Monday, February 9, 2015

There is Zero Chance Stan Kroenke Will Only Be a Landlord in Inglewood

One of the "kookier" theories I've seen bandied about in the whole Rams-St. Louis-Inglewood stadium brouhaha is that for some reason, Stan Kroenke is partnering with Stockbridge Capital to be a landlord for another NFL team (or two) in Los Angeles, while retaining ownership of the Rams in St. Louis.


This notion is more ridiculous than stuff I've seen on Ancient Aliens.

(Side note: great show. Even if most of it's B.S., a good 25% of the stuff makes you think, "what if?")

Why would the NFL let a competitor own another team's facility? That's like letting Ben and Jerry's own the physical plant of a Baskin Robbins store. You think that store would be tops on the list for general maintenance, fumigation, interior design, heating, cooling, etc.?

To make it more about the NFL, what if the Rams had a pivotal week 17 game against the L.A. Chargers in Stan's new stadium? If the owner was properly motivated to win (and hey, that's a valid objection here because hey, it's Stan...), wouldn't he do everything in his power to mess with the opponent? A convenient "glitch" in the hot water or AC on game day? A pest infestation? A convenient "mis-delivery" of the team's toradol supply before the game?

The possibilities are endless...

Of course, I'm being somewhat hyperbolic. One can only imagine "Stanley Whiplash" twirling his mustache in his ill-fitting suit as he sneaks into the home team's supply closet to grease up their footballs.

But the point about maintenance and upkeep is absolutely valid. Where's the incentive for that? Once the lease is signed, where's the incentive to keep up the facilities?

Would we see another "top-tier" clause in the lease?

Unfortunately, this kind of speculation is thrown out there by the NFL to further reinforce their own image as "one business," not 32 competing businesses for antitrust purposes.

It's a long-standing battle that the league has waged to garner expansive antitrust protection.

("More boring legal stuff?" You're damned right more boring legal stuff! Listen, I don't want it to be this way any more than you do. I got out of the law for a reason. But when I see people hold themselves out as "knowledgeable" on a topic like franchise relocation, when they've at worst not done any research, or at best just lap up whatever's slopped at them from various sources like pigs at a trough, it drives me insane).

The league has a vested interest as being treated as one, large "football" organization with 32 different retail outlets. Doing so means that "everyone's under the same umbrella," like Burger King or Midas--the franchises, while ostensibly competing week-to-week on the field, are all considered one big, happy family off the field.

Conveniently, this would afford the NFL somewhat greater protection under the antitrust laws.

Unfortunately for them, time-and-time again, federal courts have rules that the league is actually 32 competing franchises that are absolutely subject to federal antitrust laws.

This may not seem like a big distinction to the average fan, but think of it this way in the context of stadium ownership:

If you accept the NFL's "one body" theory, then Stan owning the Chargers' Inglewood stadium is like one McDonald's franchise owner owning the physical plant of another McDonald's.

If you take the more realistic, "32 competitors" view, it's like Burger King owning that same McDonald's.

You can see how, despite contractual assurances to the contrary, the occasional corner might get cut.

In a similar vein, word came down earlier today that the NFL is forming a committee of owners dedicated to the "L.A. issue."

While I applaud them on trying to control the narrative, their naïveté on the relocation issue is heartwarming, in that "puppy doesn't know that the 'creature under the covers' is just your leg" sort of way.

If the courts maintain the "32 competitors" view of the league, to restrict territories and movement of franchises would almost certainly be a violation of the antitrust laws against restraining trade to protect competition. As much as Rams fans around St. Louis love the team, wouldn't the team be better able to compete in L.A., where revenues would be far more readily available in the form of consistently-full premium seating and the associated benefits?

That's what really gets me; the league is banking on Stan to "maintain protocol" and "not rock the boat." They've gone so far as to create a "peer pressure committee" to try to intimidate their fellow owners from not horning in on their own self-proclaimed market.

As I've consistently maintained for months, if not years, the NFL isn't above the laws of the United States of America. They can keep harping about how they control the L.A. market, how each owner will have to go through "several approvals" to get to L.A.

When the rubber meets the road, though, I doubt the league is willing to go to court on an antitrust case potentially worth $3 billion in lost valuation and profits, should they push Stan too far (antitrust cases are unique in that they provide triple damages to a successful plaintiff).

The law is pretty clearly on Stan's side, and absent outright buying a judge, the league has to know this, too.

