We Pay a Price for Wal-Mart

SIDE STORY: Every now and then at work I will get the “People Of Wal-Mart” e-mails forwarded to me.  Even though I shouldn’t laugh, I always do…and then I read the caption and lose it even more. Sometimes multiple people in our cluster of offices will get the e-mail at the same time and I will be able to hear my boss laughing all the way down the hall and to the right in her office.
However, some of these pictures have started to get pretty outrageous. Like so outrageous that there is no way someone actually entered the store looking like that without the intention of having a friend take a picture of them so they could make the site.  Sorry, I do not believe that anyone would enter Wal-Mart to do some shopping while dressed up as a police officer on six foot stilts or that someone would walk in fully dressed up as a devil with professionally done makeup that probably took 4 hours to apply. No, I do not believe someone would come into Wal-Mart pushing a SKUNK in her cart, and no, I do not believe that Wal-Mart employees would have allowed the man on the motorized shopping cart to use it to pull his pet goat behind him. Furthermore, I don’t buy for one second that women actually believe they can go into the store with no pants on or that the lady who wore the torn HOSPITAL GOWN into Wal-Mart really did so because it was her choice of wardrobe for that day.
If pressed to guess, I would say that 60% of the photos on “People of Wal-Mart” are legit. All the others are staged. Still really funny though.  
I admit it, I am one of those people who makes fun of Wal-Mart yet shops there weekly. I am one of those people who think it is wrong that they “force” senior citizens to greet people at the doors but yet I always take a cart from them. I am one of those people who would fight tooth and nail against a Wal-Mart moving into my neighborhood but once I lost that battle and Wal-Mart did open up shop a quarter of a mile away from my house I would probably be making daily trips to the store. I am one of those people who maintains that I would never buy one of their cheap knock off brands but yet if you look in my cupboard you will see a Great Value jar of peanut butter.  I am one of those people who say I sympathize with small businesses in their fight against this corporate giant but If I need my oil changed I am going to Wal-Mart instead of my Missoula mechanic.
When it comes to Wal-Mart, I am one big old hypocrite.
I think a lot of people are this way too, though.  Wal-Mart is a corporation that personifies everything that a bully is. They take over territory, push the little guy out of business, and go along with many questionable business practices. But we still go there.
What is ironic is that ignoring our personal convictions and our realization that Wal-Mart is a bully is just the start of what we concede whenever we step through the doors at Wally World. Basically, each time we go there we put ourselves through a long, frustrating, agonizing experience. Let me explain.
Going to Wal-Mart is usually a trip from Hell. As soon as you enter the parking lot you got to immediately be aware of all directions around you: Straight ahead you got cars coming at you with people operating them who have absolutely no business holding a drivers’ license (many of them probably don’t even have one), to your left side you got some drunk panhandling bum trying to get $0.67 from you, to your right side you got some people who look like they were taken off the set of “The Hills Have Eyes” sitting in lawn chairs trying to sell pit bull puppies, and behind you there is usually some dude who thought it would be cool to ride his four wheeler to W-M. But we still go there.
 After you navigate all of these distractions you then have to perform the task of actually parking. I have been to sporting events where over 100,000 people are in attendance and those parking lot situations are much less dire than the cluster I seem to always experience at Wal-Mart. First of all, the traffic congestion is terrible. In between the rows of parking spots, traffic goes both ways but there is never enough room for two cars to co-exist in the lane. Cars have to stop, let the other guy go by, and then go themselves. This takes up a lot of time and traffic gets backed up. There are never enough parking spots within a respectable walking distance to the store either. Do people really have nothing better to do than go to Wal-Mart? If you are lucky enough to find a decent parking spot that is not occupied by another car your joy usually turns to anger as there is either one or two shopping carts positioned in the unoccupied spot because Wal-Mart attracts very lazy people who can’t push their cart to the nearest rack or it is impossible to pull in because one of the two cars (usually both) are parked so moronically that not even the most skilled drivers would have a shot at it. I always look for the Helen Keller Valet Service that W-M has to provide to explain some of these park jobs but I must say I am still looking. So after all this heartache you have still not even entered the store yet. But we still go there.
Once you enter the store you actually enter a zoo. It is crowded, it is uncivilized, it is bush league. I had the great idea of going to Wal-Mart later at night to beat the madness but it didn’t help…it was still packed. You have to remember, the people operating the shopping carts are the same people who are operating the cars parked outside. Obviously, this makes for a survival of the fittest type scenario inside the store as people show absolutely no regard for others. Once some of these people start pushing a cart they will cut you off, bump into you, stop dead cold in the middle of the aisle, push the cart real fast and then hop on the back like a little kid, operate it so erratically that it is a guessing game of if they are going to go right or left, and/or just push it with the attitude that they have the golden cart and the aisle should just part like the Red Sea whenever they go do down it. I propose that each Wal-Mart cart comes with a breathalyzer test and an IQ test. In order to operate a cart you must pass both…I have not figured out which one would need to be administered first. Whenever you go into a Wal-Mart store you definitely run the risk of suffering serious injury and/or death as the result of a cart running into you. But we still go there.
When it is time to check out I literally want to check out. I have seen every single check out line open and there are still lines that seem to be a mile long. Pretty much you are going to be standing in line for a while and that pretty much means you are going to overhear some conversations you probably did not want to overhear. It gets very annoying. A Wal-Mart line is not a normal grocery store/drug store/retail store line. When you are in a Wal-Mart line you are going to witness a myriad of scenarios that take place, each one taking way longer than any normal transaction should. You have the food stamp people, you have the coupon people, you have the gift card people, you have the “I am going to pay my $30 total in all change” people, you have the group of three who are all going to “chip in a little” people, and you have the people who will go through and use a combination of three or four of these methods I just outlined. You know what my absolute biggest pet peeve about lines at Wal-Mart is though? People who are too dumb to count. I always use the express line but I might as well just use any of the check out lines because people blatantly ignore the 10 item limit, 20 item limit, etc. It is flat out ridiculous. If you have a cart full of crap, please refrain from using the express lane. I feel Wal-Mart should have a digital counter for everyone in line to see. It would count each item the shopper is purchasing as it is scanned. The minute the shopper goes over the limit, lights flash and store security comes out and ushers the violator away to a holding cell where they have to wait a full hour until they are able to purchase their items in the appropriate line. Please Wal-Mart shoppers, use some consideration and common sense. We give away way too much time waiting in W-M check out lines. But we still go there.
Are we forced to go to a store that is a well-established bully while putting ourselves through driving risks, parking horrors, shopping hysteria, check out line madness, and many other inconveniences that I neglected to mention because of the length of this post? No. But we still go there.
Of course the reason why most people (myself included) go to Wal-Mart is because it is cheap and convenient. Prices are considerably less than other stores and it serves as a one-stop destination in many cases. Still, I am amazed at what myself and others put up with in order to save a few bucks and maybe a trip or two. I guess what I am interested in is at what point do people forgo the cheap and convenient options that Wal-Mart offers and go elsewhere? I know what the answer is for me: I will not set foot in Wal-Mart if I am in a bad mood, if it is near the holidays, if I don’t want to drive too far (I live further away from Wal-Mart than other stores), or if I just want a quiet shopping experience. However, if I had a bigger backbone and stood up more for what I believe in then I would not set foot in Wal-Mart period. Until I grow that bigger backbone though it looks like you will still find me at Wal-Mart on Sunday evenings buying peanut butter. Don’t Blink.

