Let’s talk about the point after

The NFL has announced that extra points will henceforth be kicked from the fifteen yard line. The ball will also be considered live on a failed try, giving the defense the opportunity to return it for two points. It’s an attempt to take one of the most boring plays in the game and transform it into something a little more interesting.

It doesn’t go nearly far enough. According to Dean Blandino, the NFL’s chief of officiating, teams make field goals from that distance at about a 93% rate. That means the extra point is still basically automatic and I’ll still be using it as the start of my bathroom break.

So how do we make the extra point better? Well…

  • Get rid of it completely and make all teams go for two. Kickers are stupid and nobody likes them, so let’s take them out of the equation completely. Earning points by kicking when the point of the game is to physically advance the ball across the field is weird. Less of that is better.
  • Offer additional points based on celebration quality. Zero for a simple spike. One for something decent, like a fun shuffle or a WWE pose. Two points for dancing fat guys, cell phones pulled from under the goal post cushion, and pretend moonings. Oh, and no points at all for a repeat. Keep it fresh and funky, yo.
  • Use it as a means of reducing PEDs. This one’s revolutionary. All players must be tested for banned substances prior to game time, but suspensions for roiding up are abolished. Upon scoring a touchdown, you’re automatically awarded an extra point if and only if you had fewer positive tests on the field than your opponent during the scoring play. Want to field a defense loaded with hulked up chemistry experiments? Fine, but it’s going to cost you some points.
  • Require the scoring player to dunk the ball over the goal post before getting tackled or stepping out of bounds. That unstoppable fade route to the corner doesn’t look so good now, does it? A touchdown scored while under control and in a way that smokes the defense should be worth more. Plus, how funny will it be when someone inevitably fucks this up? Watching a short running back bounce one off the front of the cross bar and get booed out of the building would make my Sunday.

2015 Quarterback Rankings

When major media outlets decided last year that Tom Brady was no longer an elite quarterback, yours truly got pissy about it. I took them to task with a list ranking the starters at the position that thoroughly debunked the notion and earned me my first Pultizer nomination. The joke of a contract Ryan Tannehill signed with the Miami Dolphins today (reportedly $96 million over six years) inspired me to do it all again. Last year’s ranking is in parentheses for shits and giggles.

Tier 8 – The Next JaMarcus Russell

32. Jameis Winston (NR)

That’s right. I said it. And now it’s on the record so you can make fun of me for it after he throws for 5,000 yards and wins Rookie of the Year.

Tier 7 – Hope You Didn’t Pay Much for Those Season Tickets

31. Geno Smith (29)
30. Josh McCown (22)
29. Matt Cassell (NR)
28. Sam Bradford (25)
27. Bryan Hoyer (31)
26. Robert Griffin III (18)
25. Nick Foles  (13)

Woof. I whiffed on Foles a bit, huh? Chances are good none of these guys will have starting jobs next year.  Of course, that’s what I thought about most of them last year, and look where they’re at now!

Tier 6 – Bums

24. Jay Cutler (20)
23. Andy Dalton (21)
22. Colin Kaepernick (17)
21. Cam Newton (12)
20. Ryan Tannehill (23)

Some of these guys have won playoff games, but you can’t feel good about any of them doing it ever again. Tannehill threw for more than 4,000 yards last year, but in today’s NFL that’s like hitting 50 home runs in the mid-90s. It’s meaningless. Cutler and Dalton are head cases, Kaepernick’s in trouble without Harbaugh, and Newton just isn’t accurate enough.

I don’t have the exact number for Tannehill’s new contract, but the other four guys in this tier will combine to cost their teams over $56 million against the cap in 2015. Gee, I wonder why the Bears, Bengals, 49ers, and Panthers are so irrelevant. Hmm. What a head scratcher.

Tier 5 – Promising

19. Marcus Mariota (NR)
18. Blake Bortles (32)
17. Derek Carr (NR)
16. Teddy Bridgewater (30)

I like Mariota and Bridgewater a lot. Bortles and Carr played well without much around them. I’d rather roll the dice with these four than accept any of the bullshit behind them.

