Monthly Archives: December 2015

So long, 2015

525,000 moments so dear. How do you measure a year?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Anyway, this is my final official post for 2015. It’s been a year of recovery. 2014 was a tough one, and this was the beginning stages of picking myself back up. Thanks everybody for hanging in there with me. Hope to keep in contact with you in 2016, and hopefully save up to travel. If I have a resolution for the New Year, I think it’s to be brave enough to try.

If I have any advice for people that read this:

1. Don’t forget that we’re only human. People make mistakes. The true measure of a mistake is how well we learn from it. Live and learn.

2. Be open to change, but understand that change can take time.

3. Take time out to celebrate the little things. What those little things actually are vary from person to person. Find your little things and enjoy them.

If you’re willing to look for it, there can be great beauty in the world. It hides itself sometimes. We all do that from time to time.

Being human is a journey. We have numerous chances to get it right.

As the clock strikes midnight tonight, I don’t know if I’ll be playing “Auld Lang Syne” tonight. I prefer to play “Seasons of Love” from Rent. I think it’s more contemporary, and relays a message of love, which is something we should try as hard as we can to hold on to.

Here’s wishing all of the readers a happy 2016. In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, we begin anew tonight.

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But I have promises to keep.

Hello everybody. Merry Christmas and happy holidays. There’s just under an hour left on December 24th, Christmas Eve. One more week remains in the year. I went to work, but didn’t have to stay too late. But I still had one thing left to do, and it had to be tonight. I had to fulfill a promise to myself.

As a kid, especially in high school, my mom and brother and I had a tradition – around this time of year, we would drive into downtown Bloomington and see the courthouse on the square, with all of its magnificent Christmas lights. For those who read this who don’t know about the layout of the city, the courthouse basically serves as the epicenter of the city. It divides the city into east and west, and north and south. It connects the four major downtown streets – Fourth Street, Walnut Avenue, College Avenue, and Kirkwood Avenue. I made a promise to myself that I would see those lights this year, before Christmas day. I tracked it from when I first left my apartment (8:36 pm) to when I arrived home (10:57 pm). In two hours and twenty-one minutes, I made my sojourn back towards the lights.

Both for practical purposes and to frame the narrative better (again, having a camera would help me tell a better story, so I have to rely on my words instead; hopefully, they’ll suffice), I kept track of my route towards the courthouse. Heading towards the courthouse, I followed down Tenth Street to Indiana Avenue to Sixth Street. I followed Sixth Street behind the public library. The streets weren’t entirely empty along the way. I saw people walking across a parking lot to a 10 pm church service (the clock chimed 9:45 right as I saw them). I saw several people walking their dogs. I even had a conversation on the way back with somebody right outside of the theatre building on the IU campus.

It was a magnificent walk over. There was a navy blue evening sky, and a full moon to boot. It was warmer than I thought (I personally prefer the cold, but you take what you can get). As I walked along Indiana Avenue, I saw an old childhood ritual of shoes dangling from a telephone line. I wondered who wore those shoes, their age, why they threw them out. I followed Sixth Street. I saw the wires connecting. It was everything that I remembered it to be.

I didn’t actually end up staying that long. The view was too beautiful to linger, if that makes sense. Plus, I wish I had left earlier. I was only there for about ten minutes, but I realized why I went there. I had lost something that I needed to get back. I knew I couldn’t bring my mom back, but I quickly realized that wasn’t what I was trying to find.

I went there to get my holiday spirit back. That’s something you can actually recover.

As I walked around each side of the square, I came to the signs that adorned the building. The courthouse itself was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and its current location dates back to 1908. There was a relatively new monument dedicated to a former councilman. He had passed away in 2012, and the statue was dedicated one year later. It encouraged a call for peace. This time of year is supposed to be the time of year when we put aside the squabbling. But too often this year, especially in the last two months, we’ve forgotten that. I needed to go to the square. I needed an encouraging sign again. I needed some emotional peace. Seeing the lights gave me an encouraging sign. The trees were barren of leaves, but the lights made it feel like spring again.