The Case of Boise State’s Blue Turf

The past couple of days lots of discussion has centered on Boise State and their blue turf. This has been a popular topic because the Mountain West Conference ruled that Boise State will not be allowed to wear their all blue uniforms for conference home games. While this alone has generated a lot of debate about the turf, it has also led to the even broader subject of whether Boise State should have blue turf at all. I first want to give my reaction to the specific ruling the MWC handed down and then I will get to the bigger topic of the smurf turf in general.
Basically what I have to say to the Mountain West’s decision that Boise State can’t wear their all blues for conference home games is THANK YOU. This decision really is a no-brainer. Have you ever watched  a game on television when BSU is in their all blues? It kind of makes you sick trying to keep track of the action on the field because the players do blend into the field and it makes for a terrible picture. They say it is even worse in person. To say this is the exact same thing as when a team with green home jerseys play their home games on green turf is ridiculous. First off, the team is not wearing green pants. Even if they were, it would not be that big of a deal because green fields are the norm in football. Each team is adjusted to seeing green. They say it takes some time for visiting teams to initially adjust to the blue turf itself at Bronco Stadium. I am fine with this little piece of home field advantage, but it goes a little too far when after you do finally adjust to the blue turf, you then have to adjust to all blue football players on that blue turf. Until Boise State got their surface, it was unprecedented but now it has to be dealt with.

Secondly, blue is just a tougher color to see than green. On this point I am not even talking about the adjustment factor I just described, I am talking about colors in general. The color green (specifically the shade of green that is grass)  is simply an easier color on the eyes than the smurf color blue that Boise State uses for their uniforms/logos/turf. Boise State wearing their all blue uniforms at home stretches a unique home field advantage they already have a little too far. The MWC made the correct decision.

However, I want to focus mostly on the debate that has raged over the past couple days about whether Boise State should just get rid of its blue turf in general. Besides unfair, people have described it as cheesy, gimmicky, and too unorthodox. This morning, Dan Patrick said on his radio show that Boise State should retire its blue turf for good so they could be known solely for having a powerhouse football program as opposed to a school that has a powerhouse football program AND a crazy, wacky blue playing surface. Patrick said that the smurf turf is so wrapped up into the Boise State football identity that it kind of gets in the way of their playing accomplishments. Interesting point.
I want to make it very clear where I stand: Yes, I agree with the MWC’s decision to not allow Boise State to wear their all blues at home. But I do support 100% the blue turf in general. Patrick views the mixed identity of Boise State Football as a solid program with a different field in a negative light. I happen to view it more positively. The blue turf gives BSU personality, it gives them something different, it gives them another reason to stick out as they are a western program in a sport that is dominated and centralized on the east coast and in the south.  What happens (and it surely will at one point or the other down the road) if Boise State stops winning. If they were to get rid of their blue turf they would have no identity at all…no longer the school with the powerhouse program and no longer the school with the crazy, unique turf.  If they kept it, though, they would still be known for something and they would still be getting their highlights shown on Sportscenter because all the people 2,000 miles away from this weird thing called smurf turf will still have an interest in it and Scott Van Pelt, Stan Everett, and Jon Anderson will still have jokes to quip. The national exposure will still be there. That is the biggest flaw in Patrick’s opinion. Wins will come and go, but if left alone, that turf will always be blue.
I really badly want to address Eastern Washington’s bright red “inferno” turf but I will not just because I work for a rival institution in the same conference. It is not really of good taste to voice my negative or positive opinion of it. I will let you folks guess though: Do you think I support Eastern’s turf for many of the same reasons I support Boise State’s turf or do you feel I dismiss it as a stupid copy cat attempt that resulted in the worst looking turf ever in a football stadium? Ask me sometime, I will tell you.
But back to the subject at hand. Kudos to the Mountain West Conference for making a very necessary decision and kudos to the Bronco Nation for taking pride in their smurf turf. I hope they hold onto it forever. It Is better to be known than not known at all. Don’t Blink.

Los Angeles Trip 2011: Great time with my brother

Last night I returned from Los Angeles, California, capping off a weekend of Dodger Baseball and sunshine for my brother and I. Up until last Friday, I had never spent any significant time in Los Angeles before. It was nice to explore a city that is so important to the country.
Glen and I took off from the Spokane International Airport early in the morning on Friday. We flew into Salt Lake City and had a one hour layover there before flying into LAX. Once we got our luggage we took a shuttle from the airport to our hotel. When traveling, I always tend to opt for using shuttles/cabs as opposed to rental cars. Especially in a new city, I feel it is less stressful to leave the driving up to people who know the surroundings. Besides, typically on vacations most people relax with having a few drinks and drinking and driving is never okay, especially when you are using someone else’s car and you are in an unfamiliar city.
We got to our hotel, the J.W. Marriott, at around 1:30pm on Friday. Located right in the middle of L.A. Live in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, I knew our hotel was going to be nice, I did not know it was going to be as luxurious as it was though. We walked into the doors of the hotel  and immediately we were greeted by hotel employees offering us complimentary fruit punch and lemonade drinks while welcoming us to the property. Our eyes starting going from side to side as we examined the beautiful, modern lobby with brightly colored decorations and very contemporary furniture. We proceeded to the registration desk and got top notch service from our hotel representative. We got our room keys and went  up to the 19th floor where our guestroom was. Just as hip and modern as the lobby and with a view over L.A. Live, it was pretty cool.

                                The lobby/lounge area at the J.W. Marriott

Our first order of business was to go to a restaurant called the Yardhouse, a place known for having over 130 beers on tap and a delicious food menu. We were going to meet Glen’s friend, Chelsea, for lunch. Glen knows Chelsea from high school and this past summer they played on the same Hoopfest team. They were rolling through their bracket until Chelsea tore her ACL, ending their tournament run. We ate lunch and got Chelsea’s recommendations on what to do during our time in LA. After lunch Glen and I went to the hotel lounge and had a couple drinks and then hopped on a cab and went to Chavez Ravine,  the neighborhood area where Dodger Stadium is located. Before going to the stadium,  we roamed  the streets of Chavez Ravine. This neighborhood is very ethnic and crime is prevalent but it was a great eye opener and a change of pace for us. We went inside some random bar and had a couple beers before walking over to Dodger Stadium. Dodger Stadium is situated on a hill and to access it, you have to do some walking. We were so excited to get into the stadium that the walk did not bother us at all. Right when we entered the stadium we got Dodger Dogs and beers and went down to the front row behind the Dodger dugout to watch batting practice. We had a great time watching players, coaches, and media walk right in front of us. There were also many Dodger legends walking around too (George Foster, Fernando Valenzuela, Ron Cey) that we got to see within two inches of us…thank you Glen for being able to identify all of them right away!

