Monthly Archives: October 2011

My Blog Has Moved….

In order to cater to my throngs of fans, I have relocated my blog to WordPress. Please check out my new link at:

https://idontrollonshabbas.wordpress.com

You can now follow my blog without being given the third degree by an archaic and frankly, poorly conceived blog site heretofore not to be mentioned again.

Thank you to my loyal readers for your diligence and patience as I find my best online solution to quench my thirst to write.

Thank you also to those of you who will now join my journey to find and comment on truth, justice and humor.

All the best,

IDROS

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Open Letter to Jeff Lurie (Big Red Must Go)…

Dear Mr. Lurie:

Happy New Year. I write this letter about 4 years too late, but Andy Reid must go, and this isn’t a “let’s see how the season shapes up and we will make a move at the end based on the results.” No, this is a long overdue move that must be done as soon as possible, if not sooner.

I realize that I am reopening the door for potential dark ages to descend upon my beloved Birds, much like they did after Buddy Ryan was fired in 1990, ushering in unmentionable coaching stints that yielded losing season after unwatchable losing season, and even included laughably regrettable decisions like promoting Rich Kotite to head coach after Buddy left…sure, RK had winning seasons in each of his first two seasons, but after the incredible defense that Buddy and Bud Carson built in the late 1980s, it would have been difficult not to win. But I digress.

Andy Reid has been a good coach. He has been at the helm of a team that has won far more games than it lost under his watch, and maybe even overachieved a few seasons. Hell, Andy Reid resurrected a franchise that was dead in the water, a team that finished the 1998 season 3-13, the worst record the Eagles had posted since 1972 when they won only 2 games. But sometimes records do not tell the whole story, and this is definitely one of those instances.

The Eagles, since 2000, have actually UNDERACHIEVED more seasons than they overachieved. And while I grant critics that Donovan McNabb (and his occasional replacements at times of injury, such as AJ Feeley, Jeff Garcia and Kevin Kolb) was not the most accurate quarterback in the league (nor was he ever in the top 20 in that category…EVER), he was certainly competent and athletic enough during his prime to win a Super Bowl with the talent he had around him, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. During McNabb’s prime, he was better than Jeff Hostetler, Mark Rypien, Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer and possibly even Eli Manning.

During the past 13 seasons, Andy Reid has had 4 extremely awful attributes that worked against our team…

1)      He is stubborn as a mule, and not in a good way – he refuses to admit he is wrong and to make the necessary adjustments to win or close out a game;

2)      His clock management is the worst I have ever seen – this includes his incredible mismanagement of time-outs – and is vividly and repeatedly reflected in his field generals (QBs) having equally awful clock-management skills and awareness;

3)      His lack of understanding of and refusal to use the challenge flag, an important coaching tool that came to be during his coaching tenure and that often can decide games – this point is actually closely tied to point 2) above, and often affects the number of time outs the Eagles have at the end of games, and he clearly doesn’t realize that challenges can be used AS time outs, giving his team a breather and an opportunity to talk things over while the refs watch video and confer during crucial moments in games. Unsurprisingly, Andy has challenged fewer calls than any other coach in the NFL; and,

4)      His refusal to run the freaking ball, even and especially in games where our running backs (not QBs, who skew the ypc) average more than 4, and often more than 5 or 6 yards per carry – this is particularly vexing when we are winning games late and need to run the ball to eat clock

Even in seasons where we made the post-season (which I will concede was most seasons), Andy’s negative characteristics listed above cost us games during the regular season that created situations where we had to play post season games on the road (in 2006 and 2008, where we lost close games to the Saints and Cardinals respectively, that we might have won had they been played at home). And in 2009, ridiculous losses in Oakland to a hapless Raiders team and at home to the Cowgirls in a game the Eagles held a lead heading into the 4th quarter. Moreover, this was a team the Eagles had pounded into the ground, 44-6, in their previous meeting to end the 2008 season. It was infuriating to watch, and that loss and/or the mind-boggling gaffe in Oakland forced the Eagles to travel to DallAss, where they lost a wild card game.