The way back took me to Seventh Street via the square. I could have stayed on Sixth, but I felt it was easier to go to Seventh instead. As I headed that way, I peered down the length of Sixth Street. I saw the illumination of a candle coming from the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU). I used the candle as my comfort. It became my compass. It was pointing north, encouraging me to head home.

I also chose Seventh for symbolic reasons. Many of my classes came along the Seventh Street boundaries, particularly in the Norvelle Center for my theatre degree. Also, that’s where the arts district of campus lay. As I walked down Seventh, I wondered several other things. I thought about the countless number of people who have walked this street past Dunn Meadow and the IMU. I wondered how many of them had passed on; how many were now staying at home in their beds, waiting for the next day to come; how many of them had followed that candle home.

I followed the sidewalk up past the Wells Library back to Tenth Street. For a walk I’ve taken many times, my legs felt unusually heavy this time. But I kept going. I knew every step was taking me where I wanted to go.

The rest of the journey was standard fare. There’s a crossing at the Bypass now, and I make sure to follow that. This led to the bike path that connected to my old apartment complex. As much of a nuisance as they could be, I grew to appreciate the train tracks that ran behind my building. Even if they were loud, it was somewhat reassuring to hear that horn blow. It said, “Be safe.” Fifteen minutes later, I was home.

Those who know me well enough know that I don’t usually make promises. I’ve never been all that reliable. But to paraphrase Robert Frost, I had a promise to keep to myself this time. It wasn’t exactly a woods on a snowy evening, but it was enough for me. I still have miles to go before I sleep. But I think I can rest better now. I fulfilled my promise that I made this time. And I got something much more valuable, and certainly much needed – a sense of comfort. Even if I leave Bloomington one day, those lights will still be there. The campus will still be there. People come and go, but places are usually forever. If things fall into disrepair, they can always be rebuilt.

One of these days, I’ll get a camera to document these things better. But for the time being, this is my way of telling stories. My lights shone tonight.

Happy holidays, everybody. Here’s hoping for a good 2016.

The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame…The Beach Boys

We’re counting down the Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame the Beach Boys for not releasing the album Smile in 1967.

The setup.
To this day, The Beach Boys are one of the most iconic groups in rock and roll history. Following the release of their album Pet Sounds, lead songwriter Brian Wilson started working with aspiring lyricist Van Dyke Parks to work on a new album called Smile. It was imagined as a high-profile concept album, and many widely anticipated it would be a classic album. However, from the beginning, many of Wilson’s fellow band mates couldn’t fit in with this vision. Many fans, and even the band members themselves, began to question why Wilson was taking the Beach Boys away from their iconic style. Although the album was recorded, Wilson was reportedly never satisfied with any of the takes, and attempted to rework them. This caused Van Dyke Parks to distance himself from the band, which caused Wilson’s creative vision to fall apart. Eventually, Wilson had an emotional breakdown, which led to much of his career stalling, and the band’s as a result. The album was never released in a purely finished form, and it’s often called rock music’s greatest “lost” album. Many believe that The Beach Boys threw away the chance to have what could have been the greatest rock album ever made.

Here’s why The Beach Boys are not to blame for the collapse of the Smile project.

Best of the Rest. 
A. Pet Sounds. 
The release of Pet Sounds was a dynamic change in direction from the band’s normal style. Although it sold well in the United Kingdom, many in the United States didn’t react as warmly to it as other albums. Wilson probably believed he owed the fans a better follow-up, and created this album as a result.

B. Too much too soon. 
This was actually the eleventh planned studio album for the band in only five years. Ever since their debut album Surfin’ Safari was released in 1962, the band was known for putting out multiple albums in a year, with three apiece for three years running, 1963-65. The oldest member of the band, Mike Love, was only twenty-six years old. Brian Wilson’s brothers Dennis and Carl were only twenty-three and twenty-one, respectively. As successful as they were, even the best need time to rest. The Beatles hadn’t even made as many studio albums in this time frame.

