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December 10, 2008

"They say 'play ball,' but not for you no more . . . "

 

C.C.'s a Yankee

 

Apparently my main man Carsten Charles is a Yankee now.  Can't say I fault him for taking $160 million from the Steinbrenner's.  I know he wasn't even an Indian anymore, but I guess since he was around the same age as me and I got the chance to see him come up all the way from a teenage draft pick (sat it the stands in Akron for his first Double-A start) to Cy Young winner with the Indians, I rooted extra hard for Sabathia.

Congrats on getting the largest contract ever for a pitcher, C.C.  Here's hoping if the Tribe makes it back to the playoffs in the near future, they won't have to face you.

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March 24, 2008

Everyday, dreams come true in Columbus

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, the two NCAA Division I men's basketball teams that matter in Ohio (we all know Cincinnati isn't part of the Buckeye State) will be meeting for an epic clash Wednesday at Value City Arena.  That's right, the University of Dayton Flyers will be making the trek across I-70 to take on the Buckeyes, and I couldn't be more pleased.

Ever since my days as a young pup sitting in a 5 Meyer dorm watching Mark Ashman, Edwin "The Blanket" Young, and Brooks "Shut Up" Hall knock off Kentucky, I've been saying, "Bring on Ohio State."  Now that I hold degrees from both UD and OSU, this is a dream matchup for me.  Will Kurt Huelsman be able to keep Kosta Koufus in check?  Can Jamar Butler and David Lighty slow down the force that is Brian Roberts?  And how many minutes can we expect from Chris Wright, who just might be the best player on the court Wednesday night?

A trip to the (NIT) Final Four in Madison Square Garden is on the line.  Only one team from Ohio will make it.  Who am I rooting for?  If you know me, you already know that this is probably the only time I'll root against the Buckeyes, and that I'm foaming at the mouth at the chance to see my Flyers expose the fraud that is Thad Matta.  Since I've retired my 6th Man and Finnatics t-shirts, I'll be in the house wearing my UD sweatshirt and screaming, "Please, Jet, don't turn the ball over."

For your Dayton Flyers coverage, I suggest Flyers Fieldhouse.  Sure, maybe they go a little over the top with the "Chris(t) Wright" stuff, but they do a generally exemplary job over there (and I admit that I kinda love that they're tagging Wright's comeback "wresurrection").

Dayton. Flyers. Go UD.

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October 16, 2007

Maybe the Worldwide Leader needs a copy editor

I've been having a love-hate relationship with Bill Simmons's writing lately.  Today, though, I checked espn.com a couple of times in anticipation of his promised column on the Red Sox-Indians series.  Surprise of surprises, it never appeared.

What did come up, though, was a new set of links.  One of the links wasn't actually a link, but an "interesting note" from some guy in New York -- I think his name was John F. -- justifying LeBron's choice in supporting the Yankees, despite the fact that he's from Northeastern Ohio.  The "interesting note" is gone now, but it ran something like this:

  • John F. from New York sends along an interesting note on LeBron wearing a Yankees hat which we surprisingly haven't heard before:  "Why is everyone making such a big deal out of LeBron wearing a Yankees hat?  He's from Columbus, which for decades was home to the Yankees' AAA team, so really, it's not that big of a shock that he ended up a New York fan."

Of course, this prompted me (and I'm sure 100 others) to send Simmons an e-mail explaining the fact that Akron and Columbus aren't the same thing, and that Akron is actually -- believe it or not -- 125 miles from Columbus.  Needless to say, when I just checked tonight, the "interesting note" had been removed without explanation.  It may as well have never existed.

I normally wouldn't fault a member of the national media for not knowing basic Ohio geography.  In this case, it's something that could have easily been verified.  A Google search would come up with a thousand pages noting LeBron was born and raised in Akron, not Columbus, and that Columbus, the state capital, is in the middle of the state, hours away from Akron, which for all intents and purposes is a part of Cleveland (usually all of Northeastern Ohio just gets lumped together).

In this case, though, Simmons himself should have known better.  People the world over know that LeBron went to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary high school, and that Cleveland-Akron isn't Columbus.

Of course, supreme authority Thurston Moore has made the same innocent mistake, so I'll give Simmons a pass.  This time.

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September 30, 2007

Review: LeBron James on SNL

[Cliche Threat Level Red] I haven't watched Saturday Night Live in years, but [Cliche Threat Level Yellow] I have a personal rule that anytime someone from Summit County hosts the show I have to watch.  So, I sat through the 90 minutes out of obligation.  And you know what, it wasn't too bad.

I, for one, enjoyed Kanye West's performances, though I admit I missed the first two-thirds of his second song because I turned to ESPN in fear that I might miss a moment of Lou Holtz on College Football Final, which, come to think of it, would actually be funnier than most of what I saw on SNL.  Anyways, if I make the basic assumption that SNL isn't any good anymore, LeBron did well.  Things started off really really slow, but I did like the Solid Gold sketch, and the guidance counselor thing at the very end was funny as well.  Those two, plus the Kanye West awards show sketch, go in my top three for the night, a top three that essentially serves as the list of amusing bits from the show.

So, three cheers for LeBron (and, if you're reading this King James, here's hoping you've figured out a way to score 48 in every game in the '08 playoffs and finals, 'cause I'm kinda scared that Devin Brown and Cedric Simmons aren't going to get us over the hump).

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September 16, 2007

51-45

Gotta give a shout to my Brownies -- few things remedy a Week 1 dismantling at the hands of the Steelers better than a shootout victory over the "dreaded" Bungles.  Sunday was definitely the best day in Brownsland since April.  While I'm still trying not to feel dirty rooting for Jamal Lewis, I'm happy to see guys like Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards live up to their high draft-pick status (keep in mind that Winslow's been doing it for a while, though -- his gutty 2006 season is one of the all-time underrated seasons by a tight end).

Since I was at my parents' house (and the Steelers take priority and get the broadcast nod in York, PA), my dad and I went up to Steelton to watch the game with the Central Pennsylvania Browns Backers.  While the website is wholly unspectacular and a bit outdated, the CPBB group is another example of why Browns fans are the best in the NFL.  We've had one winning season in the last eight years and we get blown out on opening day by our rivals, yet we still fill a room in a bar 330 miles from Cleveland.  With all due respect to the alleged "Who Dey Nation" no one deserved a victory today more than the displaced "people of Cleveland who've suffered for so many years" (to steal a line from D.C. Berman).

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July 04, 2007

66 is a lot of dogs

Congratulations to Joey Chestnut who earlier today pulled off an epic victory in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Competition.  I honestly thought Kobayashi was my generation's Babe Ruth -- someone who defined the sport and would own it for as long as he chose to compete.  When Chestnut went jaw to jaw with Kobayashi last year, there was hope that the U.S. would reclaim the mustard belt.  Chestnut fulfilled that promise today.

First that annoying law professor finally got beat on Jeopardy last night, and now Chestnut wins the hot dog eating competition.  It's been a good two days.

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June 21, 2007

Final thoughts on the 2006-07 Cleveland Cavaliers season

Yeah, it was disappointing to see the Cavs get swept in the NBA Finals.  Yeah, I drank a lot of the Cavs kool-aid and pretty stupidly picked them to beat the Spurs in seven.  Oh well.

Wasn't the season a success anyway, though?  After all, only a handful of "experts" picked the Cavs to win the East this year, and that's exactly what they did.  They're the first Cavs team to do that, and it happened just four years after they were the worst team in the league.

I often get into the argument with fans of Philadelphia and Buffalo sports fans about which city's fans are more suffering -- Philadelphia, Buffalo, or Cleveland (for the record, ESPN named Cleveland "the winner" a year or two ago).  Buffalo is hard to compare, since they don't have an NBA or MLB team (I don't count the NHL as a major sport), but Philadelphia, like Cleveland, has an NFL, NBA, and MLB team.  I once wrote a brilliantly detailed analysis of the history of Philadelphia and Cleveland sports since the last Cleveland championship (the Browns in '64).  Of course, I just posted it on the Lowes Cup fantasy football message board, and never saved it to my computer.  The gist of it, though, was that Philadelphia has a clear edge on Cleveland in the categories that matter -- namely, MVPs, championship appearances (Super Bowl/Finals/World Series), and championships.

The Philly (and Buffalo) fans' counterargument is that they've had so many more narrow defeats in championships.  "Philadelphia (or Buffalo) fans have suffered through so many crushing heartbreaking defeats in big games," they'll say.  "Even though we've been appeared in more championship games or series, it just makes it worse to have such a strong history of failure in those games or series.  Over the years, Philadelphia (or Buffalo) fans have been conditioned to expect the worst even when their teams are successful, and so really it's better to not play for championships than to continually come close and lose them."

This is all total b.s., though.  If you want to talk about any "number of crushing defeats," Cleveland fans can counter with a good share of "two word sentences": The Drive.  The Fumble.  The Shot.  Jose Mesa.  You can say Jose Mesa was the only one of those that happened in a championship, but they all have their significance.

They're even more significant, though, when you think about what the argument is about:  Cleveland hasn't won a professional sports championship since 1964!  In other words, the last time Cleveland won anything, the Beatles hadn't yet released "Yesterday," the world had never heard "California Girls," and LBJ had just been reelected president.  The U.S. still used silver in its coins and there had never been a space walk by an astronaut.  Basically, it was a long time ago.

But I digress.  If there's anything I've learned over these past six months, it's that seeing your team make it to the championship and lose is a hell of a lot better than your team sucking.  In January, I sat uncomfortably in the University of Phoenix Stadium and watched Florida destroy my Buckeyes.  In April, I sat in the Georgia Dome and watched the same thing happen to OSU's mens' hoops team.  And you know what?  Watching those teams make it to their championships and watching the Cavs make it to the finals were great rides.  Sure, none of them won, and it really sucks to not win a championship, but isn't following a winning team to the championship game what being a sports fan is about?

And don't say, "It would be a lot worse is those OSU-Florida games or the NBA Finals series had been closer -- it's infinitely more painful to watch a team lose on a missed field goal or stalled last-minute drive."  Watching Jose Mesa blow Game 7 of the World Series in 1997 was brutally painful.  But -- brutually painful as it was (and that was my Indians team -- I was a junior in high school, so I was young enough that I had nothing better to do and was able to watch every game, but old enough that I could appreciate the season) I'd take that heartbreak in a second over the Indians' 68 win season in 2003.

What I guess I'm trying to say is that Cleveland fans have been getting their collective ass kicked for so long that I still feel like the Cavs accomplished something truly significant this year, even though the Spurs completely dismantled them.  And that's why I'll wear my 2007 Eastern Conference Champions t-shirt with pride for years to come.

So where do the Cavs go from here?  Obviously, they have a lot of work to do if they want another shot at winning the NBA championship.  As much as I like Larry Hughes and recognize what he's done for the team in terms of playing through injuries, the Cavs need a better #2 option to help LeBron.  With that in mind, no player (other than LeBron) should be untouchable in Danny Ferry's quest to get LeBron a Scottie Pippen/Kobe Bryant (or, given the Cavs' propensity to imitate the Spurs, Parker-Ginobili combo).  As good as Boobie Gibson was in the Pistons series (and by all means, the Cavs should definitely keep him), we need a true starting point guard to initiate the offense and hit open jump shots.  And, speaking of initiating the offense, WE NEED A FREAKING OFFENSE!

Basically, Danny Ferry can't rest on his laurels like last season.  It won't be enough to sign players like Scotty Pollard or David Wesley, and he can't rest his hopes on making another great second round pick because . . . well . . . we don't have any draft picks this year (by the way, thanks goes out to fellow Flyer Jim Paxson for trading our first round pick this year for Jiri Welsch -- that trade really helped us for the month or so that Big Jiri was here!).  I'm tired of hearing "no one wants to come to Cleveland" when Detroit is able to pick up guys like Chris Webber for next to nothing (thanks to the Allan Houston rule).  We should be able to make a run at Robert Horry-type players to fill a role or two, and we should be able to use some of our contracts (and maybe Doc Gooden, as much as I love him) to lure a guy who can really help LeBron. 

I don't have anything specific in mind -- isn't that Ferry's job?  I just hope he does something, so the Cavs can make another championship run next year and build off this year's wave of positive momentum.

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June 07, 2007

Final Pre-Finals Thoughts

So yeah, it looks like Bill Simmons came out pretty much the exact opposite way as me on the NBA Finals.  No matter.  Simmons doesn't know the number one reason the Cavs will win -- a reason that I didn't list yesterday.

About two and a half weeks ago, during the Cavs-Nets series, I told a friend about a vision I had.  "This will be a year where the Buckeyes make the championship in football and men's basketball, the Cavs make it to the NBA Finals, and the Tribe makes it to the World Series."

"Yeah," my friend said.  "And they'll all lose because you'll go to every game."

"Yeah," I said.  "Probably."

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I won't be able to make it to any of the NBA Finals games this year.  What does that mean?  You guessed it -- this series won't turn out like the BCS National Championship Game or the Final Four.  Since I won't be in the house for the games, the Cavs will win it all.

(And that, you see, is a glimpse inside the psyche of a Cleveland sports fan.) 

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June 06, 2007

Picking the NBA Championship

Everyone I've seen has been picking the Spurs to win the NBA Championship over the Cavs (well, not everyone . . . on TrueHoop, Henry Abbott's mom and two other guys picked the Cavs, although one apparently just picked them so he would have a chance of winning the "Stat Geek Smackdown" -- by the way, today Abbott linked to Flyer Fieldhouse, a blog that apparently is written by fellow Dayton alumni/Cleveland sports fans that looks pretty tight).  At least Cleveland got some love from Michael Wilbon, who wrote this article for the Washington Post today.  Everyone's saying the Cavs have a chance to win a game or two.  Well, the time has come to set the record straight.

I'm not going to do any kind of statistical analysis -- best to leave that for the people who have more time on their hands.  Brian Windhorst did his usual super-duper job of detailing the various Cavs-Suprs matchups (obviously, the Cavs have the edge at small forward with LeBron over Bruce Bowen, and Z give the Cavs a debatable advantage at center, even if Roger Brown would never admit it).  This is just my from-the-gut projection of how the series will go.

Anyone who watched the post-game festivities after the Cavs beat Detroit in Game 6 Saturday night knows that the team (and the fans) are completely overjoyed just to be there.  Some people are even saying that the Cavs' sense of satisfaction with simply making it to the Finals indicates a lack of desire and the fortitude necessary for upsetting the Spurs and taking the Championship.  Early celebrations aren't great indicators all the time, though.  This past fall, I watched the Cardinals win their NLDS series.  During the postgame show,  they doused their locker room with champagne while Tony La Russa wandered around the scene with a towel on his head.  "There's no way the Cardinals are going to win the World Series," I told my roommate Nate Dogg.  "They're so amped just to win their Division Series, they still have the NLCS and the World Series to go.  They're finished."

Then, after the OSU men's basketball team beat Michigan at home to clinch the Big 10 regular season title, Tok, Tortoise, and I stayed to watch the 20+ minute post-game ceremony where the Big 10 trophy was awarded and the team and coaches cut down the nets.  In my infinite wisdom, I proclaimed this a harbinger of bad fortune.  "We're stupid to be this excited to win the conference title in a weak Big 10," I pointed out.  "We'll be lucky to make it out of the Sweet 16."  While I was partially right -- the Buckeyes were lucky to get out of that Xavier game alive -- avid readers of this blog will remember that OSU made it to the NCAA final, and maybe would've won if Thad Matta had made even a cursory attempt to get Greg Oden involved in the offense over the course of the season.

So yeah, it would be foolish to pick against the Cavs on a "they're already overjoyed to be here" theory.  I'm also getting sick of reading that the Cavs are lucky to be in the Finals because they took an "easy route" to get there.  First, they were the second seed in the East, so it wasn't like they could be expected to play the top two teams in the East.  They only had to beat one team better than them -- the Pistons -- and they did that.  Sure, Washington was horrible, but isn't a seventh seed supposed to be inferior, and didn't the Cavs sweep them?  I think a lot of people under-rate New Jersey.  After all, they did have Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson on their team (and a pesky Mikki Moore), and even if they didn't have all of their Big Three playing their best for majority of the series, they did beat the third-seeded Raptors (who people loved  before the playoffs started).  Besides, the Cavs would've beaten them in five if they hadn't laid an egg at home in Game 5 (which ultimately taught them a valuable lesson for the Detroit series -- always keep your foot on the gas).

Detroit struggled offensively and showed some major cracks that perhaps indicate that the Pistons need a makeover this offseason.  Doesn't anyone realize, though, that maybe the Cavs' underrated defense, the team's passion and intensity, and LeBron's unbelievable play were the major sources of the Pistons' offensive struggles and overall breakdowns?  I'm also sick of hearing people say the Cavs beat teams -- i.e., the Nets and the Pistons -- that are fatally flawed and need to be blown up.  People still say that about the Cavs (e.g., they still have no viable point guard, Larry Hughes isn't ever going to be healthy, Z is old, and LeBron still needs a scorer to serve as his Scottie Pippen).

Besides, can't you make the same general point -- that the Cavs took an easy route to the Finals -- about the Spurs?  Didn't both teams beat only one "power" team from their conference (Cleveland, as Charles Barkley said, was about two plays way from sweeping Detroit 6-0, and San Antonio beat the Suns in a closely contested series that was heavily influenced by the controversial Horry-Nash "collision")?  And can't you make the argument that they each also beat a team with multiple superstars that just couldn't play to the sum of its parts (New Jersey and Denver)?  Sure, Utah was a much better team than the injury-depleted Washington Wizards, but it's not like the Spurs had to play Dallas (the best regular-season team in the NBA) or Houston (who had a better record than the Jazz and a guy named McGrady).  The Spurs definitely had a tougher road than the Cavs, but it wasn't like they had to go through Jordan's Bulls, Magic's Lakers, and Walton's Trailblazers to get to the Finals.

A win is a win is a win, and a Conference Championship is a Conference Championship.  Sure, you can say that the Cavs are the worst (or second or third worst, whatever) team to ever play in an NBA Finals.  But if the Cavs win, does that then mean the Spurs are the new worst team to ever play in a Finals?

I guess the point of my rant is that the Cavs' path to the Finals means about as little as the fact that they are excited to be in the Finals.  They did what they needed to do to get here.  My final bone to pick with the prognosticators is that they say the Cavs' regular season sweep over the Spurs is meaningless.  The argument goes, "The regular season is just the regular season and has no bearing on the Finals, and, anyways, the Spurs grew a lot as a team and were a much better team in the second half of the season than the first (when they played the Cavs) and -- by the way -- one of the Cavs' wins came on the second night of a back-to-back for the Spurs, and they never win on night two of a back-to-back."

The Cavs have proven they can beat the Spurs.  Sure, San Antonio has better integrated this past offseason's additions since they last saw the Cavs, and, yes, they're a better team now than they were in January.  But the same can be said for the Cavs.  LeBron has grown by proverbial leaps and bounds.  Boobie Gibson is playing significant minutes and contributing on a more regular basis.  Big Z has stepped up his game in the playoffs.  The two wins over the Spurs don't mean that the Cavs will win the series, but they do mean that the Cavs have shown that they can win the series.

"So," you're asking (if you're still reading), "You're going to pick the Cavs, aren't you?"  Well . . . you're right.  Here's how I see the series going:

  • Game 1: Spurs win (the Spurs lead the series 1-0).  LeBron is nervous, and the rest of the Cavs follow his lead.  In a sloppy, turnover-filled game, the Spurs take a comfortable 10-point lead into halftime.  The Cavs mount a series of mini-runs through the third and fourth quarters, but are never able to get it closer than 5.  Skip Bayless cries tears of joy on TV Friday, and the media starts talking sweep.
  • Game 2: Cavs win (the series is tied 1-1).  Call this game "LeBron Strikes Back."  Number 23 isn't nervous this time, and the team plays a much better game overall.  It's back and forth throughout, and the Cavs prevail in a close one to even the series heading to back to Cleveland.

As a side note, it's critically important for the Cavs to steal one of the first two games of the series.  The Spurs aren't the Pistons.  They're not going to get overconfident if they win the first two games, and they won't let the insane atmosphere in Cleveland rattle them too much.  If the Cavs come home down 0-2, they have a huge (although not insurmountable) mountain (bet you didn't think I'd write "mountain") to climb.  Why?  The Spurs are going to win one of the three games in Cleveland -- you heard it here first.

  • Game 3: Cavs win (the Cavs lead the series 2-1).  The Spurs actually take an early lead when the Cavs come out too fired up and play sloppy again.  The home crowd won't back down, though, and neither will the Cavs.  The game is close at halftime, but the Cavs take a small lead in the middle of the third quarter and somehow hold it until the final buzzer.  Skip Bayless still rips LeBron on Wednesday (he hasn't won anything yet), but the rest of the media starts talking Cavs championship.
  • Game 4: Spurs win (the series is tied 2-2).  I told you they'd win one in Cleveland, didn't I?  The Cavs look bad in this game, but really Pop's figured 'em out.  Duncan has a big game.  The media doesn't know what to think anymore.
  • Game 5: Spurs win (the Spurs lead the series 3-2).  More of the above.  Cleveland fans vow to never watch Desperate Housewives again after ABC shows Eva Longoria for the 14,295th time.  The media starts talking Spurs championship again.

Another side note:  Am I the only person who remembers Eva Longoria's "I hate Cleveland" interview from earlier in the season (maybe the All-Star game?)?  During the interview, she's asked question after question about Tony Parker (I'm thinking the interview -- which takes place in the stands -- was done by Mark Jones).   Anyway, she talks about how much she loves Tony Parker and blah blah blah, and the interviewer finally asks her, "You love the Spurs and you love Tony Parker.  But if he's traded to another team, would you root for the Spurs or his new team?"  Eva replied, "I would follow him anywhere, except I wouldn't move to Detroit or Cleveland."  I immediately called my mom and told her, "That's it, I officially really can't stand Isabella."  (Eva Longoria once played a character named Isabella on The Young and the Restless, which my mom watched.)  Back to the projection:

  • Game 6: Cavs win (the series is tied 3-3). Against all odds, LeBron pulls off another classic game (not quite 48-points, but fairly close) to will the Cavs to victory.  All of a sudden, and somewhat out of nowhere considering the last two games, the Cavs seem to have the Spurs' number, much like they did after Game 5 of the Pistons series.  Still, these are the Spurs, so we can't get our hopes up too much, can we?
  • Game 7: Cavs win.  In a Game 7 for the ages, something finally goes Cleveland's way.  The Cavs play great team ball.  Of course, LeBron has a great game, but everyone seems to contribute.  If this weren't really happening, it would be like someone made it up -- the team comes together and plays to its best capabilities at the most important time.  It's really like it's scripted by Disney.  During the final two minutes of the game, ABC keeps cutting back to a jam-packed Gund . . . I mean Quicken Loans Arena, where everyone seems to be covering their eyes during the close finale.  After the game, there is nary a dry eye in Cleveland.  Speaking of tears of joy, viewers watching the game in HD catch a few drops from David Stern's eyes as the commish hands the trophy to LeBron.
So, there you have it.  I pick the Cavs in seven.  I'm definitely a homer, and this is all wishful thinking.  The Spurs are a vastly superior team.  But, as they say, they play the games for a reason, and hopefully the reason will be a Cleveland championship.
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June 05, 2007

Sick . . .

LeBron James is pretty good:

 

In other news, Roger Brown is still around, and he's decided to stop making veiled references to Bill Simmons (e.g., calling him something to the effect of "one of the ridiculous young video-game playing journalists who are obsessed with The Shawshank Redemption") and is calling him out by name now. The Plain Dealer took down all their classic Roger Brown columns, so I couldn't amuse myself (and you, dear reader) with a trip down memory lane, but I'm wondering what Roger's thinking of Big Z's play against Detroit (Roger's devoted plenty of column inches to bemoaning the fact that the Cavs continue to keep Z and -- to make a harrowing situation worse -- Cavs fans actually like Z). 

I'm posting my Finals preview tomorrow.
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June 04, 2007

Cavs Cavs Cavs!

Needless to say, Saturday night's Cavs-Pistons game was pretty amazing.  Daniel Gibson was money in the bank -- again, Danny Ferry gets a million thank you's for drafting Boobie with the 42nd overall pick

When Rasheed Wallace exploded and got his sixth personal foul (and first and second technical fouls) in the fourth quarter, the game was obviously over -- Detroit completely fell apart.  This Pistons were a good team, but LeBron was the best player in the series, and he proved that the Cavs can win in a variety of ways, like when he scores 48 in one game, and then gets 14 rebounds and 8 assists in the next game.

Interestingly, there were dueling "Kobe could learn a lot from LeBron" articles online today.  Mark Kriegel compares Kobe to Lindsay Lohan before writing, "Great players are supposed to endow the players around them with greatness. Kobe Bryant does not. While James is about winning, Kobe is about Kobe."  Sally Jenkins was even tougher on Kobe.  "Bryant is now 28 years old, and he should hope to be LeBron James when he grows up," she writes, eventually concluding, "[H]ere is the difference between the two men: People have to play with Bryant; they want to play with James."

A couple of weeks ago, some sports progam asked the question, "If you could start an NBA franchise today with any player, who would it be?"  Whoever it was answering said Kobe.  After Kobe's "trade me-don't trade me" radiothon last week, everybody and his brother was pointing out that Kobe was the best player in the league.  I think after Saturday, LeBron's got a good argument for himself.  Sure, Kobe has the edge on pure scoring ability, shooting, and one-on-one defense, but "intangibles" should count for something, not to mention LeBron's ability to pass and rebound.  The ability to win not just one, but four playoff series without Shaq as a teammate (that's right, Kobe's been winless in playoff series since Shaq went to Miami) should count for something.  The fact that LeBron's teammates like him should count for something.  And, perhaps most significantly for "building a franchise," the fact that LeBron has avoided the legal troubles and intra-squad controversies that have plagued Bryant should count for something.

But, really, who cares about Kobe right now?  It's Cavs-Spurs.  I'll post my series preview tomorrow or Wednesday.  Go Cavs! 

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June 01, 2007

LeBron's 48-Point Game (AKA The Best Basketball Game I've Ever Seen)

First off: If you are a fan of any kind of basketball (or even sports in general) and you didn't see last night's game between the Cavs and Pistons, you missed something special.  Don't worry, you can watch the two overtimes and a highlight reel of LeBron's performance on NBA.com.

With that said, the game was unbelievable.  I've watched hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of basketball games in my life, and I honestly believe that this was the best basketball game I've ever seen.  Sure, as a Cavs homer and a former season ticket holder (for the strike-shortened '98-99 season and LeBron's rookie '03-04 season), I'm biased.  Nevertheless, I think I'm not alone in calling it one of the all-time great performances.  Either way, this game meant a lot for the Cavs, their fans, the city of Cleveland, the state of Ohio, and all connected.

A little bit of personal history is in order here.  I fell in love with the Cavs at what was probably a bad time -- the last days of the Fratello regime.  The year was 1997.  This was post Daugherty/Price and just after the team had essentially abandoned Mike Fratello's trademarked "slow-down" style.  The Cavs had made a bold move in trading Terrell Brandon (along with former Eggsavier Mouseketeer "star" Tyrone Hill) in a three-way deal that netted them Shawn Kemp.  Kemp, along with a core of the newly acquired Wesley Person and four "rookies" -- Derek Anderson, Cedric Henderson, Brevin Knight, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (who really wasn't a rookie since he had been drafted by the team in 1996 but had missed the season with injury) -- captured my interest when the Cavs went on a 10-game winning streak early in the '97-98 season.  That team was fun to watch.  Kemp averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds a game and was the first Cavalier ever voted to start in an All-Star Game.  Z established himself as a legitimate center in the NBA.  Knight was an exciting point guard (he had 20 assists in the first game I attended in person that year, against the Washington Wizards).  They even beat Michael Jordan in his last game in Cleveland with the Bulls (who obviously won the championship that year).  The team finished with 47 wins and a sixth seed in the playoffs.  Even though the Pacers knocked them off three games to one in the first round, the future was looking decent for the Cavs: with Jordan retiring, the East was wide-open, and the Cavs had the young nucleus and superstar to take control.

And so it was that at the start of the '98-99 season, which was shortened to 50 games because of a lockout, the Cavs were on their way "back" to glory.  My dad and I were there, ready to watch every game from our season ticket seats in the lower bowl.  Early in the season, Kemp and Ilguaskas outplayed Robinson and Duncan and scored a home victory for the Cavs against the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs.  At that point, Kemp still played like the Man, and the "rookies" were showing improvement.  And the East really was wide open: in fact, the Knicks, who managed only 27 wins that season (equivalent to 44 in an 82 game season) and the last seed in the playoffs, were the Eastern Conference champions that year.

So what happened?  First, Ilguaskas got hurt (the first of a series of frustrating injuries that lead to him missing more than 200 games in the four seasons between 1998 and 2002).   Then . . . well, pretty much the rest of the team got hurt.  Fratello was fired and replaced with Randy "Slim" Whittman, who was famous for making Bill Belichick seem like the life of the party.  Whittman inspired all with a .371 career win percentage, coaching the likes of Trajan Langdon (the Cavs' 11th overall pick in 1999 who ended up hitting a whopping 86 threes in his NBA career), Bimbo Coles (the first in a seemingly continuing run of Cavs point guards who couldn't shoot -- his .286 field goal percentage in his last season with the Cavs was particularly impressive), and Donny "Don't Call Me Donyell" Marshall (about whose return we Cavs fans were actually excited, until we remembered he really wasn't Donyell Marshall).  The only bright spots of Whittman's tenure were Andre Miller (how my fellow UD alum Jim Paxson had the foresight to draft Miller at 8th overall in '99 but completely blew it by selecting Langdon three picks later is beyond me . . . have I mentioned that the weekend before the draft it was reported that the Cavs were working out Langdon as a "potential second round pick" or that Derek Anderson stormed out of the Cavs' draft party after Langdon was selected?) and Clarence Weatherspoon's '99-00 season (Spoon nearly averaged a double-double and promptly said "get me the hell out of here" after the end of the season).  For a prime example of the typical Cavalier fan's mindset at this time, check out this guy's 2000 Cavs draft analysis.

Randy Whittman was fired and gave way to John Lucas.  I think it was around the time that the geniuses running the in-game entertainment at Cavs games started using the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" during player introductions.  The "Meet the new boss /same as the old boss" refrain was particularly inspiring and fitting.  Lucas was famous for completely losing his voice two weeks into the regular season and having a son who ended up being pretty good for Oklahoma State.  His .298 win percentage in a season and a half made us all think, if only for a second, "Hey, maybe Whittman wasn't that bad," after which we promptly threw our Whammer doll across the room.  (By the way, can I nominate Whammer for worst mascot ever?  C'mon, a dunking polar bear?  It's not that cold in Cleveland.  And are the Cavs the only team whose website calls its former mascot a "poor floor leader"?  Can we just get rid of mascots in pro sports altogether?)  The Lucas era was largely forgettable, aside from the last days of Andre Miller (c'mon, he averages 16.5 points and 10.9 assists, and we hand him a one-way ticket to the Clippers?) and Ricky Davis shooting at the wrong basket in a blowout to try to get a triple-double (I remember being in my old Oldsmobile and listening to Joe Tait's call of this . . . it was classic . . . I wish I could get a tape of it).

For my money (which I continued to faithfully spend on Cavs tickets), the worst move of the Lucas era was my main man Paxson's Andre Miller for Darius Miles trade.  How a Dayton basketball legend could do such a thing is still beyond me.  I hated the trade, and hung my Andre Miller youth jersey (another brilliant Cavs giveaway!) on the wall of my room at UD in protest.  I also vowed not to go to any game in the '02-03 season, even though my friends told me you could get courtside tickets for less than $20 with a college ID.  Of course I still watched whatever games I could on tv (we only got the occasional Fox Sports Ohio game in Dayton, but I suffered through every game that was on whenever I was home in NE Ohio).  I told myself, "I'll give Paxson one more shot."

We all know what that one more shot was.  I've never been one to follow high school sports, but I remember first coming across LeBron James' name when he was listed in the Akron Beacon Journal as an All Summit County wide receiver as a sophomore.  After he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a junior, I started following Saint Vincent-Saint Mary's television appearances and reading the occasional article on the team.  There was talk that if it were possible for him to go into the NBA draft after his junior year, he would be the #1 overall selection.  We began thinking, "What if we could get LeBron?"

Everyone who follows sports knows about the tribulations and triumphs of LeBron's senior year of high school.  Meanwhile, John Lucas was fired halfway through the season.  Lucas gave way to interim coach Keith Smart, who was famous for hitting the game winning shot for Indiana in the 1987 NCAA Championship game.  Fittingly, Smart's .225 win percentage continued the Fratello-Whittman-Lucas decline.

As the Cavs lost game after game in 2003, our LeBron dreams became more and more palpable.  In Dayton, all eyes looked toward the long awaited matchup between local Kettering Alter and LeBron's SVSM squad.  Tickets were long gone, so I was left to catch the game recap via the local news.  At the time, I was copy editor of the campus newspaper, and I remember laughing my way through a column written by a staff member who was lucky enough to go the game.  In his piece, which carried the headline Defenseless James not so great, Stephen Dahl, who I suppose was a nice enough guy, pretty much ripped LeBron. LeBron was the real deal, he argued, "only if basketball were merely a dunk fest and dominating guys seven inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than you."  He went on to write that he couldn't believe that LeBron wouldn't even jog to the other side of the court to play defense, and mused that "Paul Pierce and Tracy McGrady are licking their chops to teach James a lesson."  Dahl's conlcusion?  Check it:

[B]ased on his four performances that I’ve attended or watched, with the first choice in this year’s draft, I would not draft James.

The general manager who inherits the first choice would be better off trading down a few spots and getting a solid player.

James is a very raw player that has great potential, but lacks fundamentals contrary to the many European stars that are available to draft.

Translation?  Try and trade down to get what eventually became Darko.  Maybe Dahl was trying to jump-start the anti-LeBron Bandwagon.  Regardless, even at this point I could see someone with an ax to grind for what they were.  Why a UD student had an ax to grind against LeBron is beyond me -- keep in mind, this is before half the country knew who Carmelo Anthony was.  In the interest of fairness, I should also note that i was sitting four rows behind the basket when UD upset Dwayne Wade's then Top 10 and eventual Final Four Marquette squad, and I never had any inkling of how good he would become or that he'd star in consecutively aired commercials during the 2007 East Finals. 

Anyway, it's a good thing Jim Paxson learned more about NBA talent evaluation at UD than Stephen Dahl.  (Interestingly, Big Steve has had a prolific career contributing to ESPN.com's Page 2.  Check this and this.  He also recanted his LeBron column six months later.  At least they didn't use him as my replacement for the Flyer News Sports Diary.)

Fast forward to May 22, 2003.  For once, the Cavs got lucky (even after they "blew it" in typical Cleveland fashion by winning their last game of the '02-03 season, which caused them to tie with the Nuggets for the worst record in the league and have only a 22.5%, rather than a 25%, chance of getting the #1 overall pick) and won the draft lottery.  After I did a celebration dance around my parents' house (unlike Bill Simmons, I never even though to do anything other than watch the lottery with my dad), I got on the phone with the Cavs' season ticket department.  In 2002, I had vowed to attend no Cavs games for the '02-03 season.  In 2003, I had vowed that I would buy season tickets if the Cavs won the lottery.  True to my word, by the end of the night on May 22, I was a grand lighter in my wallet, but I was once again a Cavs season ticket holder.  LeBron was our hometown guy, and I was going to see him play every night. 

Brian Windhorst did his typically great job in detailing what's happened since then.  I've been watching faithfully the past four years.  The highs and lows of LeBron's rookie year and the team transitioning from the LeBron-Ricky Davis-DMiles mess to the Carlos Loozer fiasco and the disappointment of the late season collapse in '04-'05 to the 50 wins and "one missed rebound" heartbreak of the '06 playoffs to the present.  I've stood by LeBron and the team through all the rough times.  I was there when they said he couldn't hit a shot to win a game, and rejoiced as he did just that in Round One against the Wizards last year.  I was there this year when Gilbert Arenas said LeBron couldn't hit a short to win a game, conveniently forgetting 2006.  I was there through LeBron's first half "swoon" this season, annoying my bowling team by continuously drifting toward the TV in the bowling alley when the Cavs played on Wednesday nights.  I was there when the Skip Baylesses of the world criticized the Cavs as being overrated and lamented the fact that neither Miami nor Chicago would play the Pistons in the East Finals, even though the Cavs had a right to be there as the #2 seed.

And I was there last night.  Forty-eight points (on 18 of 33 shooting, no less).  Nine rebounds.  Seven assists and two steals.  The Cavs' last 25 points, and 29 of their last 30 points.  Unbelievable.  By the middle of the second overtime I couldn't say anything -- I was just shaking my head. 

I found it fitting that Bill Simmons spoke not for Cavs fans, but for NBA fans when he wrote that his "life as a basketball fan was being irrevocably altered" during last night's game.  In another article, Windhorst boiled the evening down to its essentials.  I heard a guy on the radio this morning saying that Cavs fans shouldn't be too excited, that it was just one game and the Pistons haven't played to their potential all series, and that even if the Cavs make the finals they'll be lucky to take more than one game from the Spurs.  But people said that coming into the Pistons series.

There's always going to be haters out there.  However, like Simmons said in the article linked to above: 

If you care about basketball, you'll remember where you watched this game 20 years from now. If you care about basketball, it meant something when Marv Albert blessed the night by calling it "one of the greatest performances in NBA playoff history."

Anyone who's still knocking LeBron (or the Cavs) is out of his mind.  He's either got some whacked-out agenda or he just wants to be different.   Either way, he's missing out on something special.  The Pistons are a good, perhaps even great team.  This is roughly the same team (minus Ben Wallace, plus an over-the-hill Chris Webber) as their championship team from a couple of years ago.  They've made the Eastern Conference Finals five years in a row.  Try telling Chauncey Billups he wasn't playing well and he'll point out that last night he finally started hitting clutch shots (that's "shots" in the plural form).  There were two or three times that the Cavs should have been put away, but LeBron wouldn't let them lose.  Detroit played a great game, but LeBron countered with a classic game.

