Saturday, May 20, 2017

Moore League showdown: Who has the best baseball website?

Wilson and Lakewood high schools are the clear winners in a comparison of  Moore League baseball team websites. Both Wilson and Lakewood have robust and up-to-date websites packed with information about their respective teams.

For most organizations, the website is the face seen by the public, and sports team are no exception.. Parents, players and fans who want to know more about a school's baseball program will likely go online first.

Both Wilson and Lakewood show what can be done by making a smart commitment to your team's site. The professionalism and thoroughness of the sites reflects well on the teams and the schools.

At the other end of the spectrum, three schools -- Millikan, Compton and Cabrillio -- have basically no baseball site at all. Each of them seems to have made a half-hearted attempt at some point to create an online presence, but apparently gave up. Anyone looking for information on those teams will find empty shells of websites that serve only as an embarrassment to the schools.

The Moore League has seven high schools -- Wilson, Lakewood, Long Beach Poly, Jordan, Compton Millikan and Cabrillo. Here's a detailed look at each school's baseball team site:

Wilson
Grade: A+
This team actually has two websites. The team's page on the school's website has pictures of the varsity, JV, and frosh/soph squads, plus a varsity schedule. There are also links to Gazettes.com game stories, photos and videos.

Even better is the team's outside website (linked to from the school site), which has full results, names and contact info for the coaches, a calendar that includes upcoming playoffs, a ton of game photos, a message board, rosters and even a page showing pictures of alumni who have gone pro.

Lakewood
Grade: A-
Lakewood can also be pretty happy with its baseball's team's its online presence. The team has an outstanding stand-alone outside site (separate from school's website) that features an up-to-date schedule, results, photos, videos and rosters. and biographies of all the coaches. The "team stats" and "players stats" pages are both blank, which is disappointing, but that would have been a bonus.

The team's page on the school website is modest, with only a couple photos and a schedule that's not quite up-to-date. Also, it lacks a link to the outside site, so some people who aren't aware of the other site may stop here and feel let down.

Long Beach Poly
Grade: B-
Poly takes a different route. The team's school website page is mostly blank. The link to the "varsity schedule" is broken. Oddly, the link to the frosh and JV schedule does work. The coach's name and email address are posted, but there are no rosters and no results..

But the Poly team does have a Twitter account that seems to be frequently updated.  The team should post a link to that account on the school site's page to make it easier to find.

Jordan
Grade: D
The official page has a rather random collection of pictures without captions. It lists the athletic director but not the coach. There is no schedule and there are no results.

Millikan
Grade: F
The team page on the school's website has nothing but two schedules from a previous year. Under "News," it lists "Millikan Dance Auditions" (huh?). If you dig around on the Internet, you can find at Twitter page that labels itself as the "Official Page for Millikan Baseball Program" but as of this writing, it has only one posting from the prior six months. And that one post dealt with University of Oregon baseball.

Compton
Grade: F
Compton has one page with a baseball schedule, but it's not going to be much use since it's not the current year's schedule. No indication what year it is. There is nothing else on the page. The coaches' names are not listed there or on a separate "Coaching Directory" page (which is "under construction").

Cabrillo
Grade: F

The school's website directs you to an outside website for the baseball team. That link takes you to a page that says "Page Not Found."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book review: "The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness"

In Paula Poundstone's new book, her pain is our gain.

Poundstone, a standup comic who often appears on NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me," finds her humor in the absurdities of everyday life. Large parts of her standup shows are improvised conversations with audience members.

This isn't a type of humor that easily translates to book form, but Poundstone has cleverly chosen a gimmick that offers a forum for her digression-heavy observations.

She's also chosen a mouthful of a title. "The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness" does not roll of the tongue easily

In the book, Poundstone sets off a on a fitful search for something that will make her happy. There's a lot that's not right in Poundstone's life -- trouble with her kids, trouble paying the bills, no sex -- so she willing to try some "experiments" to find the secret to happiness.


"Where could it be? Is it deceptively simple? Is it on a bumper sticker?," she wonders. "Does it melt at a certain temperature? Can you buy it? Must you suffer for it before or after? It had better not be one of those rip-off answers as in 'The Wizard of Oz': 'You always had the power.' If Glinda knew that, she should have said so earlier. The Good Witch of the North had a cruel streak."

To find happiness, she tries dancing lessons, renting a Lamborghini, spending a whole day watching movies with her kids, getting a professional to organize her house, taking tae kwon do classes, and attending meditation classes. Among other things.

Some of these do bring her some happiness, at least temporarily,  but that's not what's important. What is important -- for humor purposes -- is that things don't go smoothly. Each episode gives Poundstone plenty of opportunity to wander off topic, admit her shortcomings and point out the ridiculousness around her. Plenty of laughs follow. 


At one point, Poundstone discovers a class on interpersonal communication -- that is taught online.

"We are in big fucking trouble."

Maybe she doesn't really want to find happiness, she admits.

"I have often feared that if I were ever really happy I wouldn't get a parking space for a long time." 

Poundstone revels in self-deprecating humor. It's funny to see her stumbling around as a parent, or trying to learn how to operate a computer. Still, there's an undercurrent of real sadness in this book.

She lost a home she owned, she says, and now rents. She has serious issues with two of her three children. She's shunned by other parents at her kids' school. Her underwear has holes in it. She doesn't have sex; she doesn't like it. Her house is a mess of debris and cat fur -- she has 14 cats -- and much of her daily focus is on emptying litter boxes.


Sure, maybe she exaggerates. But I'm not so sure. Maybe being famous like Paula Poundstone isn't a ticket to happiness. But you'll be happy you read this book.

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