Plea to St. Peter – Get Well Soon
Sad news in Red Sox Nation this week with the announcement that Peter Gammons – fabled baseball analyst and columnist – was stricken by a brain aneurysm on Tuesday June 27th. While this can never come at a good time, it was especially ill-timed, as this was a big Boston sports week with the return of Pedro Martinez (in Mets uniform) to Fenway Park. That’s the sort of mythical event that Gammons was born to cover. Anyway, the news as of Wednesday afternoon, is that Gammons is listed in Good condition, which is great news for all of us who have learned so much from the wise sage.
For those that don’t know Gammons, here’s a great way to get a mental picture. Grab a $20 bill and take a gander of Andrew Jackson. That’s Gammons to a T – hell he could use the thing as a second form of ID. Gammons covers baseball in and out and appears in a variety of media outlets – most notably in the pages of the Boston Globe and as ESPN’s celebrated baseball commentator. Like that great line in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Gammons’ has friends in every team and clubhouse from here to San Diego, he speaks a dozen languages, knows Sabermetreics. He blends in.
What really sets Gammons apart from the rest of the sports media is that he blends intelligent, astute observation with a great ‘matter of fact’ style. He doesn’t dumb things down but seems to shoot straight from the hip and speaks in a nice conversational style that does wonders in educating listeners on the intricacies involved in this great game. You can watch a billion games and grasp the rules of the road – but Gammons does a wonderful job of sliding the curtain aside and giving the fan (both die-hard and casual) a glimpse at the inner machinations. His personality grants him audience with a large number of baseball insiders, and he’s usually first on the scene with the how and why a trade may or may not get executed.
He’s quite literally a great pleasure to listen to – a natural treasure within our national pastime – and my thoughts join the chorus in singing his praises and wishing for a speedy recovery.
Time to Make the Donuts
I caught this story on the WB 10:00 News the other night (you know – the one that leads in with the dire message – “It’s 10 O’Clock. Do you know where your children are?” Oh my God, we traced the call. It’s coming from inside the house. Anyway, headlining above the latest Hamas horrors, was the news that the Dunkin Donuts on Route 18 in South Weymouth is considered the busiest Dunkin Donuts in the country. They serve between 2,000 to 3,000 cups per day and rake in $3 million dollars per year.
The cool thing about this is when I lived in South Weymouth – this was my Dunkin Donuts. Sean still lays claim to it, living a stone’s throw from the shop. When they teased the story with “Which Dunkin Donuts is the busiest in the land? Find out next.”, I immediately thought of this shop. Of course, I dismissed it pretty quickly, figuring there had to be one in Boston’s Financial District that had more caffeinated sales. Lo and behold, when Maria Stephanos returned, she verified what I initially thought to be true. How ‘bout that?
This store holds a little special place in my heart as it’s the ‘coffee shop’ that Sean and I used to frequent in our early 20’s for late night coffee talks about what dilemma we were currently facing. We usually found ourselves there until close to midnight – and there was always a ‘future tense’ version of ourselves also in the shop – two random old geezers hanging out having a similar conversation (although their coffee talk was probably pointed at us):
Young people… taking over our perch. Hey, in my day – I wouldn’t be sitting in a coffee shop gabbing my life away. I’d be down at the bay, hauling the day’s catch, my cologne a briny brew of sea salt and Dunkachino… the way a man’s supposed to smell.”
Anyway – nice to see our old stomping grounds making the news. And as sweet as a Starbuck Iced Mochaccino can be – it doesn’t hold a candle to a genuine cup of Dunkin Donut’s ‘coffee flavored coffee’ – as Denis Leary so famously said.
PS3 Not For Me – Part Duex
Last month, Sony was dinged for their performance at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) where the centerpiece to their boring PowerPoint presentation on the upcoming Playstation 3, was the announcement that it would be priced at $599 – double the ‘expected’ customer threshold for entertainment systems. With the Xbox 360 selling for $400 (and an anticipated price cut looming for Holiday 2006) and the Nintendo Wii coming in at some point below $249 – analysts predicted that Sony was gift-wrapping some of their market share to the competition. From the cacophony of negative feedback they have had to listen to over the last month, one would think Sony’s knee-jerk reaction would be to spin something positive in order to restore buzz (especially in light of the beating Blue Ray technology – the linchpin to their system – is currently receiving).
Alas, it appears the madness of King Sony knows no bounds, as Kaz Hirai, Sony Computer Entertainment America President, declared that the selling price of games does not necessarily have to rest at $59 – but could in fact climb to $99. Kaz feels that gamers will pay any price if the game is good enough. Is he daft? There are already large numbers of consumers up in arms over ponying up sixty bones for an 8 hour game. Now this guy thinks we’ll drop a Gamecube in order to play the next GTA.
It’s hubris like this that can bring the beginning of the end. The games industry has been steadily chipping away at Hollywood for years, besting it’s box office take the last 4 years. With ticket sales on the decline (no doubt due to the fact that theater ticket prices are hovering around the same price as owning the DVD) the last thing a mass market should be doing is pricing consumers out of the industry. You are on the threshold of true mainstream acceptance. Now is not the time to cater to the niche hardcore tech-head crowd, you’ve got to invite everyone to the dance. And the way you do that is by getting your machines into people’s homes at a reasonable price. It’s widely known that game manufacturers make all their bank on the software. The discs cost pennies to produce and if you factor in the development costs – you’re still looking at a $25 profit on a $50 game. The move to disc based media off cartridges was made for several reasons – to distance video games from the label of ‘toy’, the storage space is better and they are much cheaper to produce.
There’s no justification for a $99.00 game and if Sony continues down this path, they are simply going to erode that market share even further.