2015 Nebraska Alternates Reviewed

23 Jul

Today is the day that some of us look forward to and others dread:  alternate uniform reveal day.  Nebraska will wear these October 24th against Northwestern.*

*Apparently, Nebraska is telling Northwestern “we’ll see your ugly black uniforms, and raise you one.”

Let’s dive in, piece by piece.

Helmet:

helmet

Like last year, the lid was easily the highlight of the ensemble.  When a picture of the matte black helmet with the classic sans-serif “N” was released late Wednesday night, I was cautiously optimistic that I would like this year’s uniforms.

In my opinion, this helmet represents what a Nebraska alternate uniform should strive to be:  different, yet recognizable.  Trendy, yet classic.  Without question, this is my favorite component of any Husker alternate to date.

Could this be the year that I go from grudging acceptance to full-on love?  Could adidas redeem their battered reputation with Husker fans with a grand slam design?

Grade:  A

Jersey:

jersey

 

Nope.

Goodness…where to even begin with this thing?  Let’s start with the pattern in the jersey.  The adidas press release says “the jersey’s padlock system secures tension over the shoulder pads, while the bodymap fit adheres to the player, making it difficult for opponents to grab, hold or tackle.”

Uh-huh.  Sure.  Bummer about not being able to tackle us Northwestern.

You can call it whatever you want.  I say it looks like tire treads, which when combined with the diagonal slits going through the numbers, makes it look like the uniforms were run over by a truck (Wisconsin fans, feel free to insert a Melvin Gordon joke here).

Speaking of the numerals, they are rather reminiscent of the duct tape numbers from last year’s jersey.  Hopefully, the addition of the silver – sorry, “forged steel” – outline will make them easier to read from row 47.  I’m not optimistic.

One of my biggest criticisms of adidas is how they put all of their schools through a generic template and fail to do anything unique – even for a once-a-year special jersey.  For the most part, that holds true:  compare these to the new adidas uniforms for UCLA, Miami, and others.  Lots of similarities, especially the tire tread pattern.  However, I will acknowledge that adidas has finally done something unique for the Huskers, adding the word “HUSKERS” along the side of the jersey.

sideview

I appreciate the gesture, but all it does is clutter up a jersey that is already too busy.  Next time, replace your tire treads with the outline of the state.

Grade:  C

Pants

pants

Putting an “N” in the stripe is interesting.  I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either.

Oh wait, that’s what I wrote a year ago when adidas made the same pants in red.

C’mon adidas.  Make an effort to do something new.  I understand the monochromatic looks are the big thing now, but I wouldn’t mind seeing this with red pants or even the silver – er, “forged steel” – from the outline of the numbers.

Points are deducted for the needless slashes through the stripes and the tire tread pattern.

Grade:  C-

Accessories

Let’s start with the cleats.

shoes

I love them.  Simple, clean, and a dramatic improvement over the 2014 version that looked orange under the lights.  Plus, they have ” a SPRINTSKIN upper with SHOCKWEB reinforcement and a SPRINTFRAME plate that provides maximum acceleration and multi-directional traction”*, which has to be good.

*Anybody else find it ironic that a company whose name does not have any capital letters creates products with the CAPS LOCK glued down?  Just me?

I have a seen a picture that suggests these will reflect very silver on the field, but I’m optimistic that will be okay.  If nothing else, they should take focus away from the ugly patterned dress socks.

Next up is the undershirt – I mean, “TECHFIT gun show baselayer”*.

undershirt

 

*You wish I was making that up.

As noted uniform critic Paul Lukas tweeted, “I think the red ‘N’ stands for ‘No.'”  I’m not a fan of the tire tread meets camouflage look on the sleeves, but it’s better than the “Z” that was on the arm last year.

