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Category Archives: Everything Else

espnIsn’t ESPN Boston redundant? Like, the same thing as an ATM machine or a PIN number? Isn’t saying ESPN Boston the same thing as saying ESPN ESPN?

Is the world of New England sports underrepresented somehow by the worldwide leader in sports? Are we lacking in Tom Brady status updates? Are there not enough of Peter Gammons’ prognostications on the airwaves?

What’s next? ESPN New York? ESPN Philadelphia? ESPN Brett Favre?


Big series this past weekend for the Dodgers. Fortunes turned up well for the Dodgers, who took two out of three from the reeling Giants.

The not-so-great part? Trying to watch the games on the blasted television. The Friday and Saturday games were carried nationally in HD on the MLB Network, and were carried locally (in the Giants’ market) in HD and over-the-air on NBC 14 (KNTV).

Sacramento also appears to have access to Giants’ broadcasts on KNTV via their CW affiliate, KMAX. Oddly, KMAX/CW is a duopoly belonging to CBS affiliate KOVR. KMAX, and thus CBS, carries the Giants’ broadcast unedited. This means that KNTV (NBC) logos are all over the graphics, and KNTV’s sports director (who works a sideline reporter during Giants’ broadcasts) Raj Mathai appears on their network.

No idea if KMAX comes in HD, but I’d have to assume yes since the locals broadcast in HD in Sacramento. WTF?!?

So let’s summarize:

Live in the San Francisco viewing market: watch on KNTV (NBC)
Live in the Sacramento viewing market: watch on KMAX (CW/CBS)
Live anywhere outside of Los Angeles/San Francisco/Sacramento: watch on MLB Network.

Live elsewhere, but still in Giants’ viewing territory (e.g. southern Oregon, northern Nevada): watch on a regional sports network that your cable/satellite provider presumably carries. If the game is OTA, or your provider doesn’t/can’t carry the correct RSN? You’re SOL.

Confusing enough for you? It gets better. I have access to MLB.TV, but not MLB Extra Innings. Not that either would matter — since I live in Giants territory, I’m blacked out in both instances.

I have DirecTV, which doesn’t carry our locals in HD. It also doesn’t carry our local My Network affiliate, which carries certain Giants games — using the OTA KNTV feed (which originates in San Jose). Instead, DirecTV provides our market with CW/My Network programming via Sacramento’s KMAX. KMAX, again, carries Giants games in Sacramento using the KNTV feed.

And of course, although DirecTV has access to not only an HD feed via KNTV, but also presumably carries KMAX in HD as well. Yet, locally, here, they provide viewers with an SD feed of the game. I suppose this is understandable, given that officially, DirecTV doesn’t broadcast our locals in HD — the locals do broadcast in HD, DirecTV just hasn’t added them.

But what’s infuriating is that KMAX ISN’T a local here. Although it isn’t a local, it plays the part of one. And even though they (presumably) broadcast in HD, DirecTV doesn’t carry our locals in HD. Does any of this begin to make any sense?

Fortunately, since Comcast SN-Bay Area (which is available here) carried Sunday’s game in HD, so we were at least able to watch that. I assume we would’ve also been blacked out of the national TBS HD broadcast of the same game.

Even better? Since we’re also blacked out of A’s games, you’d assume DirecTV would provide Comcast SN-California, right? No such luck. So even living in A’s territory, and thus blacked out via MLB.TV/EI, there is no local broadcast of A’s games here.

Of course, this hasn’t even touched on the lunacy of Comcast SN-Northwest also not being carried by DirecTV locally, thus locking out most of the state from viewing UO and Blazer games.

As has been touched on in so many other places, MLB’s blackout rules are beyond archaic. They’re just flat-out stupid. Since your typical MLB owner is obviously focused on increasing revenue, you’d think they’d follow a simple maxim of making sure as many viewers as possible are watching your team.

I live in Giants territory, yet I don’t have access to all of the best feeds available for this team. Often, I’m forced to relinquish better national feeds in favor of worse local feeds. How does this make any sense, for either DirecTV or MLB?

