Seth Gottlieb's Web Log

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty

I just finished reading the book The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness, by Buster Olney. What a great book for a Red Sox fan. First of all, a word to vendors out there: if you want me to buy something, cover it with pictures of despondent Yankees. Most of the narrative weaves around the 2001 world series talking about the players and then leading up to the well known ending of the Yankees losing to the Diamond Backs in game 7. For me, reading it must be similar to what a Yankee fan might feel when watching the movie "Still, We Believe." Side note: I have been avoiding the emotional pain of watching this movie, even though I know the true happy ending of 2004.

One of the interesting points made was that Yankees team of the late 90's was architected by some very clever people that know how to select talented people that play well together, support each other, and can withstand the pressure of New York. These people were finally able to operate freely when Steinbrenner was banned from Baseball preventing him from sacrifice long term success for short term tinkering.

The Epilogue of the book is priceless reading for a Sox fan. It basically talks about how the 2001 loss drove Georgey crazy and he has been throwing money into the team in foolish ways (Contreras), overriding his experts with his own bad baseball decisions (Mondesi), and making Yankees management miserable and less invested in the Yankees program. What is left is a bunch of highly paid mercenaries that are individualists and not so much fun for Torre to coach as the old gang.

Pitchers and catchers report today. I am pumped. It is so on.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


I recently used PlanetTran to get home from Logan after a red-eye from California. PlanetTran is a car service that uses fuel-efficient Toyota Prius Hybrids rather than the usual Crown Vic or other gas guzzling de-commissioned cop cars. The service was great. I booked the trip online and was given an accurate estimate of $43 for the ride. This is almost exactly what I would have paid a cab but the experience was a lot nicer. The car and driver (the founder) were waiting for me right across the street from baggage claim. I chose to sit up front where I could get a good view of the Prius information console that displayed how the car was being powered (gas or battery). I was able to pay by credit card and the transaction was processed through a Dell Windows CE device that recorded my signature.

The founder says he has 4 cars and has a 5th on order. They have been going for about a year and business is picking up as people start hearing about the service.

I highly recommend PlanetTran and will use them again.

Friday, January 28, 2005

What will they call the stadiums?

Now that P&G bought Gillette, and Bank of America bought Fleet, and Manulife bought John Hancock, we are running out of big, Boston based, household name companies. Beyond all the details about jobs and the local economy, what will they call the stadiums? Bank of America gave back naming rights to the Fleet Center (not out of good will, by the way, their contract said they could not rename the stadium again). Here is a list of the following companies that could be in the running:
  • Fidelity, my bet.
  • Citizens Bank, based in Providence, they are bigger now with all the Financial Services M&A. They also took over the Fast Lane advertising from Fleet.
  • New Balance. Big name but I don't know if they have the budget for this kind of marketing.
  • EMC. Not consumer facing enough.
  • TJX. Holding companies are too abstract. They could name a stadium after one of their properties.
  • State Street Bank.
  • Staples, but they already have the Staples Center, why is it in LA?
  • Raytheon, too military.
  • Genzyme. No one wants to think of Lysosomal Storage Disorders when they are a game.
  • Biogen. Not so New England any more with the merger with IDEC

BTW, I think "The Razor" is the coolest name for a football stadium. Since the Gillette brand is going to live on, I hope they keep it.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

This made me feel better

Over the last couple of years I have been grappling with this feeling that our civilization is in decline as evidenced by the prevalence and popularity of reality TV shows that focus on pain and humiliation. People watch car races for the crashes, "The Batchelor" for the tears, and Springer for the fights and humiliation. Audiences are not satisfied with acting. They need the real thing.

This post on the Long Tail blog made me feel a little better. It references a David Foster Wallace essay which says:

TV is not vulgar and prurient and dumb because the people who compose the audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests.

So it looks like mass media just amplifies the negative side of our culture. The positive, aspirational side is still there. There just isn't a market for it.

See you at the Flavian.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Yankees spending more on luxury tax than Tampa is on payroll

I just saw a Yahoo News article that says that for 2005, the Yankees will pay more in luxury tax than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays will spend on their whole payroll. The Yankee$ will probably spend over $190 million (leading to a tax bill of $60 million) while the Devil Rays are around $25 million. I can't believe the disparity between payrolls and I don't know how MLB will stay competitive. It's getting to the point that the rest of the league just has to hope that the Evil Empire makes mistakes or implodes under their own pressure.

Speaking of the Bronx pressure cooker. I heard an NPR interview with Buster Olney who wrote the book The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness. The book sounds great. The basic premise is that Steinbrenner has created such a high pressure environment that it has become very difficult to perform. The teams of the 90's were so good because they had a strong core of players that came up through the minors together (Williams, Jeter, O'Neill) and supported each other against the wrath of George and the attention of the fans. Now the team is a bunch of greedy individualists who, although great athletes, regularly perform beneath their potential. I hope he is right.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Slackware Rave's

It seems all anyone has to do is write an article about Slackware and everyone comes out of the woodwork. So, I figure I would add to the din.

Slackware is the oldest and largest community based Linux distribution around. It is usually on the top 10 on DistroWatch.
The latest version (v. 10) was released in June 2004.

I have been using Slackware 10 (on a Sager lap destroyer) since September and am pretty happy with it. Slackware is pretty stable (except for that phase that for some reason KDE decided to crash all the time - I don't use KDE anymore) and easy to use (although I frequently envy people who can just "YUM" or "Emerge" while I must trudge along with ./configure; make; make install). I guess the best part of Slackware is that it forces you to kind of know what is going on with your software. In the words of an anonymous colleague: "I don't know, I think that Gentoo is making me stupid." I also find the Slackware forums to be very helpful and can occasionally find what I need on Linux Packages.

So if you are interested in taking the Linux desktop/laptop plunge and want to learn something on the way, Slackware is not a bad choice.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Funny page on replying to obnoxious emails

Just saw this post on Boing Boing. It describes how to politely reply to an obnoxious email without bottling up your anger or having to write two emails. Hilarious.