Friday, April 11, 2014


sometimes it is hard to remember that other people go through the journey of life in a different way/manner/perspective than yourself!

The same event witnessed by a nine year-old you and a 39 year-old you CAN make quite a difference!

Seeing those two things in physical evidence - as in "pictures"..........

Going through old pictures can give you some framework to understanding yourself!

I was looking back at myself as an infant in pictures and it's amazing how many pictures from the pre-digital age show much more of the surrounding family environment than what we actually remember!

It's crazy how the longer you haven't thought about something MIGHT correlate with how much we give a shit about why we thought to think about it THAT the first place.

Analogy of the night: We fill a room with noise much like we do a light. What kind of light are we being? What kind of light do we shine on any picture?

I feel bad for you suckers in life who see a picture of your self and somehow can't find a point of pride! Maybe, it is how I am? Maybe, it's how I am being who I am as a being? I thoroughly enjoy seeing myself- where I was - when I was there....No matter what "that" means!
But THESE pictures...

You'll never know which cousin I mean, but they will take it the same way... because they KNOW what it is to be one of us...cousins... the people who share the same un-chosen demons:

Oh, how I had 'that cousin' I remember being "oh, so cool" whom suddenly appears to be QUITE the dork given historical context of the picture and not ANYWHERE as cool as you could have dreamed given present context picture.

No matter what your memories say..

No matter what you remember "feeling"..

The pictures never change.

But you still have to be you - no matter who they were when you stopped being who you were without their permission.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Don't Call It A Comeback

It's about time for the words to return to the digital and theoretical pages, huh?

Watch out!

Manny Stiles finally figured out how to scratch back into this forum... New materials/posts are soon to follow.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Manny Freakin' Stiles

"If you don't know where you are, it's your own damned fault." - Manny Stiles

Click on my Manny Links - over there somewhere--->

Check out my home page on or my volumious index of Armchair articles if you're looking for some intersting reading.

---please note 103.9% of the miz-spellings, hyphenxtions and wordsmshngs are intentionalifric. I am not intenionally trying to create google-whacks, googlewax or even set some world record for 'most convolutatamized and confrustimicationized words per run-on sentence'. This is just the way I write.

If you ever have a topic or question you want me to address, E-Mail Me!!! - just make sure the subject line doesn't scream "THIS IS SPAM" , because I can hit DELETE with the best of the best...

Thanks for your non-committal involvement, Enjoy,
Manny Stiles - th' Komillion

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Manny Stiles presents Sports Augury - Super Bowl XLIV Edition

In a continuous effort to bring fresh sports opinion articles and ideas to the 'net, Manny Stiles presents Sports Augury. Of all the Sports Augury readings this version was performed with the most haste and least defiled setting – I apologize, but life has its devious clenches on my ‘free time’ these days. Nonetheless… the reading occurred as follows:

Manny Stiles’ Super Bowl Tarot Reading

This is a description of actual events. The reading took place with a Crowley adapted Rider-Waite deck. The readings are actual and true and were not altered by any of my "wishes, wants or anticipations" but in parenthesis is my take on the translations. Those unfamiliar with tarot readings need to understand that the laying out of cards is NOT a future telling method, but similar to the laying down of a picture and interpreting it's meaning.

The reading consists of two standard "cross" readings (see attached diagram), one for each team. A double sacred coin selection method is administered to determine with one coin who will be heads and who will be tails, then a flip of a second coin to see who gets ‘read’ first. Colts ‘win’ the first coin toss deciding which side of coin two they will be (heads) but the Saints win the second coin toss determining they will have their spread drawn first.

There is the triple shuffle, triple cut, off-hand selection method used to lay the cards.

New Orleans Saints Spread
The cards are reshuffled in the prescribed manner and five cards are laid face down in the "cross" and are turned over one at a time.

Saints Card One - Center/Present Position
Two of Cups – “Love” – Venus in Cancer

Two overflowing cups entwined with the dolphins of venus. Harmonious union of male and female.

(Manny's take – Clearly, everybody loves the Saints. Perhaps it also alludes to a balance of offense and defense/running and passing?)

Saints Card Two - Psychic/Spirit Position
Five of Wands - "Strife" - Saturn in Leo

Disproportionate size of the characters represented on the card indicates following the coordination of spirit that disunion has begun. Motives are battling for control between three controlling factors – two lotus and a phoenix. Quarreling, fighting.

(Manny's take – The ‘phoenix’ is the up and comer. Perhaps there is discord in the football minds about the game plan? Strife can’t be good in a spiritual realm, but events can change that once the game begins. Sitting above the present realm of Love might signify that it’s not that big a deal.)

Saints Card Three - Instinct Position
The Empress - III

A trump card under Love. Represented by Venus. In the instinctual position, feminine power. Love, Peace and Harmony. This bodes well for a team entering their first “Big Game”…

(Manny's take – These guys are happy and in position to succeed. Perhaps they should guard against being ‘just happy to be there’.)

Saints Card Four - Past Position (leads up to present position)
Princess of Wands

The earthy part of fire. Brilliant and daring with great energy. Sudden and violent in love or anger. Enthusiastic.

(Manny's take – Ask Kurt Warner or Brett Favre about the earthy part of fire… I think it’s clear the Saints defense is going to be as big a part of the Saints’ fortunes as their highly advertised passing offense.)

Saints Card Five - Future Position (travels beyond present position)
Knight of Wands

Purely male creative force in fire or spirit. Represents the fiery part of fire; impetuosity, pride and swiftness. A Dark figure ready for war riding a horse of fire, carrying a joust of fire.

(Manny's take – The Saints are coming to do work (wands represented well) BUT… are the Saints going to move away from the feminine into the male?)

Saints Spread Translation

They have love, harmony and peace presently and now are going to change what got them there once the game begins? Uh oh… Potential for strife and cross feelings exists. The transition of strong feminine characteristics into a dominant male force is not representative of weakness moving to strength but perhaps the other way around. Maybe the Saints know more about themselves than we do – maybe they have a game plan no one expects.

(Manny's take – Everyone expects the Saints to be a passing team, I have a feeling they will be more balanced and I also think their defense will mean more than we expect. We’ll see how the rest of the reading goes to clarify.)

Indianapolis Colts Spread

Five cards are laid face down in the "cross" and are turned over one at a time in the same manner.

Colts Card One - Center/Present Position
Prince of Swords

Conveys two ideas, hail and the restriction of the scientific outlook which uses but restricts the imagination (the Prince’s horse is harnessed). Thinking… lots of thinking. Full of ideas and designs. Clever but inelastic and unstable of purpose. Slays as fast as he creates.

(Manny's take – Can you say Peyton Manning? Now that Peyton has already won a ring and shed his choker label, THIS is his personal game. Maybe he finds a way to raise the choker label by being too much of Peyton Manning.)

Colts Card Two - Psychic/Spirit Position
Knight of Swords

Represents the fiery part of air, a man active, skillful and clever. Courageous but often unreflective. Much action and not as much thinking.

(Manny's take – Could this be the coaching staff? Caldwell might be letting Peyton – and the Aura of #18 – run the show a little too much?)

Colts Card Three - Instinct Position
Queen of Swords

Swords, swords, swords… thinking, thinking, thinking.

The watery part of air. A subtle interpreter. An intense individualist, confident gracious and just. The Queen is holding a sword in one hand and a severed head in the other… no clarification on whose head it might be.

(Manny's take – This line in the cross is very, very swordish. The Colts are overthinking things and are in their own heads. I have a feeling this has a lot to do with Dwight Freeney’s ankle injury and how the will adjust and how it affects the team.)

Colts Card Four - Past Position (leads up to present position)
Five of Disks – “Worry” – Mercury in Taurus

A very dark card and troublesome. Bent and torn by strain. Supressed action.

(Manny's take – Some things here are pointing to the stress the Colts put on themselves by not going 16-0 and the fallout of saying how “it wasn’t their goal, winning the Super Bowl is”. They put even more pressure on themselves in doing that.)

Colts Card Five - Future Position (travels beyond present position)
The Hermit – IX

A trump card in the future. Represented by Virgo. It’s pretty significant. The hermit holds the lamp of secret wisdom. He protects the snake of life from the hounds of hell. Represents divine inspiration. Also, retirement from participation from current events… withdrawing from others as a hermit.

(Manny's take – Is this the last run of the Colts’ “dynasty”? This card is pretty tough to pin down. Does Tony Dungy come back? Does Peyton Manning get hurt? Is Marvin Harrison showing up to the game with a gun to shoot up the place?)

Colts Spread Translation

The Colts are over-planning, over-thinking, preparing too many contingencies and forcing too many shenanigans into their plans. They are drifting into being something other than what they are. Manning is getting himself into a place outside of his comfort zone and the pressure they have put on themselves over the past two months will unfold into a game that will not be spectacular.