The series isn't over.  Everyone's pointing out that last year in the Eastern Conference semis the Pistons took games 1 and 2, and then the Cavs took 3, 4, and 5 before barely losing game 6 at home and getting blown out in game 7.  It's possible that the Pistons win the next two games.  However, given the lessons the Cavs learned last year -- when they were "a rebound away" from winning the series at home in game 6 -- you can't tell me that the Cavs aren't going to come out fired up and ready to close out the series tomorrow.  I know that the Pistons do have a tendency to put it in neutral, but they weren't in neutral last night.  I don't think they were in neutral in game 4, either (the Cavs defense, I think, has made the Pistons --especially Billups -- look bad throughout the series).  I also know that the Pistons play their best basketball with their backs to the wall, that during their recent run they've won ever series in which they were up 2-0, and blah blah blah.

All that doesn't matter to me.  A few weeks ago, Chris Spielman was going on and on on his radio show in Columbus about how "NBA insiders" were saying that LeBron needed a "signature" playoff game.  I said to myself, "I don't care what LeBron does, as long as the Cavs keep win whatever series they're playing" (full well knowing that the Cavs go as LeBron goes, but whatever).  Well, now they've got what they want and I've got what I want.  LeBron's proved he's the man, and the Cavs are winning.  The Pistons have a shot tomorrow and they have a shot on Monday if they do win tomorrow.  Hell, even I picked the series to go seven games (with the Cavs winning in seven, of course).  It's no matter, though.  All that matters is LeBron, and I think he's finally figured out what he needs to do to win, at least against Detroit.  Boobie Gibson will play better tomorrow.  Doc Gooden will play better tomorrow.  Sasha Pavlovic will play better tomorrow.  The Wild Thing will play better tomorrow.  We won't need LeBron to score 48.  He's going to get help, and he'll be able to take it from there.

Like Terry Pluto said, "James seems to be sending everyone a message: This was his moment; the Cavs are coming into their own; the best really is yet to come."  For the first time since . . . well, since ever, the Cavs have a presence in the NBA's power structure.  If the Cavs win tomorrow, they'll be in the NBA Finals for the first time ever.  It will also be the first time a Cleveland sports team has been in its sport's championship since the Indians in 1997.

I know one thing for sure: I feel a lot better having LeBron James --rather than Jose Mesa -- as my closer.

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May 30, 2007

God Bless Danny Ferry

While everyone's fired up about the upcoming NBA Draft (as Roger Brown would say, word is that Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr. could each go in the top three picks), tonight's a good time to take a look back at what may have been the best move of last year's NBA Draft: Danny Ferry's drafting of Daniel "Boobie" Gibson in the second round.

With Larry Hughes on the bench for most of last night's Cavaliers-Pistons game with another injury, Gibson came through with 35 big minutes, netting 21 points to go along with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. I suppose it doesn't mean that much to say that Boobie Gibson has been the best rookie in the conference finals (isn't he the only rookie getting significant minutes?). Nevertheless, Ferry scored major points in my book by getting Gibson -- a player who essentially won the game last night (along, of course, with LeBron) -- with the 42nd pick in last year's draft. Apparently there may have been something going on behind the scenes, given that Gibson had first round talent but only worked out for the Cavs (one assumes that Ferry told Gibson they'd pick him if he were available, and if he wanted to play with LeBron James it would be a good idea to stay at home after his Cavs workout).

Anyway, Ferry's gotten a lot of heat for not adding any pieces around LeBron (besides Hughes, I guess). Give him some credit though for finding Boobie. Here's hoping the Cavs can pull off the upset tomorrow in Detroit to take the 3-2 series lead . . . .

 

Danny Ferry's watching you!
Even during a preseason game (this one was an October 2005 matchup with the Toronto Raptors in Columbus), Danny Ferry has his General Manager Game Face on.  Meanwhile, Rachel Ray is happy. 
 
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April 23, 2007

The Final Four Diary will be completed

I've been getting a lot of heat from all directions lately about not finishing the Final Four Diary.  I said I was busy.  People said they don't care.  So, I'm going to finish it, slowly but surely.  Since I think this post will bump the diary from the main page, here's a link to it.  I'll also put a link on the right side of the page as well.

I hope you're happy now.

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April 10, 2007

Why is this man so sad?

Lee Wadlinger is a sad panda.

It's not because the Polish Sausage didn't win the Sausage Race during the Cleveland Indians home game in Milwaukee tonight.  (By the way--how awesome is it that the Tribe was able to draw roughly 20,000 fans to a game between them and the Brewers in Milwaukee?  Keep in mind, that's 6,000 more people than were present at the Reds home game in Cincinnati Sunday.  Citizens of Milwaukee, you rule.)

Seriously, folks, it's because his Twentieth Century Apprenticeship and Guide To Dating CD's (pictured, with Lee, above) were released today, and you haven't bought a copy of either yet!  How do I know that, you ask?  Well, I run this record label.  It's my job to know these things.

They're really swell.  You should check them out.  They're available right now at the convenient online store.  Lee will also have an ample supply available at the Fourth Street Only show Thursday night (see below for more details).

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April 01, 2007

The OSU Final Four Diary

By popular demand, here's the second (official) installment in what will hopefully continue to be an ongoing series of Bill Simmons-esque sporting event running diaries.  This past year, I've had the opporunity to witness four NCAA #1 versus #2 games (Football:  OSU vs. Texas , OSU vs. Michigan, OSU vs. Florida; Basketball:  OSU v. Wisconsin).  In September, I posted the diary for the OSU-UT game (the first installment of which is available here).  I made atempts to put together running diaries for the Michigan game and the BCS National Championship game, but never published either of them (too pumped to finish the UM one, too bummed to finish the BCS one).  I'm determined to finish this one, though, win or lose.

First, a quick introduction of the cast of characters.  I made the trip to Atlanta with four buddies, all of whom are third year students at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law (we were required to swear that we will always refer to our law school in print by its proper, full name).  We're season ticket holders to the OSU men's basketball games, so you can guess where our loyalties lie (even if, as a University of Dayton alum, I still can't stand Thad Matta because of his time spent as egg-Xavier's head coach).  Here's a brief synopsis of the major players (other than myself):

  • Double-B:  A loveable, huggable guy who is the self-proclaimed Jewish Santa Claus.  Double-B (B for short) is proud of his low-sodium diet and his legal analysis skills.  He's a native of the Chicagoland area.
  • Tortoise:  A Penn State alum and Ravens fan (I've forgiven him on both counts long ago).  Him and Guy also made the trip to Arizona with me.  He lived in Jamaica for a while, roots for Maryland basketball, and takes an unbelievably long time to gather his books up and leave the room after class (hence the name Tortoise).
  • Guy:  (Prounounced GEE, not guy.)  A Cleveland native and a Browns fan (so he has a natural advantage over Tortoise).  He is the consistent peanut gallery, always standing to the side and throwing fuel on the various fires burning around him.  He enjoys long walks on the beach and eating pasta in his sleeping bag.
  • Tok:  A loveable, but unhuggable guy who is the self-proclaimed toughest man in any bar he happens to be in.  Tok is a Steelers fan, so his presence completes the AFC North theme among the group (the Bengals don't count as a real NFL team).

Without further ado, here's the diary (I'll be updating it periodically until it's complete):

March 31, 2007

  • 2:15 a.m.: My band, Fourth Street Only, finishes its set at the Ugly Tuna, across the street from the OSU campus.  During the set, I dedicated our version of "Hang On Sloopy" to Matt Terwilliger (#42 in your program, but #1 in your heart).
  • 2:45 a.m.: After Tok helps me to load up my equipment into my car, I'm back at my house.  I unload the car, and start packing for the trip.
  • 3:20 a.m.: Tok and I are on the road.  As we begin making our way south on 71, Tok comes through with the clutch move of the trip--hooking up his satellite radio.  Thank God for technology--otherwise, we'd be stuck listening to alien enounter shows and evangelical talk radio all night.
  • 5:35 a.m.: We're making good time.  After getting on to 75 in Cincinnati, we're cruising through Kentucky.  After we pass the first sign for Lexington, I comment, "Just so you know, if we get into Lexington and see Ashley Judd standing on the side of the road with a 'Final Four or Bust' sign, I'm picking her up."

* * *

  • 12:45 p.m.: We arrive in Atlanta, where we meet up with B, Tortoise, and Guy.  I have to admit, the trip wasn't too bad.  I got about three hours of sleep, and Tok slept for about two hours (we spent about 45 minutes at a rest stop--the rest of the time we drove in shifts).
  • 1:30 p.m.: After quick showers and a few minutes to catch our collective breaths, we head toward the Georgia dome.  We get our passes for the MARTA (Mid-Atlanta Regional Transportation Authority, I'm guessing) train.  Just after we get to the bottom of the stairs, Guy goes to throw something in the trash and completely wipes out.  He gets up undaunted, but we're all laughing.  Physical comedy--men love it.
  • 2:30 p.m.: We make it to the Georgia Dome and pick up our tickets.  There's four will-call lines, one for each school.  There's about 300 people in line for the OSU window, while there's about 30 for Florida.  There's no line for Georgetown and UCLA.  We think it might be an indication of the Buckeye presence in Atlanta.  Our tickets are sweet--Section 119 (the student section behind the basket), Row 3.  It turns out that there's about ten rows in a section in front of us, but we'll take seats within the 15th row.
  • 3:15 p.m.: After leaving the Georgia Dome, we've begun a search for food.  We walk through Centennial Park and then through downtown, but we can't find anywhere that strikes our fancy.  Guy's been leading the way, and when he makes the executive decision to head into a downtown mall to eat at the foodcourt, it all starts to make sense:  Guy's been relentlessly talking up Chick-fil-a, and he's used his "Chick-fil-a-dar" to scope out the closest one.  It ends up being a good move, though--the chicken sandwhich I get hits the spot.
  • 4:11 p.m.: After our late lunch, we head over to the Irish pub located in the mall for a few pre-game drinks.  It's packed.  I had heard there's an NCAA coaches' conference of some sort going on, which explains why there's all these guys wearing random schools' sweatsuits in the bar.  Our first order?  A round of Irish Carbombs.  The bartender hands us our Guinnesses, but they're kind of small.  "That's the weakest carbomb I've ever seen," Guy says.
  • 4:13 p.m.: As usual, Guy wins the race to down the carbomb.  Tortoise, who traditionally has been one of Guy's bigger rivals, is distraught.  A fight ensues when Tok claims that Tortoise started early.  Tortoise counters that Tok improperly started the round.  "You threw off my rhythm," Tortoise says.  Guy doesn't care, dismissing us all by just saying, "Whatever, I'm sick."
  • 4:39 p.m.: We see a husband and wife walking down the sidewalk outside the bar.  The husband's wearing one of those front-loaded baby harnesses.  We all rip on him a bit.  After all, if you're in town for the Final Four, it's bad enough to be accompanied by your wife, but your baby as well?  Says Guy, "You've got to peace that baby."  (This guy is only topped by the woman at the game itself who was carrying her baby, which was fitted with giant air traffic controller headphones.)
  • 5:04 p.m.: The B tries to befriend the bar's employees, who have asked us if they could move the chairs we've been sitting on.  "Are you trying to clear the floor?" B asks.  The employees ignore him.
  • 5:10 p.m.: We leave the bar to walk back to the Georgia Dome.  Game time is at 6, and we hope to make it to our seats a little early to soak in the atmosphere.  Tour Guide Guy takes the lead, but he leads us in the wrong way.  We relieve him of his duty, and Tok sets us in the right direction.
  • 5:33 p.m.: We make it back to the stadium.  There's a huge line (numbering in the thousands of people) to get into Gate C, however.  The Georgia Dome people are on the loudspeakers telling everyone walking up to go to Gate B, where there's "No wait."  We walk to Gate B, only to find out that there's more people in line.  I'm beginning to worry we won't make it in in time.  To make matters worse, the Georgetown fans are getting rowdy.  They're chanting something that sounds like, "Hoya!  Sack up!"  It doesn't make sense to any non-Jesuits in the crowd, so someone finally asks a girl wearing a Georgetown shirt what they're saying.  "It's Hoya Saxa," she says.  "It's a Greek phrase.  There's a shirt that explains it if you want to know what it means."  I question what Jesuits are doing using Greek.  (Later, I look it all up on Wikipedia.  It turns out that Hoya is a bastardization of Hoia, which is Greek.  Saxa, however, is Latin.  Either way, the phrase means, "What rocks!"  The kicker is that Hoya actually means what.  So, basically, they're the Georgetown Whats.  If only I had known all this when the Georgetown fans were dismissively asking, "What the hell is a buckeye?")
  • 5:55 p.m.: We're finally in our seats, thanks to some clutch maneuvering by Guy and Tortoise.  So far, the atmosphere hasn't been as fraught with anticipation as the Michigan or BCS games, but it's still pretty good to be here.
  • 6:04 p.m.: It's game time!  Greg Oden easily wins the tip.
  • 6:15 p.m.: Oden is called for his second foul.  We're only 2 minues and 41 seconds into the game.  This is ridiculous--so much for letting them play.  Georgetown's up 5-3.  We're gonna have to play really well while Oden's on the bench to stay in the game until halftime.
  • 6:53 p.m.: Well, we have played really well, at least on the defensive end.  It's halftime, and the Buckeyes are up 27-23.  I'll take this, especially with Oden being on the bench for 17 minutes.
  • 6:58 p.m.: We spot Bob Ryan chatting with some dudes in press row.  We're pretty excited about our first "celebrity" siting, but Guy isn't.  He uses the occasion for expressing his distaste for Dan Shaughnessy.  (Guy worked in Boston for a few years, so he got a good taste of the Boston media and didn't like it, I guess.)
  • 7:02 p.m.: We spot John Thompson, Jr. (the II, maybe?  I dunno--JT III's dad) in press row.  A few moments later, we see Bill Raftery.  I like Bill Raftery (I suppose he's kind of the anti-Billy Packer).
  • 7:08 p.m.: Tok and Tortoise make a good point--David Lighty is OSU's unsung hero tonight.
  • 7:12 p.m.: The parade begins!  The sportswriters march back into the stands after the buffet.
  • 7:18 p.m.: Oden gets his third fould with 11:50 to go.  OSU's up 42-38.  This next stretch (until Oden comes back in) will determine whether we're able to stay in this and win it.
  • 7:29 p.m.: We have our first Tressel sighting.  The coach is in the OSU section on the sideline, sitting next to Anthony Gonzalez.  The students (who are behind the basket), shout "O-H" across to Tressel, who dutifully responds with an "I-O" (along with the proper arm signals).  They repeat the call-and-response with Gonzalez.
  • 7:36 p.m.: With 8:50 to go, the score is tied at 44 and Oden is back in the game.  Roy Hibbert heads out at the same time after being called for his fouth foul.  He's got 14 points and has been a force.  This could be a turning point.
  • 7:39 p.m.: 7:24 left in the game.  We're up 50-44.  After Oden came in, he hit a layup, followed by field goals from Lighty and Jamar Butler.  We've got some momentum now.
  • 7:45 p.m.: We spot Jason Whitlock in press row.  Meanwhile, there's 6:37 left in the game, and Hibbert is coming back in.  Oden makes one of two free throws to put us up 51-44.  Hopefully Hibbert lost some steam while he was out with foul trouble.
  • 7:50 p.m.: Oden gets his fourth foul with 2:36 remaining.  We're up by four, 56-52.  At this point, the team's played enough with out Oden that hopefully we're able to hold off the Whats.
  • 7:56 p.m.: 1:14 left, and we're up 61-52.  This game seems like it's ours now....
  • 7:58 p.m.: Jeff Green hits a layup (surprisingly, he's only got 9 points), and Georgetown calls a timeout with 44.8 seconds left.  We're still up by 7.  They're not coming back.
  • 8:01 p.m.: A missed over the back call allows Jonathan Wallace to hit a three for the Whats and make it 63-57.  Georgetown calls a timeout.  They're still not gonna win it--there's only 21.8 seconds left.
  • 8:06 p.m.: We win!  The final score is 67-61, but you'd never know it because the Georgia Dome people took the score down the second the game was over.  We have no idea why they did this.
  • 8:11 p.m.: We go over to the tunnel to boo Florida as the team runs out.  Well, most of the team runs out.  Joakim Noah skips out.  I'm serious.  He skips.  The Florida fans are going crazy.  UCLA has no chance--the final is going to be us and Florida.
  • 8:14 p.m.: Oden and Michael Conley, Jr. run back to the locker room after finishing their post-game interviews.  The OSU student section (which is still standing by the tunnel) is giving them a huge ovation.  Conley's loving it, and he runs over to greet the fans.  Oden simply walks into the locker room like a stoic giant.
  • 8:17 p.m.: Guy: "This game blew away the BCS game."  That qualifies as the understatement of the century.
  • 8:28 p.m.: Tok and I walk into the concourse in search of food.  It's a madhouse.  Tok decides to settle for some Dippin' Dots, which are still being marketed as "The Ice Cream of the Future."  They've been doing this for at least 15 years.  Seriously, how long can you be the ice cream of the future?  Is 15 years long enough?  Don't you become the ice cream of the present at some point?  Am I the only person in the world who cares about this?
  • 8:30 p.m.: I break down and decide to grab one of the nasty looking mini-pizzas.  Who's in line behind me?  John Chaney.  As I've detailed before, I love John Chaney.  It's too bad my camera batteries are dead, or I'd get a picture with him.  Well, maybe I'd get a picture with him.  People keep coming up to him to say hi, and I feel bad adding to the avalanche.  The thing that strikes me most is that Chaney looks old.  He asks what toppings they have for the pizzas, and someone tells him just pepperoni.  Chaney is disappointed, and he walks away.
  • 8:54 p.m.: The Florida-UCLA game has just tipped off.  Two minutes and 47 seconds in, the score is tied at 2.  Is this going to be a low scoring game?
  • 8:57 p.m.: With 15:44 remaining in the first half, UCLA's up 4-2.  Maybe this is going to be low scoring.
  • 8:59 p.m.: During a timeout, the UCLA cheerleaders run onto the floor to do a routine.  They are HOT.  Hot enough to distract most of the remaining OSU student section from realizing that a few of the Buckeyes (lead by Terwilliger) have taken their seats to watch a bit of the game.
  • 9:05 p.m.: Florida hits their first field goal of the game.  They've only played seven and a half minutes.  The crowd goes wild.
  • 9:06 p.m.: Things are picking up now. It's 6-5 UCLA with 11:52 left in the half.  Looks like this game will be the typically anticlimactic Final Four game.  At least our game was good.
  • 9:10 p.m.: UCLA's dance team takes the floor during another time out.  Their dance team is hot too, but what gets our attention is the fact that they have a male juggler in their troupe.  A juggler???  I dunno....  In other news, it's still 6-5 with 11:26 to go.  Things are looking bleak for UCLA, though--Arron Afflalo has just gotten his third foul.  Meanwhile, we've spotted Thad Matta and Jim Tressel chatting it up in the stands.  This prompts me to imagine their conversation:  Matta: "So, Jim, do you have any advice if we're playing Florida?"  Tressel: "Keep Roy Hall away from Oden and Conley."
  • 9:17 p.m.: Florida's taken the lead.  It's 11-10, with 8:51 remaining.  A veritable offensive explosion!
  • 9:26 p.m.: Double-B and I discuss whether Gonzo brought the bubble to Atlanta.
  • 9:28 p.m.: Florida hits its second straight three to go up by 8.  The building is as loud as it's been all night.  Man, it's going to be tough to play Florida here.  Guy agrees:  "It's like they're playing at home."
  • 9:35 p.m.: Noah hits one of two free throws.  I realize that he has the ugliest free throw shooting stroke in the history of college basketball.  (Later, someone tells me that Billy Packer confirmed this on the CBS broadcast.  I don't know if that's good or bad.)
  • 9:40 p.m.: Horford gets whistled for his second foul.  Florida is whining.  They're the whiniest team I've seen since--gasp--Thad Matta's 2002-03 Xavier squad.
  • 9:42 p.m.: It's halftime!  Florida's up 29-23.  Let's see if UCLA can make a game out of it in the second half.
  • 9:45 p.m.: There's a cool halftime ceremony honoring Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, and Dean Smith.  You gotta admit, it's pretty special to see those three guys on the floor at the same time.
  • 10:05 p.m.: Florida comes out raining threes in the second half.  After two and a half minutes, they're up 37-28.
  • 10:13 p.m.: Now it's 39-28 Florida.  I realize that the reason UCLA is losing is that Bill Walton isn't here (he was stuck doing the Cavs-Bulls game in Chicago earlier today).
  • 10:20 p.m.: Florida goes up 49-32 with 12:25 left in the game.  The Gator fans are starting to get rowdy.  We're making plans to leave.
  • 10:21 p.m.: The refs are debating a charging call on Chris Richard.  Billy Donovan is whining.  I realize that I can't stand his widow's peak.
  • 10:27 p.m.: The Florida contingent continues to get louder.  Guy: "I hate them."
  • 10:30 p.m.: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute fouls out for UCLA with 9:02 remaining.  I had to put his name in the diary somehow.  Anyway, things are really getting ridiculous now, and Guy and I are pleading with the rest of the guys to let us go ahead and head out.
  • 10:33 p.m.: With 8:24 to go, it's now 54-40.  The B thinks there's something wrong with the floor.  "There's too many guys slipping and the ball keeps hitting dead spots," he says.  He does have a point.
  • 10:35 p.m.: I think I see a dude across the arena wearing a vintage (i.e., 1999) University of Dayton "Sixth Man" t-shirt.  He's leaving.  In all likelihood, he can't stand the Florida fans, who are going wild during a timeout.
  • 10:40 p.m.: Afflalo has no points and four fouls, which is pretty unbelievable.  Of course, now that I made a point of noting this he finally scores with 6:16 to go.  The Florida fans continue to get more rowdy.  This is really bad, considering that there are no alcohol sales in the Georgia Dome.
  • 10:41 p.m.: Tressel and Gonzo are still here.  "I wonder if they're having flashbacks," I say.  No one laughs.  On this note, we decide to leave with 4:44 left in the game and the score at 65-50.
  • 11:12 p.m.: After realizing we took the wrong Marta train, we get off to wait for the right one.  While we're waiting, a ... how should I put this ... fabulous guy wearing Buckeye gear starts chatting up Tortoise.  In the middle of a conversation with us about Buckeyes in Atlanta, he answers his cell phone with an enthusiastic, "Hey!"  Our train finally arrives.  As we're boarding, Tortoise's friend asks us where we're staying.
  • 11:40 p.m.: We did get one good tip from Tortoise's friend--beer sales in Atlanta stop at midnight.  Luckily, we were able to book it over to a Kroger.  We grab our beers, then decide we're hungry.  The B waits near the checkout lines with our cases, while the rest of us check out the prepared food section.
  • 11:52 p.m.: After waiting in line for five minutes, we're ready to check out.  The only problem is, our friendly cashier tells us beer sales stop at 11:45.  The B starts making overtures about a contract being formed the moment we picked up the cases (which was well before 11:45).  Our cashier isn't hearing any of it, and he takes the cases and sets them behind the register.  Oh well.

