September 30, 2013

The 2013 MLB Turtle-Wax Awards

[Posted by Ted H]

...'S been a long year...

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[The 2013 Turtle-Wax Awards]

These are the awards you DON'T want to win.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I've decided to retire the following 2 awards:

The "You Don't Belong Here" Award
Awarded to 1 of the 8 10 playoff teams that shouldn't be in the playoffs
[Previous winners: 2009 Minnesota Twins, 2010 Texas Rangers, 2011 Tampa Bay Rays, 2012 Detroit Tigers]

The "Sucks To Be You" Award

Awarded to the team going home with a better record than a playoff team
[Previous winners: 2009 Texas Rangers, 2010 San Diego Padres, 2011 Atlanta Braves, 2012 Tampa Bay Rays]

The reason for these two retirements is simple: expanded playoffs. The team that usually would win the StbY award is now known as the team that loses the one game wild card playoff. And with the playoff pool now diluted to the point where 1/3 of all baseball makes the playoffs, it seems pointless to single out one team for either award.

 ...And now onto the awards that still exist...


The "Orioles And Blue Jays Would Rather Play In This Division" Award
Awarded to the crappiest division in baseball

[Previous winners: 2009 AL Central, 2010 AL West, 2011 AL Central, 2012 AL Central]

---The American League West: Athletics, Rangers, Angels, Mariners, Astros---

Astros sucking didn't help. Rangers fade didn't help either. Angels promised to be great...and, well, no. The NL East sucked pretty hard this year as well, but they kept themselves just slightly better in the stretch. The AL Central, the usual winner of this award was actually one of the better divisions this year. AL East continued to be the best all around division in baseball, but the AL West this year continued to disappoint.


The "Steroid Accusation Rookie Of The Year" Award

Awarded to the slugger who is probably gonna get accused of steroids next, if not already

(I am NOT accusing the winner of steroids, just sayin...)
[Previous winners: 2009 Aaron Hill (TOR), 2010 Corey Hart (MIL), 2011 Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS), 2012 Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)]

---Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles---
2013 HR total: 53
Previous high: 33

Fantasy GMs everywhere are screaming at themselves for not drafting Davis sooner.

The "What The Hell Happened To You?" Award

Awarded to the team that fell off the map when they were supposed to be contenders
[Previous winners: 2009 New York Mets, 2010 Seattle Mariners, 2011 Cincinnati Reds, 2012 Miami Marlins]

---The California Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim---

Let it be known I called the Blue Jays sucking back in March, so their last place finish does not shock me in the slightest. The Angels however, are a different story. Besides, the Blue Jays situation happened last year with the Marlins and they won the award, but I'll touch on that later...
Drug years are catching up with Hamilton, Pujols apparently isn't as godlike as he was in St. Louis, and all the sabermetrics bullshit for Trout can't make this team not suck.

The "Shut Your God Damn Mouth" Award

Awarded to whoever talked too much without backing it up

[Previous winners: 2009 Chicago Cubs, 2010 MLB Network, 2011 Carlos Zambrano (CHC), 2012 Boston Red Sox]

---Jordany Valdespin of the New York Mets---

I'm gonna catch a lot of crap for ARod not winning this award. And why not? He's been a consistent source of soap opera drama all year, and he wasn't even playing for half of it...but if you've ever wondered if a bigger idiot than ARod could exist, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jordany Valdespin.
He hit a meaningless home run this season and took half an hour to admire it. The next night he asked his manager not to play him because he knew what was coming. He was forced to pinch hit anyway and was beaned like a bitch. Back in spring training, he was hit in the balls by a Justin Verlander pitch...and he wasn't wearing a cup.
...and of course, he was also suspended this season for the whole PED scandal thing...



The "This Years Miracle, Next Years Orioles" Award

Awarded to the team that made a surprise playoff run this year, and will fall short next year 
[Previous winners: 2009 Colorado Rockies, 2010 Tampa Bay Rays, 2011 Tampa Bay Rays, 2012 Baltimore Orioles]

---Cleveland Indians---

Seriously...it's the freaking Indians. Only reason they made it this time was because the Yankees were hurt and the Angels were bad. If they played in the AL bEast, then they'd be under .500 and long out of the playoff hunt.

(I am 3-1 in making this prediction. My only mistake was only because the 2011 Red Sox choked, allowing the Rays to make the cut...)


The "This Years Marlins, Next Years Miracle" Award

Awarded to a team that sucked this year, but can make a run next year
[Previous winners: 2009 Chicago White Sox, 2010 Chicago White Sox, 2011 Washington Nationals, 2012 Seattle Mariners]

---The New York Yankees---

This was easy. Yankees almost make the playoffs this year and they didn't have half their starters. Their DL players could win a world series. A healthy Yankee team would be an easy playoff pick.


