With so much to talk about in the sports world right now, what with the Mitchell Report being released, college football's most prominent coaches changing schools and the New England Patriots still looking for that perfect season, it's nice to know that I can still take a break from it all and enjoy a little Charlie Brown during the Christmas season. Here's a great version performed by Zach Braff and the rest of the gang from Scrubs.
Monday, December 17, 2007
With so much to talk about in the sports world right now, what with the Mitchell Report being released, college football's most prominent coaches changing schools and the New England Patriots still looking for that perfect season, it's nice to know that I can still take a break from it all and enjoy a little Charlie Brown during the Christmas season. Here's a great version performed by Zach Braff and the rest of the gang from Scrubs.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
We have plenty of rivalry games lined up for our viewing pleasure this weekend as well. That got me to thinking about some of the great rivalries of all-time: Ali-Frazier, Yankees-Red Sox, Donald Trump-Rosie O’Donnell.
Some of my personal favorite rivalries are taking place this week. What do I like about these games? Everything. They have emotion. Fans would sometimes toss out an entire season as long as they could have their team win this one game. They have great names like “The Duel in the Desert,” “The Red River Shootout,” and “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” They even have great names for their trophies like Paul Bunyan’s Axe, the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk and the Beehive Boot.
There are so many great games to choose from but here are a couple of my favorites:
Best Name: The Backyard Brawl (West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh). It was tough for me not to pick The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party for this one but I decided to go with The Brawl. This one isn’t this weekend…it’s next, but it’s still a great name. Frankly, this game just sounds cool – The Backyard Brawl – you pretty much have to be the toughest teams in the area to call your game this. West Virginia and Pittsburgh first locked up for The Brawl in 1895.
Best Trophy: The Floyd of Rosedale (Iowa vs. Minnesota). The Big Ten has a bunch of great trophies but this is my favorite for a couple reasons. First, it’s a trophy with a 21-inch bronze pig on the top of it. I mean, come on! It’s a giant pig-trophy. The other thing that makes this trophy great is that in its first year, in 1935, the governors of the two states actually bet their state’s prize-winning hog on this game. This was in the north, people!
(The more that I think about this topic the more I think this could take over its own blog entry. We may have to devote an entire day to talking about the great trophies of college football.)
Best overall game: The Iron Bowl. It’s the annual grudge match between Auburn and Alabama (okay, I’m a little biased because I’m from the South). The Crimson Tide own a 38-32 advantage in the series with the lone tie coming in 1907. Auburn has won the last five contests though. This is one of my favorites because there is such a passionate hatred between these two teams. In the state of Alabama, you grow up cheering for either Alabama or Auburn. Cheering for both is completely unheard of.
Thanksgiving night there is also a great game – with possible Rose Bowl implications: Southern Cal vs. Arizona State. I’ll be tuning in with the best part of Thanksgiving with me…no, not friends and family…a big sandwich filled with leftover turkey!
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!
Monday, November 5, 2007
Currently, people are more upset with the BCS system than Donald Trump is with Rosie O’Donnell. Everyone thinks that a playoff system needs to be in place. They claim that there is just too much controversy out there – too many politics. I think that they’re wrong.
Let’s look at what it would take to build a payoff system (we’ll try to keep this as simple as possible and just work with the logistics of the actual setup).
First, we’ll need to decide on how many teams make this playoff system. A 64-team field is almost out of the question seeing as there are only 119 teams in Division I-A football. Half the field can’t make the playoffs. A four-team playoff seems too small and wouldn’t suffice for what the pundits want. Eight seems to be the number that pleases most people. So, we’ll go with eight for the moment.
Now, we have to decide if conference champions get an automatic bid into the playoffs. If so, which conferences? I think we’d have to be looking at the Big 10, Big 12, SEC, ACC, Pac-10 and Big East. That’s only six…which two do you add in after that? The MAC? The WAC? Who knows? You’re going to leave someone out. And what happens when a 7-5 Baylor squeaks into the Big 12 title game and it happens to be their day? Then we have a playoff that includes a team ranked 40th in the country. (Keep in mind that this system would also make non-conference football games completely and totally irrelevant.)
