Saturday, January 31, 2009

Suped Up Picks

The Common Man took a couple days off there, you know, to build up the tension and get you salivating for his return. So how did that go for you? The Common Man spent his time interviewing for a new job, running after The Boy, and guest blogging over at The Domestic and Laboratory Goddess about the necessity of open and honest communication between spouses, especially when it comes to figuring out how to raise the kids.

Tomorrow, of course, is the big day. The pinnacle of sport. The crown jewel of Americana. And while most of America is focused on the football and the commercials, The Common Man knows that the lot of you are wondering whether he will actually pick a winner. So far, The Common Man has picked every other game right, getting two games in the first week, two in the second round, and one of the championship games. So, unless the game ends in a tie, this entire project is either going to be an incredible success or a pitiful failure. And you can't wait to find out which. So, on to the pick:

Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Pittsburgh is favored by 7)

Everything in The Common Man's body and soul tells him that he should be picking the Steelers here. Their defense really is excellent, anchored by Troy Polamalu and Nick Harrison. Ben Roethlesberger is a solid quarterback. Their running game is back on track thanks to Fast Willie Parker's resurgence. Hines Ward is probable to play. They are well-coached. And the AFC has been a better conference than the NFC for several seasons running.

Meanwhile, Arizona won just 9 games during the regular season. Their mediocre-at-best running game is not going to be a factor against the Steelers. Their quarterback, Kurt Warner, is not mobile and figures to be blitzed often. Their defense is mediocre.

And yet, The Common Man feels drawn like a moth to the flame that is Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald figures to be the best player on the field, and The Common Man thinks the Cardinals will eschew the run, spreading the field with three and four receiver sets, forcing Polamalu to help out in coverage, and keeping him from being the ball-hawking freestyle playmaker he loves to be. At the very least, this game is going to be closer than the seven point spread.

Let's say,

Arizona 27, Pittsburgh 24

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Tonight, The Common Man made The Uncommon Wife put The Boy to bed so that he could take the Jeopardy online challenge. Since he was but a boy, playing Jeopardy on his Apple IIe (Even The Common Man's video games were nerdy. Between this and Number Munchers, The Common Man is lucky he had any friends. How do you entice the guys to come over to your house to check out the new Jeopardy game, Mom? HOW?), The Common Man has wanted to be a contestant. And so, as he had nothing better to do tonight, he thought he'd drop everything and spend an evening answering question after question after question.

As it turns out, the test is short. It's just fifty questions, each of which have to be answered in less than 15 seconds (to keep you from Googling the answers, no doubt). Fifteen seconds is almost no time at all, especially when you're racking your brain to remember which poet wrote such and such a lyric in 1846 or whatever. Damn near impossible. It's a test designed to test quick recall, and does not reward intuitive thought, like the real game does with its leading questions. Nor is there time to process the categories. Better to ignore them altogether and to focus on the question. The process is frantic and nerve-wracking, leaving you little time to catch your breath or to compose yourself for the next question.

Anyway, The Common Man feels like he did okay on the test, but will never know for certain how he did. That information is kept under lock and key at Jeopardy headquarters, located in a bunker, 4 stories underground, in Trebek's native Sudbury, Ontario. If he issuccessful in passing the exam, The Common Man's name will be placed in a random drawing to select those who will get to interview to become contestants. Does it sound to you like, even if he did well, The Common Man has a chance in Hell? You're right, probably not. But still, a man can dream of outrageous good fortune in getting picked, and finding that the categories include baseball hall of famers, fried foods, pinups, movies with big explosions, beer, and manly men of historic note. Oh well, maybe next year, eh Trebek?.

Parenting Snapshots

"My run away," announces The Boy as he slides backwards on his belly down the stairs, upset that his father will not allow him to play with the vacuum cleaner.

Sayeth The Common Man, "Well, that could hardly be called 'running.'"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bad Sports

Two stories in particular have caught The Common Man's attention today. Both are about sports and the people who play them, as is fitting for a blog about manliness:

The lesser, more trivial, of the stories is that Joe Torre has a new book coming out, co-authored by Sports Illustrated columnist Tom Verducci. The book purports to explore the Torre-era Yankees, and rips into Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, and Brian Cashman. A-Rod, especially, gets the back of Torre's hand, "Back in 2004, at first Rodriguez did his best to try and fit into the Yankee culture -- his cloying, B Grade actor best. He slathered on the polish. People in the clubhouse, including teammates and support personnel, were calling him 'A-Fraud' behind his back."

The Common Man, frankly doesn't give a damn about A-Rod or Joe Torre, or their feelings, or their squabbles. Indeed, the state of the Yankee clubhouse isn't important to him at all. But what is interesting is that Torre is still managing in baseball, as the skipper of the Los Angeles Dodgers. As his current players see that their manager is willing to violate the cardinal rule of baseball's clubhouses (what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse) and sell them out for a big payday, they will inevitably wonder whether they will be the unwitting stars of Torre's next book. While The Common Man isn't a big proponent of team chemistry, he does think that most players can't play well unless they can relax a little. And it's awfully hard to hit a fastball or find the plate when you're looking over your shoulder for your manager and his ghostwriter. It will be interesting to see whether the Dodgers continue to underachieve and fail to live up to their potential this year.

The other story comes out of professional football, where it seems like players need additional protection from their coaches and their own desire to compete. Now, as much as The Common Man loves him so football, he would rather that The Boy find another sport to enjoy. This feeling is only reinforced by this report about the deterioration of football players' brains from multiple concussion and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). According to neuropathologist Ann McKee, who has studied the brains of six former NFLers, "What's been surprising is that it's so extensive. It's throughout the brain, not just on the superficial aspects of the brain, but it's deep inside." The brain damage can start early and is progressive, damaging centers of the brain that control rage, memory, and breathing, among others. It's also proving to be fatal, as sufferers often die young and unnatural deaths. And, as NFL players like Kyle Turley have noted, the league and the players' union is doing little to address this growing problem and take care of former players who are suffering.