Meanwhile, Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been bitching about playing time since his team drafted Mariota second overall. Any conversation between the team and Mettenberger should start and end with “YOU PLAYED QUARTERBACK AT LSU DON’T FUCKING EVEN!!!”

Tier 4 – Meh

15. Carson Palmer (16)
14. Alex Smith (14)
13. Eli Manning (6)
12. Joe Flacco (19)

Fine. Whatever. You can win with these guys if everything goes right…but everything isn’t going to go right.

By the way, Flacco didn’t get better. Everybody he jumped ahead of got worse.

Tier 3 – Call Me When You’ve Got a Real Team

11. Matt Stafford (15)
10. Matt Ryan (8)
9. Philip Rivers (10)
8. Drew Brees (3)

Here’s the dirty secret the NFL doesn’t want you to know: it takes more than a quarterback to win a Super Bowl. I know! Weird that you need a whole team to win a team game unless you’re a truly transcendent talent, right? This quartet doesn’t have that, but they could absolutely get you a trophy if you give any of them a running game and a defense.

Tier 2 – In the Conversation

7. Ben Rothlisberger (9)
6. Tony Romo (11)
5. Peyton Manning (2)
4. Russell Wilson (7)

I throw a harder ball than Peyton at this point. Wilson’s good, but I’m not sure just how good. I can’t put him in the top tier simply because he’s had too many excellent teammates. He’s tough to judge accurately.

Tier 1 – The Elite

3. Andrew Luck (5)
2. Tom Brady (4)
1. Aaron Rodgers (1)

These are the only three quarterbacks in the league that can take a game over and win it themselves. That Colts team would’ve won a total of seven games the past three years without Luck. I’ll be the first to admit that Brady’s lost a few ticks on his fastball, likes to throw at his receivers’ ankles, and gets more nervous than a teenager at his first dance while under pressure…but who’s actually better? Rodgers, that’s who, but that dude’s game is perfect.

Dumb bonus analysis only I’m interested in

So which division is best off under center? Let’s add the rankings up like a golf score. Lower’s better.

AFC West – 45
NFC North – 52
NFC East – 63
NFC West – 66
AFC South – 67
NFC South – 71
AFC North – 72
AFC East – 82 (This is really funny when you remember Tom Brady is 2)

I know why the Red Sox didn’t bother acquiring any good starting pitchers this offseason

Because they were too busy making Fenway attractive to the average five-year-old.

For real. We’ve got the new kids’ gate, Gate K, which leads to the new kids’ concourse and the new kids’ clubhouse. Who needs an ace when you’ve got eighteen fucking Wally statues? Sox fans don’t want to see Cole Hamels striking out fools; they want tiny slides for their fucking babies. And for sure no one will notice Wade Miley’s 108.56 ERA if their hearts have been warmed by Gary Striewski’s movie star smile and a whole hoard of adorable ragamuffins on NESN’s Sunday kids show.

I guarantee you this was ownership’s master money-making plan for this season. There is no other logical way to reconcile the crappy pitching with the renewed push to bring in a younger audience. Why spend money on Jeff Samardzija when you can get Wally on a bench, Wally on a bike, and Wally taking a giant dump all over the team for the same price? What about Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, or James Shields? Nah, son, we got a room with blocks and a playground.

And here’s the thing: I don’t begrudge ownership for making the park more family friendly or doing everything they can to bring people into the game and the sport, but man, their priorities just seem fucked. Every time I watch one of their supposed starters give up five runs in an inning that ends with the game’s umpteenth advertisement for the kids’ concourse I get that much closer to full-time Nationals fandom. All this crap just comes off as disingenuous, pandering, and desperate. It ain’t like good teams have historically packed their stadiums or sold buttloads of merch, right?

But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The team’s presentation has been spiraling in this shitty direction for a while now. We’re talking about a team who’s primary broadcast duo is a pair of chuckleheads more concerned with Joseph Abboud than what’s happening on the field. Walking around and into Fenway, you’re bombarded by imagery and language reminding you that you’re not just going to a baseball game–you’re making memories! You know what I’m going to remember about this season? Clay Suckholz making “WHY WON’T SHE GO OUT WITH ME?!?!?!” face while he walks the bases loaded for the third time in a week.

