Monday, June 18, 2007

Who Ya Got, Wilbon or Kornheiser? Google says: Wilbon!

First, the important stuff, for some reason Google adwords values Michael Wilbon more than Tony Kornheiser. And Google LOVES Woody Paige.

Update: Woody like Michael Wilbon, was $1/click out of the gate. Paige is up to $5/click now in that campaign (too rich for my blood) and even Plaschke is $5.

Wilbon escalated to $5 as well. Kornheiser? Still only a dollar. Jay Mariotti? $.50. This could be somehow in Google-ese that Jay is more associated with the rantings of a mad-man and so they gave me a price break. To be honest, some of what happens in terms of results makes a lot of sense on the Google side, but some of it...not so much. Now on with the real piece.
Ted Leonsis wrote a blurb on how the whole deal with the crazy DA that knew that none of the Duke Lacrosse player’s DNA was involved, and yet according to his lawyer “his brain just couldn’t process the information. That’s just the way his brain works.” (that’s a paraphrase, though not much of one). Ted said now the whole thing should be put to bed and that we always have to remember someone is innocent until proved guilty.

While I generally do love that system, I’m really not so sure. The DA got disbarred, and that’s good. But I’m all good with him getting an immediate 5 year jail sentence where he has to actually serve 6-12 months, and I don’t even need the trial. One thing is for sure, barring a miracle, this isn’t going to bed. Certainly if the families of those kids can’t press criminal charges against the former D.A., they will try something in the civil courts (assuming the guy has a couple of nickels to rub together). I hope they press criminal charges. It was criminal what he did to those kids. Losing his license to practice law is a good start, and it’s probably enough for me. But I doubt it’s enough for those kids, and if it isn’t I couldn’t blame them.

I also don’t need a court of law to know that Barry Bonds is lying, that Mark McGwire lied, that Sammy Sosa lied – not just about his abilities with English when he was in front of congress, and not just with the steroids, but oh man, don’t even get me started on the corked bat.

I know for sure they lied, and I don’t need any other information. Also, you can look at what actually happens and absolutely figure out the rest (Dusty Baker knew about Bonds, Tony LaRussa knew about McGwire…But Selig for sure, knew).

It’s the human condition. When the stakes are very high (or in some cases only perceived to be high when they are actually not), we have a tendency to lie our butts off. “I did not have sex with that woman…”

When it comes to kids, or even most people, I am right there with Ted. But when it comes to stuff I have to watch on ESPN every day? No. Rafael “the finger wag” Paliemero wagged his finger while he lied (and a few months later tested positive – then he tried to lie again and blame it on someone else!).

I persist only because I am delusional and actually want to resolve the steroids crisis. I’m a problem solver. If you want cheating in baseball fixed, you have to fix it from both sides. Am I as sure as I can be that Barry knew exactly what the cream and the clear were? Yes, yes I am. Am I sure Giants managers, coaches, Brian Sabean (GM) knew that Barry was up to something? Of course I am. Am I as certain that Bud knew about steroids as I am that Sammy Sosa can absolutely tell the difference between his regular bat and a corked bat with his eyes closed? Of course I am.

Both sides lied because it benefited both sides. This is why I view this vastly differently than I view the D.A. and Duke Lacrosse players. In that scenario only one guy was lying – the D.A. He wanted a juicy case that would get press and get him reelected. With performance enhancing drugs in MLB, everyone is lying because everyone benefited. Worse still, it is perceived by both sides that there is absolutely no upside in telling the truth. I agree with this because the whole investigation is unjust, focusing only on the players. That might make congress happy that MLB did something. But congress is a hypocrite too. MLB is like the only entity in the USA with an anti-trust exemption. If the government really wanted to get baseball to do something, they’d just threaten to revoke that. There has been legislation proposed to do just that, but it’s more of lone gun thing than the congress singing in unison.

I ran the ads calling Bud Selig a liar against the keywords, Bud Selig, MLB, and Barry Bonds. But I threw a little bit of money at it. Less than 1% of what I think it would take to actually make a difference, and if any of you want to send me the other 99% I’ll gladly keep at it. I targeted “Shame on you ESPN” ads against the keywords ESPN! And I was the only ad!

I got some e-mail from Google that one of my ads had been disapproved – but it was because of spelling/grammar! I had spelled Sportscenter as Sportcenter. I fixed it, and put the ad back up. My favorite hour of the day is 2pm-3pm on ESPN, and although I almost never watch it live, I almost never ever miss Around the Horn or PTI. I ran my ads against Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. Initially, Kornheiser was $.50 and Wilbon was $1!! Tony Reali ($.40/click) initially outranked every member of Around the Horn I ran the ad against except Woody Paige, who like Wilbon went for a dollar. In the end the “quality” (it’s not a complex explanation, but I’ll skip it here) of my ads was so bad that Kornheiser went up to $1 and everyone else went up to $.50.