Its interesting – at least as far as a discussion on alternate uniform accessories goes – that there are no close up pictures of the gloves.  All of the previous uniforms have had fancy gloves that make an “N” when the palms are placed side by side.  Surely, the new gloves do that – unless there wasn’t room after adidas put in “4-way stretch mesh for compression fit and GripTack 2.0 for consistent control in all weather conditions.”

Grade:  B

Overall

In what will be a surprise to nobody, I’m not a fan of these.  One last time, let’s go back to what I said a year ago:

I think for 2015, I will need to greatly lower my expectations.  I should expect adidas to provide Nebraska something that is on the line separating flashy and gaudy.  Something that looks like it came off a generic corporate template, instead of being inspired by Nebraska’s rich history.  I should expect a mediocre alternate from adidas, because that is all they have ever given us.

By those standards, adidas delivered 100%.  As you hopefully gathered by the corporate buzz speak that I sprinkled in from the press release, these uniforms are much more about adidas than they are about Nebraska.  Let’s take a look at the whole ensemble from head to toe.

headtotoe

There is very good potential here.  There really is.  I can’t believe my traditionalist fingers are going to type this, but that black helmet may be a keeper.  Silver shoes are silly, but no worse than the neon highlighter shoes many basketball teams wear.

Until Jason Peter says otherwise, I’m still of the opinion that black jerseys should not be worn by 4th string receivers.  That said, I could get on-board with an all-black get up similar to this.  Just simplify the look.  Lose the tire treads, the reflective numbers, the stripes that look like they survived an attack from Freddy Krueger, and you’d really have something nice.

It may not be as #HuskerBold as adidas would like, but I’d wager it would be better received.

Grade: C+

Stop Comparing Soccer to American Sports

7 Jul

In the days after the United States Women’s National Team winning the 2015 World Cup, I’ve been reading and hearing many bold proclamations (and/or hot takes) about how this victory means that soccer is on the rise, and it won’t be long before soccer surpasses one of the “four major sports” (football, baseball, basketball, hockey) in some manner – viewership, attendance, fans, etc.

Let’s just slow down for a minute.

Yes, soccer is arguably bigger in America than it has ever been.  The game has grown in popularity over the last 20+ years, and that growth shows no sign of stopping.  And yes, the World Cup final drew a huge TV rating, notably surpassing the viewership from Game 7 of the 2014 World Series and the decisive Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals.

But…

First, let’s address those TV numbers.  More accurately, let’s acknowledge that comparing the Women’s World Cup championship to the other two broadcasts is an apples to oranges comparison.  Yes, all three are “fruit” – decisive, championship games in their collective sport.  But the difference lies in the teams.  The World Series featured the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants.  The NBA Finals had the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Women’s World Cup had The United Freaking States of America.

I would argue a decent (if not sizable) percentage of the WWC audience tuned in not because they are soccer fans or because they enjoy watching soccer played at a high level by amazing athletes.  They tuned in because it was a chance to see America to win a prestigious global competition.

Who was the primary audience of Game 7 of the World Series?  Fans of the Giants (6th largest US television market) and the Royals (31st largest).  For Game 6 of the Finals, you have Warriors (again, 6th largest market) and Cavs fans (17th largest).  For the WWC, your primary audience is fans of America in EVERY market with a Fox affiliate.

It’s the same reason why NBC shells out billions of dollars for Olympic broadcast rights:  Americans love to watch other Americans competing (and winning) at a high level against top international competition – no matter the event.  I’m not saying that a U.S. versus Japan competition in say, water polo, would draw the same numbers as the World Cup final.  But I am saying the nation’s love and support for the red, white, and blue greatly surpasses the nation’s love and support for the Kansas City Royals.

Until the MLS Championship draws more viewers than the World Series, Stanley Cup, or NBA Finals, stop with this comparison.

*   *   *

Without question, soccer is growing in America.  I won’t argue that.  But where is the peak?  You’ll find many credible voices who say soccer could become the “national pastime” or supplant baseball or hockey in the “big four” of American sports.

I disagree, especially in the short-term.