They're puffing themselves up pretty well right now, but ultimately, the league can't think they have the authority to really beat down one of their own, cross-ownership rules or not.

Ultimately, this is a long-winded way of saying that Stan Kroenke has 4 options:

1) Keep the Rams in St. Louis with the Peacock plan, and sell the Inglewood plan to Spanos or Mark Davis

2) Keep the Inglewood plan and move the Rams out to L.A. to be tenants

3) Sell the Rams and buy another team to become the Inglewood tenant

4) Sell the Rams and enjoy the NFL as a landlord only.

I suppose there could be more, but these are the most likely in my opinion. But to conjure up outlandish scenarios where he owns one team, but plays landlord to another?

Man, I could use your help on some story ideas...

Monday, January 19, 2015

For the Ladies Looking For Love: 4 Ways to Get "Mr. Right" to Message Your Online Dating Profile

Believe it or not, I'm currently single.

I know, I know: "Really?"

Yes, it's true. And like too many people my age, I've joined the cadre of online daters in the St. Louis area, exploring territory long ago vacated by my buddy Dave from the on-life-support Bottle and Cans podcast.

I've met some great ladies on the site, but for whatever reason, things haven't worked out as of yet.

I blame it on bad targeting by the sites. I've been a "90%+ match" for a fair number of these girls, and yet when we meet up, the chemistry just isn't there for whatever reason, or the spark inevitably fades after a few short dates.

It's tough being a dude on these sites. No, I'm not talking about the idea of "putting myself out there"--I say stupid shit on the radio all the time, I've written controversial books, I'm a freelancer in sales and marketing. Let's just say that I long ago got used to being kicked in the junk by complete strangers--no hard feelings, folks.

What I AM talking about is the incredible similarity among ladies' online dating profiles.

Don't get me wrong--I know that reasonably attractive women on these sites get an unbelievable number of "Hey girl...what's up?" (or worse) "Wanna see my wiener?"-type messages. It has to be tough to sift through the garbage.

But as a (I think) eligible, creative, educated, okay-looking guy, it's also incredibly difficult to sift through all of the girls with some variation of the following profile:

"I'm a strong, independent woman with X job. I love to travel and see new places--looking for a partner in crime for new adventures. I love my family, and hope to find the same in a guy. Looking for someone who can make me laugh--laughter is the best medicine, after all."

Unfortunately, more often than not, I'll skip right on by these profiles.

Not because anything these ladies wrote was offensive.

In fact, it's quite the opposite.

There's no character here. Nothing to tell me anything about these girls that wouldn't better be said on a first date. Let's fisk this profile line by line:

"I'm a strong, independent woman with X job" Great stuff...but it's weird for us to reach out to you and write out a question about your job over email. Honestly, even though I have a more flexible and enjoyable work arrangement than most, I cherish my off-hours, and am looking for a partner to fill THOSE with...err..."with whom to fill those." NOT someone who's going to be bringing work home with them all the time and put their job ahead of me. Though ambitious, I work to live--I'm looking for someone who does the same.

"I love to travel and see new places--looking for a partner in crime for new adventures." Again, this prompts a question that would be better handled on a first date. Every time I've had a back-and-forth with a girl on a dating site, and I've asked about traveling, it's ended the conversation. Period. Whether it's the first thing I mention, or 3-4 messages down the road. I don't know if it comes across as "intimidating" or whatever, but it's a dead end.

"I love my family, and am looking for the same in a guy." This is late first date, maybe even second date territory. I'm not going to gush about my Uncle Goober and Cousin Athena over an online dating message system--if nothing else, it's a turn-off.

"Looking for someone who can make me laugh--laughter is the best medicine after all." Whattaya want, a knock-knock joke? I love comedy, love standup and comedy podcasts, really enjoy stuff that's actually funny. But this gives me no frame of reference for your sense of humor, what you find funny, or anything along those lines. I'm shooting in the dark, here!

So what's the point of all of this? How can these bitter truths benefit women in the long run? With a few simple changes, you can cut the creeps out, and have a better chance of finding "Mr. Right."

1) Men Are Looking For "Hooks:" A "hook," in the copywriting biz, at least, is something that a prospect can respond to. Something that absolutely begs a question or further explanation. Something that teases the mind and gets the "prospects" (interested, put-together dudes) thinking about how to respond.