Likewise, The Common Man is disturbed by the news out of Kentucky regarding the death of Max Gilpin and the arrest of his coach Jason Stinsin for reckless homicide. Stinsin, allegedly, was forcing his players to run in full pads in August without giving them access to water when Gilpin collapsed and his body shut down. The NFL is just now beginning to take action on the issue, following through on a settlement with Korie Stringer's wife to spend more time and money on prevent tragedies like that that befelled her husband. And it looks like, on this issue, a least, headway has been made. It's still not enough that The Common Man would be comfortable letting The Boy strap on the pads, but it's getting closer.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Twins Weekend

Every year, in the dead of winter, the Minnesota Twins hold a massive festival in the Metrodome. When he was but a boy, The Common Man and his best friend, Bill, would go to this TwinsFest every year, braving the cold outside, and the crowds and the lines inside to snag some autographs, peruse through baseball cards (TwinsFest doubles as the largest card and memorabilia show in the Midwest), and generally get geared up for the coming season. It was a great way for The Common Man to sustain himself through the depths of winter when baseball seems so far away.

Needing a weekend away from the womenfolk and the babies, The Common Man and his friend decided to get all nostalgic and to return to the Twin Cities, nerding out to the highest degree possible with 31,000 other Twins fans. And nerd out they did, laying out a complex plan in advance for getting through the crowds at the Dome, seeking out the autographs they wanted and avoiding those that they already had or didn't want to bother with (really, what's the point of getting Ben Revere's name on a baseball, if you're only going to follow it up with Drew Butera and Toby Gardenhire?). In all it was a highly successful trip, and a highly successful TwinsFest. The Twins really put on a good show. Here are some random observations from this weekend:

1) The crowds are huge at TwinsFest, and even below-zero temperatures don't keep hearty Minnesotans from lining up outside the gates at six in the morning. The Common Man and Bill got the the Dome at 8:30 on Sunday, a full half-hour before the gate opened, and the line was almost out in the street. When Joe Mauer is signing at 11:00, it's important to be as close to the front of the line as possible.

2) Because this is such a big card show, sometimes non-Twins show up. This year, 91 year old Bob Feller sat in a small booth and autographed baseballs (at $25 a pop) for nine hours. The Common Man, of course, partook of the man's graciousness and stamina and got his baseball signed. Feller, though cantankerous in his public comments recently, was gracious and made a point of shaking The Common Man's hand firmly, looking him in the eye, and sizing him up. It was clear that Bob Feller had figured out that, if push came to shove, he could take The Common Man in a fight. Bob Feller is a man's man. Anyway, all the media bellyaching that followed Feller's comments seems unnecessary. At 91, The Common Man thinks Rapid Robert has earned the right to be a little silly and full of himself. You get a certain amount of leeway after turning 85.

3) The Common Man and Bill got there too late on Saturday for Justin Morneau's autograph, but were able to sidle on over to Bert Blyleven's line a half hour before the Dutchman was going to start signing, and get a good spot. The Hall of Fame debate surrounding Blyleven has been done to death around the interwebs, and The common Man won't add to it here, except to say that Bert Blyleven is clearly the best eligible pitcher not enshrined. His counting stats (287 wins, 3701 Ks, 242 CGs, 60 Shutouts, almost 5000 IP) are excellent, and his intangibles (one of the greatest curveballs of all time, a beloved and colorful player, played on mostly less-than-stellar teams) should help him. In the interest of full-disclosure, The Common Man has always liked Blyleven, and liked his case for enshrinement. Today, however, The Common Man loves the man even more.

As he waited in line, The Common Man called his 91-year old grandmother to tell her about Feller, and mentioned that he was going to get Bert's autograph. She told her grandson to "tell Mr. Blyleven that I've been a Twins fan since 1961 and followed him since 1970, and I love listening to him on the television. And tell him that I hope he gets into the Hall of Fame." Well, The Common Man thought about trying to remember all that, and decided it would be easier for her to tell Bert herself. So at the front of the line, once he saw that Bert was being chatty with his fans, The Common Man called his grandmother and asked Bert if he wouldn't mind speaking to his biggest fan over-90. With great humor and warmth, Blyleven talked to The Common Man's grandmother for a minute-and-a-half or so before passing the phone back, joking with her that The Common Man was standing before him with earings, spiked purple hair, and a tongue stud, and that she should have a talk with her grandson. "Now I know you're pulling my leg," she told him in her cutest grandma voice, before thanking him and wishing him well.

It was just another wacky moment in the life of Bert Blyleven, one he's probably forgetten by now. But The Common Man's grandmother has been going on about getting to talk to Bert Blyleven to anyone who will listen to her these last couple of days. She's told them about how funny he was and how giddy and flustered she felt at the opportunity. So, while The Common Man apologizes to all the people in line who had to wait for an extra minute and a half, he wants to publicly thank Bert for making his grandmother's week.

4) TwinsFest is a lot of fun, don't get The Common Man wrong. But all of its physical activities are devoted to kids. Batting cages, youth clinics, homerun derbies. The ones at TwinsFest are specifically designed for youngsters. The Common Man thinks that the event is missing a great opportunity. How many adults would love to spend some extra minutes in a batting cage, for instance? How much would they pay to get 20 cuts in? Since people were willingly shelling out $4 for a soda, he thinks they'd pay plenty.

5) Oh dear God, the lines were long. With more than 31,000 fans in attendence, that probably goes without saying. But The Common Man had to get in line at 9:00 to get Joe Mauer's autograph from 10:45-12:15. In all, The Common Man probably spent 6 hours just waiting in line in the ballpark's concourse, watching a highlight video of the 1982 Twins on a loop. If The Common Man has to hear "Believe it or not, I'm walkin' on air. I never thought I could feel so free-hee-hee," again, he's going to end it all. Still, it was very worth it. That Mauer ball is going next to Puckett in the display case.

6) When you're standing in line forever, you find other things to do with your time. This is how The Common Man figured out he could name all 58 Cy Young award winners from 1980-2008. He'd think that was impressive too, except that Bill could name all the MVP winners from the same period, and did so much faster.

And that was The Common Man's weekend. A lot of lines. A lot of autographs. There were also a couple of wonderful dinners (thanks, Bill's mom!), a stack of waffles, and three wonderful beers The Common Man can't wait to tell you about later this week.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In Absentia

Not that The Common Man doesn't love you all and everything, but he had houseguests arriving yeterday and is off to the land of his birth today with one of his guests for a dudefest weekend, while the womenfolk and the boys stay behind. Blogging will be sparse until Sunday night, at the earliest.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Strangeness Afoot

Strange stories everywhere yesterday, it seems.