(Manny's take – Football is not a thinking game. It’s a brutal game. The Colts are primed for a beat down.)

Cut Readings

Cut readings are made by shuffling the deck in the standard manner and reading the card pulled. For this part, we chose to do individual readings for the offense, defense and special teams for each team. The card would define significant questions and strategic realities they will encounter.

Saints Offense
Ace of Disks - Venus in Virgo

“The root of the powers of earth”. Material gain, power, labor, wealth, contentment; materiality in all senses. Primitive earth as a whirling planet and as a substance. A very significant card to Crowley as the affirmation of Sun and Earth.

(Manny's take – The reading is coming more clear. The Saints are going to pound the crap out of the Colts with the running game. Expect big gains on the ground and/or short passes.)

Colts Offense
Nine of Disks – “Gain” – Venus in Virgo

Good luck attending to material affairs. Completion of material gain. The disks with their beams of light show a condition in which chance and management give an increasing good fortune.

(Manny's take – OK. The Colts will move the ball too. They are the Colts. It seems that if they limit their risks, it will pay off…. No duh. A trick play might give them false expectations.)

Saints Defense
Two of Cups – “Love” – Venus in Cancer

This card was also pulled in the present position for the Saints. The defense is the Saints’ strength and center of harmony.

(Manny's take – The guys in uniform for the Saints are all on the same page. Darren Sharper and the Saints’ D is the real difference maker for the Saints, not Drew Brees and the passing game, since the Saints will be pounding the Colts run D.)

Colts Defense
Prince of Disks

He drives an impetuous bull and is a symbol of the fruits and seeds of earth. A capable manager and steadfast worker who is competent and perhaps considered dull. A very strong looking football card.

(Manny's take – The Colts are going to bring the heat to Drew Brees but it seems the Saints are already planning to keep the pressure off Brees with runs. The Colts will wear themselves out as much as the Saints will pound them.)

Saints Special Teams
Ten of Cups – “Satiety” – Mars in Pisces

Pursuit of pleasure crowned with perfect success but incomplete. Exhaustion from expanded energy is expressed.

(Manny's take – The Saints will get some decent gains and big plays with special teams – a great punt or two? - but won’t score a TD.)

Colts Special Teams
Prince of Cups

Airy part of water. Ruthless in his own aims, caring intensely for power and wisdom.

(Manny's take – This card is very bland and insignificant in representing kickers, punters and special teams. I don’t have much to make with this card, so don’t expect a chance of a game winning field goal for the Colts.)

Overall Cut Readings

Two simple questions, Two cards that's it.

Question One: I draw the card...

How will the game play out?

The Heirophant – V

Divine wisdom, inspiration, stuborn strength, toil, endurance, persistence, patience. Represented by Taurus, the cardinal sign of earth.

(Manny's take – The Saints are going to make this a grind-out, punch ‘em in the mouth, ol’fashioned football game! In other words, a nightmare for the NFL’s braintrust which dreams of a big play circus extravaganza, exciting scoreboard exploder.)

I draw the second card to answer...

What is the Outcome?

Princess of swords

The earthy part of air. Stern and revengeful with destructive logic, firm and aggressive with great practical wisdom and subtlety.

(Manny's take – With all the swords representing the Colts in this reading, the outcome card seems to allude to the Colts winning but the Princess coming up seems to signify the Colts simply out-thinking themselves while the Saints are going to stay to the earth and employ brute force.)

The final analysis of the reading

The game isn’t going to be the great shootout everyone assumes it should be. There should be some scoring, no doubt but take the under on passing yards and the over on rushing yards… especially for the Saints. The other “Payton” (Sean) is going to stick to football basics when it matters most. Possession and limiting mistakes on offense leaving his defense to be fresh and aggressive. The game will be won by a harmonious team (in football, teams win games, not great players) with the simple gameplan – win the game.

I have a strong indication that there will be a score on a Colts trick play – who does the scoring will be determined. The Colts are coming into the game over-complicated and with lingering questions (will Freeney’s injury make more problems for planning than simply losing him to injury?)

Not only will the Saints look to pound the Colts on both sides of the ball, they will get a lead and shorten the game by rushing the clock out toward the end of the contest. I guess I’m not getting my Overtime Super Bowl this year, either. Manning will be forced to adjust at halftime but by then, it will be too late. He might not even finish the game. Not a total stinker of a game but certainly not an instant classic…

(Manny’s take - Saints 27, Colts 19. Archie Manning's head explodes and between the post-game parties and Mardi Gras, the levees break and the town floods again.)

Take from this what you choose, but choose wisely.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Of Course the NHL Can Succeed in Phoenix and It Will. So Accept It Already!

Sometimes it gets a little tiring hearing the same droning sports arguments chanted and regurgitated mindlessly: "Muhammad Ali was the greatest ever", "Derek Jeter is clutch", "Hockey can't succeed in warm weather cities".... ugh.

Let's address the third one... the other two assumptions are a proven waste of font.

Location, Location, Location

"Glendale isn't in the heart of Phoenix"...

No, but it's where the people live, work and play. One trip around the Loop 101 will give you a hint that the proximity of the arena is just fine. Nothing in Phoenix is that far away and people 'Out West' don't freak out about driving 20 miles the way the people "Back East" do... 20 miles of driving in Arizona is barely worth a yawn. Weather isn't a factor and all the roads are wide, flat and straight with beautiful mountains on the horizon many miles away. Twenty miles of driving in the Great Northeast is a nightmare of epic proportions. I understand that being raised in the Northeast and having lived in Arizona (and attending several Coyotes games) for 9 years. But apparently the people who chant the "NHL needs to leave the warm weather markets" arguments don't comprehend these simple logistics.

The Coyotes play their games next door to the Cardinals' stadium... no one clamors for the Cards to move any more... and yes, the Cards went almost 20 seasons without a blacked out home game not including the Cowboys or Steelers. 20 years. They played in a college stadium (Tempe Stadium) with aluminum bench seats in the hot sun. Arizona State was intelligent enough to host nearly ever game at night so people wouldn't burn their asses (Yes, even in November) but the NFL demanded that the Cardinals played their home games at 1pm or 2pm local (depending on when the rest of the world observed Daylight Savings Time). Yet, somehow - through mostly pigheaded stubbornness on behalf of the owners - the team "survived" 19 seasons with only ONE winning record and ONE playoff appearance.

I can't help but feel people who bitch about the NHL in Phoenix don't understand Phoenix's market at all. "Downtown" is not something that really exists in PHX. The societal 'action' in the evenings (when the Sun is no longer feeling like a microwave with the door open) is in Scottsdale, Tempe and Glendale. "Downtown" Phoenix - save for a D-Backs or Suns game is pretty much a ghost town after 5pm.

Phoenix is a town in the West, not like the Northeast U.S. or Canada. Things are more spread out. EVERY location is convenient...

Many people are discounting the basic fact that MOST of Phoenix's population (to a lesser extent places like Tampa and Miami) consists of transplants from very cold places (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, New England, Canada... name it) and snowbirds. There's a reason WHY the NHL was brought there in the first place. The fans are there. Unfortunately - due to the local teams own missteps and undoings - these fans have found very little reason to leave their old allegiances behind for the Coyotes.

Teams in Florida (and Texas) also have a built in advantage over other American cities and far over Canadian cities for one simple reason: taxes. There's no personal income tax there.

I'd also be willing to bet a hefty sum that the metro area of Phoenix has a greater population than Winnipeg, Hamilton, Quebec, Regina, Seattle and Milwaukee (other places mentioned as possible re-location destinations) combined. Hell, Arizona has over 1/6th as many residents as all of Canada by itself.

Have you paid attention to Pro Sports for the last 100 years?

What's happening in Phoenix is sad but it's nothing new.

People used to say that football couldn't survive in small, warm-weather markets like Tampa or New Orleans. Take a look now.

Even dedicated hockey fans blatantly ignore the fact that the last pro sports franchise in the four major leagues to fold were those pesky Cleveland Barons of the NHL... just two short seasons before the NHL expanded.

Sure, Canada has some financial disadvantages compared to the U.S. plus the fact that Canada's entire population is smaller than New York and Pennsylvania combined despite there being a supposedly more "rabid" and passionate fanbase for the great sport of hockey. Canada also has a history of difficulty in keeping their sports franchises from drifting southward.

The NHL isn't the only victim of Professional Sports franchises taking their business elsewhere; please remember Sports IS a business. The CFL expanded in the 90's - with dramatic failure - into such football hotbeds as Las Vegas, Birmingham, Alabama and Sacramento, California. The NBA (a game originated by a Canadian) spent time in Vancouver before leaving for the rich, fertile metro area of ... Memphis? And no one needs to rehash the Colorado Nordiques and their two Stanley Cups to explain simply why pro sports businesses take their beloved Canadian heritages to the dirty, hated American markets.