Top 5. 
5. Derek Taylor. 
Although Brian Wilson was often seen as the man who sent Smile to its early grave, much of the blame for the debacle must go to Derek Taylor. As the press agent for The Beatles, Taylor was known for making outlandish statements and provoking undesired publicity. He proclaimed Brian Wilson a “genius” after the release of Pet Sounds, and set Wilson up to try to achieve his impossibly lofty standards. With Wilson’s health already deteriorating, and many in the music business disagreeing with Taylor’s declaration, the bar was already raised, and many believe the album never had a chance because of this.

4. The Vietnam War. 
Earlier in 1967, Beach Boys member Carl Wilson had received notice that he had been drafted into Vietnam. This hampered his involvement with the band and left the album without one of its key members. Without Carl in that lineup, the rest of the band was unable to rearrange their schedules to meet the demands of the record company.

3. Capitol Records. 
Once Brian Wilson announced the plans for the album, many of the executives didn’t like the direction in which the album was going. When Pet Sounds was first released, its somber tones made Capitol not market it as well as they had other Beach Boys albums. Without full backing from the record company, Smile couldn’t have been the success that many believed it would have been.

2. Technical difficulties.
Brian’s grandiose vision still could have been executed – had the album been thought of later in their career. The antiquated equipment that the band was using to record the album made it impossible for many of the takes to come out to Brian’s standards. Even though Brian made the controversial decision to use modular recording techniques, it still could have been made. They just didn’t have the right equipment to execute the concept that Brian was trying to achieve. It makes you wonder what would have happened if it had been released ten years later.

1. The Fab Four.
Much of Brian Wilson’s vision for Smile was not just based off of the release of Pet Sounds, but also the success of the Beatles. It was around this time that the Beatles were releasing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Not only was it an immediate success, including becoming the first rock album to win the Grammy for Album of the Year (one of four total awards it won that year), but many critics still believe it is the greatest rock album ever made. Even in the United States, the Beach Boys were still living in the Beatles’ shadow, and this was their attempt to “beat” the Beatles. This is where much of the ideas for Smile were first imagined. Unfortunately, as a result of the success of Sgt. Pepper’s, the album Smile wasn’t allowed to stand alone and be judged on its own merits.

UEFA Euro 2016 draw

So, the official UEFA Euro 2016 draw has just completed. Here are the groups. They are listed by who plays whom first.

Group A 
France
Romania
Albania
Switzerland

France vs. Romania, June 10 – Saint-Denis
Albania vs. Switzerland, June 11- Lens
Romania vs. Switzerland, June 15 – Paris
France vs. Albania, June 15 – Marseille
Romania vs. Albania, June 19 – Lyon
Switzerland vs. France, June 19 – Lille

Group B 
England
Russia
Wales
Slovakia

Wales vs. Slovakia, June 11 – Bordeaux
England vs. Russia, June 11 – Marseille
Russia vs. Slovakia, June 15 – Lille
England vs. Wales, June 16 – Lens
Russia vs. Wales, June 20 – Toulouse
Slovakia vs. England, June 20 – Saint-Etienne

Group C 
Germany
Ukraine
Poland
Northern Ireland

Poland vs. Northern Ireland, June 12 – Nice
Germany vs. Ukraine, June 12 – Lille
Ukraine vs. Northern Ireland, June 16 – Lyon
Germany vs. Poland, June 16 – Saint-Denis
Ukraine vs. Poland, June 21- Marseille
Northern Ireland vs. Germany, June 21 – Paris

Group D 
Spain
Czech Republic
Turkey
Croatia

Turkey vs. Croatia, June 12 – Paris
Spain vs. Czech Republic, June 13 – Toulouse
Czech Republic vs. Croatia, June 17 – Saint-Etienne
Spain vs. Turkey, June 17 – Nice
Czech Republic vs. Turkey, June 21 – Lens
Croatia vs. Spain, June 21 – Bordeaux

Group E 
Belgium
Italy
Republic of Ireland
Sweden

Republic of Ireland vs. Sweden, June 13 – Saint-Denis
Belgium vs. Italy, June 13 – Lyon
Italy vs. Sweden, June 17 – Toulouse
Belgium vs. Republic of Ireland, June 18 – Bordeaux
Italy vs. Republic of Ireland, June 22 – Lille
Sweden vs. Belgium, June 22 – Nice

Group F 
Portugal
Iceland
Austria
Hungary

Austria vs. Hungary, June 14 – Bordeaux
Portugal vs. Iceland, June 14 – Saint-Etienne
Iceland vs. Hungary, June 18 – Marseille
Portugal vs. Austria, June 18 – Paris
Iceland vs. Austria, June 22 – Saint-Denis
Hungary vs. Portugal, June 22 – Lyon

88th Oscar predictions – December 11, 2015

We’re about a month away from the Golden Globe Awards. Certain actors, like Benicio del Toro and Michael Keaton, were snubbed at the Globes and SAG Awards. At the same time, the nominations have kind of been more spread out this year than I anticipated. So, this might be my last prediction until the actual Oscar nominations themselves on January 14, 2016. We’ll see if I do one more, trying to cover all the comprehensive topics.

Best Actor in a Leading Role
1. Bryan Cranston – Trumbo 
2. Johnny Depp – Black Mass 
3. Leonardo Di Caprio – The Revenant 
4. Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs 
5. Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl 

Best Actress in a Leading Role
1. Cate Blanchett – Carol 
2. Brie Larson – Room
3. Jennifer Lawrence – Joy 
4. Carey Mulligan – Suffragette
5. Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1. Paul Dano – Love and Mercy 
2. Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation 
3. Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies 
4. Michael Shannon – 99 Homes 
5. Sylvester Stallone – Creed 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1. Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight 
2. Rooney Mara – Carol 
3. Helen Mirren – Trumbo 
4. Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
5. Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs 

Best Director
1. Todd Haynes – Carol 
2. George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road 
3. Ridley Scott – The Martian 
4. Alejandro G. Inarritu – The Revenant 
5. Tom McCarthy – Spotlight 

Best Picture (if I had to pick five)
1. Carol 
2. The Danish Girl 
3. The Martian
4. The Revenant 
5. Spotlight

Winter

So, we’re approximately two weeks out from Christmas Day. Next month will mark eighteen months since my mom’s passing. People have told me that it takes time. Maybe I’ve been doing better than I thought I have. This is something I wish I had – the ability to see the good in myself. For whatever reason, I’ve been holding myself back from that. Maybe holding myself back from that has held me back from pursuing other opportunities. I must teach myself and be taught at the same time.

Winter does this sometimes. It’s a season of opposites – an ending and a beginning at the same time. On the one hand, some of my worst qualities come out at this time: a desire for privacy, difficulty sleeping, and questioning myself a lot more. On the other hand, some of the best qualities come out: my mind stays active, I am able to keep in contact with my friends, and I know they’ll be there if I need them.

That to me is the biggest struggle: when to ask for help. I do feel a little guilty about not doing to do many of the basics on my own. I don’t want people to feel like I’m taking advantage of them. That’s one reason why I walk a lot of places now. But certain days, today being one of them, it’d be nice to have company. Even if it’s very busy this time of year, work is a nice way to get out of the house. Even getting out of the house sometimes is a victory. It makes me a survivor. Just getting out of bed is my way of fighting back most days. It’s not publicized, passive, and often doesn’t last very long. But it’s how I come back.

Winter is weird, man. It’s not even officially winter yet, because the solstice doesn’t occur for another ten days or so. Many people wish it would pass by quickly, many wish it would never end. I’m in the middle – the chill is nice, but sometimes a warm day is nice, too. Just not too warm.

Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about right now. But at least I’m trying to talk. If anybody reads this, please encouraging me to keep trying. And let me come to you for help. I just hope I recognize I need it first.

Butterfly

This week marks four years since the 2011 Belgian government formation. It’s an anniversary of sorts for me. People have asked why I care so much for a place I haven’t been to in five years, and knowing only the basics in my dad’s first language. I believe that our personal history is important. And the facts are, there’s a very strong connection with my Belgian ancestry. In fact, it’s probably the stronger one right now.

I am titling this post “Butterfly” in reference to the nickname for the accords that ended the political stalemate on December 6, 2011. Prime Minister-elect Elio di Rupo was known for wearing bow ties in the shape of butterfly wings, so they were nicknamed the Butterfly Accords. Di Rupo passed his leadership on to Charles Michel, who took over in 2014. From what I’ve seen, things have been stable since, but I’m always nervous that something bad could happen.

Soon afterwards, the Red Devils began their meteoric rise to the top of the FIFA World Rankings. Admittedly, the system designed to rank the teams is an inexact science, and with the corruption allegations that FIFA is facing right now, they may not mean much to a lot of people. But for a country that had faced a four year uphill struggle, it means a lot. When the Red Devils played in the World Cup last year, there was undying, loyal support from all sides. It was a beautiful thing. This is the message I want to send to people who can’t get into the game, especially the World Cup. It means a lot to the people. Sports can be – and often are – the ties that bind. When people don’t know where to find hope, the local team can bring a reason to celebrate again. Belgium needed a reason to hope again. And the Red Devils impassioned run gave it to them.

Now, with only a few days before the draw for UEFA Euro 2016, Belgium comes in as one of the favorites to win the tournament. To win a tournament would do wonders. They’ve finished third once and runner-up once in the Euros (1972 and 1980, respectively). Obviously, I’d love for them to do well. I just hope I won’t get too disappointed if they don’t. Sometimes, that can linger, and the good feelings erode. Sports can also be – and often are – the great leveler.

The wings of butterflies are something to admire. You see them fluttering in the air, and you feel reassured that everything will be all right. Here’s hoping that the metaphor can continue on into next summer. The Red Devils may not get another chance for a while. The stand as the top ranked team in the world, and the FIFA Team of the Year. Even if it’s only temporary, it’s a really amazing feeling.

All you can do is wonder. The world can be – and often is – large and small at the same time. We’re all just one piece of a huge puzzle.

Keltner list- Steve Garvey

  1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?
    He won an MVP award in 1974, and was one of the best first basemen in the game for about a dozen years. He made the All-Star team ten times, won four Gold Gloves, and won a World Series in 1981 with the Dodgers. Many people suggested he was the best first baseman in the National League, if not necessarily baseball. He still holds the National League record for consecutive games played.
  2. Was he the best player on his team?
    I think so. Many of those Dodger players were good but not great, but Garvey was kind of the glue that held the Dodgers together. The Dodgers did win without him once he went to San Diego, but he still led San Diego to a pennant.
  3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?
    For the time period, I believe so. Keith Hernandez was very close, but his career started later. Both had off-field issues.
  4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
    Absolutely. He won the NLCS MVP award twice, with two different teams. His clutch home run in the ’84 NLCS was a backbreaker to the Cubs. Although he only won one World Series championship, he still made it to the World Series five times and hit .338 in eleven postseason series. They probably could have won one more division title in 1980 with a little more luck.
  5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
    Actually, I think so. He was still playing regularly past the age of thirty-five. His last two years were busts, but from 1973-1985, he was one of the best players in baseball.
  6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?
    Not necessarily. But I think he’s better than a lot of guys who have made it.
  7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?
    From what I’ve seen, yes.
  8. Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
    I think so. He batted .294, had 2,599 hits, won an MVP award, 2 NLCS MVP awards, 2 All-Star game MVP awards, four Gold Gloves, and had two seasons with at least 200 hits.
  9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
    Dodger Stadium is a pitcher’s park, so I think this somewhat true. Still, this is not necessarily the player’s fault.
  10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?
    It’s either him or Gil Hodges, and I think Garvey’s numbers are better.
  11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
    He won the National League MVP in 1974, and was runner-up in 1978. He also finished in the top ten three more times.
  12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?
    He made ten All-Star Games (1974-81, 1984-85). As far as I know, ten All-Star Games used to be enough. I’ll address the biggest question a little later, but still.
  13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?
    Yes. The 1984 NLCS was an indicator. The Cubs were on the verge of winning the pennant, and he crushed a walk-off home run to give the Padres the momentum.
  14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?
    Aside from the National League games streak, I can’t see anything. At the same time, I don’t think this should matter all that much.
  15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?
    Here’s where the biggest question comes in. Garvey was known as “Mr. Clean,” but it later emerged that he was a phony. He had some questionable off-the-field activities (namely, several high-profile affairs), and the Hall of Fame has held that against him. I’m not saying character shouldn’t count. But it shouldn’t matter that much. What he did on the field matters more.

    Analysis
    Except for the off-the-field activities, Garvey shouldn’t even have this list written about him. He should have been in a long time ago. This is probably the easiest Keltner list I’ve done so far. I’m sorry, but for first baseman in the 1970s in the Major Leagues, there was basically nobody better.

Euro 2016 draw

With only two days left until the 2016 UEFA Euro draw, here are my final predictions. I reserve the right to be wrong, and will analyze on further analysis soon. Teams are listed in alphabetical order, except when noted.

Pot 1
France (host)
Belgium
England
Germany
Portugal
Spain

Pot 2
Austria
Croatia
Italy
Russia
Switzerland
Ukraine

Pot 3
Czech Republic
Hungary
Poland
Romania
Slovakia
Sweden

Pot 4
Albania
Iceland
Ireland
Northern Ireland
Turkey
Wales

Group A
A1 France
A2 Austria
A3 Slovakia
A4 Albania

Group B
B1 Portugal
B2 Italy
B3 Poland
B4 Turkey

Group C
C1 Belgium
C2 Switzerland
C3 Romania
C4 Northern Ireland

Group D
D1 Spain
D2 Croatia
D3 Sweden
D4 Wales

Group E
E1 Germany
E2 Ukraine
E3 Czech Republic
E4 Ireland

Group F
F1 England
F2 Russia
F3 Hungary
F4 Iceland

Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame….Billy Beane

We’re counting down the Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame Billy Beane for the Oakland A’s postseason failures.

The setup
Billy Beane took over as general manager of the struggling Oakland Athletics (A’s for short) franchise in 1998. Using a new methodology of evaluating players known as sabermetrics, which in Oakland was labelled”Moneyball,” Beane was doing more with less. The A’s made the playoffs eight times in his tenure – 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2012, 2013, and 2014. However, for all their regular season success under Beane, the A’s haven’t been able to do well in the postseason. Collectively, the A’s have never played in a World Series and have won only postseason series in that time (2006 against the Minnesota Twins). Even more painful for A’s fans is that five of those postseason have losses have occurred at home in a winner-take-all ALDS fifth game (2000, 2002, 2003, 2012, and 2013). Additionally, they were up 2-0 in the 2001 ALDS against the Yankees, winning the first two on the road, and blew that lead. In 2003, they were up 2-0 on the Boston Red Sox, and blew that lead as well. Since 2000, the A’s are 1-13 in clinching games in the playoffs. Beane’s methods have long been derided as a failure, and many consider him the poster boy for the argument against sabermetrics and Moneyball. Many general managers who have followed in his stead have had similar successes, or lack thereof.

Here’s why Billy Beane is not to blame.