--First and most importantly, the great national non-crisis spawned by Chief Justice Roberts' and President Obama's attempt to rewrite the Presidential oath has been resolved. Roberts, of course, misplaced the word "faithfully" in the oath on Tuesday, turning the Constitutionally ok "I will faithfully execute the office of president to the United States" into Constitutionally dubious "I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully." Obama, after some confusion, followed suit, and The Common Man speculated in several forums (including to The Uncommon Wife, who rolled her eyes) that Roberts had done it on purpose, since Obama had not voted to confirm him. Yesterday, under the cover of broad daylight, Roberts was summoned to the White House on the advice of White House counsel Greg Craig (thanks, mom and dad, for the rhyming name, you guys are awesome) to readminister the oath and put any doubts to bed about who really runs the show.

--In other fun news, perpetual humbug Rush Limbaugh has catapulted himself back into the limelight by publicly hoping for Barack Obama to fail in his attempt to solve the economic crisis:

Yet, Obama's failure would be America's failure, would it not? Millions of Americans out of work? Millions of Americans forced from their homes? Billions of dollars gone, with no hope of recovery? That's all fine with Limbaugh, as long as his precious ideology, which has failed so spectacularly in practice, remains unmolested. What a child he is.

--George Mitchell, whose name The Common Man keeps mentioning in connection to some report on steroids or other, is back in the news today, as Barack Obama has named him to lead a special envoy to the Middle East. Mitchell, aside from providing political cover to extortionists, was the Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995 and has been generally praised for his efforts to bring peace to Israel in the past. He is, however, a graduate of Bowdoin College, so how good can he really be? Also, if he handles his job this time around anything like how he handled baseball's steroid scandal, the fighting will continue to rage, but the rest of America will stop paying attention to it.

--Finally, yesterday, troubling news surfaced that should concern real men everywhere. According to this CNN report, there is a drastic shortage of buffalo wings:

Rising prices? Fewer wings on the market? Color The Common Man concerned. Now is definitely the time to start a poultry farm, it seems. Look, The Common Man doesn't care who you are or from what walk of life you are from. If you have two X chromasomes (XY chromosomes, The Common Man forgot his biology and his spellcheck at home, thanks to Michael Albert for ihs ehlp) and you don't like buffalo wings, there is something seriously wrong with you. The Common Man likes him some buffalo wings, he can tell you that. The hotter the better. And there is no better place to get them than this place. One bite of their delicious and spicy Bonfire wings made The Common Man weep for joy. They had a perfect blend of flavor and kick that was augmented by a smattering of chopped jalapenos. The Common Man can handle the hottest of the hot, but if he can get a wing that satisfies his burning desire for burning and his tongue's desire for deliciousness, he jumps at the opportunity. The thought of all that wing sauce and no wings to pour it on makes The Common Man weep for an entirely different reason. Chickens, reproduce faster. Feel free to list your favorite places for wings in the comments below. Also, have the prices gone up lately?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book Review: The Road

With the country resting safely in the hands of the man with the plan, and with almost nothing happening in the sports world, The Common Man is finally getting around to reviewing Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Road (he finished it over two days around Christmas.

The book follows a father and a son (neither are given names) as they make their way across a post-apocolyptic United States. The land around them is burned and barren, and stripped of almost anything edible. Painfully aware that they are starving to death and cannot last another winter (the temperature has dropped dramatically as the result of some cateclysm that has left the land poisoned, the sky clouded, and ash everywhere), the pair heads vaguely south and east, trying to reach the sea. Along the way they starve, meet hostile survivors, and simply try to perservere, pushing their shopping cart of belongings down the road, through the snow, and across what's left of the country.

McCarthy's novel is terrible and sad, but full of individual moments of triumph that transcend the horrible reality in which the father and son find themselves. Their joy, particularly in the face of the overwhelming brutality of their new America, is infectious, and well rendered. And despite not telling his readers much about the bleak near-future he has imagined, McCarthy creates a realistic vision of a dying world and its people.

The novel is even darker than his previous novel, No Country For Old Men (reviewed here), but less fatalistic. The father and son tell themselves that they "carry the flame" of humanity, that their moral actions prove that humanity's goodness is not entirely gone. And the father's central goal, to keep his boy safe, proves that, despite the depravity around them, their hope for the future is still intact.

The other truly remarkable aspect of McCarthy's book is the relationship he draws between the father and son. McCarthy's story, above all, is the story of this father's enduring love for his boy, and his determination to see him safe. The father is constantly teaching the boy, preparing him for a day when his father will not be there. And really, that is the essence of fatherhood. Regardless of how far-fetched McCarthy's setting may seem to you, that love and that relationship is universal, as is the desire to pass on the flame. After all, why else would people decide to have children if not to pass on the flame. As the heart around this novel is based, it is a moving relationship that every father and mother can connect to, and every child should appreciate.

The Road is a very powerful read, and you can do it quickly. The characters speak in short, simple dialogue, there are almost no long passages. Just miles and miles and miles of walking and talking. And while it's the most grueling walk you'll take all year, it's also the best and most rewarding (far better than actual exercise). The Common Man is excited for the film version, which will presumably be released this fall.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Innaugural Liveblog

9:21 Now is as good a time as any to start The Common Man's liveblog of the inauguration ceremonies. After all, the major networks can't seem to decide when to start. ABC got going at around 8 AM, CBS at 9, and NBC at 9:30. Fox, citing their refusal to cowtow to the liberal media bias, will begin its coverage at 2:45 Wednesday morning. The Common Man will update every fifteen minutes or so between now and the end of the ceremonies.

9:26 Katie Couric awkwardly tries to pimp Washington lobbyist and powerbroker Vernon Jordan's new book. Then urges those who can't get into the Washington Mall (it's full) to go home and turn on CBS. Ah, shameless promotion. You stay classy, CBS. Dan Rather is spinning in his grave. What? Alive? Really?

9:28 Celebrate Barack Obama's inauguration by sending in all your old gold jewelry for far less than it's worth. "I got $400 for my gold jewelry. That's a lot of gas money." (depressed)

9:31 The Common Man is excited by the prospect of an Obama presidency. He certainly has made little effort to hide his enthusiasm over the past few months. However, The Common Man is troubled by this poll by, which reports that 2/3 of African Americans believe that Dr. King's dream has been fulfilled. Sure, maybe the election and inauguration of an African-American means that Dr. King's dream is fulfilled. But what troubles The Common Man is the implied notion that somehow race doesn't matter anymore. From this point, it will be easy for those in power to reject the notion that black and Latino and Native American minorities (amongst others) are discriminated against, and Americans need to be increasingly vigilant.