 

 April 1, 2007

  • 12:10 a.m.: We decide to forgo heading back to the place where we're crashing and go straight for the bars.  On the advice of some friends, we head toward Buckhead and settle in for the evening at Locos.  The B and Tok go outside to grab us a patio.  I turn around to tell Tortoise and Guy, only to see that they're being chatted up by another dude, and Guy already has a beer in his hand.  I don't want to get involved, so I head outside.
  • 12:17 a.m.: After ordering a few pitchers, we're talking with our waitress.  The B has been telling us that Buckhead is a big hangout for Emory students.  B asks the waitress, "So, you get a lot of Emory kids here?"  "No," she says, "Emory is about 20 miles away from here."
  • 12:23 a.m.: Guy and Tortoise finally join us outside.  Guy tells us about the guy he was drinking with.  He was an OSU grad, who's been living in Atlanta.  Perhaps predictably, he was completely trashed.  His cell phone was broken, and since he was planning on getting arrested, he had three emergency phone numbers written on his left hand.  This way, when he arrived at the station, he would be able to tell the officers, "Uncuff me, I need to make a phone call."  Tortoise tells us that the dude took Guy over to the bar to buy him a shot.  The dude ordered a "Buckeye" shot.  "What's a Buckeye shot," Guy asked.  "The cheapest thing they have," the dude answered.  The bartender proceeded to pour a shot of the cheapest well whiskey they had.  Guy took the shot, and immediately spit it back out.  As Tortoise is telling the story, the dude comes outside and makes us all swear to propogate the practice of ordering Buckeye shots.  Consider it done, dude.
  • 12:37 a.m.: Drunken Florida fans have been walking by and heckling us.  We begin to start firing back when a guy passes us and says, "Look at you Buckeye fans, sitting there like you're going to win."  "Oh yeah," Tok shouts back.  "You watch Nascar."  The guy runs back to our table:  "We beat you in basketball and we beat you in football!  You can't touch us!"  Without missing a beat, Tok fires back, "You want to talk about the past?  Who won the Civil War?"  This really gets them fired up.  Our heckler's buddy runs over and starts shouting:  "Welcome to the real America!"
  • 1:45 a.m.: As more and more pitchers arrive at and depart from our table, things start getting interesting.  The B is really starting to get out of control, and so Will grabs a coaster and fires it directly at B's head, hitting him squarely between the eyes.  The B just laughs.  More Flordia fans walk by, prompting the assembled OSU fans to deliver the first official "Florida's got the clap!" chant.  For those of you who aren't in the know, the "Florida's got the clap!" chant consists of OSU fans mimicing the Gators' famous aligator chomp handclap motion, while shouting "Florida's got the clap!"  It made its first appearance during the BCS Championship game, and now it's back with a vengance.
  • 1: 52 a.m.: A girl walks up to us and asks the B for a cigarette.  He gives her one, and she walks over to the head of the table to talk with us.  It turns out that there is a national sorority conference in town for the weekend, and this girl is one of the organizers.  She tells us which sorority she's in, then proudly notes that it's the #2 sorority in the country.  "Yeah," Guy says, "I've read about that."  Tortoise tells her that they should go for number one, but she's a bit reluctant.  Tortoise and his friend from Atlanta (who joined us an hour or so ago) won't hear any of it, and start giving her a pep talk.  "Do you really think we could be #1?" she asks.  "Hell yeah," says Tortoise.  A few minutes later in the conversation, she tells us that her brother plays football at Davidson.  "Wow," the B says.  "That's awesome that your brother goes to school in Ohio."  I hate to do it, but I burst the B's bubble by telling him that Davidson is in North Carolina.  Paying minimal attention to UD's football squad has it's perks.  Hey, Pioneer League Football--catch the fever!
  • 2:20 a.m.: Out of nowhere, a girl walks up to our table and grab's Tortoise's beer.  "I need this for a moment," she says.  Perplexed, we watch as she leans forward so that her head is upside down, then drink beer from the glass.  Her friend explains, "She's got the hiccups."  After a half-minute or so, she puts the glass back on the table and tells Tortoise thanks.  The B can't resist the urge to chime in, giggling, "Now your beer has herpes."  The girl recoils in horror, and we start exploding laughing.  "You can't take that," Guy yells at the girl.  "Beat him up!"  The rest of the crew starts joining in the call for her to exact retribution on the B.  Within a few seconds, she leans over me and starts smacking the B's arm.  A good time is had by all.
  • 2:28 a.m.: Some dudes drive by the bar's patio with a car that has a huge spoiler.  They see someone they know, so they stop and get out of the car to chat for a moment.  A girl walks by and is in awe of the spoiler.  She hands a camera to someone sitting at the patio, and says, "Get a picture of this."  Immediately, she crawls under the spoiler and starts posing for pictures.  Flashbulbs begin to go off all over the patio.  Meanwhile, I'm beginning to feel sleep deprived.
  • 2:50 a.m.: The street we're on is becoming a mess.  College kids are all over the place, just hanging around (the bars closed at 2:30).  I finally convince the guys it's time to go.  After losing the B momentarily, we pile in to my car.  I have to be careful pulling out of the parking lot and into the street, as there are people crowding around everywhere.  "This is just like Nassau," Guy says repeatedly.
  • 3:20 a.m.: We're back at the Colonel's house, where we're staying for the weekend.  We carry in the bag of groceries, and everyone starts tearing in to the meals we bought at Kroger.  Guy is particularly tired, and so he decides it's a good idea to eat his meal while he's laying on the floor in his sleeping bag.  A content Guy downs his meal, getting a healthy amount of it on his shirt.  One by one, we assume our respective spots on the floor or couch and pass out.  Apparently, Guy wakes up in the middle of the night and feels guilty about staining his shirt, and so he pours a bunch of laundry detergent on it.

 

Early Sunday morning, Guy proudly displays the spoils of his 3:00 a.m. snack and subsequent laundry duty.
  • Noon: Everyone has woken up.  The inevitable recap of the previous evening's events has begun in full swing.  Needless to say, it's going to be hard to top yesterday.
  • 1:03 p.m.: While watching the Real World, we decide that Guy should be a producer for the show.  After all, his speciality is prodding people (e.g., last night's Guy-inspired assault on Double-B).
  • 1:11 p.m.: A commercial comes on showing a computer image of a pregnancy test flying through the air.  It's high-tech, like a Star Wars preview.  "This can't be serious," Guy says.  A few seconds later, a stream of urine begins to fall on the device.  Suddenly, the announcer says, "The Clearblue Pregnancy Test: The most sophisticated piece of equipment you'll ever pee on."  I guess it is real.  Only on MTV.
  • 1:50 p.m.: We head over to the Colonel's restaurant.  Colonel is a totally clutch dude: Not only has he let us stay at his place for 3+ days, but he's also hooking us up at his restaurant.  Before we left, I was a little worried about being underdressed, given my sneakers, khaki shorts, and scarlet-and-gray polo shirt.  I shouldn't have worried though.  Waiting in the entrance area of the restaurant are some Florida fans.  Two of the dudes have identical attire: mesh gym shorts, t-shirts, and Florida ball caps.  Actually, for Florida fans, that is dressing up.
  • 4:29 p.m.: After a fantastic lunch (big-ups to the Colonel) and a trip to pick up the Double-B's car at the dealership, we're back to tv mode.  Guy, Tortoise, B, and I are having a converstaion on some random topic prompted by the television.  Suddenly, the B, who had been perusing the Colonel's DVD collection turns around in mid sentence to face us.  For whatever reason, the B's belt is undone and his pants are wide open.  The three of us crack up for a solid three minutes while the B goes upstairs.  He comes back down wearing shorts.
  • 5:45 p.m.: Still chilling in front of the tv.  I'm entering the diary online, and we're once again recounting the previous evening's events.  Tortoise is on the phone, and we're not being very polite during his conversation, going on and on about the guy at the Marta station and the dude at Loco's.  After Matt's conversation is done, Tortoise clarifies things.  "By the way," he says, "Guy picked up those dudes."  I think he's right.
  • 5:50 p.m.: I continue reading excerpts from the diary.  Guy is concerned that he's the apparent star of the crew.  "This is all about me," he says.  This should be a call to action, I respond, noting, "This is because no one else does anything."
  • 6:50 p.m.: We're still watching tv (you have to rest up during these off days, you know).  The running conversation turns toward our analysis of tomorrow's game.  Guy is now on the phone.  While he's talking, he's stretched out on the couch and playing with the Colonel's stereo with his foot.  On two separate occasions, he accidentally hits the power button, blasting the radio at ear-splitting volume.  Tok asks Guy, "What are you doing?"  Guy responds, "I'm just playing with it."  Tortoise motions toward me and says, "Put that in the diary."  Without missing a beat (while he's still on the phone), Guy reiterates, "It's just a diary about me."  Tortosie responds with, "Yeah, it's the Guy diaries."
  • 6:54 p.m.: After the Guy stereo diversion dies down, we go back to analyzing the game.  The consensus is that OSU has to play its best game, and that Oden needs to be fired up to play inspired ball.  Tortoise says that our best bet is to try and foul out Noah and Horford.  It's going to be tough, given that we weren't able to foul out Hibbert last night, even though he played the last 6:37 with four fouls.
  • 7:05 p.m.: Guy takes over the laptop to check out the Chick-fil-a website.  Tortoise asks, "What could you possibly be looking at on the Chick-fil-a website?"  Guy responds, "Health information."  We laugh, but Guy doesn't think it's a laughing matter.  "No, it's not funny," he says.  "You need to know what you're eating.  Honestly, it's not that funny."  The conclusion?  The healthiest thing to get on the Chick-fil-a menu is the char-grilled sandwich, without buns, pickles, or condiments.  Who said this diary didn't have useful information in it?
  • 7:10 p.m.: After the B turns on UFC, we recount the various times he's been hit by women.  Guy points out the irony.  "That's why you're watching this," he tells Double-B.  "You need to learn how to defend yourself."
  • 7:58 p.m.: We're watching the Friday Night Lights movie.  I go on to imdb.com to confirm that the coach's wife and Buddy Garrity from the television series play similar roles in the film.
  • 8:04 p.m.: The B walks downstairs and sees the wife.  "Woah," he says, "That's his wife."  Tok bursts his bubble: "Yeah, you're five minutes too late."
  • 8:37 p.m.: On the advice from a friend from Atlanta who goes to OSU (who shall remain nameless), we decide it's time to head out to the Little Five Points area to hit the bars.  THe only problem is, we just found out that bars close at midnight on Sunday nights.  Undaunted, we call a cab, which ends up being a Chevy Suburban.
  • 9:41 p.m.: We're less than impressed with Little Five Points.  Put simply, the whole area is dead tonight.  We head into a bar to grab a bite to eat and a beer. They have the UNC-Tennessee women's game on.  It takes UNC five and a half minutes to score.
  • 10:14 p.m.: We head to our second bar in the Little Five Points area and have our second carbomb race of the weekend.  After significant debate about the rules, Tok finally wins in a huge upset over Guy.  Everyone tells me to make a note of how weak the carbombs have been in Atlanta.
  • 10:16 p.m.: The consensus is that our nameless friend from OSU really dropped the ball on the Little Five Points suggestion.  We've called a cab to head back.  Meanwhile, two dudes walk by with babies in front-loaded baby harnesses.  This trend is getting scary.
  • 10:24 p.m.: The cab arrives, and Guy cunningly takes the front seat, leaving the four of us to sit on top of each other in the back.  The cab driver is listening to some dating advice program on the radio.  Dennis, one of the show's co-hosts, is comparing a caller's current dating troubles with his own troubles with a previous boyfriend.  "That dude's name is Dennis," Tortoise says.  For some inexplicable reason, we explode laughing -- this is the funniest thing I've heard all day.
  • 10:35 p.m.: The cab passes a Chick-fil-a with a sign that says, "The Original Chick-fil-a," prompting us to ponder whether this is, in fact, the first actual Chick-fil-a restaurant.  We ask the driver if he knows where the first Chick-fil-a is.  He doesn't know.  Any cab driver in Columbus would know where the Original Wendy's (RIP) was (on Broad a few blocks east of High).
  • 10:48 p.m.: The Colonel shows up to the bar and gets an ovation, not only from us, but from the rest of the bar.  He's the man.
  • 11:16 p.m.: The B asks whether the 19 year-old OSU undergrads who drove down for the game are staying at Emory.  He's really obsessed with Emory.  We ask him if he applied there.  No, the B says, "You know how much I sweat."

 

After escaping from the monotony of a Sunday night in Little High Points, Double-B entertains the group with his endless pool of trivia about Emory University.

 

April 2, 2007

  • 12:01 a.m.: Just after last call, a guy in the bar comes over to me and Guy, asking whether we watch Nascar.  You see, we had been trying to come up with chants to heckle the Florida fans, and one suggestion was "You watch Nascar (clap-clap-clapclapclap)."  It seemed like a good idea, so we tried it out in the bar.  It turns out, this guy thought we were chanting, "We like Nascar."  Why a group of six guys would chant "We like Nascar" in a bar, I'll never know.  Anyway, Guy, who's moving to the South in the summer, has been pondering becoming a Nascar fan, and takes the opportunity to ask our newfound friend to explain the intricacies of the sport to us.  During the conversation, a misguided Guy compares Nascar to Indy car racing, much to our friend's dismay.  He explains the distinction to us:  "Indy car is like this: (moves his finger in the shape of an oval) 'Whhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrr.'  Nascar is like this: (moves his finger in the shape of an oval) 'Wher-wher-wher-wher.'"  Point well taken.
  • 12:45 a.m.: While waiting for a cab, we decide that we don't like cabs in Atlanta.  This isn't a problem for Tok, though, because he thinks Atlanta is a small city.  Guy decides that Jimmie Johnson will be his favorite Nascar driver.
  • 12:54 a.m.: I make an official proclamation:  "It is what it is" is now the most overused, cliched phrase in the English language.  Tortoise agrees: "It's a cop-out phrase."  From here on, let it be known that "It is what it is" is, in fact, something you shouldn't say.
  • 1:12 a.m.: We're back and watching a little Sportscenter before crashing.  They're replaying the portion of the press conference where Noah responds to a reporter's question about Ron Lewis's "good/great" distinction with an exaggerated, "Oh my God!  He didn't!  He's a bad person!"  This is outrageous.  I can't stand Florida.
  • 1:25 a.m.: Dukie V, Bilas, and "Sit down" Digger all pick Florida.  This game has major "no one expected us to win" potential for OSU.  Too bad Florida is loaded and the reigning champs.