Best of the Rest. 
A. The East Bay. 
It could be argued that Oakland itself is to blame, not so much for the city itself as it is for its geography. When Gertrude Stein returned to Oakland in her childhood, she wrote “There is no there, there” about her old neighborhood. The Raiders left Oakland in the 1980s, and subsequently returned in the 1990s, but are still trying to negotiate for a new stadium. Oakland Coliseum is the last and only stadium shared by both a baseball and football team, with the A’s and Raiders sharing it. The Golden State Warriors are planning to relocate across the bay to San Francisco and out of Oracle Arena, which is the oldest arena in the NBA, and larger in terms of attendance than the Staples Center. Additionally, the geography of the Bay Area may play a factor – if you look at the A’s neighbors, the San Francisco Giants, they had to play in Candlestick Park and never won a title in that ballpark. Even in the A’s three-peat championship years (1972, 1973, 1974), they could never draw one million fans to their ballpark, and they almost relocated.

B. Charlie Finley. 
Speaking of those 1970s era A’s teams, they were led by controversial owner Charlie Finley. During his tenure as A’s owner, he attempted to try new outlandish promotions on the game – three-ball walks, a livelier ball, and orange baseballs among them. Like Beane, Finley wasn’t taken seriously during his tenure in Oakland. Beane chronologically is not the first outlandish front office figure in Oakland Coliseum.

Top 5. 
5. Fluke plays. 
Every team has weird plays go against them, but Oakland seems to have them happen more often and under higher stakes. The collapse in 2003 was due to several freak plays that went against them – Eric Byrnes didn’t touch home plate, and Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek tagged him out. In that same game, there were two obstruction calls, both of which went against the A’s (although I think in hindsight and examination of the rule book, both calls were correct). In 2013, they were up 2-1 in games against the Detroit Tigers, and were winning 4-3 when Victor Martinez hit a ball that was supposed to have been fan interference. The umpires ruled that it was a home run, the Tigers rallied to win the game, and won 3-0 in Game 5 two days later. In 2001, Jeremy Giambi didn’t slide across the plate on Derek Jeter’s throw. If he does, he probably scores and the Yankees don’t rally to win that series.

4. Bill James. 
James served as Beane’s unofficial mentor, and it was he and not Beane who popularized the sabermetrics argument. Although many teams have embraced James’ philosophies, he tends to be off-putting with his blunt attitude. Many of these Moneyball-style GMs didn’t have the people skills necessary to help the team, or at least the fans. James was most recently an adviser to the Red Sox, who have won three World Series in Beane’s tenure. In fact, they knocked the A’s out in 2003.

3. Smaller sample sizes. 
The 2002 A’s won 20 games in a row, the American League record. However, they beat some very weak teams to do that. When you play 162 games in a season, you play some good teams, bad teams, and everybody in between. With a smaller sample size in the postseason, the margin for error is less than it would be in the regular season. Beane himself has even admitted that the regular season doesn’t matter as much as people believe it does.

2. The imitation game. 
I’ve never been a fan of Billy Beane, but even I can give him credit for trying out his ideas. However, an unintended consequence of this is that what he’s done is bound to have imitators. Many of the larger-market teams, like the Boston Red Sox, copied his methods, and it can be argued that’s a reason why they won. Obviously, it’s not the only reason, but it doesn’t hurt. Beane was offered a job by Red Sox owner John W. Henry as GM, but he turned it down. That job eventually went to Theo Epstein, who received a lot of credit for helping the 2004 Red Sox win it all. He was somebody who applied many of Beane’s methods against him.

1. Money talks. 
With the revenue sharing agreement that all MLB teams take part in, or at least in theory, I don’t think there’s anything else Beane can do. Until the ownership is willing to spend more money on players, I don’t see Oakland going anywhere for a while. Not to belabor the point, but let’s take a look at the 2004 Red Sox again. They used many of Beane’s sabermetrics principles, but they won in large part because they had more money, and as a result, probably had better talent. As much as we dislike the Yankees, George Steinbrenner was willing to spend the money to turn the Yankees into a championship team. If the adage that you have to spend money to make money is true, then Oakland has fallen behind.