9:32 NBC has stopped broadcasting and the screen is frozen. What a day to forget to pay the gas bill.

9:43 Dignitaries begin to leave the White House. There go the wives of the Vice-President and the VP-elect.

9:44 The First Lady and First-Lady-to-be make their way into their armored tank. This ride will be awk-ward.

9:46 Dick Cheney is in a wheelchair today after pulling a muscle in his back moving out of the VP mansion. You'd think the Vice-President could have gotten someone to move his boxes for him. Maybe he was trying to lift the the man-size safe.

9:48 There's the man. Or The Man (fight the powers that be). Bigger than The Beatles?

9:52 Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln.

9:54 The Common Man loves that the Secret Service has to take the limousine apart piece by piece to check it. What happens if there are parts left over when they put it back together?

9:56 Senator John Corrin is holding up Hilary Clinton's nomination, in a partisan effort to thumb his nose at the Obama Administration. Dick.

9:58 Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln.

9:59 How hard is it to drive in formation like that? You have to be constantly watching the speedometer, don't you? Think about how tough it is to drive in a caravan and maintain a steady speed and distance. Important? Not so much. But The Common Man has 12 minutes to waste.

10:00 The Presidential caravan arrives at the Capitol.

10:01 Oh, God! The Terminator is in the crowd! Look out Barack, he's been sent back through time to become the Governor of California and be invited to the inauguration and bring about Judgment Day!

10:06 Ooh, Cabinet and Agency Designees! Sexy. Seriously, bring on the real deal.

10:12 Bored now. Dan Quayle! Al Gore! Fritz Mondale! The feeling of despair and disappointment is overwhelming. There's no air left in Washington with all that suck up on the dais.

10:14 Joe Biden's mother is the cutest woman in America who is not one of The Common Man's grandmothers. Quick, declare her a national monument to adorableness.

10:17 George H.W. Bush is toddling along with a bum hip. The image of ex-Presidents next to Obama's energetic youthfulness will be striking and is symbolic of the change that many are hoping for.

10:21 Before he forgets, The Common Man is so happy for black Americans who participated in the Civil Rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. What a day to get to see. Sure, as The Common Man mentioned previously, the idea that the Civil Rights struggle has ended should is probably wrong. But what a wonderful symbol and sign that their efforts were not in vain. What a way to honor their sacrifices.

10:23 Wow, ABC has a great shot of the moving trucks and boxes moving the Obamas into the White House.

10:27 The Common Man really hopes that being in the spotlight will not unduly hurt the Obama children. What a crazy life must be ahead of them (and behind them for the past couple years).

10:29 Waiting...waiting...waiting...

10:31 Simply from an aesthetic standpoint, the new first and second ladies are much more pleasing then the old.

10:32 President Bush's procession is awfully somber as it makes its way through the Capitol.

10:35 Those poor Indonesian children who have to sit through this at almost midnight. Mom and Dad, I have to go to school when? Why?

10:36 And Bush 42 comes out. Keep him away from the microphone. Don't let him get his bad juju on anything Barack will touch. Has the White House been sterilized?

10:39 Joe Biden. The Commmon Man can't help but like that guy.

10:41 OK, the Oh-Bah-Ma chant does make The Common Man a little uncomfortable.

10:43 Oh my God! That's Barack Obama's music! Barack Obama is in the house tonight! AND HE'S GOT A STEEL CHAIR!

10:44 The Common Man is awfully glad he's not playing his trumpet out in the cold.

10:48 Here comes Pastor Rick Warren. And here's the most controversial moment of the inauguration. You know, there is a real sense, as The Common Man watches this moment, that Warren is endorsing the Obama presidency. Again, a masterful decision by Barack Obama and his administration, to help in whatever future battles he has with a intransigent political right.

10:50 Ewww, Rick Warren needs to never say the names of Barack Obama's daughters again.

10:55 Aretha's "My Country 'Tis of Thee" was beautifully different. Man, it's dusty in here.

10:58 The Common Man just gets the feeling that Joe Biden is a hell of a dad.

11:00 Perlman and Ma and friends? It's dusty again. Music is so evocative.

11:03 President-Elect Obama really seems to be drinking this all in. It's fun to watch.

11:04 It's go time. The Common Man is standing up, which makes it hard to type.

11:06 Oops, there was a little ball-dropping going on with that oath. But still, President Barack Obama!

11:11 Yay Presdient! The Common Man thinks he'll never be cynical again.

11:15 How can anyone doubt the manly cut of this new President's jib?

11:17 We will not give up our ideals for expedience's sake. You here that George? Well, the cynicism wasn't gone long.

11:26 Wow. Nice speech. And now, The Common Man is going to go hug a puppy. Adn with that, The Common Man will leave you for the day. He looks forward to President Obama putting former-President Bush on a plane and kicking his butt out of Washington...and getting down to business. This is a good day.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pickin' the Champs

Another week, another middling 2-2 for The Common Man, making him 4-4 for the playoffs thusfar. Really, what are you still doing reading this? How can you even pretend The Common Man has insight? What? You just like to watch him flail? Well then, you're in luck. Here are The Common Man's sure to be half-right picks for the Conference Championships:

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals (Eagles favored by 4)

It's hard to imagine even the most hard-core gambler putting money down on either team still being alive. Arizona's pass-first offense should have been shut down before this, but Larry Fitzgerald has refused to allow it, proving to be the most impressive and dynamic receiver in the league. Philadelphia's moribund offense has provided just enough in two straight games to get past teams whose offenses proved to be even more inept.

The Common Man gives Phildelphia virtually zero credit for its wins, and thinks that Arizona has only won because they haven't had to face a great running game (they could stack the line against the Falcons, daring a rookie QB to beat them; and the Panthers never ran at them at all). Then again, running the ball isn't Philly's forte. So, in the end, The Common Man is unsure. He thinks it will be a close game, and would normally stay away from it at all costs.

But in the name of manly decision-making, he is going to go with the Cardinals to at least keep the game within 3 and still have a puncher's chance of winning, especially at home, and especially given how much the Eagles have struggled with the ball.

