Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Light in the Piazza: The Baseball Quarterly Report

When last Friday Night's Mets game got rained out... it was time for the schedule makers to pull out their Palm Pilots (or Blackberries or BlackJack IIs) to try to figure out how to reschedule the game. Despite the teams close living arrangements, it is apparently tough to find an open date when both the Mets and Yanks are in town. In the old days they just played a regular old doubleheader the next day. But nowadays with so many sellouts on the calendar, the teams don't want to give up a home date so that means its time for one of those wacky day night seperate admission doubleheaders. With the Mets and Yanks... it means a 2 stadium double header... There have been 2 of them held in past years... the first ever was on July 8, 2000 and I was at both of those games!

The second game was rather notorious when Yankee starter Roger Clemens beaned Mike Piazza right in the head and knocked him out of the game. Fans at the game that night were buzzing.. we didn't have cell phones with internet access back then... and there was concern that Piazza might be out for quite awhile. As it turned out, he bounced back quickly from that beaning and that little Clemens-Piazza rivarly took a bizarre twist in the World Series later that year when Clemens threw a peice of Piazza's broken bat at him! Back then we thought that this was a tiff between 2 future Hall of Famers.. but now 8 years later... just days after Piazza retired, we have a situation where fans debate if Mike will wear a Dodger or Mets hat to the Hall.... while wishing Clemens would just go away. Clemens' involvement in the steroid debacle along with his alleged lies topped off with the recent revelation that he was involved in an extra marital affair with a jailbait country singer put us in a situation where the retired Piazza is looked at with great admiration, while the retired Clemens is looked at as an embarrasment to the game.

And Piazza is not only going to be remembered for his excellent hitting skills.. He has more homers than any other catcher in baseball history... a heckuva lot better than what the Mets had during the Junior Ortiz era... Piazza's dramatic home run in the 8th inning of the Brave game on September 21, 2001 the first game back after 9/11 finally gave New Yorkers something to be happy about again! And.... even though most of us Met fans have bad memories of the Yankees celebrating at Shea after winning the World Series... it was Piazza who came up with the tying run on base and hit a ball so hard that many thought that last out was actually about to be game tying home run.

And that leads us to today's Baseball Quarterly Report as we have passed the 40 game mark. Yep, even though Opening Day seems like it was just yesterday.. we are at the quarter point of the season..... The strike ruined TV season is over... American Idol has a new winner, and all 3 CSIs have cliffhangers involving key characters in deep doo doo. (By the way, if Caruso's character was saved by his sunglasses stopping the bullet,.. I declare the show has jumped the shark!). Lost still has another episode left where if we apply the Time Loop logic that a person can be in 2 places at the same "time", our rescued Losties are actually home AND still on the island. Anyway, Memorial Day and the official start of summer is just around the corner... Last weekend marked the beginning of interleague play... and the Sunday Night ESPN Met Yankee game which means we got to hear Jon Miller refer to the Mets outfielder as Carlos Beltraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan...

The Met Yankee interleague series is one of those things that generates a ton o' excitement in the NY Metro Area but just a collective shrug in other areas. And while there are other regional rivalries that generate a lot of buzz, locally, none is as exciting as the Met Yankee games and even that is a bit anti climactic after that 2000 World Series. You kind of miss George Steinbrenner... it seems like the natural aging process has taken over The Boss now that he has reached his late 70s.... considering he rarely speaks publicly anymore. (And has anybody heard any word on Yankee PA Announcer Bob Shepherd who has gotta be pushing 100... I know Neil Best interviewed him on his Watchdog blog back in March) If The Boss was his old feisty self, Kyle Farnsworth and Russ Ohlendorf would have been cut moments after their outings last weekend when the Mets exposed the Yankee bullpen as being extremely weak. They even scored a run off Joba Chamberlain!

So far there have been some interesting developments in the 2008 campaign. I have noticed through my rotiserrie team and those of others in my league that there are a lot of pitchers off to excellent starts and a lot of hitters who have just looked absolutely lost at the plate. The ERAs are sinking as are the Batting Averages. (My fantasy pitching staff has an ERA of 3.26 - a full run lower than it usually has in May). I have always noticed that pitchers are always on top of their game in the beginning of the season, but as the weather starts to get hotter, the pitchers tend to fall off the pace a bit and the hitters tend to take over and more runs start scoring. Perhaps that might be the reason that the hot weather based Florida and Texas teams are playing a lot better than expected. We are all quite surprised so far by The Tampa Bay Rays and the Florida Marlins while the giant payroll NY teams have been floundering around .500.

Amazingly enough, the two worst teams right now in the American League were expected to be contenders in '08 - Seatlle, Detroit and The Yankees. And when it comes to Detroit and The Bombers, both teams have terrific hitting, but their weak pitching has been exposed as a glaring issue for those teams and it shows by their disappointing 1st quarters. And while the Tampa Bay Rays have dropped the word Devil from their team name, the slumping Tigers closed business on Thursday with pitchers Kenny Rogers and Zach Miner sporting identical ERAs of 6.66!

Speaking of ERA.. if I was the commisioner of baseball I would make a change to the way relievers stats are kept. Forget that silly hold stat.. that is just a dopey stat used by agents to get big bucks for middle relievers. ERA can tell you something about a starter but in an incredibly misleading stat for a reliever.. What they should do is also post the average inning per outing.. (thats an oxymoron) so you can see the relativity of his ERA... Who cares about how many runs he gives up in 9 innings if he never pitches 9 innings? But if he has an ERA of 3.00 and he typically pitches 1 inning every time out... wouldn't you get a better grasp of his success by seeing that he typically gives up a run every third appearance??

In the early season, some young players have gotten off to terrific starts. Ryan Ludwick has been showing some power helping the Cardinals off to a decent start. Over in the American League, Josh Hamilton has lived up to his potential and has turned into a run producing machine. But the biggest overall surprise is how well some small market teams have performed... and oddly enough my preseason picks have not been too far off... except for the aforementioned Mariners and Tigers. who decided to go with a hitting team in a year where pitchers are dominating. Let's take a look back at my preseason picks from March to see how close I was to predicting the season.

In the National League... the Mets have been quite mediocre in '08... and Ryan Church who has made many of us forget Lastings Milledge now has his 2nd concussion which makes one worry about his ability to come back. Jim Edmonds has not been the same since his concussions, and Corey Koskie had to retire after suffering 2 of those tricky head injuries.

My surprise team - The Astros have played pretty well this season... and they along with the unexpectedly good Cardinals are giving the Cubbies a run for their money in the AL Central. Looking back at my NL Picks.... Philly, Chicago, Arizona and The Mets as a Wild Card.. its really too early to say that these teams won't be there. The Braves looked disappointing but after clobbering the Mets this week, they look pretty good even though their rotation will not have John Smoltz and Mike Hampton's comeback continues to look like a dream. One surprise so far.... has been the lousy performances in the NL West. The fact that the Padres and NL Champ Rockies are lower in the standings than the Giants shows that those 2 teams have fallen far since their marathon 1 game extra inning playoff thriller last year. Injuries to starting pitchers Jake Peavy and Chris Young might make this a very long season in San Diego. The Dodgers have played pretty well... their offense has some good young players in Matt Kemp and Blake DeWitt who are also on my fantasy team which by the way sucks again this year. They also have a rookie infielder named Luis Maza... no relation to local singing legend Avi Maza. Speaking of fantasy baseball, last year's 2nd place team was named Havana Gila in honor of my 2 Cuban players.. This year's Cuban less team took on a Hockey Legend angle when I named it Havana Guy La Fleur. .

Looking back my AL picks were not too spectacular although I did predict the good year Shaun Marcum was going to have. He has only allowed 36 hits in 64 innings. His bizarre outing on Sunday... 1 inning and out of the game after a lengthy rain delay makes some managers look very good who hold out starters on a rainy day so that a reliever starts... the rains come.. and then the starter comes in and tosses more innings after a rain delay. Nowadays, with day night doubleheaders and the unbalanced schedule, some teams make only 1 visit to certain cities so a lot of games get started in yucky weather... plus the Parking Lot Attendants make a few shekels off the fans who pay high stadium parking fees when they drive out to a game that later gets called due to rain.

I picked Boston, Detroit and Seattle as Division Winners with the Indians being The Wild Card. Oddly enough despite their slow starts, I wouldn't quite write off either Detroit or Seattle. The AL West is not that good... The A's got off to a good start, but the Angels seem to be the class of the Division. Their young catcher Mike Napoli is turning out to be quite the hitter... it brings back memories of a young California catcher named... Mike Piazza...


I have been meaning to comment on the Sue Simmons hullaballoo.. but the blogging schedule has been off lately since I started a new job last week. Nonetheless, I always thought that those promos are taped and that somebody might have played the wrong news tease tape. Whatever the case may be, I think the best all time live news snafu was this old Good Day NY Clip when Anchorman Jim Ryan and Reporter Dick Oliver engaged in this lively discussion.... the type of talk you never see among co workers.... It seems like Dick Oliver was half asleep during the interview and Ryan was not too thrilled....


