We’re getting ready to go into the weekend, but with my Friday pretty much spoken for already due to other commitments, I decided to get something up for your enjoyment today. As is always the case with my wrap-up entries, here’s a handful of things not worthy of their own lengthy musings, but still worth mentioning:
The NBA is NOT going to let me lose in 5 games -- just you wait and see.
— If I were a betting man, I would be putting everything I could on a Cleveland victory tonight in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s been clear to me that, sadly for Cavaliers fans, Orlando is the better team right now, or at least they match up with Cleveland in a way that even LeBron James’ brilliance hasn’t been able to overcome. Indeed, if not for that tremendous buzzer-beater by King James at the end of Game 2, this series would already have ended in a sweep.
So why my love for Cleveland tonight? Let’s face it — the NBA wants a Cleveland-Los Angeles NBA Finals, and with it, a Kobe-LeBron match-up. And in the past, what the NBA wants — it tends to get, usually with the help of some questionable officiating to nudge things along in the preferred direction. Do I sound like a conspiracy theorist? Maybe — but I’ve also seen too many NBA games over the years — particularly crucial playoffs games — influenced by incompetent (or shady) officials in a way that has been an embarrassment to the league.
No matter what David Stern or any other NBA executive might say publicly, the league is counting on the Kobe-LeBron pairing; a Orlando-Denver Finals might cause Stern’s head to actually explode if it somehow came to pass. But it won’t. Not unless both the Magic and the Nuggets manage to completely outclass their opposition in the remaining games ahead.
The Lakers are safe — they’ll probably lose Game 6 but will win Game 7 in Los Angeles. Cleveland, however, is looking at a daunting task — coming back down 3-1 in a series will require a Herculean effort, particularly since, as I’ve said already, the Magic look to be the better team to boot.
Not to say they won’t get some help from the officials — at least enough that the series won’t end tonight. Back home for Game 5, the Cavaliers would be a favorite anyway, but I’ll repeat myself by saying that I’d put anything I could on Cleveland winning tonight, no matter what type of odds I had to lay. The true test of the NBA’s — errrr — interest — in who wins this series will more than likely come down to Game 6 back in Orlando. I’m willing to predict now that I’d be absolutely stunned if that game (assuming it happens) doesn’t have some of the Usual Officiating Suspects working the game, and I’m already calling the game out ahead of time as a candidate for one of the worst officiated contests you’ll see in the playoffs (which when you’re talking about the NBA, the league with the worst officiating of all the major sports, is saying something). To win, Orlando’s going to not just have to be better than Cleveland — they’re going to have to be a whole lot better. Can they be? We’ll see in the next few days.
Meanwhile, with an always interesting take on the NBA and its officiating problems, check out this column by Bill Simmons on ESPN. As always, it’s an entertaining read.
Better this than a steady diet of reality television
— It’s taken every bit of resolve I could muster not to publish a Ro-Sham-Bo Award entry mid-week, instead of waiting until Monday to unveil it. The piece is already partly written and I could have easily finished it for publication either yesterday or today — but I managed to resist the temptation and held off. I almost wish I hadn’t said on Sunday that I wouldn’t be handing out the hardware this week due to the holiday — I could have just given out a belated set of honors and gotten this piece up.
But this will give you something to wait for, and trust me when I say, I’m not going to have any less venom for this upcoming week’s losers winners. The beauty about the Ro-Sham-Bo pieces is that they tend to inflame my own passions so much, taht not striking while the initial idea hits me usually does nothing to lessen the intensity of my commentary — or the fun I have in putting the piece together.
In the meantime, until Monday, here’s your only hint about the subject matter: it has to due with Reality Television, which as a rule, I absolutely abhor. And by the time Monday is over, you should have a good idea why. If you’ve been watching some of the past week’s current events, you probably have a good idea as to who I’ll be discussing, but that shouldn’t keep you from tuning in next week anyway.
It's like Robin Hood robbing from the rich to give to the poor -- except in reverse
— So Congress recently enacted some even tougher limitations on issuers of credit cards. What does that mean to you, the good customer who’s paid their bills on times and has never missed payments or threatened to go into default? Well, more than likely, it means that it’s you who’s going to get screwed — again — by lenders trying to make up for a string of their own bad decisions.
As this MSN article details, there’s going to be a lot of changes ahead for people who use credit cards, and unfortunately, any of the good that might have come from the bill President Obama signed will get wiped away by the credit card issuers attempt to squeeze more money out of the people who really don’t deserve that type of treatment: the customers who have done the right things when it comes to using credit responsibly. Get ready for high annual fees, jacked-up interest rates, a loss of rewards programs, and other new charges — even if you’ve never missed a payment or have done nothing but pay your bills on time.
We can lament the unfairness of all of this — after all, it’s not your fault or mine that so many of these lenders made the decision to issue credit to risks who clearly shouldn’t have gotten it in the first place — but the lending institutions have already essentially made it clear that they intend to make up for these losses on the backs of their good customers. So — what to do?
As the article I linked to advises, clear away as much of your debt as possible as a start. Then, stop using the cards of companies who plan to take advantage of you, the responsible consumer. If they can’t or won’t treat you better, then they don’t deserve your business.
From my end, I’ve already detailed my own battles with Bank of America and Chase National when it came to their raising my APR without cause and basically attempting to bend me over to make up for their losses elsewhere. Currently, those accounts remain open, but with no balances attached — meaning there’s no interest for them to collect from me on any given month. There are no annual fees (so far) on either account, and my wife and I are not even using them for our day-to-day transactions like we used to (that spending now is done on a different account or with our debit card). Essentially, their greed cost them the substantial business they were getting from me. However, since I’m worried about their closing our accounts due to inactivity (another tactic currently being used by credit card companies), I do plan to begin using each of them again shortly — to pay 0.01 a month on my television satellite bill on-line (an option I believe is available). That way, my account will actually begin to cost them money to maintain — proper justice, in my eyes, for my crappy treatment from them.
If you’ve been unfairly treated by your card issuers, then find a way to stop giving them your business. If enough of their “valued” customers begin to desert them, then hopefully the message that treating their best customers like crap isn’t the way run their business will start to sink in.
— I’ll try to be back over the weekend with another edition of my fantasy baseball column and then again on Monday with my Ro-Sham-Bo entry. We’ll see you back then.