Final Score: Cardinals 24, Eagles 22

Baltimore Raves vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Steelers favored by 6)

These teams are entirely familiar with one another, are huge division rivals, and don't like each other much. They played twice this year, and Pittsbugh won both times, but only by seven total points. As such, it's hard to figure out exactly why the line on the game is as big as it is. Indeed, given that this game should be very low scoring, The Common Man is tempted to take the points here. After all, of the four best players on the field, three of them will be Ravens (Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs vs. Troy Polamalu). The only thing giving The Common Man pause is rookie Joe Flacco at the helm for the Ravens. In a hostile environment, in just his third playoff game (though he performed efficiently last time out), the kid could get rattled and throw the game away. But The Common Man has a lot of faith in that Baltimore defense, and can't imagine Flacco causing enough trouble to push the score beyond the line.

Final Score: Baltimore 16, Pittsburgh 14

Friday, January 16, 2009

Much Ado Begets Nothing

The Common Man has inadvertently turned the comments section of Shysterball into his own private soapbox for the day, and rather than continue to take up valuable space, bytes, and whatever else over there, he thought that perhaps he could move his part of the discussion to his own personal fiefdom. Speaking about Roger Clemens, Shyster argues,
"I’d probably boo him if he were pitching again. What I’m talking about is treating him like a social leper. Disinviting him from stuff. Taking his name off of things he donated money to make possible. It’s just so sanctimonious and cowardly.... Clemens isn’t evil. Once he figures out how dumb he’s been for the last year he’s going to go back to being a big rich bullheaded Texan that could probably do a lot of good in the right situation (charity work; informal coaching, etc.)."

As usual, he is right. Baseball gains nothing tangible by shutting players like Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro out of the game. Instead, they get what they've always been seeking, cover meant to dissuade Congress, media, and fans from looking closer at the game and those who play it. It keeps the heat off while baseball struggles to catch up to dopers and dope-producers who remain (and almost certainly will remain) a step ahead. Baseball has and will continue to use these men as scapegoats for the steroid era, and declare itself largely free and clear of the steroid era.

This, of course, was the purpose of the famous Mitchell Report, a document eagerly anticipated because it promised a) to name names (creating the scapegoats that baseball needed) and b) to be the beginning of the end of the steroid era. And it was incredibly effective in doing so, in shutting down or blunting the most pointed of critics in Congress, and in shifting the perception of MLB to that of a sinner trying to attone.

And The Common Man believes that Bud Selig and the MLB were and are, in fact, honest in their desire to clean up the game. But in their desire for damage and spin control, they missed the best long-term opportunity to clean up the game. By using the Mitchell Report and Congressional hearings into steroid abuse to shift the onus onto the players and the player association, MLB has created a generation of pariahs whose ostracization makes them virtually useless to any further efforts to clean up the sport.

But think for a moment how powerful these former giants of baseball could be if they were invited back. Here is the vision that The Common Man wrote in Shyster's comments (with pronouns changed to respect this forum, in which The Common Man is all-powerful), "Do not keep the McGwires from the game. Invite them back and ask them to talk about what they did, why they did it, and what effects taking supplements and/or steroids have had on their body, mind, and life. The Common Man thinks everyone will all be better for it if they allow themselves to become better educated." Indeed, think about these men, whose alleged-PED use brought them to the pinnacle of the sport, making them national heroes who graced the cover of Time, and appeared on The Simpsons. What if they were to tell the players who are coming up today, high schoolers, and college players, and minor leaguers, about how it ultimately was not worth it to juice? What if they could tell the kids about the shame they caused their families, their mothers and wives (hello, Roger) and their kids? What a tool to cut down interest in taking steroids from its source! Indeed, without demand, the supply will dwindle as producers find other, more profitable fields to go into.

Sure, Americans can continue to be angry and bitter over steroid use, but what good is that? Just because Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds allegedly took PEDs, does that mean that you had less fun watching them in 1998 and 2001? So why are vocal critics of steroids so angry? Anger isn't productive. Let baseball aggressively test for steroids, let it fairly punish those who are caught using, and give those who have sinned a chance for redemption. Invite them back, tell them why you want their help, and ask them to save baseball again, just like they did in 1998.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Boldly Going

The Common Man and The Uncommon Wife have spent the last two Saturday nights on the floor of the living room doing a massive 1,000 piece puzzle and watching the first two Star Trek movies. As the puzzle is not even close to done, The Common Man anticipates that they will get done just in time to finish up the sixth film.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is, by far, the best of these movies. There's the classic ending in which (look, if you don't know the ending by now, there's no hope for you, but anyway Spoiler Alert) Spock sacrifices himself. There's the actually decent special effects (amazing for 1982). There are the worst ear-mites ever. And, of course, there is Khan:

And today, the world is a little poorer because Khan is no more. Ricardo Monalbon, he of the suave, soothing voice and ridiculous pectorals, has passed away at the age of 88. Ricardo, may your last great journey be in a 1975 Chrysler Cordoba, and your seat be made from soft, Corinthian leather.

You have indeed been a man among men. May all your fantasies come true.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes

Normally, on the day after the Baseball Hall of Fame announces its incoming class, The Common Man would dutifully go through who deserves the honor (Rickey Henderson, oh God, Rickey Henderson) and who does not (Jim Rice,, Jim Rice). But The Common Man simply couldn't let the day go by without chronicling an amazing story out of Alaska.

Alaska, as you may have learned while Sarah Palin was still relevant, has the most rapes and sexual assaults per capita of any state in the union, likely stemming from a disproportionately male population (why doesn't the DNR let Governor Palin thin the herd from a plane like with wolves?), long and depressing winters, and excessive drinking (because of the long and depressing winters). Indeed, Alaska's problem with sexual assault has reached epidemic levels, as more than 77 women, per 100,000 reported being raped in 2007. A study out of the University of Alaska-Anchorage found that the average age of more almost 1,000 sexual assault victims between 2003 and 2004 was just 16 years old, and that the average age of the offender was 29. It is frightening to think of the culture in which young Alaskans are raised, where such behavior has become normalized.

In an effort to raise money to aid victims of sexual abuse, Standing Together Against Rape, a non-profit group out of Anchorage, sponsored a lottery drawing in conjunction with the Lucky Time Pull Tabs company. The estimated jackpot came to $500,000. And, remarkably (or perhaps predictably) the contest didn't exactly get the winner it hoped for. CNN reported this morning that "Alec Ahsoak, who according to the state sex offender registry was convicted in 1993 and 2000 for sexual abuse of a minor, came forward Saturday with the winning ticket for the $500,000 Lucky Time Pull Tabs jackpot."