                                 Glen and Chelsea at the Yardhouse

                            Nationals Manager Davey Johnson came right over to us!

We got to our seats which were in the front row down the left field line and watched the game. It was the opener of a 3 game series with the Nationals. Dodger games seem to focus much more on baseball as opposed to the other MLB stadiums I have visited, which is cool.  As for the game, John Lannan of the Nationals pitched a great game and even hit a home run as Washington beat the Dodgers, 7-2. After the game, the Dodgers invited everyone onto the field for a fireworks show. I could not believe fans were invited to run around on the hallowed playing surface of Dodger Stadium! It was awesome and definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Glen and I had such a fun time as we took pictures and acted like players. The actual fireworks show kicked ass too. After the fireworks finished, we took a cab back to our hotel and explored L.A. Live for the rest of the night.

                                 Glen and I in our seats the first night.

                           Glen and I on the field at Dodger Stadium getting ready for fireworks.

Saturday morning began with Glen and I going up to the fourth floor rooftop swimming pool at the J.W. Marriott. The weather was fantastic and the pool was at a perfect temperature. We would lay out for a little bit, swim for a little bit, and then admire the view overlooking L.A. Live. The whole experience had “California” written all over it. I had never had a pool morning quite like it.

                                      The pool at the J.W. Marriott

After we got out of the pool we went to the lounge to have drinks and wait for my very good friend, Bri, to arrive. When I started working at Grizzly Athletics, Bri was one of the first friends I made who also worked on campus. She left UM to take a job at an advertising agency in L.A.  Right when I booked our trip I knew I was going to have to see her one way or the other. Bri was nice enough to make the journey from Santa Monica to L.A. Live to see us. After we hung in the lounge for a little bit, we went to a trendy Mexican restaurant called Rosa Mexicana.  We enjoyed a very different style of Mexican food while catching up. After lunch we went to a New Zealand ice cream shop. Bri then departed for the day and Glen and I went into the ESPN Zone (located right next to our hotel) for drinks. From there we went back out to Chavez Ravine to watch game 2 of the Dodgers-Nationals series.

                                     Bri and I reuntied after a long time!

Saturday night’s game was $1 Dodger Dog Night. Get this, on every other night, Dodger Dogs are $5…that is a pretty steep price reduction. If you wanted, you could get five Dodger Dogs for just $5 on Saturday night instead of paying $25 on any other night! Glen and I took full advantage of the promotion and got our fill of Dodger Dogs. It was another gorgeous night in Southern California and the Dodgers played better, defeating the Nationals in the bottom of the ninth off a Rafael Furcal walk off double. For this game, we had even better seats than the night before. Although we were back a few more rows, we were closer to home plate and at a much better angle. For about half the game I was seated next to one of those bush league, belligerent drunks I blog about here, but he soon left as he could not handle his alcohol adequately enough. Like I said, I do not let those type of people get to me that much.

                               Me with a Dodger Dog and a cold one.

After the game, Glen and I decided to party in Chavez Ravine for the night. We knew it was kind of a risk but we wanted to get a different taste of Los Angeles so we gave it a go. We had a great time. The first bar we went to was called the Gold Room. This place was packed shoulder to shoulder with people our age and the prices were great and the beer was COLD. My only complaint was that they served unsalted peanuts. The music was awesome and we had a lot of fun mixing in with the locals. Next, we went to a bar called El Compadre. We were the only two white boys in the joint. It was a ton of fun and the bartender hooked us up with free shots and we got to see plenty of beautiful senoritas.
The bars closed and we went back to LA Live and went to a landmark diner in downtown Los Angeles called the Pantry. Even at 3am in the morning, the line that was spilling out onto the sidewalk to just get into the diner was about 15 people deep. We eventually got into the place and had some great food.

                                Glen digging into his food at The Pantry.

Sunday morning we got up ready to go to the Sunday afternoon series finale between the Dodgers and Nationals. Only this game was a little different from the previous two. Why? Bri and Chelsea were coming with us! Despite living in Los Angeles, both of these girls had never been to a Dodger game before. Glen and I were honored to give them their first taste of Dodger Baseball while at the same time hang out with our good friends who we do not get to see enough. We waited for them in the lobby and then took a cab one more time to Chavez Ravine. We walked into the stadium and were given hats as it was Cap Day. We proudly wore them as we sat in the Loge level of Dodger Stadium (fancy word for second deck). It was a warm day but we were protected by the shade and all four of us had a blast. The Dodgers used a strong performance from Chad Billingsley to defeat the Nationals 3-1. Not only did the Dodgers win the game but they won the series as well. As we left the stadium I made sure to give it one last, long good…we had a great time there.

                            Our crew for the Sunday Dodgers game (Bri, me, Glen, and Chelsea)

We got back to LA Live and I said goodbye to Bri. Glen, Chelsea, and myself then went to the ESPN patio where we sat out on their patio and had appetizers and drinks while people watching and listening to good music. After ESPN Zone, we hung outside LA Live and just chilled and talked. Later on in the night, Glen and I went back to ESPN Zone AGAIN, this time just for drinks. We then went back to the Yardhouse where we spent the rest of the night trying to drink as many of the 130 beers on tap that we could.

                                    Glen and Chelsea at the ESPN Zone.

Monday morning we packed up our stuff and hopped on our shuttle and went back to LAX where we would spend most of the day getting back to Spokane as we had a long layover in Salt Lake City.
I had a wonderful time in Los Angeles. I really enjoyed the Southern California lifestyle. There is no doubt I would love to live in that climate. I felt so fortunate to be able to spend more quality time with my brother. When we were down there, we had so many people approach us and ask if we were brothers. I never knew it showed that much but I guess it does. My next goal is to get him to visit me in Missoula.  What a great brother he is!

                                                  Great trip

Thanks for the great time, Los Angeles. Don’t Blink.

Off to Los Angeles!!

