I often find myself in the position of defending baseball as a sport. I get criticized for being a fan of such a boring sport and I find myself having to defend its virtue. During one of these sessions, I was explaining to the conversation partner that baseball is such a fantastic sport because of the dynamics of offense versus defense.   In how many other sports do you have nine members of the opposing team playing defense against (at most) four players of their opposing team? More often than not, nine players provide the defensive strategy against just one of the opposing players. I still hold that offense in baseball is one of the hardest things to accomplish in sports.

Because of that, the nature of the game, baseball’s official rules provide adequate protection for the members of the offense. On a force out, a tie between the ball’s arrival in the defenseman’s glove and the runner landing on the base will usually be awarded to the runner. Fielders cannot obstruct a runner’s path to advance to the next base, etc.

We found this all incredibly relevant last night at the end of World Series 2013 Game 3. After a bad throw from the Red Sox catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Sox third baseman found himself lying on the ground in the way of the baserunner, called for obstruction of the baserunner awarding the baserunner home plate therefore losing the game for the Red Sox.  It was highly unfortunate, especially for Red Sox Nation.

Many articles and opinions have been written since last night, many of which were written by authors far more qualified to comment than I (me?). But whether it is appropriate or accurate or not, this is my perspective.

We’ve seen time and time again players running from first to second on a ground ball to the infield do all they can to obstruct the fielder from making the best double play he can.  Baserunners are taught to play mind games with the fielders, slide in hard, throw their hands up, and all kinds of crazy things that can prevent the defenseman making a double play attempt from doing so successfully.  You can see the results of this on almost any double play.  Typically the shortstop or second baseman making the play fall down over the baserunner, even though the force out has already been made.  As I see it, the baserunner has always had plenty of leeway in making obstruction part of the game. It is true that baserunners can be called for getting on the way, but more times than not it is simply seen as justpart of the game.

Take for instance last night’s play.  By most angles I saw it, Salty at home threw to Middlebrooks at third and did so a little wide.  Moving six inches to a foot would have solved this problem for Middlebrooks; he might have made the catch and saved the run. But he stayed on the bag and staying on the bag, and consequently NOT interfering with the baserunner reaching third, caused the ball to hit the baserunner, bounce off behind the bag and caused Middlebrooks to make a last minute jab at catching the ball.  As a result, Middlebrooks falls on the ground and the baserunner gets up from the slide and trips over Middlebrooks.

Technically, by MLB’s rules, obstruction isn’t something an offenseman can be guilty of. Obstruction is a different call than interference. But even with interference, if the offenseman whether intentionally or not interferes with the ball or the play, the ball is often called dead, bases are typically not awarded or taken away.  But this umpire last night, Jim Joyce, doesn’t (rightly) call interference; he lets play continue.

When Craig, the baserunner, gets up from the slide, he has an option to run to home if he thinks he can make it safely.  He does. But instead of getting up off the ground and running on the baseline chalk, he gets up and tries to go over Will Middlebrooks who is, remember, still on the ground.  Under a replay you can see that Middlebrooks makes the attempt to get up and is pushed back down by the runner.  Like normal in baseball, the runner has a right to do that.  But think about the runner’s choices here…

The runner could get up and run in a straight line on the baseline chalk, and wouldn’t had to have stepped over Middlebrooks at all.  He had a choice and chose to step over Middlebrooks.  As he does this, he pushes Middlebrooks down, “obstructing” Middlebrooks’s ability to 1) get out of the baserunner’s way and 2) field the ball (assuming outfield backup is unavailable).

 So Middlebrooks, who does not obstruct Craig, the runner, from reaching third falls over on a bad throw and is unable to move to avoid an obstruction call because the runner choose to step over him rather than running on the baseline and pushes him down in order to get over him, resulting in the runner’s tripping.

