Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Masters: Phil Mickelson wins; Tiger Woods 4th place

The 2010 Masters is history: Phil Mickelson wins his third green jacket; Tiger Woods gets 4th place. But, regardless of who you were rooting for, and this blogger was cheering on Tiger Woods, it was a great golf game that had all of the drama of a Hollywood movie. First, Tom Watson, then Lee Westwood, then Phil Mickelson had the lead, and all were threatened by Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, K.J Choi, Anthony Kim, and Ian Poulter, before he faltered in the 2nd round.

But give it to Phil Mickelson, who at times shot a Mayo clinic level of golf, especially on Sunday at the 13th, when "Lefty" hit an amazing to-the-green shot from behind a set of trees that's to be seen, and you can see it here (the tree shot is at :23):

For his part Tiger Woods was fighting with several voices in his head: his, that of his new self, what others were saying, and what his friends were saying. Tiger Woods lost because he wasn't himself. It showed Sunday at the 15th hole when he missed a chance to go to 9-under-par by missing a (for him) routine short put, twice.

While the media, including this blogger paid perhaps too much attention to Tiger's emotional levels, it was only because Woods himself said he was going to be more in control of himself. Really, Tiger didn't need to do that. Woods set the expectation, but more to the point, it was an indication that he wasn't happy with himself and who he is.

Tiger Woods needs to rediscover himself and accept himself as he is; that will drive the voices out of his head and allow him to focus on playing consistent golf. At The Masters, Tiger Woods was either incredibly good or uncharacteristically bad.

Later, Woods said to an incredibly rude CBS correspondent that he was going to take some time off and reevaluate things, then he walked away. What Woods should do is keep playing golf and find himself on the course, where he started it all.

Stay tuned.

Children's Hospital Oakland video on same day surgery service

In the wake of the news about Children's Hospital Oakland's fiscal problems, this video from their YouTube channel explains their "same-day surgery and diagnostic imaging" done at their Children's Specialty Center Outpatient Surgery Center in Walnut Creek.

As the video explains, the facility is for "healthy kids" who need ear tubes and plastic surgery (no, not like Nip / Tuck).

As reported last week Children's Hospital is undergoing what could be called a fiscal makeover. In an email Children's Hospital CEO Bertram Lubin said:

We hope to restructure our medical center so that our losses this year are $15 million less that last year (which was $25 million) and that we can make a financial turnaround in three years.

Children's Hospital's problems grew from California and America's high unemployment rate, rising medical costs and less than adequate Medi-Cal reimbursement levels. Children's Hospital has lost $80 million over the past four years.

Polish President plane crash conspiracy talk heats up

One day after the tragic crash of the Russian airplane killing Polish President Lech Kaczynski and an estimated 132 people, all members of Poland's government and social elite, the conspiracy talk heats up.

And while some rest on the current basic explanation that the pilot just failed to follow air traffic controller instructions and not land the plane in the fog, the fact that the President of Poland and so many people so important to Poland were all killed in one act is hard to consider as due to just pilot error. There are a lot of questions, first, why use an "aging" plane?

But Damian Thompson of the Telegraph UK is right when he blogs:

And I can say with confidence that they are being cooked up, because Poland, like most East European countries, is obsessed with conspiracies. Russians, Jews, Americans, Freemasons – they will all be blamed. Some stories will be more credible than others.

He's right. The next event in this terrible story is what the flight "black boxes" will tell.

Stay tuned.

Tina Fey skewers Michelle "Bombshell" McGee and Tiki Barber

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Tina Fey was on fire on Saturday Night Live last night. And while the sketch with Justin Bieber is still the most talked about skit, and rightly so, Tina Fey's "SNL Weekend Update" segment was not far behind.

In it, Fey just skewers Sandra Bullock hubbie Jesse James' alleged mistress Michelle "Bombshell" McGee and Tiki Barber, who cheated on his wife Ginny Barber while she was pregnant with twins.