I am a morning person so usually when I am up at 5am I am in a good mood. But today I am up at 5am and I am in a really good mood. Why? Well, in just a couple hours I will be taking off from Spokane International Airport en route to Los Angeles!
I am going with my brother and it is another trip that centers around sports. We are going to see the Los Angeles Dodgers play the Washington Nationals on both Friday night and Saturday night in one of the most famous sports stadiums in the world, Dodger Stadium. It is looking to be a great experience: we have great seats, the forecast is beautiful, and there are some sweet promotions going on the nights we are there. The only thing that could make these games a little better would be if the Dodgers or the Nationals were in any type of contention to land a playoff spot. No matter, major league baseball is major league baseball and the chance to watch it in a stadium I have never been to is a special treat.
Yes, there is a little more to this trip than just baseball. My brother and I are staying right in the heart of the newly configured downtown Los Angeles at LA Live. We have the Staples Center right across from us and ESPN Los Angeles headquarters right next door to us. We can’t wait to explore the city and have a great time. We also have friends we plan to see who we have not seen in a while who now live in the LA area.
We will be in Los Angeles from today through Monday so I will not have another post for Don’t Blink until at least Tuesday. But I promise that post will be a good one and I will tell you all about our experience in LA. Have a great weekend everyone and a great start to next week. Don’t Blink.

Jersey Shore: Entertaining…But Not Real.

I watched the season four trailer of Jersey Shore with an ear-to-ear smile on my face. Set in Italy, this season looks like it is going to be another crazy season of guidos and guidettes GLTing, partying, hooking up, and fighting. Oh, how I can hardly wait (sarcasm). Side Note: In the trailer did you see how skinny JWoww looked? How about Mike’s hair at the 1:36 mark? Do you think Pauly D and Deena are really going to hook up? Did Snooki actually do a flip? Crazy. What about Ronnie kicking the shit out of Mike so bad that they had to take him out on a stretcher? Oh man, I digress…
While I am not counting down the days until season four of “Jersey Shore”, I do confess that I am entertained by the show. Yes, I do watch it on a regular basis. My roommate and I made it a point to watch every Thursday night as that week’s new episode would premiere. The few times we missed the initial showing of the episode, we were quickly caught right back up because of MTV’s habit of replaying JS episodes about a thousand different times after they air. But to say I watch it because I think it is a good show is a big stretch. I watch JS for the easy mockability (quick, someone get a dictionary) of it. I also watch it because, well, almost anyone in the 18-24 age demographic can relate to it in some way and probably everyone can pinpoint characters in the show who remind them of their own friends or acquaintances. My compliments and endearment for the show end there. You will never see me dressing up like The Situation and going to a “Jersey Shore” party, I am not going to buy a grenade whistle, I won’t go out in public with any type of shirt on that references the show, I am not going to call that stupid hotline that is supposed to give you your JS “nickname”, and I don’t fist pump (well,  maybe on occasion).
The point of this post is not to make fun of the show, however. Actually, I want to just draw awareness to the misrepresentation MTV gives JS by calling it a “reality show.” Come on now. “Jersey Shore” is as fake as the tans of the entire cast.
Let’s just start right here with the obvious: The whole premise of the show is about as far away from reality as one can get. Besides the cast of JS, do you really know anyone who sleeps in until 12pm, “works” at an ice cream /souvenir shop in the afternoon, GTLs in the evening, gets smashed at nice clubs during the night, and brings home a gorgeous girl in the wee hours of the morning….seven times a week? I am guessing not. But I do recognize that many reality shows out there do the same thing in that they put their casts in dream locations with access to tons of booze and beautiful people. My goal is to differentiate JS as an even faker reality show as opposed to all the rest, so let’s move on.
Do you realize that each “Jersey Shore” cast member makes way more money than any other reality star on other TV? For season four, each cast member is set to make $100,000 per episode (http://www.gossipcop.com/jersey-shore-money-salary-snooki-situation/). Now multiply that by a thirteen episode season. I won’t even get started on how asinine that is. When you are making over a million dollars to party and act stupid to assure the network you are working for a top rated television show, you are going to take it to the extreme…and take it to the extreme they do.  MTV is not paying these people seven figures to act like normal, real people. MTV understands this agreement, the JS production team understands this agreement, the cast understands this agreement…the American  public does not.
I don’t understand how even if you knew absolutely nothing about the motivating factor money has in this whole thing how you could even for one second take the show seriously. “Jersey Shore” is probably just as scripted as many of the sitcoms on TV today. Did you see the episode last season when Snooki got arrested on the beach? You would have to be on crack to believe that was just some spontaneous event that got too out of control once she downed a few too many margaritas. I laughed not because of how stupid Snooki was acting but because of the poor job the production crew did in selling the moment as if it was legit. You got the camera focused on Snooki but you can see literally hundreds of people standing surrounding her, making a type of stage for her to act outrageous while J-Wow “tries” to calm her down. Snooki does face plant after face plant into the sand before the cops come and arrest her for public intoxication (must have been a slow day for the Jersey Shore Police Department). Don’t you think that any sensible person would realize that a whole beach had completely stopped to watch you act like a fool while a camera crew documents your every move? Isn’t there a moment in there where you sober up for a while? Look, Snooki is a stupid person whether she is on or off the show, but even the biggest blockhead in the world could have prevented herself from getting arrested.
Another main event last season that was unbelievably staged and unfortunately took up way too many episodes were the dramatic events between Ronnie and Sammi (boyfriend and girlfriend). One night, Ronnie destroyed every single piece of property Sammi owned. Absolutely no repercussions resulted. I mean it was kind of interesting watching Ronnie go ape shit as he smashed, crushed, and kicked everything in Sammi’s room but it wasn’t real. In the presence of three grown men (the cameramen), no one would ever make themselves look like that much of a roid-raging psycho. I thought the most ironic part of the whole thing was how after the episode ended MTV issued a public service announcement denouncing domestic violence. The very next episode Ronnie and Sammy were back together.
When an episode lacked a major staged event to carry it through, the production team inserted many minor staged events to fill up the sixty minutes. Numerous examples played out during the season: The Situation, a twenty-nine year old man, eats dinner by himself while talking out loud to imaginary friends on either side of him. Deena plays in a cardboard box like a little kid. People randomly show up on the show who happen to have text messages portraying a cast member as a cheater. Snooki slides down the stairs on a mattress. Situation sends Deena and Snooki on a taxi ride in the exact opposite way they thought they were going and don’t figure it out until they are almost to New York. Vinny’s crazy “stalker” happens to show up in every episode (shouldn’t the cast members by this time have enough security to keep the crazies away?). The examples go on and on…people’s gullibility goes on and on.
Again, I do not want to smash the show itself. Like I said, it is an entertaining show and it has introduced a lot into pop culture. I just want MTV to call it what it is and help the people in this country who might have a more difficult time distinguishing between reality and fantasy. Maybe put up a disclaimer at the start of the show saying the people portrayed in the program are entertainers who are purposely put into uncommon situations and are encouraged to do uncommon things. I think that might help a little. It will not happen though. MTV has a gold mine on their hands, why change anything about it?guess I can’t blame them.  Don’t Blink.