Another fact to keep in mind: Notre Dame is independent. Does that mean that they don’t get the chance to play for a title. I’m actually okay with that. Moving on…
So, let’s say that we just run with the six power-conferences. We have to fill those last two spots. How do we decide on those two teams? I guess we’d have to leave it up to a selection committee. There are more than a dozen one and two-loss teams out there right now that will not win their respective conference and a still-undefeated Hawaii team to contend with. You’re talking about some BIG schools, with BIG boosters, who like to throw around BIG dollars. Now, if you don’t think politics are going to get involved in that process then you’re crazy.
Do we simply extend the field to 16 teams? If we do then we are going to be running into the same problems when we get to the three-loss teams. Possibly even more. The Southeastern Conference has seven teams in the BCS Top 25 – You have to think that more than three of them could make a case for this hypothetical tourney.
We all enjoy our college sports and college football seems to be our first love. When we talk about it we use words like “heritage” and “tradition.” There is a certain amount of tradition that goes into the Bowl System. People love talking about that year the team won the Sugar Bowl or the Cotton Bowl or the EricCheek.blogspot.com Bowl (I’m trying to convince everyone that this bowl needs to take place in 2010).
The system isn’t perfect. We all know this. One of the things that makes collegiate football so great, though, is that we argue about it. We constantly enter into debate with friends, co-workers and the “experts” sitting three seats to our right at the local watering hole. So go tell your buddy he’s a moron…heck, come tell me I’m an idiot. I welcome the conversation.
Friday, October 19, 2007
First, we need to set a few parameters:
--This list will have no particular order. I’m not in the business of ranking.
--We won’t be using exact dates. It’s just too hard to find out when things were patented or first appeared on the market to the general public.
--We’re going to essentially look at 1980 as a starting point. That was the year that I was born, plus it’s just a good round number to start at.
--We are going to look at an approximate time when things became overwhelmingly popular. I understand that AT&T was talking with the FCC about cellular phones as early as the 1940’s but we’re going to be calling the birth of cell phones the early 1990’s (when Zach Morris started using his).
--We will also be discussing our “favorite” inventions, not necessarily the “best” inventions. I know that their have been great advances in the fields of technology and medicine over the past 25 years but that doesn’t negate the fact that at least 70% of my television viewing is ESPN.
--The internet as a whole cannot be mentioned because it has changed the world in way that no other invention has. The creation of the internet ranks up there with penicillin and the wheel.
So, let’s get this list started (at least the first seven that I can really think of):
The ability to take pictures, look at them, decide that the way that you were standing made you look fat, erase the picture, then take it again...all without using any film at all? Sorority girls across the country went berserk the day that they got their first digital camera.
Don’t get me wrong, I still find this item evasively obtrusive. That being said, I don’t know how I ever found people in a crowd before I owned one. I even remember the moment that I figured out that cell phones were genius…July 4, 1998. I borrowed my dad’s cell to track down my friends at Lenox Mall so we could watch the fireworks. Now, I freak out if my cell leaves my pocket for more than five minutes.
-DV-R / TiVo
I’m not going to lie to you – I got in late on this phenomenon. I hooked up a DV-R in my house for the first time just a little less than a year ago. I was told how great it would be and even knew how great it would be. It turned out that it was even better. I don’t miss my favorite shows anymore. I don’t even miss the crap that I don’t want to see.
-High Definition Television
Going along the same lines, HD-TV. Just unbelievable. Action shows are absurd and sporting events are ridiculous. I remember watching The Masters in HD on CBS with my buddy O.C for the first time. We could have actually caddied for the players from our living rooms. We could read breaks in the green from the couch.
-The iPod (and for that matter…digital music)
I jumped on this bandwagon late too. My buddy Billy and I went to a bar in downtown Athens the other night (before Guster took stage at The Georgia Theatre). We started discussing the concept of digital music and realized that this was just an absurdly great concept. It just changed the way everyone listens to music. No tapes. No CD’s. No wires. No anything. Plus, iPods kind of look like they should have come from another planet, making them infinitely more cool.