Montreal didn't lose their baseball team because of a lack of fans. Montreal lost the Expos because of mismanagement (they traded every talent away and sold out their fans) and a sad mistake of a home stadium (build it, they will come)

Teams overcoming failure is why most people LOVE following sports

Sports History - fact and fiction - is full of stories about dismal teams with long odds climbing from the depths of putridity and disdain to triumph and reign supreme. From Hoosiers to Major League and to Chaminade over Virginia to the Bible's actual David and Goliath.

The New York Highlanders were a pathetic joke for their first 20 seasons until they changed their name to the Yankees and paid some dough for some lefty pitcher named George. The Dodgers were ten times more forlorn than the Clippers long before the NBA existed. The Dallas Cowboys were putrid for a decade before they turned the corner of Sucksville into 'America's Team'. The Detroit Red Wings suffered 4 1/2 decades of listlessness in a place called Hockeytown. The Phillies went 97 seasons before winning a World Series. People forget how the Boston Red Sox were afterthoughts and rarely sold out a home game at Fenway in the 80's and 90's before going nearly 5 years without a sellout in the 00's. The Atlanta Braves were a joke for two decades before running off a decade and a half of playoff appearances. Even the lowly Tampa Bay Rays made it to the World Series in their first winning season in franchise history.

The most glaring example of the recent past might be the Pittsburgh Penguins... a team that was bankrupt and doomed for extinction just a few short years ago. Oh yeah... they are the reigning Stanley Cup Champions.

Sometimes all it takes is luck. Like a #1 draft pick to turn the franchise around. More times it takes a lot of diligence, dedication and a philosophy of winning. Running a pro sports franchise is not easy and winning is even harder. It happens every season - only one team ends their season with a meaningful victory. The rest of the franchises have all essentially failed. It happens EVERY season.

Woe, Canada... Chill out!

Look, dear Canadians... I like you, I really do. But please don't let your love of hockey blind you from facing reality. take all things into consideration and you'll have a clearer picture of what is happening.

We aren't desecrating or sullying your game. We love it too! If you want to blame fan apathy on us (U.S.) you're only fooling yourself. Don't let your pride and over-protective arrogance degrade the game for others... Share the beauty of your game with the world and everyone benefits!

Take a look at the NHL over the last 15 or so years beyond expansion and relocation for just a second and realize there are other VERY simple factors that have affected the game more... three of which are very simple.

Hello? Lockout.

Fans are fickle and emotional with stubborn, long-term memories. The NFL, MLB and NBA have all suffered work stoppages that have ultimately improved their products by leaps and bounds but left many millions of narrow-minded fans heart-broken and hurt. The poor little babies can't see the forest for the saplings and act like ex-girlfriends scorned. Sometimes you must break a few eggs to cook breakfast - every stoppage made the game better but also hurt the trust and dedication of too many fans. The NHL took the nuclear option and destroyed a whole season...

What channel is the game on?

This is the beast that feeds itself... or eats its own tail - depending on your angle. The NHL is largely ignored in some circles simply because there's no real TV deal to provide the game to the masses - and thusly to the advertisers and marketers who thrive on said masses. TV hates partially empty arenas even more than you do. Attendance and TV play a dirty dance. Teams won't give the product at a reduced rate (paying the price of commercial hypnotism in your living room) if they can't sell their product to butter their bread first (butts in seats, apparel on bodies). It's a vicious cycle.

Then there's Versus and Comcast and the other battle to see who can strangle the sport faster... at the expense of the casual fans. Sure, the diehards will find a way to see their teams, but diehards aren't exactly the demographic most susceptible to commercial market share. They just want to watch the game. Businesses aren't in business for the sake of diehards, they need to expand market share constantly to grow and succeed. No business worth doing business succeeds only by saturating its existing customers. That is failure.

Let's go, Kryshwyuezqzkisjski!!!

Easily the biggest peeve I have with Canadians... you can't accept it's not just your game anymore (or even North America's game). Europeans have lots of ice, too. The influx of consonant-laden jerseys has attributed to fan apathy as much as anything. Successful Pro Sports are driven by stars. Stars are made through talent, production and accessibility to the masses. Stars need to transcend the illuminated and the ignorant fans. People LOVE to relate to their heroes - which is tough when they can't pronounce the guy's name. Foreign names "alienate" people... it's just how humans are by nature - we like to relate to people who are like us. When people can relate to the game's Stars, corporate sponsorships (and the loonies to pay the bills) will follow.

It's the same reason why many baseball fans aren't as passionate as they used to be - they don't speak Spanish or Japanese. Don't blame it on racism or ignorance... it's convenience - just like bashing Americans for not being just like Canadians. Face it, the shift has begun. As your sport succeeds amongst new populations, it will breed more success. The next "Great One" might be lacing up right now in muddy back-country hills of Tennessee, in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona or in a little, beat up rink in a place like Georgia... not necessarily the country of Georgia.

What is REALLY happening?

The Coyotes are suffering because of 1) Gross mismanagement including a STUPID stadium deal in Glendale they rushed into and 2) Poor talent evaluation, worse free agent signings and having a limp front office and subpar coach with a big ticket name (The Mediocre One) instead of a coach who could develop the team with a real philosophy, and 3) A long string of NOT winning.

The Coyotes are not a victim of bad location. They are not a victim of a lack of willing fans. They are not a victim of dispassionate fans. They are not a victim of Americans not understanding hockey.

They are a victim of themselves...

Give the new ownership a chance. A fresh start. The people who took over have succeeded in their own realms of business to understand the task at hand. They have to re-brand and re-establish a culture of sucktitude with success. It won't be easy - it never is. Get off your biases and be patient. The Rags to Riches stories in pro sports are what makes sports great. Not every franchise can be legendary all the time. Not every team can always be the crown jewel.

If you truly believe hockey is the great game it is, let them play! Jumbling franchises around from place to place simply because they aren't currently winning franchises HURTS the entire league for the sake of saving a tiny bit of face and spreading a profit margin slightly wider. It is a beautiful game. Be patient. Strong fanbases aren't built overnight. It takes patience, perseverance and most of all time for those kids and youngsters who grow up with the franchises to develop into the next generation of players, fans and lifelong diehards.

Team owners are Businessmen and Businessmen aren't stupid. They know how to succeed. They leave places like Winnipeg because they are seeking MORE success, not failure. If all factors are in place, a little luck falls the right way and smart, dedicated minds focus on the appropriate goals, an NHL team could succeed while playing their home games on the Moon.

It's 2010. We no longer live in a world where The Original Six makes sense - or dollars. Sure, the Winter Classic won't likely be held in Phoenix or Miami anytime soon, though the technology isn't too far out of the realm of possibility. But get over it, they CAN succeed. It's better for the sport if you support your entire league.

Let them play.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Another "lazy, mindless response" to the persistent baseball argument by Dr. Commento, a.k.a. Uncle Manny.

Numbers tell you exactly what you want them to.

Numbers are 100% an accumulation and averaging of handpicked chosen hindsights. You cannot predict the future with certainty based on numbers of the past. You can't count something as fact until it has happened. Even then, you only count what you deem as important.

Numbers are THE PAST. Not the present.

Numbers give a representation of the truth. They are not the whole truth. I can show you a picture of the Pacific Ocean. It's not the same as putting your head in it. It's not the same as bobbing helplessly with the billions of pieces of plastic in the middle of it. It's not the same as sinking to the bottom of it. Numbers are a snapshot.

If stats mattered as much as some of you statheads think they do, they wouldn't need to "play the game on grass instead of a calculator" would they?

All factors in baseball numbers are weighted the same when it's clear not all factors are the same. Hell, a guy can FEEL differently (health, confidence, concentration, clarity, comfort, etc. on and on) from one at bat to the next... or more ACCURATELY - one PITCH to the next! This is true about the pitcher, the managers, umpires, every person in the stadium... from the ball to the bat to a moth that flies into the outfielder's ear. There's the wind, the light, seasons, magnetic resonance of the poles, voodoo, black magic and santaria. There is no absolute way to account for variables in the accumulation of baseball's numbers.

How do you measure and account for that - logically - in your compiled assumptions... I mean compiled digits? How do you measure possibilities for the present and/or future by looking at the past? How can you value a player while discounting the hundreds of thousands or even MILLIONS of variables and say every player's numbers correlate?

It's easy to paint the picture you want to see when you get to choose the colors.

Reality is... not a choice.
But the numbers are often right! Right?