Jim Joyce is one of the best umpires in the business and I gained incredible respect for him when he apologized publicly for ruining Galarraga’s perfect game with a blown call at first base. I don’t doubt that Joyce knows the rulebook through and through and called the play according to the rulebook.

My argument is, and has been for a long time, that baserunners are on the borderline of having too much leeway because of the nature of the game.  The runners can make decisions that get an obstruction call on the defense, even if the defenseman doesn’t intend any such action (because intent isn’t factored into the call). We love a game that literally has everyone against you while you try to attack on offense.  As a means of making it easier for you, baseball rules that you’re given the tie and the right of way.  You get to make the decision you want to make, to a certain degree, even if that decision means that the defenseman is guilty of something he tried to avoid.

Last night ends differently if Salty holds the ball.  Last night ends differently if Middlebrooks comes off the base.  Last night ends differently if the runner runs in the basepath and avoids Middlebrooks’s useless body on the ground.


The Church and The Gym, Part 2

NOTE: I have no idea what the proper spelling of judgement (judgment) is. I don't really care enough to look it up either.

I reread my post from yesterday. I don't think I was completely clear and I think clarification might show us something that is a little more helpful.

Yesterday when I wrote about the gym I seemed to describe the gym as a completely non-judgmental place. That simply isn't true, no matter how good it sounds. Take yesterday at CrossFit for example. We were doing some back squats and I took on way too much weight. After you've done a few back squats, you're supposed to move up a bit in your weight but my legs were exhausted. I fell out of the next squat. Of course, the whole gym saw me. I couldn't help but think about what they were thinking.

And as much as I'd like to think that they didn't think to themselves, "that guy has no idea what he is doing," my guess is that several of them did. There's no doubt that people observe each other at the gym and judge what they're doing (for better or worse) against what they themselves are doing.

This CAN be good. "Oh, hey, that guy is really keeping his chest up and look how straight his back is!" might allow you to learn from the guy in front of you. But...it can also be bad. "Man, that guy just fell out of his back squat twice," is helpful for neither party. It, perhaps, even encourages a "I'm better than him" mentality that has historically led to a bullied existence in extreme circumstances.

If one were to read my post from yesterday and assume that CrossFit is this magical place where no one judges anyone ever, one would have taken away the wrong image. I like to think that people love watching others succeed and don't consider it when they don't, but that's simply not true. If the rest of the world's people are even half as bad at being a human as I am, then they judge. I know they do because I do.

We see this in the church as well.

Perhaps you're thinking that the vision that I presented yesterday is more of an eschatological one...like this non-judgment state of nirvana is the end goal. But I'm not quite so sure that's it either.

Judgement exists in several forms in both the church and the gym. Maybe understanding that more fully is the key.

See, in the church we do judge people. In fact, I'd argue that we are called to judge people. If that sounds shocking, it's likely that you and I are working with two different definitions of judgement. When I speak of judgement, I don't speak of someone making a judgement and then using that to make one feel like an outsider. I speak of a sense of accountability. My hope is that my judgement is more of an encouragement! The judgement I speak of attempts to spur one on toward Christian perfection, not keep one out of the walls of the church.

So perhaps what I truly mean is that neither the gym nor the church are free of judgement. The care that must be taken within these two bodies is in the type of judgement used. If I fall out of a back squat, I want someone to hold me accountable to the amount of weight I put on the bar and the poor form I executed the squat with. Will that be painful to hear? Perhaps. But if it is done in a mild and encouraging manner (as it often is at CrossFit), I can learn. And...do better than I did last time.

So is the struggle of the church. The church, in fear that it might be forced to apologize for who it is has--in the past 200 years--created this judgement that pushed others away. The intimidation, as I said yesterday, is too much. "All these people speaking another language and judging me."

What if, though, our judgement were initially perceived as an encouragement rather than a judgement? What would it take to pull that off? What might that pastoral tone sound like?