I was watching KCAL’s miserable — kept dropping in and out of HD — feed this weekend, and I saw this come up:


On the lower half of the screen is the same “searching for signal” pop-up that shows up on the DirecTV in our living room. So is MLB.TV using DirecTV’s video feeds, streaming sattelite TV online?

On that note, DirecTV’s insane when it comes to pricing their incarnation of MLB Extra Innings. As noted by the Biz of Baseball, MLB-EI was $179 prior to the season, and is now $191 (four payments of $47.75), and $191 afterwards. When I called two weeks ago, intending to purchase the package at mid-season, DirecTV did NOT offer a pro-rated price for the remainder of the season. So even with half of the season already in the books, DirecTV still wants the full-season price. That made the decision to subscribe to MLB.TV pretty easy at that point.

MLB.TV is fine, and offers HD-quality (don’t know the exact resolution) video. It also helps that the monitor is a 20-inch widescreen, so the picture is pretty comparable to the 27-inch SD set in the living room.

Want a Bluetooth headset? Don’t bother buying one from Samsung. Well, just hope it doesn’t ever break on you and you go for the mendacious act of taking them up on warranty service! samsung-logo

On 6/3/09, I received authorization to return a defective WEP170 Bluetooth headset for warranty service. The headset was then sent back to me, without service. The reason given was that the proof-of purchase I supplied didn’t have the seller’s name and address printed on it. The invoice I provided actually did have that information, but for whatever reason, it was still returned to me.

I contacted customer service again on 6/19/09 to attempt to resolve the issue. The initial CSR I spoke to, after an hour or so of back-and-forth and being placed on hold numerous times, assured me that the reasons given were valid, in spite of me holding an invoice with the requested information. After getting nowhere with the initial CSR, I asked to be transferred to a supervisor. I did, and was disconnected after she placed me on hold.

wep170I called in again, and immediately asked to be transferred to a supervisor. She looked into my file, and found that the reasons given were as I mentioned earlier. I offered to send her a copy of the invoice, with the information requested, and she accepted. She then apologized for the confusion, gave me a new repair ticket number, and informed me a new headset would be on its way shortly.

On 6/22/09, I checked the UPS tracking number provided to me, and I discovered the new headset was apparently heading to Lousiana. I’m in Oregon. So on 6/23/09, I again contacted customer service to inform them of the issue. The CSR I spoke with, after being placed on hold for about 10 minutes or so, informed me that I had to contact UPS myself to correct the error. I refused, as this is clearly an error on the shipper’s part. I mean, I’m no geography expert, but I’m pretty sure Louisiana isn’t anywhere near Oregon.

I then asked again to be transferred to a supervisor. After being placed on hold again, she informed me that an investigation would be taking place as to why the package was scheduled for delivery in Louisiana. I can make the investigation pretty simple — UPS is delivering it there because it’s clear it was addressed there. Now, as to WHY it was addressed there, I don’t know. That supervisor then told me that I would find out in 24-48 hours exactly what happened.

I don’t really expect this situation to be resolved expeditiously (or even resolved at all) at this point. All I want is a functional headset, and now that we’re going on three weeks and a whole lot of time wasted on the phone, I don’t know if I’m ever going to get that — that is, unless I give up and just buy a new one.

However, I will say this. Although there are surely thousands upon thousands of other potential customers out there, Samsung has done a wonderful job of losing me. I have, in the past, been quite satisfied with Samsung products. But I know now that should these products ever go bad, I can pretty much assume I’ll receive no help from Samsung customer service. I doubt that I’ll ever purchase anything else from Samsung, and I’ll make sure no one I know does either. Sure, a small drop in the bucket, but I’d rather save others from the frustration of dealing with Samsung’s non-existent customer service.

As I’m sure you’ve read, the never-ending saga to relocate the Portland Beavers out of PGE Park now has city officials unable to decide how exactly they want to spend tax dollars. Whether it’s Lents Park, the site currently occupied by the Memorial Coliseum, or who knows where else, the pols can’t make up their mind. Which of course leaves would-be MLS owner Merritt Paulson still waiting for a new home.

It certainly appears clear that they’re going to go ahead with their plan to convert (at taxpayer expense) the recently-renovated (at taxpayer expense, and still not fully paid for) PGE Park to a soccer-only facility, especially now since they have the Oregon House’s blessing to proceed.

Let’s make a few things clear. I believe in the idea of urban renewal. I believe that investing taxpayer money into improving the city’s infrastructure is a good thing.

I enjoy watching the Beavers. I love watching baseball at all levels, and I appreciate there’s a team in Portland. And while I may not appreciate soccer as much, I certainly understand the desire of fans to bring a bigger franchise to the city — that’s a good thing.

But what I don’t believe in is using taxpayer money to fund such a private venture with such a narrow demographic. Let’s be serious. It’s not like we’re talking MLB, or the NFL, or even the NHL for that matter. We’re talking about a sport that lags far behind the big three — and we’re talking about a fairly sizable public investment in it.

What it comes down to is this. Sure, bring MLS to Portland. But Merritt Paulson needs to make sure he pays for all of it and doesn’t resort to corporate welfare in order to do it. If it’s such a sure-fire investment, then surely he, successful businessman that he is, can afford to do this on his own. If not, then find some private investors and sell them on the plan.

The fact of the matter is that publicly-funded sports stadia are almost overwhelmingly a lose-lose for a city’s taxpayers. Just ask the Phoenix Coyotes or the Indianapolis Colts, among many others. Given the tremendous risk of these investments, it’s absolutely ludicrous for Merritt Paulson to even think of tapping into the city’s funds for his pet projects.

It’s clear the folks out in Los Angeles do like to get down, so to speak, legitimate reasons or otherwise. So when hundreds of inebriated Laker fans decided to turn the area surrounding Staples Center into a warzone, it comes as no surprise, really.

lakerfans I mean, we’ve already seen this sort of thing before, whether or not the Lakers win. So when they emerged as victors in Orlando on Sunday, I suppose this was inevitable, right?

And if you look at the commentary on sites such as the L.A. Times, this sort of thing is absolutely inevitable, given the sort of antisocial behavior most people of Latino heritage display. Those brown-skinned Laker fans — who are probably illegal aliens anyway — they’re always at the center of these incidents. At least, that’s what many of their readers seem to think.

Well, given that Latinos make up approximately 47% of the population in Los Angeles, is there really any surprise that it’s Latinos that we’re seeing here? They make up the largest group of people in the city! And this is not to suggest that only Latinos were partaking in this nonsense, as there were plenty of other people out being idiots as well. I just want to point out that there’s a reason we see mostly Latino faces in these pictures — because it’s mostly Latinos who live in LA. looted

But what really bothers me is how quick these commenters were to point the finger at Latino Laker fans, assigning blame to them for all manner of maladies, not just what went down on Sunday evening. What’s even more troublesome is the implication that only unruly Latinos are capable of such ridiculousness. Of course, because this sort of thing could never happen in a more civilized place (i.e. a place with more white people) such as Philadelphia, or Boston. Those mild-mannered fans in New England; they’d never do the sort of thing that, heaven forbid, would jeopardize someone’s life, now would they?

It’s really odd to read the comments of anyone trying to imply that drunken hooliganism is somehow particular to one race of people/one particular west coast state/one particular city in California. It’s disturbing to read the comments of people who naively think this wouldn’t happen anywhere else, and is somehow endemic to Los Angeles. It’s terribly sad to read the comments of people who unintentionally reveal that they believe in some pretty unjustifiable beliefs. What happened Sunday evening had nothing to do with the Latino population, immigration, or anything other than pure stupidity.