But the thing most people will remember about the Andy Reid era was during the Eagles’ dominance over a very weak NFC in the early 2000s, the Eagles lost two pivotal HOME playoff games (both NFC Championships) against inferior opponents that the Eagles had MANHANDLED in each respective regular season (20-10 at home vs. the Bucs in 2002, and 25-16 IN CAROLINA in 2003), because Big Red was outcoached. Andy has been outcoached by Belichick and Vermeil, and for those I will give him a pass, because who hasn’t? But he has also been out-classed by Jim Fassel, overmatched by John “Chuckie” Gruden, out-foxed by John Fox (sorry for the much-too-easy and cheesy pun), punched in the mouth by Sean Peyton, bested by Ken Whisenhunt, shellacked by WADE PHILLIPS in the ONLY playoff game the son of a Bum and Tony Romo EVER won, and out-smarted by a injury-plagued but game Mike McCarthy.

Now I grant you that 6 of the 9 coaches mentioned above (the Reid-beaters) won at least one Super Bowl, and five of them won the whole thing the year they beat Fat Andy, with two more reaching the Super Bowl by virtue of knocking off the Eagles (obviously Wade is the odd man out here), but some of those Championships should have been ours. We were a better team for many of those match-ups and yet lost due to, well primarily the four attributes outlined above that renders Andy Reid a very good head coach, but never a great coach.

I am so sick and tired of hearing media members, sports radio hosts outside of Philadelphia (some nationally syndicated), sports writers and other self professed experts in all things football defend Andy Reid, constantly bringing up the fact that he has taken the Eagles to the playoffs in 9 of his 13 season (he has), that he took them to 6 NFC championship games and 5 in a row (he did), and led them to their first Super Bowl appearance in 23 seasons and second in franchise history (I concede this as well). They also love to discuss how Andy is perhaps the greatest quarterback coach of all time, pointing to McNabb’s struggles in his post-Eagles career as irrefutable evidence that Andy was the one who made Donovan the perennial pro-bowl field general that he was. They also all overhype the success the Eagles’ back-up quarterbacks had whenever McNabb was injured as further evidence to Andy’s systemic genius and incredible way with anyone and everyone who takes snaps crouching behind a center.

I buy some of these arguments, but I am guessing that like most of you, I am stewing in my seat, silently muttering foul language under my breath as I drive to and from work and listen to people I generally respect tarnish their reputations by ignorantly defending Andy Reid, espousing that Big Red can do no wrong in their eyes and that any problems the Eagles and the fans of Philadelphia have certainly have little or more often nothing to do with Fat Andy.

These national personalities, with no real team affiliation, neutral bias, or at least no connection to our Eagles, have no idea what it is like to bleed Kelly Green, how infuriating it is to watch Andy’s post-game pressers as a true Eagles fan or what it is like to watch an obese man with no real personality or likeability (at least to his fans), and who makes more money in one year than most members of his fan-base will make in their lifetime (and their entire family’s lifetimes put together) to make the same goddamn mistakes every fucking Sunday and Monday of every season. We fans even get pissed at the man when the Eagles win, knowing that many Sundays the team won IN SPITE of Andy, not because of him. But the losses always get us the most, and these talking heads just don’t get it.

What coach in pro sports lasts 13 seasons these days? Hell, the Red Sox just let Tito Francona walk this year and he led them to 2 championships in the past 7 seasons after that same team went 86 seasons with ZERO championships. It just doesn’t happen. And especially not in the highly critical, highly knowledgeable (at least as it relates to sports and its hometown teams) and highly volatile market that is Philadelphia.

Two weeks ago, after the late-game collapse at home against San Francisco, I read an article about what is wrong with the Eagles. After reading the article, my feelings regarding Big Red were confirmed and even strengthened. After halftime, when the Birds led 20-3, coaches called 6 running plays…total. That is inexcusable, but pretty typical for Andy Reid. More ludicrous: Alex Smith, over the course of his career, is the absolute WORST-RATED quarterback in the HISTORY OF THE NFL when blitzed. The numbers are as poor as they are astonishing. So you would think Andy Reid would know something like that and use it to his advantage. But the Eagles blitzed on only 6 of Alex Smith’s 36 drop-backs. Just fewer than 17% of all pass plays, for an entire game. Sure, the Eagles had a comfortable lead for much of the game, so calling off a blitz so as not to give up big plays may be a strategically sound tactic. Against any average quarterback against the blitz. BUT NOT WHEN YOU ARE PLAYING THE WORST QUARTERBACK IN THE HISTORY OF THE LEAGUE WHEN HE IS BLITZED. One thing a head coach must know is that there are few leads that are safe in the pass happy, big-play, make-it-easy-on-the-offense NFL of today. And after guiding his team to what could only be described as a miraculous comeback victory against the GINAs (pronounced in the most disgusting way your mind permits) just last season, when the eagles erased two 21 point leads in the second half, on the road.