Gyah. As always, kids, the moral of the story is: cut the shit and focus on the baseball and everything will be ok.

Scott Colby’s Guide to Online Dating, Part Two: Build that Profile

In part one of this however-many-parts-I-feel-like-series, I helped you single losers pick the appropriate online dating service. Once you’ve signed up and hopefully not paid any money, shit gets real: it’s time to build a profile that properly sells your positive attributes to the opposite sex. For most people reading this post, that’s probably a big problem because you have few, if any, redeemable qualities. But don’t worry! If a scumbag loser like yours truly can use these things to get dates, so can you!

There are two major parts to your profile. Let’s break ’em down.

1. The Personal Summary. Sometimes this is a series of simple questions or short essays. Sometimes it’s just a blank slate. Regardless…oh no, you have to prove you can write like a reasonably well educated human being! You’re cranking out marketing copy and you, sir or madam, are the product in the spotlight. You’re the can of frosty beer at the beach party, the deodorant making men of our sons, the Dunkin on which America runs. You don’t actually have to be that creative, but you do have to remember two very important tenets of advertising:

  1. Stay positive.
  2. Keep it simple.

Write in succinct, easy-to-digest sentences organized in normal paragraphs. Use lists when it’s helpful. Try to be funny and self-effacing if you can pull either off. Provide enough information to paint a picture of who you are without going into tedious detail. For instance, where you would write the following:

“I pay strippers for their hair, which I then use to cross-stitch my favorite maritime battles from the Spanish-American War. I sell them at flea markets from the back of my panel van.”

I’d write:

“I really enjoy meeting new people, but I’ve also got a diverse array of interesting hobbies to keep me busy during my down time. I’m a big history buff and I love arts and crafts. Selling my work at local fairs and festivals is a great source of additional income – and a ton of fun!”

See how easy that is? Even a weird, gross human being like you can sound like a swell individual. Onward to the second major part of your profile.

2. Your pictures. Potential dates are going to want to know what you look like. Hopefully a few of them won’t vomit when they see you. I kid, I kid! You’re just unconventionally attractive. Don’t worry about it.

Speaking of, one of the most important things to remember when posting pictures is that potential matches want to see all of you. If all you’ve got are close ups of your face, people are going to assume you’ve got a hook hand or a giant hunchback or some sort of unfortunate chest tattoo.  Put yourself out there. Physical attraction is part of dating whether we like it or not. Prove you don’t have a hook hand. And if you do have a hook hand…I don’t know, post a picture of you doing something funny with it. Maybe take a selfie while using your hook to hold up a piece of toilet paper while you make a frightened face. Maybe pretend like you’re running from a crocodile. I don’t know. Bottom line: there’s zero point in presenting yourself as someone you’re not when the illusion will be busted immediately on the first date. Using fake pictures, old pictures, or strategically angled pictures is roughly equivalent to stocking your rotation with Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, and Rick Porcello and declaring “we’ve got five number twos!” At some point, you’re gonna play some games and you’re gonna get shellacked and everybody will know you’re full of shit.

Also, keep your clothes on. Nobody wants to see that. Ok, yeah, hopefully your dates will want to see that at some point, but you’ve got to build up to that, you know?

Last tip: avoid the stereotypes. Certain pictures used regularly for online dating profiles have become running jokes. Do you want to be a joke? Too bad, you already are a joke. But there’s no need for you to be an even bigger joke. This paragraph sucks, but not as much as your profile will if you fill it with…

  • gym selfies
  • pictures of you with giant fish you just caught or tigers you paid to meet
  • photos of you sitting in the corner of that glass building in Chicago that make you look like you’re floating
  • anything involving ironic fake mustaches
  • pictures of your children because seriously, what the hell?
  • crappy memes you think are funny

There. That’s all it takes. Get to it.