This sort of incident is just plain sad, no matter how you dice it. Sure, just as LAPD Chief William Bratton said, “knuckleheads” are to blame for this sort of thing happening. This isn’t some sort of systemic issue taking place. People get drunk, people get stupid. It’s a theme that goes down everywhere, from the streets of Los Angeles, all the way to the cornfields of Iowa.

My new Mac Mini barely had any time to settle into its shipping box. I ordered it from the Apple Store Sunday evening, and by 9:oo AM Pacific, it was on a FedEx plane from Shenzen, China. By Tuesday afternoon it had made its way to Anchorage. Tuesday evening it was already in Oakland. As Wednesday dawned, it had made its way back to Portland, and was safely delivered here at 9:00 AM — a mere 48 hours after leaving another continent altogether.

Now if only I could get the postman to send my bubble mailers with that same sort of urgency!

All shipment travel activity is displayed in local time for the location

Jun 10, 2009 9:26 AM
Jun 10, 2009 8:54 AM
On FedEx vehicle for delivery
Jun 10, 2009 8:09 AM
At local FedEx facility
Jun 10, 2009 4:35 AM
At dest sort facility
Jun 10, 2009 2:47 AM
Departed FedEx location
Jun 9, 2009 10:02 PM
Arrived at FedEx location
Jun 9, 2009 5:37 PM
Departed FedEx location
Jun 9, 2009 1:45 PM
Int’l shipment release
Jun 9, 2009 1:10 PM
Arrived at FedEx location
Jun 9, 2009 8:14 PM
In transit
Jun 9, 2009 12:06 PM
Left FedEx origin facility
Jun 9, 2009 10:17 AM
Picked up
Jun 9, 2009 5:27 AM
Shipment information sent to FedEx

The Good: Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier all had a great series against the Padres. Eric Stults getting another chance to start.

The Bad: Russell Martin, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, and Orlando Hudson didn’t. Hiroki Kuroda getting injured.

The Ugly: Good grief! I know young pitchers struggle with their control, but to see Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and James McDonald do what they did three games in a row was excruciating. Granted, I figure Billingsley will get it going sooner or later. But as for Kershaw and McDonald? Not the greatest way to start the season.

At some point, both of these guys simply need to trust their ability to pitch and not worry so much. McDonald’s body language belied that of a confident pitcher. He was fidgety, and his mechanics appeared off after he loaded the bases the first time. At some point, you wish Brad Ausmus would’ve gone out there to tell him to slow down, go back to a windup, and just pitch. After all, isn’t his handling of pitchers the reason the Dodgers went with him and not Danny Ardoin as a backup catcher?

It was nice to be able to actually see all of this week’s games, less the the two we missed while on the road. I love it when DirecTV offers a free preview of MLB Extra Innings, and I love it even more when they don’t block you from recording any of the preview games, as they did last year.

Things to look forward to — or should I say, eventual eBay purchases?

How about a Russell Martin MacFarlane figure, and a Manny Ramirez bobblehead.


mannyEven though Manny’s been here less than a year, and probably won’t be here longer than a year and a half, clearly he would get his own bobblehead — not just from the Dodgers but from the Albuquerque Isotopes as well. But Casey Blake? Really, the Dodgers marketing department thought better of giving Blake a bobblehead before, I don’t know, Billingsley, Kemp, Ethier, or Broxton?

Finally, thoughts and prayers to the Adenhart family and the Anaheim Angels. What made that particular tragedy strike particularly close to home was the fact that I had traveled that particular intersection (where Adenhart’s vehicle was struck) many, many times at that same hour, and I still have family in the area that do as well.

Hundreds, if not thousands (sadly) of people die yearly at the hands of such wildly irresponsible drivers such as Andrew Gallo, and we never hear about it. It’s sad and unfortunate that it takes a (semi) celebrity to die for us to even consider talking about the senselessness of not only drunk driving, but a legal system powerless to do anything more than slap a repeat offender on the wrist — which ultimately, what license suspension amounts to.

How ought we fix it? I don’t know, but I wish it didn’t require innocent people dying for the issue to come to the forefront.