-The yellow first down marker
I think that people underestimate this one. This invention single-handedly changed the game of football for women. Tell me, did you ever try to watch a football game with your girlfriend BEFORE the yellow line was developed? Of course you didn’t. Because she couldn’t figure out what was going on and didn’t want to be a part of it. Now she has a point of reference. If nothing else, she can chime in on crucial third downs and give you the ol’, “I don’t know, honey. I don’t think he got the first down.” She’s happy because you’re letting her participate and you’re happy because you think that your girl knows something about football. In the end, everyone’s a winner.
When I was eight years old, my parents made the great purchase of cable television. It took me a while to peruse all the channels but then one faithful day I discovered ESPN. Sports, all the time? It was amazing. The monumental discovery was made one morning when I got up to eat breakfast before school and stumbled upon SportsCenter. Back then it was a 30-minute show that ran on repeat for approximately 5 hours (this is not an exaggeration). SportsCenter immediately became my viewing choice before school. It’s as important to me as Good Morning America is to old people.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
These were all good things that made for a great week in college football. It also made for an odd looking AP poll come Sunday afternoon. I mean, let’s look at your top five:
4. Ohio State
Okay, I’ll buy into that. That seems like it could be a top five on any given year over the past decade or so. But then…
6. South Florida
7. Boston College
These three schools are like those three random freshman girls who show up for their first big fraternity party of the year. They look great on the surface – they’re trendy and no one really knows anything about them so they have that “air of mystery” going for them. The thing is, they’ve just been nursing on beers so far and not really hitting the “hard stuff.”
Boston College, you did beat, a then ranked #15, Georgia Tech in Atlanta a couple weeks ago but we found out that the Jackets, despite beating Clemson, are not nearly as good as we all thought. That’s pretty much it…that’s all you’ve accomplished.
Kentucky, you beat Louisville a few weeks back when we thought that they would be vying for trip to the National Title Game…then the Cardinals fell to Syracuse and we all said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! These guys can play offense but their defense is just dreadful.” The win the Wildcats had at Arkansas was decent but they still gave up a lot of yards and 29 points.
South Florida…hmmm…you’re like the leader of the trio. You actually have some things going for you. You went into Auburn and beat them and then this past weekend you beat the speedsters that were #5 West Virginia. I’ve got to admit, you’re looking kind of hot right now.
Well, ladies, the bar just ran out of beer so if you want to continue to hang out then you’re going to have to turn it up a notch. It’s nothing but mind erasers and tequila shots from here on.
The first half of Boston College’s schedule isn’t exactly a gauntlet. They have gone through Wake Forest, NC State and Georgia Tech in conference and have tangled with Army and UMass over the past two weeks. They have Bowling Green and Notre Dame (and don’t even get me started on the Irish right now) for the next two. They should have a 7-0 start. Then it’s time to line up the shots – at Virginia Tech, Florida State, at Maryland, at Clemson, and Miami. Yowza!
Kentucky has played some stellar offense and has put up at least a 40-spot in each of their first five games but the Wildcats are about to hit it hard. This week, on Thursday night, the cats travel to #11 South Carolina. They’ll follow that up by hosting top-ranked LSU and #9 Florida. Later on they have to go to Athens to take on the Dogs and then host Tennessee. Yikes!
What I’m saying is that as good as those girls looked entering the party, we all know that they are going to end up doing too many shots, get trampled on the dance floor, break the heel on their left shoe, tear their shirts and end up throwing up all over themselves…they’ll end up back in obscurity.
The only thing that frightens me is that South Florida might end up looking great at the end of the night (like the girl who just calls a cab for her sloppy friends and then heads back up to the bar). The rest of South Florida’s schedule looks like this:
-at Florida Atlantic
-at #21 Rutgers
This isn’t tough. South Florida could do this. Their toughest game is at Rutgers. They have Louisville at home and Cincinnati is ranked despite not having played anyone at all. South Florida may be sitting there at the end of the season with an undefeated record.
Is the nation going to be okay with South Florida playing for a National Title if they run the table? I’m just not okay with it at this point.
The Betting Man Update:
Week 4: 1-4
Overall: 8-12 (I really need to turn this ship around soon.)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The SEC, in particular, was exciting with some big wins and tough losses. Kentucky got the proverbial monkey off their back after finally downing Louisville, 40-34 (but can you really have a monkey on your back after four losses to a team?...it seems like it should be longer than that).