Lottery officials, of course, are flabergasted. The group's executive director, Nancy Haag, dryly told CNN, "It's not how we had envisioned the story going." Indeed. She added, "With a ranking that high, it's ironic that the person who wins is a convicted sex offender." Normally, she'd be right. But perhaps, in this case, it's entirely appropriate, and something that should shame and stir Alaskans into action to protect their daughters and wives and sisters. To create a culture in which rape and sexual assault are not the norm.

Either way, this is the saddest funny story The Common Man has ever heard. And he hopes that, if nothing else, all the attention that has been paid to Alaska's sexual assault problem will spur the state and its people to some kind of action, since the women of Alaska have had to suffer in relative obscurity way up there before this.

As for Mr. Ahsoak, it would be nice if the lottery or the non-profit could refuse to give the money to him, redo the drawing, and give it to someone who doesn't have multiple convictions for sexual assault on their resume. Despite President of Lucky Time Pull Tabs' assurances that Ahsoak has decided "to buy a house and said he was going to donate part of it to God, and, you know, charity," The Common Man doesn't expect anyone believes that this stain on the great name of manhood and masculinity will be at all altruistic with his new wealth; and he expects that the money will stay in Ahsoak's possession until he blows through it, or it is taken from him. But The Common Man is certain that witholding the prize is not feasible or legal. Refusing to pay up, or returning the money he used to buy the ticket would probably be grounds for a lengthy and expensive legal proceding that the charity and the pull tab company would not win. Better to pay the bastard and hope that he freezes to death on his new snowmobile or something. One would hope that Mr. Ahsoak's victims could get a little of that money too, before all is said and done, and it's all pissed away.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Random Stuff

The Common Man is sitting around watching football, totally bored because he doesn't have a dog in this fight (hi, Michael Vick!), can't go outside (wicked cold) and wishing it was freaking baseball season already.
Here's what The Common Man has been thinking about today while randomly swinging a baseball bat in his basement and resisting the urge to throw a tennis ball against the wall over and over (this must be how Jack Nicholson felt in The Shining):

--The Common Man's favorite part of the old Transformers show, aside from Optimus Prime, was always Starscream. Starscream's whining, constant threats to overthrow his boss, and total ineptness were often hilarious and did much to move the plot (such as it was) forward. And, in a lot of ways, you couldn't help but root for Starscream, even though it was clear that he was in no way qualified to lead the Decepticons.

Over on, Greg Boose, has chronicled the reasons that Starscream should have been fired, and comes to the conclusion that the problem was Megatron's leadership. Megatron was too slow to react to Starscream's machinations, and never severe enough; and his inaction only led to increased dissension and backbiting among the Decepticons. As Boose points out,
"It's best to address a situation before it gets out of hand. At this point, just five minutes into the first episode of the show, Megatron should have already been asking himself if it was worth keeping Starscream on as a member of the team. The answer is clear. Megatron has many employees who are willing to listen to his orders without politicking for more power. He should have immediately terminated Starscream and had him escorted from the premises by Shockwave and Thundercracker. Or alternatively, he could have shot him in the back of the head with his huge arm cannon."

Boose's article is good, but as several commenters have pointed out, it's also incredibly lazy. While Boose claims "we've combed through the entire Transformers catalog," he really only provides five examples from the first episode, entirely ignoring Starscream's more active attempts to lead an insurrection (creating the Combaticons, for instance) and his successful assassination of the Decepticon leader in Transformers: The Movie.

--In news that, really, doesn't affect anyone, it turns out that Prince Harry, of the British Princes, is kind of a boob. The first indication came three years ago, when Harry was photographed wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party. But Harry was 21 then, dumb and privileged, and one would have hoped he'd learned his lesson about racial sensitivity in the media spotlight. And that his time in the military would have taught him the importance of discipline. However, a tape from 2006, recently released to the British "media," purportedly includes Harry calling a fellow soldier "Paki" (derogatory British slang for Arabs, Middle-Easterners, and Indians) and telling another that he looks like a "rag-head". According to, "a spokesman for Prince Harry apologized in a statement released by St. James's Palace Saturday after the videos surfaced online. The spokesman said the prince...'understands how offensive this term can be, and is extremely sorry for any offense his words might cause.'" Aside from Harry's prominence in the media, there is really nothing to take from the story, except that one of the royal princes of England is indiscreet about what he says, and that he's probably not a good choice to take over if his brother can't fulfill his (largely ceremonial) duties. It does, however, make The Common Man glad that the U.S. doesn't have a monarchy.

--With all the advancements in medical technology in the U.S. in the past hundred years, you'd think humans could at least live as long as a lobster. But you'd be wrong. Recently, a 20 lbs. lobster (named George) caught off of Newfoundland was returned to its native waters by the New York seafood restaurant that bought it, after quick calculations estimated that the immense crustacean was approximately 140 years old. Imagine all the changes that lobster has seen in his lifetime.

Actually not many, The Common Man supposes, he lives at the bottom of the ocean. Maybe he got caught on purpose just because 140 years just walking around the bottom of the ocean was so freaking boring. Anyway, The Common Man hopes that someone thought to ask the lobster about the secret to its longevity, since that's the only question reporters seem to ask centenarians in this country. Maybe humans should grow a protective shell.

--Finally, since The Common Man started with baseball today, it's only fitting he ends with it. One of the most successful things Major League Baseball has done in recent years has been to address the steroid issue (though not necessarily address the steroid problem) through the Mitchell Report. Public sentiment seems to be that baseball has done its due diligence to police itself in this regard, and as long as sacrificial lambs like JC Romero and Sergio Mitre are served up every now and again, the public will continue to feel that way (even as steroid and performance enhancing technology continues to outstrip baseball's ability to test for them). What has slipped through the cracks, for the most part, is baseball's long and colorful history with greenies (amphetamines) and other stimulants ballplayers use to get themselves "up" for 162 games a year.

Baseball has begun to test for illegal stimulants, but the testing has been underpublicized (players are not suspended for their first positive test, nor is that positive test announced to the public) and players are looking for ways around the ban. According to the AP, "A total of 106 exemptions for banned drugs were given to major leaguers claiming attention deficit hyperactivity disorder from the end of the 2007 season until the end of the 2008 season." That works out to almost eight percent of major leaguers legally taking otherwise banned substances to help them "focus." Meanwhile, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that "3 percent to 5 percent of children have ADHD." Not all of those cases, presumably, require medication and some will resolve themselves as the children enter adulthood (a report in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that 40-90% of childhood cases resolve themselves).