Soccer interest, at least in America, tends to be cyclical.  Setting aside the loyal fans of MLS and European leagues, a person who identifies themselves as “liking soccer” will get into the big tournaments (men’s and women’s World Cups, Olympics, etc.).  After those events end?  The interest tends to wane.

An article in the Seattle Times referenced a marketing-research study on “fan engagement” of Americans towards soccer, conducted after the last four men’s World Cup tournaments.  Every time, there was a significant drop off in interest after the tournament ended.

 

“You see the same pattern,’’ said (Robert) Passikoff (of Brand Keys), who added that his surveys are accurate within 3 percent. “You get high interest, high numbers during the tournament and then it’s ‘Thank you very much and goodbye.’ ’’

With other sports, he added, the numbers climb a bit during playoffs and championships but “you don’t see as high a fluctuation.’’

Personally, I wonder if the growth and expansion of soccer will follow a similar pattern to NASCAR.  There was a point in 1990’s / early 2000’s where NASCAR experienced phenomenal growth, with some saying that the sport was poised to join the big four.  Fast forward to the mid to late 2000’s and NASCAR’s popularity hit a big bump, with attendance and TV ratings taking a dive.  Obviously, that is not a perfect comparison – most notably, the millions of kids in youth soccer should help to sustain soccer’s rise – but NASCAR’s failure to join the Big Four should serve as a cautionary tale for soccer fans seeking to join the big time.

*   *   *

So where will soccer be 15 or 20 years from now?  I fully expect that MLS will still be going strong, with 32 teams across the country playing in soccer-only stadiums in front of passionate crowds.  World Cups – both men’s and women’s – will still be events that grab headlines and national attention (especially when the U.S. is winning).  I would not be surprised if the United States has a true soccer superstar who is on par with the greatest players in the world.

But I don’t expect soccer to have bumped MLB, NHL, NBA, or especially the NFL from their perch as America’s favorite sports.

And that should be okay.

Thought of the Day – 6/30/2015 – Paxton’s Paradox

30 Jun

Imagine an empty room.

It is a smaller room, approximately eight feet by ten feet with the ceiling at an average height.

The walls and ceiling are perfectly white – so unblemished you can almost smell the paint in the air.

The floor is wall to wall linoleum in an equally pristine shade of white.

There are no windows, but the room is well-lit from the ceiling.

In the middle of the room, there is a small table.  It too, is white.

On top of the table sit three items:

  • A brand new loaf of store-bought sliced bread*.
  • A half-empty jar of peanut butter
  • A stainless steel butter knife.

*Ironically, the bread is whole grain wheat; not white.  But that is irrelevant.

Nothing else is in the room.

I guarantee that if you placed me in this room and asked me to make a peanut butter sandwich I would not be able to locate the bag clip or twist-tie used to close the bread bag – especially it if said clip or tie was any color other than white.

*Random factoid:  in many cases, the color of the bag tag or twist-tie relates to when the bread was packaged.  This is Snopes verified, people.

After frantically searching the all white room for the blue twist-tie or sea-foam green bag clip*, I would give up and just spin the loaf real fast to close it.

Finally, after notifying the bag clip’s next of kin, I decide to move on and enjoy my sandwich.  As I raise my PB-sans-J to my lips, I’ll spot the bag clip or tie right where I left it.

Exactly where I had looked 87 times in the last five minutes.

*   *   *

Author’s note:  The title “Paxton’s Paradox” is an obscure reference to Mr. Floyd Paxton, owner of Kwik Lok Corporation – the company that makes the plastic bag clips.

Should Nebraska Replace Adidas?

29 Jun

As a Nebraska football fan, I dread the months of July, and August.  Not because those months are painfully slow for news, the season feels light years away, or I’m already tired of predicting the team’s record for the upcoming season.

I dread this time of year because I know that any day now the new Husker football alternative uniform will be released.  If we’ve learned anything over the first three years of the “Unrivaled” series of alternate unis, it’s that they are routinely bad, mediocre at best, and downright awful at worst.