* * *

  • 12:02 p.m.: With less than 10 hours until gametime, we're getting lunch at a classic Atlanta-area institution, Mellow Mushroom.  The pizza is great -- highly recommended.
  • 12:47 p.m.: We're discussing whether college basketball should go the NBA route and give players a sixth foul.  Guy is a passionate proponent.  "Make it seven," he says.
  • 1:23 p.m.: We hop on the MARTA train.  On the ride down, we talk with a few of the other people on the train, mostly an assortment of locals.  The feelings are pretty clear -- a lot of people in Atlanta can't stand the SEC, and so they're rooting for the Buckeyes.  I'll take it.
  • 2:10 p.m.: We're finally downtown, and we've walked over to the Convention Center to check out Hoop City, which we're guessing is NCAA version of the NBA Jamfest.
  • 2:15 p.m.: We're still walking down the long and winding road that leads to Hoop City's door.  The Atlanta convention center is huge.  After winding through what seemed like a quarter-mile of hallway, we make it to the entrance.  There's one problem, though: Tok is trying to bring in the coffee he bought when we entered the convention center.  When Tok tries to enter, the helpful ticket taker guy gives him the "Ich don't think so."  Tok takes a swig and throws away the rest of the coffee--nothing is going to stop us from enjoying Hoop City RIGHT NOW!
  • 2:18 p.m.: Hoop City is actually kind of lame.  It's really just a big basketball-oriented playground geared toward kids.  There's a lot of courts set up where kids are playing basketball, and there's a lot of video games systems set up where kids are . . . playing video games.  I think of one way to make it more fun for us adults: sell beer. 

The Double-B

The B takes part in the #1 source of entertainment at Hoop City: watching some seven-year old play NCAA 2k6.

  • 2:23 p.m.: We wander over to the "main court" where there's a kids' three-point shooting competition going on.  We watch in wonder as a little dude drains 9 of 15 threes, which I think was from the NCAA three-point line.  The kid had to be 10 years old.  I'm not sure, but I think I see Thad Matta offering the little guy's AAU coach an assistant position on the OSU men's team.

Restlessness

Tok and Double-B watch intently as a kid dunks on a 6-foot hoop.  Says Guy: "Get me out of Hoop City!"

  • 2:46 p.m.: We escape Hoop City.  Some Florida fans in the line to get in whisper loudly to each other as we walk by, saying stuff like, "They know they're going to lose, right?"  The Buckeyes might lose tonight, but these poor dudes have no idea that by walking into Hoop City, they're losing as well.
  • 3:00 p.m.: Since there was no beer at Hoop City, we're making up for lost time at Jocks & Jills across the street from the convention center.  The trash talking is starting to heat up between the assembled Florida and OSU fans at the bar.  Sensing there needs to be more fuel for the fire, the bar plays "Hang On Sloopy."
  • 3:10 p.m.: Predictably, "Sloopy" only made things rowdier.  During the song, Florida fans started doing their "It's great -- to be -- a Florida Gator fan."  It doesn't take long for the Buckeye contingent to respond: "It's gay -- to be -- a Florida Gator fan."
  • 3:19 p.m.: The good thing about Jocks & Jills is that they've got baseball on (it is Opening Day, after all).  Tortoise makes the bold prediction that the Orioles will win it all this year.  No one knows what to say.  The silence is broken when Tortoise tells me, "I really don't care."  Apparently he wanted me to put that in the diary so our boy Bone Fresh would read it.
  • 3:20 p.m.: You know that guy who is seemingly at every Ohio State of any consequence?  By which I mean, at the OSU-UT game in Austin, at the BCS National Championship game, and at Eddie George's bar for every key men's basketball road game?  I mean the guy who wears the cowboy hat and the OSU cape.  The dude who was on that goofy Channel 10 commercial shot with Mayor Coleman at the Horseshoe.  Still don't know who he is?  Anyway, he shows up outside of Jocks and Jills and starts rallying the OSU troops.  Then, he comes in for photos.  I swear, this guy and the Woody Hayes look-alike could pay for their trips by charging for pictures.  Anyway, we have to get our picture taken with him.

Us and That Guy

  • 3:21 p.m.: We must be particularly interesting, because as soon as we finish getting our picture taken with the OSU cowboy hat/cape guy, a lady asks if she can get a picture, not of her and OSU cowboy hat/cape guy, but of us and him.  I'm confused, but we oblige her.
  • 3:22 p.m.: After reflecting on our photo session with OSU cowboy hat/cape guy, Matt and I agree that it was fun, but nowhere near as epic as our time in Tempe with Captain Ohio.  Captain Ohio is truly about what OSU is all about.  We met him in this dueling piano bar in Tempe the night before the National Championship game.  He walks in wearing an OSU helmet-style baseball cap, a #1 OSU jersey, and what can best be described as OSU-themed skin-tight-Zubaz (remember, those things from the early 90's that only Bengals fans still wear?)-inspired pants.  His jersey was autographed, so we asked him who had signed it.  "Gary Berry," he said.  When the piano guys played "Hang On Sloopy," he pulled a kazoo out of his pocket and started jamming.  Anyway, we really liked Captain Ohio.  In fact, I really don't care what happens in the game tonight.  I really just want the Buckeyes to win for Captain Ohio and Scarf Guy.  Either way, I'll take this opportunity to publish some Captain Ohio photos (since the BCS diary is locked in a vault).

Captain Ohio says, the Buckeyes are Number One!

Tortoise, Guy, and Ramathorn pose for a perfectly symmetrical photo with the great Captain Ohio.

Sing us a song, Kazoo man

Nobody rocks the kazoo like Captain Ohio.

  • 3:24 p.m.: In an effort to see the city, we decide to finish our beers and take a walk.  On our way out of Jocks and Jills, we see Florida fans wearing iron-on t-shirts with the Noah-inspired quote "Ron Lewis is a bad person."
  • 3:30 p.m.: In an effort to pace ourselves, we decide to stop off at Centennial Olympic Park.  The B and I spot a tent where they're giving out free samples of Coke Zero.  We make a dash toward it.  The verdict?  It doesn't taste like Coke.  Maybe they put something in the Coke Zero, but I really think I just heard the B say, "Looks like they have a solid claim for taste infringement.  I'd represent them."
  • 3:35 p.m.: It really doesn't get better than this: chilling in the park with a beer while we're waiting to watch the last NCAA men's basketball game of the year.  It's a freakin' beautiful day.
  • 4:00 p.m.: The B and I have spotted the giant video boards set up to display text messages that the fans in the park send in.  The race is on to send in the most ridiculous message.
  • 4:10 p.m.: We're yet to see any of our messages appear on the board.  They're repeating all the same old boring messages.  Looks like the censors got to us.  I blame everything on Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.
  • 4:25 p.m.: Finally!  The video board tells Centennial Olympic Park: "Tok, I love your muscles.  --Tortoise."  Look's like the B finally crafted a family-friendly message.

The Crew in Olympic Park

The crew chillin' in Centennial Olympic Park.

  • 4:28 p.m.: My message comes up: "Oden Rulzzz! From Guy."  I admit it: I dropped the ball.
  • 5:15 p.m.: Marc Cohn and his band has taken the stage in Centennial Park.  Who's Marc Cohn, you ask?  Don't worry, I just asked the same question.  The B knows.  He says, "You know, the guy who sings 'Walking in Memphis.'"  I call my buddy T-Sizzle back in Columbus to let him know that Cohn is on, since he really likes that song.  "Marc Cohn is playing right now in the park," I tell Sizzle, who responds with, "Who's Marc Cohn?"  I say, "You know, the dude who sings 'Walking in Memphis.'"  "Oh yeah," Sizzle says, "I love that song."
  • 5:22 p.m.: Cohn is boring me.  It looks like people are starting to fall asleep.  Why couldn't we get Lil John?  I seriously am blaming this on Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

The stage at Centennial Park

Marc Cohn slowly sedates the crowd at Olympic Park.

  • 5:25 p.m.: Double-B comes through with another great text on the video board.  Unfortunately, I can't print it here.  Have to protect the innocent (there are two of them left, after all).
  • 5:33 p.m.: Cohn breaks out "Walking in Memphis."  I call T-Sizzle, who doesn't pick up.  I leave him a voicemail of the B accompanying Cohn.
  • 5:46 p.m.: With even more of the crowd seeming to fall asleep, Tok makes a great point.  "It's really a good idea for them to have this Cohn dude on stage," he says.  "It would be brutal hostile if it weren't for him."  I look around and seel a see of scarlet and blue sleeping on the grass in the park.  Tok is definitely right.
  • 5:47 p.m.: The Mellow Mush' is starting to have its revenge on the B.  "I think I need to go get an antacid," he says.  A moment later, he's disappeared.
  • 5:49 p.m.: A group of Georgetown fans sits down behind us, prompting Tok to make another great point: "We have to realize the fact at some point -- Georgetwon girls are ugly."  Let's hear it for the girls at Catholic univeristies!
  • 5:52 p.m.: Guy tells Tortoise, "Text B to get some dip."  The thing is, Guy is the world's most notorious anti-text messaging advocate.  Tortoise shoots back, "That's how you roll.  Get people to do your texting for you."
  • 6:22 p.m.: The crowd's woken up now, thanks to the second band of the afternoon: Robert Randolph and the Family Band.  Who's Robert Randolph and the Family Band you ask?  The band that did the theme song for the NBA on ABC last year.  In other words, last year's Pussycat Dolls.  Sort of.  Anyway, Robert's band is a little more upbeat, and as a bonus, they cover every Michael Jackson song known to man.
  • 7:45 p.m.: After another beer or two, we're ready to roll to the Georgia Dome.  The streets are packed, but not so packed that police can't get around on horses.  There's only one problem, meticulously noted by Guy, who points toward one horse and says, "That horse is deucing everywhere."
  • 7:48 p.m.: The crew gets separated when Tok decides it's a good idea to find beer in the Phillips Center.  Maybe it really is a good idea, but the Phillips Center is jammed with people.  We push our way to the back of the beer line, which is about 100 people long.
  • 8:17 p.m.: After finally getting our beers (I was low on cash and paid with quarters), we're back outside.  We locate the B, who needed to find me because I have his ticket.  Tok says he needs to find a bathroom.  The B and I decide it's time to head to the line.  Hopefully it's not as bad as Saturday.
  • 8:24 p.m.: We're in line.  It doesn't seem as bad, which is good.  The Florida fans are ready, though, and they're loving the "It's great -- to be . . . " chant.  Showing some creativity, the Buckeye fans counter back with a non-offensive "It's great -- to be -- a Kentucky Wildcat."  Good job handling this Kentucky situation, Billy Donovan.
  • 8:26 p.m.: The B and I engage in a bit more of today's favorite pastime: making fun of Noah.  The dudes behind us say, "They're making fun of him, but he could be their worst nightmare."
  • 8:35 p.m.: Finally -- in the stadium!  It's a crazy atmosphere, but not quite as crazy as the BCS game.  Tok has met up with us.  He speaks for us all when he says, "I'm not going to lie.  If we win, I will chirp more than any Florida fan."  Man, if only we win.
  • 8:45 p.m.: Florida runs out of the tunnel.  Noah's not skipping out tonight.  He must mean business.

The View

The view from my seat in the Georgia Dome is actually pretty decent.

  • 8:49 p.m.: Florida fans start doing their gator chomp thing.  In an effort to counter, the entire OSU student section starts up the "Florida's got the clap" chant.  OSU is outnumbered by Florida fans 3 to 1 in the Dome, but the "clap" chant is actually pretty impressive.  Across the way, Tressel and OSU President Karen Holbrook are visibly pissed.  I can almost hear them saying, "We spent how many thousands of dollars on that 'best fans in the land' campaign, and now we've got the entire student section chanting "Florida's got the clap.'"  Oh well.
  • 8:50 p.m.: OSU runs out of the tunnel.  It's almost gametime!
  • 8:58 p.m.: The Color Guard comes out.  It's here!
  • 9:02 p.m.: A bunch of dudes in the student section start a futile attempt to get the "O-H-I-O" chant going around the stadium.  It looks ridiculous.  I mean, this was ok at the BCS game, where we outnumbered the Florida fans, but all we can muster is an "O."  Dudes seriously have to get off the "O-H-I-O" chant on the road.

OSU fan getting crazy!

The dude in front of us stretches before leading the "O -H -I -O" chant: I guess it's good to have good fans.

  • 9:24 p.m.: Time for tip-off!  We may be outnumbered, but the OSU fans here are hearty.  It's gonna be a fun game.
  • 9:25 p.m.: A foul is called on Horford about a minute into the game, and Donovan takes him out.  Then, Ivan Harris hits a three to put us up 5-3.  Good start for us.
  • 9:28 p.m.: 16:24 to go in the half, and we're up 7-5.  Still good, except Conley just got whistled for a foul.
  • 9:30 p.m.: With 15:11 to go, we're up 9-7.  Taurean Green is looking particularly good for the Gators right now.
  • 9:40 p.m.: Here comes trouble -- Conley's just gotten his second foul.  After three free throws, Florida's up 14-11 with 12:16 to go.  These next few minutes are going to be key for us to stay in the game.
  • 9:43 p.m.: There's a timeout with 10:51 to play in the half.  Florida's up 17-13.  The whole Gators team is fired up.  We're beginning to look outclassed.  "We've got to stop Hodge and Green's penetration," Tortoise says.  "That's our way to stay in the game."  It's gonna be tough without Conley in there.
  • 9:51 p.m.: During a another timeout, they announce that OSU won the Pontiac Game Changing Performance of the tourney.  At least we're going to win something this year.
  • 9:55 p.m.: Terwilliger dunks and gets the foul!  'Atta way, big Matt!  Oden comes in the game, and Noah goes out.  It's 24-19 Florida with 6:18 left in the half.  It'd be nice if we could make a run and tie it up here.
  • 9:59 p.m.: Well, so much for that run.  With 3:41 to go, it's 33-22 Florida.  We call a timeout, and the Flordia fans are going insane.  This is the loudest the building's been during the Final Four.  Florida's hitting a lot of threes, and it seems like all we're doing is countering by taking (and missing) threes.  Whey Oden's not getting the ball more is a mystery to me.  Wait -- it's not: Thad Matta is our coach.
  • 10:04 p.m.: Noah came back in the game, and now he's gotten his second foul.  Not that he's made much of a difference this half.  Looks like he won't be our "worst nightmare."  Either way, Florida's still up by 10.  2:06 to go in the half.
  • 10:10 p.m.: Halftime mercifully comes.  Florida's up 40-29.  We can't stop them.  Brewer and Green both have 11.  The Gators hit a crazy number of threes that half.  Oden's got 11, but every time he scores a field goal it seems like Florida answers with a three.  It's gonna be tough to come back.
  • 10:26 p.m.: The scoreboard shows that Florida was 6 of 9 from three in the half.  That's pretty much the difference.  Thad needs to come up with a new game plan -- the one he's got isn't working.
  • 10:35 p.m.: So we come out for the second half, and Noah ends up on the bench again.  So what do we do?  Fire up more threes!  Good job, Thad.  I guess this is the best we can expect from the world's most famous Corn Jerker.
  • 10:37 p.m.: Florida calls a timeout with 15:16 to go in the game.  They're still up, though, 49-40.  Oden's dominating (he's up to 17 points now), but Florida's still hitting threes.  Tortoise makes a prediction: "If Oden gets 30, we win."  Here's hoping Oden ends his college career on a high note.
  • 10:50 p.m.: With 11:49 to go, Florida's still up 9, 53-44.  This is getting frustrating -- we can't put a run together.  If we keep chucking 3's, we're finished.  The worst part is that Noah's been sitting on the bench forever.  That basically makes it a lock for him to provide a huge spark when he finally does come back.  We're really in trouble.
  • 10:55 p.m.: Noah's coming back in with 10:52 remaining.  We haven't been able to get it within 7 all half.
  • 11:00 p.m.: 8:23 remaining.  61-50.  We must make a run, seeing as Noah just went back to the bench with his fourth foul.
  • 11:14 p.m.: 2:31 remaining.  73-62.  Looks like we can't make a run.  Florida just has too many weapons and a better coach.  All we're doing is firing up 3's.  As they say, "You live by the 3, you die by the 3."
  • 11:30 p.m.: Game over.  For the second time in less than three months, Florida has silenced the Buckeye contingent.  We watch the Buckeyes walk off the court, then head for the exits in silence.  We wait for the train in silence.
  • 11:52 p.m.: On the train ride back, we're sitting next to an older couple who go to the Final Four every year.  They said they paid $1,500 a piece for lower bowl seats.  At least we got a good deal on tickets.  After talking for a few more minutes, it comes out that they're Michigan fans.  They're really nice, though, and it's kind of funny that for once OSU and Michigan fans can bask in collective sorrows -- they can't even make the Tournament, and we can't beat Florida.
  • 1:32 a.m.: We couldn't find anywhere to eat on the way back, so we kept driving until we finally found a restaurant that was open.  Our waiter is from Australia.  I feel like you should know these things.  Anyway, one final semi-funny anecdote before I sign off on the diary.  Tortoise got a baked potato with his order.  After everyone has finished eating, the B grabs the leftover baked potato skin and starts chowing it down.  "It's cold and kind of gross," Tortoise says.  The B doesn't care.  "Whatever," he says.  "I like the skin.  Besides, that's where all the nutrients are."  Suddenly, a black-out drunken OSU fan sits down at our table.  He can't even keep his eyes open, but he somehow manages to say, "That game.  It sucked."  We don't know what to say, so the table is silent for a few minutes until the dude leaves.  After he's safely out of earshot, Double-B says, "That's the best potato skin I've ever had."

 

So, there you have it.  The complete diary.  As you can tell by my game summary, I was none to happy with the coaching, and, looking back on it a few weeks later, I still pin the loss on Thad Matta.  We had the best player in the game in Greg Oden.  I know that there was no way we were going to beat Florida that night -- they were clearly the best team in the nation.  The problem was that ever since Oden came back from his injury just before Christmas, we followed the same game plan: chuck 3's and let Oden clean up the scraps.  I guess I can't blame Matta for his most glaring weakness: He had no idea what to do with Oden.  How many college coaches are equipped to handle and develop a once-in-a-generation talent like Oden's?  Not many.  Oden made the right decision in going pro.  It's only at the pro level that he's going to play players as good as him and get the coaching he needs to develop into a true low-post presence.  He wasn't getting that from Thad.

On the other hand, you'll notice that Daequan Cook's name is absent from the diary.  That's because he didn't do anything.  Daequan better get back to school, because as it stands now he's a poor man's version of Dajuan Wagner.  And we all know that the highlight of Dajuan's career was scoring 100 points in high school.

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March 12, 2007

Interesting link

This isn't really a spots blog (notwithstanding my forays into the Browns, Cavs, and Buckeyes), but here's a link to an interesting interview my buddy Matt did for Sportsagentblog.com.  I suppose the interviewee's answer to question number 10 is a good synopsis of the informal Next Best Records credo.
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January 15, 2007

Q: Why do I like buying college football jerseys?

A: They don't have names on the back.

Five days after getting back to Columbus, I finally got around to unpacking my bag from Arizona tonight.  And so it is that on the day that Ted Ginn announced he's going to the NFL, I threw my Ted Ginn jersey (which I have faithfully worn to every OSU game I've been to the last two years, including both Texas games, this year's Michigan game, and the national championship game) into the washing machine for its last time as my "Ted Ginn jersey."

That's right, as of today, my Ted Ginn jersey is officially my Antonio Henton jersey.  See, that's the beauty of college football--my old #7 jersey doesn't have to be doomed eternally to my closet, like the Tim Couch Browns jersey I bought a few days after the 1999 NFL draft.

Don't worry, faithful readers: I will be posting my BCS National Championship Game diary in a few days.  It's just taking a while because I'm still dragging myself up from the floor after the beating we took.  The way I see it, writing the diary will be therapeutic.  When it's done, we can all start looking forward to who will play quarterback for the Buckeyes next year (my vote is for Henton, and not just because I have his jersey already).