Now part of this might be the mind-boggling “genius” decision Andy made to promote his Offensive Line Coach to DEFENSIVE FRIGGIN’ COORDINATOR. Are you serious? And not only that, but based on the shitty offensive line the Eagles had last season, Juan Castillo wasn’t even a very good Offensive Line Coach. But any way you look at Castillo’s dubious and unmerited promotion, Andy’s decision making never seemed sound, and now has proven to be just as stupid as we all thought.

And the mental mistakes our players have made in four consecutive weeks all reflect their ass-clown laden coaching staff. Sure, I will grant everyone that the lack of a full pre-season as well as a myriad of new faces in the Birds’ locker room should deservedly warrant a grace period to allow a team to fully gel and learn some new roles, but for the money everyone makes on this team, the lengthy tenure of the man at the top and the expectations our fan-base has(d) for our beloved E-A-G-L-E-S, five weeks is far too long a grace period, especially at 1-4 and watching our playoff hopes fade into the horizon like the setting sun. And there is NEVER an excuse for Ronnie Brown’s inexplicable lateral at the goal line against San Francisco, nor Juqua Parker’s brain-fart offsides last week in Buffalo. These are mistakes poorly coached teams of rookies make, not well-polished veterans under the watch of a pedigreed and highly-praised 13-year coach like Andy Reid.

Sure, at the end of the day the players have to make plays, and our ridiculous 1-4 start this season when expectations were so high after what seemed like a free-agent bonanza unlike anything we Philadel-fans had ever seen has been chock full of player-fueled hubris (VY’s dubbing the team “the dream team”), simple first-year player succumbing to pressure (Henery missing two easy field goals in San Fran), non-mastery of a new system (Nnamde’s misplay of Cruz vs. the Ginas), and situational errors (Jason Kelce’s failure to block Bills LB Kelvin Sheppard mid-way through the second quarter in Buffalo, leading to Vick’s pick-6 gift to Nick Barnett and creating a 2-TD deficit on the road), and key-moment butterfingers (Jason Avant’s 2 key fumbles in Buffalo, and Jeremy Maclin’s final drive killing fumble in Atlanta).

But this team should not be 1-4, even with the mistakes highlighted above. At worst the Birds should be 3-2 right now, but more likely they should be 4-1 or even 5-0. And the NFC is not the league of ineptitude that it was when Andy Reid and the Birds dominated it a decade ago. Green Bay, Detroit and New Orleans are heavyweights and Super Bowl contenders. Washington and San Francisco are much improved. And DallAss and the Ginas are never push-overs, no matter how poorly their quarterbacks play. The Birds find themselves in a sizable hole, looking up at nearly every team in our conference for a change. Furthermore, they still must face DallAss twice, Washington twice, the Ginas in New York, The Patriots and the Jets. And I am guessing even the teams we all once thought would be cupcakes (like Miami, Seattle and Arizona), now seem ominous to both the fans and the Eagles coaching staff.

Bottom line, Andy needs to go, and he needs to go soon. Before this season really gets away from us. There is still time to salvage a winning record and even a playoff berth if a strategic hire is made to replace Andy that the players all respect and could rally around. So I believe I am speaking for the entire Eagles’ fan base when I beg of you, Jeff Lurie, to do the right thing and cut bait while there is still a faint trail of light visible in the crack of the rapidly closing door that is the Eagles 2011 season. Let Big Red go, hire someone like Bill Cowher or even John Gruden, and give us fans something to cheer about after being devastated by our Phillies last weekend and by our Eagles for the past month.

Thanks for listening and for restoring our once-proud franchise to glory.

Best regards,

IDROS

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I know, I know…politics and religion are tough topics on a first date…

Or a second or third date. But this isn’t a date, and I couldn’t resist. I came across a great quote from Elizabeth Warren, an attorney and Harvard Law School professor who is running for Senate on the heels of her role (as chair of the Congressional Oversight Committee) in the clean up and bailout of the American financial system following the economic crisis that began in 2008. Time magazine dubbed her in May of 2010 as one of the “New Sheriffs of Wall Street.”