Are the SNL writers Match Game fans too??

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Technology Shmecknology Part II: Are you Smarter than a Smart Phone?

One of the cool things about blogs is reading other peoples comments when it comes to technology and schmecknology. Even though the reviews in the professional publications are written quite well, I think you get a more honest review of the product when the writer actually uses his own shekels to purchase the product, and has enough time to learn how the gadgets work which often is not the case with a lot of these reviews that are written under tight editorial deadlines.

I got my phone about three weeks ago and I am still trying to get the hang of it to see what gimmicks will get used, and which are just going to sit there un-used. Every year (except for the strike ruined 2008) I always get a kick out of the new season of 24 to see all the cool gimmicks on Jack Bauer's cell phone. I used to think the show was making most of this stuff up, but now that I have researched this column, I have realized that a lot of these phone chotchkas actually exist.

I really liked my last cell phone, and up until very recently I had not planned on changing it. I wrote about it 2 yrs ago (see the archives from July 6, 2006), and aside from the nuisance of text messaging off a keyboard where 3 letters share a key, I really had no complaints. (Interestingly enough I had to call a friend at his office the other day, and when I had to spell out his name in the automated company directory, I was totally baffled because the numbers on the new phone have no corresponding letters!)

Shortly after getting my previous Samsung phone, I had taken a cool pic at my old condo of myself sitting with white framed pictures on a blue wall. The little blue and white ATT "G" network coincidentally landed right between the 2 white frames creating a very cool effect. But, for whatever reason, I deleted the pic from the phone (after saving it to my memory card) and once I sent it back from the card to the phone, I couldnt "stretch" the pic back to its old dimensions any more. Basically, once I lost the pic, I was ready to upgrade to a new phone.

At some point, the Red BlackJack II must have caught my attention and I started to research it. Aside from the fact that the keys are a lot smaller than other phones, I liked the idea that it has as an mp3 and media player, qwerty keyboard, calendar, and gps. Interestingly enough, I was chatting with Pumpstradamus the other day, and he had bought a smart phone last year but didn't like it because he likes to have separate gadgets, whereas I like to have all my chotchkes in one gadget. And now that I have had the phone for 3+ weeks, the odd thing is its usage as a phone is not really that relevant to me since I like the other stuff it can do.

I had gone to the ATT Wireless store at a local mall and the over caffeinated salesman animatedly pointed out all the stuff about the phone. My 2 questions were the price and whether it came with stereo headphones for the mp3 player. This was a big issue for me back in '06 when I bought the sgh-d807 and none of the ATT stores carried the headphones... and I already had found out that the Blackjack II Headphone jack didnt work with the '06 headphones. Two years ago, I had to buy them from a T-Mobile kiosk at the same mall and they only had it because that phone's headphones were compatible with another Samsung phone that T-Mobile was carrying. Ideally, in a perfect world, Cingular would have just used the same headphone jack on the Black Jack II that was used on the old phone.. but that was not the case. So now I was facing a 2-fold mission - does the phone have the headphones..... and if not.... would T-Mobile or Verizon rescue me??

Mr. Over Caffeination claimed it came with the headphones (at first he said it did not, but a less caffeinated salesman overruled him) and the price would be 200 dollars with a 100 dollar rebate. I decided to think it over a little bit, and ventured over to a local Best Buy to see what they could do. Best Buy was somewhat helpful; the saleswoman very kindly allowed me put the phone in my shirt pocket to see if it would fit there - this phone is bigger, fitting right in the palm of my hand, but weighs less than the '06 phone and fits in a shirt pocket. However, Best Buy told me that they did not carry the headphones and they didn't appear too knowledgeable if it was actually sold elsewhere in the store. Their price for the headsetless phone was 100 dollars straight up - no rebate.

