There is only ONE Oklahoma

Friday, February 29, 2008

FedEx, Best Buy and AT&T, oh my!

Quick, what do these three companies have in common? Easy answer is that they all sponsor a Cup team. More difficult answer is that they are all are involved in multi million dollar judgments against their companies.

AT&T just recently agreed to a settlement that could result in over 10 million dollars returned to costumers and will also will pay 2.5 million dollars to the State of Florida and contribute $500,000 to a ‘safe internet’ customer protection group. All total, in Florida alone, the bill to AT&T could be as high as 13 million dollars. While not a complete primary sponsorship for a Cup season, it is about 2/3 of one. Problem is, that this judgment is only for one state, there could also be 49 states to go. We all know that AT&T wants to continue their Nascar sponsorship despite agreeing in principle to leave and not compete with the title sponsor, but if more of this type of settlement is required in the future, there may not be the dollars to hand over to a Cup team.

Best Buy was handed a 54 million dollar tort claim for misplacing a customer’s laptop that was under a Best Buy extended warranty and as being serviced. On the surface, 54 million dollars might seem extreme, however the Best Buy customer in question was very thorough in her documentation of the many contacts, and customer service reps she spoke with over a course of just a few months after purchasing the laptop. Best Buy not only gave her the run around, but flat out lied to her about this situation.

Once Best Buy finally admitted that the lap top was never serviced but missing, Best Buy offered her a $900 in-store gift certificate for a defected laptop she paid over $1,100 just three months before. Not to mention the lost personal data and software she had purchase. (At Best Buy) t was not until she contact the Attorney General’s Office in Washington D.C. that Best Buy offered the full purchase price plus a $500 in-store gift certificate, but the person in question had enough.

She had originally asked Best Buy for $2,100 but always was denied. It was not until she filed the 54 million dollar suit that Best Buy agreed to her original offer, however Best Buy has another problem. Her personal information and even tax returns were stored on the laptop’s hard drive and Best Buy had violated Washington security breach notification laws by not telling her about the potential identity loss. To date, Best Buy still has not followed federal law and notified her. 54 million dollars might sound high, but then again that is about 2 ½ seasons of primary Cup sponsorship.

But probably the Cup sponsor that maybe hit the must in the pocketbooks is the recent IRS judgment against Federal Express of 319 million dollars. That’s right, 319 million clams! Turns out that FEDEX has been wrongfully claiming that their FEDEX Ground drivers were independent contractors and because of that, federal withholding taxes were not the responsibility of FEDEX. The IRS doesn’t agree. But the catch is that this 319 million is JUST FOR 2002! The IRS is also investigating from 2003 to 2006, probing if workers were wrongly classified in order for FEDEX to gain tax benefits. To make matters worse for FEDEX, FEDEX is involved in 24 different state lawsuits that are investigating the same issue, so the company could be on the hook for even more taxes and penalties across the country on its classification of drivers as contractors rather than full employees. Adding to its woes, FedEx also received a grand jury subpoena from the Department of Justice for documents, investigating possible price-fixing among airfreight forwarders.

So the next time a Cup sponsorship ‘pulls out’ of Nascar, it may not be because of the failure of drivers like Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Elliott Sadler, or the team, or even the common theme that ‘Nascar is in a downward trend’, it may have more to do with the financial position of the company and their own legal problems.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Elliott Sadler Drinking Game

After a couple of years via the greatness of Pit Command on Nascar’s TrackPass Sadler fans have had the opportunity to listen first hand the back and fourth scanner chat of their driver. When one realizes that reoccurring themes play over and over, it is time for the creation of a ‘drinking game’, ala the ‘Brent Musburger College Football Drinking Game’.

Play at your own risk. It is conceivable your whole Nascar watching party will be passed out before the cross flags; let alone sticking around (or staying awake) for the Checkered flag.
Rule #1: “The car, the team, hard work and happy”

Take a drink if during a pre-race interview Sadler mentions that he is ‘happy’ with the car and that the race team ‘worked hard’ during the week, giving him a competitive car.

Rule #2: “VLP plug”

Take a drink if Sadler mentions playing ‘poker on VLP’ and how much fun he has doing that. Take a bonus drink if he notes a specific future date he will actually show up to ‘play’.

Rule #3: “The Xbox theory”

Take a drink if Sadler mentions passing time in his Motorcoach playing Xbox.