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November 22, 2006

The Game of the Century

I was going to do another running diary for the OSU-UM game Saturday (did you hear they were playing?), and I even started one, but it was feeling kinda lame, so I cut it off at game time.  Don't worry, I'll do one for the National Championship game.  Anyway, in lieu of an actual diary, here's some thoughts and photos.

  • The pregame scene was unbelievable.  I wasn't on campus for OSU-UM in 2002, but people said that was the only comparable pregame.  Either way, it blew the 2005 OSU-Texas game out of the water, and that night was a madhouse as well.  Before the game, every bar was packed.  Walking up High Street, there were 40 people in line at Eddie George's bar four hours before the game, and the line to get into Flying Pizza wrapped around the building.

 

I was wondering how the Dead Schembechlers would react to Bo's passing.  Of course, they did it the way all Ohio State fans do (cough, cough):  Classy.  So, on the Newport marquee they took off their name and put up "God Bless Bo."  When I drove by Tuesday, though, the "L" had conveniently fallen off so that the marquee read "God less Bo."

 

The view looking east on Lane Avenue, around noon (just after Corso picked Michigan).  The place was just warming up.

The view of Lane Avenue, from the St. John's parking lot, around 3.  During this time, there were literally about 100 people in line to get into the Lane Avenue 7-Eleven.

View of the Stadium, from the banks of the mighty Olentangy.
  • The game atmosphere was a little slow to get going.  After kickoff, though, the Stadium started cooking, and by the time O-State scored their first touchdown, the place was going nuts.  It was the best in-game atmosphere I've experienced at Ohio Stadium (second going to '04 Michigan and third going to '05 Texas).

 

Script Ohio, upside down from my seat in 24C.  Check out my main man from Hudson, Ohio dotting the "I."

View of the field from my seat.

The replay of the final play on the scoreboard.

 
  • My analysis of the game: Michigan played a good game.  Mike Hart is unbelievable, and Chad Henne held up fairly well against OSU's defense.  With that said, Ohio State dominated the game.  We had 100 more total yards.  We had three turnovers, two of which were unforced.  We had more controversial penalties go against us (by my count, it was 2-1 -- OSU: the "slapping the center" call early in the game & the bogus pass interference called on us deep in our own territory; UM: the personal foul on 3rd-and-16, although it was correctly called because of the helmet to helmet rule).  After Beanie Wells opened up the game with his 52 yard run, the game was ours.  After Pittman's 56 yard run, the game was over.  By the way, wasn't Michigan supposed to be the greatest rushing defense in the nation?  They gave up 187 rushing yards.  And wasn't Michigan's defensive front four supposed to be unbelievable?  Again, OSU had 187 yards rushing, and Troy Smith was sacked only once.
  • The postgame scene in the Stadium was fun to watch.  It was good to see thousands of fans peacefully rush the field.  During "Carmen Ohio," I noticed my buddy Will's friend Bob on the scoreboard standing right behind Jim Tressel.  According to Bob, Tressel was a bit freaked out by the adulation surrounding him on the field.  After "Carmen Ohio," Bob asked Tressel to bless his buckeye necklace.  Tressel responded by jokingly saying, "These fans are out of control" as he laid his hand on the necklace.  My friend Rick and I made our way down to the field after "Carmen Ohio."  It was insane--people smiling, crying, and taking pictures.  All over the field, people were ripping up the brand new sod so they could take a piece of the game home.  Just like in Austin, I didn't want to leave the stadium after the game.

 

The final scoreboard.  It was really dark.

 

 

The scene as fans rushed the field.

The field as the band played "Carmen Ohio."

 

The field at perhaps its fullest.

Fans ripping up the sod.

Me posing with a piece of the sod (and no, I didn't carry sod around with me for the rest of the night, but I did take a few blades of grass home).

The field after most of the fans had been cleared away.

The view from the home tunnel on the way out of the stadium.

  • This was definitely the best sporting event I've ever been to.  Definitely worth the $29 I paid for the ticket (and the $780 I turned down for my ticket).  Ohio State will be the first #1 ranked team to play three #2 teams in the same season.  I've been in the seats for the first two 1 vs. 2 matchups.  Guess I have to go to the third.
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November 14, 2006

Greatest Coach Meltdowns of All Time (at least as available on YouTube)

A friend of mine asked me today to help her come up with the names of famous Hermans.  She had already thought of Herman's Hermits, so the next name to come to mind was Herman Edwards.  I was astonished that she'd never heard of Coach Edwards, and that she'd never heard Herm's famous axiom, "You play to win the game."  So, I felt inspired to post the Top Five Greatest Coach Meltdowns of All Time.

  1. Herman Edwards, "You Play to Win the Game":  "Meltdowns" is kind of a bad word for this list I guess, because Herm didn't melt down here (in my opinion).  He was just fired up.  Either way, this is the gold standard, because it provided us with a fresh coaching catch phrase that, perhaps by virtue of its obviousness, gives us a common sense approach to life, sports, love, etc.
  2. Dennis Green, "They Are Who We Thought They Were":  Who would've thought that after moving to ESPN, Monday Night Football would trigger one of the greatest coaching meltdowns of all time?  This tirade supplied another catch phrase, which--again--gives us a common sense approach to life, sports, love, etc. by virtue of its obviousness.
  3. Jim Mora, "Playoffs?!?!":  This is sorta beyond description.  Really, Mora's "playoffs?!?!" is just below with Howard Dean's indecipherable yelp from the 2004 presidential primary season on the list of "Most Memorable 'One-Word' Exclamations."
  4. John L. Smith, "The Coaches Are Screwing It Up":  I had to add John L. to this list--I'm really going to miss him as Michigan State's head coach.  This is the one Ohio State home football game I haven't attended in person over the past three seasons, and in a way it kind of worked out, because I was able to witness this gem live on television.  This was the beginning of the end of MSU's 2005 season--all because they couldn't get their field goal unit on the field in time.  John L.'s "I got hit" press conference clip from after this season's Illinois game would be number two on this list, but the post-Google YouTube has been flooded with bogus clips for some reason, and a lot of stuff has been deleted recently.
  5. John Chaney, "When I See You, I'm Gonna Kick Your Ass":  As a University of Dayton alumnus, I miss John Chaney.  When the A-10 announced that the A-10 Tournament would be in Dayton, John Chaney said something to the effect of, "That's ridiculous.  Why should we all have to go out to the sticks?"  At the next UD-Temple game in Dayton, the ever-enterprising Red Scare proclaimed it "Farmer Night" at UD Arena.  People dressed up as yokel farmers, complete with custom UD John Deere hats.  The good-natured Chaney donned a straw hat for a few moments and posed for pictures with UD students sitting near the court (seriously).  Anyway, in one of his less good-natured moments, Chaney threated John Calipari's life after a game.  I would've listed the "Send in a goon" press conference from after an ill-fated Temple-Saint Joseph's game a few years back, but, alas, it's not on YouTube.
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October 09, 2006

The OSU-UT Diary Photographic Supplement II

Photos from gameday.  Thanks again, Kacey.

 

The Incomparable "Script Ohio"
The view, from Kacey's luxury suite, of the OSU section (I'm the one wearing the scarlet Ginn jersey way up in the first lower level section where there's no upper deck)
When, like Kacey, you get to sit in a luxury suite for a Texas game, you get to watch the action with the head of one of the former incarnations of Bevo
24-7.

 

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The OSU-UT Diary Part III

Part III, in which Day 2 in Austin (GAMEDAY!) is covered.

Saturday, September 9th

  • 10:58 a.m.: We've been watching ESPN College Gameday for a while.  The crew is about to make their picks for the day, and before Corso makes the pick for the Ohio State-Texas game, four jets fly in formation over the set.  They fly over our hotel about five seconds later.  This is gonna be a big day....
  • 11:02 a.m.: Corso picks Texas (of course), and dons the Bevo head.  Whoever was in the crowd holding up the sign that said "Corso is a huge tool" was right.
  • 11:23 a.m.: I'm hating our hotel room cable package.  How is it that we only have one game on TV (UNC-Va. Tech)?
  • 11:28 a.m.: The announcer for the Va. Tech game (not Chris Spielman, the play by play guy) says that OSU-Texas is the "Game of the Year."  He asks Spielman if OSU is gonna win, and Spielman says, "I'll tell you in the second half."  Sorry, Spiels, I don't think I'll be watching then.
  • 11:35 a.m.: We switch to the Federer-Davydenko U.S. Open match.  McEnroe (whichever one is doing the commentary) is spitting out jokes that make no sense.  He rules (whichever one he is).
  • 12:10 p.m.: Dave and I get a cab to head toward campus.  We're hoping to pick up our tickets when we get there.  What--you're wondering--shouldn't we already have tickets?  Well, no.  We got our tickets through the student lottery, so--in order to keep us from selling them for ridiculous amounts of money on EBay--we have to pick them up at the stadium on game day.  The plan is get there before everyone else, since we're guessing that they'll hand out the best seats on a first-come, first-served basis.  I'm a bit nervous, though.
  • 12:15 p.m.: A song from the new Bob Dylan album comes on the radio.  Either our cab driver has good taste in radio stations, or Austin radio stations are better than the ones in Columbus.  Actually, I don't listen to the radio in Columbus, so I really have no idea either way.  Whatever, I'm psyched they're playing Dylan.
  • 12:37 p.m.: The cab driver drops us off as close to the stadium as he can.  We make a beeline straight for the stadium.  Tickets, here we come!
  • 12:44 p.m.: After walking all the way around the stadium, we find the will call gate.  The only problem is that no OSU tickets will be distributed until two hours before the game, at Gate 16.  Looks like our plan was foiled.  At least we won't have to be nervous about carrying our tickets around all day.
  • 12:45 p.m.: I see a guy wearing a Michigan shirt.  I have to hold off telling him he's in the wrong state for the game.
  • 1:04 p.m.: We encounter our first rowdy Texas fans of the weekend.  There's guys in a pickup truck, waving the Texas state flag, and shouting down all the scarlet-clad visitors.  After this truck drives by us a few times, we realize that the guys are doing laps around the state Capitol building.
  • 1:05 p.m.: I insist that the Ohio state Capitol building is cooler than Texas's.  Dave disagrees.  I think that Texas's looks too much like every other capitol building, and Ohio should get credit for being inventive.  Dave isn't listening.  I guess we're all entitled to our opinion.
  • 1:17 p.m.: We're back at Stubbs again.  Of course, it's jam-packed with OSU fans.
  • 2:04 p.m.: A Buckeye dog walks by.  And when I say a "Buckeye dog," I mean a Buckeye dog.  Someone dressed their tiny pup with an OSU jersey, scarlet and gray shoes, and scarlet and gray ribbons.  You really have to see this dog to believe it--there is seriously a crowd of people following it around and taking pictures.  I actually think the Buckeye dog is more popular than the Woody Hayes look-alike (who's here again today).
  • 2:41 p.m.: After heading north from Stubbs, we arrive at the Erwin Center, home of UT basketball.  There's thousands of Buckeye fans waiting to get in the building for a pep rally.  Apparently, the OSU Alumni Association is the first rival university group to rent out the building.  Then again, I don't think it's really every day that 40,000 visiting fans come in for a football game.
  • 2:50 p.m.: Two smiling Texas fans brave their way through the OSU throng.  They're heckled mercilessly.  I think they just wanted attention.
  • 2:54 p.m.: The OSU Marching Band arrives in about five separate buses.  The crowd waiting outside the Erwin Center goes wild.  When people erupt for the band's bus arrival, you know they're fired up.
  • 3:07 p.m.: We finally get inside the Erwin Center.  It's flooded with scarlet and gray.  They've got an OSU merchandise area set up, and, of course, a beer stand.  There's already 60 people in line for beer, so we decide to pass it up for now.
  • 3:31 p.m.: Archie Griffin takes the stage to start the rally.  He points out that Texas used their victory in Columbus last year to catapult them to the national championship.  This year, Archie says, we're going to return the favor, and use a victory in Texas to propel us to the top.  That's all I needed to hear.
  • 3:38 p.m.: Archie brings Gene Smith on stage.  All the heavy hitters are here.
  • 3:41 p.m.: The band files in for a rousing performance.  People are going crazy, and it all reaches boiling point during "Hang On Sloopy" and the fight songs.  As the band is heading out and things are wrapping up, they tell us that OSU has gotten more people in here than Texas does for its preseason basketball games.  Not too shabby, I guess.
  • 4:46 p.m.: Dave and I finally get in line for our tickets.  There's about 40 people ahead of us, so we're thinking we should be alright.
  • 4:55 p.m.: Our ticket position is helped out a bit as the OSU team bus arrives.  People rush over to snap photos.  I stay in line, so I really can't see anyone.  Dave comes back and says Chris Carter is here.
  • 5:10 p.m.: After standing right outside the gate in the most inefficient ticket line ever (to describe it would be counterproductive, really--I don't want to give anyone any ideas), we get our tickets.  Mine is Section 10, Row 47, Seat 9.  I'm just happy to be in the stadium.
  • 5:15 p.m.: After grabbing two hot dogs, I'm in my seat.  They kind of suck.  We're in the third to last row in the corner of the north endzone.  Normally, this wouldn't be too bad, but Texas's stadium has about 40 yards of grass infield behind the north endzone.  We think maybe this is where Bevo grazes.
  • 6:12 p.m.: The place is starting to heat up.  Texas's players are running along the sidelines trying to fire up the crowd.
  • 6:30 p.m.: I call a couple of friends (who will go nameless) back in Ohio.  They're at Panini's on High Street, and--of course--they're completely sloshed.
  • 6:37 p.m.: The Buckeyes take the field.  There's about 4,000 OSU fans in our corner of the stadium, with other Buckeyes scattered throughout the rest.
  • 6:58 p.m.: The Texas band takes the field--the stadium sounds like it's going to explode, and the game hasn't even started.
  • 7:01 p.m.: The jets fly over again.  It's cool to see them, but they suspiciously flew over during the middle of "Carmen Ohio."  Texas mindgames won't work on us, though.
  • 7:07 p.m.: Mack Brown appears on the Godzillatron to spread the "be nice, Texas fans" message.  Our section boos.  The Godzillatron, though, is really awesome.  It's supposed to be the biggest jumbotron in North America, or maybe even the Western hemisphere for that matter.  It's impressive.
  • 7:13 p.m.: Texas wins the toss, which figures, because Lance Armstrong is on the field.
  • 7:14 p.m.: Kickoff has arrived!  The Buckeyes are getting the ball.  I can't wait to see Teddy Ginn take the field.  Of course the opening kickoff results in a touchback.
  • 7:17 p.m.: Ginn makes a huge catch for 46 yards on the second play from scrimmage.  The place goes nuts.  This is what we needed to do--come out firing.  New-school Tresselball!
  • 7:21 p.m.: After the opening drive stalls on the Texas 12 yard-line, Pettrey botches the field goal.  That's not what we needed to do.
  • 7:34 p.m.: After getting the ball back and two first down catches by Anthony Gonzalez, we get our first Beanie Wells carry of the day for six yards.  This guy is gonna be awesome.
  • 7:37 p.m.: A lame grounding call stalls the drive.  Trapasso punts for a touchback.  We better stop squandering all these opportunities.
  • 7:45 p.m.: Texas is driving.  We can't stop Charles and Young.  See, I told you we shouldn't have squandered those opportunities.
  • 7:47 p.m.: Texas gets the ball on our 7 yard-line after a pass interference call that could have gone either way.  Billy Pittman makes a catch and runs into Laurinaitis trying to get to the goalline and HE FUMBLES!  Brandon Mitchell recovers and returns it to the 50!  Whew, talk about a momentum shift.  But wait, Texas is challenging...
  • 7:48 p.m.: The call on the field is upheld!  Alright, now we really have to get the ball in the endzone.
  • 7:50 p.m.: Tony Gonzalez makes another big catch, for 26 yards, on the first play of the third drive.  He's looking good tonight.
  • 7:52 p.m.: We get flagged for a false start.  The penalties are killing us.
  • 7:54 p.m.: Smith rolls right for a touchdown to Gonzalez!  Beautiful play!  7-0 Buckeyes!
  • 8:03 p.m.: We tackle Charles for a loss on 3rd-and-1 on our 41 yard-line.  Another big play.
  • 8:10 p.m.: After a nice pass to Robiskie, the OSU offense stalls out.  Trapasso gives us a nice 56 yard punt, though.  I'll take it.
  • 8:18 p.m.: After a Texas three-and-out, Smith throws down field for a wide open Ginn, and it's ... overthrown.  Oh well, keep the heat on the DB's.
  • 8:23 p.m.: Texas has the ball back, and Selvin Young just went off for a 29 yard reception.  Texas is driving again.
  • 8:29 p.m.: A bogus roughing the passer penalty gives Texas the ball at our 4 yard-line.  Freakin' penalties are killing us.
  • 8:30 p.m.: Touchdown Texas.  It was a nice drive for them.  We're tied at 7.
  • 8:35 p.m.: We get flagged for holding.  The OSU fans are irate.  One of the four Texas fans in our part of the section turns around and says, "You could call holding on any play."  I restrain myself from asking him, "Did you learn that from Madden '04?"
  • 8:37 p.m.: We take a timeout with 28 seconds left in the half and 1st down on the OSU 47.  What's Tressel cooking up?
  • 8:39 p.m.: Out of the timeout, Troy Smith throws a nice pass to Gonzalez for a 24 yard gain.  Gonzalez has really been impressive tonight.  We take another timeout with 22 seconds left on the clock.
  • 8:40 p.m.: Out of the timeout, Smith looks to Ginn, and ... TOUCHDOWN TEDDY!  Man, Ginn just slid right past the defense.  OSU 14-7 heading into halftime!
  • 8:46 p.m.: The OSU Marching Band takes the field.  Good to see that Texas doesn't go to great lengths to keep visiting bands off the field like we do.
  • 8:51 p.m.: "Script Ohio" starts.  Nice to see us asserting our marching band dominance.
  • 8:59 p.m.: Texas's marching band does a "Script Texas."  Good try, but it's lame.  It looks more like "Script Toxoo."
  • 9:06 p.m.: Kickoff time!
  • 9:08 p.m.: Wait, now it's kickoff time.  These TV timeouts are killing me.
  • 9:10 p.m.: Laurinaitis intercepts McCoy.  It was a horrible pass--right to Animal's son.
  • 9:11 p.m.: Smith is sacked for a seven yard loss.  It's the first sack he's taken this season.
  • 9:13 p.m.: Pettrey makes the field goal!  Six halves into the season, we hit our first FG.  Now we're cooking.  17-7 OSU!
  • 9:18 p.m.: McCoy is crushed on an option play.  The defense looks like it's ready to play now.
  • 9:20 p.m.: McCoy tosses a floater to Selvin Young, and we crush him for a six yard loss.  Texas takes a timeout before punting.
  • 9:25 p.m.: Antonio Pittman makes a great 11 yard run on 2nd and 8.  He's really one of the unsung keys to this offense.
  • 9:26 p.m.: We get flagged for a false start.  Could we stop committing penalties, please?
  • 9:27 p.m.: Robiskie drops a pass to kill the drive at our 32.  Oh well, at least the defense is looking better.
  • 9:28 p.m.: Trapasso delivers a 53 yard punt.  He's been good tonight.
  • 9:30 p.m.: Matthew McConaughey appears on the Godzillatron.  He's running up and down the Texas sideline trying to get the UT fans going.  He's in really bad shape.  He's bloated and his hair looks unkept, and the windsprints have him sweating profusely.  Best to keep him off the Godzillatron, Mr. Camerman--I don't need to see the alcohol molecules in McConaughey's beads of sweat.
  • 9:35 p.m.: Holding negates a McCoy first down run.  Finally, a call goes our way!  Our section erupts in mock-applause.
  • 9:38 p.m.: It's time for the 4th Quarter!  Here we go....
  • 9:45 p.m.: Texas goes for the endzone ... it's caught, but out of bounds.
  • 9:48 p.m.: Greg Johnson misses a 45-yard field goal.  The tension is building.  We need more points.
  • 9:52 p.m.: With less than 12 minutes to go, Ginn makes a nice catch for first down, with a facemask penalty on top!  Let's get going, boys.
  • 9:53 p.m.: Now the offense is cooking--we've gotten three straight first downs.  The afore-mentioned Ginn play, a pass to Gonzalez, and a Pittman run.  Nice.
  • 9:54 p.m.: A nice defensive shift by Texas leads to an OSU false start.  Don't start this penalty thing again, Buckeyes.
  • 9:55 p.m.: We get flagged for holding.  What did I just say?  Now it's 1st and 25.
  • 9:56 p.m.: Even Steven!  Pittman rushes for 2 yards, but the second Texas facemask of the drive (this one is of the 15 yard variety) leads to an OSU first down.
  • 9:59 p.m.: Smith pump fakes then passes to Robiskie for a first down.  Nice play by Troy, and nice catch by Robiskie.
  • 10:00 p.m.: Pittman runs in for a touchdown!  We're going nuts now.  It's 24-7 OSU, with 6:31 to go!
  • 10:05 p.m.: The attendance is announced: 89,422.  It's the highest attendance ever for a college football game in Texas.
  • 10:07 p.m.: McCoy is sacked on second down by David Patterson and Quinn Pitcock.  'Atta way, defense.
  • 10:09 p.m.: Charles only gets 3 yards on 3rd and 16.  4:22 to go, and we're getting the ball back!
  • 10:14 p.m.: The "We're No. 1" chant starts in our section.  We're all feelin' good.
  • 10:15 p.m.: After three Beanie Wells runs, Trapasso pins them in at the six yard line.  1:33 to go!
  • 10:16 p.m.: Freeman just misses an interception.  That would've really put an exclamation point on this game.
  • 10:20 p.m.: Texas makes it to our 49 yard-line before committing a holding penalty.  Eight seconds!
  • 10:21 p.m.: The clock runs out, and we're victorious!  24-7--I really can't believe it.
  • 10:24 p.m.: The band, team, and fans sing "Carmen Ohio."  After seeing the Texas fans sing their fight song at Ohio Stadium after our loss last year, this feels really, really good.  I don't want to leave.
  • 10:35 p.m.: The band marches out, to cheers from the many OSU fans still left.  What do you think, should we try to colonize this stadium in the name of Ohio?
  • 10:45 p.m.: Dave and I decide we should head out.  This was a hell of a game.
  • 10:52 p.m.: We try to walk over to the Game Day set to watch the wrapup, but they won't let us back in.
  • 11:10 p.m.: We walk by a restaurant called the Brick Oven.  Jack Hanna is on the TV.  Ohio owns Austin!
  • 11:35 p.m.: Dave and I have our first post game beer at--where else?--the Iron Cactus.  I feel serene.  There's more Texas fans out tonight, but it's probably an even distribution between UT and OSU people on Sixth Street.  The Texas fans are in surprisingly good spirits.  They're smiling and laughing and doing their "Hook 'em horns" thing still.  We get a bunch of "OSU Sucks!" jeers, but nothing's gonna ruin this night.
  • 11:48 p.m.: Across Sixth Street, a bar is showing the 2006 Rose Bowl on a huge projection screen.  Really, the Texas fans have the right attitude.  Sure, they lost tonight, but it's not like they didn't win the national championship eight months ago.
  • 11:52 p.m.: We get back in line for pizza, at the same place as last night.  When Dave gets up to order, the guy at the counter says, "How're you feeling?"  Dave says, "Pretty good.  Pretty good."  The guy says, "I remember you from last night."  Dave gets a bit sullen, and says, "Oh...."
  • 1:15 a.m.: After pizza and an otherwise uneventful hour or so at the bars, we decide to head back.  It's been a long weekend, and we'll be able to enjoy this victory for a long time.

