In re: The waiting is almost over.

There are of course many worse things in this world, but for bar takers from this past summer one of their worst things is the final week waiting for results, having folks asking about it non stop and trying to remember how they did months ago to reassure yourself.  Its long been put out of our control, now its just waiting until the arbitrary 7am posting of the results.  The horror of the whole thing is the studying, with failure brings another 2 months of cramming, the worst studying experience one can dream up.

So while its not life or death, and when you put it in perspective its only ‘a test’ for those of us who have been waiting 3 months for our results it feels like it and no matter what you try and do you can’t keep thinking through the scenarios, what you’ll do if you pass, if you fail, what you’ll say, how you will try and cope.  To everyone with a few minutes still to go, were almost there.

In re: A different kind of franchise

When you think franchise you probably think McDonald’s, but there are countless others, be it hotels, fast food, and practically anything else you can dream up.  Usually franchise setups involve strict control and compliance with the standards setup by the franchisor, ensuring that each individual franchisee holds up the quality and brand standards setout, and often requiring them to buy their products via approved suppliers or the franchiser.  Some companies like Starbucks (as i’ve commented on before) avoid franchising whenever possible (such as in airports or on college campuses etc. where they might not be able to enter otherwise) because the company does not believe that (among other reasons) franchises will hold up their strict brand image that they rely so much on (they are ‘just’ selling coffee lets remember).

So it was kinda interesting to hear on All Things Considered while driving home about a franchise setup with almost no central control, who is you ask, Great Harvest Bread Company.  In fact they really don’t make you do much of anything and encourage you to do your own thing.  All they ask is that you make their signature honey whole wheat bread, put up the logo/sign and grind your wheat daily.  So about as different as the strict controls that so many others have. Interested?  Well I was, its a cool story and I recommend listening, available online at NPR.org

In re: Oh well. Tribe season now in the rear view.

wahoo.jpgAs a life long Cleveland Indians fan I had the fortune of growing up at the end of their streak of horrible years, that ended with the opening of Jacob’s field in 1994, which marked the first season in years that the Indians contended. Two world series appearances and countless years of division dominance followed, only to see it finally end with the team imploded, payroll reduced and ‘rebuilding’ ensue. This year all of that rebuilding came to fruition was this one, with an amazing end of the regular season, placing the Tribe tied for the best AL record.

The first round pitted Cleveland with its $60 million or so payroll against the Yankees, a team whose payroll triples the Indians. Cleveland had no trouble dispatching the Yankees (well they had some help from the bugs) and helped bring about the end of Joe Torre as Yankee manager. All was set for a great series with Boston, and all was going well, giving the Tribe the chance to win at home in game 5 with the Tribe up 3-1 in games. Well, Boston battled back and all the luck that was going the Tribe’s way disappeared or went to the Red Sox. Suddenly Tribe pitching was horrible and the team couldn’t get the clutch 2 out hits they had lived off. The game isn’t over yet actually, the Indians got 3 outs but needing 9 runs makes it look unlikely. It was a good year, it didn’t end so well, and will definitely leave a bitter taste in fans mouths.

I’ve always been interested in why we fans get so worked up in our teams (as evidenced by Manny Ramirez’s comments about there being next year, but for fans there really isn’t, he wouldn’t lose sleep, but his fans would and some players as well, as seen in the Indians dugout where there are some teary eyes)  Somehow some need to connect to something, to root for something, to believe in something, probably rooted in some tribal past makes us too prone to getting involved with these teams, making us eat, sleep and dream about them. So the Red Sox won the pennant, there have to be more important things for me to worry about right? Hope they enjoy it.

In re: Finally competition for Windows?

apple.jpgInteresting article about Apple in the NY Times about the growth of Apple, how the success of the iPod has helped them move up in computer sales (Two research firms that track the computer market said last week that Apple would move into third place in the United States behind HP and Dell on Monday, when it reports product shipments in the fiscal fourth quarter as part of its earnings announcement.) Also helping Apple has been the steady pace of OS releases unlike Microsoft that has had problems with its Vista release and subsequent updates.

Will Apple’s rise continue? Well they’ve shown with the iPhone release that they won’t do everything perfect (iPhone problems such as not having third party applications, updates bricking phones, etc. The less then amazing Apple TV) but if they can deal with those types of problems and continue to deliver what they so far have been able to do (beat MS to market in terms of product features and product design then who knows maybe they will give Redmond a run for their money)

In re: Fair catch not so fair for Louisville…

I was watching a bit of the Louisville/Connecticut friday night football game (if something is in HD it’s fair game for watching now..) anyway, in the 3rd quarter Louisville punted to UConn whose return man signaled for a fair catch, causing the furthest coverage man for Louisville to stop, only to then see the UConn return-man start running the punt back, resulting in a touchdown.