Rule #4: “you got me?………….. ti-en-foh-er”

Take a drink if during the radio check ‘Spotterman’ (Brett Griffin) asks Sadler for a radio check with the exact line of ‘you got me E’? Followed by the cocky and four to five syllable response from Sadler of ’10-4’ (insert Virginia draw)

Rule #5: "Pick a Buzz word”

Each person chooses a buzzword and whenever Sadler uses your word, you must take a drink. Examples; ‘wheel chatter’, ‘ forward bite’,


Rule #1: ‘The Centah – off’

Take a drink each time Sadler mentions the handling of the car (either tight or loose) ‘from the center, off’

Rule #2: ‘Tars. Tars, Tars’

Take a drink when ever Sadler complains about the newest set of Goodyear’s and that the ‘car doesn’t like this set of tires’ Add a bonus drink if Sadler questions the ‘codes’ of the said tires.

Rule #3: ‘the 180’

Take a drink if after pit stop chassis changes, Sadler calls for the return or revert back to the previous set-up because this change didn’t help. Bonus drink if Sadler had requested a ‘track bar’ change while the Crew Chief did not want one.

Take THREE drinks if Sadler claims that ‘this is be farwah the worst cawah I have had all weekend’

Rule #4: ‘the Attababy count’

Take a drink every time ‘Spotterman’ gives Sadler the ‘attababy’. Bonus drink if Sadler responds with a ‘You da man Brett’.

Rule #5: ‘Our you ready for some football?’

Only applicable in fall races, but take a drink every time a UNC or South Carolina football score is updated. (could be used in March for UNC post season basketball scores)

Rule #6: ‘beggars can’t be choosers’

Take a drink anytime Sadler pleads with his Crew Chief to fix the car, by using three successive ‘please’. Example: ‘Please, please, please, what evah ya do don’t make the cah any loosah!’

Rule #7: ‘Obsession with the former employer’

Take a drink each time ‘Spotterman’ makes a comment on how the 38 car is doing and how many positions needed to pass them.

Rule #8: ‘Give and take’

Take a drink for every time in the first half of a race the 19 opts to either stay out or only take two tires for track position, instead of taking the time needed to make complete adjustments and four tires on an ill handling car. Bonus drink if after the fuel run the 19 falls back deep into the field where they were before the two tire stop.


Rule #1: ‘We were better than we finished’

Take a drink if you hear Sadler promote his team is being ‘better’ than the finishing spot. Bonus drink if Sadler claims they had a ‘top 10 car’ or were ‘running top 10 speeds’ near the end of the race, even though finishing in the 20s or 30s.

Rule #2: ‘Bad luck’

Take a drink if at any time the ‘Bad luck’ excuse is posed by anyone from the team.

Rule #3: ‘Next week always comes’

Take a drink if Sadler glad hands about next week race, as in ‘we will get em next week’.

Like I said, play at your own risk. You have been warned!!!! Important safety tip: Have a designated driver ready before playing, chances are you will need it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Perception is a funny thing

Yesterday, Nascar announced the penalties for the #7 team and driver/owner Robbie Gordon for attempting to pass through pre-qualifying inspection a non-approved nose. It didn’t take long for the ‘NA$CAR flaming’ all over the innerweb defending the #7 team and the cries of the ‘NA$CAR agenda’. This is where perception comes into play, and how that perception creates memory loss to many of the Nascar faithful.

First lets hear from the team owner himself:

“This was an innocent mistake made by someone not even on my team. They accidentally supplied us the new Dodge noses that NASCAR hasn't yet approved because of what amounted to a clerical error. It was discovered during technical inspection and corrected before the race. It was not even close to being an intent to create some competitive advantage, and the mistake was not even made by my team.”

Now I understand why Robbie would want to point fingers and deflect the blame to someone else. (In this case GEM supplied the nose) But this is not the first time a team has been penalized for having ‘unapproved’ parts supplied by another team. Hall of Fame Racing was fine and had points taken away in their VERY FIRST RACE two years ago thanks to Joe Gibbs Racing. At least that was where the blame went. There is your precedent Robbie and you stance takes another blow when one looks at the penalty for the 8 team last season for using 'unapproved rear wing brackets' on the C.O.T. and they attempted the same 'it was just a mistake' justification.