"We picked these numbers because they prove our point more than the other numbers do.."--------->

And the sun shines directly on a dog's ass if he wags his tail hard enough.

Heh... ask any manager - guessing by numbers works sometimes, and other times it don't mean jack. Look at just about EVERY single World Series winning team since 2001 (ESPECIALLY every logic defying move Bob Brenly made in 2001)... they ALL defied "assumed logic", a.k.a. "The Numbers" somewhere on their path to a title.

The world does NOT work according to the numbers. Otherwise the Yankees wouldn't lose games 4,5,6 and 7 of the 2004 ALCS and the Red Sox, Angels, Phillies and White Sox would still be cursed. Steve Bartman would still be a Cubs fan.

Let me sum it up like this - only one statistic means something in the REAL world - Wins and Losses.

Baseball has changed so much and yet stayed exactly the same

Strategies evolve. Rules are updated and altered. New schools of thought enter the collective consciousness.

The way statheads look at the game today and apply their logic to players of the past is laughable. They look at numbers players are TRYING to accumulate today and comparing them to players who simply played to win years ago. Maybe Babe Ruth would be on his way to becoming the best closer in history and all-time saves leader if he broke into the game today. More likely, he'd be a lefty specialist reliever. Ted Williams would have taken more walks if he wasn't such a greedy bastard trying to get every hit he could. Ty Cobb too. No doubt, they all would have struck out more than they did because - according to statheads - the game is more intelligent now than it was in the past, thanks to those numbers showing us how important numbers are...

OBP - statheads will tell you base runners are important. Well, yeah... but they aren't everything. Plenty of games have been won by ONE baserunner. More games have been lost with lots of runners left on base. OBP doesn't measure productive outs or smart baserunning.

***Trivia Alert***

A pitcher can throw 162 IP in a season without throwing a single pitch to the catcher; never allowing a hit, run or error. Does that mean he's unhittable? The stats say so... How?

Ever heard of a GWRBI? It was considered a useful evaluation tool in the 80's. It was also a load of crap. Much like today's save rule has become crap because of nuances and subtle changes in the way the game is played.

Guess what? There's another new, wonderful stat coming around the corner and another one after that and on and on. But the game is still won and lost the same way.

Sure, statistics made baseball easier for video game players to create their wares. Statistics make an agent's job easier come arbitration hearing day. Statistics lend plenty of fuel to feed meaningless arguments in the blogosphere.

But as Mark Twain famously said well over 100 years ago. "There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics."
Use the Numbers, but triangulate your information.

Common sense can't be measured.

One glance at Mark McGwire circa 1998 in an MLB uniform and even a child can surmise "This is a guy with some power". No one needed to look at the back of his baseball card to verify that. One buzz of a Nolan Ryan fastball in the dirt circa 1973 followed by one just as noisy up around your chin gives you an idea that it might be hard to get a hit that day. Extreme examples for sure, but you get the point.

Numbers can fool the eye but talent can be recognized VERY quickly by the experienced, trained eye. Ask the first casting director who got a peek at Halle Berry.
Reality creates numbers. Reality also skews numbers before they get a chance to be skewed by statisticians

I'm not saying stats are useless. Things like OBP shows us which guys try harder to be successful at getting on base more often. It doesn't show us who really is the most successful under exact same variables and lead us to be able to rank players accordingly. Then again, OBP doesn't win baseball games by itself. OBP doesn't play defense and doesn't run bases. I'll take a guy who can go first to third or break up a double play than a guy who gets to first more often and no further - every time.

Statistics don't account for instincts, physical abilities or the ability to be as unpredictable as a human being (as most baseball players seem to be).

If statistics meant everything, How do we judge a player before they accumulate a number? How do we assume those numbers are accumulated equally? What about guys who sacrifice their statistics by playing through pain or falter with the stress of 162 games, travel and life in general? What about cheaters? What about guys who get "lucky"???

Who has the most career Texas Leaguers? Who reached first on blown umpire calls the most in June 2007? Which pitcher gets balls called as strikes to batters who are taking pitches? Who has the highest OPS during a Full Moon?

Don't weigh everything and expect to find a clean cut answer, Math-heads. The world - like the matter in your egg-shaped heads - is full of gray; especially when you want - so badly - for it to all be black and white.

What's the moral of the Story?
Math is addictive and it can ruin your life!

Number yourself all you want. Just remember, dear Statheads, you can't spell numbers without NUMB.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Goodbye, Norma Jean... I mean "Red Light Curt" - A Very Non-Objective View Of A Legend's Mythical Journey

So Curt Schilling announced his retirement today. It is a very special day, indeed.

I guess he felt it was time to steal another headline. Why not? Especially with Spring Training in full swing, with the World Baseball Classic dominating the collective consciousness, with the Sweet Sixteen defining itself and with the NFL draft right around the corner...

I don't like Curt Schilling. I believe him to be a total ass; a prima donna, a diva, a Queen and many other slang terms I usually never need to express myself. He's foolishly arrogant, insolent, smug, prideful, egotistic, full of himself, haughty and utterly obsessed with being in love with himself. I will state publicly - If he was a black man most people's opinions of him would be much like that of the general public opinion of Terrell Owens or Barry Bonds.

Yet, there are so many people in the world that don't view Curtis Montague Schilling the way I do. That's fine - you've all been fooled!

Let's take a step back and let me also state: I am very impressed with his willingness to openly take on the Mighty Yankees repeatedly over the course of his career. Of course, Yankee Hater Curt didn't come into existence until AFTER Randy Johnson carried the 2001 Diamondbacks over the vaunted Yankees - and Curt saw the opportunity brewing. Fairness obliges me to say this - His "Aura and Mystique are strippers" quote was classic.

He spent FAR too much time needlessly defending himself in public view, on his blog, calling in to talk radio shows - this is a putrid act from my perception; and even by his very own (and loudly proclaimed) "professional ethics"... talk should be done on the field of play. And don't even get me started on how he interjected his political beliefs into his own personal "Aura and Mystique". Don't get me started on how many ex-teammates he never introduced himself to or took the time to be a teammate with. Don't get me started on how public image was a greater concern to him than facing up to reality. And don't get me started about what people within the game feel about the all-consuming Superstar known simply as "Red Light Curt".

He shoved his way into being some sort of knowledgable and leading figure for all professional players to resemble and follow. He squawked loudly that steroids were wrong, about what it meant to be a teammate, about how professioanls act - ALWAYS mounting his high horse for public consumption. I (and many others like me) was never fooled, Curt. We know you played on the '93 Phillies and we know you took "greenies" (amphetemines which are every bit as illegal as steroids), we know the "Bloody Sock" was bullshit and even if the blood was real (it wasn't), you could have NOT played it up to more than it was. But then you wouldn't have been Curt Schilling, would you?

I do - sadly - think he's going to get into the Hall of Fame

However, I DON'T think of him as a Hall of Famer. And I definitely don't think he belongs in. I think he reaped a tremendous pile of creedit for which he did not deserve (See a STACKED Red Sox team that got him 2 rings and a "Chosen" D-Backs team that would have won without/despite him). He never won a Cy Young (he was 3 times a bridesmade), he never was the best pitcher in his league, and he was RARELY the best pitcher even on his own team (Tommy Greene, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Josh Beckett)!!! He was a 6 time all-star and started twice (Dave Stieb was a 7 time All-Star who started twice) and he never finished better than 10th in any MVP vote. Although he twice led his league in Wins and Strikeouts he never won an ERA title.

(Curt was tattooed by MLB hitters 347 times in the regular season)

He came into the league as a power thrower from the bullpen in the late 80's. During the latter part of his career, he was a craftier pitcher and displayed very fine control numbers as expressed by his k-bb ratios (No one is beating down Tommy Bond's door to put him in the Hall for his excellent K-BB ratio; nor Doug Jones, nor Ben Sheets, Bret Saberhagen et al). He was by all statistical and/or popular definition, "Clutch" in the postseason (but so was Lonnie Smith, Dave Henderson, Gene Tenace, Billy Hatcher, Lenny Dykstra and Jack Morris). Regardless, we're still talking about a pitcher whose career is favorable similar to that of Kevin Brown, Bob Welch and Orel Hershiser - ALL three of whom had dominant postseason performances and oddly enough, roughly the same amount of career wins (all within 11 wins of each other)- except Welch and Hershiser each won a Cy Young award during their career.

Hell, Vida Blue had an MVP and Cy Young and just as many postseason heroics as Schilling and he'll never sniff Cooperstown. If you think that Schilling is a Hall of Famer, I can't wait to hear your theories on Brown, Welch, Hershiser or even a pitcher MORE deserving than the lot - Jack Morris.

