Monday, September 29, 2014

Orioles/Tigers. A different view

First of all, the Tigers have a huge advantage going in, and it has nothing to do with starting pitching. The Orioles will be without the services of three of their best position players. Manny Machado and Matt Wieters are out for the season with injuries, and slugger Chris Davis still has 8 games to go on his "drug" suspension.

Davis was slapped with a 25 game suspension a while back for using, of all things, Adderall.  That particular medicine is used in treating ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The symptoms can range from a short attention span, to constantly fidgeting, and even narcolepsy.

But in their post-steroids witchhunt overreach, Major League Baseball has deemed Adderall a banned substance.

Unless one gets permission to use it. Davis had that permission last year from MLB but, oops, he forgot to ask pretty please for a renewal of his MLB prescription, used it anyway, because his symptoms haven't changed and likely never will -- so he got busted. It was OK last year, but not this year? And only because he didn't ask for permission? Hypocrisy anyone?

Nevertheless, a short attention span might be a good thing in baseball. If a player strikes out while at bat or makes an error in the field -- best to forget about it and move on.

And it's certainly understandable why a batter might be fidgety in the batter's box when a potential 100 MPH fastball might be heading his way in a couple seconds. But a sudden attack of narcolepsy? Imagine.....

The game is tied in the bottom of the ninth. Bases loaded. Two outs. The count is 3-2. Here comes the windup, the runners are off and -- wait a minute -- Chris Davis is taking a nap on home plate. Good luck trying to sort that out. Methinks it would have been a lot simpler to let the dude have his meds.

Though the Orioles will have home field advantage in this series, somewhat surprisingly, the Tigers had a better record on the road than at home this year. And c'mon, home court, ice, or field might juice up players in basketball, hockey, or football, but it really means little in baseball. That's likely because there's no such thing as momentum in MLB. There's typically 20-30 seconds between every pitch and even when a ball is hit, the play lasts for only 10 seconds or so -- then it's back to the same plodding pace. Fans may jump up and scream when one of their home town heroes hits a home run, but after it's over, they usually have enough time to reload with hot dogs and beer before something else happens. The nature of the game features a lot of things -- but momentum isn't one of them.

Back to the match-up itself. As mentioned above, the Tigers go in with a huge advantage due to a few Orioles players not being available. Removing Machado, Wieters, and Davis from the equation might be akin to the Tigers being without Ian Kinsler, and a Martinez or two. Had that been the case for a while, the Tigers might well have not won their division at all.

Yet somehow, the Orioles not only persevered, but actually finished 6 full games ahead of the Tigers at the end of the regular season. That's a bunch.

Prediction. Methinks the Tigers will dispatch the Orioles. Who wins the wild card play-in game between KC and Oakland doesn't matter. Either will fall to the LA Angels in a 7 game playoff.

So it will be Ye Olde English D's taking on the Halos for a shot at the World Series.

And that's where it ends for the Tigers. The fact the Angels finished a whopping 8 games ahead of the Tigers, for the best record in all of MLB, is no coincidence. Top to bottom, they're a superior club.

Food for thought for Tigers' fans -- who do you think most of the talking heads, deep-pocketed sponsors, and other movers and shakers would rather see in the World Series? Your team, or one from LA? Do you think they'd prefer to talk about Miguel Cabrera, a Venezuelan, or Mike Trout, the All-American boy?

But the playoffs are the playoffs. Anything can happen.

Let the games begin......


Sunday, September 28, 2014

The demise of professional boxing

For a very long time, boxing was a very big deal in the American sports world. The list of notable pugilists over the decades is long indeed. Back in the days before televisions even existed, many legends had carved out their spots in American boxing history. Think of Jack Dempsey, Gentleman Jim Corbett, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Marciano, and the mighty Joe Louis to name a few.

Yours truly wasn't around in the pre-TV days, though as a young boy, I do have memories of watching a black and white set with rabbit ears on top and only 4 channels to choose from. Obviously, this was long before cable, dishes, and TV coming through a phone line was ever even imagined.

Yet, believe it or not, wireless remote controls existed back in those days. How do I know this? Because I WAS one for my late beloved dad.

