Two quick starting points on today's Olympics before we get to any of the on ice/ snow activities.
First, if you read no other story about the Olympics and North Korea's involvement in the PyeongChang Games, read this one https://www.wsj.com/articles/north-koreas-weapons-of-mass-distraction-1518444526 called "North Korea's Weapons of Mass Distraction."
It details the surreal details around the 229-person North Korean band of cheerleaders, who among other things are sent to try to curry favor and appeal around the world for their country and promote the idea of "national cooperation."
And speaking of cooperation, these ladies — mostly comprised of daughters of elite North Korean families — must be taller than 5-foot-3, be attractive and understand that Rule 1 of NK Cheerleading Club is we never talk about NK Cheerleading Club. (And yes, Rule 2 of NK Cheerleading Club is we never talk about NK Cheerleading Club.)
There were 21 of the NK Cheerleading Club jailed in prison camps for discussing what they saw in South Korea during the 2002 Busan Asian Games. Which is a harsh reminder of what kind of dictator Kim Jong Un really is, no matter how charming CNN thinks his sister may be.
Secondly, and this story is the latest exclamation point on a long and painful sentence that is being punctuated seemingly every two years during Olympic competitions.
Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor and longtime Olympics hater, says South Korea could be facing a $10 billion loss for hosting these Games. Yes, Billion with a B.
Among the crazy expensive decisions made to get PyeongChang — a town of roughly 45,000 people — ready to host the world, here's a list of financial crunches:
* They spent nine figures to build a 50,000-seat stadium for the Opening Ceremonies. Moving forward, for that stadium to be sold-out, they would have to have 111 percent of the city come out. Math, it is your friend;
* The South Korea organizers only sold roughly 60 percent of the tickets to these events;
* There was a high-speed rail built connecting PyeongChang and Seoul, the country's capital that cost billions;
* There was more than a billion spent clearing out almost 60,000 trees from a sacred forest to construct the Alpine courses;
The hope is that tourism would increase because of these Games, but that seems like a stretch to bring back $10 billion.
On the bright side, at least the South Korean organizers are way ahead of the $51 billion lost by the hosts of the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
What planet are we on?
We vowed several months ago to try to be an agent of change. Blessed with multiple platforms — this daily conversations with you good people, three columns a week on A2 of the Times Free Press, 15 hours of radio gasbaggery with David Paschal on Press Row — just bemoaning the negative around us all too easy.
The world is filled with piles of manure, and the choice is pretty simple: Either complain how bad it smells or try to pass out shovels and handle the issue.
Some times, answers are not easily available. Some times just pointing out the issue and raising discussion — especially when that discussion can result in change — is enough.
Maybe that's enough in this case, and while there may be more pressing issues around us, can we discuss the assault on an American institution: The school-aged dance.
First, there was the news last week that a "Daddy-Daughter Dance" hosted by an elementary school was postponed because the "Daddy-Daughter" connection was sexist and stereotypical.
"Gender-based activities are rooted in old-fashioned gender stereotypes," Lenora Lapidus, director of the ACLU Women's Rights Project, previously told Yahoo Lifestyle. "For example, father-daughter dances exclude children raised by single moms, lesbian couples, a grandmother, or who otherwise don't have male figures in their lives."
Oy vey. Yes, you read that correctly. We are headed down a path of including everyone or else that we are going to never be able to do anything.
And then there's news that the era of eternal inclusion now jumps the other direction. In Utah, there has been a longstanding tradition at a traditional sixth-grade dance that girls are not allowed to say no to a dance request.
OK, first, with a daughter, any message that can be even remotely taken as a girl not being able to say no to a boy is dreadfully and dangerously short-sighted. Especially in this time.
Secondly, why are adults everywhere so overwhelmed and worried about some sort of dejection, rejection or set back in the lives of our children.
Learning how to handle negatives, be it losses in sports, a girl saying "Thanks but no thanks," experiencing a bad grade because you didn't study or any of the rest allow you to be better adjusted for the inevitable speedbumps in this life.
Isn't being unable to handle setbacks later in life is way worse — when teenagers, young adults or adults have less support mind you — than any rite of passage of adolescence?
That issue should be considered too, otherwise there will never be enough shovels to spread all this crap around.
OK, start printing your Braves playoffs tickets. Pitchers and catchers reported today.
With that, and with tongue firmly in cheek about the Braves having any chance to make a run.
In fact, here are some hard and fast numbers about your Atlanta Braves as spring training opens:
1. That's the overall ranking of prospects of super youngster Ronald Acuna. Yes, he's not a pitcher, but the Acuna Watch will be easily the best and most interesting storyline to follow from the Braves this spring.