Sure Curt has one of those magical* numbers to help his cause - 3000+ K's. But so does Bert Blyleven - who has 70 more wins and nearly 600 more strikeouts and ALSO played in an era where batters struck out less than during Schilling's era.

Curt slapped his name on a lot of charitable causes for a reason

Schilling finagled his way out of Philly, burned his way out of Arizona and hung around for reflected glory in Boston. He was an attention leech, a media sucker and slimeball who only worried about one thing - being "Red Light Curt". He only wanted to be "on the record" and he only wanted whatever credit could be doled out while deflecting ANY and ALL blame. He constantly was praised for charitable work he was responsible for but the root of that effort was a sham - or at least the doings of his equally loudmouthed wife Shonda. Their method was to scream loudly about their "good work" so no one could ever see through the mirage of their fakeness. Curt Schilling pursued charitable work out of guilt or personal tragedy not out of a kind, caring, giving heart as he tries so hard to have you believe.

Note: I don't bash the charities he's aided, nor do I disrespect the results of his faked efforts. I bash his motivation - personal gain for doing "good". I see his charity work as no different than Charles Manson speaking righteously about the life of Jesus.

Also Note: Curt Schilling was paid more than $114 million dollars in salary during his career. I'm not saying what level of charity is "acceptable" for any person but there's a lot of non-hundred-millionaires in the world giving more of their time and energy and not asking for ANY publicity. Just saying.

Burner of Bridges

Anyone who could be badmouthed - as Curt Schilling was - by former Arizona Diamondbacks owner/Classiest Guy in Sports Jerry Colangelo should be forever banished to the public consciousness' Stockade of Shame. Colangelo didn't just push/shove Curt to the Red Sox, he would have done dirty and disgusting deeds to make sure the deal would get done. Every player in the Diamondback's clubhouse unanimously agreed that he needed to go and even the self-righteous/diva-ish at times/supposed friend and compadre Randy Johnson publicly admitted he could not wait to see him leave! Yet Curt had us all believe that the trade was some mastermind doing of his own geniusness.

He was traded three times before becoming a Phillie (in a deal for Jason Grimsley, oddly enough). There's not much evidence that he was traded those first three times simply because he was an intolerable buffoon, but a case could be made when you analyze the trades and see he was the "throw in" and not the active prinicple until the Grimsley deal.
Let us recap: The Phillies (who also couldn't wait to dump his cancerous and devisive personality) got Travis Lee, Omar Dahl, Nelson Figeroa and Vincente Padilla in return for him... Think about it. Did the D-Backs fleece the Phillies or did the Phillies just take whatever they could get? Think about it further and you'll realize the Phillies graciuosly and willingly fleeced themsleves in the deal.

Let us recap: The D-Backs got a whopping, mind-blowing package of Casey "Hit 'Em to Where They Can't See 'em" Fossum, Brandon Lyon, Jorge De La Rosa and minor leaguer Michael Goss for the "dominant" righthander. Did the D-Backs get robbed blind or was there something else? No need to call Columbo...

Sure, the Red Sox got all they could handle with Curt. And he was a perfect fit! The Duke of Mouth didn't fluster a clubhouse with two affluently petulant superheros (Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez) simply because Curt didn't speak Spanish. The Red Sox - who seem to have been dysfunctional since time began due to geographical, social and logistical reasons - had a bigger battle on their hands (getting big enough to take on Big Brother; the Yankees) than to care for any damage he could do in that clubhouse. He was a largemouthed bass in a pool of ducks. He was harmless in any effort to damage the hodge podge of bogus personalities already in place.

And he still made himself bigger than Babe Ruth to the lemming-ish "Red Sox Nation".

Stay Far Away From the Microphones and Cameras, PLEASE!!!

If any person on this planet not named Rachel Ray stands a chance of singularly making my TV experiences more miserable than Mr. Tim McCarver, it is Red Light Curt... God, PLEASE do not do this to me!!! I had to deal with him when I lived in Philadelphia, when I moved to Phoenix and then watched as his "Journey" moved on to the 24/7 experience of the Northeast Bias channel.

PLEASE let the suffering end!!! (And while you're at it God, a McCarver-Ray head on automobile collison is not too much to ask, is it?)

Dear reader, don't you fail to note for even a second that Today, the day of the last great Curt Schilling tememed news wire (fat chance) it is March 23rd, 2009 but Curt Schilling will forever tout ad nauseum that his final appearance on a big league mound was "as it should be" - a World Series win... in october 2007.

So go long into that great good night and though I could never pray enough that you will be silenced and rendered impotent in the public eye, good riddance - FINALLY!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Regretting Regretting

Regrets, I’ve had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
- “My Way” as recorded by Frank Sinatra

Regrets; we all know them. Some are more potent than others. They poke at us when we want to forget them most. They all stick to us like burrs on a hunting dog’s fur. They make us who we are because they come from who we weren’t. Even the great ones have them.

Hunter S. Thompson, one of America’s true original artists and one of the select handpicked few journalists that could overwhelmingly succeed at making any event enthralling – whether sports related or otherwise – had a tremendous regret: The Rumble in the Jungle.

HST was sent to Zaire to cover Muhammad Ali, his fellow Kentuckian in a battle against the predominant power puncher in his time George Foreman. Thompson met with his wildly talented friend and illustrator Ralph Steadman in Zaire and the event was to be covered in that “Gonzo” styling that had descriptively blown into bits and reassembled the Hell’s Angels, the ’72 Campaign Trail, even chasing down the American Dream in a fearful and loathable Las Vegas. The fight which grew into its own epic organically was primed to be another instant journalistic classic – both cult and natural.

But Thompson never wrote the story. It was his great regret.

As we all know now, Ali outlasted the bigger stronger Foreman and shocked the world despite his vocal bravado and oral brashness. He backed it all up with his body, brains and courage. Thompson thought he knew for sure that his friend from Louisville was toast and couldn’t bear to see the carnage… let alone have to tell the tale afterwards under an imposing deadline. So he gave away his press passes (both his own and to Steadman’s dismay, his illustrator’s/boxing enthusiast’s pass as well) and went swimming in the hotel pool and sipped beers instead thinking about how he could write about experiencing everything EXCEPT the fight to justify the expenditures of his assignment.

Except… Oops! When Ali won, there was no other story. It was THE story – a story that still screams today.

Sure, Thompson missed out on other moments that he could have smashed into bits and put together again with a wisdom only he possessed. It wasn’t always as simple as letting a deadline pass, sometimes it was just the way it had to be – he couldn’t turn Gonzo on whenever he wished and he couldn’t accept anything less than his best. He was there in the fall of Saigon and never submitted a story. He never wrote about Watergate – which is amazing if you think about how much he despised Dick Nixon. No matter how much you can appreciate the moments of triumph, the soul of we, the readers is a devouring beast that wonders why there wasn’t more “magic”… why we don’t have more disgusting beauty to consume… why an American Giant of Storytelling could be so utterly human just like us.

Make the most of your regrets;
Never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it come to have a separate and integral interest.
To regret deeply is to live afresh.

- Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes I sit and think about moments I missed out on – ESPECIALLY when it comes to sports; namely playing baseball.

I think of all the pitches I wish I made instead of those I did, of errors due to mental mistakes instead of fluid physical movements that I had drilled into my utter being through endless sweaty hours of practice, of hitters I drilled in the ribs – maybe not to “do over” but just to experience it one more time. It’s been more than a dozen years since I hurled a pearl and a batter/unsuspecting victim! My mind feels like my body is still in that place - despite my current (older, creakier and appreciably fatter) condition – I can still feel the moment; the air, the ambiance, the grind of competition, the sound of the bustling crowd of dozens, the want of victory… I can still mentally “feel” my delivery, my arm slot and angle, the balance points, the release, my general lack of a follow through and the outcome.

Despite all of these feelings that I can recall so vividly, so clearly, so ‘right here now’-ish – the joy of spectacular effort providing fruition, the moments of physical triumph overcoming physical exhaustion, the sweet sip of victory’s nectar… moments of “leaving it all on the field”. I can recall them when I want. There are those regrets that remind me – I don’t have to ‘try’ to remember them. You can’t escape regerets.

Regretting… all those times I’ve spent regretting.
Remembering all those things you can never forget.

- “Regretting” as recorded by Manny Stiles

As my personal regrets pertain to sports journalism and my experience on the internet there are many regrets. I jumped in head-first into what I thought were deep waters. Perhaps it was naïveté, perhaps it was my stubborn belief that people aren’t complete fakes when they can assume a sense of anonymity (yeah, I guess it IS naïveté) but the Internet seemed to me in 2006 as a deep ocean of possibilities (creatively, socially and expression-ly) only to find myself here three years later bruised, battered and beaten down from diving into crags, rocks with firmly mounted, self-important, all-knowingly and mind-numblingly witless barnacles called “bloggers”.

