Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nevada Primary

I promised a look at the Nevada Democratic Primary and it will be starting in about 3 hours, so I figured I’d better get on it. I don’t really feel like writing this and my head hurts, so don’t expect too much in-depth analysis, or for that matter, anything that resembles rational thought.

After splitting the first two races in Iowa and New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have focused the lion’s share of their efforts on the state of Nevada. For the first time ever, the Nevada caucus was moved to the front of primary season, which means the state will be influential in deciding who ultimately gets the Democratic nomination. On February 5th, around 25-30 states will have their primaries. Consequently, candidates fight for early primary states such as Nevada so that they can build momentum and gain national support/recognition by the time February 5th rolls around (called Super Tuesday). This will be the first and last representation the Western part of the US has in the primary season until Super Tuesday, so it’s the only indicator one has to go off of when looking at the political mood out here. Immigration, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, health care, union issues, and the war seem to be the most important issues to people in Nevada and California. So, I’m interested to see what Democratic candidate the people out here think will best handle these issues.

Obama has received endorsements from Nevada’s 60,000 member Culinary Workers Union whose members work up and down the Las Vegas Strip. In fact, every major casino in Las Vegas is setting up areas in their buildings so that employees (union members) can caucus while working. The Teachers Union in Nevada tried to stop the casinos from setting up these caucus areas, but a judge denied the appeal. Members of the Teachers Union were arguing that these sites were unfair as it gave unequal representation to those Culinary Workers Union members who would have access to a caucus site on the job. You see, members of the Teachers Union will have to drive to their caucus location today. One can’t just walk into work and caucus; making it less likely members of the Teachers Union will actually become involved in the process. (The Teachers Union strongly backs Hillary Clinton and many think the Clinton machine had something to do with the lawsuit.)

The Nevada caucus has taking on extra significance after Barack’s improbable win in Iowa, and Hillary’s seemingly improbable comeback victory in New Hampshire. Clinton, even a month ago, led in Nevada by over 20 points in most statistical polls, but now these same polls suggest that Obama has closed the gap. In fact, he is at least within the margin of error in almost all polls that have been conducted over the last few days. The Hispanics haven’t really leaned for one candidate over the other yet, but a large percentage of them are union members, so it would seem that Obama might have the upper hand. Moreover, Barack has taken most of the black vote away from Hilary. A couple months ago, Hillary had the support of 25-30% more African Americans than Obama. Now, Obama leads that same vote by 25-30%. After Obama’s win in Iowa (where 93% of the Democrats caucusing were white), African- Americans believe that Obama is a viable candidate who actually has a chance at winning the national election. But as we learned in New Hampshire, where all polls showed Obama leading by double digits the day before the primary, nothing is certain.

I just really don’t know what to think. After Obama’s performance in Iowa, I was almost certain he would carry NH, and ride that momentum through the primaries leading up to Super Tuesday. A victory over Clinton in NH would have all but sealed the deal in Nevada and the rest of the country. However, Clinton was able to take down New Hampshire, and it seems like she might have taken control of the race again. I forgot to mention anything about John Edwards, who will most likely gather anywhere between 10-20% of the vote in Nevada. He’s going to stick around until South Carolina, and if he loses there, I’m sure he’ll remove his name from contention before February 5th. I’d be interested to know which way most Edwards’ supporters are planning on going when he drops out of the race. I have a feeling it’s towards Obama. Anyway, I like rooting for the underdog, and most polls suggest Obama is trailing in Nevada, so I’ll take him and say he captures 36% of the vote. (I won’t root for the Edwards, because he’s not an underdog, he’s a statistical improbability.)

Republican voters in South Carolina also head to the polls tomorrow to cast their votes. SC is another important state as it’s the first southern-state involved in the primary process. As the “gateway” to the rest of the south, candidates realize how important the state is. McCain is leading in most polls w/around 30-35% of the vote. Huckabee and Romney are not too far behind gathering anywhere between 20-25% of support each. I think McCain takes the state, and starts to separate himself from the rest of the pack with a victory. I don’t see Huckabee winning here, and Romney is too much of a Yank to gather the support of the folks down there. I’d write more about the Republicans, but I already wrote one about them, and I want to be done typing.

Sorry this sucks. I am still learning how to write again. I’ll get the hang of it eventually.

