Saturday, August 30, 2014

I Never Seen Them In The Same Room So...

   I noticed this previously while watching the US Open Tennis tournament. Stanislas Wawrinka was playing someone and he reminded me of someone I'd seen on TV and in movies - Dane Cook. Then I thought - you know I've never seen them in the same room. Could they be the same person?

Two of The Best Things In The World

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Making Money In Pro Sports

Golf: Making the cut
    There are a number of pro sports out there and each one has its own rules by which the players must abide in order to get paid. Obviously the winner of a sporting event is not the only one to make money. Players who do well and come up short make money as well. In team sports the players pretty much know what they are being paid as they are under contract with a team. And if they have a good season (like say for instance in the NFL their team makes it to the Super Bowl they'll make extra money - a bonus in addition to their regular salary - in fact the winners will have made around $180,000 for their playoff run and the losers around $130,000 according to Andrew Brandt of ESPN).
    Individual sports, like golf, tennis, fishing, etc., do things a bit different. Players or competitors in these sports don't to my knowledge get contracts to play. Instead they must enter tournaments and try to do their best to make as much money as possible. In other words, if a player does really well he'll make good money, if he does poorly he might not make any money at all. In fact, he may go home in the negative since he/she paid money to be there. I'll be covering golf in this blog post as it is the sport I wish I could be a pro in:
     In golf a cutline is commonly used to determine who stays in the tournament (and thus will make some money) or goes home. The cutline itself is not just decided by taking the best half of the golfer's scores for the first two days and keeping them in the tournament (although some tournaments may very well do it this simply). The following are the current rules by which the known pro golfing tournaments make their cuts:
(this info was garnered from:
http://golf.about.com/od/golfterms/g/bldef_cutline.htm
     PGA Tour = "Regular" PGA Tour events are cut after 36 holes to the low 70 scores plus ties. If that results in more than 78 golfers making the cut, then another cut takes place after 54 holes, again to the low 70 plus ties.
     The Masters = Following the second round, golfers with the low 50 scores, plus ties, plus any golfer within 10 strokes of the lead, advance to play the final two rounds. Those outside the Top 50 plus ties and not within 10 of the lead miss the cut.
     The US Open = After 36 holes all golfers in the top 60 plus ties make the cut. Golfers outside of the top 60 plus ties are cut from the field and fail to advance to the final two rounds of play.
     The British Open = Everyone in the Top 70, including ties, after 36 holes makes the cut.
     The PGA Championship = After 36 holes the golfers with the low 70 scores, plus any ties, make the cut and play the final two rounds.
     There are other tours out there being played by golfers too. The top level of men's professional golf in the United States is the PGA Tour. The second level is the Web.com Tour, which is the official developmental tour run by the PGA Tour. The Gateway Tour and rival ventures such as the NGA Pro Golf Tour (formerly known as the Hooter's Tour) and the Pepsi Tour are the level below that. The fourth and lowest level of tour golf is the mini-tour circuit (akin to satellite tennis tournaments). There are also tours in Europe, Japan, Canada, China, Korea, etc. And last but not least there are pro tours for senior men and women. So pretty much no matter your skill level or where you live you're probably not far from a professional golf tour.
     At any rate, making money in golf - apart from the lucrative endorsement contracts that some do manage to acquire, requires one to make the cut in tournaments. Make the cut and you are guaranteed a check. Miss it and as Arnold said in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, it's..."Hasta la vista, baby!"