As it turns out, Trophy Wife had obtained some free movie tickets, and after deciding to use them for the mediocre Superheroes movie, we realized we had some time before the movie to stroll along at the mall that houses the movie plex. I saw a Radio Shack and thought that it might not be a bad time killer to see if they carried the stereo headset. This mall was unfamiliar to me and as I asked them where the ATT Wireless store is, since I wanted to get the phone that matched the headset, the salesman brilliantly informed me that the Radio Shack was THE ATT wireless store in that mall. (He was fibbing, there was another one... )

Radio Shack had a good deal.. the salesman there seemed to have as much knowledge as the other guy had caffeine. They told me it would be 50 bucks with the headphones... and he could get the whole thing done for me in time for me to get my pre movie popcorn! I was all in.. psyched, happy and excited and as he rang me up and opened the box.. and there I saw it.... No headphones! The salesman was surprised to see it was not included and at that point.. I decided let's just go for it. He told me (and I later confirmed his truthiness) that the box they get is the same box that the ATT stores get, so if he didnt have the headphones... the stores would not have them either. I visited the kiosks for Verizon and T-Mobile and nobody had the headphones.... Apprarentaly the Red Black Jack II is the first phone to use this newfangled type of connection, so the other carriers didn't have those unique accessories in stock. I ultimately bought them on eBay.... and unlilke my Devils hat, I had them a few days later!

Speaking of the Devils, I saw in the newspaper this week that a judge has issued arrest warrants for 2 former Meadowlands based athletes... onetime NY Giant Bart Oates and former NJ Devil Ken Daneyko because they failed to show up to give depositions in a real estate lawsuit. The judge in Newark is Judge Michael Giles, who it was revealed a few weeks ago got into a bit of trouble for cursing in his courtroom. What happens if these 2 guys show up in court, and the judge roots for The Jets and The Rangers? Is he going to yell at them.... "You bastards....." etc.??

So far, I like the phone but it is important if you buy this phone to lock the keypad because when you walk around you are bound to start dialing numbers! This is my first venture into the world of "The Smartphone" and the number of things it does is quite impressive. Here are some examples in no particular order.

1. The usual telephoning.

2. A very addictive video game called Bubble Breaker. Trophy Wife and I have spent hours playing this crazy game where you try to clear a board full of bubbles by popping consecutive bubbles of the same color. The game is a lot of fun and has been gaining popularity among the smart phone game conosieurs. I finally cleared the bubble board... and that was it.... the game was over. No 2nd board??

3. The whole Outlook calendar synching routine is quite cool. Now I don't have to fire up my laptop to see what I have to do on any given day. Plus I am also starting to use the phone to directly type in my appointments.

4. While I was firing up my Outlook synching, it also enabled me to save some word documents which I could then transfer from my laptop to my desktop. It was a little more complicated than using a portable usb drive... but ultimately I was able to move files to the phone. In addition to that, its more than just a portable storage drive, because this phone allows you to edit documents right on the cellphone! Thats pretty nifty.

5. Another file to transfer - music and video. I have been using this as my mp3 player and unlike my '06 version there are no crazy rules about shortening lengthy song titles nor do you have to go to cumbersome extra steps to transfer music. You can also watch videos on a full screen. In addition I was able to transfer my microdisk card from the old phone (Even though the Radio Shack salesman erroneously thought it was corrupted - it had stopped working on my computer).

On the old phone I had to put the disk in a reader, and put that in the computer. But that was so 2006! On this phone it stays inside the phone and I can transfer files directly through a usb connector that goes from the phone to a computer. That disk is 1 gb and it holds quite a bit.. however as I have noticed from watching videos on the phone, the clear although small screen enables a person to watch downloaded tv shows or movies on the phones too! So off I went to eBay, and after comparing the 4 gb to the $23 offered on amazon, I jumped in on a few auctions late one night and jumped out once the ebay auction went over $23. After a few auctions I actually got it for less than 23 bucks and the whole bidding routine was kind of fun. I just wonder what kind of stuff I will load onto that new card and how the phones battery will be able to handle it.

One thing about eBay bully sales from last wk.... The guy who actually sent me the hat was left with a glowing positive feedback. Since I want to build up the positives to offset the negative from the other goniff, I was a little annoyed that this seller had not reciprocated. I checked his "feedback left" file and saw that he was only leaving negatives for people that had negatived him and no positives for the positives he had gotten. However, I got my positive by emailing him that I was interested in buying more stuff, but I only give repeat business to sellers who reciprocate my positive feedback. Within an hour, he left me a positive. I also heard that a lawsuit filed by a seller who was left a neutral against a buyer who never got his product. The neutral-ed seller sued for defamation of character. The case was thrown out of court!

And one note about the guy I mentioned last week. The tables were turned on him! He bought something, didn't get it... and the seller left him a negative! I guess what goes around, comes around.

5. GPS - this is cool. They have a subscription service that you can easily get around by downloading Google earth. All you do is go to Google Earth and they leave you with incredibly easy directions to get the program on the phone. I havent used it yet.. but its nifty. I guess its a good gimmick for drunk college kids who wake up and dont know where they are!

