Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Downside of Re-Tweeting Angry Twitter Trolls

If you follow any prominent columnist on Twitter, be it in sports or politics, you have no doubt been exposed to the occasional deluge of angry, hateful and sometimes deranged retweets. Every time an opinion writer states an opinion, a tiny minority of their followers will send the person a mean-spirited hate-tweet or a half-baked conspiracy theory. Rather than simply ignoring and blocking such people, a growing number of prominent people have chosen to retweet these messages to all of their followers. This needs to stop.

There are two reasons why people retweet their deranged followers, both of which are misguided. The most common reason is simply to say to the rest of their followers “Do you see what I have to put up with?” Well, on behalf of all of your civilized followers, we know what you put up with. We know that there are all kinds of angry people out there who say angry and mean things online. You don’t need to remind us.

The other, less common reason for these retweets is to embarrass these so-called Twitter trolls by broadcasting their terrible comments to the world. Many loyal followers often bombard the troll with tweets chastising him or her for their comment, sometimes with hateful words of their own. This is a waste of time as these type of people typically do not have any shame and all of the responses actually play into the person’s craving for attention. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the problem of too much negativity online will be solved with additional negativity.

Most of the people on earth are good people, or at the very least, not horrible people. In an age when the internet and social media have served to provide a giant megaphone for every negative and depressing thing that ever happens, it is easy to start thinking that that the world is a horrible place filled with horrible people and things are getting worse by the minute. I’m not a sociologist, but that kind of world view cannot be healthy.

One of the biggest problems with retweeting hate-tweets is that it gives angry, isolated people a feeling that they are not alone. If you are sitting in front of your computer, hating the world and everyone in it, and all you see around you are sensible, functional people, you might at some point question whether it is you that has a problem. If, however, you see all kinds of angry and paranoid tweets being retweeted by the prominent people you follow, you may take comfort in thinking that there are many others out there who hate the world just as much as you. You may start following those people and retweeting them.

The recent shootings in Ottawa in many ways brought out the best in people, as strangers rushed to save a dying soldier and many people risked their lives to stop the shooter. If you spent any time on Twitter, however, you would see no shortage of people taking advantage of the moment to spew their agenda driven venom, be it attacking the government or Muslims. Some pundits retweeted a sampling of these tweets while others simply summarized all of the hate tweets. Perhaps society would be a little better off if prominent columnists would just let us all remain in our state of innocence about the nasty side of social media.

Some Thoughts on Boardwalk Empire – “The Devil You Know”

  1. Chalky White’s character deserved a much better final scene

Never has the writers’ task of cluing up this series in a hurry seemed more evident than with this week’s killing of Chalky White. Chalky had presumably been hell bent on getting his revenge on Narcisse, but in the process met up with his old flame and learned that he had given birth to his daughter while he was in jail. Daughter tells him how Narcisse has kept her under his thumb and prevented her from having a career as a recording artist. When Narcisse enters the room, it seems like Chalky had the perfect opportunity to gain his revenge and Daughter’s freedom with single bullet, but instead he gets neither. He hands over his gun for an obviously false promise to release her. Chalky is then quickly killed and Daughter is left facing the same bleak future.

  1. The fake drop made absolutely no sense

Why would Eli and Van Alden take the risk of making a drop with a bag full of newspapers when they make drops with real money all the time? They presumably make collections daily, so there is absolutely no reason for them to stuff the bag full of paper. The undercover cop, who is presumably a brilliant guy to have survived so long in his job, would have known that was a terrible risk, and he knew there was a chance that the guys would spill the beans if they were caught so he would obviously want them to take real money for the drop.

  1. Those Nucky drunk in a bar scene was a total waste of time.

We’ve already seen more than enough of Nucky getting drunk and wallowing in his troubles over the course of the series, so with only two episodes left to clue up this story the writers certainly don’t need to waste time showing him drinking, singing, and fighting with strangers in a bar. The writers appear to have clock management skills on par with Andy Reid. We have just past the two minute warning so it is time for the writers to stop calling runs up the middle.

  1. I am predicting that we are going to find out that Nucky is actually Jimmy’s real father.

I know that sounds absurd, but it seems like the only way that all of these flashbacks will have made any sense at all. Throughout the series, and particularly in this final season, Nucky not having any children has been a consistent underlying theme. From the death of his infant son, to the way he took in Margaret’s children as his own, to the contrast with his brother whose wife has been having children throughout the entire series. Finding out in the end that he had killed his own son would overlay perfectly with this theme and would help tie together all of the seasons. One semi-plausible scenario is that after Nucky’s son and wife die, he goes on a prolonged drunken binge and may not recall sleeping with Gillian. The timeline would actually line up nicely as a teenage Gillian has been introduced in the flashbacks at the same time that his wife is pregnant.

 

Tony Romo is Dead to Me

I have been rooting for Tony Romo since he was a backup quarterback to Drew Bledsoe. Years ago while in Dallas on business, I was listening to a local sports radio show in my rental car as the radio hosts were mocking Dallas fans who wanted Bill Parcells to give him a chance to start. These obnoxious hosts laughed at the unsophisticated fans who read too much into Romo’s solid preseason numbers against 2nd stringers. I specifically remember one of the hosts say in a frustrated tone “Look, Tony Romo is a backup quarterback”, as if he were exasperated at Cowboys fans for thinking that this undrafted backup could ever become a anything more than a backup.