Get me a beer, boy.
Turn it to channel 2, boy.
Go help your mom with the dishes, boy.
The picture's fuzzy, boy. Fix the rabbit ears.
Turn it up, boy.
Stop walking in front of the TV, boy.

But dad, I have to -- to get you a beer or help mom in the kitchen.

You heard me, boy.

Ah yes, the good old days. And Friday night was a holy time in our household. At least to dad. Some razor blade company, either Schick or Gillette -- I forget which -- featured the Friday night fights. Dad was into boxing -- in a big way. Those were times for us remotes to get like Elmer Fudd -- be vewy, vewy quiet. One time, during a particularly very good match, I forget who the competitors were, I actually went out of the front door, walked around to the back to fetch a beer in the fridge, then reversed course to present it to dad in the living room -- so I wouldn't walk in front of the TV. We remotes had to improvise at times.

But in the 1970s, I got into following boxing myself. Over the next couple decades, there were a lot of world-class guys to root for or against. Danny "Little Red" Lopez, only a featherweight, was one of my favorites. Hector "Macho" Camacho was certainly famous, as was Julio Caesar Chavez. Going up a few pounds, there were the likes of Roberto "Hands of Stone" Duran, Tommy "Hit Man" Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, and "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler.

And oh my, the heavyweights were everywhere. Besides Ali, consider Smokin Joe, George Foreman, the Spinks brothers, and Ken Norton. Even Jerry Quarry was a household name. Later on, along came the likes of "Iron" Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes, to name but a few. Boxing was STILL a big deal.

Yet as we all know, though it's still out there, pro boxing has all but disappeared as a mainstream sport over the last decade or two. Even Olympic boxing every 4 years has been relegated to back-burner status compared to what it used to be.

How or why this happened in America is a very good question. Did fans just grow tired of the sport? Maybe. Or did all the shady back room deals involving promoters, highly controversial decisions that went against the apparent winner of a match, and seemingly every even semi-successful fighter having his own "posse" of wannabes and thugs following him around everywhere finally turn people off?

And let's get real. Boxing always was, and is the only sport where nobody knows what the score is until it's all over. That's ridiculous. Even more outrageous is the fact that the ringside triumvirate of "judges" are free to go back and change their scores in a particular round that happened earlier. That not only sets the stage for possible corruption, but invites it. Unlike the umps in baseball, and refs in football, basketball, and hockey, boxing judges largely remain in the shadows.

The most obvious thing they should have corrected a long time ago is the scoring itself. Beginning with the first, after a round is over, the scores of the judges should be posted on a scoreboard for all those in attendance to see, and certainly not subject to change later. It's preposterous to think that could happen in any other sport. The score is what it is, inning by inning, quarter by quarter, round by round, and even second by second. So SHOW IT in real time. What's the problem?

Nevertheless, for the above and likely other reasons, pro boxing has all but died in this country. Don't believe that? OK, quick, name a famous boxer not named Floyd Mayweather in ANY weight division, and he's 37 years old. See what I mean?

Sure he was, and is a great champion. But even Mayweather, with all his millions, undefeated record, and bravado is withering away in the public eye. In order to watch one of his latest fights, one had to pony up $79.95 or whatever to catch it on a cable station. Even more telling is there was little coverage either in print media or on the Net as to the outcome of his latest match.

Floyd may still be raking in the millions but he, and all the others, can't even seem to find their way onto TV sets in most homes.

Methinks sometimes the old days were better. At least we could watch it on TV for free, even if it was in black and white, and had to forever twiddle with rabbit ears to get decent reception.

Maybe one Friday night soon, I'll make a pilgrimage to my dad's grave. I have this very old long neck bottle of Pfeiffer that I could rest against his tombstone. I think he'd like that.

We remotes never totally forget our place.....

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The utter stupidity of Michigan football

As the program continues to flounder deeper into the depths under head coach Brady Hoke, it appears, incredibly, that Michigan has given him a long term (7 year) contract extension. Unbelievable.

Even more mind-boggling is Hoke, at $6 million a year, is the highest paid college coach in the country. And the university is on the financial hook for this clown through the year 2021. Money's not a big deal at Michigan. They've got tons of it, but one would think, at some point, the common sense factor would kick in. Evidently not.

UM athletic director David Brandon explained it this way -- "yesterday's performance against Utah was so impressive we decided we had to act fast to keep Brady in Ann Arbor". Earth to David -- the Utes hammered your Wolverettes 26-10 in your own house. If this is impressive to the good Mr. Brandon perhaps he should be closely monitored for the possession and usage of mind-altering drugs.

Oh, it gets even stupider. Brandon seems to think UM is only a couple seasons away from competing for a national championship. To wit -- "once we learn how to score offensive touchdowns and get our turnovers under 4 a game -- we'll be unstoppable". Well gee, David, thanks for the flash of brilliance. We fans would have NEVER thought of that. Maybe when his time is done at Michigan, Brandon can get a job with the Fords overseeing the Detroit Lions as GM or president. Great minds think alike -- right?

And just when you think the absolute max of lunacy has been reached -- along comes Brady Hoke himself with a few more words of wisdom. He disagrees with Brandon's opinion of a couple years until glory returns. The Hokey Pokester came out and said the Wolverines have a shot at the national championship THIS year. Evidently, the $40+ million contract has sent him off into a strange world of insanity not even the likes of Rod Serling, Stephen King, or Isaac Asimov could have ever imagined.

So let's see. Michigan beat a couple patsies at home in Appalachian State and Miami of Ohio. They got "mercied" 31-0 at Notre Dame. As mentioned above, the Utes came into their Big House and gave them another thrashing. And just yesterday, the Minnesota Golden Gophers reclaimed the "little brown jug", on Michigan's home field, for the first time in a very long time, with a 30-14 beatdown of the Maize and Blue. Actually, the score should have been even more lop-sided. Minn got jobbed out of a safety in Mich's end zone, and one of their corners had an easy "pick 6" on one of several errant UM passes -- but dropped the ball.

Next week UM goes to Rutgers. While not a national power, the Scarlet Knights aren't exactly a patsy either. They'll likely be favored at home, and it's entirely possible UM will be taken to the woodshed again.

Then UM comes back home for Penn State. That's a maybe.

The following week, it's off to the slaughterhouse, aka Michigan State. "Little brother" has grown up to be a brute, and if "little sister" Mich is getting waxed at home by the likes of Utah and Minn, how ugly might it get for them in East Lansing?

Given the way they're played so far this year, and looking at the rest of their Big 10 schedule, it's not out of the realm of possibility UM could go totally winless in their conference. Such is the sorry state of their program right now.

But never fear. Brady thinks a national championship is still within reach this year, and his boss David thinks it will happen no later than next year.

There's confidence. There's arrogance. And then there's the utter madness that sometimes sets in when one snaps and totally loses touch with reality. What comes after utter madness?

I don't know either, but whatever it is, they seem to be stricken with it in Ann Arbor.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Detroit Tigers and the playoffs

Remember earlier in the year when the Tigers were projected to run away with the AL central division race? They supposedly had the best starting pitching rotation in all of baseball, sluggers galore, and had even added free agent and former All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler. At the trade deadline, they picked up ace pitcher David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays. Plus, J.D. Martinez, who was merely a cast-off from the lowly Houston Astros, suddenly turned into a hitting machine upon arriving in Detroit. It should have been a no-brainer.

But it wasn't. With only a couple games to go, the Tigers STILL haven't won their division, though their "magic number" is one. Worse case scenario for the Tigers? They don't win another game and Kansas City doesn't lose another game. In that case, they would tie for the division lead and a one game playoff would happen. Whoever lost that game would be relegated to "wild card" status, and face yet another one game playoff against the other wild card team, the Oakland As. Winning two crap shoots in a row is risky business.

Yet let's assume the Tigers finally eke out the Royals for the division championship. What are their chances in the long run to keep moving on?

The Baltimore Orioles have pretty much slugged their way into the AL east crown. In fact, while flying under the radar, don't look now, but the O-Birds have the best record in all of baseball. A full 14 games ahead of the Tigers. Former skipper Earl Weaver would have been proud.

The Los Angeles Angels, with Mike Trout and company, are certainly more talented from top to bottom than the Motowners. The "halos" have great starting pitching as well, including a bullpen far superior to the Tigers. Sluggers? The Angels have a few of their own. Defensively, the Angels are as good or better than anybody else in MLB. Plus, they have one thing the Tigers do not. All-around team speed.

The fact they're a whopping 9 games ahead of the Tigers in overall team standings is no coincidence. These guys are that good. How a potential seven game Detroit/LA playoff series would turn out is anybody's guess.

But look closer at the Tigers, particularly their starting pitching. Max Scherzer is cruising along to another great year, though why he turned down a $140 million contract extension continues to boggle the mind of yours truly. It's not like he's going to get any more some place else. Maybe he just wants out of Detroit. Color him gone after this year.

Justin Verlander has had a rather jouneyman season, barely above .500. Hot shot Rick Porcello started off on fire, but in the last couple months has been losing more than he's winning. He stands barely above .500 himself. Same with David Price. He always appears dominant when he pitches, but his record since joining the Tigers (3-4) speaks for itself. Anabel Sanchez spent a long time on the disabled list and, even if he's finally healthy again, the Tigers don't know what to do with him.

Granted, the Tigers have had a very successful September to date. The glass half full scenario would suggest it's the mark of a good team when somebody different, however unlikely, steps up every day to make a key contribution that results in a win. The glass half empty scenario would suggest they're getting it done with smoke, mirrors, and a healthy dose of luck.

How will all this play out for the Tigers when the playoffs start? No idea. After 160 games, the records would indicate they're not nearly as good as the Angels and Orioles. And even in the National League, the Dodgers and Washington Nats appear to be vastly superior. (More about that in a future post).

But you never know when the playoffs start. The Tigers could be quickly bounced, or maybe even go on to win, gasp, the World Series.

Ten teams will start the playoffs, and that's exactly the odds I give the Tigers of winning it all.


This is not to say the baseball playoffs drag on for a while (see cha-ching), but it's not even October yet. Chances are good you'll be handing out candy on Halloween and still not know who the World Series champion is. After all, there was a reason Derek Jeter was recently referred to as Mr. November......

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Derek Jeter's finest accomplishment

It couldn't have been scripted any better. During his last game at Yankee Stadium, after the Baltimore Orioles had rallied to tie the score in the top of the ninth inning -- Jeter drove in the winning run with one of his trademark opposite field singles in the bottom of the ninth. The Bronxers went crazy.

It seems like it's always been that way with Jeter. When the heat is on, he delivers. Captain Clutch. What's ironic is, during his entire career with the Yankees, the above was the first game he had played in a game at home with his team already eliminated from playoff contention. There will be no typical October heroics for Jeter in this, his final season. It's a shame he won't be given a chance to go out on top with another World Series championship, but it was not to be.

Even the most rabid Yankee-hating fans wouldn't dispute Jeter's greatness over the years. Certainly, he'll be an absolute lock for first ballot Hall of Fame induction when he becomes eligible in 5 years. He might even accomplish something no player in the history of the game ever has before. Unanimous selection. Time will tell, but probably not. There will likely be a few voters that leave him off their ballots as a matter of principle. Perhaps they will have a point. After all, if the likes of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Ted Williams weren't "worthy" of a sweep, then why should Jeter be the first? Even the top vote-getter, percentage-wise, of all time, one Tom Seaver, was left off 5 ballots. Was Jeter better than those guys?

Nevertheless, Jeter has had a remarkable career. Besides his 5 World Series championships, and a dozen or so All-Star selections, he's #6 on the all-time hits list. His career batting average is actually slightly better than #1, Pete Rose, but Charlie Hustle played a few more years than Jeter. As did Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, and Tris Speaker -- the only players with more career hits. (Though to be fair, Cobb's .367 lifetime batting average stands far and above the rest, and Stan the Man's .331 was definitely a cut above Jeter's .309).

There is also ZERO doubt Jeter's #2 will be retired by the Yankees. Nobody will ever wear it again. Oddly, or maybe not, #2 is the only single digit number that has not already been retired by the Yankees. The Yanks are big on immortalizing past heroes. Consider the others ---

#1. Billy Martin
#3. The Babe
#4. Lou Gehrig
#5. Joe DiMaggio
#6. Joe Torre, just recently
#7. The Mick.
#8. In honor of both Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey.
#9. Roger Maris.

#10 is gone as well for Elston Howard, as are a slew of other numbers for various former pin-stripers.

Jeter definitely belongs in the club. But he did something even more remarkable over his long and distinguished baseball career.

Remember, Jeter was there throughout the infamous "steroid era", but nobody has ever suggested he was even remotely involved. Further, he's a handsome guy, and a superstar that was making countless millions of dollars. It's a safe bet to assume Jeter has had his fair share of "offers" from the fairer sex over the years, up to and including many which might be considered by some to be world-class cuisine. Yet he's remained single, and we've never seen his name splashed around the tabloids because he's "seeing" somebody, and they just became an "item". For all the legions of newshounds and paparazzi that would like nothing better than to sink their slimy little teeth into such a story -- it never seemed to happen. For all his on-field heroics, Jeter was a master of keeping his private life just that -- private.

So all hail the fantastic career that Derek Jeter had as a baseball player. A worthy Hall of Fame inductee indeed.

But his finest accomplishment might well have been playing 20 years in the high-profile zoo that is New York and, never once, during all that time, could anybody find the slightest bit of dirt to associate him with. And you just know there were many over the years that were digging as hard as they could trying to find something -- anything -- to take the shine off of Jeter. But they never could, because what they were looking for wasn't there.

Turns out, every once in a great while, a superb athlete and an all-around nice guy come in the same package.

Imagine that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Red Wings arena. A huge scam

First of all, there's not a damn thing wrong with Joe Louis Arena. It's only 35 years old, structurally sound, has no obstructed view seats, and all the amenities, including luxury suites. Too boot, it's served by the "people-mover", a mini-railroad mass-transit system that snakes around downtown Detroit with stops at or near various places of interest.

But evidently, this isn't good enough for the Ilitch family, which own the Red Wings. They want a brand new arena. Why? Likely a couple reasons.

The "Joe" is located on the Detroit riverfront. Once the "hot spot" in town, it is no more. That honor has passed on to the "Fox" district. It includes the Fox theater itself (which Ilitch owns), the Fisher theater, Comerica Park (which Ilitch also owns), and Ford Field, amongst other attractions. The Fox district is to Detroit what the strip is to Las Vegas. What Steve Wynn is to Vegas, Mike Ilitch is to Detroit. And the pizza man wants another sports palace built in his high-priced stomping ground to house his hockey team. Remember how the Jeffersons were so proud of movin' on up to the East Side? It's like that with Ilitch and the Fox district. But unlike Ilitch, George and Weezie didn't own the building. A slight difference.

And, of course, the finances. It always boils down to the money. Though a commenter on this site said Ilitch would be paying 81% of the cost for said new arena, further research suggests otherwise. It appears he will only cough up roughly 53% of the estimated $550 million. And you just know there will be cost overruns, because there always are. After all, when's the last time you heard of a major project like this coming in on time and on budget? It NEVER happens. So let's say $600+ million.

And what of the remaining 47%? Who pays for that? That's where things get really complicated. The deal on the table so far involves everything from tax-exempt bonds, to 30-year bonds, to property taxes, to school taxes, and money that would have gone to pay for city services like police and fire. Throw a huge bank in the mix while all this money is subjected to being "captured" by one entity or another -- and good luck sorting it out. Even the powers that be have admitted it's somewhat "convoluted". In other words, the average tax-payer doesn't have a prayer of sorting it out. But you can bet he/she will wind up paying for a great deal of it in the end. Such is the way billionaires operate these days.

Often, a legal procedure called "eminent domain" comes into play. By definition eminent domain is The power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property.

Eminent domain is a necessary evil for serving the general welfare of the public. Take I-75, for example. It runs from Miami to Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan's northern peninsula, some 1786 miles. No doubt, countless thousands of people had to forfeit their houses/properties along the way for this interstate to be constructed. But it truly serves the public good. Millions of vehicles traverse it every year.

But though technically allowed under the above definition, it just seems wrong that a "private person" (see Ilitch) can use the same to commandeer private property in his pursuit of building an unnecessary new bauble. It would be one thing if he was paying for 100% of it all, and giving the evictees due compensation for their forced forfeitures. But he won't be. Given the further above cluster**** when it comes to financing, expecially considering the cesspool of how money moves around and disappears in Detroit, one way or the other I suspect the taxpayers will be on the hook for at least $300 million. 

And that's just wrong. If Ilitch wants a new castle for his hockey team -- then he should pay for it -- ALL of it. It's not like he can't afford it. 

Remember the late Bill Davidson? He owned the Pistons. Sick of Detroit, he moved them to the Pontiac Silverdome, which was the recently constructed stadium for the Detroit Lions. Realizing the "sight lines" weren't so hot for basketball, Willie D bought up a big chunk of land out in the burbs and built the Palace -- all with his own money. He likely could have leaned on politicians to soak the taxpayers -- but he didn't. That was a class act by another very rich guy. The Palace remains a state of the art facility to this day. As does Joe Louis Arena. Whether the Pistons or Red Wings are competitive in their respective sports or not is irrelevant to this conversation. A new arena isn't going to make them any better.

Methinks one Mike Ilitch should take a page out of Davidson's playbook. If he wants a new arena, then pay for it. Lock, stock, and double what the properties of the evictees were worth. No shenanigans with various bonds and taxes that will eventually land at the feet of the very same people he'll want to patronize his latest creation, to pad his already bulging bank accounts even further.

Better yet, build it out in the burbs like Davidson did. Let's get real. Given the outrageous cost of Red Wings tickets, and the state of Detroiters in general, not a whole lot of them can afford to go to the games anyway. Most of the attendees have come from the more affluent suburbs for many years now. And the guess here is, given a choice, they would rather not have to go to downtown Motown to watch a game.

But in the end, sometimes there's no getting away from the greasy factor. Whether it's politics, an owner's hair, or the product that made him rich in the first place.......

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Irritating Detroit sports things

Evidently, yours truly is missing out on a bunch of videos. Some of them might even be good. Why? Because when clicking on such, I will not, repeat WILL NOT be force fed an advertisement for 20-30 seconds before being allowed to see the video that should have popped up in the first place. I understand the need for ads. They pay bills. But make them optional, not mandatory. Put them off to the side where a user can make a choice whether or not to pay attention to them. Making them a prerequisite to viewing what one originally clicked on is not only wrong -- it's insulting.

The Detroit Tigers' hype is getting old. Their media is counting down their "magic number" to either clinch the AL central division crown or qualify as a wild card team. Hey, enough with the former Cy Young winners, MVPs, and even a triple crown winner a while back. And enough with blockbuster trades and free agent signings. If they're all that -- show me a World Series championship -- which, BTW, they haven't won in 30 years.

Same with the Detroit Lions. They beat a bad NY Giants team at home, lost to a pretty good Carolina team on the road, then beat the Packers at home. This might be the year, quoth the ever-faithful Honolulu blue and silver lemmings. No, it is not. But hey, miracles have been known to happen. Bottom line? A Lombardi trophy is asking too much. But until the Lions are at least in the NFC championship game in January -- they can spare me the hype, because I tuned it out long ago. If memory serves me correctly, late USA olympic hockey team coach Herb Brooks once famously said -- fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Good grief, Lions' fans have bought into the same snake oil hocus-pocus nonsense every year since Eisenhower was President -- even as the ticket prices keep going up. What kind of fools are THEY?

The Detroit Red Wings just started their pre-season but, to their credit, they aren't predicting great things this year. They know they're an average NHL team.

And no word at all out of the Detroit Pistons' camp lately. Smart move. When you're already terrible with no help in sight, and those pesky Cleveland Cavs in their own division recently loaded up with Lebron and Kevin to complement Kyrie and a fairly stout supporting cast elsewhere, firing up the hype machine would be the epitome of cluelessness. They'll likely finish 20-some games back. Even the Palace roundball sappies would have enough sense to see through that -- I think. Best to lay low for a while until maybe, just maybe, the worm turns in a few years.

But the most irritating thing of all regarding Detroit sports? A new arena, that just HAS to be built to house the Red Wings. Joe Louis is no longer good enough. This is hogwash. More about that later. Stay tuned.....