Let’s do away with extra innings

Following a 19-inning, six hour nightmare of a game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, sports talk radio and the general vicinities of office water coolers in those two great cities were both filled with discussion about Major League Baseball’s method for breaking tie games. Some people think extra innings should stick around because baseball is baseball and you don’t change it without sacrificing eight virgins to Cy Young and praying to Abner Doubleday until he responds via message scrawled in the infield dirt. Others think there’s no fucking reason for a game to go that fucking long in fucking April because they’ve actually got lives.

After a couple weeks of deep introspection, I find myself in the anti-extras camp, but for a different reason: pitcher health. Those extra innings put a ton of strain not just on the back end of the bullpen that immediately absorbs them but also on the other starters and relievers expected to make up for their overworked teammates in future games. We’re at the point where Tommy John surgery isn’t an emergency procedure so much as it’s a rite of passage for young hurlers. Why not try to protect them a little bit better? Forget oil, trees, or sprightly young pop stars: quality arms are our nation’s most important natural resource and should be treated as such.

I’m fine with extra innings in the playoffs. Hell, I’d even be ok with settling important games that way in September. But early in the season? Nah, bro. Let’s get these games over with. I’ve got a few ideas as to how, listed in descending order of reality and ascending order of HOLY SHIT LET’S FUCKING DO THAT.

1. Remove a player from each lineup in the tenth. The NHL opens up room on the ice to encourage scoring by removing a player from the ice in overtime. MLB should borrow that idea and require each team to drop a fielder. Just think of the tactical decisions and the hilarity sure to ensue when some of the league’s…ah…slower managers are thrust into situations where they have to choose between having three outfielders and four infielders. Think of the exotic shifts, the wild plays, and the thoroughly confused color commentators. Sign me up.

2. Home run derby. Let’s borrow another idea from the NHL: the shootout. Each team picks one slugger. Each slugger gets ten pitches from a coach or teammate. Most dingers wins. A tie goes to the team with the most fans in attendance. Sorry, Tampa.

3. Mound sumo. Each team sends its tubbiest bastard out to the center of the diamond for a winner-take-all rumble. If the thought of a titanic clash between the Panda and Bartolo Colon doesn’t get you super excited for what would otherwise be a kind of dull mid-August series then you, sir, have no business reading this blog and should probably have a doctor make sure you still know how to have fun. Can anyone out-sumo CC Sabathia or will he just swallow his opponents whole? If your designated fat guy is out due to injury, do you dial up the next biggest dude or do you get creative and send a scrappy utility infielder like Brock Holt and hope he can win with grit and moxie? Will Dmitri Young will come out of retirement to serve as the Astros’ enforcer? Let’s make this one happen!

The worst thing I’ve EVER seen in the gym

I’ve seen a lot of absurd crap in the gym over the last month or so. The post New Year’s rush combined with a new low price to open the gates of hell and unleash an unholy army of weirdos, dopes, and rubes inside my local BSC. I’ve seen tooth brushing at the bicep curl machine, backpack sniffing, locker room acrobatics, nudists who sing while they shave, awkward dates, weight racks where not a single dumbbell was put back in the right spot, and enough shitty squat form to send my quads to psychotherapy. It’s ugly in there, people.

But today I saw something that trumps it all. Something so unbelievably stupid it defies all explanation. Something so rude and ill-mannered that anyone who saw it couldn’t possibly not be offended. Something so out of touch with reality it should have its own show on Fox News every Wednesday at 11 am.

What did I see in the gym that perturbed me so? A dude in a Boston 2024 t-shirt.

I KNOW! I can’t believe someone would wear that in public either. It defies all logic.

Listen up, Boston 2024 t-shirt bro. That sort of shit might be A-OK in the Planet Fitness in the strip mall by your house, but in BSC that crap just doesn’t fly. In a real gym, backing Boston’s craptastic Olympic bid is a worse offense than dropping a spot, cutting the bubbler line, or even putting your stuff in a locker and not locking it. That sort of behavior is completely uncalled for. Does your mother know you’re wearing that? And I’m sure you weren’t trying to be ironic; you’re obviously a crotchety old Republican, and science has proven irony isn’t in the genes of such people.

I’m writing a letter to BSC. This douche rocket went waaaay too far. How are we supposed to work out with this sort of chicanery walking around? It’s impossible. It’s un-American. And it’s got to go.