Quick note: Hey, Kentucky, we’re going to have to talk about your incessant field-rushing problems. You can’t rush the field every time you win a game. We’ll discuss this further another time…
Alabama came back, after giving it away, to beat #16 Arkansas, 41-38. I actually watched this won…actually the fact that I watched this game says nothing…Lady Cheek watched it though and THAT says something.
Florida made Tennessee (the team that was supposed to give the entire country a fair shake this season) a thorough drubbing. Florida QB, Tim Tebow looked like he was for real, throwing for 299 and a couple scores.
Mississippi State even got on the board this weekend with a win over Auburn. Auburn, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Then there was Nebraska hosting USC and the Trojans proving to everyone in the country that they are a true and utter powerhouse. They destroyed Nebraska in what I had thought was going to be a decent game. The 49-31 score is A LOT closer than the game actually was. Will Ferrell was even on hand to take in the beat down.
And then there was Michigan playing host to Notre Dame – a game that I would haven’t watched if it had been played in my back yard. This game was set up to be a complete and total train wreck…and it was for Notre Dame. We realized this weekend just how terrible The Football University of America really is. Michigan, who we all learned was just plain awful, killed the Fighting Irish. And Jimmy Clausen: You were the nation’s most highly touted QB coming out of high school. How in the world do you average 4.4 yards per completion in a game?! Heck, Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno averaged 7.2 yards per carry last weekend. Jimmy, you’re my new go-to joke (somewhere Reggie Ball just made a sigh of relief).
Now for a little house cleaning:
-Tennessee got pummeled by Florida. I really thought that the untested Florida wouldn’t be able to run away from UT like they did.
-Ohio State took care of business against Washington.
-I didn’t realize that Kentucky would come with the horse-power that they did while hosting gunslingin’ Louisville.
-Southern Cal forced their will on Nebraska in Lincoln.
-Georgia Tech couldn’t hang with Boston College and we all realized that their win over Notre Dame wasn’t nearly as impressive as we all thought.
Last Week: 3-2
We’ll stay local with our “Pic of the Week” this time:
It’s good to see that Sean Bailey is back in the mix and has made a full recovery.
Have a good week everyone!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Friday, September 7, 2007
I won't go into a lot of detail this week on my picks but I will tell you what they are:
Virginia Tech (+12) @ #2 Louisiana State
--I just have a feeling that Virginia Tech is going to be able to stop the LSU ground attack and keep this thing fairly close.
#22 Texas Christian (+9) @ #7 Texas
--I really like TCU this season and this will be their one really big test - heading INTO the Longhorns backyard. I think that this will be a great game.
Notre Dame @ #14 Penn State (-17)
--Look for the Nittany Lions to cover here. Notre Dame looked more clueless than Jessica Simpson when she's asked to do math against Gerogia Tech last week. With true-frehman Jimmy Clausen getting the start, I think that the Irish will struggle mightily.
#22 Boise State (-3) @ Washington
--One thing is true, Boise State is going to score points. Even when they are facing a legitimate Pac-10 opponent, they are going to score points. I like Boise State by a touchdown.
Alabama (-3.5) @ Vanderbilt
--It's 2000-and-Saban, people! How could the Tide possibly roll over this weekend?! Vanderbilt is a decent team that everyone would like to see do well but they just aren't going to have the horse-power to hang with the Crimson Tide.
Have a great weekend, folks!
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I'm not saying that the Cowboys were a push over - far from it actually. They are a very nice football team that could be bowl eligible come late October. They have a decent quarterback and a defense that can compete in the Big 12. Plus, Adarius Bowman, their big wide reciever, may be the best pure talent in the Big 12 conference. He'll probably be making a lot of money playing on Sundays within the next couple years. Bottom line, though, Oklahoma State still has a lot of growing up to do.
That all being said, the Bulldogs came away with the victory. The biggest thing for me though was that the Dogs did not turn the ball over. It was a beautiful thing to watch Stafford scramble a bit, look down field and then say, "Hmm, no one is open. Well, I guess I'll just toss this one to the hot little sorority girl in the third row. Comin' at ya, babe!"