The first volleys thrown were the ‘comparisons to any Rick Hendrick team violation’, whether it was from the C.O.T. or not. So that got me thinking, just how a team that fields FOUR full time teams can be compared to a single car team in terms of ‘frequency of violations’. These fans might be surprised just how many times over the past few years the #7 team/driver/owner has been caught ‘cheating’, yet somehow is ‘innocent’.

Just a quick scan of Jayski’s penalty pages shows that the one car team seems to appear almost as much as the four car Hendrick Motorsports teams.

2005 Daytona: “unapproved intake manifold on the #7 Chevrolet discovered during the initial Daytona 500 inspection”, $50,000 fine and 25 owner points (car failed to make the field so no driver points were deducted)

2005 spring Martinsville: “unapproved deck lid”, $5,000 fine, no points deducted

2006 fall Atlanta: “intentionally causing a caution condition during the race”, $15,000 50 driver and 50 owner points

2007 Summer Daytona: “equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules”, $25,000 fine, 25 driver and 25 owner points.

I will omit the handful of penalties access by Nascar to Gordon for altercations or language.

No I am not going to sit here and say that HMS is an ‘angel’ when it comes to rules violations but I will say that ‘perspective’ and bias comes into play if one wants to defend the #7 team. As a single car team they have proportionately been guilty of just as many and just as severe violations. Maybe more importantly comes from the ‘innocent’ justifications Robbie gives in many of these violations with ‘we are not doing anything different that anyone is doing’ or the ‘the issue was found before qualifying so way the severe penalty’?

Nascar has to take and stance (and has) that simply submitting a car for pre-race inspection show intent to run that car’s configuration during qualifying and during the race. If not, then why was the car submitted to the inspection line in the first place. Bottom line, once the car enters the pre-qualifying inspection line, the ‘official entry’ for that team has been made.

Robbie can shift the blame to Evernham all he wants, and there are enough Evernham violations to go around over the past few years to fill the bucket, or he can say it was just a ‘clerical’ mistake all he wants, but that doesn’t change the fact of what his team attempted to do. Nascar has taken a firm stance one ‘messing with the aero of the C.O.T.' and the fines/penalties ($100,000 fine, 100 driver and 100 owner points) issued for this was in all honesty the ‘minimum’ in terms of precedent. Robbie feels differently with this quote: "Other teams who have had similar issues to what happened with the nose on my car were only penalized 25 points." I challenge Robbie to site just one 'similar' C.O.T. violation where only 25 points were deducted. In fact, I would go further to say that he could look for ANY C.O.T. violation. Fact is, he can't.

If Nascar was to turn the other cheek on this, doesn’t that open Pandora’s Box?

I think it would.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Maybe the biggest Myth in NASCAR

It only took a couple of hours for the complaints and whining concerning the TeVee broadcast of the Daytona 500 to take shape on message boards and blogs. One of the most common issues race fans seem to have is the number of commercials during a broadcasting of a race. This re-occurring theme has been played out season after season but does it really hold water? Or is it simply something that is told over and over enough that the masses believe it to be true without actually looking at the facts.

Back in 2003 this same complaint came up with some racing friends on the Sadler Fan Club Message Board where I used to write a precursor to this blog once a week called ‘Wednesday Rant’ where we addressed the ‘too many commercials’ complaint. In a nutshell, the complaint was that the Network TeVee package had ‘much more’ commercials than the old TNN/ESPN days. But when asked, no one could bring some factual numbers to the debate. But that all change, when Racingone.com did an independent analysis of the 2000 thru the 1st part of the 2003 season and showed that the commercial time for a NASCAR broadcast had not significantly changed no matter who was broadcasting it. Unfortunately those threads from SFC are long gone, but I did save the excel spreadsheet data I collected from that Racingone.com study. Now with the hard work from cawsnjaws.com, this data can be updated and compared. Lets take a look at the Daytona 500 from the start of the invocation to the waving of the checkered flag:

Network Total minutes of Broadcast total minutes of race broadcast Total minutes of Broadcast Commercials % of race broadcast
2000 CBS 205 162 43 79.02%
2001 FOX 201 157 44 78.11%
2002 NBC 229 180 49 78.60%
2003 FOX N/A due to rain broadcast

2004 FOX no data available

2005 FOX 268 207 61 77.24%
2007 FOX 235 176 59 74.89%
2008 FOX 218 166 52 76.15%

At a glance one might think that going from a 79% coverage of a race to a 76% is just proving the naysayer’s point, however I would point out that a 3% change in a broad sense equates to less than 30 seconds of additional commercial time per half hour. More importantly this equates to about a half a lap of 'action missed’ per half hour. That is simply not significant. More importantly over this decade, there is over a 77% average of race coverage for the ‘Great American Race’. This is not bad at all considering this is a FREE broadcast.

