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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

Paper Bags

Thursday
July 6, 2006

Here's a memo to fans of the Atlanta Braves -- it's not cool to wear paper bags over your heads to your games.

A picture appeared on ESPN's website yesterday that showed four Braves fans with the cliched paper bag over the head appearance to supposedly hide their embarrassment for being at the game. Now I could understand it if they had been at a Tampa Bay Devil Rays game. But the Braves have been division champions every season since 1991. 1991!!! The last time the Braves missed the post-season was 1990, when there were only two divisions in each league, only four teams total qualified for the post-season, and Atlanta played in the NL West. Why were they in the NL West? See, the team used to be in Milwaukee, but then they moved to Atlanta, but the division alignment was stuck in place. It took realignment in 1995 to change things. If that all seems like a long time ago, that's because it *was* a long time.

English Speech Contest
Sid Bream lead Atlanta past Pittsburgh and into the 1992 World Series.
So finally, in 2006, the law of averages has caught up with them, and manager Bobby Cox has been unable to weave straw into gold. It's baseball, and these things happen. So shame on Braves fans who wear bags over their heads. I realize that Atlanta only won one World Series during that stretch. Waaah. Save it for fans in Buffalo, or Cleveland, or Seattle, or even Sacramento.

It appears that eBay is frightened by Google's forthcoming Google Checkout payment system, as it has banned payments for auctions via GC. Why? The surface reason is because GC is new and thus doesn't have a substantial historical track record of providing safe and reliable financial and/or banking related service. That's according to eBay's Acceptable Payment Policy, which (interestingly enough) was just renamed from its Safe Payment Policy. As in most cases, there are two answers, one that sounds good and a real one. eBay owns PayPal, and GC threatens to carve a large chunk out of PayPal's revenue.

PayPal is an effective payment tool, and it would be nice for there to be competition out there for it. My guess is that there will be leverage placed on eBay over this, and eventually it will give in, lest it begin losing auction business to people who wish to do transactions via GC. (Disclosure: as of this writing, I own stock in eBay.)

According to some recommendations I've read, it's suggested that you drink 64 ounces of water a day. That seems like a lot, but it actually has proven to be not so difficult since I started -- even when I ran out of bottled water. One suggestion I read was to try drinking a cup of water in the morning, when you first wake up. And sure enough, that works pretty well. I have some 16 ounce party cups that do the job quite well on that. This morning I had two cups of water before I left for work. That's 32 oz. of water before I headed out the door. I'm not sure that I could handle the disgusting tasting Florida tap water, but Alabama tap water isn't so bad. But I know I'm going to make a point to load up on bottled water the next time I hit the grocery store.

Sirius is up to 4.7 million subscribers, as of the end of Q2 (second quarter) 2006. It befuddles me why anyone would sign up with XM over Sirius at this point, unless you're a hardcore baseball fan outside of your home market. There are no exclusive Hot Talk shows on XM, their deal with NASCAR ends at the end of this year, and they just blew upwards of $30 million a year on their new deal with Oprah Winfrey (who will be doing a half hour a *week* on XM.) XM did land the NHL, but hockey on the radio is absolutely brutal, and the NHL TV ratings should give you some idea of what kind of impact that will have in the United States (minimal.)

I've given the Birmingham local news outlets here a free ride so far, but they really deserve an in-depth criticism. This is a top 40 TV market, but it sure doesn't act like it most of the time. I don't want to bag on people who I haven't met (there are enough people in the biz, like the Meddler, who deserve my vitriol), but there are some glaring problems I've seen on multiple stations that deserve pointing out. And what's worse, the NBC O&O affiliate (WVTM-TV 13) was recently purchased by Media General, which has been anything but impressive with WIOT (which has the embarrassing slogan of "It's About Time", which sounds like something co-opted from the late Owen Hart, circa 1998.)

The grand irony to Media General is that they own the NBC affiliate in Tampa (WFLA-TV) and do a bang-up job with it, but the company has a rep for putting all of its resources into WFLA-TV and short-staffing the rest of its stations. If WIOT is an example of that, it seems like a spot-on observation, at least based on the on-air product that I have seen...


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