Matt Arrowhead

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Greatest Chinese Checkers Game

It is never right to joke around about someone dying unless it is Britney Spears, Sadam Hussein or Bobby Fischer. Thats right, age old chess champ Bobby Fischer has passed away due to kidney failure. Apparently ESPN believes that Fischer was a cold war hero because he beat some ruskie in a game of chess. I guess that's cool to be remembered for, but you and I both know where the name Bobby Fischer became famous. HEY! ARNOLD of course....

Remember that episode where old grandpa was teaching Arnold the finer point of chinese checkers? Of course you do. Grandpa couldn't beat that snively Bobby Fischer and just wanted to see Arnold beat Fischer's kid. So by golly he did. The tournament was sponsored by Big Bob's Beeper Emporium and Arnold took down Fisher in a grueling battle.

The moral of the story is of course that we are to remember this war hero. He killed many russians and we should pay our respects to any pawns sacrificed in battle. In the end, America wins again... even though he wasn't American.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What Happened to the Bulls?

The Bulls were supposed to be good this year, right? Hell, they knocked off the defending champion Miami Heat in the 1st round of the ’07 playoffs and put up a valiant effort in the 2nd round against the Pistons before ultimately bowing out in 6 games. Maybe it’s just me, but I really thought the Bulls had arrived after being able to put up a fight against an opponent whose leading scorer, Richard Hamilton, is known to wear a headband and mask at all times; even during casual sex and funeral parties

Their core of young talent was returning. Luol Deng had seemingly emerged as one of the elite players in the league. Hinrich, Gordan, and Nocioni all understood their rolls and were playing very well together. Ben Wallace was back to run around with a ridiculous fro and $14 million he didn’t deserve, but hey, he had dealt with his headband separation anxiety and occasionally grabbed rebounds, so no problems there. Scott Skiles had found a way to make all of the parts fit even though the Bullies lacked a dominating big man and a true “big time” scorer. He was praised for his game and bench management skills. People, including myself, were saying the Bulls would be one of the elite teams in the East.

Now, February is approaching and the Bulls are 14-22, with almost half of the season completed. They are 3.5 games behind the New Jersey Nets for the 8 seed in the East. Skiles is gone, and they just got crushed again last night by the Magic. Luol Deng isn’t quite living up to preseason expectations, and reports out of Chicago suggest that Benny the Bull, the team mascot, is a “big player” in meth trafficking on the city’s south side. Ok, the last part was a joke…..I think; nonetheless, I am confused and hurt by the Bulls’ ’08 campaign up to this point. A team that was supposed to be pretty good, or at least pretty decent, sucks pretty, pretty, pretty bad. The assholes who are a lot smarter than me haven’t given me answers about the Bulls current quandary. More importantly, trailing anything/anyone from New Jersey (in this case the Nets), regardless of situation or circumstance, is unacceptable and should automatically result in death, so I’m going to do some investigating and try to figure out where it all went wrong.

Here are some possibilities.

5. Some would argue that it hasn’t gone wrong. The Bulls have been notoriously slow starters the last few years and have always rebounded to make it into the playoffs. Moreover, the Eastern Conference is getting stronger. The Celtics and Pistons playing as well as anyone other team in the league and Orlando, Washington, Atlanta, and Toronto are decent. This combination could have created the problem, but that’s no fun, and I want to write a little more, so I’m going to dismiss this as improbable. (100-1)

4. The Bull’s lack of an inside presence and having to play 4 vs. 5 on offense (anytime Ben Wallace is on the court) might be the reason for their struggles. Relying on perimeter jump shooting can be devastating for an NBA team, and the Bull’s aren’t left with many options when you look at their roster. Deng has never been a post player, and Ben Wallace averages 4.4 pts and 2apg, so they aren’t getting anything on the block from those folks. Nocioni, well, I’m not sure what in the hell type of player he is, but I do know he’s not a big man. He just runs around the court cussing out refs in Argentinean and makes close to 8$ million dollars a year doing it. I always dreamed of being a big, Argentinean man as a young boy, but after watching him I realized I was just being young and na├»ve. (I have no idea what that means.)

