The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Don’t fire Jim Pohlad

Dude gets it. Dude just fucking gets it.

Pohlad said the Twins aren’t interested in the possibility of deferred compensation as a way to make a rich long-term contract like Mauer’s work.

"They make you feel real good at the time, and then later on you wish you hadn’t done that," Pohlad said.

So, wait, consumption on credit… isn’t the path to prosperity? I guess this is why Jim Pohlad is a hugely-successful millionaire businessman and not a bumbling congressional dipshit trying to borrow-and-spend the country out of debt.

He also indicated an openness to signing Mauer for nine or 10 years, if that’s what it would take. First baseman Justin Morneau’s six-year contract signed two years ago is the current Twins record.

"I don’t think six is a magic number," Pohlad said, adding: "Total value is what drives it. We do not have a term policy."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. So you actually, like, do research and evaluate contract value? You don’t just, like, establish arbitrary rules and stick to them? Dammit, Jim, that’s just not the baseball way. Don’t be too surprised if the other owners all vote you off the island for this.

There’s a small dark cloud on the horizon here, but I prefer to view it as typical executive tough-talk rather than something Pohlad actually believes:

"All new ballparks have their peaks, and I’m sure the initial years will be very good to the Twins," Pohlad said. "Then it’ll be up to us to sustain it after that, but the ballpark itself I think can sustain it for a long time."

Well, Jim, I won’t say you’re wrong, since, well, you might be right. But I do think it’s important to point out that if Target Field itself materially increases the Twins’ income after its honeymoon period is over, well, that will be unique to it among all major-league ballpark construction projects. As I’m sure Jim is actually aware, the ballpark itself will provide a huge revenue spike for the first year (maybe two if they’re lucky), as the casual fans are more likely to go to a game so they can see the new park. After this period, it’s going to level off, and they won’t be moving any more seats than they used to. As I say, I’m sure Pohlad knows this, and the reason for the gung-ho attitude is that, otherwise, all he’d be able to say is "hey Hennepin County taxpayers? We just took you to the fucking cleaners. I have a much snazzier office, and you have… well, public debt and higher taxes. Ha ha!"

Other than that one tiny little detail, Pohlad actually comes off like he knows how to own a baseball team. He’s unwilling to micromanage, he’s unwilling to adopt short-sighted policies like deferred contracts, and he doesn’t make arbitrary rules. You guys ever wondered why the Twins are always abnormally successful given their market share? I think I have an idea.

February 8th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Most Overrated Games #8

Duke Nukem 3D
Duke Nukem 3D (PC, 1996)

Duke Nukem is the third in the "holy trinity" of old first-person shooters (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D). Everybody played Duke, and it’s not hard to see why: the game looked incredible in 1996, and the levels of gore, swearing, and sex pushed the envelope for video games — they’d even be considered cutting-edge now, fourteen years down the road. To top all of it off, the Duke Nukem character is one of the most easily-beloved in gaming, with his instantly-recognisable pumped-up G.I. Joe appearance and liberally-ripped-off B-movie one-liners. The game also shipped with the Build editing utility, so players could make their own levels right out of the box, which proved highly popular. Did anybody not make the "big room full of naked women" map when he was fourteen? No. Nobody didn’t do that.

The gameplay, unfortunately, was getting on toward dated by the time the game came out; Duke 3D was a rather late entry in the old-school FPS genre, back when it was mainly a cross between rail-shooters and scavenger hunts. Goldeneye and Half-life were right around the corner, and would totally redefine what a first-person shooter should be with their focus on tactical thinking and stealth; Duke Nukem was still stuck in the old run-and-gun, search for the key mentality. Worse still, Duke takes it a step farther than most such games; you don’t just have to search for keys, you also have to search for weak spots in walls to blow up (and hope you have some rockets left when you find them), riddle out proper sequences to press buttons in, and find numerous "secret passages" that involve walking straight through seemingly-solid walls.

And of course there’s fall damage. If there’s anything that just simply isn’t fun, it’s a game that includes a jetpack and also fall damage, so you can zoom way the hell up in the air, but then you have to land super-carefully or you’ll get hurt. Not only is there fall damage, there’s a shitload of other types of environment hazards; when people make fun of video games for including giant rotating gears that crush you to death if you don’t time your movements just right, well, they’re talking about Duke 3D; it’s pretty much the game that started that shit.

Duke 3D was a fun game, but almost in spite of itself; the setting and the character and the interactivity and the sex were all fun, but the gameplay itself was hopelessly lacklustre. The real tragedy of 3D Realms’ closure is that they had a chance to take the style of Duke 3D and transfer it to a more well-developed game concept, but it never quite happened.

February 8th, 2010 Posted by | Most Overrated Games Ever | one comment

Most Overrated Games Ever #9

Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis, 1991)

Sonic the Hedgehog was bright and fast and loud. Those are the main selling points that it had over Super Mario World, and they worked pretty damn well. Super Mario World, in comparison, had a dopey little-kid sort of look to it, compared to Sonic’s edgy, rad-to-the-max visuals. Sonic played faux-metal at high volume in the background, whereas Mario played, well, goofy Mario music. Sonic ran real fast, and had spikes and huge eyes, whereas Mario was mostly just a fat guy with a mustache.

Unfortunately, Sonic’s game wasn’t very good. It plays broadly like Mario, with the same general platforming conventions, but significantly devolved; all Sonic can do is run and jump. There are some powerups available, but none of them add any new abilities or fundamentally change the gameplay; only one of them does anything but increment a resource, in fact. Every level is fundamentally the same; Sonic runs to the right, and you struggle to keep him under control, since he moves far too fast; therein lies one of the game’s problems. Since every level gives you ten minutes to clear it, there’s really very little incentive for flying along at full speed, and you’ll end up playing an annoyingly tentative stop-and-go approach, trying not to go too fast. Which, you may recall, was the game’s whole appeal in the first place.

The game also features the most annoying bonus levels in any game ever in all of history. They’re like a rotating maze, and you bounce around constantly, and try to make your way to this stupid emerald. It’s nearly impossible to control, and even if you’re the best Sonic player in the world, it’s still going to be largely a matter of luck if you can make it through. And your reward for collecting the emeralds? Not a goddamn thing.

By Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sega had nailed the formula a bit better, and the games actually started being fun. The first one, though, is pretty much a stinker, but it’s still widely regarded as a classic. Super Mario World was way better, even if it did look pretty young in comparison.

February 8th, 2010 Posted by | Most Overrated Games Ever | no comments