And I just can't say enough about Mikey Henderson. This kid will without question cause a heart attack in Sanford Stadium. I liken his performance to watching my buddy Blank drink beer - he doesn't look like all that much at first and he doesn't get flashy on a regular basis but when you're watching either of them you just have to say to yourself, "You know, any second now we just might see something special."
So I'm pleased with the effort and the 35-14 win. This should give the Dogs a lot of momentum heading into the SEC-Opener against South Carolina.
Now for the Pics of the Week (A National Look):
I really have to hand it to the kids at Appalachian State. After they defeated Michigan in The Big House, students raided their own field (back in Boone, N.C.), tore down their own goalpost and dragged it to their President's house. Man, I wish I were still in college!
Ah, the first week of college football for 2007. I felt it pulsing through my veins -- as I drove the family Explorer through Gator-Country and into Orlando for a family reunion. At about 9 a.m., as I was passing through the Turf-Grass Capital of the World, I could almost see Myers Quad laid out in front of me...the lush green grass topped with red-canvas tents, the smell of whatever it is that Joe was preparing for the afternoon feast, the sound of Tom and Fitz - already drunk, mind you - leading the masses in chants. Heaven on Earth, my friends. Heaven on Earth.
The trip went fine and I was able to secure a little TV-time from my Gator-loving family (man, it's hard to call those people "family") so that I could watch the Bulldogs. Having been in the car all afternoon with Lady Cheek and my sister, I had little knowledge of what had happened earlier that day. I went in saying, "Well, USC will win...Florida will win...Georgia Tech will have a great shot at Notre Dame...Michigan will win..." but hold it right there.
Appalachian State beat Michigan. And I have to say, it was only a matter of time before the stars aligned and a D-IAA team did this to one of the big boys. I bet that every D-I coach is rethinking the idea of scheduling one of these guys in what I always consider a no-win situation.
Michigan ran into the "power-house" known as...Appalachian State??? I just had to Google the school to find out that their mascot was "The Mountaineer." Going into the game, Michigan's chances of losing this game had to be about the same as the chances that Jack Bauer would end up shooting himself in the foot during Hour 2 and that the next 22 hours would consist of him sitting in a doctor’s waiting room with him crying and yelling things like, “I can’t go after the terrorists! I hurt my foot for crying out loud!”
But it actually happened.
I can’t imagine what it must be like up in Ann-Arbor this week though. I mean, those kids must be throwing themselves in front of buses up there. We’ll find out what the sports writers feel the punishment should be later this afternoon.
All in all, though, a good first week of action.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
I am watching the Gentlemen’s Championship Match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. That’s another thing that I like about Wimbledon – The Gentlemen’s Championship Match. “Men” don’t play at Wimbledon – only “gentlemen” – and those gentlemen don’t play in the “finals,” they play in the “championship match.”
Note: Federer just took a thrilling first set tiebreaker, 8-6.
The gentlemen that has owned London’s All England Club the past four years is Roger Federer. But he’s not what intrigues me today. I don’t think that people understand how important it is that Nadal is playing the type of tennis…
Note: Nadal just forced a double-break point (the first break points of the match) and Federer answered with three consecutive aces and the deuce winner. Unreal.
…that he is playing. We’re starting to see a distinct and very real rivalry here. Men’s tennis has been without a good rivalry for some time now. The last that I can think of was maybe Sampras – Agassi but I don’t think that they ever had a real “rivalry.” They weren’t meeting in the finals of all the grand slams like Nadal and Federer are now.
Another thing that I love about this rivalry is the two different styles of play. Nadal with sheer speed. This guy gets to everything. He moves across the court like nothing I have ever seen. Federer brings complete and utter power to his game. Right now, Federer is leading the Ace Count 14-1. When he hits the ball, you better believe that it is coming. If you blink at the wrong time you could miss everything that happens.
Note: We’re going to a tiebreak for the third set.
It’s important for Federer to have Nadal playing well right now as well. In order to cement yourself in any individual sport you have to have an adversary. Ali had Frazier, Woods, for the past couple years, has had Mickelson. McEnroe, Borg, Connors and Lendl all played together in the early 80’s.