After calling Republican House Minority Leader John Buener "The biggest bitch in America", Tina Fey turned her acid tongue to "The Oscar Curse" where married actresses who win the Oscar then learn their husbands were cheating on them. "That's not an an Oscar curse," Fey said "that's a lady curse."

Then she attacked, and rightly so, NBC Today correspondent and former NY Giants Running Back Tiki Barber, saying "Ask Tiki Barber's wife if she has an Oscar. Oh, you thought you sneaked under the radar this week, didn't you Tiki? No. You left your wife when she was eight months pregnant with twins Women see that as leaving your wife when she is 16 months pregnant. We don't care for it".

Tina Fey says, and I agree, that there's no such thing as an Oscar Curse, the curse is women like Michelle "Bombshell" McGee, as Fey said "Walkin around." And here, Fey went into a rant that can only be called classic:

"I know you shouldn't judge people based on their appearance, but when your body looks like a dirt bang's binder from 7th grade metal shop, it doesn't bode well for your character. You know, there's a term for women like Bombshell McGee, they're called "Bombshell McGees". Seth, the world has always been full of whores.

For every Sandra Bullock there's a woman who got a tatoo on her forehead because she ran out of room on her labia. For every Elin Nordegren there's a Hooters waitress who spells Jamee with two Es and a star. You could be the women who cures cancer and up against some skank, walking giant, venny fake boobs with the nipple pointed in different directions like the headlights on an old Buick.

Wives, you're not the losers in these situations, you are the winners, because this (pointing to a photo of Michelle "Bombshell" McGee) has to be the loser. Bombshell McGee, ugh, I know you're into like Nazi stuff and white supremacy but if Hitler were alive today he even he would be like Poor Sandra Bullock, sie ist so ein netter womman.

Tina Fey just gave Saturday Night Live one of its best moments and lived up to SNL's tradition of edgy, socially relevant commentary delivered in a hilarious way.

Stay tuned.

Texas Stadium implosion video marks the end; what's next?

The Texas Stadium implosion video marks the end of Texas Stadium; what's next? The site is on 78-acres in Irving, Texas, and not far from the planned community called Las Colinas. When this blogger was a City Planning student at UTA, Las Colinas was brand new and at its center was a small "downtown" set of high-rise developments connected by a people mover system. Today, Las Colinas has expanded to include more residential developments. 78 acres of land, almost the size of the Magic Kingdom at Disneyland, is just about enough to build another new town with the right design.

There's a student contest that could offer a set of development plans for the future, if only the North Texas chapter of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association takes what they do seriously. The "Texas Shoot-Out Real Estate Challenge" is a fifth annual contest where students from six Texas colleges come up with development concepts, and this year, the land that was Texas Stadium is the focus. But the Dallas Morning News reports that the plans will not "likely" be used, and the contest is just to give scholarship money to the students.

That's great, but don't waste the students time and energy by having them come up with an unrelistic plan. In this terrible economy, developers and economic development officials need to take on innovative approaches. Hopefully, the students come up with concepts that focus on manufacturing industry, like an auto plant, something missing from the Dallas / Ft. Worth economic scene.

Texas Stadium presents a great opportunity to do more than the normal offices and eateries combination. Let's hope the student work is taken seriously for a change.

Stay tuned.

Texas Stadium implosion end of beginning of Dallas Cowboys

Watching the video of the implosion of Texas Stadium is a hard thing for this blogger because it marks the end of the beginning of The Dallas Cowboys as America's Team, and the end of a period in American Culture where Dallas, Texas was new and all things seemed possible. The Texas Stadium implosion also sadly marked the end of one major tactile memory of my teenage and college years.

I was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. Not the typical fan, though. I was attracted to the Dallas Cowboys because my Mom had befriended Oakland Raiders Defensive End Otis Sistrunk. Otis was a large and very nice man who announcers joked was from The University of Mars. Sistrunk came over for a visit in 1976; I was underwhelmed. At the time, football had no place in my life.

