The Humanoids: +1

I went 15 weeks between Humanoids columns between the last column and the one previous to that. So if you’re surprised that I’m back one week later with a new Humanoids column, it’s completely understandable. In fact, I’m surprised that I came up with enough crap to write to warrant posting this. But here we are but we’re not throwing out +1s in this edition. Then again, when do I ever.

Has anyone really figured out what social media is for?
We’re all of three weeks into the “field trial” of Google+ and I’ve been on there for all of one of those weeks. There are over ten million people who are on G+ with me but I think there is one thing we all have in common: I don’t think anyone really knows what to do with Google+.

So far, I have four people in my “circles” which is G+’s attempt to break up your friends and/or people you follow into separate group in a more sensible way than Twitter’s meaningless lists and Facebook’s friend group thing which no one uses. Of those four people, no one has posted anything since Sunday. All the people in my circles are frequent tweeters but they haven’t posted anything on Google Plus for the last week.

Here’s the thing, though. What are we supposed to post on any social network? I’m an infrequent user of Facebook. I have no idea what it’s for besides posting pictures, saying happy birthday to someone you used to know and the occasional life update. I would classify those as 90% of the posts I see on FB. Twitter seems to be 90% jokes, links and self-promotion. And why exactly do we need all these on the internet? Don’t get me wrong, I love Twitter. (Facebook I’m indifferent about.) But sometimes you just have to take a step back and wonder what’s the point. I didn’t understand the point of Facebook in 2005 and I still don’t now. I didn’t understand the point of Twitter in 2009 but at least I can have some fun with it. Google+ doesn’t have a point yet but it’s still early. And, of course, LinkedIn doesn’t have a point and never will.

What would you do with a piece of sports history?
Derek Jeter did something that has only been done once before. He hit a home run for his milestone 3000th hit. That meant that a 23-year-old cellphone salesman who bought his tickets on StubHub caught the ball. But then he did something funny by New York and baseball fan standards. He gave the ball back to Jeter and the New York Yankees for free. Sure, he got some signed trinkets for his troubles but a lot of people think that he could have taken the Yankees, Jeter and Major League Baseball to the cleaners for the ball.

But what good does being a crook do rather than being a nice guy? Some people said that holding out would keep you in the limelight a little longer and maybe somebody will actually remember your name. But who remembers the guy that caught McGuire’s 62nd home run or his 70th? Who caught Bonds’ #71 or #73? There’s the flaw in that argument. This guy caught a baseball and that’s it. If Jeter and the Yankees give the guy season tickets for life in the good seats, that’s about as good as anyone could ever hope for. Some bats and memorabilia from DJ3K? That’s definitely just as good on eBay as the ball.

Does anyone know the definition of “avoidable contact?”
Last weekend, I watched NASCAR Sprint Cup from Kentucky, Formula One in England and the Toronto Indy. Two of those three races had fair amount of collisions and one wasn’t the NASCAR race. As best as I can recall, and I usually recall pretty well, though the bitching and complaining from drivers and Twitter helped me remember, only Michael Schumacher got a penalty for causing an avoidable collision between the Formula One and IndyCar races.

Old seven-time’s penalty came from getting squirrely under breaks and hitting the back of Paul di Resta. Schumacher came off much worse for wear than di Resta but still got a penalty for his troubles. Later in the race, di Resta got an overtaking attempt all wrong and plowed into the back of Sebastien Buemi but didn’t get a penalty. On the last lap, Lewis Hamilton side-swiped Felipe Massa while they were battling for 4th on the last lap. This got Lewis a penalty in Monaco but in England, he got a free pass. Meanwhile, in Toronto, Will Power was spun by Dario Franchitti and put into the wall by Alex Tagliani. Danica spun James Jakes, Kanaan was dumped into the wall by Ryan Briscoe and Marco Andretti took out five cars at once. Somehow, only Schumacher received a penalty.

This begs the question: How can nearly every sport have a defined set of rules of what constitutes an illegal action and the subsequent penalty but auto racing doesn’t? I know every situation is different in motorsports but the same goes for hockey and football and every other sport with penalties or fouls. If a driver runs into the back of a driver because he outbroke himself, that’s avoidable contact. If a driver gets spun because he chops across the other car, that’s not avoidable contact. If a driver initiates contact to defend his position, that’s a penalty. Simple definitions like these are all that we need in racing. Penalties will never completely eliminate the subjective judgement aspect but if race stewards want to be taken seriously, they need to try to come up with a set of rules that can be consistently applied.


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