Let me tell ya ’bout my trip to Stage

I got pleasantly drunk during my fantasy baseball auction on Saturday afternoon. Nothing goes better with spending pretend money on major leaguers than spending real money on quality Belgians. What? No! Beers, not actual Belgians! Gosh, what kind of a monster do you think I am? I only traffic in Swedes.

So anyway, here’s me with almost four hours of quality booze time under my belt, and here it is still light out. And the Liquor, which has taken up residence in a tiny corner of my brain like some sub-Saharan parasite bent on driving its new host to an area at the proper temperature and humidity to birth its young, whispers in my ear: “It’s still early. You should go do something interesting. And have another drink.”

And I says back to the Liquor: “Good idea! I know! I’ll go to that new Vaudeville club, Stage!”

I’d seen the place on Boston’s finest source for hard-hitting local journalism, Dirty Water TV, a few months ago. It’s billed as a swanky 1920s-esque speakeasy full of expert mixologists and old time-y performers: dancers, magicians, acrobats, the works. It’s the sort of ambitious concept that could either turn out really, really cool or just be sort of silly and awkward if it isn’t executed well. I would’ve been ok with either because that’s just the way my sense of humor – which probably should be on a heavy ritalin prescription – sees the world. I was skeptical about Stage’s ability to deliver; every time I’ve been to an area bar with some sort of hook above and beyond “bar” or “we have bowling,” said hook is usually tiny and shoved into a corner where it won’t interfere with the hordes of Boston dude bros pounding Bud Lights or Camberville yuppie-wannabe-hipsters daintily sipping Pretty Thingses. The Liquor had high hopes for the place, but I was prepared to end the evening ironically amused and slightly disappointed.

After a quick dinner, the Liquor helped me pick out a nice shirt and my least crappy pair of black jeans and we got on the T. Stage is in the Alley, that bastion of learning and culture in downtown Boston. The front room was neat but disappointing because I’m a big dummy and I initially thought that was the entire place. A long bar ran the length of the room. A small stage in the front corner was occupied by a woman in makeup and a corset doing magic tricks.

I decided to test the bartender by ordering a Bulleit rye Manhattan, up with a twist. When I placed my order, his face lit up like it was Christmas morning. Dude was obviously tired of pouring Stellas. It showed in his work, too: he spun the shakers around and tapped the low ceiling with the bottom of the bottle as he poured. The results were perfect – and surprisingly large. On my side of the river, there’s been a definite trend toward tiny cocktails you can fit in a Dixie cup that still cost an arm and a leg. It felt like pouring the thing out of the shaker and into the glass took about three days – which is not a knock at all on the bartender, just a comment on the serious size of the drink. For real, I was briefly intimidated. This Manhattan wasn’t cheap, but hot damn was it worth every penny. And old fashioned I ordered later was just as delicious.

I was there for maybe fifteen minutes when the crowd around me began a mass migration toward the back of the room. A secret door in the rear bookshelf had been opened to admit us into the rest of the club. I followed the herd.

Holy crap. That back room is huge. It’s gorgeous. It’s so spotless you could do body shots off the glittering wood floor. I counted three giant bars. A series of booths near the main stage looked like a great place to hangout with a group of friends. I didn’t know where to look; there were performers dancing, balancing on things, swinging things, and doing tricks in every direction. The light show and sound system were top notch. I couldn’t help feeling like I’d walked into an old-timey circus montage. It was really fucking cool.

I didn’t stay as long as I would’ve liked. I’d been drinking all day and the Liquor was beginning to gain too much influence. It would’ve talked me into doing something dumb, like trying to talk to the brunette down the end of the bar who wouldn’t stop staring at me. The Liquor thought she was undressing me with her eyes, but I was pretty sure she was just trying to determine if she’d seen me on the wall of fame at her local post office. I got out of there before the Liquor could convince me otherwise.

But I can’t wait to go back with a fresh liver. Stage is legit. It’s nice to see a new bar hit Boston that’s actually different from the usual vanilla scene. It’s the sort of idea that should be happening in Somerville, maybe in a particular former diner car – you know, if Somerville actually gave a crap about being different and wasn’t just resting on its reputation. The Liquor agrees on all counts. Check Stage out.