These are all the questions we MUST ask ourselves as Christians. Judgement is something we are called to. But it's not the judgement of this world. It's not the judgement that pushes people away. It's a judgement that has its own set of standards and practices and is unapologetic about that. It's also a judgement that spurs one on toward perfection in an encouraging way. It's one that reassures the judged that a community is standing behind them.

It's not that no one judges in the gym. Neither is it that everyone judges in the church. But...both entities ought to strive for a more encouraging accountability that builds up its members so that they might do better than they did before. I'm happy to say that quite a bit of the good judgement happens at CrossFit. I'm honestly unaware how much of it is currently happening in our churches.

It's a paradigmatic shift and it's one that is needed now in our churches. Pronto.


The Church and The Gym

I once heard a pastor compare joining a church to joining a gym.

I grew up in the church. I was a good little Baptist boy, baptized at a relatively young age, who sang in the children's choirs, youth choir, youth praise band, and yes, when I was empowered, the big church praise band. My family went, primarily, to the contemporary service as my parents were actively involved in the planning and execution of it. Church was fun. I enjoyed going and I can't remember a time in my life when I gave me parents a hard time about going. I was into church.

Moreover, I spoke the language. Christians who are deeply integrated into the life of the church likely know exactly what I'm saying. In the church, we talk about things that the outside world isn't too concerned with talking about. We talk about grace, holiness, and judgment. We sing songs directed toward and about Someone not of this world. In the church, we speak a different language. As a kid who grew up in the church, I spoke the language. I knew what to do and when to do it.

Growing up I wasn't particularly concerned with athleticism (shocker, I know). I was an inside kind of kid who enjoyed watching sports but was pretty awful at participating in them. I was awkward and uncoordinated, generally lazy, and with that I never had the determination to get much better at any athletic activity. After all, to this day I struggle with keeping my heels on the ground during a squat because I've lived my life walking around on my toes. I even have students who recognize me across campus because of the way that I walk. Needless to say, I was never an athlete.

Recently, I've joined a CrossFit gym. It's the first gym I've ever joined and I decided to pay the outrageously high monthly fee just so that I'd force myself to go. Now, I live on a college campus with a more than adequate gym--that I technically pay for--and I can count on one hand the amount of times I've actually gone to it to workout. I pay for CrossFit. Today it was snowing and it was a 10 minute drive to CrossFit. I went to CrossFit.

Gyms scare the hell out of me. There, I said it. When one goes to a gym, they encounter a different kind of person. They encounter a person who is big, strong, and intense. They encounter a place of judgment. (If you can't dead lift 300 lbs, you obviously don't belong here.) Or, maybe we should say that that's the place that one encounters in one's mind. For me, at least, that intimidation factor and my own self consciousness of my awkwardness is what created a 6'2" 230 lb individual. It created a person with a resting heart rate way higher than it should be. It created a person who is generally depressed and ashamed of their body. It created a person who stopped taking care of themselves. I gave up. The intimidation of the world of fitness was far too overwhelming for a weak soul like me living inside a weak body. In my mind, it was just too much to take.

I even bought P90X online because I figured I could work out in private where the intimidation simply wasn't there. I never made it through even half of the P90X program.

Last month, I joined CrossFit. CrossFit is one of the hardest workout programs out there; it doesn't matter how strong you are, it will kick your butt. You know what I discovered? That gym that intimidated me for so long? It's not reality. This morning I worked out with women that must have been well over 60 years old. They couldn't lift much and they sure couldn't do lateral jumps over a bar, but they were there and they worked hard. And yeah, the guy in front of me looked like he could bench press an elephant, but who cares? The intimidation factor went right out the door when I first went to CrossFit because I realized that there are people of all shapes and sizes there, all on different levels of fitness, all working toward the same goal: to do better than they did last time.

Yeah, awkward me can barely bench press the bar. And yeah, I get some weird looks when I get to the bottom of the back squat and literally can't stand up. Yeah, my push presses barely get my elbows straight. But the only time the coach has yelled at me? When I apologized for not being able to do something. I met a group of people who want me to succeed no matter how bad I am at it. I met a group of people who are so diverse, not only in their age and background, but in their fitness level. Once I realized this, the intimidation factor of working out began to fade.

I can't help but think that that's how the church is to outsiders. In their minds, it's got to be as intimidating as a gym is to me. People, so far along in their progress (toward holiness), speaking a language that only they think, who are intense about everything they do in that realm. I can only hope that there are some new Christians who walked into the Body of Christ because their friends said they should and hoped for the best. And, when they came, they met a group of real people, all at different points on their journey, all working together in their path toward Christian perfection and hoping to do better than they did last time.

In the midst of a time when the church seems to be dying, gym membership isn't. People are learning the gym language. Less people are learning the Christian language.

As Christians, we have to opportunity to learn from such a trend. Gyms work to make themselves less intimidating so that more people will get excited about taking care of their physical bodies. Churches might do well to ponder this model.

How can we, the Church, work at conveying who we are (a disciplined set of believers who, while admittedly speaking a different language, are wholly excited to welcome others in so that they too might get started on their path) in a positive light? How might the world see our community? How might the world see our accountability? How might the world see Christ's love through us?

CrossFit doesn't apologize for who it is. It's hard. It's a lot of work. It takes discipline and practice. And yes, there is a new language to learn.

If the Church is going to get serious about evangelism, I think it is time we work toward that end by beginning to understand how the world sees us and figure out a way that the world might understand the gospel message through our presence rather than being completely overwhelmed by the intimidation of such a presence. That, to me, is how the Church's evangelistic mission might better be lived out in the world.

The Church can welcome others in without apologizing for who it is. But, in today's society, it's going to take a bit more work. Don't worry though, my guess is that it will be worth the investment.


Just Because We Can Doesn't Mean That We Always Should

Mayor Bloomberg wants to outlaw large containers for soda and sugary drinks.

The Libertarians come crying out, "The government shouldn't be able to tell us what we can and can't have! This is America!" When I tell people that I think this is a good idea, they cry to me about how crazy I am. "You're going to let the government tell me what I can and can't do? Because of your lack of self control?"

Yes. Because drinking large quantities of soda is bad for you and I learned the bad habit because it was available to me, anywhere and everywhere, and I took advantage of it. And I've fought my body ever since.

Just because we can (either in our minds or legally) drink 40 oz. sodas, doesn't mean that it's a good idea. Nothing good comes from that.

James Holmes was arraigned today on multiple counts of murder.

He shot 70 people with a high powered assault rifle that costs a little over $1,000 and can be bought, legally, in a store and picked up with a short background check within the hour. He bought 6,000 rounds of ammo on Amazon. It was legal for him to own the gun and to buyt that ammo. He could do that.

We, as Americans, can own weapons that allow us to defend against ourselves. We can do this, legally. But, does that mean that we should?

Today, the NCAA handed down unprecedented sanctions upon the Penn State football program.

Sandusky was accused, JoePa was fired and then died, Sandusky was convicted, anyone else powerful at Penn State University who had any connection was also fired, the Freeh report came out and made the situation appear even worse than we all feared, they removed the JoePa statue, and the program's reputation that had once been legendary was ruined, not simply tarnished. Joe made a huge mistake that cost him everything. Jerry made several huge mistakes that cost him everything. Spanier made a huge mistake that cost him everything. And together, with a few others, they cost the university's football program everything.

Today it got worse. The NCAA had the power, because of their system, setup, power, influence, and total control over anything college sports related to do what they did. They had the complete ability to flex their muscles. They had the ability to make an example out of a once untouchable football program. And they did.

But just because you can, should you?

(I'll forego the argument for the sake of this post that the NCAA completely stepped out of the way of due process, allowing the almighty Emmert to personally intervene, unlike anything he has done with programs that violated specific NCAA regulations...**grunt grunt** UNC **grunt grunt**. I'll also forego the argument that this is a criminal act and therefore is left for the legal system, not the silly constantly over reaching NCAA)

Did the NCAA need to come down this harsh, effectively killing this program for an entire generation? Was this necessary?

Many say, "Yes! Child molestation and the covering of it up is atrocius and unacceptable!" Those people are right. Child rape and molestation is unacceptable. Those who cover it up for the sake of a program are in some ways just as guilty as those who committed the atrocities, too. This is unacceptable.

But, should the NCAA destroy the future of the program, making it effectively impossible to recruit for, simply because it can? No. Should it make an example out of a group that has already through the court system and the media been made an example out of? Again, I don't think so.

When we drink 40 oz sodas, we must ask ourselves, what good does it do?

When we buy assault rifles, we must ask ourselves, what good does it do?

When we enforce unbelieveable penalites on people who had nothing to do with an atrocity, we must ask ourselves, what good does it do?

What's hoped to be accomplished? Show the world child rape is wrong? We're already there, guys. We get that. Show the world how powerful you are? The good in that is questionable. Make a change so that this doesn't happen again? Maybe, but in order to make that believable you're going to need to articulate your process for how in a very convincing way.

If the NCAA hadn't done anything, they'd been looked at as weaklings. But they needed to flex their muscles...to show the world that they're actually paying attention and that they are the almighty voice to which programs must listen or else all the benefits from having an athletic program might be lost.

What's the good in that? Little. What do I think they should have done? They should have invested in figuring out ways from preventing this from happening again (the $60M fine is the one sanction I can understand). They should have done investigations into all programs. They should have helped Penn State football recover from such a devastation. They should have sent the message in another, healthier, better way. In a way that brings good, rather than stabbing in the dark hoping that good would be found somewhere.

They could flex their muscles. But should they? Not unless they can clearly articulate the good that will come from this.

I shouldn't drink 40 oz. sodas, even though I can. I shouldn't buy an assault rifle, even though I can. I shouldn't flex my muscles even though I can either.

Because, in all things, I must ask myself, "Can I clearly articulate the good that will come from this? Can I point directly to the good that the world will see from this?"

Otherwise, it's useless punishment and an example. And that's not good enough.


College Football Makes The World a Worse Place

I went to a tiny liberal arts college in Central Florida. It's not known to many outside the state, except for foreign tourists, and was recently awarded the "US's Most Beautiful Campus" by the Princeton Review.

We had a bunch of national championships (I used to know exactly but I've lost count) in D2 sports and rarely had much of a following from students. At least not like some other schools have.

I've been criticized (getting close to being on a daily basis) for the teams I choose to follow.

I'd like to be clear, though:I've always been a baseball fan and have only recently come to follow football and basketball. I have never claimed to know a whole lot about any sports and am not as addicted to ESPN as some of my friends are. I've dealt with feeling left out of conversations and feeling stupid by many people's conversations. In an effort to NOT make that happen, I've attempted to pay more attention to sports. I've chosen a few teams to pay attention to, some of which my family members follow, some of which are schools I attended or have friends who attended, some of which I've followed for a while, and some of which I simply chose. I don't purchase a lot of team paraphernalia and so I think I'm completely within my right to follow whatever teams I'd like without the criticism from outside voices who happen to disagree. I have a few Duke hats and t-shirts (and by the way, I attend that school) and one Boston Red Sox hat. That's it. If I hear another criticism of what teams I do or don't follow, why, and why you look down upon me for following them, I WILL NO LONGER CONSIDER YOU A FRIEND. HEAR ME LOUD AND CLEAR...IT HAS BEEN ENOUGH, it is no longer funny.

For grad school, I selected Duke University. In case you haven't heard, Duke's basketball team (and this silly one down the street) is pretty competitive. Since going to Duke, I've found a new love for college basketball. I mean seriously, go to one game in Cameron Indoor and you'll love it. I do. I love it.

But Duke students suck. They really do.

Wait, we.

We yell, scream, shout obscenities, boo refs, scream some more, jump up and down, blow out your eardrums, and us Divinity students forget we have a life of faith for a couple of hours once a week or so. We talk a lot of basketball outside of Cameron but most of us leave the rude behavior in the room. Or, at least we try.

But now...college football season is here. While Duke has a pretty awful football team, I am from a state with a few good ones. And the hate circling Facebook (and I admit, I add to it) is again out of control. Rivalries vs. Rivalries, teams seemingly forgotten about trying to prove themselves, teams ranked highly trying to maintain their rankings, teams from the middle of nowhere going 5-0, and certain conferences dominating. It makes for "fun" conversation but the addition of Internet trolls (again, I'm not innocent) has made it worse.

But college football has gotten worse with the advent of social media.

Rivalries that bordered on hatred have developed into full-on hatred. And relationships are hurt and broken. It's no longer about disagreements, it's about who is right and why your loyalty to a team is far better than another person's loyalty. And if you cheer for a team and didn't attend that school, your fandom is somehow less than the other person's fandom (there's a strong argument to be made that this theory is correct...I used it with Duke earlier...but I don't ever think that a Duke fan who didn't attend is less of a fan than little old me who has been here for a year and a half). And if they think about things differently, you're wrong.

And it all comes down to winning and losing.

And I suppose I'm starting to see that this does nothing for unity.
It does nothing for society. Except sell t-shirts when your team wins.

I guess I'm kind of tired of the world taking themselves too seriously.
I guess I'm kind of tired of people not taking jokes.
I guess I'm kind of tired of us acting like winning is everything.
I guess I'm kind of tired of us thinking that our colors define who we are.
I guess I'm kind of tired of us.

We hurt others. We don't have conversations. And we alienate large groups of people. And while we may be unified inside those stadiums, we segregate ourselves.

I'm guilty of it, and I'd imagine many of you are too.


Seriously, enough with the hate on the teams I follow and comment on. It's enough. Really. What do you gain by making fun of me? Like really, what?

Top Five Plays vs. China

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PknUclqpYqs] You might ask yourself, who is that wearing number 0? Austin Rivers.

You might ask yourself, who was that involved in four of the top five plays? Austin Rivers.

You might ask yourself, who led the scoring game with 18 points? Austin Rivers.

You might ask yourself, who won the game over the Chinese Olympic team? Duke.

Game number (next) is Monday at the silly time of 8:00am.  The whole time thing has got me screwed up. Here's the top five from the second game:



Derek Jeter 3K

Anyone who knows me knows that I can't stand the pinstripes. Maybe it's the fact that I grew up as a huge Braves fan. Maybe it's because I started following the Red Sox in college. Maybe it's because of the way I was treated in Yankee Stadium (the real one). Maybe it's because I couldn't stand the way that Steinbrenner bought his way to championships. Maybe it's because they tore down one of America's best known buildings.

Maybe it's jealousy that the Yankees have had one of the greatest rosters of all time.

In any case, there is one Yankee that everyone has to like. He's never been in trouble with the media. He seems to be so humble whenever he speaks. He's easily one of the best shortstops of all time. He now belongs to the 3,000 hit club. He will belong to the Hall of Fame when all is said and done.

Derek Jeter is about the only reason to watch a Yankee game.

This looks like a phenomenal documentary.



The History of Duke in the NBA Draft

Another great montage by the good folks at Blue Devil Nation. Great stats, great players, great history.


I've been criticized before for not understanding what it is like to go to a big college or university. I've been accused of not knowing what it's like to see people in the cafeteria that go on to play for millions in professional sports. On Thursday, that all went out the window. I saw Nolan on a regular basis in the Divinity School and Kyrie and Kyle on numerous occasions around school too. Kyrie was the number one draft pick and probably one of the best players we've seen in awhile. Yeah, I think I qualify now.

