Thursday, October 29, 2015

Defending DraftKings

The two big one day fantasy sports outlets, DraftKings and FanDuel,* have been taking a lot of heat lately for everything from incessant carnival barking to Gordon Gekko level insider trading. Well we here at the Fantasy Golf Report believe that there are two sides to every story and, with our joint background in complex litigation** and fantasy sports nerdophilia, we can't think of anyone more qualified to take-up the cause of these two beleaguered organizations whose only crime seems to be providing fantasy sports fans with a better way of life. Let the whining begin.

They Advertise Way Too Much


We can dispense with this one by asking the obvious question, "can you have too much advertising when you're communicating such a valuable public service?" I don't hear anyone complaining about the endless ads on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC enticing the elderly to buy gold.*** Or selling them on the benefits of reverse mortgages to take advantage of the equity from what is probably the only thing of value they still own after the 2008 meltdown forced them back into the role of Chick-fil-a table wiper. These companies are just trying to help people and it's no different for DraftKings and FanDuel which also offer financial security only through a giant million dollar check presented to you as confetti rains from the ceiling at your local Buffalo Wild Wings.

"What is she doing back there?
I never know what she's doing."
You see, we're not selling pipe dreams here people. According to one of their radio ads, winning at fantasy football is the key that will release you from your prison cubicle. Forget that many a successful career started in a cubicle and were inspired by the desire to graduate from it. That's for suckers who want to work. DraftKings and FanDuel are offering you a very real shortcut to financial freedom and it is their right, nay, their duty to remind you of that every five minutes with actors who have been carefully chosen to look like 32 year old men still living in their parents' basements? MOM! THE MEATLOAF! FUCK!!!

It's Really Just Illegal Gambling

No it's not. The definition of "gambling" is "playing games of chance for money." There are two types of daily fantasy sports participants: (1) Computer geniuses who enter hundreds of teams every day using sophisticated programs that virtually guarantee a return of roughly 8% over time. For them, this is not a game of chance. It's a fairly risk free investment strategy; and (2) Regular guys at Saturday cookouts with Baby Bjorns strapped to them like straitjackets playing on rumors and hunches. These guys have no chance. Either way, "chance" is not a factor so it's not gambling. What else ya got?   

Insider Trading

In case you hadn't heard, an employee of DraftKings recently won $350,000 on FanDuel and he allegedly obtained competitively advantageous information that was only available to him through his employment. Obviously we need to go back to the dictionary on this one for a basic definition of "insider trading" which is "the trading of a company's stocks or other securities by individuals with access to confidential or non-public information about the company." Notice that the definition doesn't say anything about using confidential or non-public information about the individual's company to trade the stocks or other securities of someone else's company. This is an important distinction because it turns what the sharp young minds at DraftKings and FanDuel are doing from "insider trading" to "outsider trading" which isn't even a thing.

"Now are these really the questions I
was called here to answer? Gambling
and insider trading? Please tell me
you've got something more."****
More importantly, however, is the fact that insider trading is only illegal under certain circumstances because trading stocks is regulated. DraftKings and FanDuel are not regulated so even if DraftKings' employees play their own games with full knowledge of every player picked by their customers while on a conference call with FanDuel's employees laughing about how not illegal this all is, it still wouldn't be illegal. It might destroy their credibility to the point where people would stop pl. . . (damn, almost got that one out with a straight face) but illegal? No more illegal than the Russian soldier with the machine gun slung over his shoulder cleaning out your wallet while he studies your Passport.

The Games are Rigged

Now just hold on. "Rigged" is a very strong word that implies an unfair advantage has been built into the games like loaded dice or a marked deck that gives the rigger a better chance of winning. That is not the case here. Let's take a one day fantasy football game for example. Everyone who plays gets to select from the same pool of players with the same salary cap numbers and the results are based on the stats from a professional sports league whose owners have a financial stake in the companies running the games. Tell me what's fishy about that because I'm not seeing it. Just because the aforementioned computer geniuses have software that determines hundreds of lineup combinations with a greater chance of winning that can be modified up until the games start to account for injuries and other changed circumstances doesn't mean the games are rigged. It just means your chances of winning are about the same as if the games were rigged because you might as well be playing No Limit Hold 'Em against the sharks from Rounders. That's a "you" problem my friend.   