Boy, that last post set struck a nerve, didn’t it?

First off, I applaud and respect Portland/Oregon soccer fans for their dedication and zeal in attempting to bring MLS to PDX. But I can’t agree with their means to an end.

Yes, public school funding comes from Salem. However, the city of Portland neither has endless coffers nor endless credit. If Portland issues the $80-million-something in bonds (assuming that’s all it takes to get these stadia built), that’s $80-million-something in bonds that aren’t issued for anything else.

Stadium funds are stadium funds, and yes, by law, can only be spent on such things. But given that the public at large understands these are times when we’re learning to do without “such things,” why should Merritt Paulson be granted an exception? I mean, if Gov. Ted feels Oregon schools need to do without the rainy day fund, why is anyone clamoring en masse for Major League Soccer?

And if Paulson is willing to go so far as back the bonds with his own fortunes, it suggests that he’s certainly capable of paying for the new parks himself. So let Paulson do just that. He wants to re-renovate PGE Park? Go for it. He wants to move the Beavers elsewhere? Sure. Do it, but just not on the public dime.

MLS appeals to a very specific demographic. And while I clearly love baseball, not every taxpayer in Portland needs to subsidize my fandom. And not every taxpayer needs to subsidize a wealthy franchise owner who can easily afford to make the changes he wants to make.

update: Welcome, Taibblog and Reason readers.

The Portland school district, like many others in the state of Oregon, is considering trimming from an already-short school year – Oregon has among the shortest school years in the country, and lost quite a few more days this past December to snow – no surprise given the fact the state has quite the budget shortfall on its hands for this and the next biennium. How dire is the situation? Gov. Ted Kulongoski, in all his wisdom, recommended that the state’s teachers work five days this year without pay. Not any other state employee – just the teachers.

No matter how one feels about that situation, clearly the state and most of the cities of Oregon aren’t exactly flush with cash these days.

Yet in spite of all this, Merritt Paulson (son of former Treasury Secretary paulsonHank), continues to push a plan to build a new baseball-only facility for the Triple-A Beavers, and to convert the recently-renovated (at taxpayer expense) PGE Park to a football/soccer only facility. If the city of Portland provides the necessary funding for these two stadium projects, Paulson intends to then spend the $40 million Major League Soccer franchise fee, thus bringing an MLS team to Portland.

So during a time when consumer confidence has hit record lows, and businesses short on credit are ratcheting things down, Paulson wants Portland taxpayers to spend at least $80 million (the projected cost of the two stadium projects) on his business venture? Nevermind the debatable popularity of MLS – isn’t this the league that mega-star David Beckham just ditched – spending tax dollars on a special interest, so to speak, is sad and pathetic given what PPS is considering.

Let me reiterate – Portland schools face massive cuts, and Son of Hank wants tax money to build stadia? No, no, no, no, no, no!

For as much as I enjoy sports, I cannot with a clear conscience agree that taxpayers ought to subsidize it. For all the to-do about “socialism” in our culture today, it’s thoroughly vexing why any American would want the taxpayer to subsidize such a limited interest. Sports are hugely popular, but by that same token, they’re hugely unpopular with just as many people/taxpayers. Stadium construction-as-public works projects stimulate the economy only insofar as the construction is concerned. Once they’re built, the only jobs left are minimum wage beer and hot dog vendors and ticket takers. There is no “economic investment,” contrary to what Paulson is trying to sell. Investment in such projects is only enabling millionaire owners to continue leeching off of the taxpayers.

Here’s a thought, son of Hank: try paying for your own playthings. For as much as Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has been disagreeable in one way or another, I will say this about him – he may not have had enough assets at the time when he purchased the Dodgers. But here’s a novel concept – he borrowed the money using his own credit, not that of L.A., or its taxpayers.

The state of Oregon and the city of Portland have far more pressing issues than bringing what amounts to another minor league team to the city. If son of Hank wants new stadia, perhaps he can borrow the money from dear old Dad.