From the Kindness of his Heart

“How do you treat those who can neither help nor hurt you?”
In my life I have been privileged and blessed to have people who have went out of their way to support me. Sometimes, I have even had complete strangers do this.
Six years ago when I arrived in Missoula, Montana, I was a college freshmen who knew absolutely no one and had done nothing to make a mark in the community. I was a complete nobody. Starting the first day of school that freshmen year and actually going through the end of my senior year, I would get up at around 5:15am each morning and go to the gym on campus to work out. The first week it became obvious that I shared a workout schedule with a guy probably in his early forties. This guy was motivated, in shape, and good looking. Not only did we share the same workout schedule, but we also had lockers right next to each other.  I am pretty sure I had “freshmen loser” written right across my forehead but it did not stop him from greeting me each day as we got ready to work out. We would then go to the upstairs of the gym and I would do my weights and running while he would do spinning and other cardio centered exercises. It seemed like we would always finish our workouts at the same time and while we were changing we would talk about what we had on tap for the day. He would then always wish me a great morning.
Through our conversations I learned that he taught in the journalism program. What he never told me though was that he was actually a very successful, prominent journalism professor on campus. I probably realized this about half way through my freshmen year. It really helped having his presence my initial year at The University of Montana. I got to talk each day with a positive, successful guy who had a huge influence on campus but a miniscule ego. I learned a lot from him, he seemed to give me balance during a crazy freshman year.
My sophomore year we had our same lockers and our same workout schedules and we continued to talk daily. Because of the person I am and because he had a vested interest in it as well, many of our conversations centered on sports. We talked about other things as well such as current events and the University.  As I was still young, he still gave me guidance and a person to look up to. You would think he would get sick of talking to students, especially ones who had proven absolutely nothing yet…but he acted as if it did.
Come my junior and senior years, we no longer had lockers next to each other. In fact, we did not even have the opportunity to talk daily, as it turned more into  a weekly thing. But when we did see each other, he would always greet me (always calling me by name) and check up on me, asking me about school and the various activities I was in. Keep in mind, I was never a journalism student, I was far from it, but he didn’t care.
I graduated from college and was hired on by Grizzly Athletics. My workout schedule changed greatly as I went from a morning person to an evening person. I would see him on rare occasions, not always at the gym. Because some people think I know what I am talking about when it comes to social media and marketing, I sometimes give presentations to groups on campus. A couple times I presented in the new journalism building and both times I ran into him. One time he was just coming into the classroom that I had given the presentation in and he gave me a quizzical look…of course I couldn’t exist anywhere besides the gym (I felt the same way about him!). We talked briefly and that was that.
Last Friday I saw him at the gym. I was walking down the stairs to the locker room and he called out my name. I looked back and saw my supporter. We talked for about ten minutes catching up on everything. I told him about my new position at work and he was ecstatic. I asked him  about his kids. It was great. I didn’t have the guts to tell him how much he meant to me those initial couple years or how much I respected him. I didn’t have the guts to tell him how much he has influenced me to try to act the same way he did to some other young kid who might be a little unsure of himself and his future. I hope to someday though. Until then, he has this blog post. Don’t Blink.