Conclusion

To paraphrase Chris Christie channeling his inner Allen Iverson at last night's debate, "we're talking about fantasy football?!? Don't we have more important things to worry about than an unregulated multi-billion dollar industry creating a whole new generation of gambling addicts?" It's a free country. If you don't like it, move to Denmark with Bernie Sanders. In the meantime, load-up a roster for this week's games and be sure to use the promo code "CHUMP" to get $200 in bonus cash added to the money you won't win.

Footnotes

* This could just as easily been called Defending FanDuel but that didn't have quite the sweet alliterative ring to it.

** One of our writers may have once negotiated a $2,500 settlement for one of his clients and then sent said client a bill for $11,000 but that's just hearsay. (Look for next week's feature . . . Litigation: Still the Most Cost Effective Way to Settle Your Petty Disputes).

*** These commercials feature images of global unrest and warnings of the next economic collapse followed by reliable trustworthy pitchmen from our past like William Devane preaching the safety of gold because you know, the price of gold only goes in one direction - up. Gold pimp, Rosland Capital, takes it one step further with a running national debt calculator on its website to really drive home the hopelessness and inevitability of it all. I'm surprised they don't have a member of ISIS holding the calculator in one hand and a burning American flag in the other.

Remember, if you can't spot the sucker in your first
half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.
**** I know I've disgruntled a major segment of my customer base by taking a faux moral stand against featuring scantily clad Hollywood temptresses and British porn stars but allow me to make amends by referring you to Esquire's gallery entitled Emilia Clarke is the Sexiest Woman Alive in 2015. I hope this means we can still be friends.

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com

Friday, October 16, 2015

Top Ten Most Underrated Movie Dads

I have now been a dad for half of my adult life (gulp) so I think that qualifies me to judge the difference between a good dad and a lousy dad, especially considering my experience as both. (I'm convinced that if you're a good dad 100% of the time, then you're actually a bad dad. At least that's what I keep telling myself).* 

But this list isn't necessarily about good v. bad dads. It's about dad's who brought something significant to the table despite limited lines, screen time or both. So we've avoided the obvious choices like Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills in Taken. Also failing to make the cut were other dads we'd really like to include like George Clooney as Matt King in The Descendants (leading role), John Mahoney as Mr. Court in Say Anything (just missed the top ten) and Robert Duvall as The Great Santini (you don't make the list if the movie is named after your character).

So here we go with a somewhat random list of characters who helped drive the story in their roles as either the dad you wish you had, the dad you're glad you didn't or the dad who, upon reflection, really wasn't all that bad.

10. Vince Vaughn as Beanie: Old School


Beanie's inclusion was a close call because he is clearly one of the three main characters but his dad scenes are way down on the list of storylines and serves more of a supporting role for other characters to work off of than it's own driving force. Without Beanie as a dad, however, we never get the birthday party scene with Frank getting shot in the neck with the tranquilizer dart. (How else would you set-up an encounter between Frank and an animal trainer?) It also gave us the "earmuffs" bit which doesn't actually work in real life because no dad stops to tell his kid "earmuffs" before littering the landscape with F-Bombs. At least no dad in my house.  


Dad Grade: B- (Beanie clearly loves his kids but still seems a bit conflicted about committing to a life of monogamous fatherhood).


Best quote: "You think I like avoiding my wife and kids to hang-out with nineteen year old girls everyday?"


Runner-up: "Don't say sorry to me Frank, say it to the baby."


9. Val Bisoglio as Frank Manero, Sr.: Saturday Night Fever


The first of our three bad dads, Frank Manero is an out of work construction worker who likes to moderate dinner conversations by smacking everyone within arms reach anytime they get out of line (note that in this scene, everyone at the table takes a hit except grandma who actually gives the poor table itself a shot). If you asked him to sum-up his parenting philosophy, it would go something like "tell your kids they suck at least once a day or life will tell them for you."