I never have paid much attention to the NBA before. I think that's all about to change.


Honorary Ohioans: The Dallas Mavericks

The Governor of Ohio has declared the Dallas Mavericks honorary Ohioans for the day of June 14th for "loyalty, integrity, and teamwork":















Best line, though:

Whereas the proud city of Cleveland and the entire state of Ohio share in the excitement of Dallas Mavericks fans everywhere.

Bold, beautiful, and hilarious.


Too Close For Comfort

"We want to play a little bit longer." [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJGi05MWtg4&]

Yeah, I want you to too.

I hate to say it but I think Kyrie's presence, while appreciated, has made the team interact in different ways on the court. After he was hurt, Smith became the definitive leader of the squad and with Kyrie back, some of the mojo is a bit...off. Here's to hoping that gets worked out before Thursday. K said himself that it was like coaching two different teams this year. But...

If anyone can coach them through it, it's Coach K.


The Show Goes On

Great highlights. Including some from Kyrie. **He's back tomorrow. It's time for the NCAA to watch out. Duke is coming back to the top.** [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gdjuS7FyJI&]

Don't miss tomorrow at 3:00.



When we start equating patriotism with things like this instead of our old definitions I'll be happy. Just because someone stands for the pledge of allegiance, doesn't make them a patriot. It is, like soldiers, putting your actions where your mouth is.

You fight for this country? You are a patriot.

You help a child learn that hard work and discipline will make you a better person? You're a patriot.


I don't know if this is some sort of promotional video that Auburn put together to publicize the social work of Cam Newton (there was lots of material like this for Tim Tebow).

In any event, people who give of themselves for others, no matter their profession or hobby, are patriots.

And it is about time this country came to this realization.


September 16th, Customer Service, NC State, and False Advertising.

I know, I know, it's after midnight. It's not September 16th anywmore.  But, this was going to happen either way. If you don't like the Apple stuff, keep reading.  This post isn't about Apple. I don't usually like to post about my day either, but this is simply necessary.  You get a tootsie roll pop if you make it all the way to the end.  Think of it as a narrative, you'll enjoy it more.

On September 16th, 1985 Steve Jobs was forced out of his leadership role at Apple Computer Inc.

On September 16th, 1997 Steve Jobs came back to Apple Computer Inc.

He was there for seven years, gone for 12, back for 13. Wired has a good article on it here.

Everyone knows I love Apple.  But here is why I love Apple: they care about user experience.  They have a great place to get your computer fixed.  Their customer support is outstanding and always getting better. Play with their devices, you'll know that they care about user experience. I have come to not be able tolerate paying for something and not getting the experience that was designed. Read on.

Let me tell you about MY September 16th.  The day began. My new hard drive for my laptop came in the mail yesterday.  I copied everything over and put it in the machine this morning.  I didn't lose any screws (there were 27 minuscule ones), and the machine booted up (faster than before I might add) after everything went back together.  Huge success.  It really feel almost like a new machine.  I finalized my installation of the beta version of iOS 4.2 on my iPad.  It's awesome.

Today started out well.

I had one class, it went great and then I came home to read some before heading the NC State vs. Cincinnati game here in Raleigh.

Here is how that process works: If you want a parking pass (the stadium is off campus) you have to stand in line at a certain time during the week to get one.  They are free, but not unlimited by any means.  Allie stood in line for about a half an hour for ours.  We had some friends going with us, so they rode in my car.

Now, these parking passes. They're made of cheaper paper type cardboard material.  Not quite as study as card stock...but almost.  They hang from your mirror (or at least they say that you should hang them).  At the bottom of the pass is a perforated section with a coupon for $10 off of Jiffy Lube.

We had done this before. Last game, we tore off the jiffy lube coupon and they directed us into the parking lot.  Traffic sucked but it was no big deal.  To add, last game we were in line and I saw the guy taking the passes, ripping off the coupons, pocketing them, and then sending the people on their way. Not to be outsmarted, this week I tore off my coupon just like I had before.