The announcers mentioned that it showed the importance of playing until the whistle blows, but the problem with this is that the fair catch is one of the strange situations where the player (the fair catching return man) is essentially handed the whistle and can prevent the other team from tackling him, and with a pretty severe 15 yard penalty for hitting him if he signaled a fair catch mean you can’t really play it safe and make sure you really saw him call a fair catch (anything that looks like he is calling the fair catch, needs to be treated as such of course and an invalid fair catch signal results in a dead ball as well by rule.)

The problem with this whole situation is that it was a non-reviewable play, whether he called fair catch or not (he clearly did, and the ref was so close its amazing he missed it). Louisville was rightly peeved and that rule needs to be changed as you need players to respect the fair catch signal and a play like this one punishes a team for playing by the rules.

Update: L’Ville ended up losing this game 21-17 so this mistake is probably gonna become bigger news… well didn’t seem to be a big deal on Sports Center, but some papers picked up on it (including Conn ones who thought it was garbage, but here is one from Louisville in the Courier Journal – An Unfair Catch)

In re: Does OSU spend too much on sports?

At $109,382,222 for the current year, Ohio State’s athletic budget is the largest in the nation and the biggest in the history of college sports. It allows the school to field 36 varsity teams in everything from baseball and soccer to riflery and synchronized swimming. The school spends about $110,000 on each of its 980 athletes, which is triple the amount the university spends per undergraduate on education.  Inside College Sports’ Biggest Money Machine – Wall Street Journal

Its no secret that Ohio loves its sports, and the Wall Street Journal compared the amount of money spent on sports at OSU which currently is both the biggest school (number of students) as well as having the largest athletic budget.  The athletic department is self funded and actually turns a profit due to the huge revenues basketball and football bring in.  Is it wrong for people to spend all this money while tuition for schools is rising and thousands struggle with staggering debt loads.

Its a complex issue of course, people are free to spend their money how they choose – but what kind of message is sent by a school that has crumbling dorms (no first hand knowledge here) for normal students but has for players “a lounge that has six flat-panel TVs, three videogame systems and a juice bar” for football players.  (Part of the issue is the blurring between student athlete and the pseudo-professional sports big time college sports have become)

I generally am of the view that athletics allow alumni to stay a lot closer to their schools and that the publicity sports bring to schools helps the academics in countless ways.   A few people on Columbus Underground discussed this article, and most of them seem upset that the author wrote it in a way that didn’t stress that sports was self funded (and threw in all the stuff about Ohio’s crumbling economy) See post here .  But there is definitely a bigger issue here, whether we will continue to allow sports at colleges (basketball and football) to separate towards professional sports in the way they are run and the money or if schools should remain academic institutions through and through – as an OSU fan I may be a bit biased on the issue as a win on Sat. sure makes for a great week.

 At Ohio State, “nonrevenue” sports such as men’s lacrosse and women’s track don’t have to worry about earning their funding. Excluding football and basketball, OSU’s other 34 teams generate about $1.5 million in revenue. Last year, for example, expenses for the women’s hockey team totaled a little over $1.2 million while the sport brought in just $1,642, all of it from arena concessions. Many sports, including rifle, pistol, and women’s fencing, don’t contribute any revenue at all. “I’m sure my scholarship is possible because of the football team,” says Lindsay Quintiliani, a sophomore goalie on the field hockey team….A few years ago, the [athletic] department contributed $5 million to help fund renovations to the campus’s main library.”

In re: OSU to No. 1?

Tomorrow the first edition of the BCS  rankings will come out and after two huge upsets today (Cal losing to Oregon St. and LSU losing to KY) it looks like the Buckeyes are sitting at the number 1 spot.  The OSU schedule this year is weak for sure, but don’t blame them for all the other teams horrible losses (KY isn’t that good, despite their ranking, Stanford is horrible most days and Oregon St. they aren’t so hot either).  Of course the season is far from over, OSU has plenty of tough Big Ten games coming up, and with the spotlight turning to OSU these are sure to get even tougher as this young team will have everyone else really gunning and Michigan will sure bring their A game to the big house with a chance to redeem their season (especially if OSU is still undefeated by then, but who knows as Illinois despite their loss, and Wisc can be real tough, not to mention the others)

I’ve been spoiled for sure by the OSU sports scene since I arrived here in Columbus has been absolutely phenomenal.  So I say, enjoy it, at least while it lasts as this wasn’t supposed to be  our year, but neither was 2002, who knows?