"Four dollars? Shit."
Dad Grade: D- (Only because he deserves a slightly better grade than the guy below who gets the "F").

Best quote: Commenting on his son Tony's announcement that his boss just gave him a four dollar per week raise at the paint store . . . "Four dollars? . . . You know what four dollars buys today? . . . It don't even buy three dollars!"

Runner-up: "ONE PORK CHOP . . . ONE!!!" (It's in the table hitting scene).

8. Alan Arkin as Edwin Hoover: Little Miss Sunshine

Edwin Hoover edges-out his son Richard Hoover because Edwin was far more entertaining and, in his own profane way, probably a better dad. He's takes Little Miss Sunshine from a B+ movie to an "A" and for that he makes the list.  

Dad Grade: B+ (Hoover gets an extra bump for also being such an inspirational grandfather).

Best quote: "Every night it's the fucking chicken! Holy God Almighty! Is it possible just once we could get something to eat for dinner around here that's not the goddamned fucking chicken?"

Runner-up: "Fuck a lotta women kid. I have no reason to lie to you. Not just one . . . a lotta women."


7. Kurtwood Smith as Mr. Perry: Dead Poet's Society


We need at least one true villain and you'd be hard-pressed to top Mr. Perry unless you wanted to go with a pedophile, (Bill Maplewood, Happiness), a psychopath (Jack Torrance, The Shining) or a Jedi who lost his way (Darth Vader, The Empire Strikes Back).*


"I know you're going find this hard to believe but I'm
going to star in a very successful sitcom one day."
Dad Grade: F (When your son kills himself with your gun to escape the life that you have dictated for him, um, I'm afraid that's an "F"). 

Best quote: "Oh stop it. Don't be so dramatic. You make it sound like a prison term. You don't understand Neil. You have opportunities that I never dreamt of and I am not going to let you waste them." Neil killed himself that night. Eat it dad.


Runner-up: None. He had some other lines but frankly they're all too depressing. 


6. Robert Swain as Rollin: Hoosiers


Rollin had "honorable mention" written all over him until we realized how critical these two moves were: (1) At the first practice he brings his son back, has him apologize to coach Dale and then bounces the other dads and assorted small town business people when coach tells them that practice is closed; and (2) He's
 instrumental in keeping Coach Dale from getting fired. Throw-in the fact that by the end of the movie, he's working as the only assistant coach in the championship game. That kind of impact from a bit part is just what this list is all about

Dad Grade: A (He gets it).

Best quote: He tears-up the ballots after the original vote count and firmly declares, "Coach Stays!" BOOM!!!

Runner-up: "Coach Stays!" (Sorry but you're not topping that).

5. J.K. Simmons as Mac MacGuff: Juno

I started writing this thing long before Whiplash was released, otherwise Simmons would probably be three spots higher based purely on his participation in one of the five best movie endings I've ever seen. As it is, Mac MacGuff is probably the closest thing we have to a real life dad on this list (remember who's writing this thing). A straight talking, sarcastic, loving dad who gets caught in a bit of a trick bag because he let his daughter be her own person. He gets bonus points for being the dad on this list you'd most like to have a couple of beers with. He's also part of the best father-daughter combo on the list and I've got one of those so even more bonus points. 


Dad Grade: A- (A little detached but definitely has his heart in the right place).

Best quote: "Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what your are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass."

Runner-up: "Who's the father Juno? . . . Paulie Bleeker? . . . I didn't think he had it in him."


Second runner-up: "Thanks for having me and my irresponsible child over to your house."


4. Derrick McGavin as Old Man Parker: A Christmas Story


Let's face it, Old Man Parker was the star of the movie but he wasn't the main subject and he didn't narrate so he makes this list under the wire and, once he satisfied the qualifying criteria, you couldn't keep him out. He's probably a more accurate depiction of a day-to-day grind it out dad than most of us would want to admit.


