Saturday, May 2

My fantasy baseball team? Your ad here!

I have the worst fantasy baseball team in history. I was once again roped into participating in a work league, and once again I'm in way over my head.

My best player, probably.
The league is composed of baseball geniuses with historic and statistical data that goes so deep, they are probably on some government watch lists. Here's a made up, but probably accurate conversation the rest of the league might have. "Have you heard? Jason Heyward has an insane UZR!" "Yeah, but Gio Gonzalez has a FIP that could make girls blush." "Haha, that's baseball!" Meanwhile, I drafted Rick Porcello because that is a name that I have heard spoken out loud at a previous point in my life.

Anyway, my team is a dumpster fire, and I have the firefighting skills of a dentist. Here, let me add some Novocaine named Prince Fielder to that blaze. What could go wrong?

I love basketball. I watch way too much of it. I'd watch every single NBA game if I had the time. So I'd love to see the basketball equivalent of my team. It's probably chock full of Alexy Shveds and Luigi Datomes. I have no idea. Compare that to the amount of baseball I watch, and its like starting the Scripps Howard Spelling Bee champ at center for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals. Good at spelling words, bad at backing down Tim Duncan in the low post.

I do have some guy named Jake Marisnick, but he could honestly be a hot dog vendor at Minute Maid Park for all I know. And who is Luke Gregerson? That sounds like a legit fake name. Yet, he's pitching for me on a fairly regular basis.

I  also managed to draft that rat-looking bum Hunter Pence, who hasn't played an inning this season thanks to an injury. Yep, the guy that looks like Marv from Home Alone is just wasting a roster spot, along with Yasiel Puig, (who I drafted because I occasionally watch SportsCenter in the morning, and I think he had a top play once) and David Wright. More like David Wrong, get it? My DL is packed like the moving boxes outside of Ndamukong Suh's house in December.

However, my greatest fear is cutting one of these hobbled baseball men and overhearing someone say, "Can you believe that (player I just cut for Nate Cornejo) is a free agent? It just doesn't make sense, especially from a wRC perspective! Total head scratcher." I'd rather stand pat with this abysmal team than make some drastic trade to get Placido Polanco for dollars on the penny.

So instead of pretending to know what I'm doing while I wallow in the shame of baseball illiteracy, I'm going to put my team on the auction block and open the bidding. I hope to run the first crowd-sourced fantasy team in history. I spent no time researching that, so it's probably inaccurate.

$1 to have full control of my team's lineup for a day. Sit Matt Holliday. Start the hot dog vendor. Up to you.

$5 to change my team's name or logo for a month. $8 for the set. "Aaron's team presented by Lakeside Collision" has a nice ring to it. One of those classic baseball names.

$10 for me to post an ad for your small business on the league's message board. "I'm looking for an outfielder with some steals, if anyone wants to make a deal, sponsored  by the new variation of a meatball sub at participating Subway® Restaurants. Subway®, Eat Fresh.™"  

$5 to include your company's name and URL in the "notes" section of any trade I make in the next 30 days. "Great deal! This was mutually beneficial, just like a routine oil change at Madge's Muffler Emporium! Enter the promo code "CIGARETTES" at www.madgesmufflers.com to save 5% on your next tire rotation!"

$15 to have full control over my team for the rest of the season. However, if we finish in the bottom 4 spots, you pay me back $16. That's called an incentive. Those who don't work, don't eat.

$100 to buy my team outright, no questions asked. Do whatever you want with it. Light it on fire and throw fireworks in it. Cut everyone and only sign guys named Steve. Trade whoever my best player is for Ugueth Urbina. Drive it into the Mississippi River and file it as an insurance claim. It's all up to you, highroller.

If anyone is serious, get your people in touch with my people and they can get down to brass tacks and hammer out the deets (that's lawyer-speak). In the mean time, I'll be trying to decipher some rudimentary baseball statistics on Rotowire, and inevitably sign someone playing in Japan. Or worse, Minnesota.

By Aaron Brandt, the Billy Beane of fantasy baseball in an alternate reality where getting the lowest score is the goal, Shamu has free will and Amanda Bynes is the president.

Wednesday, February 18

What college isn't teaching marketing students

Caught an interesting article from Fast Company.

They mention areas that colleges do a poor job of teaching in marketing. While I agree with a lot of the points, I think they missed one huge area that makes a successful marketing professional.