Their backups in the front court are washed up or too young to make meaning contributions. This means they have to rely on ball movement, perimeter spacing, and a lot of motion to get good looks for their guards/small forwards. They can’t dump it down low to a big man who demands a double team and opens up better scoring opportunities. (75-1)

3. Skiles/Paxson could have been/might be the problem as well. Maybe Skiles’ coaching style was good in theory, but ultimately something that can’t be successful long term in the NBA. Playing so many players and relying on too much perimeter play is usually a disaster unless you have an extremely talented squad. (See Phoenix) Paxson, who everyone thought was bulletproof a couple years ago, has made some very questionable decisions recently, and I’m beginning to think he might not know what he’s doing. I guess I really only have the Wallace and Nocioni signings to make my case, but those might be enough.

Paxson’s firing of Skiles on Christmas Eve was pretty cold hearted, but I do understand where he’s coming from. It’s always better to get out of relationship with someone you know you’re done with before you have to buy them a gift. I dumped a girl the day before Valentine ’s Day in 7th grade, and nothing I’ve done since has matched the experience. I imagine Paxson was nervous and felt a little bad about doing it just as I had back in 7th grade. I also imagine Skiles also did some crying like the girl whose heart I broke. (50/1)

2. Scottie Pippen. I won’t bash on Scottie too much because I used to cry when the Bulls won championships. However, currently he seems to mess up anything he does, talks about, is associated with, has been associated with, thinks about, dreams about, touches, breathes on, farts on, walks past, or sleeps with. Hmm, I think I bashed Scottie a little too much. Anyway, he’s been making some asinine comments lately about coaching the Bulls, so he might be the reason for their problems. Oh, he also plays basketball in Finland, and comes out to the Bull’s intro music while little Finnish people stand up and clap from him like he’s the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ (or Michael Jordan.) I’d post the video, but I’m sure most of you have already seen it on Deadspin. If you haven’t, you’re a big loser and your parents told me they think you’re gay. (25/1)

1. Joakim Noah. All of the other possible reasons for the Bulls’ struggles are decent, but this is the betting favorite. It all started when David Stern announced Chicago had drafted Noah. He was wearing a fucking bow-tie. He looked like the tool who decides to be all random and go as Tucker Carlson to a Halloween party. Pulling a move like that is never acceptable. Seriously, I knew it was over when I saw him standing on the stage in that ridiculous tie.

I hate him with a passion. I find no one on this earth more annoying, and his teammates must feel the same way. They, not the Bulls coaching staff or management, unanimously voted to suspend Noah for an additional game for “conduct detrimental to the team” this past week. What in the hell must he have done/said to have a group of NBA players, who obviously don’t give a shit about anything, hold a private meeting and unanimously vote to suspend him? Maybe it wasn’t something as bad as I think. The team could have just decided he was annoying as hell and suspended him for that reason alone.

Billy Donovan chimed in on the issues and said he knows “Jo would never be selfish” and that his suspension was related to his frustration with losing. He went on to say that Jo has to realize that “he’s now a professional and that things are different at that level.”

Ok, so let me get this straight; this is from the guy who backed out of a signed deal with the Orlando Magic this summer in one of the most unprofessional moves I’ve seen in a long time? Yea, I think that’s the Billy Donovan I’m thinking of. Of course he’s the human being vouching for Noah, as they’re both at the top of any “Biggest Jackasses of ‘07” list.

So ya, I think Jo’ is the problem.. Once the Bulls cut Noah, they will start winning a bunch of games. (1/1000)

Matt Arrowhead

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Race for the White House:

The Republican race takes center stage today when the GOP candidates vie for the state of Michigan and its delegates. The two front runners in the state, Mitt Romney and John McCain, are tied in a statistical dead heat as voters get ready to head to the polls. The contest is a must win for Romney, who suffered loses in both Iowa and New Hampshire. In Iowa, Mike Huckabee, a conservative evangelical from the south, was able to win in convincing fashion after gathering much of the Christian vote. Romney had outspent Huckabee 15-1 there and led in many of the polls for months leading up to the state’s caucus, so the defeat was especially devastating for his campaign. In New Hampshire, Romney suffered another defeat at the hands of John McCain. McCain was able to gather a large percentage of the independent vote just as he had done in NH’s 2000 primary when he defeated President Bush. The McCain and Huckabee victories, along with Romney’s two second place finishes, suggest just how close the Michigan primary might be.