And so, thus ends the diary.  I won't bore you with our drive to the San Antonio airport early Sunday morning, or our rushing to catch our second connecting flight at Hopkins Airport in Cleveland, only to find out that the plane hadn't even arrived yet.  And I won't bother to complain about how annoyed I was that the airport sports bar in Hopkins only has three pieces of Browns memorabilia to go with the 40 or so pieces of other NFL teams' memorabilia (well, maybe I just did).

Obviously, though, it was a great trip.  Austin lived up to all of it's advance billing--it's a great city, with a fantastic assortment of live music venues and truly cool people.  There were just as many jerks in Austin as there were last year in Columbus, but the vast majority of Longhorn fans were gracious and fun to hang out with.  I'm hoping to make it back down to Austin for South By Southwest in the Spring, and hopefully I'll be able to wear a new OSU National Championship t-shirt when I do.

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September 28, 2006

The OSU-UT Diary Photographic Supplement

Kacey (see Part II of the Diary) kindly gave me copies of her photos, since I forgot my camera in the hotel every day of the trip (see the foreword to Part I of the Diary).  She's given me permission to post a few, so here's some of the "highlights."  These are all taken in the last bar of Friday night.  I'll post a few of the stadium game-day photos with Part III of the Diary.

 

Me and Dave

 

Dave and Me (note the proud display of my Bud Light, which, unforutnately, has the Texas wrapping on it)

Kacey and Me

Kacey and Me, leading an "O-H" cheer

Me, Dave, and Kacey

Me, Dave, and Kacey (note that Dave is drinking a Miller Lite)

Me, "The Coolest Brother of Any of My Friends," and "The Sister of the Coolest Brother of Any of My Friends" (evidence of the evening's rain, which our cab driver claimed kept the Texas women away, can be seen on the shirt of the guy behind me)

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September 26, 2006

The OSU-UT Diary Part II

At long last, Part II of the diary.  This covers Day 1 in Austin (Friday).

Friday, September 8th

  • 12:40 p.m.: Finally, we've arrived in Austin.  We check into our hotel, which had some generic name that we could never remember (and which I still don't remember, so I'm making it a point not to look up the name).  Everyone checking in is wearing a Buckeye jersey (except for me ... I'm wearing a gray Ohio State shirt that has Brutus Buckeye on it).  While I'm waiting to check in, I scan the front page of UT's student newspaper (there's a few copies on the desk).  One of the headlines says that Austin is preparing for an OSU "invasion."  According to the article, 40,000 OSU fans are expected in Austin this weekend.
  • 1:11 p.m.: While we're relaxing for a few moments before heading out, Dave turns on Tyra Banks's daytime talk show.  Tyra has this woman and her ex-husband on, and apparently the ex-husband ended up leaving because of his addiction to strip clubs.  Tyra is appalled, and so she decides to go "undercover" as a stripper to see why men like strip clubs.  She's really into it too--she's getting a Hollywood makeup artist to put a fake nose on her so no one will recognize her.  Being the true red-blooded Americans that we are, Dave and I realize that football is more important than Tyra Banks going undercover as a stripper, so we turn off the TV, call a cab, and head down to Sixth Street.  (Did I just write that sentence?)
  • 1:44 p.m.: First beer of the day at Iron Cactus on Sixth Street.  Even after seeing all the Buckeye fans in San Antonio, it's still unbelievable how many OSU supporters are in Austin. There's literally a stream of people wearing scarlet and gray walking along Sixth Street, not to mention the fact that about 75% of the people in Iron Cactus are wearing Buckeye gear.
  • 1:53 p.m.: A guy walks down Sixth Street with a Ted Ginn jersey.  That's cool.  The problem is, he's got his Ted Ginn jersey tucked in to his shorts.  Please, people, stop tucking in jerseys!  It doesn't look right, unless you're on the team and you're on the field.
  • 2:04 p.m.: OSU fans seem to keep pouring on to Sixth Street.  There's no way Ohio State doesn't travel the best of all the Division I college football teams.  Austin is Columbus South right now.
  • 2:08 p.m.: I had purposely gotten a Budweiser because the Bud Light bottles had the plastic wrapping around them with UT logos all over them.  After drinking out of the same bottle of Bud for 24 minutes, I realize that an outline of the State of Texas is emblazoned over the Budweiser seal.  This becomes a running theme for the rest of the day: I can't escape Texas intrusions on beer labels.
  • 2:40 p.m.: Two sweet old ladies walk in with matching t-shirts.  On the front, the shirts say "Beat Texas."  On the back, they say, "And send Bevo back to the barn."
  • 3:14 p.m.: Dave and I venture westward on Sixth Street and walk in to Shakespeare's.  It's literally packed with OSU fans.  Like, their main room is filled with Buckeye fans, and every seat in the other room and the outdoor patio are occupied by scarlet-clad visitors.  After a few minutes "Hang On Sloopy" and the OSU fight songs are played ont he stereo.  People are getting fired up.
  • 4:03 p.m.: Word is (that's my tribute to Roger Brown), this restaurant/bar called Stubbs is supposed to be Buckeye headquarters today and tomorrow.  We venture a few blocks and find out that the Word is right--Stubbs is also packed with Buckeye fans.  We take a seat at the bar and survey the scene.  There's a dude dressed up as Woody Hayes (he really could be Woody's twin) and a few hundred other Buckeyes in the building.
  • 4:30 p.m.: We discover that there's a back porch and a big open backyard at Stubbs.  It looks like a scene out of an old Western, complete with wooden saloon-looking buildings and hitching posts.  Instead of cowboys, though, all the extras in this movie are dressed as Buckeye fans.
  • 4:49 p.m.: The Outback Steakhouse blimp is in sight.  It's not the Goodyear blimp, but it'll do.
  • 4:57 p.m.: The TV crews are starting to arrive.  Needless to say, this is firing up the crowd even more.
  • 5:01 p.m.: Our friend (and recent graduate from OSU) Ivan arrives.  He's working in Austin, and he tells us that he's just scored unbelievable seats for the game from work.  Ivan's going to be sitting in a luxury box on the 50-yard line, with free food and drinks.  The catch (there's always a catch, isn't there): since he's sitting with Texas fans and alums, he can't wear any Buckeye gear, and he has to keep cheering for OSU to an extreme minimum.  It's still worth it, though.
  • 6:18 p.m.: The crowd continues to grow at Stubbs.  There's easily 1,000 people here, and there's a line out on to the street.
  • 6:20 p.m.: I admit, I've been a little tired.  We were out late last night, and we really haven't had much time to catch our breath.  Dave and I are troopers, though, and we've been plowing through the minor exhaustion.  Things are starting to turn, though, and Dave and I agree that we're beginning to hit our stride.
  • 7:40 p.m.: Along with a few other OSU fans we met at Stubbs, Dave and I head back over to Iron Cactus.  There's more OSU people there now, to the point that it's taking ten minutes or so just to grab a beer at the bar.  We're digging it, though.
  • 7:53 p.m.: I see the first Texas jersey of the trip.  Maybe they don't like wearing jersey so much in Texas, but I still find it hard to believe that people aren't wearing their Longhorn gear.  Maybe they're scared.
  • 8:20 p.m.: I see the first Michigan jersey of the trip.  Dave had insisted that we were guaranteed to see some schmuck wearing a Michigan jersey sooner rather than later in Texas.  I doubted him, but Dave was right.
  • 8:27 p.m.: We walk across Sixth Street to the Blind Pig Pub, a bar that has a patio on the roof.  We grab a beer at the bar and hang out for a while, checking out the crowd and listening to the dude playing guitar.  Feeling the Buckeye fever growing within me, I decide now is the time to take the OSU dominance over Sixth Street to the next level.  I walk up to the guitarist between songs and ask, "So, are you going to play 'Hang on Sloopy'?"  He looks at me, and says into the microphone, "It depends how much you want to hear it."  He didn't even have to say it, though, because I was already getting my wallet out and pulling out a $20 bill.  He plays what can best be described as an "interpretation" of the song (in the wrong key and with the verses cut out and replaced by some gibberish in Spanish--he's probably saying the equivalent of "The Buckeyes are going to get their asses handed to them"), but the OSU people immediately start the "O-H-I-O" response to the chorus and storm the open area of the bar to dance.  The guitarist finishes the song and says, "Enjoy it now because you're gonna lose tomorrow."
  • 8:46 p.m.: As we walk upstairs to the roof patio, I ask one of the OSU fans we're hanging out with, "Where are we at?"  His response?  "Austin, Ohio."
  • 9:03 p.m.: The Miller Light girls show up.  They go up to my companions and start asking them questions, dutifully taking down their responses on their electronic notepads, and then handing them free bottles of Miller Light.  I've been drinking Miller Light since we first got to Stubbs, but for some reason I ended up with a can of Bud Light from the last round.  The Miller Light girls are all very, very, very hot:  they're all blonde, with rolled-up white shirts on and those hot librarian glasses.  For some reason, I feel that a great injustice has been done, in that these gorgeous ladies are pushing a beer that I'm not presently drinking, and I'm in a mixing kind of mood.  I walk up to one of the Girls and say, "Ok, what is your deal?"  She looks at me puzzlingly and asks, "What do you mean what is my deal?"  I say, "What's your deal?"  She asks me what I mean again.  I tell her that I don't understand why they're doing what they're doing.  She tells me that they're trying to get people to drink Miller Light.  I say no kidding, but I'm a Bud Light man.  She then goes on and on about how Miller Light is less watered down, Miller Light has fewer calories, and on and on.  I tell her I want more water in my beer, and that I'm not counting calories (or carbs).  Besides, I tell her I stopped drinking Miller Light because there's a Texas logo on the bottle, and even though there's a Texas logo on the Bud Light can, it's smaller.  We go back and forth, with her delivering what normally would be persuasive arguments for drinking Miller Light, but given my current state and my purposely ridiculous steadfastness, I end up contradicting myself left and right in attempt to shoot down everything she throws at me.  This goes on for about 15 minutes, and about halfway through a second Miller Light girl joins in.  Eventually, they wisely realize that I'm not even paying any attention to anything they're saying, and they leave.  As she walks away, the first girl yells back at me, "Have a good night with your watered down beer!"
  • 9:30 p.m.: We decide to leave the Blind Pig and find another bar.  As we walk out to Sixth Street, the entire street is like a mob of scarlet.
  • 9:34 p.m.: We see a line of about 30 scarlet-clad people waiting to get in to a bar across the street.  Guess where we're headed.
  • 9:48 p.m.: Finally inside the bar across the street (at this point, names are getting hazy), we're enjoying rounds of beers and shots.  My friend Kacey texts me to ask where we're at.  I text back to tell her, and she responds with, "Are you a member of the Real World cast?"
  • 10:02 p.m.: Kacey and her brother show up.  After only a few minutes, I give Kacey's brother the title of, "Coolest Brother of Any of My Friends."  I don't really know why, but it probably has something to do with him going to school in Austin to learn how to design video games.  Maybe I'm making that up.
  • 11:04 p.m.: We decide it's time to leave the Real World bar.  Dave and I haven't eaten since lunch, so we get in line to grab some slices of pizza.  I tell Dave to get me two slices of cheese, then I jump out of line to tell Kacey how cool her brother is.  A few minutes later, Dave hands me one slice of cheese.  I ask where the other slice is, and Dave asks the lady at the counter.  She says Dave gave it to some random dude.  After a few minutes of back and forth, Dave works out a deal where we'll get another slice of cheese if Dave runs into the middle of Sixth Street, dressed in his Ted Ginn jersey, and yells out, "Hook 'em Horns!"  If you know Dave, you know he'll do almost anything for late-night food.  It's a matter of moments before the second slice of cheese is in my hands.
  • 11:55 p.m.:  While we're waiting for a cab, a Texas fan begins to heckle me.  Basically, he keeps saying over and over that OSU's run defense is horrible and will cost us the game (I'm making his argument a bit more cogently than he did, because he was incredibly wasted, and, really, I think he was just trying to impress his girlfriend).  I tell him that sure, we gave up a ridiculous amount of rushing yards to Northern Illinois, but Garrett Wolfe is the nation's leading returning rusher, so you can't really put so much stock in that stat.  Besides, I ask him, is North Texas even in Division I?  (For the record, Wolfe is currently averaging 207 rushing yards per game--36 more than the 171 he got against Ohio State--and, yes, North Texas is in the Division I Sunbelt Conference.)  My Longhorn friend refuses to hear my arguments.  He retorts back with, "But your defense got run over last week."  He walks away telling me to "have fun waiting for a cab in the rain."

Saturday, September 9th

  • 12:02 a.m.: During our cab ride home, Dave complains to the driver that we hardly saw any of the highly-touted beautiful Texas ladies out and about on Sixth Street.  The cab driver responds with wisdom only a cab driver can give:  "That's because it rained.  They don't like to come out in the rain."
  • 12:05 a.m.: Back at the hotel, Dave puts on ESPN and I fall asleep.  We've got a big day ahead of us, so it's best to crash now.