I saw football as a major part of an American cultural problem. When I was six, my late grandfather said I should play football; But I said all the blacks played; I wanted to coach. I thought it was weird that the all the players on TV were black but all the coaches were white. That was why I paid no attention to football; I was into science fiction and Star Trek.

But when I figured my Mom was going to be friends with this guy, Otis Sistrunk, who I'd never heard of, I'd better read something about the game. So I found and bought - well, had bought for me at the time - a big thick book called An Encyclopedic History of Pro Football.

The book had different sections and Otis was in it. But nothing interested me except a chapter at the back called "A Strategic History of Pro Football". This part of the book had diagrams of plays that were ran through the history of the game. And it had a special area on Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Tom Landry.

The segment explained that Landry used multiple offense and "pre-shifting" and brought "engineering concepts of feedback and control theory" to the development of The Flex Defense. As one who was interested in engineering, I found a reason to be interested in football and a fan of The Dallas Cowboys.

I subscribed to The Dallas Cowboys Weekly, and yes kept my issues for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader centerfolds. But my dream was to visit Texas Stadium. On August 21st, 1979, I got my wish.

My Mom took me to Dallas and Texas Stadium as a one-day birthday gift. It was The Dallas Cowboys v. The Pittsburgh Steelers in a preseason rematch of their epic Super BowlXIII. What struck me at the time was how simple Texas Stadium was. The corridors were wide, but all concrete. I guessed the luxury I expected to see was reserved for the famous luxury boxes. I read that Dallas Cowboys Marketing Director Tex Schramm sold them to pay a private bond issue to build the stadium. In fact, that was how I learned what bond issues were.

After the game, I was hooked on the Cowboys and their defensive strategy. That led to a letter I wrote to then Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator and NFL Hall of Famer Ernie Stautner. In the letter, I asked what "keys" Bob Breunig, then the Cowboys middle linebacker, looked for while running the "Flex Defense."  To my surprise, the letter he wrote back invited me to the Dallas Cowboys offices! So in July of 1980, I went back to Dallas.

I was allowed to see six reals of film: Dallas Defense v. The I Formation One, Dallas Defense v. The I Formation Two, Flex Strong: Quality Control, Flex Weak Quality Control, Flex Strong, and Flex Weak. What I noticed was that because the defensive lineman in the Flex started over the offensive player, then moved to a gap, an offensive lineman could actually block a defender before that person moved to their gap position.

That happened to Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Randy White, who was head up on New England Patriots Guard John Hannah. The Patriots were in what the Cowboys called at that time "Brown Right" formation. In that, the tight end was on the right, the fullback behind the quarterback and the halfback behind the weakside offensive tackle. The fullback at the time was Sam "Bam" Cunningham. The Cowboys were in "Flex Strong", which is why White was head up on Hannah; White's assignment was the gap between Hannah and the Pats center. He never got there.

John Hannah blocked Randy White so hard and fast that the gap opened because the other defenders were flowing to their positions but not White, and Cunningham flew through the truck-sized hole and raced 56 yards for a touchdown.

When Ernie Stautner came in to check on me, I asked him about that, and he gave me a chalk talk on where White should have been. But with all of that, my love for The Cowboys and for Dallas and Texas Stadium was cemented. I found The University of Texas at Arlington because I wanted to study city planning in Dallas.

Dallas, Texas was growing at the time and basking in the glow provided by the success of the Cowboys and the TV show Dallas. I lived in Oakland; Dallas was everything the Bay Area was not: hot weather, steel and glass buildings, cranes all over and new. Everything seemed shiny new.

Of course, then I went to college and while I enjoyed my four years at UTA and the friends I met and still have today, I felt that Dallas and "The Metroplex" was 15 years behind the Bay Area socially, so I worked to come back. I was accepted at at graduate school and The City Planning Program at Cal Berkeley in 1985.  But before I left, I got a chance to go to a number of games at Texas Stadium.

The one I will remember isn't a Dallas Cowboys game; it's an SMU game.  SMU played Texas-Arlington at Texas Stadium and SMU, which had Eric Dickerson and Craig James, ran all over us.

They called Craig and Eric, "Dicker-James" and I think it was KRLD's radio announcer Brad Sham who came up with the name.  What I remember was my friend at UTA Shelly Gruwell saying "Look at them go" in that Texanese drawl of hers, over and over again.

My love for the Dallas Cowboys never diminished until a man named Bill Walsh came along with an innovative passing game - that's another story for another time. But part of that reason too was how new Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones handled the late Coach Tom Landry; by announcing on radio that he fired him. That was how Landry learned of his ouster.

Gil Brandt was the Cowboys Director of Player Personnel and the architect of the great Cowboys teams as well as the pioneer of using computers in the player scouting process. Gil was locked out of the Cowboys Headquarters.

It took me a long time to get over that. I've since met Jerry Jones and really admire him as a business man. But the "Landry issue" will always stick with me. Texas Stadium was a symbol of that. But also of a certain hubris and free-spending era, too.

In defense of Jerry Jones, Jones discovered a lot of fiscal overspending by the Cowboys management when he took over the organization. Jones cut the fat and caused the Cowboys to turn a profit.

One can say the new Cowboys Stadium is Jerry Jones way of saying "The Cowboys were OK then, but this is what they should be. An example for the sports World."

I'll miss Texas Stadium. May it rest in peace.

NFL Draft: 2010 Mock Draft - Redskins and 49ers trade picks

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This NFL Draft: 2010 Mock Draft, the second Mock Draft in as many days by, has the Washington Redskins and the San Francisco 49ers trading 1st round draft picks. The idea here is that with Donovan McNabb and Jason Campbell, the Redskins have depth at quarterback and feel they can trade down and stockpile players. The 49ers, with two picks in the 1st round, want to trade up and get a difference maker like C.J. Spiller, the running back from Clemson.

This is rooted in the fact that the Niners saw first hand the difference a speed running back can make when Chris Johnson of The Tennessee Titans ran for 135 yards on 25 carries against them. At times, Johnson made the Niners defense look like it was in slow motion. While there's an argument that the Niners don't need running backs, they also don't have one with C.J. Spiller's blazing speed and don't want to worry about Frank Gore's durability over the season. Seeing how this position switch impacts the NFL Draft is a "teachable moment."

What we learn is that even though what player available impacts what a team does, on many occasions the basic need of the team points them to the same player as in the normal order, or another player at the same position.  That's especially true for the New England Patriots, who really need defensive line help.

The other developments noted in the first Mock Draft remain:

- The St. Louis Rams taking Ndamukong Suh, the Nebraska defensive tackle, and not Oklahoma Quarterback Sam Bradford. Really, taking Suh means you can pencil him in as a certain starter, where Bradford is not a player the Rams need and one they would have to develop.

- The Oakland Raiders picking a wide receiver, Florida's Dez Byrant, to make up for, push, and complement Darrius Haywood-Bey, who can only get better in 2010. Bryant would give the Raiders a passing attack that on paper can be one of the best, but the Raiders coaches have to make that a reality.

- Seattle's Pete Carroll takes one of his former USC players, Taylor Mays, to become the enforcer in the defensive secondary the Seahawks need.

Other developments still have Cal's Jahvid Best going to the San Diego Chargers, which seems to be a scenario that could play out as Best could fall to The Chargers at number 27. Again, Best is better and faster than Fresno State's Ryan Matthews. But Matthews is ranked higher by some draft services, and Best is ranked higher by other draft services.

The order is in pick number, team, player, and reason.

1. St. Louis - Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska: The Rams ranked near the bottom in total defense in 2009, giving up an average of 30 points-per-game. Ndamukong Suh is a gamer and would complement DE Chris Long. Plus, he comes cheaper than a QB and as in 2006 would set the tone for the lower NFL Draft salary structure.

2. Detroit - Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma: This is a clear need pick as Detroit had the worst defense in the NFL and drafted a QB in Matt Stafford. McCoy can be the player that improves their defense overnight.

3. Tampa Bay - Eric Barry, S, Tennessee: A case could be made for the offensive tackles, but passing Eric Barry just seems stupid. Plus, Tampa Bay's offensive problems are borne of a bad scheme more than player issues.

4. San Francisco from Washington - C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson: The 49ers could make great use of this super-fast back to both complement and spell Frank Gore. Spiller, who runs a 4.27 40-yard-dash, is also much like Chris Johnson, the Tennessee Titans running back who scorched the Niners last year.

5. Kansas City - Joe Haden, CB, Florida: The Chiefs had one of the NFL's worst defenses and gave up 231.7 passing yards a game, and were not respectable against the. Haden is the pass defender the Chiefs need who can offer run support as well.

6. Seattle - Taylor Mays, S, USC: Pete Carroll's first pick of his first year back in the NFL. Carroll knows Mays and Taylor's wild combination of size and speed will give the Seahawks an enforcer in the secondary and stop teams from racking up 245 yard per game in the air.

7. Cleveland - Sam Bradford, QB, Qklahoma: Bradford would be perfect to sit behind Jake Delhomme and learn for about two years, before he's ready. The Cleveland Browns have entirely rebuilt their team already and the need in the draft is for defensive playmakers that can stop the run. But the DTs are gone and Bradford's too good to let drop down past the Browns.

8. Oakland - Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State: A make-up for Darrius Hayward-Bey? Yes. The Oakland Raiders do not have a deep-threat receiver who will consistently separate and catch the ball. Bryant may not have had a great pro-day, but get him on the field and he will do fine, perhaps on the order of Jerry Rice.

9. Buffalo - Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State: The Bills problems were scheme-based, not player-based. Oklahoma State's Okung will solidify the left side and remain their for 7 years.

10. Jacksonville - Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech: The Jacksonville Jaquars gave up 235.9 passing yards a game. Morgan would provide the speed pass-rush not unlike Dwight Freeney of the Indianapolis Colts.

11. Denver from Chicago - Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa: The Denver Broncos are in need of larger, better pass blockers and Bulaga is the perfect choice.

12. Miami - Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland: While some would argue for a linebacker here, the Dolphins also need an offensive lineman, and Campbell is ranked higher than Sergio Kindle.

14. Washington from San Francisco - Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma: Having traded down, the Redskins can add a playmaking tight end to add depth and speed to their passing game. Gresham's the perfect choice at this spot.

15. Seattle from Denver - Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers: One of the Seahawks' needs is at Offensive Tackle where Walter Jones has been a star. Davis is said to have "character issues" but there's no one better than Seahawks' Head Coach Pete Carroll to work with him.

16. New York Giants - Earl Thomas, S, Texas: Called "young" but all of the players in the NFL Draft are. Thomas is a playmaker for a NY Giants team that needs a new safety who can play nickle-back. That's Thomas.

17. Tennessee - Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State: The Titans have openly stated they seek a cover cornerback and Kyle Wilson fits here.

18. Washington from San Francisco - Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida: When a center is ranked as high as Maurkice Pouncey appears, you don't pass on him because that's a rare event. Redskins GM Bruce Allen would agree. He's a player that would make a good line great over time. The point is, even with the Redskins picking here, the choice is Pouncey.

19. Pittsburgh - Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: Aside from the character events, Ben Rothlisberger is not getting younger and won his Super Bowl ring. Clausen can be Pittsburgh's quarterback of the future and push Ben to play at an even higher level.

20. Atlanta - Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri: The Falcons have a number of defensive needs, but linebacker and defensive end are prominent. But Sean's an athlete and a team leader and a playmaker. The nasty streak some say he needs will come when he gets angry for being blocked in the NFL.

21. Houston - Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State: The Texans have tried to secure a deal with Cornerback Dunta Robinson, who's now with the Atlanta Falcons. That opens a need that Robinson can fill.

22. Cincinnati - Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida: The Redskins shift with the Niners allows the Bengals to shift to defense, and take Carlos Dunlap off the board. He gives the Bengals more needed defensive edge speed.