As the season continues, I will be readdressing this issue and further updating the figures with other race/venue data and see where this 'myth' goes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What is 'Racing'?

After watching yesterday's Daytona 500 and then reading some of the blogs and comments concerning this race, I have come to the conclusion that many Nascar fans don't understand what 'racing' truly is.

Webster's Dictionary defines 'racing' as: "to engage in a contest of speed"

based upon that definition lets take a quick look at yesterday's race and some of the comments made.

'It was a boring race'

How can a race that offers 42 lead changes (out of a possible 200) be 'boring' in the first place. There is a bit of irony in calling this race 'boring' when they use the lack of cautions as a justification. Maybe these fans would prefer demo derbys to racing. The first caution flew 80 laps into the race. In those 80 laps, the field spread out and covered almost the entire track even to the point where a handful of cars were in danger of going a lap down. (something almost unheard of in previous plate races) The reason for this was simply because many cars were struggling with handling and could not maintain the lead draft. Now some might say that because of this fact, it just exposes the flaws in the C.O.T. but that couldn't be further from the truth.

Elliott Sadler's 19 car was one of those cars that was in jeopardy of going a lap down and one only had to hear his scanner chat to know that he could not maintain the corner speed needed to keep up. BUT because of a timely caution and a car that was tweakable, the 19 was able to turn around what could have been an awful showing and finished 6th and even flirted in the final laps with winning the coveted trophy. This example is just what Nascar was wanting in the C.O.T. and the C.O.T. delivered. (as well as the 19 team)

This fact also put a different strategy in plate racing that has not been seen in decades. Green flag pit stops that actually had significant chassis changes as opposed to the 'normal' 4 new Goodyears and two fuel cans. In the past, pretty much once the plate car was rolled off the hauler, not much was done to it in terms of making the car 'handle' better. It simply was needed for that style of racing. Now that 'style' of racing with the C.O.T. seems to have taken a turn. A turn that makes more use of driver skills and less of making 'chess like' moves on the track.

Now those 'chess like' moves still come into play as seen in the final few laps, but for the fans that want to see 'racing' and driver's skill, it could be seen in all of the 200 laps yesterday. I have said for years that one of the primary reasons why Bristol is a fan favorite has little to do with driver skill, but more to do with cautions, re-starts and a wreckfest. Now that a Daytona race has come and gone without a 'big one', and without countless laps of a 'traffic jam' where cars had no room to pass and played 'follow the leader', the words 'BORING RACE' are being used.

BORING? I'll take a 'BORING' Daytona 500 like yesterday's anytime then. To be honest, the 50th Daytona race reminded me more of how racing at Daytona was back in the 'good ole days'.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The End of an Era

I have never been one to fall into the 'nostalgia' trap, and it came as not much of a surprise when the dust settled from the Duals that the #21 Wood Brothers Racing entry failed to make the field of the Daytona 500 for the 1st time since 1962. Already some of the 'old guard' Nascar fans are voicing their displeasure and calling foul against 'NA$CAR'.

"I am very upset that Bill and the Wood Bros will not be in the 500. While a lot of the blame has to be put on the Woods, Nascar also shares the blame for the B$ move they let Penske pull. Sam Hornish basically got a free pass into the race (while I was glad to hear Ken Squire mention yesterday on Speed). This blows!!!"

While it is unfortunate that the Wood Brothers won't be racing on Sunday, one only has to look at just who was in the driver's seat to see that the Woods were trying to take advantage of the Nascar Past Champion's Provisional rule just as Penske has. The reason why the Woods will not be racing on Sunday has little to do with Nascar, but the race team itself.

The Wood Brothers, for what ever reason, have decided to not align themselves with Roush/Yates a total commitment to Ford Racing. There is a good reason why Toyota will have 9 entries racing on Sunday and Ford only 7. Ford, as a manufacturer, is in the infancy of 'learning how to work as team'. Something that Dodge perfected in the trucks, and Toyota seems to have carried over from their CTS success as well.