Friday, August 22, 2014

Voyager Fly-by of Neptune Moon

    Space - the final frontier. That was what was said at the beginning of every Star Trek episode. Though that show was fictional. However, we do explore space. We have space vessels out there right now. There are little robots on Mars and others even farther afield. One of the first, if not the first, was Voyager 1 launched in 1977(made famous by the movie Star Trek the Motion Picture in 1979 where it was called V'ger). 
    Voyager 1 has journeyed farther from earth than any other man-made object. It will reportedly cease functioning in the year 2025. Voyager 2 strangely enough was actually launched about 2 weeks prior to Voyager 1, however, its flight path and slower current speed have not allowed it to travel quite as far as its brethren. It is the only vessel to have passed near to Uranus and Neptune and in 1989 it snapped a series of pictures of Triton - one of Neptune's moons. These images were later processed and made into an animation of the fly-by.  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_2
http://www.space.com/
Here is the result:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Some Of The Biggest Waves I Have Ever Seen

Here's a video I found of some of the biggest waves being surfed by some very brave souls. Very entertaining to watch:

The Life Of Being A Pro Athlete

    I've played some competitive sports in my life - mainly in tennis (USTA Leagues, tournaments and such when I was between the ages of 20 and 35, I'm 49 now). So I know a little about being a competitor and the drive it takes to win. My tennis days never really turned into anything other than a casual diversion, though I met some interesting people and have made some lasting relationships due to my time there. So I cannot truly understand the lives of professional athletes. No one can unless you walk in their shoes. But, I imagine that I do at least understand some of the more obvious aspects.
     Two of my favorite sports are tennis and baseball. I've played very little baseball (a couple years of little league where I had no idea what I was doing and our team pretty much sucked - nothing past that other than some recreational baseball one summer about 10 years ago). But I do love to watch the games both in person and on TV. Also movies about the games are of interest to me (I'll bring that up later).
    As an up and coming player/competitor, let's say a high school kid who is a good athlete, one would have to choose what sport to dedicate themselves to and to decide upon if they had professional potential. While in high school they'd still have the freedom to do whatever they wanted. It takes some time to 'feel out' a sport and see if it's right for you. I never liked playing basketball. Maybe because I'm not a good jumper, so I can't slam dunk. And my shooting kinda sucks too. I can't even run that fast. Some people prefer certain sports. I practiced many hours and played many matches and so I got fairly good at tennis. Not great mind you, just good. Better at doubles too, because I had a big serve, good volley, didn't have to cover as much court & liked quick points. By the time I did all this I was in my mid twenties so there was certainly no professional career in my future. Those who become pro athletes start when they are very young and work at it continuously. 
    A thought hit me while watching a baseball game while over at a friend's house: it occurred to me that it is so much easier to be on the pro tennis tour than to be a pro baseball player. At least as far as your personal choices seem to go. 
    Let's say you had two athletes, one wants to play pro tennis, one wants to play pro baseball. Both athletes are equally skilled at their game. Lets say that they are about average (for argument sake) compared to other pros in their sports and both are the 100th best players in their sport. (these are men btw) Here's how they compare to one another:
     Tennis player rankings are from: 
    These rankings are based on a point system where you get points for winning tournaments. Therefore it is totally unbiased and not subjective in any way.
     The tennis player, if he was ranked 100 in the world, as of this writing, is Stephane Robert; 
     He is a Frenchman who has already made over $275,000 this year in prize money. He has a career high ranking of 61 & career prize money of over $1.2 million in the 14 or so years he's played pro tennis.
      Baseball player rankings are from:
      Instead of simply getting points for winning games as in tennis baseball players are evaluated on a number of statistical 'metrics' of their performance. Baseball is a team sport as opposed to tennis singles which is an individual sport, so rating players this way is currently the best method of doing this.
      The baseball player, if he was ranked 100 in the world, as of this writing, is Danny Duffy; 
    He is a pitcher on the Kansas City Royals MLB baseball team. His salary is reportedly $526,000 this year. He's played for only 3 years in MLB.
    These two guys for comparison are on the low end of the spectrum money-wise. There are higher ranked players making much more money than these guys. I just wanted to show what kind of cash some average bloke might expect to get if he wasn't one of the best players in the sport.
    There was another concern I thought about too, however, with these sports & that is of the control you have over your own life. Robert as an individual can choose what tournaments to play. It's his call. He never needs to prove himself to anyone to get to play. He just has to win to get a good ranking.
      Duffy on the other hand has a tougher road to hoe. He not only has to win and be productive he has to be 'fourtunate' as well. What I mean by this is that pro baseball players are picked and traded all the time by one team after another. If a general manager doesn't like you for whatever reason he can trade you to another team. Or, for any reason, you can be benched and not given game-time, or sent down to wait to be called back up again out in the limbo of the minor league farm system. As a player for the team you must play when they tell you to play. You must practice and work out when they tell you to. You are much more in their power than the pro tennis players who have no such person over them. Watch the movie Money Ball as a good example of what I'm talking about here.
     So, I the question is how would you rather live your life? Having the freedom to do as you wish or not having as much freedom. I guess if baseball is the sport you love to play and that which you are greatest at then you just have to accept how the game is played (& controlled).
     Just for good measure and because I happened to be watching a golf tournament on TV, because I'm also a big fan of golf & love to watch & play it as well, I decided to look up what the 100th best golfer in the world was making money-wise. I found the info here:
http://espn.go.com/golf/moneylist/_/page/2
     The man's name is Michael Thompson, an average Joe from Arizona who's made over $900,000 this year alone (over $5,000,000 in his 7 year career). Compared to the other two sports golf looks to me like it may be the best right now, at least as far as money making. You don't have to run around or get into fights like you do sometimes in other sports such as MLB/NFL/NBA/NHL etc. though you do have to work out of course to be in good shape. But as in tennis you are not being controlled like in the team sports. Man, if I could I'd be a pro golfer!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Tribute To Robin Williams