So we got to the lot.

And I held up the pass.

And the man asked if we had been in yet, I told him no.  He asked where the coupon was.  I showed it to him.  He told me that THEY have to rip it off. I told him that he could have it. He said I'd need to turn around and leave.  I asked him why. He said that they have a policy that they have to rip it off.

Then he said "TURN HIM AROUND!"

I pulled up a little bit to see if I could talk to the other guy about this ridiculousness.

He yelled again, "TURN HIM AROUND!!!!" **I thought we usually referred to inanimate objects as females**

I asked where I was supposed to park.

He shrugged and said, "You need to leave now"

**Let me pause and say that I was trying to hold my temper. I can't stand disrespect. He was beyond rude in his dealing with the situation.**

The parking pass did not say anything ANYWHERE about not ripping off the coupon.  I mean, it's a coupon.  Why wouldn't you rip it off?

I stopped the car, almost got out and pointed out once more that he could have the coupon and that it shouldn't matter.  The fact that I had the coupon meant that I hadn't been there yet.

He told me to leave again.

I complied. But no one in the car was happy.

I went back to try to find parking on the street somewhere.  A long way away, we found half a spot and squeezed the Jeep in. Throughout this endeavor, my loving wife was calling the number on the parking pass which was labeled "Parking Problems? Call 919-***-****"  She yelled pretty extensively.  Evidently they only deal with towing, not parking problems.  Cool.  Hence, false advertising.

As we were walking toward the stadium, I stopped to ask one of the other attendants if they had a manager or boss.  One of the guys laughed and told me they did. I asked if I could speak to them and explained the situation and the frustration. He agreed, if that's going to be a policy, it should explicitly say somewhere that the coupon cannot be torn off.  (It's worth noting that later we found out that they had been returning the coupons to the pass holders.  So....the guy turned us away even though we had a pass because we...ripped it and he didn't get to?) I asked him if he would say something to leadership because the rule is dumb and needs to be explained if its going to be enforced.  We thanked him and walked on. Success.

Followed by failure.  Of course this put us in the stadium after kick off.  this was especially true for me.  I forgot my ticket in the car throughout this entire fiasco.  Allie's had already been scanned, so she went in, got her hand stamped for North End Zone student section (they told her that I could get a North End stamp when I got back).  I walked the 25 minutes back to the car, got my ticket, and walked the 25 minutes back. I got into the stadium, went to get stamped, and...South End Zone.  When we asked why, we got a "sorry, you're out of luck answer, you two will have to sit at different ends."  Real cool.  My ticket was $25 and it was getting to be well worth it.

Experience, experience. In case you were wondering, NC State Football has no customer service line.  No complaints process.  No way to prove that their policies are silly or don't work.  No compassion for any situation from those working.

I blame it all on the guy who wanted desperately to get my coupon for Jiffy Lube.

We ended up walking around the stadium until the guy patrolling the section our friends were in left.  We went up and watched the second half with them.

It was a good game.  But not a good experience.

I hope someone involved with this endeavor reads this. It's hard to please everyone at a situation as big as a college football game broadcast on ESPN. But, generally, GOOD policies and genuine servants who just wish to accomplish their job without pissing anyone off help with this project.

I've done a little customer service as an RA and in my role as a Support Member at Warren Willis camp. It's hard work dealing with people who are on edge. I get that.

But I also believe in pleasing the customer. Because if you please them, they're happy, they'll come back, and your business will succeed.

College football will always be successful. So customer service is obviously not a priority. Obviously.

If you ever work in customer service, try to do better than this guy.  I hate, no, "strongly dislike" him.

He's probably good to go with oil changes for the foreseeable future though.

September 16th, 1985 sucked for Steve Jobs.

September 16th, 2010 ended up sucking for me too.