But the Wood Brother's resentment to change goes back almost ten years with the refusal to become a multi car race team. Yes, there were a couple of years where they received help from Roush Racing, but those bridges were burned with the hiring of 'Fatback' McSwain as Race Director. There still seems to be some animosity between the two teams. If the Wood Brothers ever want to return to becoming even a full time field filler, they will need to over come animosity.

This isn't the first time in the past ten years that the Wood Brothers will not be racing at a Cup event, in 2000 the 21 piloted by Elliott Sadler car failed to qualify at the spring Talladega race. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Wood Brothers need to swallow some pride, and jump on the Roush/Yates bandwagon and be a part of the team. It is their only hope.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Scanning the inner web

I stopped subscribing to my local newspaper years ago when I began to change my morning ritual from picking up the local fish wrap, to firing up the lap top and hitting the handful of online news sources. The range of sites I hit is pretty diverse, from your basic newspaper sites, to Nascar sites, College Football sites to the occasional political site. I guess being a creature of habit can by fun, but this morning I ran across a couple of interesting reads and comments.


In the past I have mention about the 'price of being an Elliott Sadler fan', and without knowing just who this person is speaking of in this CUP SCENE DAILY article, it appears she is just as frustrated with Fan Clubs and the fact that your are 'only a true fan if you pay the fan club price for it'. Maybe she is getting tired of receiving 'expired Tylenol packets' or pictures of said driver posed in front of a car that hasn't been driven in years, or waiting for the 'special gift', and always wondering just what that gift was supposed to be.


I was scanning over a few of the non 'pay to play' message boards of the 'Southern Gentleman', and saw a few posts trying to justify the 19's poor qualifying attempt. Now first, let me explain that qualifying at a plate track maybe one of the most over-rated aspects of the whole speedweeks. But when I read that 'Everything will be okay because Elliott was qualifying in RACE TRIM' gave me a chuckle. While the 19 is locked into the 500 and the emphasis this past week has been to get the car to be as stable as possible in the draft, no race team will not tape the nose up tight as a drum and remove any spring rubbers in order to keep the car as low as possible during the qualifying run. It is no secret that starting near the front the 'Duals' is an advantage and one that Sadler would have wanted to have. All and all though, for teams locked into the 500, the Duals are simply racing for a pit stall selection.


Speaking of perception, it is just a matter of time before a comment is made by fan after a disappointing finish in the 500 of "well, now we can get to 'real' racing". I always liked that 'excuse', but the fact of the matter is that plate racing is worth just as many driver points as any other style of racing. Is it a different form of racing? Of course. But it also requires a specific and just as difficult skill as the other types of racing. Some drivers maybe road course specialists while others maybe short track specialists, but that doesn't make them any 'better' than the driver that excels consistently on a plate track.


Did anyone catch the almost sarcastic comment Dave Despain made after the Bud Shootout practice crash where teams were scrambling to get back-up cars down from Charlotte? His comment was something like 'So much for the C.O.T. being interchangeable at all tracks like Nascar had told us it world'. (paraphrasing) But such a knee jerk reaction may not have been warranted, as the 48 opted for a car that ran RICHMOND last fall, and another team used a car that ran at MARTINSVILLE. Even though the 48 needed some tweaking early in the race, it's finishing position had to make the Nascar hierarchy a bit happy showing that the need for race teams to have three dozen plus cars in order to be competitive at the different tracks, just took a step in the right direction and may not be as much a necessity.


Yates Racing gets a temporary reprieve buy signing sponsorship for the 38 (Free Credit Report.com) and the 28 (K&N Filters) for the 500 much to the relief of many 28 and 38 fans. But what I find interesting is the almost nonchalant attitudes of people associated with Yates Racing. It is business as usual and a 'moving forward' commitment even without any long term sponsorship commitment. Have a good showing in the first few races and those long term commitments will be knocking the front doors down lining up to get their name on a Yates hood.


And lastly, only 3 weeks till Sooner spring football practice!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Another season begins, and so does another gimmick?

Like clockwork, the “Southern Gentleman” announces the launch of his ‘newest’ idea. I put ‘newest’ in quotes because on the surface this new idea just seems to be another regurgitation of other ‘new’ ideas from the past.