I regret having to explain myself – even once – in that my “online persona” just happens to be no different than my “Extranet” being. I am a mixed bag indeed but there is nothing to explain for I am really just who I am – which gleefully, is who I WANT to be. I regret taking pride in defending “my turf” instead of remaining objective to the matter – I took being a part of ArmchairGM as a badge of pride. It was fun for me to say that I was contributing to something I felt was worthwhile – a slightly less shallow pool in the urine puddle of sports websites. I regret expecting anything near the effort I put into the site from anyone else.

I regret that it’s a possibility anyone has a reason to think I am a problem, a nuisance, a detriment to this site – but that’s what the experts call a YOU problem, not a “me” problem. I’ve given far more than I ever dared to take.

I have many regrets and I'm sure everyone does.
The stupid things you do, you regret?
If you have any sense and if you don't regret them maybe you're stupid.
- Katherine Hepburn

My Sports Regrets

I regret not trying harder to get press passes to the Super Bowl in Glendale in 2007 (by “harder” I mean “at all”)

I regret not going to any of the games (1,2,6,7) of the 2001 World Series. I was not a Diamondbacks fan but I hated the Yankees, so I should have gone anyway! Oddly enough, I also regret never seeing a game at Yankee Stadium.

I regret not attending any of games 3,4,5 of the 1993 World Series as even though I was not a Phillies fan, I was living in Philly at that time.

I regret trying out for the Cubs in 1994. I tried out for a couple other teams and was scouted throughout 1992-1994 (make no mistake, I had the physical tools but I know I didn’t have the makeup or support system to have ever been more than a AA scrub) but it was at that invite camp in Quakertown, PA that I first felt “that pain” in my shoulder and was indeed the beginning of the end for my playing career. I regret that I tried to impress a handful of scouts only two days after striking out 12 and allowing 2 hits in 8 innings – which was attended by some of the same scouts. I should have never thrown a single pitch that day – but as invincible as I was then in those days I stupidly and unimpressively pitched to 8 batters. I also regret that a fellow Temple University pitcher was signed from the same camp that day – and made it all the way to a short career as a AA scrub.

I regret not shoving Jose Canseco back when he threw a shoulder into me at a baseball card convention in 1988. Sure, I was barely 15 at the time but I was already taller than him (maybe he shoved me out of envy of my height; or more likely ‘roid rage) and what was he going to do to a kid? Kids nowadays would do it with the bravery knowing a lawsuit was a slam dunk.

I regret letting my brothers and their threats of lawsuits de-rail, taint and suck the joy out of my “Tampa Bay Rays Charity Blogger” experience. Their ignorance, closed-mindedness and social retardedness was my motivation in pursuing the experience in the first place. But when the ball started rolling and luck shined on me, they changed the tone of my effort and essentially bullied me into submission. By the time I tried to pick up the pieces again in June, the damage was done and the thrill was gone. I haven’t spoken with either of those two since and I will beat their asses the next time I see them. And I won’t regret that!

I regret not harassing the Yankees clubhouse more when I had the chance.

I regret not asking Elijah Dukes to come back to my house to share some bong hits. I felt so sorry for that guy (the day of the “You Dead, Dawg!” and calling into the Tampa radio show ‘event’, when the Rays were in Phoenix) and he clearly needed someone to get him stoned. But maybe if I did, I would have regretted messing with a Bull (-sized human being in an unstable place in his life). I don’t regret stating profusely that he is NOT a bad guy or defending him (or Delmon Young for that matter).

I regret not writing more about Matt LaPorta.

I regret not doing an in-depth interview with Arizona Fall League creator and former MLB GM/multiple Exec-of-the-year award winner Rollie Hemond. I had many conversations with him during my time at AFL but never bothered to ask him to sit down so I could pick his brain and hear the tales he lived through... duh.

I regret not thoroughly interviewing Evan Longoria at Arizona Fall League in 2007 instead of just babbling, goo-goo and gah-gaahing at him. I guess that goes for J.P. Arencibia as well in 2008.

I regret not harassing Jimmy Rollins more when I had the chance (November 2008, just a few weeks after the World Series). I ESPECIALLY regret not wearing my Rays hat that night as well.

I regret not shoving my way around the track at my (so far) only NASCAR event but – to be honest – I didn’t really know what I was doing there anyway.

I regret not forcing Sports Shaman into doing a tarot reading for the entire NCAA tournament this year.

I regret throwing away a crap load of what would have been decent articles as comments when no one reads them anyway.

I regret not having more interesting and funny things to regret.

And then there’s the one regret that I have that I can still remedy: I regret making every article idea turn into an epic. I am long for words and expansive on ideas but I have learned that this one regret is lesson in distribution, not productivity. From now on, I will aim for a mix of quality and quantity without proportion; not attempting to cram both worlds into one. Unless the concept absolutely requires it, I won’t be posting more than 1,000-1,200 words in an article any more. I’ve finally given into the game everyone else plays. And I’m wasting my time spitting, pissing and vomiting my words into the wind.

Maybe that will be my next regret…

How now, my lord, why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard: what's done, is done.

- Lady MacBeth as written (supposedly) by William Shakespeare in the play MacBeth

What are your great sports regrets?
So – the comments section is down there.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Open Mic Snobs vs. Karaoke Elitists/Queens: An Expose on Sucking at Sucking

I don't claim to be the greatest or most technically proficient musician or vocalist in the world but I can fake it well enough and I love to entertain a crowd. I attend open mic nights and karaoke events whenever I can. It's fun to me. I love music, I love making a total ass out of myself and these things usually occur at establishments with liquor licenses. It's a perfect storm for some wilings and stilings. But I am a world-class critic and easily dis-entertained by things most people wouldn't care to notice let alone by which to feel annoyed. Alas, there is heaven and hell, fire and ice, friction and lubrication with everything in life - so it goes with Open Mic nights and Karaoke bars.

Three things you can count on from Mr. Manny Stiles - as an artist - is as follows: something different, something interesting (at best or at worst) and something you wouldn't have ever considered doing. That's not only true for my "music" but any creation I undertake - as indicated by my writings in this blog, for example.

Maybe I don't have the same outlook or hard and fast rules of public behavior as most and maybe I don't follow all the accepted guidelines of the proper procedures for artistic conduct but I don't hold anyone to my mores and predetermined/prejudged methods either. I mean, I'm not shitting all over the stage and smearing it on myself and calling it "art" but from a theoretical and expressionist view - perhaps I am.

There's always going to be people in any organized realm that think they know better for everyone. People who think they are the "In crowd" unwittingly serving the purpose of "biggest suckers"/"beloved patrons". They occur in every realm. These are the same type of people who know every detail about the next soon-to-be-marketed blockbuster movie, the latest gossip about the most minor and forgettable Hollywood 'starlet' and all the essential manipulations to --- insert a science fiction/fantasy realm game/book/what-have-you here ----. They are consumers at large to the most devouring order. They take non-essential knowledge and apply a distorted value to it to greater fluff their listless egos.

These are the same people who despite all this intricate knowledge and minutia in wares of entertainment probably couldn't tell you the name of their next door neighbor, spend more time and money on television/computer leisure and anaerobic indoor recreation than their mental, physical or spiritual well being and certainly rarely get the opportunity to locate Dr. Grafenberg's spot. Their heaven on earth is a selfish environment of escapism and futilely non-social. Consuming the product is more important than poking one's head behind the veil of illusion. That's the way the game works - all behind the veil know how much it sucks and also know that they are out of business if everyone lost that magic ability to suspend their disbelief (or grow a sense of disbelief in some people's case).

Regardless, these people exist across the spectrum of life's experiences. I only use the movie/video game/techno nerd as an example because 1) we ALL know at least one of these dorks, 2) they are easy to pick on and 3) I'm definitely not one of them! Sure, I could have used fish geek aquariasts, green-thumbed amateur botanists, kitchen-scratchers (at-home tattoo artists), Internet reverends, bastardized Anthony Bourdains or wannabe gynecologists-at-large... all of which yes, I am guilty as self-imposed. For anyone like myself who has a passion, a hobby, an activity of instant bliss, an all-powerful obsession... we all are "specialists" without proper certification in our own little worlds. We are all pseudo-celebrities to our own fan base.

In the life-affirming realm of Open Mic night, these walking hat racks are called "snobs". These are usually guys in cover tune garage bands that have too narrow a musical palate, are overly dedicated to one finite (and typically out-dated) genre or seemingly only know how to play only the same 4-7 songs (if that) over and over ad nauseum. These people have an air of importance that rivals any bonafide Rock Star's. And it's not just an exercise in inward projection turned outward, it's not just masturbation of the ego and it's not just utter ignorance.