23. New England - Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: Defensive line is the concern of the New England Patriots and Williams can help stop the run, but is an effective pass rusher. Again, the Redskins shift with the Niners brings Williams up one spot.

24. Green Bay - Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida: The Green Bay Packers could move the ball, but they could not stop other teams from starting what turns out to be a track meet. Jason Pierre-Paul of South Florida: is a run stopper the Packers need for their defensive line. In other words, the same words for Dan Williams apply to Jason Pierre-Paul. Both fill the Packers needs.

25. Philadelphia - Charles Brown, OT, USC: The Eagles need a potential offensive tackle starter for new starting QB Kevin Kolb; USC's Charles Brown, one of the best tackles available and best NFL Draft players, can provide that and challenge for a starting role.

26. Baltimore - Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho: while the Ravens need a playmaking linebacker, a player as good as Mike Iupati must be taken if he falls to Baltimore, who's run-oriented offense can be helped by this physical blocker.

27. Arizona - Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech: Some would say the need is for offensive line, but Demaryius Thomas will help Arizona fill the void left by the loss of Anquan Boldin. Yes, they did well in the passing game in 2009, but Thomas falls here; Arizona should take the talented pass catcher.

28. Dallas - Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State: The Cowboys have are great at the edge of the defense, but a run-stopping defensive tackle and more line depth are needed. Penn State's Jared Odrick is perfect.

29. San Diego - Jahvid Best, RB, California: With the loss of LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, the running back position takes priority. Jahvid Best is the speedster the Chargers have not seen, even with Sproles, who's more quick than fast. Best, being a Cal Football player, would also sell tickets in San Diego.

30. New York Jets - Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame: The perfect complement to the veteran playmaker Braylon Edwards, Tate can come in, work with Jets QB Matt Sanchez, and form a threatening passing attack.

31. Minnesota - Morgan Burnett, S, Georgia Tech: The Vikings lack a playmaker in the secondary to complement their great defensive front seven. Burnett would help address problems at safety that were exposed in the 2009 Arizona 30-17 loss.

32. Indianapolis - Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers: The Colts really need an enforcer in the secondary but even more a shut-down cornerback. Devin McCourty led Rutgers in pass breakups, and may be good enough to land a starting job with the Colts.

33. New Orleans - Chris Cook, CB, Virginia: When New Orleans lost games, or came close to being beaten, their defensive secondary was the problem. Like Indianapolis, New Orleans lacks a shut-down cornerback and ranked 22nd against the pass in 2010. Cook could play close to that level, and perhaps evolve into one.

That's how the NFL Draft 1st round would look with a Redskins and Niners 1st round trade. Stay tuned for more scenarios.

Dixie Carter dies - star of "Designing Women"

Dixie Carter, best known as the star of Designing Women and for an Emmy-nominated guest starring role on Desperate Housewives, died Saturday morning. She was just 70 years old.

Dixie Carter played an outspoken liberal Democrat named Julia Sugar-Baker and was one of four women and one man at an Atlanta-based interior design firm. Dixie Carter was married to the legendary actor Hal Holbrood (Wall Street) since 1984.

Here's the Associated Press video:

Hal Holbrood issued this statement according to Entertainment Tonight:

"This has been a terrible blow to our family. We would appreciate everyone understanding that this is a private family tragedy."

Tina Fey and Justin Bieber rock "Saturday Night Live"

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Tina Fey of NBC's 30 Rock and Parks and Rec and "Twitter Top Tag King" teen pop star Justin Bieber rock "Saturday Night Live" tonight, with a classic work of SNL comedy where Tina Fey plays a teacher who fantasizes about a student played by Justin Bieber during class.

The skit is punctuated by dream sequences where Justin Bieber sings a romantic rap to Fey. Then Fey comes out of her dream to realize she's talking to herself before her class.

The NBC skit video's not up yet; here's the promo:

Tina Fey and Justin Bieber on "Saturday Night Live". Great television.

Stay tuned.