This handshake basically cost me thousands of dollars.
Marketing, especially in the digital realm, moves at a faster pace each day. New technologies, social networks and methods of communication seemingly change by the minute. There is no way a college could possibly keep up with all the changes in marketing. I mean, they force you to buy books! Is this 1950? But before I digress into why the college system is a nice little scam and will eventually collapse in on itself, here's the one area that you NEED to master before entering the marketing world.

So, what's the skill you need to have?

Writing. This is the basis for all communication jobs, period. While the technology and platforms may change on an almost daily basis, the need for exceptional writing will never change. If you can't communicate a message, then it doesn't matter how cool a new social network looks on Mashable, you'll fail. Just because Twitter only requires 140 characters does not make it any easier than coming up with a print ad or TV commercial script. In fact, communicating the right information in such a small amount of space, with the large amount of other clutter in the timeline can be even more challenging than if you had unlimited space and prime placement in Time.

Writing will always separate you from the pack, and learning to become a good writer will ensure that you don't hitch your wagon to something fleeting, like being good at picking the right MySpace song on your profile. Look at every era of marketing. From giant gaudy billboards in the 1920s, to copy-heavy magazine ads in the 1950s, to wordy TV commercials in the 1980s, writing has always been at the core of marketing. And now we live in a digital world, where content is churned out at a faster rate than ever before. More content means more writing, which means the need for more people who can write.

So how do you become a good writer?

Two answers. Reading and writing. There is no better way to learn how to write than reading good writing (tongue twister to keep you on your toes). The Internet is a deluge of terrible writing. Twitter is a mess, any hack can make a blog, and gutter sludge like Buzzfeed and Upworthy rule journalism. However, there is some great writing out there in most areas of interest. Find those sites and blogs, and take time to ingest the writing, instead of skimming it for gifs. Longform journalism is in a great place today, and there are many writers churning out fantastic content on a daily basis. It might take you more than 5 minutes to get through some content, but if well-written and interesting, you'll be learning and enjoying it without a second thought.

Don't forget about books, either. FYI, a library card is free, and you have access to millions of titles from millions of authors writing about millions of topics. Books, check em out. The more you read, the more you learn. Seeing good writing on a regular basis will make bad writing (hey Buzzfeed) stand out like a sore thumb. You'll find yourself adopting certain styles, words and formats in no time.

The second best way to write well is to actually write. And I don't mean school assignments. Writing about your passions is a fantastic way to show your creativity, learn how to write and it even gives you something to show future employers. Starting a blog is totally free, and even if you get two views from your parents, you are still working the part of your brain that controls writing (I'm sure that's not how the brain works, but you get the point.) Find a few of your passions (or all of them) and just start writing. You don't need to be Grantland or Pacific Standard, because the simple trial and error of writing (and forcing yourself to write) on a regular basis is invaluable. Plus, you can learn a TON about SEO, social media, design, website building and digital marketing, as you jealously push for more pageviews. Bonus, you can make some money on the side from Google AdWords. Straight cash, homie.

In the end, marketing trends are a dime a dozen, and colleges have almost no ability to adapt quickly enough to give you a proper education on all of them. The best way to learn is on the job, which is why finding a marketing internship is where you will learn 100 times more than any dusty old book can teach. In the mean time, focus on your writing, because once you've built that base, you can apply it to thousands of different jobs in the marketing world and beyond.

Becoming a good writer is hard work. It takes tons of practice, reading and more practice. However, if you show up to an interview with a link to your well-updated, well-written blog, you are already miles ahead of the shlub who skated by on the idea that "Social Media 201" and a membership to PRSSA will get him or her that social media job at the cool company in town.

Write on, writers.

By Aaron Brandt, former zoo worker.

Monday, January 5

15 New Names for The Palace

The Detroit Free Press reported that the owners of The Palace are looking to rename the building, and possibly add a corporate sponsor. Unsurprisingly, people started freaking out and decrying all forms of stadium naming rights (despite the fact that Ford Field and Comerica Park are cemented in our brains as perfectly acceptable names for a building to watch sports). Austin Philip Suedmeyer on Facebook noted, "That's gay! Mr Davidson would have never done that!" What a well thought-out, reasoned and supported opinion! Thank you Austin Philip.