She said: “There’s nobody in this country who got rich on his own. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.”

She continued: “Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Elizabeth Warren

Any way you look at it, Elizabeth Warren’s words make sense and are difficult to debate, from any perspective or party affiliation. Her quote is rational, and full of American pride, evoking sentiments of famous essays and speeches made by the likes of Thomas Paine, and more recently, John F. Kennedy.

I agree with her words and the meaning behind them. To disagree would be ridiculous, ignorant and just plain silly. Elizabeth Warrant is right; no matter how far “left” her platform leans.

But to truly evaluate the merit of Warren’s quote, one must understand why she made it in the first place. Political strife and disagreement is dominating our headlines as our nation drifts deeper into one of its most difficult economic recessions in its history. Our nation is divided on every issue imaginable, across party lines, and in order to motivate all branches of our government to act to help solve the economic problems, which pose the most immediate and salient threats, our president and most of our populace are forced into making unfathomable and deal-breaking concessions and compromises that challenge our moral fiber to its core and could have lasting negative effects for our children and all future generations of Americans that are, well, unacceptable.

An overwhelming majority of noise, on both sides of our economic debate, centers on raising taxes on the very wealthy (the top 1% of annual incomes in the US) as well as eliminating loopholes and increasing the net tax income from corporations. This debate is the impetus for Elizabeth Warren’s quote, and how the debate and subsequent tax revisions play out will shape the economic landscape of our nation for years to come.

While Warren’s words are 100% true, and should be taken to heart by all Americans, I urge people to recognize that just because something is true and meaningful, does not mean that there are not valid and important arguments regarding the spirit of said quote that must be considered as well. I define and discuss two “theories” below that may help explain some of the more complex hot-button issues in terms easier to understand.

Our government as a landlord theory – In any real estate project, such as an office building, an office or industrial park, a shopping mall or lifestyle center or even a residential community or apartment building, the property owner or landlord tries to maximize revenues by minimizing vacancies and bringing in as much rental revenue as possible. To do so, landlords employ a number of incentive-driven programs and policies in order to maximize profitability. These include: giving tenants free rent for a period of months and even years when signing long-term leases; lowering rents, providing visibility (through signage, preferred location and advertising efforts) and increasing allocated fit-out dollars to high-profile or anchor tenants, with the idea that these tenants will attract additional, credit-worthy tenants that would be willing and able to pay higher rents as long as those high-profile anchors remain in place; and adding state-of-the-art amenities to attract residents, employees and customers to the site.

Our government wears the hat of a landlord or property manager when trying to attract or maintain corporate headquarters, manufacturing plants and distribution centers on American soil. A lot of criticism has recently been raised by the “Tea Party” and the conservative right as a whole, pointing out that the U.S. is losing many of its companies and a large number of jobs due to management decisions to move companies, facilities and most importantly, JOBS, overseas. These decisions include actual physical relocation as well as outsourcing. The right argues that America’s corporate tax rates are among the highest in the world, and raising taxes on these corporations and their rich C-level employees and management would serve to de-incentivize them even more.

It is unfair to expect companies, whose management makes decisions solely based on the bottom-line and shareholder expectations, to act any differently than prospective apartment renters, retail stores or law firms do when looking for a new home, storefront or office space. All try to maximize benefits while minimizing their rent payments. Our government must act to incentivize corporations to remain on American soil, and also lure foreign companies to open plants, facilities and offices here as well. Existing jobs need to remain and new jobs must be created here, for our citizens, not shipped or outsourced overseas. Our government must do all it can to ensure companies want to do business here in America, maximizing job opportunities and revenues from taxes, both at the individual and corporate level. Incentives are one of the keys to finding a balance that is best for everyone.

Funds put away for a rainy day theory – Be it a coffee can, a cookie jar or just under a mattress, everyone is familiar with the idea of socking away money for a rainy day. That rainy day may play out as a loss of employment, an unforeseen accident, a death in the family, an illness or a natural disaster. Or a rainy day may take the form of something good that was simply unexpected, such as an unplanned second or third child, an educational or cultural opportunity too good to pass up but that costs a great deal more than expected, or a celebration (marriage, graduation, rite of passage, anniversary, second honeymoon, etc.)