   It's impossible to sum up the life of Robin Williams. He gave us so much. For nearly fifty years he's entertained people the world over. The sheer quantity of material he's delivered, be it stand up comedy, movies, TV shows, what have you, is exceptional in scope, and at the same time rarely lacking in quality. Of course, there were the forgettable & regrettable moments to be sure-all entertainers stumble from time to time in life as well as in their careers. Though he always came back stronger than ever when he did.
   I've watched him my whole life from the very beginning on Happy Days where his character Mork became the star of a spin-off show itself. That's how good he was. Almost instantly he became a household name. A prolific actor on TV and especially in movies, he's come to be in my humble opinion one of most beloved persons I've ever known. There are other beloved people out there; Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, Lucille Ball, Betty White & Morgan Freeman are a few others I can think of that rise to the top of this short list.
   He wasn't just a comedian. Though he was terrific at comedy. He had a number of much more serious roles and dramatic roles in movies in which one wouldn't have initially thought to cast him. I have no idea why he was chosen for certain roles as they were far from the usual comedic persona we became accustomed to. Perhaps he wanted to stretch his acting muscles. Perhaps the director wanted Robin to fit the character's profile. Who knows. Whatever the case may have been he adjusted well to the challenges he faced.
   I've created a video tribute to the late great Robin Williams who died just three days ago. It is a collection of images from the web of all facets of his life be they TV, stand up and movies. I've tried to put them in chronological order, however, some may be a bit out of place here and there. I don't own any of the images, nor do I own the musical accompaniment (Elton John's Rocketman) which I felt was quite fitting. I hope you enjoy it. And rest in peace Robin.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Surfer Seal

A friendly seal wants to join a couple surfer dudes one fine day for a little relaxing on their boards. (the sound didn't come thru for some reason, sorry)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Here Comes SUPERMOON!

Yes, we're in for a treat in a few days. On August 10th there's gonna be a Supermoon. What is a Supermoon you ask? Well, it's when the moon's orbit around Earth gets a little bit closer (by about 25,000 miles or so) which makes it look about 20% bigger and a good bit brighter to anyone looking up at it in the night sky. You can check out the info here:
http://universetoday.com/113548/get-set-for-super-duper-moon-2-of-3-for-2014/
also here for even more info on Supermoons:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermoon