Today's "Beers with Bloggers" is with the author from Signal to Noise...because he is wary about how his bosses would react to his blog, we will use the pseudonym S2N....S2N lives in California and has a day job in journalism...he is a native of Iowa who spent plenty of Saturdays in Iowa City tailgating at and/or going to Iowa Hawkeye games...I want to thank S2N for his time...he was very quick to answer when I asked him to participate...
Q1. First off, how did you come up with the name Signal to Noise?
A. I took a music recording course in college, and the "signal to noise ratio" is an electrical engineering term that, when you're recording, compares the level of desired sound to background noise. Essentially, the name reminded me of a fancier way of saying "BS filter," and it really didn't box me in if I wanted to write about things other than sports.
Q2. How would you describe your blog?
A. The blog is just my ramblings and occasional attempts at humor on various sports topics, in the past it has handled politics, music, and entertainment, and may do so again. I fail repeatedly at trying to describe it as anything more than something I just do for fun and amusement.
Q3. You state on your blog that you are a big New York Mets fans. What are your thoughts about the Mets this season?
A. God, the Mets scare me so much right now this year. In Johan I trust, especially because he's coming over from a much more difficult league for pitchers and the NL East is not exactly a pitching-rich division (most of the teams don't really roll more than two or three deep in terms of studs rotation-wise.) David Wright will be consistently good and a possible MVP; Jose Reyes will figure out that you can't swoon towards the back end of the season, hopefully. The bullpen concerns me -- how the Mets get from Santana, Pedro, Maine, and Oliver Perez to Billy Wagner is really my question mark -- that is after wondering if Moises Alou, Carlos Delgado, and Carlos Beltran will make it through the season in one piece. After last season's collapse, anything less embarrassing is a bonus.
By the way, if people are asking "Wait, he was born in L.A. and still lives in California, how is he a Mets fan?", I have an explanation: my parents are both NYC natives old enough to remember the Dodgers when they were in Brooklyn. My family has quite a few sports fans who hold a grudge very well, and my dad raised me as a Mets fan.
Q4. With you living on the west coast, I have to ask, what are your thoughts about Joe Torre managing the Dodgers? Will he make a difference with the Dodgers? Do the Dodgers make the playoffs?
A. I think Joe Torre can and will make a difference with the Dodgers, but it won't be enough to make the playoffs. The NL West is a pitcher's division, and Arizona only got better by adding Dan Haren via trade to go with Brandon Webb. San Diego always pitches well, and the Rockies have good young arms.
Now, Derek Lowe and Brad Penny? Good arms. Jason Schmidt is a question mark after his injuries last season. The idea of Russell Martin, Jeff Kent, Andruw Jones, James Loney, and Matt Kemp forming the heart of an order looks really good on paper. The question is whether or not Torre can keep the players on the same page in ways Grady Little couldn't and avoid over-use of his solid bullpen. I think they finish second or third in the division right now, but they won't be sniping at each other when the season is over.
Also, Juan Pierre is stealing playing time from Andre Ethier because of a bad contract. I'm absolutely with the Fire Joe Morgan crew on this.
Q5. Real quick - Kobe, LeBron, or T.Mac for MVP? Make your case.
A. I'm a Kobe partisan, not because I'm a Lakers fan, but because he is showing more flashes of MJ and dealing with a line-up that has been in flux with injuries. This year, he's had some serious help, but he still makes that team go and obviously kicks it in higher gear when Bynum and now Gasol have gotten injured. LeBron has carried that Cavaliers team, but I would go Kobe -- perversely, it seems his trade outburst and obsessive competitive need that drove that made his team better. Plus, Kobe plays really, really good defense -- he takes pride in taking on the opposing team's top guard. That means a lot to me.
Q6. How far do you see the Los Angeles Lakers going in the NBA playoffs? What is their weakness?
A. If the Lakers don't get healthy and win a title this year, they'll do it next year. I want to say they will make the Finals, but there's always San Antonio to deal with before they get there. The Lakers' ideal line-up hasn't set foot on the court together yet (Fisher-Kobe-Odom-Pau-Bynum), and if they do, we've all got to see how and if it clicks in the post-season. I'll say conference finals right now. This team's weakness is injury -- Bynum's still out, Gasol got hurt recently (should be back soon), and Trevor Ariza was playing well off the bench when he got hurt a few months ago. They might be too banged up to be title contenders.
Q7. I have to ask you a football question. Do you think UCLA will become a force in college football now that Rick Neuheisel is their new football coach? What do USC fans think about Norm Chow now being the Bruins offensive coordinator?
A. I don't think we'll really know how Slick Rick will do in Westwood until his third season. I watched him coach in Colorado (I lived in Denver for several years as a teenager), and his slides always came when he got his own recruits in the program, about the third year or so. He'll probably do better this time because a) it's his alma mater, and b) there really is a need to have a competitive program in Westwood to battle the Trojans. There are and will be NFL-level blue-chippers who want to have a better chance at starting at a SoCal program. Neuheisel and the Bruins represent that opportunity.
I think it's an uphill battle for UCLA to become a power like Florida and Ohio State became a couple years ago -- legitimate title threats in both men's revenue sports -- because so much is dedicated to the school's basketball legacy. The school is willing to try, although it is rather telling that they wound up hiring the prodigal son after most of the big coaching names either said no because of money or did not get a sniff from the AD due to perceived or real salary demands. However, Neuheisel is saying and doing all the right things, and giving UCLA football a public face that Karl Dorrell just wasn't equipped personality-wise to do.
Generally, the public sense I get about USC fans' response to Norm Chow taking over O-coordinator duties at UCLA has been "Good for them; we need some competition." I haven't read any sort of Judas comparisons -- this is the Pac-10 we are talking about here, and while fans in L.A. are certainly passionate about college football, it's not quite at the level of SEC backers where the big university's athletics are the only game in town. I would bet the fire will actually start to really burn if and when the Bruins start being competitive again. I don't see that happening for another year, mostly due to a deficiency at the quarterback position.
Q8. I have to ask a non-sports question - Obama, Clinton, or McCain? Why?
A. I was an Edwards person earlier in the race, and I think Obama gets to more of his themes and seems to mean it. There's a lot to be said for inspiration from a candidate; he's the first interesting and compelling orator in politics that I have seen running for president. Policy-wise, I find he and Hillary Clinton are not terribly far apart.
I think Clinton is tied to way too many established interests via her own Senate terms and her husband's connections, and I don't like the continued dynastic succession that her election would essentially become. That doesn't mean I won't vote for her over John McCain; I think he has changed his positions on Bush's economic policy and conduct of the Iraq War in order to garner votes in the primaries. (I was opposed to the Iraq War from the beginning.)
Q9. Who are the five hottest women in sports and/or broadcasting?
A. Wow, that's a tough call. I'll list alphabetically:
- Erin Andrews (duh)
- Bonnie Bernstein (holds her own with NFL guys)
- Stacy Dales (I'm 6'2", I like tall women)
- Maria Sharapova (more duh)
- Serena Williams (you can make cracks about the muscles all you want, but she's always been attractive to me)
I realize my list is fairly standard.
Q10. Last question, this segment is called "Beers with Bloggers." So what are some of your favorite brews? What are some beers that you like that may not be well known nationally?
A. I drink a lot of Guinness (my favorite bar is an Irish pub), plenty of Newcastle, and prefer Coors when I'm drinking cheap. I like drinking locally, and the Firestone-Walker Brewery is a very good one. I have friends and co-workers who have worked there, and it's great stuff. My favorite is the Pale Ale, but you can't go wrong with the Double Barrel Ale either. Sierra Nevada is better known nationally, and that's always been a favorite.
Once again, I want to thank S2N for his time...and I truly understand you wanting to stay anonymous...