Of course, this is also the time of year where I start to get my hopes up and think “maybe this is the year that adidas knocks it out of the park and creates some spectacular.”  Surely, the three stripe folks – having recently lost Notre Dame and Tennessee, and reportedly being on the ropes with Michigan – will bring out their “a” game.  Right?

Um….about that….

*   *   *

A post on medium.com entitled “Adidas:  Sports Apparel Laughingstock“* chronicles a laundry list of screw ups and failings by adidas.

*As a public service, I should warn you to don protective eye-wear before clicking on that article, as it contains some images of athletic apparel that should come with an NC-17 rating.  We’re talking those Zubaz-inspired shorts adidas teams wore in the 2013 NCAA tournament, the cummerbund / fanny-pack look from this year, and some horrible Notre Dame alts.  

The alternate uniform history of adidas is such a dumpster fire that none of the Nebraska “Unrivaled” designs – and I use the word “designs” lightly – made the article.

A couple of quotes from the piece pull no punches:

  • “The pecking order of each of the Big Three sports apparel companies is abundantly clear: Nike is the gold standard, Under Armour is the millennial brand and adidas is a running joke.”
  • “Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank called adidas ‘our dumbest competitor’ this past February — and he wasn’t wrong.”
  • “Yes, Nike and Under Armour have had their misses with new uniforms, but they’ve also had a lot of hits. Adidas, on the other hand, almost exclusively sustains misses.”
  • “Making good-looking sports uniforms isn’t rocket science. All it takes is basic fashion rules and common sense. Unfortunately, adidas no longer has either.”

Ouch.

*   *   *

This may not be the best time to remind you that adidas provides apparel and footwear for each of NU’s 24 sports.  Nebraska’s contract with adidas was renewed in 2013, and expires in three years (June 30, 2018).

I’m not a sneaker-head nor an expert on the athletic apparel industry to say that adidas must go and [insert name of your preferred provider] should take over.  Certainly, if we’re just looking at this through the lens of ugly uniforms, EVERY provider has some disasters.  For all of the cool looks Nike has given Oregon, they’ve had their fair share of flops.  And any discussion of ugly uniforms must contain Under Armour’s long-standing desecration of the Maryland state flag.

It’s worth noting that NU’s 2013 renewal with adidas (approximately $8 million in cash and $7.5 million in apparel and equipment), is, in the words of Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman “not a significant increase over the deal we had before.”  So why did the Huskers stay with adidas?  The Omaha World-Herald reported the deal was “more than any other apparel outfitter was willing to offer”.  The World-Herald cited discussions then-AD Tom Osborne had with Nike.

In other words, for Nebraska to have gotten out of their deal with adidas, they would have had to take less money and/or equipment from somebody else.  At a state school where the Athletic Department gets no tax dollars, the answer is pretty easy:  take the money.  But while Nebraska made the right choice in the short-term, did they make the best call long-term?

*   *   *

What is the impact of a bad apparel relationship?  Off the top of my head, three things come to mind:

Recruiting.  It always comes back that recruiting, doesn’t it?  If a main reason for having alternative uniforms (aside from merchandise sales) is to impress recruits, are you doing your recruiting a disservice by wearing “laughingstock” uniforms provided by a “running joke” of a company?  In other words, could you potentially lose a kid because he would rather wear the fancy costumes made by Nike or Under Armour instead of the silly suits made by adidas?

Merchandise.  As noted above, the other big reason for alternative jerseys is the prospect of selling new things to a fan base that loves to buy Husker gear.  But answer this:  how many people do you know who purchased a replica version of any of the three previous “Unrivaled” uniforms?  Of those folks, who many paid full price?  I considered buying a t-shirt replica of the 2014 duct tape jobs when the Nebraska Bookstore was closing, but even at 75% off, I couldn’t pull the trigger.  Had the design been better, I probably would have bought one at full price.