So baseball's rash of ADD and ADHD suffers is very greatly out of step with the general public. Like with steroids, players seem to be actively looking for doctors who will provide them with a legitimate-looking excuse for a stimulant prescription. The Common Man loves the game and realizes that it has never and will never be entirely clean of cheating, but it's time to stop pretending that baseball is successfully addressing its problems. It's just that the problems are more complex than everyone once thought.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pickin' It

The Common Man meant to post his picks last night, but a buzzsaw of work made that impossible. So you get the Campbell's condensed version today:

Picks: In retrospect
The Common Man went 2-2 last weekend, which is not very good, but is also somewhat respectable considering the Vikings pick was a total homer call. In retrospect, the Tarvaris Jackson era was fun for all of 3.5 games. Now please return Tarvaris to the Rodney Peete Memorial Pile of Back-up Quarterbacks, and find someone who can complete a past on 3rd and 5.

Picks: In future-spect (the short version)
Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans (Titans favored by 3)

Two similar teams here, with tough defenses, a strong run game and a mediocre air attack. The difference between the two would appear to be the quarterbacks, where Joe Flacco of the Ravens is a rookie and Kerry Collins of the Titans is a grizzled vet. Normally, The Common Man would be all over the Titans because of this, especially at home. Maybe it's the Titans' logo (a silly looking T), maybe it's that Flacco has already won one road playoff game (though he didn't look good doing it), or maybe its the Ravens' fabulous big-play defense led by Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Ray Lewis (actually, there's no maybe, it's the defense), but The Common Man thinks that Tennessee's going to run into a buzzsaw this week. The defense gets a couple of takeaways and the offense is efficient enough to hold on. Ravens 21, Titans 19.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers (Panthers favored by 10)
Look out Arizona, here comes an incredible rushing attack, driven by DeAngelo Williams (1500+ yards, 18 TDs) and Jonathan Stewart (800+ yards, 10 TDs). While Kurt Warner and Arizona will be able to move the ball against the Panthers through the air, the Panthers will grind against the Cardinals front seven, controlling the ball and the tempo of the game, and wearing down their opponents. Look for a lot of scoring in this one, a potential breakout by Steve Smith, and an efficient performance from Jake Delhomme. Panthers 31, Arizona 20.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants (Giants favored by 4)
This will be a really interesting game, as the teams split their regular season pair of games and each have one of the top rated offenses and defenses in the game. The Common Man is going to pick the Giants here, because he thinks they were actually much better than their numbers show, but were on coast for the last quarter of the season. Also, with two thousand-yard rushers and an extremely accurae and efficient QB (who was the MVP of the Super Bowl last year), it's hard to imagine the Giants letting this game slip away. At worst, they will keep the game close and pull it out when McNabb or Andy Reid make a mental mistake and cost the Eagles the game. More likely, they do exactly what the Panthers are going to do to the Cardinals, grind it out on the ground and wait for the Eagles defense to get tired. Then pull away in the second half. Giants 27, Eagles 19

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Diego Chargers (Pittsburgh favored by 6)

The Common Man knows that the Chargers played perfect football against the Colts last week, and have won five games in a row. And Philip Rivers and Damian Sproles have played inspired ball. But the Steelers are well coached and have had two weeks to get ready for this game. Ben Roethlisberger is a strong and reliable leader, and they have perhaps the single best defensive unit and player (Troy Polamalu). This should neutralize both Sproles/Tomlinson in the backfield and Gates in the passing game. However, Roethlisberger gets sacked a lot, and is recovering from a concussion in week 15. The Common Man sees the Steelers pulling this game out, unless Roethlisberger goes down again. At that point, it's anybody's game. Steelers 17, Chargers 9

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Plumbing New Depths

Seriously, what does The Common Man have to do to get Joe the Plumber to go away. Whatever it is, The Common Man will do it. Can he give some kind of donation? Blood perhaps (The Common Man gives blood quickly and efficiently, pumping out a pint in under eight minutes, and is unafraid of needles)? A kidney? Can The Common Man bribe someone? He'd plant a salacious and discrediting story about Joe, but a) it seems the man is addicted to attention and will regard that as a positive development and b) then The Common Man will have to endure multiple news cycles during which breathless anchors wonder why Joe the Plumber likes to hire prostitutes, have them dress in bakers' hats and aprons, and smack him with rolling pins. And frankly, The Common Man can't take it. Especially not after the Vikings' miserable performance on Sunday (it takes a while to get over a 4th quarter like that).

The Common Man made it clear before that he thought Joe was a raging moron, whose time in the spotlight needed to end (really, for the whole country's sake). But now, some desperate for attention media outlet, Pajamas Media, is sending Wurzelbacher to Israel to report (and undoubtedly solve) the fighting in the Gaza Strip. With his trademark eloquence, Joe has weighed in on the crisis, telling CNN, "It's tragic, I mean it really is. I don't say that in any little way. It's very tragic, but at the same time what are the Israeli people supposed to do.”

Sure, it's dangerous work going over there (covering the war from the Israeli side of the border, where there is no actual fighting going on), but Joe is heroically braving the 1/1,000,000 chance a bomb (thankfully) lands on his bald pate, saying "Being a Christian I'm pretty well protected by God I believe. That's not saying he's going to stop a mortar for me, but you gotta take the chance." Well, all The Common Man can say is God bless you, Joe. Get as close to the fighting as you want.

Meanwhile, as Joe clings to his flagging fame by his fingernails, opportunistic politicians and media organizations will continue to attempt to Pretty Woman (or Pygmalion, if you snobs prefer) him up, making a Congressional bid likelier and likelier. The Common Man figures that election officials won't let Joe go by "the Plumber" on the ballot, so it's only a matter of time before he changes his surname.

When three of the four most visible Republicans are George Bush, Sarah Palin, and Joe the Plumber, what does that say about that political party? If this were a baseball team, how long would it realistically take to rebuild?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tangential Politics

The Common Man has been following the machinations of Governor Rod Blagojevich, Senator Harry Reid, and prospective-Senator Roland Burris over the past few weeks with increasing dismay and wonderment. Reid and Senate Democrats have painted themselves into a corner by flatly announcing they would refuse to seat anyone appointed by the allegedly crooked governor of Illinois. Most legal opinion seems to suggest that Reid and his colleagues have no legal right to block Burris from being seated, and that Blagojevich was entirely within his legal rights to appoint him (ethically, he probably shouldn't, but it doesn't sound as though Gov. Blagojevich has much use for pesky ethics). And now, Democrats will look weak as they are forced to allow Burress into the most exclusive club in the nation.