 

COMING SOON: THE BIG FINALE: GAMETIME IN TEXAS

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September 13, 2006

The OSU-UT Diary, Part I

Ok, I promised it, so here it is:  My Bill Simmons-esque diary of my trip to Texas last weekend to witness the Ohio State-University of Texas football game.  My friend Dave and I ventured down to the Lone Star State to see our #1 ranked Buckeyes take on the #2 ranked National Champion Longhorns.  No, we didn't run into Lance Armstrong or Matthew McConaughey, but we did have some adventures.  I'll post Part I today and Parts II and III in the next few days.  Oh yeah, and don't expect any pictures.  Every day, about ten minutes after leaving the hotel, I would say something to the effect of "Geez, I forgot my camera again."  Anyway, without further adieu, here's the diary:

Thursday, September 7th

  • 9:40 a.m.: I run into my friend Tom, a UT alum.  We had originally planned on having a whole contingent ride down to the game from Columbus on an RV, but Tom was the point guy, and he had to go to Egypt for a while, so that plan kinda fell apart.  Tom's not able to make it to Texas, so he tells me to have a good trip.  "I'd give you some good places to go in Austin," Tom says, "But you'll figure it out."
  • 10:31 a.m.: I meet up with Dave.  He says our friend Pete, who was supposed to give us a ride for the airport, is a no-show.  I don't really mind, but I tell Dave that Pete will get called out in the diary.
  • 10:38 a.m.: Since we decided that we have to wear Buckeye gear every day we're in Texas, Dave needs to make a last-minute stop at the OSU Bookstore to grab one more shirt.  As we make our way from campus to the Bookstore, we run into a couple of friends.  We're like Wayne and Garth walking backstage at the Alice Cooper concert: Every time we see someone we know, we tell them right away that we're about to head down to Texas for the game.  Sure, we're annoying, but we don't care--we're going to Austin.
  • 10:49 a.m.: Finally, we head out of the Gateway Garage and leave the campus area.  It ends up being o.k. that Pete didn't make it--we figure it'll be better to drive ourselves, and we don't mind shelling out the $5 a day to park.
  • 11:21 a.m.: After parking (in Red Lot row 23 no less--I figure it's a good sign for OSU that we parked in LeBron James's row), catching the shuttle, checking in, and making our way through security (I stupidly put my boarding pass in the plastic container with my keys and change, so they have to reverse the conveyor belt just for me), we're hungry.  We stop at Damon's Gateway Express just past the security checkpoint, but all they have are hot dogs.  Dave gets two and I get one.  They're not that good.  And the woman gave me diet Coke instead of regular.  "If this is the worst thing that happens all weekend, I'll be happy," I say.
  • 11:39 a.m.: We board the 737 for Houston.  I note that we're in the Official Peter Swire Row of the plane: the emergency exit row in the middle (he likes the extra leg room you get because there's a seat missing by the emergency exit).  The guy next to me (Dave's on one side of the aisle, and I'm on the other) says he paid $325 for his ticket.  He got a good deal (although Dave and I truly got a good deal--$90 a piece for student tickets).
  • 11:43 a.m.: The pilot, who's obviously from Texas (I wish accents weren't slowly fading away in the U.S.), gives us the weather for Houston.  He goes on to tell us, "For those of you heading to the big game in Austin tomorrow, you're going to have beautiful weather."  The guys in front of me can't believe that the pilot doesn't realize that we're still two days away from the game, so they spend about five minutes ripping on him.
  • 11:49 a.m.: A member of the ground crew appears in the front of the plane, grabs the intercom microphone, and says, "It's ironic that a plane full of Buckeye fans is being flown by a Texan.  I just have one thing to say: O-H!"  The plane, which really is full of Buckeye fans, erupts with "I-O!"  By the way, the ground crew guy has his camcorder and is videotaping the scene.
  • 1:39 p.m.: We arrive in Houston.  There's about half an hour until we're supposed to board our connecting flight to San Antonio (where we're spending Thursday night), so we head to the bar.  The only one we see near our gate is Bubba's Bar & Grill (really, is it run by some guy named Bubba?).  We go in.  Dave orders a Foster's and I get a Dos Equis.  The bartender says, "That will be $7.50 a piece."  Later, we realize there was a bar called Time Out serving beer right next to our gate.  Either way, we probably would've ended up paying the same price, though.
  • 2:50 p.m.: We're a few minutes into our flight to San Antonio.  I begin the inflight magazine crossword puzzle.  I tell Dave that Peter Swire is anti-inflight magazines.
  • 3:04 p.m.: I give up on the crossword.  I only do crosswords if I'm getting paid.
  • 3:30 p.m.: We're in the middle of our descent, moments away from San Antonio.  Dave can't finish his beer because of the turbulence.  I rip on him relentlessly.
  • 3:31 p.m.: Dave sucks it up and finishes the beer.
  • 3:35 p.m.: We've touched down in San Antonio.  A guy in the row behind us turns on his cell phone and plays the OSU fight song.  It's going to be a good weekend.
  • 3:45 p.m.: Dave tells me he's bringing his #7 OSU jersey to the Bier Stube next week.  Don't ask.
  • 5:00 p.m.: We check into the Microtel in San Antonio.  I try to get in our hotel room by pushing the key card into the slot on the door.  It's not working.  Dave takes his key card and inserts it downward into the door, and it opens.  I swear, I've only had two beers so far.
  • 5:08 p.m.: We've dropped our bags off in the hotel room, and now we're off to the world-famous San Antonio Riverwalk.  I've heard mixed reviews, but we're only here for one night, so why not check it out?
  • 5:15 p.m.: A Schlitz Malt Liquor truck passes us.  I thought this was important for you to know.
  • 6:06 p.m.: We complete our first "lap" around the main area of the Riverwalk.  A tour boat floats by, and we get our first "O-H!" in Texas from a couple in the boat wearing OSU shirts.  Dave and I respond accordingly with "I-O!"  We decide it's time to eat.
  • 6:09 p.m.: We get an outdoor table at Casa Rio and soak in the Riverwalk scene.  Really, the whole area is great.  Sure, it's touristy, but this is a good kind of touristy.  I don't know if the river's always been there, or if it's manmade, but whoever came up with the idea to fill the area around it with restaurants and bars was pretty smart.  Right in the middle of downtown San Antonio, you can take any number of sets of stairs from street level down to the river, which winds around for I would imagine about a third of a mile or so.  There's restaurants of every kind--everything from Johnny Rockets to nice steak places to Tex-Mex joints.  Casa Rio, obviously, is a Tex-Mex place.  It's good.
  • 6:55 p.m.: Old people walk by dressed in OSU attire and say, "Go Bucks!"  Dave responds with "O-H!"  The old people are silent.  They probably don't have the reaction time to respond with a timely "I-O!", but their hearts are in the right place.
  • 6:59 p.m.: More old people wearing OSU stuff walk by.  It seems like Riverwalk is filled with old people, with a few middle-aged people sprinkled in.  Nevertheless, Dave and I are honestly surprised at how many OSU fans are out tonight.  Sure, it's a big game for OSU in Austin this weekend, but we're in San Antonio (about 80 miles from Austin), and it's Thursday.  At least every five minutes, a group of OSU fans walks by.  It's really cool.
  • 7:25 p.m.: We head in to Mad Dog's British Pub on the Riverwalk.  They charge us $12 bucks for a Harp and a Boddington's.  I feel stupid for getting suckered in by the super-short plaid skirts the girls working here are wearing.
  • 8:04 p.m.: We've left Mad Dog's and have begun asking how much drinks are before we go into a bar.  Dave walks up to a waitress standing outside of one bar on break.  He asks her where the good places to go are.  She says "here" and proceeds to tell us they're having happy hour all night.  Dave asks what happy hour entails.  She says half-priced appetizers.  We keep on walking.
  • 8:13 p.m.: For the second time, we walk past this goofy old dude with sunglasses and hunting gear on and a full beard.  The first time, he yelled out, "OHIO!"  We said hi, and he told us, "Come in here!  It's happy hour!  You need to be haaaaappppppyyyyyy!  After all, you won't be happy after the game!"  We kept walking before, and we keep walking by again this time, even after he yells out "OHIO!" again.
  • 8:15 p.m.: We settle for Tex's Sports Bar.  Really, Tex's Sports Bar in San Antonio, Texas.  I nominate Tex's Sports Bar for most unoriginal bar name ever.  Even calling a bar "Bar" would be more original.
  • 8:19 p.m.: The bartender gives each of us two beers (even though we only ordered one a piece, of course) on what she term's a "Bartender's Error."  Who are we to protest?
  • 8:44 p.m.: We're enjoying the NFL Opening Night game between the Steelers and the Dolphins.  The Dolphins are driving, and I'm rooting for them to score, if only to see Daunte Culpepper do "The Roll."
  • 8:45 p.m.: Ronnie Brown scores on a rush.  Daunte doesn't do the roll.
  • 8:55 p.m.: Dave and I finish ten minutes of boring law school talk.
  • 9:09 p.m.: A guy walks in selling illuminated roses.  So, those guys exist in Texas, too.
  • 9:38 p.m.: The Dolphins score their second TD.  Daunte still doesn't do the roll.
  • 10:13 p.m.: Dave compares the Riverwalk to Gateway.  They're both preplanned.  We still dig Riverwalk, though.
  • 10:19 p.m.: We realize that Tex's is the bar attached to the Hilton on Riverwalk.  We begin to discuss Paris Hilton's DUI.  Dave says, "She drinks every night of the year.  There's no way one drink puts her over the legal limit."

Friday, September 8th

  • 12:10 a.m.: After watching the Steelers win and drinking a few more beers, we head out of Tex's Sports Bar, not sure of where we'll stop next.  Our questions are answered when we walk by a bar a few buildings down and hear a pianist playing, "Hang on Sloopy."  We walk in and are surrounded by OSU fans.  After finishing "Hang on Sloopy," the pianist starts playing stuff like "Oh Happy Days."  I start complaining about the music.
  • 12:20 a.m.: There's some cool people here, so I stop grumbling to myself about the pianist.  We talk to a couple of Texas fans and a bunch of OSU fans.  One guy, whose son is a walk-on with the OSU football team, is impressed that I went to the University of Dayton for undergrad.
  • 1:10 a.m.: After about eight more crappy songs, with three or four more "Hang on Sloopy"s mixed in, the pianist closes his set with a decent "O Danny Boy" duet with some guy from the bar.
  • 1:14 a.m.: As the pianist is gathering up his music, I walk over and thank him for playing "Hang on Sloopy."  He says, "I played that song 19 times tonight."  I tell him, "It's o.k.  I'm in a band, and we play it three times a night."
  • 1:24 a.m.: Dave asks some woman from Texas where the good late night places to eat are.  She says, "Of course, there's Mi Tierra."  I walk away completely perplexed by what "Mi Tierra" is.
  • 1:28 a.m.: Dave and I decide to walk back to Microtel.  Walking to Riverwalk, we had sworn we'd cab it back.  At this point though, we don't mind saving $10.
  • 1:46 a.m.: We succumb to temptation and call Domino's for a pizza.  For a second, it looks like the money they spent to advertise on our room keycards paid off for them.  Perhaps luckily for us, Domino's is closed.
  • 10:28 a.m.: I wake up, look to see when we're supposed to check out, and find out we've got to be out by 11 a.m.  Guess I'm not taking a shower.
  • 10:30 a.m.: I check my phone and see that my man Robb in Columbus has texted me asking, "Lunch today?"  I text him back with: "Sure, meet me at Stubbs in Austin at noon."
  • 10:32 a.m.: Dave, who decided to take a shower, alerts me to the fact that there's no shampoo in the hotel room.
  • 10:33 a.m.: Robb texts back: "Forgot that."
  • 10:45 a.m.: I'm on a texting roll.  I text my sister in Pennsylvania with: "Crocs Rule!"  She calls me and asks what I'm talking about.  I tell her it's my tribute to Steve Irwin.
  • 11:00 a.m.: We check out of Microtel.  Other than the no shampoo, it was actually better than its name suggests.
  • 11:14 a.m.: We drive by the Alamo.  I was really excited about getting to see it.  You grow up hearing all this stuff about the Alamo, and I had had that Frank Black song in my head for a while ("The Alamo, I've never seen it. / Maybe I'll go there but I don't know.")  It's really not that exciting though.  It's a relatively small building, right in the middle of downtown.  I had expected this huge Spanish-style mission in the middle of a dust field on the outskirts of town.  Oh well.
COMING SOON:THE OSU-UT DIARY PART II: DAY ONE IN AUSTIN

&

THE OSU-UT DIARY PART III: GAMETIME IN TEXAS
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August 04, 2006

Time to do the penguin dance

Thank goodness.  Tony Kornheiser is returning to PTI Monday.  Now I have a reason to start watching regularly again.

In celebration, I'll link to one of the more recent columns Tony's written for the Post.  Yes, it has a Cleveland connection.

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July 27, 2006

LeCharles Redux

Ian just (literally two minutes ago) gave me the head's up about his post below on LeCharles.  I only have one thing to say about it right now.  Actually, two:

  1. I can't believe it (even though I can).
  2. If I were running for Cuyahoga County Commissioner, I wouldn't post a link to footage of LeCharles getting hurt on my blog.

Please, Willie McGinest, stay healthy!

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Only in Cleveland

Hope always comes with late July.  That's because west of Cleveland, in Berea, training camp always starts then, giving us a chance to sit back, relax, and make bold predictions that this will be the year that the Browns will finally be competitive.  Hope always comes, but something will always happen to knock us back into reality.

This year, it's LeCharles Bentley.  Only in Cleveland will an NFL team give a six-year contract to a 26 year-old Pro Bowl center who will anchor the offensive line for years to come, only to see him go down for the season with an injury on the first play of training camp.  People always say, "You Clevelanders need to stop being so negative."  We try.  But then things like this happen.

Lee Wadlinger has changed his fantasy football team name to "The Bentleys" in honor of the newest fallen Brown.  "The Browns might not win the Superbowl this year without you, LeCharles, but I'll do my best to make sure that your name is on the Lowes Cup this season," said Wadlinger after announcing his decision earlier today.

In other LW news, the reason the release date for The Price Of Solitude has been pushed back is that Fortress of Solitude studios is moving to a new location in Columbus.  September is more likely now (but other releases are coming, I promise!).

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July 20, 2006

It's (almost) the most wonderful time of the year...

In a few weeks, Fantasy Football fever will be sweeping the nation.  I've got no easy task ahead of me, defending my title in The Lowes Cup fantasy football league.  The Lowes Cup must remain mine.

And this really is no laughing matter.  We've already signed up our league on Yahoo, and we're in the midst of the most heated preseason scoring/lineup debates in the history of the league (this is the fifth year, the fourth year in which we've awarded the Cup to the champion).  Last night I spent an hour or two on a brilliant (well, not really) analysis of last year's NFL touchdown-scoring leaders as part of my argument that QB's should continue to get only 4 points per TD thrown (rather than 6).  I'm so proud of my fanatacism that I reprint that post below.  I rule.

 

Ok, I'm signed up now 

I like the point per reception rule, but really I don't care if we keep it or not. I say keep two QB's. Negative points for missed fg's/xp's are ok, but I agree that they shouldn't be as high as -5 ... missing an extra point is really random, and you shouldn't risk losing a tight game because of an extra point. Negative points should only be for habit-type dumb plays that are semi-predictable (i.e., fumbles, interceptions).

Because I was just really interested in the subject tonight, I did a brief study comparing the number of TD's scored by QB's, RB's, and WR's. I took the Top 10 for each position in terms of TD's scored (counting passing, rushing, and receiving TD's for each position). The results were like this:

Avg. TD's for Top 10 at each Position
-QB's: 25.7 TD's, 10.4 INT's
-RB's: 15.8 TD's
-WR's: 10.4 TD's

Avg. TD's for Top 20 at each position
-QB's: 21.95 TD's, 12.45 INT's
-RB's: 11.80 TD's
-WR's: 9.00 TD's

So, if here's the TD point totals for each position:

-Top 10 QB's: 154.2 (133.4 with INT's added in)
-Top 20 QB's: 131.7 (106.8 w/INT's)
-Top 10 RB's: 94.8
-Top 20 RB's: 70.8
-Top 10 WR's: 62.4
-Top 20 WR's: 54.0

I got too lazy to add fumbles in, but assuming those are equal for each of the three positions, the results aren't too surprising. If you give six points per TD, an average Top 10 QB gives you about 40 more points for the season than a Top 10 RB.

But wait, you ask, aren't we (as a league) only going to be playing 12 QB's, while we'll probably play 18 RB's? Well, you'd be right. If I hadn't just closed my spreadsheet without saving it, I'd give you the stats for the Top 12 QB's and Top 18 RB's. But, since I did delete the spreadsheet, we'll just go with the numbers for the Top 10 QB's and Top 20 RB's.

A Top 10 QB has 133.4 points. A Top 20 RB has 70.8. That's a big disparity, given that (theoretically) those numbers should be even (if we're weighting QB's and RB's the same ... I'm not even bringing WR's into the equation, but using the numbers above you could make an argument for the point per reception rule in balancing positions....)

Anyway, my point is this: If you give QB's only 4 points per TD, the average Top 10 QB will score 82 points (25.7*4 / 10.4*2). That's more equal to the 70.8 points scored by the average Top 20 RB. So, going off pure TD's and INT's (not including yardage or fumbles), if we have 12 QB's and 18 RB's active in our league every week, QB's will still have a slight edge even if they get 4 points per TD.

So, the moral of the story is, we have to keep QB TD's at 4 points. I know it seemed like we overcompensated last year in response to Peyton's 2004 season, but QB's still are pretty balanced in our league.

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June 21, 2006

NBA Jam

In light of today's other post, I'd like to go on record as saying I saw Dwayne Wade's Marquette team (ranked No. 4 in the nation at the time, I believe) get upset by my UD Flyers in January '03.  Wade was playing possum back then too -- he sprained an ankle or something like that, laid on the floor for ten minutes, then didn't return.  Fall down eight times get up nine my ass.

I'd also go on record to say that I love "Big Z", Zydrunas Ilgauskas (didn't even have to look up the spelling); E-Snow, and Donyell Marshall.  I wish they could cut Ira Newble and keep Ronald Murray.  Next year the Cavaliers will be the team to beat in the East, just watch what my man Danny Ferry (never thought I'd say that) does this offseason.

Either way, the sun is shining in Cleveland today.

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Nevermind ...

Club 202 hasn't had open mic night for a couple of weeks.  Sorry to those of you who made it out only to find the doors locked.  Maybe Next Best Records managment needs to call and check these things out in advance, rather than relying on websites.  Maybe.

Speaking of websites, updates to the main www.nextbestrecords.com website are (hopefully) coming soon.

In light of this blog's NBA Finals predicition, I'd like to say congrats to the Miami Heat.  But anyone that says Wade is a better player than LeBron can kiss my ass.  Anyone looks a lot better than he is with Shaq (35 years old or not) running with him (I'm looking your way, Penny Hardaway).  And tell me which supporting cast is legit (and loaded with all-stars, even if they're old):  Shaq/Gary Payton/Antoine Walker/Alonzo Mourning -- or -- Z/Eric Snow/Ira Newble/Donyell Marshall.

I'm not saying Wade isn't one of the top 10 players in the league (I've been following him a long time -- how many times did you see him play in person for Marquette?), but don't say he's better than LeBron. 

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June 08, 2006

Let's Go Mavs!

Next Best Records officially supports the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.  For the uninitiated, the Mavs are the label's second favorite team -- and it's not just because "Mavs" rhymes with "Cavs."  No, the Mavs have the best German in NBA history, and they've got the best owner in NBA history (hell, we've even linked to his blog).  Throw in the coaching prodigy that is Avery Johnson, and you've got yourself a championship team.  I'm picking the Mavericks in 6.

Mark Cuban just posted that he's was going to head down to the American Airlines Center court to take some pregame shots.  That is pretty sweet.  I remember thinking it was cool to have the Gund Arena (now Quicken Loans Arena) court to myself for a few shots one summer afternoon, and that was when they had the Cleveland Rockers floor laid down in the arena.

Anyway, Cuban also recently posted the questions he would ask Shaquille O'Neal in an NBA Finals press conference.  Here's mine:

1) About 13 years ago, my mom gave me a Shaq Christmas tree ornament (a Starting Lineup-style figurine of you dunking -- I think she got it for free when she spent $20 at Hallmark).  How does it make you feel to know that every year, as an adult trimming the tree, I always ask myself, "Why do I have Shaq on my Christmas tree?"

2) Can you tell James Posey that I said, "F-U-X-U"?

3) Who's the better former Cav shooting guard:  Derek Anderson or Jason Kapono?

4) Is it funny that Bimbo Coles is one of the Heat's assistant coaches, or is it just me?

5) Will you and Fu-Schnickens make a guest appearance on my new single?

Go Mavs!

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