Program perception / brand.  For argument’s sake, let’s agree with the notion from the Medium.com piece that adidas is a distant third in the apparel pecking order.  How does that reflect on Nebraska being an adidas school – especially when one can make the argument that Nebraska is not in the top-tier of adidas schools?  Additionally, how does it reflect on the school – and the Nebraska Football brand – when they wear uniforms that are mocked and ridiculed?

*   *   *

So where do we go from here?

Even though I’m typing this while wearing a Nebraska shirt made by adidas, I don’t really care if the Huskers wear Nike, adidas, or Under Armour.  I not naive enough to think that by going with one of the other two everything magically becomes peaches and rainbows.

That said, I’m ready for a change.  Until adidas can a) prove that they can design their way out of a wet paper bag or b) give one of their premier schools something unique that is not all about adidas, I’m willing to see what the other guys can do.  Maybe it will better.  Maybe it will be worse.  But right now adidas is the 9 and 4 of athletic apparel providers.  Bad enough to make you want change, but just good enough to keep them for another year.

Regardless of what happens in 2018, for the next three years, we’re linked arm and arm with #teamadidas.  For better or for worse.

Hopefully, the Huskers can improve their on-field/on-court success before the next negotiation period to make them more attractive to all three companies.  A winning team and/or program on the rise will have better prospects than one mired in mediocrity.

As for this year’s alternates and the dread I’ll have until they are released?  Let me close with something I wrote last summer after another underwhelming uniform was released:

I’m beginning to think the biggest issue is my expectations.  I want Nebraska to have something cool.  Something unique yet classic.  Something the five-star recruits want to wear, but the farmers at the coffee shop will like.  Admittedly, that is a tall order.  Yet every year, I keep expecting the design team at adidas to deliver it.  Unfortunately, I don’t think they can.*

*Nor am I sure that Nike, Under Armour, Reebok, or any other apparel provider could deliver something I’d love, but I wouldn’t mind seeing their concepts…

I think for 2015, I will need to greatly lower my expectations.  I should expect adidas to provide Nebraska something that is on the line separating flashy and gaudy.  Something that looks like it came off a generic corporate template, instead of being inspired by Nebraska’s rich history.  I should expect a mediocre alternate from adidas, because that is all they have ever given us.

Dear ESPN, Nebraska should NOT return to the Big XII

26 Jun

On Wednesday, Oklahoma’s president said the Big XII “should strive for” a 12-team league.  Since it is the end of June, when you’re more likely to see snowflakes than college football news*, several outlets pounced on the story and began speculation on who teams XI and XII might be.

*Or at least, college football news outside of recruiting and arrests.  Those two topics know no off-season.

One of those pieces came from ESPN’s Jake Trotter, who broke down 12 possible additions from most likely (BYU, Memphis, Boise State, Cincinnati, etc.), less likely (Florida State and Clemson, or other defectors from a Power 5 conference), down to the least likely:  Nebraska.

You’re reading that correctly:  somebody at the Worldwide Leader made a case for Nebraska going back to the Big XII.

Now, before I rip his rationale to shreds, it is worth mentioning in Trotter’s defense that he considers North Dakota State* – a current member of the FCS – a much more likely addition than Nebraska.  Whether or not this improves Trotter’s credibility is up to you.

*Be sure to give Trotter credit for this spectacular factoid about the Bison:  “They actually have as many wins against the Big 12 as Kansas does in the last five years.”  

But let’s face it:  at best, suggesting Nebraska as a “new” member of the Big XII is an ignorant pipe dream.  At worst, it’s click-bait trolling.

So where is Trotter wrong in his assessment?  Let’s go line by line.  Trotter’s words are in bold.  My responses are not.

*   *   *

Put a truth serum in many Nebraska fans, and they would probably admit their realignment to the Big Ten hasn’t been what they hoped it would be.

