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Friday, January 12, 2007

How much is that team in the window?

This will probably seem completely swerve-y compared to the posts so far, but it could look completely in place compared to what could come later, even if the topic eventually chosen has nothing to do with sports. (Keep commenting on the post below this one!) If your eyes completely glaze over at this stuff, please skip past it to the posts below.

ESPN has an intriguing story on Portland, Oregon's efforts to land a major league baseball team, namely, the Florida Marlins, who are currently engaged in stadium woes. The case is compelling, with a stadium deal on the table, and one of the largest markets without an MLB team. Of the four traditional major sports, Portland holds only one, the NBA's Trail Blazers; it's the largest metropolitan area in the 2000 Census with but one team from the traditional four major sports, and ranked behind only San Diego for having two or fewer. (The Census has since broadened its definition of a metro area, splitting Baltimore from Washington and nonsensically splitting Riverside and San Bernardino counties from the LA area into its own metro area that tops all three.) According to the article, one research group ranked Portland behind only New York and LA for having the highest ratio of population to traditional big four teams.

On both ratio and being the largest market with either only an NBA team or no baseball team, Portland is behind Orlando and Sacramento on Nielsen's list of TV markets. But both those markets are far closer to their natural alternative alliegiance (Tampa Bay and the SF Bay Area, respectively) than Portland is to Seattle, the nearest MLB team.

Las Vegas, Charlotte, and San Antonio are also mentioned as expressing interest, and Northern New Jersey (which would make MLB join the NHL as the only even remotely prominent leagues with three teams in one market), Orlando, and Norfolk/Hampton Roads are also flirted with. Under the old Census definition, Hampton Roads is the largest metro area without any traditional major league team, with Las Vegas right behind, but both have their problems (in Vegas' case, the whole gambling thing). Connecticut leads the list of Nielsen markets, though it does have the WNBA's Sun, followed by West Palm Beach, Grand Rapids (who have the Arena Football League's Rampage), Birmingham AL, Harrisburg PA, Hampton Roads, and Las Vegas.

The Marlins are not the only team with stadium woes. The NHL's Penguins are also haggling over stadiums and may be out of Pittsburgh next year. Kansas City is considered the front-runner, but Houston is the States' largest old-definition metro area and largest Nielsen market without an NHL team (and have reportedly expressed interest), though it's very south and the league's southern movement is seen as to blame for its recent woes. Seattle follows close behind in both; though there's theoretically an attraction with the Vancouver Canucks, being a Seattleite myself I don't see it, though one difference with baseball in Portland is we don't get the Canucks on TV. Quebec City and ex-NHL city Winnepeg are Canadian metro areas 7 and 8; the Canadian NHL teams line up with the top 6 metro areas exactly.

Seattle itself is the center of stadium woes in the NBA, as the Sonics have gotten fed up with their stadium, a decade old and made antique by the replacement of the Kingdome with new baseball and football stadiums. Spice was added to the fire when a group of investors from Oklahoma City bought the team; the New Orleans Hornets have done amazingly well in exile in the OKC, and the city has been angling for an NBA team (and the Penguins if they can't get it). A move out of Seattle, the largest market with stadium woes I've talked about so far and with much more fan loyalty than in South Beach, would be a "Cleveland Browns" situation if there ever was one. The NBA has a history of being the only game in town; Orlando, Sacramento, Portland, and San Antonio boast NBA teams as their only traditional major league teams. But it doesn't have more teams than those others, so they have to come from somewhere: San Diego and St. Louis are the largest old-definition metro areas without NBA teams, and in St. Louis' case it's the only traditional major league they're missing. The STL ranks only behind Tampa Bay (another market with everything but the NBA) in Nielsen markets, followed by yet another MLB-NFL-NHL market, Pittsburgh (though that may not be for long, of course!), and finally Baltimore.

The NFL, of course, has the "LA Gap", and like baseball, by the old definition Portland is the largest metro area without a team other than LA. Also like baseball, the NFL has Orlando and Sacramento as the only Nielsen markets ahead of Portland. The NFL, though, has teams in curiously small markets like Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Green Bay; they make up for it with a lack of a team in Milwaukee, no team in LA, and only one team in Chicago (baseball is the only traditional major league with two Chicago teams).

Thursday, January 11, 2007

State of Da Blog moving forward, and a way to affect its history!

I have a few things I'd like to catch up with at this moment.

First, the counter. No, there have not been 34 visitors to Da Blog over the last week. I could set it to display the number of unique users, but I think the number of 13 that would appear is a little low. Take it all with a grain of salt.

Second and more importantly, I'm starting to worry that my lengthy third post is obscuring the first post for all of the people who are discovering Da Blog suddenly. That means missing the backbone of that third post, but it also obscures something else. The posts I have now aren't really emblematic of me (obviously), or of what I envision Da Blog becoming. While some blogs are little more than diaries and only a few blogs go beyond personal, a lot of blogs comment not only on happenings in life, but in whatever else interests the person who posts them. People often talk about their thoughts on whatever they feel like saving space on their blog for, and sometimes dedicate their entire blog to a single subject.