Top 5 Movies That Are Shown Way Too Much on TV

It happens to me all the time. I tell myself that I am actually going to get to bed  before midnight and then sure enough, two and a half hours later, I am still up. How did this happen? Why would I stay up into the wee hours of the morning on a Sunday night by myself?  Easy, some movie that I have already seen about a thousand times and which I actually already own decided to come on TV. For whatever reason, instead of deciding to watch the movie on my own time at a more convenient hour of the day in the future, I decide to sit through the drawn out, commercial filled, terribly edited version that the TV station is showing. No, I swear, I am not a loser.
For this blog post I am going to count down my top five favorite movies that are shown on TV on stations like TNT, TBS, USA, etc., over and over and over. Enjoy!
5. Varsity Blues
This is my all-time favorite football movie. This is because I can relate to it. No, my football talents did not lead me to a collegiate career but I did have three years on my high school’s varsity team and “Varsity Blues” captured so much of my experience and the experience of thousands of other prep football players. “Varsity Blues” portrayed high school football in Texas years before “Friday Night Lights” and the explosion of the nation’s obsession with prep football in the Lonestar state. I think people forget that sometime. The movie is colorful, it is funny, and it is real. It is also shown on TV over and over. In fact, I watched it last night on TNT and it served as my inspiration to write this post tonight.
Second Favorite Scene: How can you not love the strip club scene where the players go to the dirty club and see their hot teacher perform? Billy Bob has some great lines and every guy has had that experience where you go into a place like that at nighttime and then you leave the place when the sun is starting to rise and you just feel like the biggest pile ever. Love it.
Favorite Scene: Favorite scene is the second half of the last game in which Nox leads the team to victory while Paul Walker’s character coaches them as the team had revolted against Coach Kilmer during halftime. Everything ends on a happy note and everything is tied together by Nox’s narration at the end.
4. Goodfellas
This movie is so funny because there is really no reason why it should be shown on TV. It set some sort of record for having the most F bombs said in it and the violence in it is out of this world. For whatever reason though, stations like AMC love to play it over and over. It really is a great movie though. With an amazing cast and a subject matter that is so intriguing (The Mob), it is my all-time favorite gangster movie and believe me I have seen them all.
Second Favorite Scene: I laugh so hard everytime the scene with De Niro, Liotta, and Pesci go to Pesci’s elderly mom’s house late at night after they had killed that “made man” at the bar. The mom makes them eat dinner and they all sit uncomfortably while the body of the dead guy (who is actually still hanging on to life) is in the car. The awkward situation starts to ease up a little bit as  the dialogue between the three gangsters and the oblivious mom turns absolutely hilarious. De Niro, Liotta, and Pesci then lose it when the mom shows a painting that depicted a guy who looked like the person they had in the back of their trunk.
Favorite Scene: For this movie, I love the early scene in the gansters’ hangout bar where Liotta’s character is narrating and he introduces us to all of the various goodfellas. It is as if you are in the movie and each gangster is personally introducing himself to you. The narration is so funny and clever and it always reminds me of various members of my large Italian family back when I was young and we would go to these big parties and dinners and all of my great uncles and great great uncles would come up to me and talk. I swear some of those guys could have had roles in “Goodfellas”.
3. Shawshank Redemption
I think this movie might be the one that is replayed on TV the most. You turn on your TV late at night and there is probably a 50/50 chance that it is going to be on. I can quote the whole movie in my sleep. But I still love it. The acting and the narration in it are superb and I think people are just fascinated with prison life in the first place.
Second Favorite Scene: I always cheer for Tim Robbins’ character, Andy Dufrense, when he proves himself to the other inmates. They are all doing labor when Andy overhears the head guard talking about a tax issue involving an inheritance he was going to receive. Andy butts in and says there is a way around it. After nearly getting the crap beat out of him, the head guard hears him out and agrees to let Andy help him. Andy’s only request in exchange for his help is  that his work crew gets a couple rounds of beer.
Favorite Scene: I know it is kind of gloomy, but I love the fall of Shawshank. Andy has anonymously mailed in the documents exposing the warden’s scheme and the scene starts with a front page headline telling of the corruption at the prison. A long procession of police invade the prison and arrest all the top officials before finally making it up to the warden’s office to take him away. Of course the warden kills himself. This set up one of my favorite movie lines ever, as said by Red (Morgan Free): I’d like to think that the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell Andy Dufresne ever got the best of me.”
2. Rudy
“Varsity Blues” is my favorite football movie only because I do not consider “Rudy” a football movie. I consider it a movie about life and inspiration. I cry every single time I watch this movie. Obviously, this movie has made me cry a lot because it is on TV constantly. The movie “Rudy” played a large part in making me a huge Notre Dame fan. I believe the movie does an amazing job of capturing the unique spirit and tradition of Notre Dame while also telling a great story. The movie also has what I believe to be the best musical score ever. “Rudy” captures what sports are all about while also teaching us all about facing adversity and never giving up. One of my favorite movies of all time.
Second Favorite Scene: I always get goosebumps watching the tryout scene where the assistant coach runs the walk on players through drills, telling them that they have no prayer of walking through the players tunnel on Saturdays but that they might have a chance to make the scout team. The coach is truthful with them but you can tell he has respect for what the players are doing. As the coach takes them through various drills, the powerful instrumental theme of the movie is played for the first time.
Favorite Scene – Tie: One of the parts of the movie where I always lose it is when the players one-by-one march into the coach’s office to turn in their jersey so Rudy can take his spot and suit up for the last game of the season (despite a promise from the old coach, Rudy was not on the dress list). “For Rudy coach.” It is the ultimate show of solidarity and respect for a guy who had given his team everything he possibly had.
Favorite Scene – Tie: Of course my other favorite scene is the final game in which Rudy gets to play in and which ends the movie. All of Rudy’s family and friends are in attendance for the game. They all know Rudy really has no chance to play but they all promised him they would attend the game if he suited up. The movie shows parts of the game from kickoff to the end of the game. The football scenes are very, very good. No fake looking plays, no fake looking scenery, no cheesy moments. It is Notre Dame football at its finest. Towards the end of the game, it looks as if the game is all but locked up. One of the players starts a Rudy chant and the whole crowd joins in. Notre Dame is on offense and Rudy’s best friend, a backup quarterback who is now in the game, knows Rudy will not get in unless they score. Instead of taking a knee like the coach has instructed him to, the quarterback calls for a trick play and the Irish score. The coach then puts Rudy into the game on the kickoff team. As Rudy runs onto the field the instrumental hits its powerful chorus and the crowd goes crazy. The kickoff ends but there is time for one more play. They tell Rudy to stay on the field and play defense. He records a game ending sack and is carried off the field. One of the best scenes ever in film. INSPIRATION.
1. Forrest Gump
This movie is always on TV and is shown by maybe perhaps the most different channels. It is on the networks, it is on TNT, it is on AMC, it is on USA.  Just like “Rudy”, “Forrest Gump” is one of my all-time favorite movies. It is so unique because you can tune in anytime during the duration of the movie and be instantly hooked. It will go down as an American classic. Adding to its legitimacy as a great movie, it is also one of the most quotable movies in American pop culture.
Second Favorite Scene: I am very partial to the scene where Gump is in D.C. at the Reflecting Pool and he is about to give his impromptu speech at the peace rally. The government officials then mess up the cords so no one in the audience can hear but everyone on stage has been moved to tears. Right when the peace activists get the cords working again, he concludes his speech. Forrest then sees Jenny and he runs to her as the crowd looks on.
Favorite Scene:  My favorite scene in Forrest Gump is when Lieutenant Dan meets back up with Forrest years later at Forrest’s and Jennie’s wedding at their house. Lieutenant Dan now has prosthetic legs and he is engaged to a Vietnamese woman. Lieutenant Dan and Jennie meet for the first time ever, noting to each other that they had heard so much about the other. Lieutenant Dan had  turned his whole life around, thanks to Forrest. Jennie, likewise, turned her whole life around because of Forrest.  I tear up just writing about this scene right now. It is beyond touching.
So there is my list. I would love it if you would tell me your favorite movies that live on by way of television. Even though I have seen all of  these movies over and over, I can assure you that the next time I flip to one of them on TV, no matter the time, I will be watching. Don’t Blink.

Sara Bareilles Concert Review

Last night I went to the Sara Bareilles concert here in Missoula. I will be the first one to admit that I am not a huge Sara Bareilles fan. Not because I have anything against her or because I dislike her music, she is just not someone who I would get really excited about seeing. But because I love concerts and because I had not been to one in a while, I decided to go.
Bareilles performed at The Wilma Theater. For most of you who do not know, The Wilma is an old theater in Missoula that hosts concerts and shows movies. The theater works with a bunch of different promoters to bring in B-List type acts along with other much less well  known singers/bands. I guess I should choose my words more carefully. I don’t want to insult some of the legit national talent that does perform at The Wilma by calling them B-Listers. I guess I should say that the venue attracts those types of acts that are very relevant on a national stage but who would have a tough time filling 12,000 seats in arenas. Some of the acts I have seen at The Wilma before include Rodney Atkins, Jake Owen, Gabriel Iglesias, and Jewel.  So as you can see, it is not like slouches are playing there.            
Last night’s concert had a very good vibe surrounding it. The show had sold out long before Friday and Missoula was just the fourth stop on Bareilles’ tour so it was still very fresh. It was a beautiful summer evening in Missoula and people did not seem to care that the ticket line to get in spilled outside and down Higgins Avenue.  Rachel and myself certainly did not mind the wait as the drinks we consumed at the Tamarack put us in a good enough mood to enjoy the short ten minute wait in the perfect 70 degree weather. It also allowed us to tolerate the droves of high school girls who made up the majority of the audience.
The show started with Sara Bareilles coming out on stage and introducing Raining Jane
The concert started off with Sara Bareilles coming out on stage and introducing the opening act, Raining Jane. Bareillies immediately won points from me by taking the time to do this. I found it extremely classy. Raining Jane is a four person chick rock band. I wish I knew more about music to give you more of  a description on their style. I found this group a lot of fun. Usually for smaller concerts, the opening act(s) usually suck. However, I really liked Raining Jane. Their music was actually very good  and they told some really good stories. They almost did not make it to Missoula because their van broke down. They were just outside of Warm Springs when their van bit the dust and it looked like a very strong possibility that they would miss the show. However, a couple from Missoula who happened to be going to the show that night pulled over and picked the four girls up and got them to The Wilma in time for the show. Raining Jane of course recognized these two good Samaritans at the show and let me tell you, they were the most stereotypical looking Montanans that you could find. The dude looked like Joe Dirt’s brother. It was quite amusing. Back to Raining Jane’s set. They played great, they really did gain a fan in me. They had two front girls who took care of vocals and played guitar/cello, one girl who was on percussion and made jokes the whole time, and one mute who did not say one word or smile the whole time but played bass. This combination worked and I was so happy to be entertained during an opening act at The Wilma after all the disasters I have seen before.