Note: Federer took the tiebreak and the third set. Two sets to one in Federer’s favor.
Earlier this year I picked Federer to win all four of tennis’ grand slams. Obviously I was wrong as Nadal took the French (being the master of clay that he is). I can’t imagine that Federer will lose this match to Nadal though. He should be able to carry this momentum on to the title and tie Borg with five consecutive Wimbledon Championships.
Note: Just as I typed that last sentence, Nadal has broken Federer’s serve, held his own and then broke again. I just watched Federer fall apart at the seams.
But like I said earlier, I don’t watch a lot of tennis. One day their might be an American vying for the title and the number one spot in the world. When that happens, we’ll all be talking about tennis a little more.
Monday, July 2, 2007
It's been a while since I properly posted to this blog.
Well, it's time that I stepped it up. So in the upcoming weeks, expect to see this thing updated like it should be (in this new, larger font...exciting, huh?!). There may be some old stuff from the AtlantaMagazine blog thrown up on here (because I didn't do a very good job of staying current then...and because I'm lazy now). There may be some new thoughts on sports, movies, music and television (who knows?). There may even be some new TIDBITS.
For those of you that made your way here from the AtlantaMagazine blog, good to have you here! For those of you that made your way here from other places, welcome! I hope that we'll have a lot to talk about.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
We have our Sweet 16 locked in place and starting tomorrow we’ll start sifting through the remaining teams to get our Final Four sorted out. The only problem that I have is that I went a little “upset-heavy” this year and nothing panned out. They always say that if you want to win a pool you have to pick upsets. Well, I did this and I’m still losing! Even Jennifer, my beautiful fiancée, has picked a better bracket than me.
The biggest surprise about this year’s tournament has been that there haven’t been any big surprises. Virginia Commonwealth’s defeat of Duke in the first round was an upset victory but everyone knew that Duke was in a down year. They have a team of underclassmen and just got caught. Not only did a lot of people pick this upset but those who didn’t weren’t really hurt by it.
I think the same can be said for Winthrop’s victory over Notre Dame. I don’t think that anyone was putting much stock into Notre Dame. Everyone seemed to know that the winner of that game would play Oregon in the second round and that the Ducks would run over them (which did happen).
I still have six of my Elite Eight teams remaining and three of my Final Four (I had Texas defeating USC and Louisville advancing far), so I can still save face – but it isn’t going to be easy. That’s why I’m starting this support group for all of us to get these frustrations off our chests.
So, what has happened to your brackets? Let’s talk about it. Together, we can get through this.
Hi. My name is Eric. And my brackets are busted.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Well, if you looked at the title of this blog entry and said to yourself, “Hmmm…I wonder what this entry will be about,” then I suggest that you turn off your computer right now, walk over to your best friend and have them punch you in the neck. IT’S TOURNEY TIME, PEOPLE!!! March Madness! And what better way to celebrate this grand event than by forking over a five-spot to the guy in accounting and joining the ol’ office pool.
Things get kicked off in grand fashion – with 16 basketball games that will captivate the entire country. I would love to know how much the productivity of this country goes down at noon tomorrow. Back in college, my buddies Fitz and Tony and I invented “No Class Thursday” so that we could just sit at home and watch games all day while eating pretzels and cheese balls. (Note: “No Class Thursday” eventually rolled into us missing class almost every Thursday for the remainder of our college careers…somehow we still graduated. Let that be a lesson to you, kids.)
If you’re still building your brackets, here are a couple of thoughts that I have had along the way:
--We should all just go ahead and pick all the 1-seeds and 2-seeds to win in the first round. If they were to actually lose in the first round we’d be fine because everyone else is going to pick them too.
--I’m picking some upsets. We all have that guy in our office – you know, the guy who talks a big game and thinks he’s the next Dick Vitale but just wanted to go into the world of corporate sales because it “sounded fun.” He’s going to pick all four number one seeds to go to the Final Four because he’s an overly safe moron. The 5-12 and the 6-11 games are always popular places to find my Cinderella.
--I can’t, in good conscience, pick Winthrop, Creighton or Xavier. I’m pretty sure I used to beat up kids with these same names back at Rocky Mount Elementary.
