Archive for September 29th, 2011

More Outrageous Fees from Bank of America

Cost of accessing cash you keep at home – ZERO

Cost of accessing cash via a debit card at an account with a credit union – ZERO 

Cost of accessing cash via a debit card at Bank of America – $5/month

Seriously, five dollars a month to use a debit card?  Why would anyone pay that when there are alternatives which are FREE?  And don’t these idiot bankers realize consumers are going to boycott the big banks when free alternatives are available?

Mark Stopa

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Big Hearts Can Win Over Big Money

I’ve been an avid sports fan all of my life, and the thing I like most about sports is the feeling that, on any given day, anything is possible.  It’s a feeling that we should all grab ahold of and carry with us throughout life.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me explain.   

Last night was the final game of the regular season in Major League Baseball.  The Boston Red Sox – with their $160 million dollar payroll (third highest in MLB) – and the Tampa Bay Rays – with their $42 million dollar payroll (second lowest in MLB) were tied in the standings, 90 wins and 71 losses, going into the final game of the season.  After 161 games, with just one remaining, one would make the playoffs, and compete for the championship, while the other’s season would end. 

The Rays have built their team internally, “the right way,” some would say – by drafting and developing their own players.  The Sox built their team by spending money, including, this past offseason, with a 7-year, $142 million contract to former Rays’ star and fan favorite Carl Crawford. 

Most would not dispute the Red Sox have far more talent.  Having a payroll more than triple that of the Rays enabled them to get better, more-established players (e.g. Crawford), hence the “Big Money.”  But here were the Rays, 9 games behind in early September yet tied with Big Money after 161 games, still fighting for the playoffs, hence the “Big Hearts.” 

Last night, it looked like Big Money would prevail again (as, seemingly, usually happens in life), as the Rays were losing 7-0 to the Yankees through seven innings, while the Red Sox were beating the Orioles 3-2.  Then, some crazy, unbelievable stuff started happening.  It started raining in Baltimore, so the Red Sox game was delayed.  Then, with the Red Sox watching on TV in their clubhouse, the Rays scored 6 runs against the Yankees in the eighth inning to pull within 7-6.  Then, with 2 outs in the 9th inning and nobody on base, still losing 7-6 and one strike from what could have ended their season, Dan Johnson, who had one home run all season and hadn’t gotten a hit since April, hit a home run that barely stayed fair and barely cleared the fence, tying the game.  One strike away from what looked to be the end of their season, the Big Hearts tied the game, improbably clawing their way back. 

Meanwhile, in Baltimore, the rain delay was over.  Big Money, having watched Big Hearts come back from 7-0 down to tie it at 7-7, had to finish their game.  Two innings later, Big Money’s best pitcher was one out away from preserving a 3-2 Red Sox win.  He had failed in this situation only twice all year (161 games).  It was the bottom of the ninth, two outs, and the Orioles had nobody on base.  Big Money looked assured of a win.  Yet one Oriole got a double and the next, with two strikes against him, doubled in that runner to tie the score. 

Meanwhile, the scoreboard in Tampa showed that the Orioles tied the Red Sox and the Tampa fans erupted, right as Big Hearts’ star hitter, Evan Longoria, approached the plate, the Rays still tied 7-7. 

Meanwhile, back in Baltimore, the next Orioles’ batter hit a liner into left field, where Big Money’s Carl Crawford, the former Ray who left the Big Hearts for Big Money, came close but couldn’t quite catch the ball, allowing the winning run to score.  Improbably, one out from victory, Big Money lost.  Meanwhile, just minutes later in Tampa, Longoria hit a low line drive that barely stayed fair and barely cleared the fence, giving Big Hearts an 8-7 win. 

Big Hearts were 9 games behind in the standings in September – an insurmountable obstacle, based on history, and down 7-0 in the final game and one strike from defeat, yet won, and Big Money was one strike from victory, yet lost.

For you non-sports fans, many analysts immediately started calling this the most captivating day in baseball history.   Personally, I can scarcely recall anything as unbelievable in all my years of being a sports fan. 

But this wasn’t just about sports.  This was about how Big Hearts could prevail over Big Money.  This was about how the underdog, the team with the low payroll and the less-established players, could find a way to win despite being behind in the standings all season, then behind on the scoreboard 7-0 in the final game. 

This was about the magic of Big Hearts – the game-tying HR from a little-used, no-name player with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the bottom of the ninth, which barely cleared the fence and barely stayed fair, followed by the winning home run which barely cleared the fence and barely stayed fair. 

This was about the indescrible irony of Big Money’s Carl Crawford, signed away from Big Hearts in the offseason, just missing the final catch on the final play, sealing Big Money’s loss and the end of their season.  

This was about the feeling that a higher power caused the rain delay in Baltimore, forcing Big Money to watch Big Hearts’ improbable comeback on TV, then forcing Big Money to resume their game knowing Big Hearts had tied the score. 

Most of all, this was about the feeling that anything was possible – that it was possible for Big Hearts to defeat Big Money.  This was about the realization that it’s not always about money – it’s about grit, determination, desire, karma, and heart. 

Everyone needs to feel this feeling.  Everyone needs to believe Big Hearts can beat Big Money.  And I’m not just talking about sports.  This is about life.  This is about our country.  Our economy.  Our financial system.  Big Hearts can beat Big Money.  It may seem improbable, it may seem a fairy tale, but it can happen, and we can’t ever give up. 

Of course, one of the reasons Big Hearts beat Big Money was the umpires were fair.  They called balls and strikes fairly and objectively.  They weren’t bought off.  As much money as Big Money had, the umpires weren’t letting them stuff that money into their pockets to influence the outcome.  The commissioner of Major League Baseball, who oversees those commissioners, was ensuring fair play.  He wasn’t threatening the umpires with their jobs or salaries if they didn’t make certain rulings.  He let the games play out fairly, enabling the best teams to win, assuring the right result. 

The moral here is that Big Hearts can beat Big Money, but the playing field has to be level.  Right now, in our financial system, it’s not.  Big Money has a huge advantage.  No matter their grit, no matter their determination, it’s hard for consumers to match up.  However, we cannot give up.  We must all keep fighting to ensure/create a level playing field.  We must all realize the joy of watching the Big Hearts beat Big Money is indescribable, and we must keep fighting to ensure it happens.

Mark Stopa

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