Saturday, August 3, 2013

Thoughts on recent restaurant controversies: Drew Brees' tip & the TGI Fridays bad booze

Earlier this week a photo (see below) hit the internet of a restaurant credit card receipt signed by Drew Brees, leaving a $3 tip on a $74 bill (4%).  After much public ridicule about his cheapness, Brees sent out this tweet defending himself:

Click on photo to expand
Depending on the specifics of the situation, it's quite possible that his $3 to-go order tip is still a horrendous one.  I wrote a blog a few months ago that explains exactly why.  But if it's a restaurant designed for take out business, than it may be no big deal.  I'm willing to give Brees the benefit of the doubt and assume that's the case, especially considering the place's managing partner wrote a formal apology letter in which he stated "takeout orders do not usually garner a tip at our restaurant.”

But even considering this, I think it's definitely uncool of Brees to leave $3.  He's Drew freaking Brees; a year ago he signed a 5 year $100 million contract.  The difference between $3 and $20 is literally nothing to him, why not just drop a great tip and make everyone happy?

And in other service industry news, an owner of eight TGI Fridays in New Jersey has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine for filling liquor bottles with cheaper alcohol.  Here's my original take on that story as it was happening.  It's actually a $400,000 fine, and $100,000 for "investigative costs," which supports my theory that Aaron Hernandez should have to pay for the police divers searching for his gun.

Friday, August 2, 2013

It's wins like this that make you think something special is brewing

A week ago the Red Sox fell out of first place (behind Tampa) in the AL East for the first time in two months.  Then on Monday they had the division lead taken away from them again when the Rays were handed a victory via a blown call at home plate.  It was the kind of loss that makes you wonder if the fates of each team are about to head in opposite directions.  I was worried.  Very worried.

But now three games later the Sox have responded in incredible fashion.  A fifteen-inning triumph on Wednesday set the stage for the biggest win of the season yesterday.  Back on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend Boston scored 4 runs in the ninth (ending with a two-out two-run double by Jacoby Ellsbury) to come from behind and beat Cleveland 6-5.  That game was amazing; but last night's was better.  Daniel Nava led off the 9th inning with a walk, then ended the night with a 400+ foot single to the triangle as the Red Sox scored 6 times in the frame to turn a 7-2 deficit into an 8-7 walk-off win.  And it was all made possible because the Mariners manager mistakenly pointed to the bullpen with the wrong hand.

With the score 7-3 and two relievers warming up, Robbie Thompson wanted to bring in right-hander Yoervis Medina, but he signaled with his left arm instead of his right.  He quickly fixed his error and motioned with the other hand, but the umpires ruled he'd already made a decision, and Seattle was forced to bring in lefty Oliver Perez.  Perez promptly gave up back to back singles (to Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia, both batting right handed) to keep the rally going.

It's wins like this that make you think something special is brewing.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Aaron Hernandez should pay for this (literally)

For three days I've watched ESPN's coverage of police divers searching a pond in Bristol, CT for Aaron Hernandez's murder weapon.  That got me thinking about how much this investigation is costing; the divers are probably thousands of dollars a day, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.  After he's found guilty, Hernandez should get a bill from the State of Massachusetts for "processing fees" totaling all the expenses of putting him in jail.  And then if he still has any assets left, they ought to be seized too.  What does a guy spending life in prison need any money for?

What about his family, you ask?  I realize he's got a fiancee and a 9-month-old daughter, but to them I say "too bad."  Maybe set up a trust for the child that rations out a small amount of money to make sure she's fed and clothed properly.  But other than that, I don't think they should get anything.  I assume Hernandez's baby mama is a functional human being who is capable of getting a job and earning a living, right?  Plenty of single mothers do it all the time.  I wouldn't view depriving her of Hernandez's earnings as taking something away, but as simply not rewarding her with a cushy lifestyle for getting engaged and having a kid with a NFL player who turned out to be a murderer.