Okay – so Trotter actually comes out of the gate with an ugly truth.  I think there are many of us who expected an easier time than a combined 22-10 conference (counting the 2012 championship game) in football and expected dominance in other sports (i.e. baseball) has not materialized.  There are lots are reasons for this, but that is an entirely separate discussion.  But four seasons is a little quick for buyer’s remorse.

Also, it’s worth remembering that in my “State of the Husker Nation” poll last November, 58% of the nearly 6,000 respondents said the decision to join the Big Ten was not a mistake.  Only 18.5% said it was a mistake.

The Huskers have fallen into second-tier status in the Big Ten.

 

Agree to disagree here.  Yes, the NU brand is not as shiny as it was in the inaugural Big Ten season of 2011 (again, an entirely separate discussion).  But to say NU is second-tier is ludicrous.

B1G tiers off the top of my head:

Top-Tier

  1. Ohio State.  The class of the conference.
  2. Michigan.  Even after Rich Rod and Hoke, the Wolverines are a top-tier program.  Period.
  3. Michigan State.  If you got that truth serum back out, how many Husker fans probably would trade straight up for MSU’s roster, coaches, and especially their recent success?
  4. Nebraska.  Yes, Wisconsin has owned Nebraska, but I cannot (will not?) say the Badgers are the better program.
  5. Wisconsin.  A top-tier program in any Power 5 conference.

Second-Tier

  1. Penn State.  If not for the sanctions (and the tarnish to Paterno’s legacy), they are securely in the top-tier – and they may get back there soon.
  2. Iowa.  The case could be made that Nebraska joining the Big Ten helped to knock the Hawkeyes to second-tier status.
  3. Minnesota.  They’ve crept out of the dregs.
  4. Northwestern.  At serious risk of falling out of the second-tier.

Bottom of the Barrel

  1. Maryland.  Need to prove something to earn a promotion to second-tier, but they’re close.
  2. Illinois.  Like Missouri in the 1980s and 90s – the potential is there.  The plan is not.
  3. Indiana.  Is it basketball season yet?
  4. Purdue.  Look!  We have a big drum!
  5. Rutgers.  Still a head-scratching decision by Jim Delany.  You know you would mock to the Big XII if they took a school of Rutgers’ caliber.

They’re in the division opposite Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, which reduces their number of marquee games.

Two things here:  1) Before the additional of Maryland and Rutgers, Nebraska was in the same division as Michigan and played an annual crossover game with Penn State.  Yes, the new geographic divisions have the marquee schools in the East, but remember:  2) In the old Big XII North, the marquee teams (Oklahoma, Texas, A&M) were in the opposite division.

Nebraska once played one of college football’s most storied rivalry games against Oklahoma. Today, Nebraska’s big rival is Iowa, which barely moves the needle in Lincoln, much less the rest of the country.

“Once” is the key word here.  For me, the NU-OU rivalry officially ended in the second year of the Big XII play – 1997 – when the two storied programs played their final annual contest before moving to the “play two years, take two years off” format that all North and South schools shared.  Had NU-OU remained an annual game (which was something OU did not want, by the way), I firmly believe it is much more difficult for NU to leave the XII in the first place.

As for Iowa, Trotter is correct that the game barely moves the needle in Lincoln.  But, surely Trotter would agree that it takes more than four seasons to build a strong rivalry (even if it does come with a generic, nondescript trophy sponsored by a grocery store).  Give the Iowa series a little more time before we declare it a dud – even if I believe that the Wisconsin game will likely surpass Iowa as NU’s hated rival.

Nebraska left the Big 12 primarily over its frustrations with the leadership at Texas.

That is a very oversimplified (if not completely inaccurate) statement.

If you were to ask me why NU left, Texas’s leadership doesn’t make the top three:

  1. Nebraska needed stability, and Texas (among others) were not looking to commit to the Big XII.  Back in 2010 the conference was a sinking ship and every school was racing for the lifeboats.  Texas had a life yacht, but had not interest in sharing it with others.
  2. The Big XII lacked leadership.  Dan Beebe was a bad commissioner who did little to strengthen the league or build unity.  (A cynic might note that the new leadership at Texas is a veiled reference to new conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby).
  3. Money.  Nebraska had the opportunity to make more money in the Big Ten than the Big XII.

But since Nebraska’s exit, the Longhorns have hired a president, a new athletic director and a new football coach.

So?  That pompous jerk  you hated in high school may have a new wife, a new job, and a new house, but the odds say he’s still a ______ that you don’t want to associate with.  Is the implication here that since Nebraska struggled to beat Mack Brown teams, they should come back and take a shot at Charlie Strong’s squads?

If the Huskers completely soured on their Big Ten experience, maybe they would be open to reconciliation.

What would have to happen for NU to “completely sour” on the Big Ten?

Let’s say Jim Delaney retires and is replaced by Dan Beebe 2.0.  Ohio State assumes the role of Texas, leading coalitions to block any idea, policy, or rule that Nebraska supports.  The rest of the Big Ten West starts giving Nebraska the same beat downs as Wisconsin.  All Husker games are locked into an 11 am kickoff on BTN.  Would that be enough to make NU look elsewhere?

Personally, I think that even if NU’s B1G adventure went to hell, Nebraska would stick it out for two reasons:  1) Pride, and 2) the check Big Ten schools will get from the next TV rights deal.

One thing is for sure: The Big 12 would welcome them back with open arms.

Oh Jake.  Remember how you started strong?  You could not be more wrong here.

Intentionally or not, Nebraska (and Husker fans) burned a lot of bridges on their way out the door in 2010.  Do you think it is a coincidence that no Big XII team has scheduled Nebraska in football or basketball since NU left?  I can’t find a link, but I remember reading that Nebraska has called Big XII schools looking for basketball games, and has been refused by all.

You could make an argument that the only folks in the Big XII land who would truly welcome Nebraska back would be the hoteliers, restaurant owners, and barkeeps in Ames, Manhattan, Lawrence, and other Big XII towns.

Otherwise?  The only open arms Nebraska might see would be from a spurned rival preparing to put a “kick me” sign on NU’s back during a feigned embrace.

 

Selective History

11 Jun

The last few days, I’ve been seeing versions of the same image showing up frequently in my Facebook feed:

history

(source: facebook.com/sarahpalin)

Selective History

 

 

I know the message that the Republicans are trying to send:  “On issues that are fundamental to the American way of life (freedom, voting rights, racial justice, etc.) the Republicans have been on the right side of history, while the Democrats have been overwhelmingly wrong time and again.”.*

Who knows?  It is quite possible that the Republicans are right about Obamacare, just like they were right on these three other examples.

But….

It would sure be nice if they could find a more recent example of where they were overwhelmingly right (and the Democrats were overwhelmingly wrong).  Since the infographic is about history, let’s do a little American History refresher:

  • 13th Amendment:  Passed Congress on January 31, 1865
  • 14th Amendment:  Passed Congress on June 18, 1866
  • 15th Amendment:  Passed Congress on February 25, 1869
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”):  Passed Congress on March 21, 2010

*Let’s pause for a minute to reflect on how radically the identities of the two political parties have shifted since the Reconstruction Era.  Can you imagine the Democrats of 2015 being almost universally opposed to increased rights and protections for illegal immigrants?  Or having near unanimous GOP support for legislation allowing gay marriage?  Right, wrong, or otherwise, neither of those things would happen today.

For the sake of argument (and avoiding partisan talking points), let’s assume that Republicans will one day be able to say “I told you so” on Obamacare.  Is the implication here that the GOP has not been on the right side of history in over 140 years?

Obviously, I’m not naive enough to think that the Democrats have had a monopoly on being overwhelmingly right on the important political and social issues of the last 140 years.