                                     Raining Jane performing their set last night

It is tough to put on a good show at The Wilma. The building is old, the acoustics are not very good, there is little stage room, and the seating is weird. It really is up to the performer’s tour crew to come in and makeover the place before they put on their show. Some acts put in more effort than others. Sara Bareilles’ entourage did a fine job. It was one of the better stages I have seen for a Wilma show. About 30 minutes after Raining Jane concluded, Bareilles took to the stage. She opened with “Bottle It Up.” An observation that Rachel made right away and which I definitely agreed with was that for the first couple of songs, Bareilles’ band completely drowned her vocals out. However, it would get much better as the show went on. I don’t know if I really clicked with her onstage personality. It seemed to me that she was trying to push her edginess a little too much on the audience. But she was all smiles the whole show and she really seemed to put 100% into the show. It is so easy to tell when an artist is half-assing it up on stage, I have seen it several times before so I always appreciate it when a band/artist gives it their all. Bareilles stuck to the standard set model by playing her hits at the start and end while playing a lot of her new stuff and her lesser known stuff in the middle. Towards the latter half of her set, she went off stage and into one of the aisles and played Mumford and Sons’ “Little Lion Man.” It was definitely one of my favorite parts of the show.

                                 Sara Bareilles put on a show for the sold out Wilma

The lighting for the show was awesome. Again, when you go to a show at The Wilma you are not accustomed to being swept off your feet in this way. White, green, blue, and red lights all engulfed the stage at different times. It was hard for me to tell if she was truly happy to be in Missoula or not, usually I think I have a pretty good grasp on whether the artist is truly into the show (much different than giving 100% effort), but if you made me give you a straight up answer I would say yes. She was just much tougher to judge than other artists. She definitely dished out the typical “kiss the ass of the town you are in” compliments. Fake or not, you always have to yell and clap for them.  Bareillies finished with a two song encore, the first of which is Rachel’s favorite song, “Gravity.”

                                        In the end, I was glad I went to her show

Sara Bareilles and Raining Jane put on a good show last night. It was much better than what I thought and it was very relaxing. Best of luck on the rest of the tour ladies! Don’t Blink.

Autographs: A Waste of Time and Money

Today my friend told me she was lucky enough to see Marcus Trufant (Pro Bowl cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks) and get his autograph. To this I responded “So what?”
I am one of those people who have never seen the value in autographs. I find them impersonal, easy to lose, and a terrible way to remember meeting a famous person. Let me back up for a minute though.  I should say that I am not a person who gets star struck. There are exceptions, but for the most part I highly respect people who are amazing at what they do and who are relevant on a national level but I do not idolize them. You will not see me joining a fan club, holding a sign at a concert, or wearing someone’s jersey. It isn’t something I do. So maybe right from the start I am turned off by the whole notion of autographs. But even if I was a 15 year old girl who worshipped the ground Justin Bieber walked on, I don’t see how an autograph could make me feel like a bigger fan or give me instant “Bieb Credibility.”
I sometimes wonder what celebrities think when they are bombarded with autograph requests. I wonder if they kind of feel that the whole idea of scribbling their name on something is a little silly.  When  I have had the chance occurrence of being in the same place at the same time as a celebrity I always shake my head at people who scramble to find a napkin and a ball point pen and shove it in the face of the person to be signed. To me, there is absolutely no meaning or personality in that autograph, and absolutely no solid memory of the meeting/interaction between you and  the celebrity.

                                      Me with country music star Phil Vassar

Getting a picture with a music star, actor, athlete, etc., is in my opinion 100x better than getting an autograph. A picture is special. A picture is durable throughout the years, shows  a connection between you and the celebrity, is easy to show off to all of your friends (especially in the age of social media), and is a great way to remember the encounter you had with that person. As I said, I do not get star struck and would never think about asking someone for their autograph but I would, and I have, asked a celebrity for a picture with him/her. Not only is it a much better way to remember and document your encounter with a well known person, it also makes it much easier on the celebrity. Instead of having to go through the process of signing some weird object and even dealing with the annoying requests of “can you sign it to so and so” the celebrity just has to stay where they are at and look into a camera. It also helps push out the personal brand of the celebrity because 95% of the time that picture is going to go viral and the celebrity is going to be exposed to thousands of other people. A picture is a win-win situation for both the fan and the celebrity as opposed to an autograph.

                                    Me with Missoula’s celebrity, Marc Mariani.

You know what I can’t fathom even more than autograph seekers? People who buy autographs. Especially the people who buy autographed memorabilia with no intention whatsoever of selling it for a profit. When I travel city to city, especially in sports towns, I make it a point to go into memorabilia shops and look at the ridiculous prices. I can’t believe some of the stuff they are trying to make money off of. Honestly, what type of a person is going to buy an Omar Vizquel signed baseball for $300?  It is absolutely laughable and random.  I wouldn’t even touch stuff supposedly signed by baseball greats. Do you really want to shell out $2,000 for a Mickey Mantle signed baseball? Even if you bow to his grave every single day, would you really trust that that ball was actually signed by him? I find these memorabilia places beyond sketchy. I really couldn’t care less about a certificate of authenticity, that means absolutely nothing to me. That could be just as easily doctored as the scribble on the baseball that is supposed to belong to the player. If you are the type of person who is going to pay some straggly guy in some hole in the wall shop X amount of dollars for a signed picture of Ozzy Osbourne or a signed football of Johnny Unitas, you got money management issues my friend.
If you waste a celebrity’s time, make it worth your while and the celebrity’s while and create a lasting memory that has legitimacy to it. Don’t waste time with autographs and definitely don’t waste money with autographs. And be sure to remember one thing when you are taking that picture with your number one celebrity: Don’t Blink.

                            Me and Dan with Michael Jackson before he died

Alcohol at Pro Sports Venues

There is a drinking problem at professional sports venues across the country.
I know this opinion by me is not very popular and it makes me sound really old. But it’s true. It goes without saying that I am a huge sports fan and I love attending various athletic events. Through the years I have had the opportunity to attend numerous professional sporting events in numerous venues in numerous leagues. I have seen the same trends in basically every place I have visited. We have to face it, many fans simply use a ticket to a ball game as an excuse to get drunk and unruly.
Before I go on I want to explain one thing. I am NOT against alcohol at professional sporting events. Personally, I believe there is nothing better at a game than cold beer. Just like at a concert or at a show, a nice buzz can really enhance the whole experience. The action on the field/stage is more intense, you are more relaxed, and the strangers sitting in the seats right next to you are more bearable. I don’t just get it, I embrace it.