As I was listening to this I couldn’t help but wish that this backup quarterback would get a chance to start someday and prove these blowhards wrong. It just so happened that a month or so later Bill Parcells finally gave Romo a chance to start and he put together a great season, leading the Cowboys to the playoffs. I am not a fan of the Cowboys, but I was aching for them to win the Super Bowl that year if only to put those snide radio hosts in their place. In their first playoff game, Romo drove the Cowboys deep in Seahawks territory to set up a chip shot field goal for the victory. Unfortunately, the kicker never got a chance to make the kick as Romo, who had continued in his role of holder after taking the starting quarterback role, mishandled the snap and got tackled after trying to improvise a run into the end zone.

Tony Romo’s one in a million miscue only made me root for him more. I grew up a diehard fan of the Quebec Nordiques, so I have always had a predilection for cursed teams and athletes. As the years rolled on there was a type of Groundhog Day scenario would repeat itself where Romo would play great for a stretch and raise expectations only to see a late season collapse the involved multiple soul crushing interceptions late in a critical divisional game.

Through all this I kept rooting for Tony Romo. Then this year I joined my first survivor pool. My strategy of simply picking whatever team available to me that had the biggest favorable point spread had been paying off for me. This week, according to the Vegas experts, the most lopsided game was the Seahawks at home against the Cowboys. I was tempted to go against my strategy and pick the Ravens against Tampa Bay, but I was a little scared off by Tampa’s performance against the Saints the week before. I, as did the Vegas odds makers, felt that Romo’s tendency to force balls into coverage would likely lead to a number of interceptions against the best secondary. Add to that the fact that Seattle has been nearly unbeatable at home the past couple of years, including home victories over Super Bowl contenders Green Bay and Denver this year, and I felt that this was the safest pick available since I had already used up San Diego and Denver.

After blowing an early lead the Seahawks regained the lead and had the Cowboys facing a third and twenty late in the 4th quarter. After the snap, the Seattle line collapsed the pocket and multiple defenders got a hand on him, put Romo channeled Eli Manning circa 2007 and danced out of trouble and threw a perfect throw down the sideline to Terrence Williams, who made a toe dragging catch that could only have been more amazing if he had pinned the ball to his helmet with Rodney Harrison trying to bat it away. After that Seattle’s will had been broken and Demarco Murray simply walked through them for the game winning touchdown.

I spent 8 years rooting for Tony Romo and got nothing but disappointment, frustration, and false hope. For one night I rooted against him and I lost my $20 pool entrance fee. I lived and breathed the Quebec Nordiques for all my life, and the year the franchise left town and I stopped caring about them they won the Stanley Cup. Tony Romo is dead to me, but he doesn’t care because it probably means he will win a Super Bowl this year.

NLDS Highlights How Major League Managers Have No Idea How to Use Relievers

The Washington Nationals loss in game 4 of the NLDS put a spotlight on one of the most baffling enigmas in professional sports; most major league managers have absolutely no idea how to use relief pitchers. Major league managers, even Matt Williams, are all of at least average intelligence, yet they routinely make terrible moves with relievers late in games, particularly so in the playoffs.

Playoff baseball magnifies by a factor of ten the flawed approach that managers have towards relief pitching. When you are managing over a 162 game season, it makes some sense to stick to a predetermined routine of middle relievers, set up men, and closers. You have to think big picture and can’t wear out your best arms trying to win every game as if it is your last. The difference with the playoffs is that often times the game could very well be your last.

In game 2 of the NLDS, up 1-0, Williams took starter Jordan Zimmerman out of the game with 2 outs in the 9th inning after walking a batter. The closer promptly surrendered the tying run and the Nationals went on to lose in 18 innings. Not wanting to risk overworking your starter makes perfect sense in April, but when you already down one game to none in a best of three series, the starter is likely to get six months rest before his next start if you don’t win that game. They didn’t win and Zimmerman’s next start will be in April of next year.

The decision in game 2 was nowhere near as bad as game 4. Tied 2-2 in the 7th inning of an elimination game, the Nationals surrendered a lead with their two best relievers along with Steven Strasburg watching helplessly from the bullpen. This perfectly illustrates the problem with big league managers’ approach to relief pitching. When the Giants got runners on base, that was the time to bring in the absolute best pitcher you have available at the time, but Williams chose not to bring in his best relief pitcher because managers have all inexplicably decided that your best relief pitcher should only ever pitch the 9th inning. There is absolutely no objective reason for this beyond inertia. In the playoffs, there is no reason why any reliever would have to pitch the 9th. With a shortened post-season rotation, a starter could be the one to close out a game. In the case of game 4, Steven Strasburg was more than capable of coming out and getting 3 outs in the 9th inning if necessary.

For all the progress that the study of data and analytics in baseball has made, the myopic approach to closers seems to have only gotten more entrenched in recent years. Managers will likely cling to this outdated strategy as long the most useless stat in all of baseball, the “Save”, continues to be tracked and given such high regard. Only when relievers and managers are unchained from this demi-stat will we ever see truly rational use of relief pitchers.