The "AAA Team In Disguise" Award

Awarded to a team that might have better luck in AAA
[Previous winners: 2009 Washington Nationals, 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates, 2011 Boston Red Sox, 2012 Houston Astros]

---The Miami Marlins---

The Astros are not "in disguise" since they're publically saying they're rebuilding...
The Marlins however...they've sucked too for the last several years, but remember when they were suppose to compete? Yeah, last year? Pssh. When a city invests like this and you lose 100 games, you shouldn't be in the major leagues. AAAA baseball BS.


The "Dull Knife In The Drawer" Award

Awarded to the biggest mental error this year
[Previous winners: 2009 Washington Nati(o)nals, 2010 Barak Obama, 2011 Brian Sabean (SF), 2012 Derek Norris (OAK)]

---Mark Pagnozzi of the Houston Astros---

The game between the Yankees and Astros is tied 1-1. Yankees have the bases loaded. After a pitch to a September callup, catcher Matt Pagnozzi attempts to pick off the runner at 2nd who strayed too far from the bag, but instead spikes the ball.
Touchdown Astros...oh wait...
The ball bounces away and Eduardo Nunez races home from 3rd. The ball didn't go too far and Pagnozzi gets to it in plenty of time to toss home and nail Nunez before he scores...but he bounces the toss and Nunez is safe...
...Did I also mention the Yankees won 2-1?



The "Results May Vary" Award

Awarded to a player/team that didn't live up to the hype
[Previous winners: 2010 Stephen Strasburg (WAS), 2011 Carl Crawford (BOS), 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers]

---The Toronto Blue Jays---

Ok, so, let's aquire a bunch of players from the Marlins of all places, trade for an old knuckler who had one good season, and hope Jose Bautista stays healthy. WHAT COULD GO WRONG! All the talking heads say we're gonna win the world series! We can't lose!
Hmmm...I'm sure if you turned the standings upside down, then the Blue Jays totally finished 1st and didn't embarrass themselves at all...


The "Joe West Level Of Incompetence" Award

Awarded to the umpire who made the biggest BS call(s) of the year
[Previous winners: 2011 Jerry Meals, 2012 Sam Holbrook]

---
Fieldin Culbreth---

In a game between the Astros and Angels this year, Houston manager Bo Porter made a pitching change...and then another one as soon as the Angels sent in a pinch hitter for the guy reliever #1 was going to face. Baseball rules state that a reliever has to pitch to at least one guy before being substituted for...something Culbreth, as umpire, should have known about. Not only did he allow the pitching change...but he continued to hold to that decision when everyone around him was yelling about him over the rules.
Umpires have blown calls before, but blowing the rules? That's a bit new.


The "Ozzie Kind Of Crazy" Award

Awarded to the manager who had the most entertaining season to watch
[Previous winner: 2012 Bobby Valentine (BOS)]

---Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees---

The perpetual eye rolling he must have been doing this year includes:
-Who got hurt this time?
-What castoff from someone else's spring camp did we pick up today?
-Who wants to be our next shortstop?
-A-Rod is back? Seriously?
-Hughes is pitching today? Has it been 4 days since our last blowout loss already?
-Cano wants HOW much money?
-Would anyone notice if I just grabbed some gear and played catcher today?
-No, seriously, why is A-Rod back?
-God I'm old, Soriano was a rookie when I was retiring.
-3rd times the time, right Jete-...oh, DL again.
-I've had 100 different lineups this year...



The "Go Stand in the Corner!" Award
Awarded to the most standout suspension of the season


---Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers---
Crime: P.E.D. use / Lying about P.E.D. use
Time: 64 games (a.k.a. the remainder of the 2013 season)


Braun was nailed...NAILED...for PED use a couple years ago, testing positive for the season he won an MVP award and led the Brewers to the playoffs. He got off on a chain of custody technicality. Missing from the previous sentence was the notion that the test itself was wrong. Braun's piss was positively bubbling over with steroids like the mood slime from Ghostbusters 2...and yet, he got away with it. Braun wasted no time doing his end zone dance in the form of a press conference where he essentially gave the rest of MLB the finger.
...Well isn't it awkward this year when MLB nailed him AGAIN.
.......and it was MLBs turn to do an end zone dance by giving Braun a suspension and getting to listen to him give an apology for everything that had happened.
The usual penalty for a 1st time steroid user is 50...MLB gave Braun the rest of the 2013 season, just to be petty.