But Wilbon was $1 out of the gate. I tried my pals Ted Leonsis -- who was actually the only celebrity other than the fictional “Denny Crane – who already had an ad running against his keyword (it was for some kind of speakers bureau for speaking engagements) and Mark Cuban. Like Kornheiser they were original $.50. But one of my campaigns got so bad that Cuban got jacked up to $10/click (too rich for my blood!). I put him back against another campaign and got him back down to $.50. In the campaign where Cubes escalated to $10, Ted Leonsis only jacked up to $1.

Cuban got the most “celebrity“ traffic, about 8x more than Ted. Of the sports shows it was Woody Page, followed by Kornheiser, Wilbon, and “stat boy” Tony Reali , and Tim Cowlishaw. I screwed up and misspelled Bill Plaschke’s and Jay Mariotti’s names and didn’t correct it until too late in the game to be a fair comparison (there were no searches other than my own to make sure the ad was running). I feel bad too because Plaschke was the inspiration for the “Shame on You” ad campaigns. While Cuban got much more traffic than Leonsis, Cuban didn't generate any clicks. Ted got 1 click. ESPN/MLB resulted in ~250 clicks on over 100,000 impressions.

Other than knowing that I was crazy as hell to pay what I did to conduct this experiment, I know for sure if you target a keyword like ESPN with a “Shame on You ESPN” ad, you can generate some clicks! Almost all of them are no good, they see it’s a blog and bolt immediately. Only about 17% of the clicks actually read the article it pointed to.

I was trying to learn how Google Adwords work, and the experience was very beneficial. I was surprised that nobody was targeting ads at keywords like MLB, ESPN, Baseball or Barry Bonds (that ad says “Shame on You Bud Selig” and it is the only ad on the page.

I asked my astute friend Bill G. if he thought there was a revenue opportunity here for Google ultimately where the likes of ESPN, MLB etc will just by sponsorships against their trademarked keywords (you can’t put the trademark in your ad, but you can attach the ad to a keyword that is a trademark). Bill’s reply:

Clearly those folks don't care now. My guess is they will not care until there is an event that rises above the noise of their lives/businesses. That may be you/now. That may be nothing/ever.

I agree with Bill in general. It will not be me now because I was not willing to throw 100x or 1000x against it (and didn't have 1000x to throw at it if I wanted to!). But if someone with a spare million bucks wanted to work at it, I think they could break through the noise. If someone wants to transfer a spare million into my adwords account, I’m glad to do the leg work.

If your goal is to try to make a difference (and like anyone else, that’s my goal too) the time is now. Bonds is at 748, the All-Star game is coming up here in San Francisco and that means more ESPN talking about more steroids but never talking about, “Damn, you know that Robert Seidman is right, this whole thing is bogus. Why don’t they focus the investigation equally on Bud Selig, management and ownership, too or just listen to Giambi, have the 'we all screwed up' speech and move on."

I understand there is the need for all sides to politically maneuver here to protect their interests. You want to fix it, it’ll be a lot easier to fix with: BLOOD TESTS. But the MLBPA won’t go for that. My advice is that the MLBPA go to ownership and say, “We will do everything we can, including some blood work to protect the sanctity of the game, if we can all just move on from here.”

If I was a conspiracy theorist, what I’d believe is that isn’t happening because…everyone really likes cheating in baseball, but nobody wants to admit it. Let me be clear: the MLBPA and the players are NO SAINTS. At all. But they are no worse than Selig and the rest of ownership to me. But both sides are maneuvering to protect their own interests. Let's hope Adam Smith is still right.

I may be the only person who actually really wants to fix the problem, but if you’re with me and have a spare million to throw at the problem, we could make some real noise and time it with the pop-culture epicenter for steroids, which will no doubt be July 12, 2007 at the gem of a ballpark at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.

I love baseball, but I hate the hypocrisy and resold my entire seasons ticket package for the Giants' games the last 2 years. Two seats for all 81 home games, lower box, 1st base side -- great seats.
I'm sure as Barry Bonds nears 755 and the All-Star game is in town, my own hypocrisy will be tested. I am not certain I won't try to worm my way back into my seats for a couple of games...

Bud Selig, if you want to blow $500 running a "Robert Seidman is a hypocrite" campaign against the keyword robert seidman, knock yourself out, but I think you'd be better served doing these two things:

- admit what you knew and when you knew it and say you're sorry
- tell the people (the fans) that the only way to have any hope of really testing is with blood tests and put pressure on the MLBPA. Make that case to the fanbase. if you really want to test for performance enhancers, that's the only case to make.

If you don't want to do any of that stuff, then will you do me a favor and just act like you love Barry?

No? I didn't think so.

Honesty and integrity matter to me and I hate to see the message hammered home time and time again that those things don't matter as much as making a buck. That's what's going on. With Barry and Bud. That's the message.

That’s a wrap on my steroid in MLB problem solving, but I wanted to go out doing at least a little something.

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