryland's hidden ball trick in a lacrosse game against the University of North Carolina you should do so now. This was a first round game in the NCAA tournament so the stakes were obviously high.

Maryland beat UNC by a score of 13-6.
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Donald Trump

Donald Trump is not running for President.

I have been telling people that ever since he started making noise about Barack Obama. He had no shot at winning a general election and I have thought all along that this was a ploy to try and increase ratings for The Apprentice. This was only about Donald Trump, this was about what Donald Trump does best....make noise about Donald Trump.

What has this man ever accomplished in life that would merit a huge following? No, being born into a rich family does not count. How many businesses has he run into the ground? We're supposed to give him control over the economy? Please, don't make me laugh. That's like saying I'm a great architect because I play The Sims.

Did you guys catch Lawrence O'Donnell's segment on Trump a few weeks back?

Someone as thin-skinned as him has no shot at survival in a business like politics. He couldn't even a few jokes lobbed his way.
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fan arrested at Astros/Mets game

I was watching this game when it was on but they obviously didn't show an idiot. As my cousin Shahbaz mentioned the other day it was an impressive display of parkour.

This idiot did get arrested though.
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Posada and the Yankees

Day 2 of the Jorge Posada saga.

As the Jorge Posada drama continues to play out in the aftermath of last night there are a lot stories being written about the terrible contracts the Yankees have handed out the last few years and how this Posada situation is likely only the start of trouble. Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York wrote this great column last night about similar situations likely coming with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Speaking of Derek Jeter, ESPN New York asks where was the captain last night?

The drama last night was an example of the power struggle that has already begun between the Yankees management and their aging veterans. The absence of Derek Jeter from the locker room spoke volumes.  Jeter who himself is coming off a surprisingly bitter contract negotiations with the Yankees will likely be in a similar situation very soon. Shouldn't Jeter as a friend (and more importantly as the captain) have talked Posada out of his stupid move? Shouldn't Jeter as the captain have called out Posada for pretty much quitting on the team last night? The battle lines were drawn last year when the Yankees weren't afraid to call out Derek Jeter in public and the divide is even more evident now. The public war of words between Posada and Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman hurt Posada a lot more then they hurt Cashman. Why was Posada expecting this to be kept quiet when it is common practice for organizations to address late scratches? Posada looks even worse since Cashman has stated publicly that Posada and his agent knew that he was going to address the media. Like I said lat night I don't think Cashman makes the comments publicly that he did last night if they weren't true.

vs LHP as RHB 30 24 0 0 6 10 .000 .200 .000 .200 2 0 0 0 1 0 .000 -26 -41
When will Posada return to the lineup? As I mentioned last night he is hitless in 24 at bats versus left handed pitching this year and the Yankees face Jon Lester tonight and David Price tomorrow.

By the way, Posada's wife went back and deleted the tweets she made yesterday in defense of Jorge Posada.

This situation isn't going to get better anytime soon. Instead of apologizing and moving on Jorge Posada put forward a ridiculous display in front of the media. Did he really convince anyone with his story about the injured back? Of course he further boxed himself into a corner when during the same appearance in front of the media he talked about needing time to "clear his head." He should have apologized and moved on but instead he gave everyone a story. A story that will only get tougher on him as the day progresses since the Yankees and the Red Sox don't play until 8 PM.

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Jorge Posada New York Yankees Name and Number T-Shirt (Medium)Play Ball!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jorge Posada is a joke

Jorge Posada is an idiot.

There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. When you are making $13.1 million to play baseball and you ask out of the lineup because you got demoted in the lineup you need to get in touch with reality in a hurry. Reports out of New York are saying that an hour before the start of the game Jorge Posada asked out of the lineup for tonights game against nemesis Boston Red Sox because he got dropped down to 9th in the batting order. Just what was going through his head? In 109 at bats this season Posada is hitting only .165 (he is 0-24 against left handed pitching) and being in the last year of his contract likely would not play next year. According to Buster Olney of ESPN the Yankees are keeping all options open and that includes a possible suspension. Jack Curry of the YES Network quoted Posada's father saying that Posada should have played today.

Posada's 2011 stats
2011 32 125 109 12 18 2 0 6 15 15 30 .165 .272 .349 .621 70 38 4 0 0
Late in tonights game word came out that he asked out of "back stiffness" but several baseball reporters are quoting sources who are denying that. The Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman himself went on the record earlier tonight and said that it was not an injury issue.
"There is no injury, obviously I've talked to Jorgie. I'm not going to comment on my conversations with Jorgie on it. That's the only thing I've got to tell you."
Posada's wife got into the mix too commenting on the story via twitter.
Jorge loves being a Yankee > anything. He's trying his best to help his team win. Today, due to back stiffness he wasn't able to do that.

Yes, the Yankees are being hypocritical in demoting him when guys like Jeter and Teixiera are also struggling but being a major star does earn you that pass. Everyone has heard stories about him and Joe Girardi not getting along but again that doesn't excuse this at all. It is only fitting that this game was against the Red Sox and Jason Varitek was on the other side. There is a veteran catcher who has handled things the right way the past few years. Keith Olbermann posted a picture from the press box showing Posada's name penciled into the lineup in the lineup card that reporters got in the press box at 6:30 PM.

I am not discounting the great charitable work he has done on behalf of the "Jorge Posada Foundation" but him asking out of the lineup tonight is inexcusable.

Edit: Just watched the post game stuff. Posada is looking worse by the minute. His story is all over the place. He says his back was stiff but he didn't mention it to Girardi. Um...why? Seems like revisionist history to me.
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Jorge Posada New York Yankees Name and Number T-Shirt (Medium)MLB New York Yankees 2009 World Series 5950 On-Field Cap (7 1/8)
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