The state of Michigan is kind of a hybrid of Iowa and NH, and that’s what makes their primary so important for the Republican candidates. On one hand, there is a large group of voters who identify themselves as Evangelicals, which means religion is extremely relevant. On the other hand, the economy and war are two issues that are extremely important to the state’s voters. They’ve fallen on hard economic times and have watched many of their sons get sent overseas to fight in Iraq. So, tomorrow after the results are in, we might have a better idea of who the GOP front runner is moving forward simply because of the state’s makeup. If McCain is able to win, he becomes the odds on favorite to win South Carolina and sweep on Super Tuesday. If Romney wins, he’s back on the map and might have a chance to compete in SC and Florida. If Huckabee wins, he will most likely become the favorite to win SC, and will be seen as a viable candidate in the eyes of some of the more moderate GOP voters in states where the bible and constitution aren’t seen as one and the same.

The one candidate I haven’t mentioned is Rudy Guiliani, who is focusing his entire campaign and chances for the White House on the state of Florida. Guiliani was a non-factor in Iowa and NH, and will most likely finish 4th in Michigan tomorrow. He has dumped all of his money and time into Florida, where he once held a sizable polling lead over other candidates. Now, many pundits believe his strategy might not pay off. The most up to date polls suggest that McCain and Romney have closed the gap with Guiliani in Florida, so it should be interesting to see whether or not Guiliani’s strategy was truly genius or completely idiotic.

I am looking forward to today's results in Michigan. Romney’s from the state of Michigan and his dad governed there in the 1960’s, so he does have name recognition and plenty of connections. McCain’s momentum and the electorate makeup of the state might just be

enough for him to win. And Huckabee, well, he has religion. Those crazy Evangelicals will do anything short of saying “Jesus Christ” to get him into office, so it should be pretty damn interesting. Good luck to all of my conservative friends. I hope your candidate is able to take the lead in this most interesting of races.

I’ll have some stuff on Nevada’s democratic primary before it happens, but for now, it is time for some sleep. Oh, and Fred Thompson is so funny. He’s like the conservative grandpa I never had. I’m going to invite him over for the holidays. You tell me what’s better than a dinner table debate with an old, stubborn man, who doesn’t give a shit if you think he’s a complete ass. He speaks his mind, and couldn’t give two shits if comes off as ignorant, abrasive, or just downright dumb. Honestly, I respect that. I just want him to call me an idiotic young punk or something.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Little Offseason Beisbol

I miss baseball already. Even though I was able to watch most of the playoff games, sitting alone in front of a computer in the middle of the night thousands of miles away from anyone who gives a shit about it just wasn't the same. But we're still a long way away from Spring Training, and its a little early for a preseason preview or anything like that, so I wanted to say something about Johan Santana. Before you stop reading and assume that this is just another opportunity to talk about the Red Sox--its not. Its about the National League, and its not a joke.

I want the Twins to trade the best lefty in the majors to the Mets. Obviously this is my desired outcome because I think it is in the best interest of my team, but its also in the best interest of baseball. It benefits the Red Sox because he does not go to the Yankees, and it allows them to retain and develop all their top prospects, who I believe will turn out to be better than the Yankee's.

But why does it benefit baseball? Look, its no secret that the NL is an inferior league at this point. There are tons of reason's to explain why, but one of them is the Yankees. While they proved that you can't buy championships, you can buy your way into the playoffs. This forced teams in their division to spend more in order to compete (Red Sox were the most successful but the Blue Jays and Orioles did it too). Other teams without the budget had to look to new ways to compete (A's, Beane, Moneyball), while eventually teams learned that combining the spending and that philosophy could lead to much better results (the Angel's have finally wised up with their signings this offseason after continually losing in the playoffs because of their free swinging tendencies).

So how does this relate to the NL? While all of this was happening in the AL, the NL had no real big spenders. The "smart" teams discovered that they could be fairly successful building around some quality players and AL outcasts, especially when it comes to pitching. Many GMs crafted competitive teams that were successful in the NL, but were at a disadvantage against the AL. The AL is 11-4 in the WS since 1992, they are 12-3 against the NL in the All-Star game, and hold a 47 game advantage in interleague play.

If the Mets are to outbid the Red Sox and Yankees for Santana they will be showing a commitment to building a team not only to compete against the NL but one that has a legitimate chance against any AL team. They aren't getting a good AL player and hoping that he will be a dominant NL player--they are getting a dominant AL player that they know will be a dominant NL player. They were already the best team in the NL last year before their historic collapse, but with Santana they would be upping the ante for every other team in the division, and eventually the league. The divide between the two leagues is not good for baseball: Santana to the Mets is.