Here's a few of my own suggestions:

  1. Kid Rock Occasionally Attends Games Here Arena
  2. The Dump Next Door is No Longer In Operation Arena
  3. Stan Van Gundy
  4. We Should Really Be Downtown Arena
  5. The Palace of Auburn Hills Presented by Cadillac, Oh Wait, Nevermind They Moved to New York
  6. #ThePalace
  7. The Viper Den
  8. Joe Dumars' Free Agency Moves Memorial Arena, A Stark Lesson on Player Evaluation
  9. Ball Don't Lie Arena
  10. The Dancing Usher Center
  11. The Palace of Andre Drummond's Potential 
  12. Platinum Equity Building, presented by Don't Fall Asleep Reading That
  13. You'll Probably Catch a Free T-Shirt Here Arena
  14. The Amway Pyramid Scheme Arena
  15. The Palace of Auburn Hills presented by Joumana Kayrouz
Have any additional suggestions? Drop 'em in the comments below.

Monday, September 1

Review: When the Game Stands Tall

There are cliched sports movies, then there are cliched narrative disasters like When the Game Stands Tall. I saw this movie over the weekend, and it is undoubtedly the second worst sports movie of all time. Nothing will ever come close to the JV production titled Facing the Giants, but this movie sure tried hard.

The film follows a high school football team in California, on a 150+ game winning streak. In an attempt to make a seemingly not-adverse storyline seem deathly adverse, all kinds of ridiculous plot twists were strewn in during the two hour movie. The upcoming senior class is complacent. The coach smokes one cigarette and immediately has a heart attack. The graduated star running back, heading to Oregon, is murdered (and that plot thread basically ends immediately). The team is too cocky. The coach is getting offers from DI schools. The opponents are too big. The powerhouse football program has to play a lot of players on both offense and defense. It's too hot outside. The star RB's dad is too involved. The list goes on and on.

Newsflash, besides the death of a player (which was barely mentioned for the rest of the movie), there is no real adversity here. So what if a powerhouse private school that obviously recruits and has a budget the size of Canada's GDP lost a game. They went on to win the state title anyway. In order to make the path to a 13th (!!!) consecutive state title seem hard, they had to invent an outrageous plotline about the star player's dad desperately wanting his son to get the season touchdown record. In an act of apparent rebellion and team unity, the running back takes a knee instead of breaking the record, just to spite his old man. This is the climax of the movie. A running back took a knee with one minute left in a blowout before winning the state championship. High drama.

Jim Caviezel's lifeless performance certainly didn't help the movie either. The guy spoke in a single, hushed tone, no matter if he was in the hospital after a heart attack or in the state final. I assume he's there because he played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, as this movie was clearly marketed as a Christian story, despite only featuring the briefest and most politically correct mentions of the faith. The team did say the Lord's Prayer, but there was just enough crowd noise during the triumphant football action montage to overshadow it.

The turning point of the movie came after the team lost two games in a row and headed to a VA hospital. One player somehow ends up getting into a treadmill race against a veteran with a prosthetic leg. The veteran wins, shakes the boy's hand and the season is saved. The team then practices very hard all week and somehow goes from 0-2 bums with no talent or motivation, to good enough to beat the best team in the country.

It was also abundantly clear that Dick's Sporting Goods underwrote this movie, as there were several blatant product placement scenes. One of the more dramatic confrontations between the overbearing dad and his son actually occurred outside of the store, with 2014's latest apparel showing in the window's during this 2004 period piece. Dick's shopping bags were as much of a part of the movie as the football itself. I'm surprised the funeral of the fallen player wasn't held in the shoe section of the store.

And Michael Chiklis' performance as an assistant coach was nothing more than him taking off his hat 400 times and yelling "WE PRACTICED THIS!" at his players during the game. Keep gettin' them checks, Chiklis.

This movie had good intentions, but fell flat on its face by trying to tell a tale of overcoming adversity, when there was no adversity to begin with in the first place. Toss in about 20 complications, sports cliches jammed in left and right, a poor lead performance and a plot that was all over the map, and you have When the Game Stands Tall. I think I need to pop in Friday Night Lights or Remember the Titans and cleanse my palate.

By Aaron Brandt, winner of a fantasy football league in 2011. 

Thursday, June 26

Drone footage from the Detroit fireworks

Some cool shots right outside my building from a drone during the Ford fireworks earlier this week. Via Hello Aerial.