I want to talk about me, of course, but I also want to talk about more than me. And while I have no shortage of things I'm already interested in, I'd like to hear your suggestions. Is there something out there that's going unblogged? Something you'd like to hear my thoughts on? Considering the likelihood that I may have something insanely complex that would constitute a radical new idea, maybe you'd like to see that, and gain a new perspective? Or maybe I'm just begging for something that would hook the most people into making Da Blog a destination. Or, since there's a positive spin for anything, maybe I'm trying to gauge the interests of my audience so I can tailor what I write to them.

What are you interested in? While you're here, feel free to leave a comment and let me know. If you don't have a Google/Blogger account and "Other" doesn't work for you for some reason, post anonymously; you can still identify yourself in the body of the post.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

18 years of experience described in, what, an hour?

The other day I got an assignment from one of my teachers inviting me to submit a brief one-paragraph autobiography of sorts to introduce myself to the class.

My first thought: Great! A chance to plug Da Blog! For you see, at the time Da Blog still registered as having zero visitors happening by. (That seems to have changed this weekend, though. Congrats to all six of the visitors who have happened by since Friday! What led you here, though?)

As I do with almost everything, though, I procrastinated until this evening, planning on doing something I never got around to doing. As I sat down to write it, though, I realized that in my first post I presented to you a portrait of me frozen in time. I haven't given the backstory behind my life that would add a palpable, possibly essential, dimension of context to what I say here. I gave you where I was on one day in December 2006, but not where I was in the eighteen and a half years before then.

So, then: a brief version of the story of my life.

I was born in Seattle... well, technically I was born in a suburb of Seattle, but my parents lived in Seattle so I lived in Seattle for my first five or so years of life. During this time we lived in a living space in the basement of another house. (It sounds more dirt-poor than it is. It was actually fully furnished and lit and everything.)

When I was five, my parents moved to Los Angeles and lived in an apartment in the Venice neighborhood (as in Venice Beach) south of Santa Monica. My dad, heretofore an aspiring stand-up comedian, got jobs as extras in TV shows (some episodes of Babylon 5) and movies (Forrest Gump). After a year, the market research firm my mom had worked at became desperate, and she moved back to the Seattle area, taking me with her. We lived with her parents just outside Issaquah, another Seattle suburb.

After another year my dad came back up as well, and we rented a house in the same neighborhood as the house we first lived in when I was born. I would have been about seven, so this would be in 1995. It was during this time that I first got a computer for full-time use (as opposed to mooching off ones in Mom's office, just in time for Windows 95 to be on it. I quickly became addicted, especially after discovering the Internet.

It was also during this time that I took a stand against a teacher I really didn't like by basically not doing anything all day at school. I finished up second grade being home-schooled by my dad. That summer our landlords decided to either sell the house or rent it to someone else (I forget which) and we had to move again, this time staying in Seattle but moving across the freeway. After having never lived in any house for more than a year since I was five, I would stay in this house all the way up to college, and my mom still lives there.

I was put in another school, but was taken out again after one or two months. In late November I was put in a special-ed room at yet another school and started riding in those small buses you probably have associated with special-ed at some time or another.

My dad, having had a taste of acting, directed and starred in a super-low budget film that looks like it was shot on a camcorder and not on film around 1998. Filmmaking has been his life's calling since then, and he plans to move back to LA later this year. After getting rave reviews with his first film, he decided to make another film with a higher budget, planning to shoot some scenes in the high school I would ultimately attend early in my freshman year. That film has yet to move very far beyond the point it was then since then, and in 2006 he ultimately made another incredibly low-budget film. He has taken much ribbing from me about that movie, and it has become our family's equivalent of the sitcom dad who always stakes fame and fortune on hitting the winning lottery ticket.

After elementary school I went to middle school, in a place right across the street from my preschool home, and at first spent basically all my time in the special ed room again. The effort to "mainstream" (the move to verb every unverbed word strikes again!) me began almost immediately, and by the end of sixth grade instead of having all but one period in the special ed room I was spending all but one period out of it, which would be the pattern throughout middle and high school.

Meanwhile my parents got divorced, which at first seemed like a divorce on paper only, but it eventually led to Dad moving out of the house. Mom got tired of the "Dilbert"-like course of business at the market research firm and started training for network certification. Once she was done with that, she took a job as a technical support worker at Seattle University, which had the added side effect of making tuition for me when it was time for me to go there absoultely free. Which, in turn, made it possible for me to even consider it in the first place. While waiting for the Ever-Absent Movie Contract, Dad took jobs as a cook, working at one area pizza place first as a delivery guy and then a pizzeria cook for many years, until last year, when he left to become a manager at another pizza place. (Why not the place he'd been working for for years? For the same reason Mom left the market research firm.)

After middle school I went to high school, and after high school I went to college, and I'm really skipping over a lot of things that happened along the way. I'm sure some of those things will trickle out over the course of Da Blog. For example, two of the five colleges I applied to were in LA, so I accompanied Dad on a trip down there in late 2005, which he spent trying to grease the movie wheels and I spent rediscovering the place I hadn't been in for over a decade.

So, that's my life. On an unrelated, and yet somehow not, note, expect me to have a lot of trouble ending blog posts, but hey...