The MLB Turtle-Wax Awards

The MLB Turtle-Wax Awards
By Ted H

Every year, baseball hands out prestigious awards to the best talent around. And while 9 times out of 10 the voters get it wrong, the people who end up winning are still among the best in the game.....

......these are not those awards.

These are the awards you DON'T want to win.

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Pointless stats!
Team by team awards count:
Boston Red Sox: 10
Detroit Tigers: 9
Minnesota Twins: 9
Washington Nationals: 9
Cleveland Indians: 6
Chicago White Sox: 7
New York Mets: 7
New York Yankees: 7
Kansas City Royals: 6
Seattle Mariners: 6
Texas Rangers: 6
Other: 6
Miami Marlins: 5
Atlanta Braves: 4
California Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 4
Houston Astros: 4
Milwaukee Brewers: 4
Philadelphia Phillies: 4
Tampa Bay Rays: 4
Toronto Blue Jays: 4
Chicago Cubs: 3
Baltimore Orioles: 3
Oakland Athletics: 3
Los Angeles Dodgers: 3
San Francisco Giants: 3
Colorado Rockies: 2
San Diego Padres: 2
Arizona Diamondbacks: 1
Cincinnati Reds: 1
ESPN: 1
MLB Network: 1
Pittsburgh Pirates: 1
St. Louis Cardinals: 0

September 10, 2013

A Word About Wal-Mart Knockoffs

[Posted by Ted H]

I am not dead! I have been working like a mother fucker though, but I quit Staples earlier today, meaning I should have oodles of time to write. By November, I should be back to what relates to as normal, right?

Anything, while I reacquaint myself with this notion called "free time" I'll leave you with a little long free form write up/sorta rant about why companies like Staples and Walgreens suck...cheers.

This is part of a longer write up I did based on employment in general, but I figured I'll stick to just one point I'm making...

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There are no jobs hiring in the area for more than part-time, no benefits and bare minimum wage. I am well aware that the surrounding areas in upstate NY are also as barren in the job world. And anytime someone does indeed post a decent enough job, they tend to hire the older, more experienced applicants because the economy is still shitty where they'd rather hire in someone that won't waste as much time or resources to train. Also, you take less of a risk on people you know can do the job as compared to the person with the education but no practical experience. So yeah, I'm stuck in this endless waltz of: I have no job cuz I have no experience...but I can't get experience cuz I have no job.

The real truth is: I DON'T want to work at Staples. Everything I've noticed about the store screams that I'll be just as miserable, if not more, as when I was in Walgreens. On the way to the offices for these interviews, I was given an impromptu tour of the store. I don't know about anyone else, but the last time I needed to buy several bags of candy, Staples wasn't the first place that sprung to mind. Aisles and isles of stuff contained in the store all came across as anything but computer or office related. Staples, as was explained, is taking advantage of an opportunity to expand its business model and attract more customers. Where have I heard this before?

To better explain why Staples gives me the exact same vibe as Walgreens gave me, let's go back in time. Once upon a time, Walgreens was known as one of the best companies to work for. They came with great, reasonably priced benefits, good wages and numerous hours for not just their associates, but for their pharmacies as well...now all that took place before I got there. By time I got there, they were feeling the hurt financially and decided, as a company, the workers needed to suffer more for the company to stay in the black. Hours in stores were cut. Pharmacy hours were slashed to the point that the Pharmacists and Techs were woefully overworked (and the store managers would step in to "help" but only make thing worse.) Wages were dropped and eventually capped (You were now only allowed so many raises as an employee before you were locked into a set wage per hour forever. Benefits went through price hikes. Walgreens did all this, claiming they were only keeping up with the "industry standard" Wal-Mart was the industry standard and everyone loved them, right?...Right?

The "industry standard" approach may have stopped the bleeding, or maybe it didn't. I dunno, I don't even pretend to know too much about economics, but Walgreens was no longer a good place for its employees. Hell, sick time and vacation time were combined into one lump group and access to it was more restricted.
For the most part, many of those "industry standard" changes were already in place when I was hired. The point (and correlation to Staples) I'm trying to bring up here is Taylor Swift. I don't know what a country music singer who can't keep a boyfriend has to do with drug stores, but we're selling her shit now. Her new CD came out and we sell it. Someone put her face on a notebook and now we sell it. She put her image on an obscure product? You bet your ass we were selling it. Not only that, we dedicated an entire end stand at the front of the store right by the entrance to Taylor Swift. We sold nothing.