It's the lights. It's the stage. It's adrenaline. It's a disproportionate understanding of the universal order. It's the ability to say "Thank you" to a crowd when you really mean "Fuck you for not loving me MORE! Now pay me your meager alms, you pigfuckers!",

Most Open Mic snobs fail to realize that small moment where it's a rush to them, but a drag to us. That just because our ears are open it doesn't mean we wish we could cut them off. That a good majority of the crowd is there for one of two reasons 1) it's a bar or 2) they're just waiting for THEIR turn and - here's the kicker - just because we're clapping, it isn't necessarily "applause". Sometimes a clap is an expression of relief more than of support.

Karaoke Elitists/Queens are a similar breed to Open Mic Snobs except on the grand scheme of things they are FAR weaker in courage and further down the artistic ladder due to the nature of the beast. Most Open mic night "All-Stars" are typically engaged in helping to create the music where as the Open Mic Elitists/Queens are singing to pre-recorded tracks. Many people find it easier to sing than to play an instrument in front of a crowd. Think about it, there's a reason people play "air guitar" than lip-synching. There's far more people singing in the shower than playing a musical instrument in the shower. And save for "steering wheel drums" the same is true while driving about in the family automobile.

BUT, Karaoke Elitists/Queens are far and away more vile and disgusting creeps when it comes to their levels of self importance. Lead Vocalist Syndrome has killed many a successful band on this premise and devoured countless groups before the wheels of success ever touched the ground. Nothing succumbs to the power of a microphone in the hands of a person who fails to notice that the sound of their voice INSIDE their head (where the ear ACTUALLY functions) does differ from the sound outside their head (where our ears ACTUALLY function). It's a small bit of information to put in your pocket - it's the reason everyone seems to think their voice sounds "different" when they hear it recorded. No, Elitist/Queen THAT IS ACTUALLY YOUR VOICE being produced by your vocal cords and your ears receiving those sound waves when they are resonating further than 2-3 inches apart from each other in your gigantic, dense gourd you call a head!!!

To make matters worse - remember those movie/TV/computer "In Crowd" peoples I mentioned earlier? These morons are now being empowered by their outlets of consumption to join the fray as so-called participants. For every viewer of American Idol is another Karaoke Elitist just waiting to sip the nectar of the spotlight. For every Rock Band video game enthusiast is another otherwise fine 6-string gently weeping while gathering more and more dust. Unawareness breeds with itself and makes a nasty concoction of putrid filth for the rest of us - who care about the world in which we are participating - to sort through/tolerate/make fun of on our puny blogs to save money we would otherwise burn on therapy.

Oh gee, another drunk girl plowing through a Dixie Chicks song... awesome. Another hack painfully beating on an innocent guitar while anti-rhythmically fumbling through "All Along the Watchtower". Great. Where's my cyanide capsules when I need them? No, I'm not "better" than these people nor do I feel more righteous or more superior just because they can suck the life out of a room faster than ricin. I feel sorry for them. Sorry to the point that I wish I was dead instead of living in a world were these fucksticks will walk off stage - GLOWING - as if they just won the lottery, a Nobel prize and two Oscars at the same time; empowered to return next week with - oh, so predictably - the very same, exact bag of trick (Yes, such a delightful bag of trick) for our utter bemusement, once again. Huzzah!

To be fair, Snobs and Elitists/Queens are NOT to be confused with people of exceptional talent. people with true artistic talent and expression are welcomed to be the biggest assholes in the world as long as their production doesn't suffer the consequences. I've always believed that when it comes to true talent and proven expertise, there is ALWAYS room for entitlement - IN THAT REALM. There's no reason Michael Jordan should expect anything less than for me to fellate him in exchange for a game of H-O-R-S-E; but he has no right to expect the same from his doctor, accountant or even the incompetent buffoons working at PetSmart. Entitlement stays only in your realm.

Then there are the occasional, freek people like myself that are from the other end of the spectrum - no, the other end... like the back edge of the spectrum - genuinely talentless AND enthusiastically anti-caring of your preconceptions or judgments! I'm going up there for one purpose only - to defy the rules and to do my best to make you shit your pants laughing. I only have fun when everyone else has fun with me!

So next time I'm at your local open mic performing some variation of "Clit Licker in a Cocksucker's World", "I Gotta Kill My Fucking Cat" or "Shut Up and Blow Me" or at your favorite karaoke bar wailing out "I Touch Myself", "Genie in a Bottle" or "It's Raining Men", don't fret - you'll get a mind full of imagery you probably weren't expecting and didn't seek, a belly full of chuckles without hurting your eardrums and definitely your money's worth (mostly because I REFUSE to perform at any establishment that charges a cover charge for these events) - just buy me a drink and we'll loudly and obnoxiously criticize the snobs and Elitists/Queens together!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Conglomerated Realmspace (200903A)

Life in a Northern Town by Manny Stiles

Traverse City, MI - In case you didn't know already, I have relocated from the Valley of the Sun to the Cherry Capital of the World, Traverse City, Michigan. I traded "it's a dry heat" for "you need to wear layers". Far, far away from any serious metropolis, between the pinky and the ring finger of the Lower Peninsula/"mitt", is a quaint, get-away-from-it-all town at the base of a smaller peninsula at the bottom of the two arms of Grand Traverse Bay.

It might as well be Canada.

Luckily (that's sarcasm) Mr. Stiles arrived in town in the dead of the deadest winter in most Local's memories. Colder, Snowier and Drearier (Yes, they are capital words in this sentence) than any Winter on record - and topping off the proverbial fun is a local feeling that not even the almighty President Obama can inspire hope ''here''. There are undertones of despair for the economy (unemployment is drastically high locally), there is little hope for the future (schools, public servant-ry and local government are threatened by cutbacks/closures and all scarily under-funded and under-supported) and the flavor of the local "sports" scene is - at least to this metropolitan-tinged author, in a newly invented word - beyondesolate.

But this is the price you pay to be "on the water" and far away from "the rat race", traffic and pollution; far away from the "ghettos", gangs and urban warfare; far away from likely terrorist targets, nuclear mishaps or imminent disasters that threaten life in the population hubs. It's ''nearly'' life as it should be - living for life's sake; living off the land; living at your own pace; life under the dome of sky and Sun. Yes, time moves slower here and what dominates the sports scene isn't the usual/typical fare.

Sure, it's easy to trash a local sports scene when the [[Detroit Lions]] are prominently involved, but even the Mighty [[Detroit Red Wings]] are a veritable blip in this town - and this is the town in which the Red Wings hold their Preseason Camp! I've met ONE die-hard Tigers fan and I'm not sure anyone follows the Pistons beyond whether they won or lost last night. Sports is the residual conversation when all the typical talk of the weather, hunting, fishing, fixing boats/snow machines/tractors/shotguns/tools/snowplows/snowblowers/other assorted vehicles, Michael Moore (he's a much ballyhooed and very disliked "local"), views on politics, Fudgies (the bastards from "Down State"), Youpers (the bastards from the Upper Peninsula) and all things religion has dried up.

It's a different fan base - an invisible glow of supreme not caring; it's as if Sports isn't one of the basic life needs! I know! Can you imagine? No, professional sports is a prime resident of Back Burnerville here in the great "Up North". I might be the only "Sports is my Crack"-head in the surrounding five counties!

The local TV sports coverage often starts out with ''High School'' Girls basketball!!! Maybe I really am "too urban" (grew up in Philly, spent nearly a decade in Phoenix) for Cherryville, U.S.A. but the only time I've ever seen High School girls basketball on the news is... well... NEVER! Snowmobile races, cross country skiing, even the local fishing and hunting reports get priority coverage over the pro sports teams in Detroit or even NASCAR - yes, even NASCAR is an after-afterthought. And I'm cool with it.

Sure, it's a change of pace; closer to the Earth and in tune with the surroundings more. Hell, I love fishing - really do (when the ice is melted)!. I love eating recently slaughtered game for dinner, I have a nice garden to tend to this year (I'm very excited about that) and I might even ride a snow machine eventually... it's kind of relaxing being disconnected from the "mainstream" media. My blood pressure is certifiably "normal", I don't wake up with the shakes for the latest "Top Story" (which always seem to be recycled/repackaged "Old" stories with a spiffy new shine) on the foul-ish four-letter network and what-used-to-be-necessary news is now a casual "meh" by all regards. I've got a new perspective on the Sports World and on life in general. I used to think "It is what it is" but now I realize "it is what you make it out to be".

Life in a Northern Town has been good for me so far. The days are slower, I'm learning more than I ever thought I would know about shotguns - without even trying - just by overhearing conversations, I'm enjoying time more and so what if Spring Training has started and it was a balmy -11 degrees (that's Fahrenheit) yesterday?