3. That's the number of new coaches on Brian Snitker's staff, as Eric Young Sr., Walt Weiss and Sal Fasano come aboard. Gone are familiar faces of Terry Pendleton and Eddie Perez, the last remaining coaches who worked with Bobby Cox.
3.5. That's the over/under we set for rookies — including Acuna — who will make the final roster.
A bunch. That's the number of nametags needed for the hard-throwing newbies trying to land jobs in the Braves bullpen. Yes, we remember the great stretch that A.J. Minter enjoyed last year and the names of Arodys Vizcaino and Sam Freeman (no relation to Morgan) sound vaguely familiar, but you get the idea. (If we gave you the over/under of a player to make the final roster of 59, you go over or under?)
12. That's the number of innings Scott Kazmir threw in four minor league appearances last year. Kazmir was part of the package the Braves received in the trade to unload Matt Kemp's contract, and the three-time All-Star could really help the rotation if he returns healthy, which means touching 94 rather than averaging 86 with his fastball.
.232 — That was Dansby Swanson's final average in an erratic first full season in the majors. The good part of that was after a dreadful first six weeks in which he was hitting about a buck 50, finishing at .232 is not terrible. The bad news is, for a shortstop who finished with 20 errors and a minus-7 runs saved analytics rating, hitting .232 is inexcusable. His adjustment and improvement can not be overstated for 2018 and beyond.
.325 — That's what Acuna hit across three levels of minor league play last year. The 19-year-old also had 31 doubles, eight triples and 21 homers to go with his 44 steals. The 19-year-old is a Dude, with a capital D.
Those numbers do not spend much time on the young pitchers — Sean Newcomb, Max Fried, Mike Foltynewicz chief among them — who will let us know if the Braves are going to be anything more than rebuilding.
On the good side, though, baseball is back.
This and that
— Speaking of the Olympics, enjoyed the story of 17-year-old Red Gerard, who won the U.S.'s first gold at these games. And hey, a teenager with a Gold medal is still a teenager, right? Red apparently overslept the day of the race because he stayed up too late watching NetFlix, lost his jacket and had to borrow his roommates and dropped a four-letter mistaken live TV after winning gold.
— Loved this thought by Steve Kerr. In an effort to keep his team engaged — yes, feel free to wonder why guys making tens of millions a year while wearing shorts to work need extra reasons to you know actually focus on their job — Kerr turned the team huddles over to various players throughout Monday's 129-83 win over Phoenix.
— Down 10 with less than a minute to play and down eight with 33 seconds left? No sweat for Patriot League-frontrunner Bucknell, which scored the final nine points, including a 3 at the buzzer to brush off Colgate 65-64.
— Because it's Tuesday — and each day of the week that ends in 'Y' for that matter — here's the dose of what offended people from the most recent Olympics social media offering. Yes, that's online backlash from intended praise for Mirai Nagasu's triple axel over the weekend. Sigh.
— While we are here, we also learned that Nagasu in fact does not have a tattoo on her inner thigh. That was support tape.
— Because you know the rules around these parts. When Weeds writes about college basketball, we are in, especially when he drops knowledge on the old-school great UTC teams like here.
— Have we under-reported the story that Colonel Sanders is now a woman? Reba McIntyre has assumed the old-school Southern role of the chicken chief of KFC. Just wondering. Now if McIntyre is dressed as Sanders and takes Sanders' daughter to the Daddy-Daughter Dance, is that OK?
— Here's an interesting read on the economic impact the Super Bowl provided for Minnesota. This, by the excellent AJC sports BID-ness reported Tim Tucker, is spun to look what Super Bowl LIII could mean for the A-T-L.
You know what day it is and how we roll.
True or false, Derrick Rose, who cleared waivers Monday, is a Hall of Famer.
True or false, the Braves will be better than the 72-90 they posted last year.
True or false, when you were a kid, you were super excited for the SI Swimsuit issue to arrive. (The SI Swimsuit issue hit the streets today, and man the availability of skin these days makes that thing seem like a dinosaur.)
On this day in 1866, Jesse James robbed his first bank.
Chuck Yeager was born today in 1923.
Coach K is 71 today. Peter Gabriel is 68.
In 1884 on this day Alfred Carlton Gilbert was born. He invented the Erector Set.
Jerry Springer is 74 today.
As for a Rushmore, Gary Patterson is 58 today. Let's go Rushmore of current college football coaches without a national title. Discuss.