Having said all that, I don't really know much of anything about Hernandez's financial situation, but I'm assuming/hoping there's a good chance his own legal defense fees may bleed him dry.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why I'm not a fan of the Jose Iglesias for Jake Peavy trade

Leading off the second inning on Tuesday night, Jose Iglesias roped a line drive off the green monster, then ran hard trying to stretch it into a double.  The throw beat him to second, but he avoided the tag with the Dustin Pedroia patented "slide head first and lift up the left arm while trying to sneak in with the right" move.  Unfortunately Iglesias was too far away to touch the base, although he did remain out of reach of the fielder.  He jumped sideways, then hopped up and started sprinting back towards first base, still without being tagged out.  Eventually he got caught in a rundown; but I'd never seen a play like that before, and I thought to myself, "wow, that's the kind of guy you want to have on your team."

And then a few hours later the Red Sox traded him.  Here's my gut reaction to the news that Iglesias had been dealt for Jake Peavy, which still accurately sums up how I feel:

To me it seems like a huge gamble to give up a guy who could be a cornerstone of the franchise for well over a decade in order to get a slightly above average and often injured (Peavy has only stayed healthy for roughly half the season in 3 of the last 4 years) starting pitcher with a 4.28 ERA.  If somehow Boston doesn't make the postseason (despite the favorable odds), it'll clearly be a regrettable decision.  And even if they do and Peavy doesn't win a few playoff games, it still very well might be.

And then there's my nightmare situation: A Red Sox vs Tigers playoff scenario in which Iglesias comes up to bat with the series on the line and legs out a key infield hit when his replacement at third base can't quit make the play for Boston.

Besides my fan perspective, some numbers support my case as well.  Baseball has a very detailed statistic called WAR (wins above replacement), which basically determines how much better a player is than the average guy on the bench behind him or in Triple-A.  For the season Peavy's WAR is 1.0, meaning the White Sox were one game better with him that they would have been using the next best available option.  Even if you give him the benefit of the doubt and factor in his 5.2 from last year, that still works out to just 1.2 more wins for Boston over their final 53 games.  Is it really worth potentially damaging your future for one or two more victories this season?

But here's the kicker: Forget about the long term effects, there's a decent chance the Sox could actually be worse right now.  Jose Iglesias was having a very good season, though 63 games his WAR stood at 1.5.  Depending on whether you compare that to Peavy's 2013 or 2012+2013 WAR, Boston projects to win either .02 or .77 fewer games with Peavy on the team instead of Iglesias.

Obviously these stats are very inexact, and many other variables come in to play as well.  But the fact that this trade likely hurts the Sox later on, and may or may not even help them now, makes me very skeptical.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Well done

If TV commercials actually work (which I'm not sure they do), then I'd like to think no males between the ages of 25-45 would buy a car in the near future from anywhere besides, because this ad is solid gold:

I've got to say, even 14 years later young Mr. Vanderbeek still does a pretty spot on rendition of that scene:


Monday, July 29, 2013

I'm shocked that a store would actually sell this Aaron Hernandez t-shirt

I saw this shirt hanging in the window of a shop on Circuit Ave in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard:

I don't get it.  If it's supposed to be funny, what's the joke?  Haha, he's a murderer?  Not only is that in incredibly poor taste, but if it's making fun of him it's a pretty lame and uncreative way to do it.  If Hernandez was in jail for something like robbing a bank or stealing a car, then I guess I could understand how it'd be appropriately amusing; but definitely not for murder.

I can also see the angle how some idiot would think anti-Patriots fans in other parts of the country might enjoy it, but obviously not here in Massachusetts.  Then there's the even scarier possibility that it's not actually intended to mock Hernandez at all.  Is murder cool?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Awesome Old Song of the Week: "A Murder of One" by the Counting Crows

In September of 1993 the Counting Crows released an album called "August and Everything After."  A short while later it became one of my favorite CD's for years to come.  I just learned that the title is actually the name of a song they chose not to include on the record, and the cover art is the handwritten lyrics of said song.  In picking a track from this disc it only seemed fair to go with one that didn't receive major air play; so here is "A Murder of One."

I also saw the Counting Crows in concert once, one of two shows I ever went to at the Orphium Theater in Boston (the other was a then largely unknown band called Rusted Root opening up for Toad the Wet Sprocket).  It was on Halloween, and lead singer Adam Duritz was wearing a giant bright pink bunny costume.

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