Just a few years ago, Elliott Sadler made to brilliant conclusion that he and his brother’s Fan Club Site would go to a ‘members only’ format and a ‘pay to’ site where exclusive and special Elliott Sadler content and news would be presented via personal messages from the “Southern Gentleman” on an private message board.

Then just a few short months after that revelation and little follow thorough, the personal message given was that ‘fans should go check out my new MySpace account, its going to be real cool and special way for you fans to interact with me’. Well, we all know how that venture turned out, and yet the paying fans on his fan club were still left out in the cold.

About this time last season, the announcement was made to ‘check out Infield Parking and my new site there, its going to be great and special’. Still the paying fans of SFC are still waiting for some exclusive content other than the random ‘go check out’ posts from the ‘Southern gentleman’.

Yesterday, the announcement was made to check out ElliottSadler.com, a site that ‘will feature more information than ever before’. Now I am not saying that this is or is not a true statement, I am simply skeptical based on similar previous announcements of this type.

Even before this announcement, it seems that other SFC fans have had similar questions and even some well thought out solutions. Here is one example posed to the SFC Webmaster and the Goatfish’s response:


It's that time of year again ... you loved seeing this topic pop up, I'm sure.

Actually, this post has nothing to do with the design of the board (shocked, ain'tcha!). I've given up on that. But I just had an idea that may be heretical, so here goes...

What if access to the board was free this season. Don't get me wrong, paying that minimal fee to be a part of the fan club and part of this board is just fine with me. I'm not hatin' over no measly $20. But let's be real...traffic on this once-fun board dwindled down last year to a fraction of what it had been previously. Elliott's press and racing coverage is spotty at best and this board is often the best and only source for Elliott driver/race information. Why not do a push to encourage more fan interface and particiaption on it? Frankly, folks may hold off joining us waiting to see if Elliott's performance is worth the $20.

This is the marketing in me...how about this? Free access to the Sadler MB for the 2008 season. Fan Club members and non-members would be welcomed to join. E-notice would be sent out to current and perhaps lapsed fan club members with a kind of "all are welcome" message from Elliott. It would be a show of good will and partnership from Elliott and if positioned correctly from a sponsor standpoint, could be an image enhancer for Best Buy... a charter year gift to the fans. We'd of course promote it (listen to me..."we") on this board and announce it on the GEMs and Best Buy racing boards as well. Other routes to Sadler fandom could be via the "unofficial" Sadler boards (pass-along info from this site), notice placed at merchandise haulers, same at appearances. We'd keep it to lower impact messaging vehicles (limited-to-no mention on broadcast or print) ... use grassroots tactics ... and target Elliott's current (if quiet) fanbase. Use his MySpace, Facebook (he should set up one if he hasn't already), Infield Parking space, and if appropriate, the VLP Poker site. This would not be a broadbased invitation to the racing public in order to grow the number of Elliott fans. That will come when his performance improves. This is simply an intimate reconnection between Elliott and his current fans.

Making even grassroots announcements about a change in the access to this board begs more activity from Elliott on it. Even if it's a quarterly message and a one-time-this-season chat; he really needs to step up his e-connection to those who support him. It's the easiest and least time consuming "reach out" he can give us.

So what then would be a benefit of paid membership? Closed chats with Elliott, private poker games, invitations to two members-only fan events...one on the east cost and one on the west (what? I'm in LA! That barn's a fer piece for me to travel!). And of course, our annual envelope of goodies. A "win time with Elliott" sweepstakes that you enter to win online. (BB could consider a broader outreach via a sweepstakes where you enter to win at store or on their site, but that's a program that targets the public). There are plenty of events and offers that could be put together for fan club members. I'm not saying do all of these; our boy's gonna be concentrating on Top 10s, but it's a new day with the whole GEMs thing and a whole new sponsor. Let's have some of this "newness" flow down to us fan club members.

I'm sure there are some maintenance and management issues to be considered in the running of an MB and I don't know what they are, but our boy can use all the support he can get and while his fans have gotten quiet, I don't think they've disappeared. If done well, this would look like what it is -- a heartfelt, earnest and stepped-up reach-out by Elliott to his fans and paying fan club members. It won't look desperate -- just welcoming. This is a pivotal year. What do you think?

PS: I make my living on my ideation and execution...anyone want my resume?

And the official response (wow, soooooo much thought put into this)

moved the post over to the Fan Club news section. The message board will continue to be for Sadler Fan Club members only this year.