You can frame a hook by taking a controversial stance on something, by saying something objectively "weird" about yourself, or otherwise trying to entice "the right kind of guy" to buy into your profile.

They don't have to be fancy. Examples of good hooks include:

"I insist on camping without a tent."

"I've learned that a night spent in St. Petersburg is one night too many."

"I've forgotten how to ride a bike."

(Note: I use this one in my profile, because it's true. If I find a like-minded lady...all bets are off...)

Notice how a lot of these are pretty declarative? More on that in a minute...

The important thing is to give guys a lot of openings to ask thoughtful questions that they can put a witty spin on..."on which they can put a witty spin..."


2) Separate the Wheat From the Chaff

Getting too many "Hey girl...what's up?" messages? There's a simple solution that you may not have thought of yet, as abridged from Mark Manson on his fine book, Models:

-Polarize, Polarize, Polarize...

Let's face it, we all have a tendency to try to gain acceptance from any potential new partner. We laugh and agree with a lot of their statements while secretly we think "Wow, I can't believe he/she said that...well...maybe it'll work anyway..."

I say you should not only embrace these thoughts, but also pre-empt them whenever possible. Go ahead and let guys know some of the "weirder" things that you're all about. Granted, you probably shouldn't put your deepest, darkest secrets up on an online dating profile, but go ahead and embrace some of the "wackier" things about you.

While it runs counter to a lot of things that you've been taught, the important thing is that once you have something "different" up there, you can screen for the non-profile readers better, and qualify yourself to guys who really get you.

That's not to say you should "next" someone at the first sign of disagreement. Rather you should use potentially controversial thoughts and beliefs you might have as a screening mechanism to clear out the creeps and idiots.

(Unless you like the creeps and idiots...)


(Let's move on...)

Also, let's not discount the role that good looks play in online dating. Obviously, there's a baseline of good looks that you're willing to give a shot. Sorry, but that's the way it is...

3) Show, Don't Tell
This is an old fiction writer's saw. Instead of saying "I like to travel," tell me about some of the adventures you've had. I know that if you like to travel, there have to be some good stories--it comes with the territory.

Spell some of them out! Talk about that awesome hike you went on, or that reef you scuba-dived on. Putting pics of these things up isn't necessarily enough. Believe it or not, not every guy will diligently go through every one of your pics and captions and try to divine a hook from there. Paint a picture--let us know that there's some life behind the "sterile profile" with which we're often presented (see, I'm learning).

4) Personality is King

I don't know how many girls I've engaged or responded to because they had a tangible "personality" in their profile. Something other than the standard "stuff" I outlined above. Something that got it, and may have pissed some other guys off, but sucked me in.

Was I necessarily Mr. Right for them? No, not by any stretch.

But at least they got my attention. 

At least they separated themselves from the legions of ladies out there with no discernible differentiating qualities.

That's the real key--set yourself apart from the pack. While attention from random dudes may be nice (and I'm speaking as a guy who gets some random attention from the ladies), if you're on a dating site, and especially a paid dating site, you need to get your money's worth. Make the site work for you. Go for a drink at a public place. Say something "ridiculous." Push the envelope a bit. Have fun. Online dating can seem like a grind a lot of times--go ahead and turn that on its head. Enjoy it for chrissake.

Follow these basic steps, and I assure you, you'll be on the fast track to sifting out the morons and finding "Mr. Right" sooner rather than later.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Why Do People Line Up to Be Cogs in the Machine?

I just don't get it.

I see the same story time and time again.

Very bright young person is ready to conquer the world...

All kinds of "crazy" or "out there" ideas of how to do so...

Then slowly, the machine comes calling.

At first, it's an easy sell:

"Need a place to live? Need stuff? Need COMFORT? Need Entertainment? The machine will provide green pieces of paper to help you out!"

"Oh? I like those things...these green pieces of paper intrigue me..." you think.

But then you get there. Trading hours for dollars. Doing nothing that fulfills you personally, but that has great "value" for the machine.

Before you know it, the responsibilities start to pile up: rent...a car payment...a significant other...a dog...a house...a kid...the kid needs to go to college...etc...

All so those gears can keep on churning, the cogs can help the machine keep on running.

Do you ever ask WHY we do these things?

WHY the machine MUST be maintained?

What's the machine's goal, anyway?

Who are you ultimately doing favors for? What do you want to accomplish with your life?

My guess is that it's not making more green pieces of paper for someone else...


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