2015 National League West Predictions – and More!

Blah blah Remy and Orsillo can’t spell home run blah blah but this division is kind of fun.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers – Former Rays GM Andrew Friedman + Magic Johnson’s money + this roster = ohhhhh man. The Dodgers certainly have their share of bad contracts, but they have more than enough cash and enough talent to make it all work.
Booze Equivalent – An $18 Manhattan. Far too expensive, but whatever.

2. San Diego Padres – A steady stream of ballsy trades have the Friars looking downright feisty. Matt Kemp and Wil Myers lend some serious thump to a lineup that previously resembled a tee ball team. James Shields gives them a legit ace. Despite those improvements…well, you’ve heard me harping about depth before, so I’m going to do that again here. They’ll just miss out on the wild card.
Booze Equivalent – Half a Dogfish Head 30 minute. Delicious, but obviously incomplete.

3. San Francisco Giants – It’s an odd-numbered year. They’re only good in even-numbered years. Moving on.
Booze Equivalent – A frosty Narragansett. Tasty, but you know exactly what you’re going to get.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks – What a weird team. Paul Goldschmidt’s a stud. Mark Trumbo could be a useful slugger but should probably be DHing somewhere. Yasmany Tomas divides scouts like whoa. The pitching? Whatever. They’re lucky they’ve got the Rockies to beat up on.
Booze Equivalent – A pretzel roll. You’re right; that makes no sense. And that’s the point.

5. Colorado Rockies – Their super nice hats – and Troy Tulowitzki – deserve so much better.
Booze Equivalent – Frat house cooler swill.

Other Predictions

AL Champions: Cleveland Indians
NL Champions: Washington Nationals
World Series Champions: Washington Nationals

AL Rookie of the Year: Steven Sousa, Tampa Bay
NL Rookie of the Year: Joc Pederson, Los Angeles

AL MVP: Josh Donaldson, Toronto
NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami

AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Chicago
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles

First manager fired: Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee
Best player traded long before the deadline: Jonathan Papelbon
Best player traded at the deadline: Evan Longoria
First closer to lose his job: Luke Gregerson, Houston
Shifts that confuse Jerry Remy: 73
Number of times I’ll yell at Remy as if he can hear me through the TV: 98
Number of times he’ll shiver because he thought he heard something: 3
Pensive Joseph Abboud close-ups: 62
Most All-Star selections: Washington
Obligatory relief pitcher all-star: Pick a Diamondback
Most days lost to injury: New York Yankees
Most likely to sneak into the playoffs and piss me off: Baltimore

Hey BSC: We’re Fighting

I know it doesn’t look like it, but I’ve been a member of Boston Sports Clubs for a long time now – seven, maybe eight years. Last week, BSC introduced a new membership pricing structure. For the low, low price of $19.95 a month, members can get access to the main gym floor, maybe get into classes when members on more expensive plans haven’t taken all the spots, and don’t get towels. Existing members, such as yours truly, were upgraded to a more expensive Passport level plan that grants access to all the BSC gyms that don’t have anything fun like pools or squash courts.

It took me about two and a half visits to become downright bigoted toward people who don’t have towels.

Although the post New Year’s resolution rush should be dying out, my local BSC is packed full of riffraff with no means of wiping away their vile sweat. It’s busy. It smells like I imagine the woman from Dance Moms must smell. I’ve abandoned several workouts early because my inability to get to what I needed left me muttering under my breath like a drunk on the bus. I’ve seen people half-assing workouts in jeans, Dockers, and Uggz. I’ve dealt with jackasses who think it’s ok to grab four different pairs of weights and toss them around a single bench like a toddler might drop a pile of unwanted toys around the couch. I caught someone brushing his fucking teeth at the bicep curl machine. A few days later I saw the same sketchy bastard sitting at the same machine, sniffing his backpack like he’d dropped a deuce in it and wanted to make sure the other people on the bus wouldn’t be able to smell it. There are assholes on dates who gum up the floor because they might spontaneously combust if they drift more than four feet away from each other. Some brain surgeon almost knocked me on my face today while I bent down to lift up a barbell because out of the sixteen different routes that would’ve taken him to his destination the one that sent him awkwardly careening into my ass was obviously the best. Have I made comparisons to the bus yet? Because really, it’s like the bus if it had bubblers and the driver occasionally asked me for a spot.