"He never looked at his boys
with this kind of adoration."
Dad Grade: C (We're taking the position that buying the BB gun was really just a make-up call for years of subordinating his parenting obligations to things like the pursuit of random prizes).

Best quote: Explaining why Santa brought the BB gun, "I had one when I was eight years old."

Runner-up: "SONS OF BITCHES . . . BUMPUSES!!!"

  3. Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum: The Royal Tenenbaums

Royal is another somewhat borderline candidate because he's essentially the title character but this was a classic ensemble cast and if you think I'm leaving a degenerate former lawyer off this list, then you don't know me so good. 

Dad Grade: D (Again, it's all relative compared to the guy who drove his son to suicide). 

Best quote: This one is fairly self-explanatory. "I've always been considered an asshole for about as long as I can remember. That's just my style." (I feel you Royal).

Runner-up: Royal confronts Danny Glover's character, Henry Sherman, and accuses him of trying to steal his ex-wife. Royal begins the exchange by telling Sherman, "you heard me Coltrane" and concludes it with "you wanna talk some jive? I'll talk some jive. I'll talk some jive like you never heard."

2. Richard Jenkins as Dr. Dale Doback: Step Brothers


It was a close battle for the top spot thanks to Jenkins pulling-off one of the greatest straight-man performances in movie history. Without him, and perennially sneaky hot Mary Steenburgen, Step Brothers could have been a watch once and move on comedy but Dr. Huff and Dr. Doback (along with Derrick) are key reasons why you're not surfing past this movie on a random Tuesday night.  


Dad Grade: D+ (Not quite Frank Manero but when your 40 year old son is still living at home . . .).

Best quote: "I'm gonna go down to the Cheesecake Factory, have a drink." (Also winner for best overall quote).


Runner-up: "You know what I got for Christmas? A crushed soul."


1. Paul Dooley as Mr. Stohler: Breaking Away***


"I'm not 'papa,' I'm your
goddamn father!"
In the end it had to be Mr. Stohler right? He's the consummate working-class dad trying to decode the riddle that is his teenage son. He owns the movie from the moment he walks onto the screen and does not have a single word of wasted dialogue (it doesn't hurt that it's one of the best movies ever made).

Dad Grade: A (The quarry speech, showing-up for the end of the race and riding the bike at the end. We knew he had it in him).

Best quote: "No I don't feel lucky to be alive! I feel lucky I'm not dead. There's a difference."

Runner-up: Every other line he has.

Footnotes

* Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Case in point: A few weeks ago I stumbled onto what I thought was a free hour of daylight on a perfect September evening after shuttling all three kids to their destinations so I bolted for the first tee and squeezed in six holes of speed golf. As I was coming-off the course, I stumbled onto a group of about ten merry fellows who were getting ready to sit down to dinner and asked me to join. Alas I could not as I had promised myself that I would be home at a reasonable hour that evening to spend some time with the family but I did, however, have time for "a beer." About halfway through my second beer I glanced at my phone and noticed multiple messages from the FGW so I discreetly checked them only to be reminded that I had previously agreed to pick-up my eight year old daughter from soccer practice which had ended ten minutes prior. Oh yeah, it was now dark outside. As I bolted from the table, I only had time to say "gotta go" and as I sprinted to the car I called my wife back hoping that somehow this situation had resolved itself. Fortunately it had because she magically foresaw my screw-up and made it to the field on time. And to make the ending an even happier one, my second beer was still on the table when I returned. So you tell me . . . good dad or bad dad?    

** I never saw Natural Born Killers so Rodney Dangerfield's character does not get the mention he apparently deserves. Also, Darth Vader warrants consideration after coming full circle by saving his son's life in Return of the Jedi after previously cutting his hand off with a light saber. That's a nice comeback but he's frankly a little too mainstream.

*** If I did have an honorable mention category, Paul Dooley would've gotten a piece of that too for playing a softened version of Mr. Stohler as the dad in Sixteen Candles


Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com (or don't).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

When One Door Closes . . . Oh Shut the Fuck Up.

"Jesus, everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn't end." - Brian Flanagan (Cocktail).

At this point, I'm not sure if that quote refers to just the 2015 fantasy golf season or the Fantasy Golf Report as we've come to know it. I've been cranking-out this drivel on a weekly basis since June of 2011 when I wrote about meeting Golf Channel personality Win McMurry at the U.S. Open and somehow failed to include a picture of her (learning curve). That's a lot of Google searches for cheerleaders, hot golf chicks and Selma Hayek and way too many references to Wall StreetStripes and, of course, the entire Tom Cruise 1980's catalog.

Here is what I do know. There will be no weekly NFL entries this year. I've tried to maintain my interest in an enterprise that has dedicated more energy to annoying its customers than Comcast but I think I've finally reached my tipping point. Maybe it was the Patriots winning another Super Bowl or Deflategate keeping them in the news all freakin' summer. Maybe it's the Chinese water torture of never-ending disingenuous DraftKings and FanDuel ads that depict regular guys winning millions when it's really just a smaller scale version of the Ponzi scheme credit default swap market that took down the economy in 2008 (more on that later). Or maybe it's just that I've been a hardcore NFL fan for nearly forty years and now I'm just bored.* That's already about thirty-five years longer than I've maintained a continued interest in anything else.**     

Those, however, are but contributing factors. The primary reason for this direction shift is that I've fallen into a rut of formulaic writing (if you can even call it "writing") that depends on rankings, lists and other gimmicks. Other than the rant about the Orioles turning "Autograph Day" for my kids into the elementary school field trip equivalent of "How Hot Dogs Are Made," I can't remember writing one thing this year that I would actually want to read myself. Somewhere along the way I turned into Carmelo Anthony. A lazy uninspired writer resting on a bed of laurels harvested from a complete lack of achievement.  

Well that's all going to change. I want to stop writing like the hacks who pump-out content for the MSN homepage and start writing like Esquire's Charles Pierce*** or at least still be trying when I die (as opposed to "die trying" which is a subtle yet important distinction in this case as I don't plan to write myself to death . . . I've got plenty of other vices working to that end). I figure at the very least I'll come up short and still be the poor man's Charles Pierce a/k/a Norman Chad. 

From a practical standpoint, this means that there's gonna be a few changes round these parts. For one, I'm going to write whenever the fuck I feel like it and not write whenever the fuck I don't (God that felt good). And I'm going to being saying "fuck" a lot more because it is by far my favorite fucking word in the whole fucking English language. 

"Cause you're fuckin' fired!!!"
Also, no more gratuitous artwork inserted solely to increase web traffic. I'm not interested in visits from guys who find me via searches for "cheerleader boobs." And besides, the old posts aren't going anywhere so there's still plenty of "content" to satisfy that demographic. We'll reevaluate in December as we approach the 2016 golf season but we're not going to waste the fall dreaming about Gorgonzola cheese when it's clearly brie time baby. Step into my office . . . why? 

Footnotes

* It could also be because the team towards which I direct my affection on Sundays has started 0-3 but the fact is I started writing this when they were only 0-1. If anything, the Ravens' disastrous start has rekindled my interest a bit because everyone is writing them off and, on behalf of the city of Baltimore which has already had a rough year, fuck everyone.

** Except my marriage of course which is a constant source of inspiration and spiritual . . . I'm going to stop talking now. 

*** In his recent piece on the Deflategate ruling, Pierce wrote of Roger Goodell, "It has exposed him as a faithless and arbitrary jefe presiding over a banana republic of his own mind." And in The Swamp: The State of the NFL in Washington, D.C., he uncorked these two unhittable sliders, "Dan Snyder, the owner, is a walking, talking, meddling pile of failure" and "[t]his team should take the field to the music of a steam calliope. There should be jugglers and aerialists and bears that can dance and chickens that can do math. There obviously is no need to hire clowns." (By far the best use of the word "calliope" since Bruce Springsteen sang about one crashing to the ground).     


Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.