But here is the message I get from this infographic:  “Once upon a time, we were on the right side of history.  But since we don’t have a good example of that happening since Andrew Johnson left office, we really hope we’re right on Obamacare.”

And that really doesn’t seem like something to brag about.

Stop Complaining About How the Royals are Dominating All-Star Voting

8 Jun

Today, Major League Baseball released the latest voting totals for the July 14 MLB All-Star Game.  Of the nine positions involved in the American League fan balloting, the Kansas City Royals have the top vote-getter at seven positions.  Right fielder Alex Rios, who is just returning from an injury that kept him out for almost two months is fourth among all outfielders.  Second baseman Omar Infante (and his .221 batting average) are currently in second place, trailing the Astros’ Jose Altuve by 150,000 votes – despite this sentiment from Kansas City media:

Unless something crazy happens, the Royals will have at least five starters as 3B Mike Moustakas, SS Alcides Escobar, C Salvador Perez, CF Lorenzo Cain, and LF Alex Gordon all lead by over a million votes.

There are many national (read:  East Coast) voices who cannot fathom this Royal domination.  In between their alarmist angst, they blame fans excited with “newfound relevance“, click-happy fans voting dozens of time online, and a host of other conspiracy theories that threaten to ruin the sanctity of the All-Star Game.

So what is going on here?

  • First and foremost, the Royals are good.  For most casual baseball fans that is probably a surprising sentence to read*. Perez, Escobar, Cain, and Gordon are among the best at their positions – regardless of league.  Moustakas is having a breakout season and is worthy of the four million plus votes he’s received so far.  The other Royal vote leaders – 1B Eric Hosmer and DH Kendrys Morales – are having strong seasons too.  Even with a recent slump, the Royals are still just a game back in the competitive AL Central and should be considered strong contenders to defend their American League pennant in the postseason.

*Hell, for a lifelong fan like me – who suffered through a 29 year playoff drought filled with bad players, horrible management, and inept front office leadership – the idea of the Royals being good is still surprising…but I’m getting used to it.

  • For the first time, ASG voting is being done exclusively online.  While that eliminates the time-honored tradition of poking chads from a paper ballot with your car keys, it also reduces the inherent advantage that clubs with atop the attendance standings (i.e. Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Tigers) tended to have in voting results*.  The Yankees don’t automatically get four starters every year just because they draw 40,000 a game.

*Although, it is worth noting that the Royals current sit 10th in MLB (and fourth in AL) in attendance – easily their highest position in years.  When the Royals hosted the All Star Game in 2012 (and ASG ticket priority was given to season ticket holders) the Royals were 25th in attendance.  So even if they still used paper ballots, the Royals would probably be doing all right.

  • With voting online, the Royals have wisely taken advantage by promoting voting in the stadium and on social media.  The club regularly holds drawings and giveaways where the requirement of entry is proving that you voted the maximum 35 times.  Are other clubs not doing this?  Are Royals fans the only ones capable of getting online?  Do we need to send some old AOL CDs to Detroit?

*   *   *

Personally, I’m quite amused by the “anti-Royals fervor” going on as a result of these voting totals.  If you want to fill out 35 ballots without a single Royal, that’s your choice, but consider this:

  • As Manager of the AL squad, Kansas City’s Ned Yost can name any of his guys to the roster regardless of how the votes turn out.  It would be very Ned to thumb his nose at the league and pick his own guys.
  • Others have pointed this out, but it bears repeating:  If you’re concerned about a game for home field advantage in the World Series coming down to the NL All-Stars versus the Royals, well, remember who represented the AL last year.  They seemed to hold their own against the best team in the National League.
  • Should KC get four (or more) starters, it will only start to make up for a decade of All Star Games where the token Royal representative was somebody like Ken Harvey, Mark Redman, Jose Rosado, Dean Palmer, or Aaron Crow.  Seriously – as a diehard fan of both the Royals and Nebraska Cornhuskers, has any team had a worse All Star Game representative than Ken Harvey?

 

 

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