Friday, July 10, 2009

Long Week of Randomness

I love my wife a lot, and don't mean to drive her nuts, but it seems like when I'm trying my best not to bug her, I do my best job of driving her insane. It seems to happen a lot right before big events or vacations, as both of us are trying to scramble and get last minute things done, I often get a little scatterbrained trying to remember all of the details and ever changing priorities. And while I do drive her nuts, I've never loved anyone quite as much as I love her. She'll probably gag reading that, but at the same point, it's now on the Interwebs for permanence.


I'm a somewhat recovering fantasy geek, which is difficult to say when I'm still participating in two baseball leagues and a soccer league while waiting for football, English soccer and basketball to show up. I first played in a football league back in 1992 ran by my good friend Obi, and although I broke every drafting rule in the book by drafting players from my hometown teams, I won the league in my first year. This led to me being rather cocky when I joined a basketball league that he also ran in 1993, which followed an auction style draft and a salary cap. And needless to say, it was a train wreck. Whatever strategy I had in place fell apart early, and I made some rather dumb mistakes, and ended up with a team that probably couldn't have won a high school game. Although I've stayed with football over the years, I'm less apt to follow my old strategy of watching hours and hours of games non stop and turn my Sunday into a 100 percent non productive day.


I think the reason for my recovery is that simply I'm getting to the point of informational overload and I'm trying to remember why playing fantasy sports was fun. We've all had the discussions of seeing our favorite team sign this guy or that other guy and watching it implode, all the while saying we could do better. Fantasy sports gave people a window into that world, being able to create a team of whomever you wanted for competition, and you could put your strategy to use. However, fantasy sports are nothing like the real world, because in fantasy sports, you only have to be concerned with injuries and bad play. You don't have to worry so much about locker room chemistry, agents and a player's posse, salary issues, and other distractions that real GMs have to deal with. Plus, when I first started playing, you had a limited amount of magazines and sites for information, but now, well, you have information explosion with numerous sites and magazines that talk about fantasy sports. You can even sign up for fantasy golf and NASCAR.


If people want to know about fantasy sports, I will tell them that it's enjoyable, and if you have a good league with great people, that really helps as well. But at the same point, it's important to keep the game in perspective, because you can be obsessed with stats and information, and it can be consuming. I can honestly say that last football season, I watched parts of maybe 6 regular season games all year, and the Super Bowl was the only game I watched from kickoff to the final gun. Sure, I check the sites and make sure that my guys aren't broken or mired in the land of terribleness, but at the same point, it's a game and my passions are moving towards more reality. However, it's still nice to dream sometimes, and so it will always remain something I'm interested in. Who doesn't dream about having millions of dollars to do with what they want? For me, it's simple, I'd buy the Trail Blazers, West Ham United and the Timbers, and create dominant teams in footy and basketball. Well, and that traveling thing.


In the land of MLS updates, the City Council heard the new framework for the MLS piece of renovating PGE Park, and got some different numbers and a rather different plan. Per the Oregonian, KGW News Channel Ocho, and the Portland Mercury, a 31 million dollar upgrade plan has been tentatively approved. The plan has the following financing options in place: 


  • $31mil total financing plan (down from $38mil):
    • $19.1mil from Merritt Paulson:
      • $11.1 mil for prepaid rent for the years 2008 thru 2025
      • $8mil upfront cash
    • $11.9mil from CoP
      • $11.2mil from SFF
      • $0.7mil soft contributions
  • Merritt covers all cost overruns over the first $1 million
  • Merritt covers SFF bond repayment should MLS underperform attendance or money wise

It's creative, it's using some of the existing revenue streams, and it's not tapping any urban renewal funds, which was a sore spot for some. Granted, fixing up a ballpark can be a trigger for urban development, but that's an argument that doesn't have to be dealt with here.  The taxpayer risk is negligible, as the Spectator Fund, which already has $6 million in reserves and is continually growing as events come to town, backs the bonds and is one of the more stable funds Portland has.  You have a private investor, who is giving you an amazing deal to bring soccer to town, the city is making the right choice here.  The official vote is in two weeks after a few of the commissioners review the final details, but it appears that the final vote is a foregone conclusion.


I feel very good for the fans of soccer, who have worked really hard to bring their sport to town, and provided a lot of support to the initiative through emails, attending meetings, letter writing, canvassing, and other public rallies.  MLS is excited to come to town, and I think after seeing the Timbers – Flounders match last week, I know why.  Soccer will be a success here.  And I appreciate the city council, for negotiating a deal that everyone could live with, putting most of the risk of the project on the people using the facility.  It's not easy to please everyone, but this is a project that I think most people can live with.  Sure, there are naysayers abound that hate any public expenditure like this, but at the same time, they would hate almost anything you would put in front of them that spends city money for anything they would conceive as frivolous.


But I urge the council to now turn your attention on finding a home for baseball.  Granted, the fans of this sport haven't been as organized or vocal, but Portland is a great baseball city, and it's important that the history and legacy of the Beavers is kept here in the Portland area.  I don't believe PGE Park is a great baseball park, and the Beavers would do so much better in a park that is smaller, more intimate, and more designed for baseball specifically.  And I don't want the Beavers to be pushed out of the city, because I feel the market for this is here, and it's not the generic baseball fan that only goes to events like Fourth of July or cheap beer night.  There are baseball fans that are as passionate about their sports as Timbers fans are, but they are more concerned about the sport and not necessarily the team, as visions of MLB jump in their head.  The sooner those visions go away, the more quickly I think you can see the realism in what Portland has for baseball fans, and you can tailor the park to best fit their needs.  And it's going to be a tough selling job, as the Mariners cast a huge shadow over baseball here.  It's important to reach out to them to sell this as your local team, and something to support over the long term.


Finally, I know what I want for Christmas.  May the force be with you, lightly browned on both sides.


No comments: