The Clock Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story 

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Back in 2018, I mentioned my pal Peter Bromka and linked to his piece on the Boston Marathon. At the time, Bromka was already running ridiculous sub-2:30 marathons, and he’s only gotten faster since then.

For 14 months, Bromka took aim at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, working to run the 2:19 race necessary to qualify for it. It was an incredible journey, and I couldn’t be more impressed.

Those Are Some Bad Hats, New Era

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

While researching last month’s feature on ugly spring training caps, I came upon an entirely different set of awful Major League Baseball hats, one worthy of its own post. Seemingly released in early 2020, the New Era “Big Boys Lil Player” series is aimed specifically at kids. The name of the collection is a clunky, contradictory mouthful, and things just get worse when it comes to the artwork. Here’s a quick appetizer:

A hat with a poorly drawn cartoon of Aaron Judge

Remarkably, this is actually not the most awful New Era cap featuring a cartoon Aaron Judge. It takes second place, behind this ghoulish monstrosity:

Another hat with a terribly drawn image of Aaron Judge, this one looking quite like a stereotypical zombie
I get the feeling somebody at New Era really doesn’t like Aaron Judge.
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

But let’s return to the Big Boys Lil Player 9Fifty caps. If you try to locate these hats on New Era’s website, you’ll strike out. Their site offers what has to be the worst online search I’ve ever seen. It’s truly astounding in its awfulness. To give just one example, a search for “Votto” returns 18 hits: 1 “Rocket Power Otto” hat, along with 17 hats that have the word “cotton” in their names. Adding search terms, which ought to narrow the results, only compounds the folly. A search for “Joey Votto” gives 675 results, starting with a completely unrelated “Joey Logano” hat.

Instead, you’ll need to head to Macys.com to find the New Era Big Boys Lil Player 9FIFTY Snapback caps. It appears Macy’s is the exclusive retailer for this line aimed at kids, and what a coup that must be for them. On the Macy’s website, you can find 25 different New Era® Big Boys Lil Player 9FIFTY Snapback caps. Of course, there are 30 teams in Major League Baseball. The five teams missing from the New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player 9FIFTY Snapback cap series are:

  • Atlanta Braves

  • Baltimore Orioles

  • Chicago Cubs

  • Houston Astros

  • Toronto Blue Jays

Frankly, those clubs are the lucky ones, as they can simply be ignored. There are two additional hats show players who are no longer on the relevant team:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks: Featuring Zack Greinke, who was traded to the Houston Astros in the middle of the 2019 season. The hat’s price has been cut more than 50% off, which is nice, but hardly enough.

  • Boston Red Sox: Featuring Mookie Betts, who was sadly traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers just last month. This one gets a pass, though it should also now get a steep discount.

The rest of the New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player® 9FIFTY Snapback caps can be seen in all its awfulness over at Macy’s, but here’s a further sampling:


Nolan Arenado, in cartoon form


Mike Trout, in cartoon form


Christian Yelich, in cartoon form

While some of the representations look vaguely like the named player, most really do not. In fact, even with the name stitched on the cap, the Cardinals “Paul Goldschmidt” hat is listed as being for Matt Carpenter, and no one has noticed or cared:

A hat that says Paul Goldschmidt, while the listing refers to Matt Carpenter

To be sure, those two men look not at all alike:

A hat that says Paul Goldschmidt, while the listing refers to Matt Carpenter
Paul Goldschmidt on the left; Matt Carpenter on the right

And yet, if one simply adds a beard to the cartoon rendering, it’s clear that it can work equally well for either of them:

A hat that says Paul Goldschmidt, while the listing refers to Matt Carpenter

My favorite cap of all is the offering for the Washington Nationals, which features Max Scherzer. Scherzer has heterochromia iridum, which means his eyes are two different colors. His left eye is brown, while his right eye is blue.


[Photo credit: MLB.com]

As you can see, heterochromia iridum is tremendously distinctive. They could have made the rendering on this hat incredibly obvious, just by including this very rare trait. Did they?

Swing and a miss!

Ultimately, the drawings on the New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player® 9FIFTY™ Snapback caps are just plain bad. For the most part, they don’t look like the players they’re supposedly modeled after, nor do they look very good at all. Worse still, they seem to be ripping off a lot of the style of Gen X favorite “Beavis and Butthead”:

Jacob deGrom next to Butthead
Jacob deGrom does not actually look like Butt-Head.

Macy’s has probably sold scores of terrible New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player® 9FIFTY™ Snapback® caps to well-meaning grandparents around the country. Perhaps Mike Judge should sue for royalties.

Perhaps Democracy Can’t Be Bought 

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

As of this morning, Michael Bloomberg has dropped out of the race for the presidency. In total, he spent approximately $500 million dollars, and won just one primary contest, taking first place in American Samoa with 175 votes. That’s not a typo. American Samoa has about 55,000 residents, and their Democratic primary caucus had just 351 participants. Even in victory, Bloomberg didn’t manage to woo a majority of the voters.

Over at The American Prospect, David Dayen argues that this utter flop is a good thing for American democracy.

You Probably Don’t Qualify 

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

If you’d like to see proof of how much your dog misses you, or you just want to get off this planet, NASA is hiring the next crop of astronauts.

A Hidden Marmot 

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

Swiss cartographers have hidden many fanciful illustrations in the country’s official maps.

Welcome to Horny Brand Twitter 

Friday, February 28th, 2020

I didn’t see this when it was posted a couple months back, but it’s just too awful not to get linked now that I’ve discovered it. The Netflix Twitter account solicited things “you can say during sex but also when you manage a brand twitter account”, and holy hell did Brand Twitter jump in in horrific fashion.

The Houston Astros Should Knock It Off 

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

It’s going to be a very long season for the Houston Astros and their supporters, not to mention baseball fans in general. Hell, I’m tired of the stories of their cheating already. Still, I have to give credit to this clever headline.

Ecstatic Wiggle Pup 

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

After set a new record for the longest continuous time in space by a woman, NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned from space in early February. While I’m sure her family and friends were thrilled to have her back, I can’t imagine anyone was happier to see her than her dog.1


Footnotes:

  1. Here’s an archive of the video, just in case the tweet gets deleted.↩︎

Sometimes, Sanity Prevails 

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Back in November, state attorneys in Indiana attempted to argue that removing an unmarked device that law enforcement had placed on a suspect’s car was “theft”. Fortunately, the Indiana Supreme Court has rejected that deeply flawed argument.

In this specific case, that may unfortunately mean a meth dealer gets off the hook. However, that’s ultimately the fault of a very problematic investigation and criminal prosecution.

David Ayres Drinks for Free in Raleigh 

Monday, February 24th, 2020

The NHL has something called the “Emergency Backup Goalie” (EBUG), who is available to play goalie in the event of multiple injuries. The use of the EBUG is extremely rare, but back in 2018, the Chicago Blackhawks wound up using their EBUG, accountant-by-day Scott Foster. He stopped 7 shots in 14 minutes of play for his hometown team, and thus maintains a perfect 1.000 save percentage in the NHL.

On Saturday night, however, things played out in even stranger fashion. David Ayres, who works as a Zamboni driver for the minor-league Toronto Marlies, was serving as the EBUG in a contest between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes. When Hurricanes goalies James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were both injured, Ayres was called on to play for the visiting team for almost half the game. Carolina held a 3-1 lead when Ayres came in, and pushed it to 4-1 before he gave up 2 quick goals. After that, however, Ayres was perfect, stopping the Toronto’s final 8 shots to earn a 6-3 win for the visitors.

The best part is that Carolina is now selling David Ayres merchandise. Ayres was previously the recipient of a kidney transplant, and money from the merchandise will go to both him and a kidney-related charity.