It is clear that our government has failed to put any savings away for a rainy day. And for nearly four years, it has been pouring out there…everywhere. Our financial system is broken, and the world financial stability around us is crumbling as well. For perhaps the first time since the Great Depression, our citizens have very little faith in our government’s ability to manage our national finances – a sentiment echoed loudly by Moody’s unprecedented lowering of our nation’s credit rating.

Rich people such as Warren Buffett and many celebrities have publicly pleaded for our government to raise taxes on the rich, which selflessly includes themselves. That sentiment is good, and should be appreciated. But the larger, more pressing problem that actually exists in our nation’s capital right now is not HOW to bring more money into its coffers (it has an abundance of options there, beginning with its omniscient and unique power of printing more money) – our governments biggest challenge is the fact that it clearly has no clear plan of what to do with the money once it gets it. Our government has grown way too large and bulky in the past 60 years, and does not have the ability to be nimble and flexible at times of crisis, or when multiple threats or challenges emerge simultaneously. Moreover, the bi-partisan nature of our government has grown into such extremist caricatures of what two parties should actually represent, that it is highly unlikely that compromise can ever take place in a manner that will actually solve any problems without creating 3 more in their place.

But perhaps the largest challenge of our time is the fact that our nation has arrived at a very critical and unhealthy point it its development and maturation cycle.  Our citizens, from the top down to the bottom, are unwilling to get our hands dirty and perform the often painstaking tasks of driving progress, rather than the much easier road we have slipped onto, the road of least resistance, where we coast off of the hard work, difficult decisions and life-risking actions taken by the generations that came before us. We all figure that the incredible technological developments of the past ten or twenty years are enough for us to sit back and watch the world around us as we become more and more physically detached from reality and what it really takes to make our world prosperous once again.

We live in a world where people would much rather criticize than actually lead from the front. It is so much easier to find fault in something, and then write or blog or squawk or tweet or argue or go on a reality show and demean it and everything we stand for than it is to come up with a better way, find some passionate people who agree in principle and then invest the 15-20 hour days required to make it happen, to effect positive change.

Social Security IS a Ponzi scheme. Not in theory, but in the way it actually has evolved, because of horrible decisions and mismanagement of the system by our leaders of today, yesterday and those before them. If we can’t find a way to bring back the confidence of our own citizens, who worked their whole lives and paid a tidy sum into the government kitty so that their retirement from living the American Dream would not become an American Nightmare, then all is lost. Washington is and has always been full of some of the best and brightest America has to offer, many of whom make more money annually than the average US citizen will earn in 10 or 20 years. These people knew that the average lifespan of Americans was rising, and would continue to rise steadily as medicine and technology and basic COMMON SENSE (about smoking and fatty foods, for example) improved. It is no excuse that people are living longer and getting sicker and we just don’t have the money to cover it. The truth is, we would all have plenty of money if the funds were invested and secured properly in the first place.

Bottom line, our government’s rainy day fund is empty, and the jar that housed it is broken beyond repair. Furthermore, the discipline necessary to implement the fund in the first place has eroded long ago, and every new “regime” that gets elected to office spends more time, energy and money UNDOING the efforts of those before them than actually solving the problems we face today. And those who disagree with how to solve today’s problems simply filibuster and create enormous barriers to all efforts made by our elected officials. The system is broken, and we all are paying the price, with our retirement funds, our pensions, our Medicare, our health care system, our financial system, our housing market, our ability to borrow money, the number of years we need to work in order to retire, and the value of our dollar when we travel or conduct business overseas.

And don’t even get me started on our system of unions, which in theory, again, are an incredible and indispensable innovation to American labor. But like our government itself, they have grown fat, inefficient and lazy over the years, and currently cause far more problems than they solve in today’s economy.

These are trying and difficult times for our government and the American people. Elizabeth Warren fired a salvo off the bow of The American Right. Her words should not be ignored. But they must be heeded with care, as there are mitigating factors to the spirit of her message. I urge everyone to educate themselves as best they can on the challenges facing our country. Though I do find merit in Orwell’s message that Ignorance is Bliss, we are all responsible for what comes next, be it through action, inaction or ambivalence.

I apologize for getting political, and for being so verbose. But if I am going to write, I might as well discuss important, difficult and polarizing topics every now and then.

Til next time,

IDROS

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