The phone also has internet access - I can read my blog on it. It also has an rss reader that I still have not quite figured out just yet.

6. It seems to be a lot of fun for people who are computer experts. I found some websites designed for the more advanced computer users... or the typical teenager... The sites teach you how to reprogram the phone to change all kinds of things, like the setup for the size of your ringtones file, to other crazy stuff like changing preprogrammed settings such as the log in page and the sound effects or any other minor nuance about the phone. Personally, I don't have much of an issue with these things and I don't feel a need to change their settings, but its interesting to see what type of options are available for cell phone geeks.

7. The camera - not a big deal for me... I actually prefer using a seperate camera. Here is a pic I took this weekend of the new CitiField on my new phone! My phone was so incredibly snazzy that the Reds got distracted and batted out of order!

Overall, I think the phone is fantastic and I would recommend the Red BlackJack II for anyone who is looking to jump on the smartphone bandwagon. And if you are ever on a long train ride with your wife... Bubble Breaker tournamets are a great time killer... and more productive than sitting through Superheroes movie!


I saw this on The Price is Right last week and I knew it was going to have to be put on the blog! By the way the 2nd contestant Kevin was a nice Jewish boy who wore his kippah and tzitzit on the show.

A similar situation also once took place on the original Bob Barker version...

Stay tuned for some big changes coming to my Podcast!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Technology Schmecknology: Selling and Celling Part I

Lost among all the news coverage of the Sean Bell verdict and this Reverend Wright who is singlehandedly trying to derail the Obama Campaign, was a little news story about a blogger who used a one word blog column to get himself out of jail. The trend among blogs, but obviously not this one, is to be as brief as possible. There is a site which I believe is called Twitter where people update their day to day whereabouts and activities. I have noticed that people do this on Facebook too. The guy who was trying to get his get out of jail card simply typed in one word - "Arrested" and yadda yadda he got bailed out of jail.

Today's column was originally supposed to have been a consumer review about my new Red BlackJack II cellphone. But, part of the column evolved into a lengthy commentary about purchasing cell phone accessories on eBay, so to follow Arrested Man's theme of brevity on the blog, I will split my phone review into a Lost-esque 2 part non-linear time line, commenting first about accessories and then in Part II, talking about the actual phone itself. This will also give me some more time to learn more about the phone and all the cool stuff it can do. And by the way, one Lost comment for this week - check out - it seems to have all the answers using a theory I mentioned in my previous column which was written before I had heard of the website! The theory of how a person can be in 2 places at one time is explained a lot better on that website.

A couple of comments about Wright and the question if the Bell non jury verdict was "right". This Pastor Wright has been plastered all over the media and he appears to be totally n-v-t-s, to paraphrase History of the World Part I. The more I listen to this guy, the crazier he sounds.. talking about such mashugas as people are anti-black church because they refuse to learn about how black band music is conducted vs, white band music. And he goes on and on and on. It's not the content of his comments that makes him nuts.. its the fact that he is riding that Obama connection media exposure to his own 15 minutes of fame, knowing full well that the more we hear him talk, the more this association hurts Obamas chances of winning. However, this whole situation could possibly work to Obama's advantange if it turns out that this Wright media tour was orchestrated by supporters of Hillary or McCain.

In the other big news story, when Al Sharpton in the post Sean Bell judge's verdict says he wants to shut the city down, why doesnt he shut something else down? His big fat mouth.

If Al is such a legal expert that he knows more about the law than the judge that presided over the non jury trial.... why didn't he use that legal expertise when he lost that huge case against the prosecutor he blasphemized during the Tawana Brawley hoax? Interestingly enough, since that judgement against Sharpton remains unpaid, one would think there is a lien against his house in Bergen County. And now that Sharpton has split with his wife, wouldn't Mrs. Sharpton be entitled to half the value of the house?? Yet, Sharpton cannot refinance or sell that house until he pays off the lien that is on his title. This is something that I have wondered about, since the Sharptons split but you don't hear Al talking about it much and Mrs. Sharpton has not made a vindictive You Tube video like that loonie kazoonie woman did a few weeks ago.

And I still don't get how it makes sense to "shut down the city". Innocent business owners who are struggling with a sinking economy and rising gas and food prices now can't make a living because of the judge's ruling? That doesn't mean Bell deserved to be shot...,... but when cops confront a guy using his car as a lethal weapon, and the witnesses allegedly don't tell the truth on the stand you wonder where Sharpton got his law degree from that he would know the law better than the judge.

Next week I will do my consumer review about my new cell phone.. but today I want to talk about getting those accesories at probably the cheapest place around for this type of stuff... eBay, First of all....I am quite pleased that eBay will be putting in that new rule this month that allows feedback to be left only by buyers for sellers, and not vice versa. This is probably quite unfair to certain sellers... but the current rule should have been that the moment a buyer pays for his item, he gets a positive score.. After all... what is there for a buyer to do... Pay... and after that the buyer's job is done except to get the package from the mailbox... open the package and hopefully leave a positive feedback for the seller. However, due to the numerous bully sellers out there, a lot of buyer's scores are getting slammed by negatives that they do not deserve.

Back on Saturday night March 15th, while trolling on eBay I bought a NJ Devils 2003 Stanley Cup Champion hat because I thought would be a good idea to wear during what I hoped would be a long run through the 2008 playoffs. Well I was wrong about that, and I was wrong to think I would have a hat! I bought it that day from a seller out of Canada... and as I have done with every other purchase I promptly paid through Pay Pal. Once it was paid, my theory is I should have automatically earned a positive score. However, a lot of sellers tend to wait to get their own positive feedback first and then they leave the positive score for the buyer.

After a week with no hat, I emailed him to ask about it and he told me that due to delayed shipping from Canada to the US, the hat was en route but delivery might be slow. Another week passed without the hat, and I again asked about it and again I got the same response. I emailed again at the 3 wk mark, with no response, and then as we approached the 4 week mark I first politely requested and ultimately demanded either a full refund or a postal receipt to prove that he actually mailed the hat. Once we hit the one month mark, and I had no hat nor a postal receipt... I had enough! I bought the same hat from another eBayer ... (which finally came in the mail today!) and I filed a complaint with Pay Pal. Within a day, Pay Pal reimbursed my money to me after the seller wrote them some kind of absurd excuse that he ran out of hats, but his parents in FL were supposed to have shipped it, but they forgot to get a postal receipt! Pay Pal saw right through that blatant lie, and they wired the money from his account into mine.

Even though, the seller should have gotten a negative for his refusal to answer emails and his lies. I did not leave him a negative feedback, I had gotten my $ back thanks to Pay Pal, so instead I left a neutral which doesn't affect his percentage, but I was quite honest. The feedback I wrote and this is a quote:

"Item never arrived; emails were ignored; Money refunded ONLY due to PayPal"

Then I realized the wisdom of the new Ebay policy, This shmuck left me a negative ending my DiMaggio-esque streak of having a perfect 100% score! In his comment he claimed that he offered me a free replacement (lie #1) and refunded my money on his own (Lie #2) ... I rebutted his lie on both my and his feedback sites... and now I eagerly await the new policy to take effect so honest buyers like myself will no longer be tainted by dishonest lying bullies like this guy who thought he would get away with keeping my hat by dangling the threat of ruining my perfect score over my head.

Since that time, I have closely reviewed his feedbacks, (and a bunch of other questionable sellers) and I see that he has replied to numerous neutral responses with negatives and each time it was the same thing - he lied about shipping, the buyer left him a neutral and this seller vindictively reciprocated with a negative causing a number of buyers to lose a perfect score. Obviously the score of the seller is more relevant than the buyer's score, sellers don't see buyers profiles prior to the transaction, and many buyers carefully scrutinize the feedback percentage before making a purchase. Even though the eBay buyers score is a matter of pride, I ended up doing more damage to his future selling strength with my neutral score and truthful comment than he did to me with his negative.

It was only a 20 dollar hat, but principle matters more than the money, and now thanks to this new rule, the era of bully sellers will finally come to an end. In a perfect world, every buyer should get an automatic positive once the item is paid for... but I guess technology and schmecknology are so advanced that it would be impossible for eBay to put such a rule into effect. The end of buyers feedback seems to be the fairest compromise. And the timing couldn't be better because cell phones have so many accessories and eBay seems the place to go to buy them.

Next week: The Red Black Jack II.

CLIP OF THE WEEK: As you might have noticed, I rarely watch American Idol. But I have heard that they are doing surveys on what the show can do to improve and snap out of its ratings slide. I found this video on You Tube (while futilely looking for the Greased Lightning - Gene Rayburn video from SNL) that proposes a combination American Idol - Match Game. I think this is going to be a love it or hate it clip... but frankly I found this hysterical!!