Don't get The Common Man wrong, bluster and machismo is an important part of being a man, but when that machismo and bluster can't be backed up with action, you're better off accepting and admitting your limitations and taking whatever actions are within your power (such as not allowing Burres to caucus with the Democrats; which, in hindsight, would have been a good solution as they appear constrained but tough, and they still get Burris's votes on a great deal of issues important to Democrats).

Meanwhile, Burris has been touting himself to the press as a legitimate appointee (and, indeed, his resume suggests that he is). But The Common Man's favorite part of this entire brouhaha has been learning that Burris has named both his son (Roland II) and his daughter (Rolanda) after himself (you know by now of The Common Man's hatred of parents who give their children names for dumb reasons). And that he already has purchased a mausoleum and listed his accomplishments on the side (with room for more), on which is inscribed in large letters "Trailblazer" (The Common Man wonders what Clyde Drexler's going to do now). The hubris and narcisism of this guy just seems staggering, regardless of his qualifications.

Anyway, Barack Obama and his transition team have been smart to stay away from this controversy as much as possible. Obama has largely stayed out of the debate surrounding Burres and Blagojevich, and has restricted his comments (and has refrained from spending his political capital) on issues over which he has little control at this point (such as the war raging in the Gaza at the moment). Meanwhile, where his words and desires will have a strong effect (such as on the economic crisis), Obama has been outspoken and often driven the financial markets.

Likewise, Obama has been marshalling forces and support for his first days in office. In choosing former rivals as well as allies, Obama has garnered additional praise and adulation where no one expected it (moderate Republicans, Clinton Democrats, etc.), strengthening his position for the coming days when he will have to make important decisions and will need his allies to fall into line.

And it's in this vein, presumably, that Obama has asked Pastor Rick Warren to provide the invocation. Many Democrats and progressives were disappointed (and/or livid) about Warren's selection, decrying Warren's anti-gay, anti-evolution, and anti-abortion social stances as evidence that the man is a right-wing, Gary Bauer-esque nutjob. And perhaps he is. And perhaps certain wings of the Democratic party have good reason to be upset. Nevertheless, Obama's strategy here is brilliant, for he understands that setting up a government is not the same as governing effectively.

To effectively govern, to wield the power of his office in a way that will be meaningful and helpful, especially in the middle of multiple crises, Obama will need broad support from both parties and from a large and multi-faceted coalition of groups. It will not be enough to issue Presidential edicts and proclamations like George Bush did without gauging and relying on public support. The changes necessitated by the current economic and political situations around the globe require significant flexibility and muscle to implement, and Barack Obama is positioning himself to do just that. Those who want a government for and by the political Left should remember what the last eight years in the political wilderness have been like for them (and see how ineffective this president was without broad support), and ask themselves whether they would like to have a liberal President or an effective President who happens to be liberal.

Now, how exactly did The Common Man end up here?

Note: Some idiotic spellings of names have been since corrected. That's what The Common Man gets for trying to multi-task.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Carl Pohlad, 1915-2008

Quite frankly, The Common Man doesn't know how to feel tonight, following the news of Carl Pohlad's death. Pohlad, the owner of the Minnesota Twins and one of the richest men in America, was largely responsible for the best and worst parts of Twins history, has consistently earned The Common Man's vitriol over the past 10 years and has largely become a despised, Mr. Burns-esque figure in the Twin Cities.

Pohlad slashed payroll in the mid- to late-nineties, allowing the team to sink deeper and deeper into the second division with little hope of escaping. He flirted with selling the team to an owner who would move the club to North Carolina. He talked openly about moving to Virginia. Both were exposed as efforts to extort a new stadium out of the Minnesota legislature. In 2001, he volunteered his ballclub for contraction, further poisoning any and all goodwill he had left with Twins fans. At 93, he had become less a person than a caricature of a miserly old man.

His failure to win the hearts and minds of Twins fans was particularly instructive, The Common Man thinks, in shaping not only the way The Common Man views baseball (and the larger cultural apparatus), but how the extensive and pioneering Twins-related blogosphere views the game. Disproportionately more than other teams, the Twins have engendered an online following that is critical and skeptical of the team, while still loving and rooting for it. And this community of bloggers was one of the first to develop in any number., Will Young, Batgirl, and others represented a first line of healthy skeptics who knew they couldn't trust the team's spin or the local media, and so struck out on their own in search of answers. And so, in a way, perhaps Pohlad is responsible for some of the online revolution and explosion of online baseball content as well. Indeed, many draw inspiration from Gleeman's example, and his work and support has contributed mightily to the growth and development of The Hardball Times,, and other individual bloggers. The Common Man thinks that this contribution is worth acknowledging.

And, for all his faults, in 1984, Pohlad bought a financially troubled Twins team and resolved to keep them in Minnesota. He sanctioned the hiring of Andy MacPhail in 1985, which led to the Twins' pair of championships in 1987 and 1991.

He kept Kirby Puckett in Minnesota following the 1992 season, making him the highest paid player in baseball for a few months. And perhaps too sentimentally, he kept trying to add pieces to the team in the wake of the team's 1991 win, trying to wring one more championship out of Puckett's decline phase and staving off a full rebuilding.

What's more, Pohlad was an entirely self-made man. Born to poor Czech immigrants in Iowa, Pohlad built a network of banks throughout the Midwest, clawing his way into a vast fortune. And he served the country with distinction during World War II. By all accounts, he raised good children and was a devoted son. Indeed, there was much to admire about the man, and his accomplishments, even though he got his start by forclosing on farms in the Great Depression.

And perhaps that's how The Common Man will best remember Carl Pohlad, as a man of contradictions who did much to shape the prism through which The Common Man views the world. Pohlad's example taught that anything is possible. Success is attainable for those with talent, luck, and determination. But success can lead to resentment and revulsion when that success is abused, and a public trust is broken. His story is a very human one, very compelling, and The Common Man hopes to learn more about how it developed, particularly in its final years, in days ahead.