             In no way, shape, or form am I advocating the end of alcohol sales at pro sporting events.

What I am against are the people who go to games and get so bombed that they become a distraction to others and turn from fans into idiots.  Now I understand that in some leagues this practice is not going to be reversed, no matter how much effort is poured into preventing it. An example of this is the National Football League. When it comes to the NFL, it truly is Clown Town. If you have ever been to a game before, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you want to see a diehard, passionate, crazy fan base, go to an NFL game. Fans are beyond ridiculous…and mostly beyond drunk. Because of the nature of the game, I never see this changing. The first ever NFL game I went to was at the Kingdome in Seattle when I was in the third grade. The Seahawks were playing the Kansas City Chiefs and we were sitting in the fifth or sixth row of the upper deck. I was dialed in on the field when suddenly I was ejected out of my seat and thrown down a couple of rows. Some wasted dude in a Kansas City jersey had fallen about ten rows down and crashed into me and my friend’s dad, sending us both for a ride. The game had not even started yet. But let me tell you, that guy was a real champ cause he dusted himself off after that fall and managed to drunken walk to the nearest concession stand no less than four times throughout the game, double fisting it each time he came back. Throughout the years , each time I go to an NFL game the shenanigans I see get worse and worse. It will forever be that way. NFL games are not events for kids to go to anymore.
I want to focus my attention more on a sport that has a reputation for being family friendly, a sport that is economically more available to everyone. I am talking about America’s Pastime, baseball. I want to go back to what I said earlier and apply it directly to baseball: There is nothing more American than baseball and beer. The two go together perfectly and I wholeheartedly support it. However, some people abuse it like no other. This summer I have seen so many examples of people acting like complete morons when intoxicated at baseball games.
When I was at PNC Park in Pittsburgh this May, I walked into the bathroom to see a guy throwing up in a urinal with a beer in his hand while his kid looked on. It was despicable. How could he let himself get that way? Who was driving his kid home?
Last month while my brother and I were in Seattle for the Mariners-Braves series, we watched in shock as a Safeco Field usher let some belligerent fan walk up and down the aisles talking to every single person he passed. He was seriously just aimlessly wandering, he was nowhere dialed in on the planet. He was exhibiting very strange behavior such as yelling, picking fights with random people, starting chants about the Seattle Sounders, stumbling all around, trying to give hugs to various girls, and going up to the beer kiosk at the top of the stairs trying to get more alcohol even though it was the ninth inning (beer sales stop after the 7th inning) and he still had a beverage in each hand. It was ridiculous. Safeco Field has an Alcohol Enforcement team that they have scour the stadium checking for disruptive people and underagers but they were nowhere to be found when this idiot was rampaging up and down the section (SIDE NOTE: The Alcohol Enforcement team at Safeco Field do actually perform their job when they are around. My brother went to a Mariners-Yankees game earlier in the season and two of  the girls he was with were ceremoniously kicked out of the stadium when the AE team saw that they needed to hang onto my brother to make it through the concourse).

                                      Alchohol Enforcement Team at Safeco

This activity does not just occur at Major League Baseball games. It also happens at minor league games as well. Just two nights ago at the Osprey game my friend and I watched embarrassingly as two dudes drunk out of their minds kept yelling F bombs at the umpire in a section full of kids. A section full of kids!! Even if you are trashed, how bush league can you be? I kept my mouth shut because I knew if I said anything it would make the two losers even more irate and a nasty scene would probably have been played out in front of all those kids who had already seen/heard enough.
Okay, so I know many of you might be saying to yourself “These are isolated, specific incidents. There are drunks everywhere. No need to overreact.” The thing is, these are not isolated incidents. They are happening multiple times a night throughout ballparks in America. I just used the examples to shed light on what is going on. Pretty much every game I have attended this summer, whether it be MLB or minor league, I have seen overly intoxicated people who act like fools, embarrass the people they are at the game with, and ruin the experience of fellow fans. There are people who go to these games to not just drink until they feel good but to drink until they are belligerent and out of control.
What’s my solution? Before I tell you, I want to give credit to the various teams of the MLB, NFL, and the NBA for making strides in combating this problem. Many organizations have these Alcohol Enforcement teams that I spoke about when mentioning the Seattle case. Almost all organizations have a text messaging system for fans to utilize if they are in close proximity to an unruly fan. You text your seat and row to a certain number and assistance arrives. This is great but the problem is that many people are not savvy enough to use this feature or they miss the announcement entirely. I believe in MLB parks that about every other five rows should come equipped with a button that fans can push in case of an incident that will immediately dispatch police officers and/or Alcohol Enforcement personnel to that area. Secondly, I believe ushers should be trained on drunken behavior that is grounds for automatic dismissal from the game. Really, it is not that subjective when it comes to determining if someone is too drunk to be at the game. Here are five guidelines that ushers should use in determining if it is time for someone to call it a night:
1.      Person can no longer walk like a normal human being
2.      Person yells obscenities at umpires or opposing players (when it goes beyond general heckling and involves cuss words and racial/personal attacks)
3.      Person picks fights or starts arguing with fellow fans
4.      Person is disconnected/unaware of the game (I see passed out fans all the time)
5.      Fans complain about the person
Or seriously, just make this your general rule: If the activity of the fan would not be allowed in a bar, it should not be allowed in a baseball stadium. If you want to get bombed and act like an idiot, go to Maggotfest/Vegas/Mardi Gras/(Enter some event where it is socially acceptable to make a drunken ass out of yourself).
Going off on a little tangent, I hope most universities stick to their guns and prohibit the sale of alcohol at their events. I know there are universities who already sell alcohol at their events but let’s keep majority of NCAA competitions dry, especially football. Besides, thanks to tailgates and other pregame festivities that help make college football the absolute best sporting spectacle in the world, fans and students get their fair share of alcohol anyway. As anyone who has ever sat in a college football student section before knows, the majority of the people sitting in those seats are drunk enough already. I would just hate to see alcohol sold inside the gates and see the atmosphere of college football turn more into the out of control craziness of an NFL game. In general, intercollegiate athletics does not mix with alcohol, keep it out.
I do want to say that for me personally, I do not let belligerent people get to me at games. I am always much more focused on the action on the field/court and on the people I am at the game with to really care. In the instance when the person does manage to get my attention (good job!) I just smile…it is kind of funny to watch people make fools out of themselves. I am more a proponent on this one for the enjoyment of others who have brought their kids out to the stadiumm and for public safety in general. So let the games go on and let the beer flow. Just please live the High Life and drink responsibly. Don’t Blink.