It’s miserable. Guess how many towels the people in the paragraph above had? Here’s a hint: the answer is the only whole number equal to the amount of rich bikini models interested in playing Xbox with yours truly. I clutch my towel close like it’s a badge of honor, like it establishes my position among the BSC cognoscenti, like I’m the god damn 1% and anyone without a towel can go eat cake with the rest of the bourgeoisie.

Here’s the thing: I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to get out and exercise and I don’t expect the gym to be empty. Get to it, ya jerks. My problem is in the difference between the value I’m receiving now compared to the value I got in the past and the value I assumed I’d continue to see. If I’d wanted to belong to a dirty, smelly, busy gym full of weirdos and inconsiderate people who don’t know how to function in polite society, I would’ve switched to Planet Fitness for significantly less money a long time ago. I didn’t. I preferred the relative quiet, cleanliness, and sanity of BSC. It was worth it to me to pay more. Now that value’s gone.

And that Passport membership with which they’re trying to mollify the veterans? It’s useless. I live five minutes away from the Davis Square BSC. Why the hell would I ever go anywhere else, especially when I know all of their clubs are going to be just as miserable as the one closest to me? So what if I can visit eight different landfills whenever I want? I’m still just going to the dump. The put-and-take isn’t going to be that different.

When the change hit, I stopped to mention to the guy at the front desk that I was concerned about how busy the gym was about to become. He didn’t disagree with me; he said the phone had been ringing off the hook because people thought $19.95 a month for BSC was a bargain. And it would be, if you were actually getting a real BSC for that price. When you cram it full of people who would otherwise be at Planet Fitness, well…what do you get? A Planet Fitness that couldn’t afford to remove its old BSC branding or order pizza.

If I can find a viable alternative, I’m out. It’s not worth the price anymore, even if I downgraded to a $19.95 membership.

2015 National League Central Predictions

The NL Central is probably the most interesting division in the entire game. Every team has at least one legit superstar and a few promising kids worth tuning in for. Every team looks like it could conceivably make the playoffs sometime in the next three or four years if things break just right. Every team has a nice hat.

You wouldn’t know any of that if you get all your baseball coverage from NESN. But hey, at least they’ve got helpful graphics to tell us what Ryan Hannigan’s favorite restaurant is. And we get a few shots of Joseph Abboud during every home game. I guess that’s something.

1. St. Louis Cardinals – Who else? This team’s a machine. There’s potential for a slight decline on both sides of the ball – Holliday, Molina, and Wainwright just got their AARP cards and the Cards are a little low on big time hitting prospects right now – but I still can’t see any of the other teams in the division catching the Redbirds.
Booze Equivalent – That rotating Pretty Things tap in your local craft beer hall. Always a good decision.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (wild card) – Andrew McCutchen + solid regulars + a decent rotation = just good enough.
Booze Equivalent – Jack and Coke. That’ll work.

3. Chicago Cubs – I’m not as high on the Cubs as most baseball pundits. This team is relying on far too many unproven kids at this point. They’re one more year of development and a couple more shrewd veteran additions away.
Booze Equivalent – Drinking pumpkin beer in early August.

4. Milwaukee Brewers – There is nothing even remotely interesting to say about these guys. Sure, Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez are good and Bernie Brewer still slides down into a bucket of beer after the home team hits a dinger, but man…this might be the most nondescript team in the entire game right now.
Booze Equivalent – Miller Lite. Apropos.

5. Cincinnati Reds –It wasn’t long ago that the Reds looked like they’d be challenging for the division crown for the foreseeable future. Injuries, age, and a few questionable decisions with the rotation knocked them right off that pedestal. But hey, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce are still worth watching.
Booze Equivalent – A Justin Timberlake signature margarita from Chili’s. Seemed like a good idea.