We should have some information to announce for the Barn Party soon along with other Fan Club news for 2008.


Just one short month later, the ‘new’ site is launched with quotes like; “The timing is just right for us to launch ElliottSadler.com and make it into something special”. There is that word again. Sadler goes on to say; “Entering this season I have a lot of new things in my career including new team owners with the Gillett’s new sponsors Best Buy, Stanley and McDonald’s and a new team director with Rodney Childers. I thought about it over the winter and decided I wanted a new, fresh look for my Internet site.”

I guess it is a ‘fresh new look’, but is it really anything different than from years past? Thumbing through the site and all it’s promises, frankly, at this point there is nothing ‘new’ to it. Most of the ‘fresh new look’ and information was already available on the Sadler Fan club main page or the GEM web pages. In Sadler’s defense he does ‘cover’ this with this statement; “Obviously we’re launching the site before the 2008 season kicks off and we’ve included as much as we can but we want fans to come back often as we’ll have frequent updates and new sections coming soon.”

And come back they will, just as they did with the other ‘newest and greatest Elliott Sadler web sites’, at least they did until the ‘newness’ wore off, and the sites stopped being maintained. At least now the Goatfish has another website to maintain for a few months!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thumbing through the 2008 previews

Its that time of year again when the drivers, crews and teams are full of optimism and enthusiasm concerning the upcoming season. In the coming weeks at Daytona we will all get to hear the “driver’s speak” and spin first hand. But the other day, I took a bit of time to read what others were writing about ‘my driver’, Elliott Sadler, and just what was the pulse for the 2008 season. There were a few common themes that I noticed.

“Trouble in Turn Two” mentions that Sadler “At this point in his career arc might be in the Dale Jarrett late bloomer mold (compare their numbers through 9 seasons and there are similarities), or go the way of the dodo like a Jeremy Mayfield”. Talk about standing at the crossroads!

“The Frontstretch” gives an interesting preview but also feels that “2008 could be a do-or-die season for the veteran”. She also touches on a common theme (or excuse) that many like to fall back on with this, “Things were supposed to improve with an August infusion of cash by new team co-owner George Gillett. However, while the move appeared to boost momentum for GEM’s No. 9 car and Kasey Kahne, nothing seemed to help the No. 19 of Sadler get going.”

ESPN writes in their fantasy driver preview: “Somewhere Jeremy Mayfield is smiling…a year and a half into the Sadler Administration, and the No. 19 isn't any better off.” ESPN also mentions the ‘new money’ seen mid way last season, and the lack of results for the 19 team with this comment, “An infusion of cash from Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett Jr. was supposed to help Evernham last summer, but that improvement never came….”. Then there is this that is something that I commented on in the first third of the 2007 season and some of the Sadler faithful took offense to. “Sadler had three crew chiefs last year alone, but the third, Rodney Childers (who came over from the No. 10 in November) will hopefully stick around through all of '08…”. The revolving Crew Chief door is something that has to be addressed in order to turn the ship around; problem is, what is the reason for this? There is one constant that doesn’t seem to get changed.

But one of the most interesting pre-season takes came from Athlonsports: begin with “When you’re down and out, the only way to go is up”, followed by this very pointed comment. “Everywhere Sadler goes, he seems to do OK to start, but then it all falls apart. … He goes through a lot of crew chiefs and people, and he always seems to be the same. He’s the only variable, and yet’s he’s the only part that hasn’t been changed.”

Now for the most part almost every preview I have read feels that Elliott Sadler should improve from his 25th place finish of 2007 and I will 100% agree with that. Some can use the ‘sub par equipment’ excuse all they want, but that hall pass can only go so far. It was less than half way thru the 2007 season when Evernham made the public claims that their engineering software and premises were at fault. So a half a season later, that hall pass has been long expired.

It was just a year ago when ‘Spotterman' made the claim of “we are going to win SOME races this year”. That’s a plural SOME too. But how long will the new owner be willing to ride the storm out? That’s the million-dollar question. Interesting though, might be what the new owner considers ‘success’, to the race fan, much of the time means visiting victory lane every so often. Just consider this, it has been 120 races since the last time Sadler visited victory lane, and that is the longest stint in his Cup career.