Pardon me as I get back to sorting my flannel shirts by color.

Crumbs in the 'Chair by Manny Stiles
NBA Division
*So the Suns (namely GM/Robert Sarver's Knobshiner Steve Kerr) fired Terry Porter then blamed the team for not playing tougher defense. Oddly enough, just a few measly weeks ago that same GM/Knobshiner TRADED AWAY THE TEAM'S two best defensive players (Raja Bell and Boris Diaw) for JASON RICHARDSON!!! Gotta love that anti-logic!

*Mavericks, Suns... Doesn't matter who gets that Number 8 seed in the West. Seriously, it doesn't matter!

*LeBron is at that stage where it's put up or prepare for the end. He's got a team around him that is suitable and capable enough. If he doesn't take them to the Championship this year - whether he leaves Cleveland or not - he will NEVER win a Championship. The field is ripe for picking.

*The Celtics are vulnerable (and old).

*The Magic are young and inexperienced.

*Don't let the Lakers fool you - they can win one game at a time and perhaps endure long enough to win the #1 seed in the West, but they are not built for a tough series with a dominant swing player like #23.

*Besides, the Spurs are the REAL team to beat in the West - Despite adding the human monkeywrench in the works, Drew Gooden.

*LeBron is teetering on "The Moment". He's as good as we all think he is, but if he's going to be as great as we think he should be - NOW - is the time! If he goes to another city, his star celebrity (and contract) will handcuff the franchise. Stars carry teams, but teams win Championships!

MLB Division
*I like what the Yankees and Red Sox have done in the offseason - tore up their blueprints and reacted to the Rays. The Rays are still going according to planned, even if they were one year ahead of schedule...

*The Yankees are going to struggle with cohesion (but could still win 120 games on paper) and the new additions will have to adjust to the toxicity of the Big Apple spotlight. Me thinks Tex and CC aren't exactly ultra-suited for the onslaught and will press too hard to make good impressions - or failing to make good impressions, will drown in over-weighted expectations.

*The Red Sox got old.... quick! The additions they made were of little consequence. I love John Smoltz, but 'John Smoltz, Red Sox pitcher' REEKS of the Pete Rose game. Nice knowing you, Smoltzie!

*What's weirder? John Smoltz, Red Sox, or Garrett Anderson, Braves? Guys playing that long with one franchise and leaving for another is never a winning combination.

*I know what's weirder: [[Randy Johnson]], San Francisco Giant. HOW did this take so long??? All players over 6'8" should automatically be assigned to the Giants. it just makes sense!

*Weirder yet.... Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners... Poor guy. I know striking out to end the ALDS against the Rays wasn't how you wanted to go out, but this REALLY won't end pretty. Nostalgia is over-rated, though I suppose it pays well.

*Why do I have the feeling that we'll hear more about [[Curt Schilling]] and [[Barry Bonds]] than any of us wants to, wishes to or deserves to? The only "happy ending" to their careers would be if they were locked in a small room together so they could inflate their egos until they both died and left us all alone!

*Maybe the Tigers will have a 2009 that was supposed to be their 2008?

*Can someone call the people at one of the leading toothpick manufacturers (I'm assuming there is more than one) and get Dusty Baker an endorsement deal before it's too late? Maybe it is already too late.

*The Cubs - HA HA HA HA HA Ha hahahahahahha!!! Yeah. (wipes tear from eye) Sorry, that had to be done.

*$100 says Frankie Rodriguez doesn't break the NL saves record.

*$100 says [[Jose Reyes]] is certain to start the season off with a bang! And then he'll get injured.

*The Phillies took a step backward. I know they didn't necessarily love Pat "the Twat" Burrell, but Raul Ibanez is far more myth than legend. Plus, now that Brad Lidge exercised his demons, isn't it time for him to become Brad Lidge again? Yeah, I think so. But don't think this is me rooting for the Mets, Braves or Marlins.

*What can Evan Longoria do to better his 2008? Anything Evan Longoria wants! Take note - NO Rays player had a career year! Longo, C.C., B.J., Kaz, Carlos Pena, Dioner Navarro... these guys ALL missed significant chunks of their respective season. A HEALTHY Rays club has no limits - hype, pressure, expectations? Throw 'em out the window if this team stays healthy in 2009. They're only getting BETTER!

*I want to like the Washington Nationals. I really do. Maybe if I start to like them, they can get good next year! Without the mad hatter, a.k.a. Jim Bowden around, it's not impossible!

*I'm glad no one made me into a Royals fan. I simply don't understand what they are pretending to do. It's not just sad, it bafflingly sad.

*Here's hoping Manny Ramirez doesn't stimulate the economy too much. I pity the Dodgers. Someone should shove a stick in them and lick their stickiness until you get to the chewy center.

*In case you missed the memo, the 1999 All-Star Reunion Tour is showing exclusively in Oakland. See? A bad economy IS good for the small-market teams! At least until May. Hope there's enough ben-gay to go around!

*The Toronto Blue Jays got better and no one will notice - except the Orioles.*The WBC is going to be a ratings screamer. If you have an ample supply of nitrous oxide and amyl nitrates on hand. I love baseball as much as anyone but I cannot force myself to get excited for this...

Special Dedication
"Goodbye, Good Friend"
It comes with sadness that I dedicate this post to my loving friend and companion who recently passed away. He was always there when I needed him and never complained (much) about me or the things I did that make me who I am. He was kind, shared his heart passionately with me and we had a special bond that I can never dream to replace or find again. As he died quietly in my arms yesterday, he took a beautiful, special piece of me with him...

He was a cherished member of my family. But after days and weeks of suffering, he finally and thankfully found his peace.

I will miss you, my family will miss you and your brother will miss you!

You were the best cat I'll ever know!

R.I.P. Ricardo Alphonso Grometti-Kombol, a.k.a. "Grommet" (2001 - 2009)

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Manny Stiles takes the Big Splash on MFK

(originally posted at

What took me so long?

Hello! You have no idea what you might be in for!

I'm obsessed with my fish. Not in a Troy McClure way, but not far from it. I study, read about, obsess over and stare at my fish for a large part of an average day. My wife, my kids and my other pets deep down inside wish they recieved the attentiveness that my aquarian friends do...

The tanks are my solace, and their inhabitants are my soap operas. I am at peace when I am cleaning a filter. I am one with ohm when I vaccum substrate. I dream in H2O. I have eyelids and I don't have gills, but sometimes... I don't have to imagine very hard to know how they would feel if I did... I was probably a fish in a past life (or two). And I most likely probably eaten by a guy just like me!

Fish is mmm, mmm good food, too!I enjoy catching (and many times releasing), gutting (and examining), cooking (Got recipes?) and eating (I can eat more than you) fish as well. And don't get me started on the topic of sushi!!!

When I die, I want to sleep with the fishes (since not too many fish would eat my ashes).

Thank God for the Fifth Day.

Obviously, I enjoy writing as well as many other hobbies (thus, "Manny Stiles") but despite my array of time consuming pursuits I look back and have no idea how I existed before I owned an aquarium!

Welcome me aboard y'all! I want to keep you as entertained as well as you have already kept me informed!!!I've been here 3 times and I LOVE this site@!!!

About me - I'm OUT there... google my user name (if you dare) - believe it all and disregard it just the same. Normally, I write about sports - I am a Tampa Bay Rays fan, but not because the are fish, nor because a ray killed Steve Irwin... long story... but I wanted to share my passion of aquaria by whirring it in my blender of Stilistic wordcrafting/destroying the typical standards for story construction. There, you have effectively been warned!

I am the "pet" of a Blue Cherax Crayfish (Carl Crawfish), adored by my other crustaceans (I have taught some of my older ghost shrimp tricks! Dave Letterman/Stupid Pet tricks, here I come!) and quality friends with my other odd arrangement of species.

If I wasn't married already and it was legal, I would marry my female Texas Cichlid "Pigger" - she is so sweet and loves me as much as I love her! She cheers me up when I am down, she loves to listen and never lets petty B.S. get between us and our dynamic relationship. Plus she never complains when I leave the toilet seat up... but she can't cook to save her life... Wifey 1, Pigger 1/2.... No doubt, I will gush disgustingly about the merits of North America's finest cichlid. And slander you with esoteric insults if you call 'em "Rio Grande Perches"... save us both the trouble and don't do it!

Anyway, prepare for the madness! I promise I really won't irritate you (too much)

__________________Excuse me as I molt my exoskeleton...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The 30 Second Promo to Spelloids: a webbing pile of blog

by Senior Emanuel Estillez, aka Dr Commento, aka the shameless self promoting prick among needles, Manny Stiles...