The only thing that would have sold would be the full sized cardboard cutout of Swift that was placed with the end stand. It wasn't for sale and was marked to be destroyed when the company finally decided to end the promotion. Every week there would be at least five creepy people walking in and inquiring about the cut out. One woman walked in and asked if she could have it when we were done with it because her eight year old daughter loved Taylor Swift...but everyone else, mainly 70-80 year old creepers never gave me an explanation, they just wanted Taylor. Back when my hatred for the job was relatively low, I took down one creepers contact info (saying we'll let him know when we're done with the cutout if he wants it) and took it to Bob so we could both get a good laugh at the creepy old man. Instead, Bob took the contact info after hearing what I had to say about the creepy old man, and pinned it to a board as if he would honestly call the guy. Matt and Bob began taking down old mens contact info for the end stand in earnest, while I would just throw them out.

My Walgreens time ended before the cardboard Taylor Swifts did, so I don't know what its fate was. I can only imagine Bob calling several creepy old men (and the one mother) and all of them descending upon Walgreens to argue which lonely bastard would get to take his new fake country singer home. Maybe Bob kept those numbers because he could relate. I'm pretty sure if the cardboard cutout was a Disney princess, he would be right up in there with the other creepers (BTW: Bob is OBSESSED with Disney. I'm talking unhealthy obsession here. He loved Disney like he thought it was a cure for his diabetes).

Anyway, the whole point of the Taylor Swift thing was...well, I never was sure WHAT the point was. It had no place in Walgreens. That's like if Spencers started selling power tools. Walgreens was selling shit like that in the hopes that people wanted it, without ever knowing they wanted it. Staples is currently taking that approach by selling shit that normally is not associated with a computer and office supply store. The real reason candy and Taylor Swift and other nonsense like those are being marketed isn't because of a desire to "widen the scope of potential business", it's because "Oh shit! Our sales numbers are plummeting. Quick, start selling unrelated shit that (we hope) will sell so we can get our numbers back into the black!"

Now panic like that isn't accumulated overnight. I'd venture guess and say Wal-Mart and their "industry standard" set the bar for their customer satisfaction (at the complete expense of their own employees) and stores like Walgreens are finally catching up to the idea. Now, I'm not gonna lament the notion that Wal-Mart is killing businesses all over for whatever reason, but I will say this: There are right ways and wrong ways to deal with shit like that when the times are changing. I won't stand on any soap boxes and lecture about what the right ways are but I will point out that what Walgreens did is a bunch of things you can clearly square away in the "wrong" category.

You're not gonna keep up with Wal-Mart by being a cheap knock off of Wal-Mart. There's already a Wal-Mart knock off, it's called Sam's Club, which is owned by Wal-Mart. Plus, if there are multiple versions of Wal-Mart that have pharmacies, then why would people flock to a knock off Wal-Mart when they have the real thing? You can't beat Wal-Mart by being Wal-Mart. Your best bet is to either fight like hell to keep it out when one is trying to open in your area, or double down on your own company's culture and ideals and remind customers that while the prices aren't as good as others, it's the intangibles that are offered that are why people keep coming back. Wal-Mart will never be able to come close to the intangibles offered by Walgreens back in the day...but Walgreens itself have abandoned those intangibles in the name of becoming more like Wal-Mart. It's mind boggling.

Staples problem is different. Their main competitor isn't another brick and mortar building, it's Amazon.com. Slightly different war to fight. If you needed office supplies once upon a time, you go to a store like Staples. Now? Online. Need a computer though? Well, you can get those anywhere (like, oh I don't know, Wal-Mart) but the thing with anywhere else is that they'll sell you the computer and move on. Staples? Our job is to sell you a computer and about half a dozen peripherals to go with it because the profit of just the computer doesn't match the cost of acquiring the computer to sell in the first place. Staples won't grade me based on my ability to sell a computer, but on how many accessories I can tack onto your computer purchase (needed or not), which requires me to be as customer service oriented as hell. To put such a required skill in perspective for myself, I'll quote what my mother said: "A job that requires you to have customer service skills? You'll last a week." I blame Walgreens for this.

Regardless, I know Staples will hire me because it took them almost three months to call me for the first interview, then only three days for the second. I doubt they have any applicants from January left besides me. Not only that, but the manager also mentioned that there were multiple positions opening up because a bunch of people were leaving. Lots of people suddenly leaving at a job that features almost no full time workers? Tell me that's not a red flag. The only thing stopping them from offering me a job strait up is they need to run a background check. This is pretty much the end of April. It'll take them three weeks to officially offer me the job. Rounding up to a full month, they still wrapped up my background check five months faster than the government did in 2010.