The key to much of this just may lie within GEM and more specifically the #9 team. If Kahne is able to make a significant turn-around while the 19 still runs in the pack the clock maybe tick a bit faster. But if the #9 car continues it's struggles of the 2007 season, can and will Elliott Sadler use his now famous 'out' clauses and move on to some other race team? Chance are there is no out clause with this contract through.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The long wait is now over! I'm LOST!

The wait is now over. New LOST episodes are here and not a moment too soon. As I sat with eager anticipation in a state of high alert scanning every frame for hidden treasures and clues, I found myself feeling a little sad; sad that the infinite world of LOST has become very finite. We know the show is ending in 2010 and while that seems like a LONG way away it still saddens me to know that it will be over soon and from what we’ve seen what happens to our beloved Losties the future does not look so bright. So away we go with some observations of Season 4, Episode 1, “The Beginning of the End”.

Poor Hurley, he’s had a tough life even before he won the lottery with the mystery numbers he heard in the looney bin. Life has not improved for Hugo even off the island where he is now plagued with “visions” of a dead Charlie telling him, “They need you”. He had 2 ½ minutes of freedom before the news of Charlie’s demise reached him. In those 2 ½ minutes he was free from the curse of the numbers, free from feeling like a nuisance since he ran over a few of the Others with the hippy van last season and soon to be free from the island. 2 ½ minutes that was full of fun and cannonballs in the warm, comforting ocean. Poor Hurley.

Moving on from my sympathy for Hurley let’s discuss now what Season 4 has revealed so far. Let’s start in the future, or possibly our present.

Revelation #1 – What’s with Hurley saying, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m one of the Oceanic 6!” We know now how many made it off the island. We also know who half of them are, Jack, Kate and Hurley. So this leads to Question #1 – Who are the other 3? It would be nice if it were one of the couples, but I doubt that Sun/Jin or Rose/Bernard made it together because the pregnant problem on the island and let’s face it the age of latter.

With the first revelation another question popped in my head, Question #2 – Hurley said they are Oceanic 6, but Michael and Walt left the island at the end of season 2, and they should have been “found” by now if they stayed away from the island. I still think it is Micheal who dies in the season 3 finale where Jack reads the obituary. Micheal in order to protect himself from the two murders he committed on the island, played it safe and changed his identity. (He also had to do this in order to not have to explain his 'survival' of flight 815 and what happened to the other passengers.

Moving on to Revelation #2 – Jack is not “troubled” by leaving the island now as he was at the end of last season, which took place more in the future of this Hurley flash-forward. Jack's referring to 'I am thinking of growing a beard' (as seen in the season 3 finale flash forward) helps this theory. So now moving on to Question #3 & 4 – What are they lying about? and What causes Jack to go crazy even further in the future when he seems fine with burying his guilt or whatever it is now? In a way these questions are related, what horrific thing transpired that causes our now found Losties to want to “go back” to the island? Another interesting twist is Hurley told Jack that they need to go back and Jack refuses. In the future (end of season 3) Jack tells Kate they need the go back and Kate refuses, so even further in the future will Kate go crazy and say they need to go back? (I suppose this is Question #5)

Since we are on the subject of what happened? More questions arise. Question #6 – Who is Matthew Abaddon? (which strangely and eerily means: Matthew, “gift of the Lord” and “Abaddon” being a Hebrew “place of destruction,” or hell, according to Wikipedia. In Revelations it is personified as Abaddon, “Angel of the Abyss” or the angel of death. Creepy). So, does he work for the Others? Does he work for Dharma? Also, what about his question, “Are they still alive?” Well, are they? Wait, who is they? The Others? The people on the Freighter? The other Losties? What does it all mean??? I'm LOST!!!!!!

Question #7 – Do Jack, Hurley, Kate and whoever made it home return to the island to right the evident wrong of leaving the island? and if so, when would that be? The last season? If so, once we know all of the future events would they go back to flashbacks or even future flash-forwards?

Question #8 – Is LOST done with flashbacks and only sticking with flash-forwards? You be the judge. If you are keeping track I have way more than 8 questions, but I can’t number all of them, this is LOST after all! Plus, some important questions are not mentioned here (i.e., Jacob's cabin - Was that Christian Shepherd? sure looked like him; Is Charlie alive, cause some other dude it the mental place saw him?; to name a few) but I'm sure these will be revisited in the weeks to come.

Next week more on the ongoing saga that is LOST!