--I am actually bound my law to pick against Southern Illinois. The Salukis handed the, then 3-seed, University of Georgia a grueling beat-down in the second round of the 2002 NCAA Tourney. The five-year grace period has not ended yet. Go Holy Cross!...wow, I actually hurt my mouth just saying that.
--I think I may have a weird “man-crush” on Rick Pitino. I love the guy! I loved him at Kentucky – now, I love him at Louisville. Somehow I just can’t pick against him.
--The University of Florida simply can’t repeat. It’s just too hard to do. You can’t tell me that they will, again this year, rattle off nine straight victories to capture the SEC Championship and the National Championship. Seriously, don’t tell me that they will. We should put all of our individual differences aside and come together as a nation to make sure that this doesn’t happen. If they do figure out a way to win, then it will be official…we’ll all know that Florida officially sold it’s soul to the devil.
Enjoy the first round of the Big Dance and pull for your favorite teams. After all, the four regional champions will meet at the Georgia Dome on March 31 for the Final Four.
Happy brackets, folks!
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
This past Tuesday night I realized two things: Bruce Pearl is crazy and Pat Summitt is nuts. The main thing, however, is that I have just gain a new respect for Tennessee’s basketball programs.
If you didn’t know, Pearl made it out to the Lady Vols’ game against No. 1 Duke this past January. He didn’t just come out to sit courtside and cheer for the girls though. He entered the student section, shirtless, with his chest painted orange with a “V” in the middle (he was one amongst a group of students who spelled “V-O-L-S” on their chests. He cheered his heart out, jumped around with the other students and made a complete fool out of himself. Orange Nation loved it.
Summitt, who found Pearl’s enthusiasm contagious, showed up this past Tuesday evening as the Vols took on No. 4 Florida. She entered donning a Volunteer cheerleading outfit. She also stood in the middle of the court and belted out “Rocky Top” at the top of her lungs. Orange Nation loved it…AND the Volunteers destroyed the Gators.
Both Pearl and Summitt are great coaches. Not good coaches – GREAT coaches. Pearl led the Tennessee men to an undefeated record at home and Summitt has over 900 career wins as the leader of the Lady Vols program.
The thing that makes them special, though, is their enthusiasm. Pearl has never had a problem showing his wit and his gift for gab when speaking to the media or fans (he shows up almost regularly on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption). Summitt, however, has always been known for her serious demeanor and icy stare on the court. This is why it was so entertaining to watch her sing and dance for the crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Their matching enthusiasm has made them look like the premiere school to attend if you want to play for someone who loves their program and more importantly loves their school. Their enthusiasm is terribly contagious and I have to admit that even I have become infected. Come late March, I’ll be pulling for Tennessee.
8:37 – The show starts with the nominees standing and a thunderous applause. Somehow, seeing the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air standing among his fellow nominees makes it all worth while.
8:38 – Ellen enters. People are actually excited to see here.
8:43 – Jack Nicholson sighting and he has a bald head…crazy. He looks like he could kill someone.
8:47 – Ellen’s opening monologue comes to an end. Not too bad. It wasn’t as good as a Billy Crystal-opener but it was better than John Stewart.
8:48 – First category of the night…Art Direction. Good call. Let’s get all the garbage out of the way early (Note: Jennifer loves everything there is about Nicole Kidman, including her crazy red dress.)
8:57 – Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and John C. Reilly do a killer musical number and then present Pan’s Labyrinth with Achievement in Make-up. Reilly could end up becoming one of my favorite comedic actors in the next couple years.
9:04 – Abigail Breslin and Will Smith’s kid present Animated Short. “Kid” blows his lines but covers brilliantly. The Danish Poet wins for Animated Short. Even I feel robbed on this one. West Bank Story wins for Live-Action Short.
9:12 – Jennifer is going for the pajamas. The over/under on amount of time that she will still be awake is set at 32.5 minutes.
9:24 – Finally a real category – Best Supporting Actor…I think that Eddie Murphy will take this one but would love to see Alan Arkin…Arkin squeaks in there! Just for the record, I thought that Little Miss Sunshine was fantastic. Great acting and great characters. I suggest you see it.
9:38 – Melissa Etheridge just sang her Oscar-nominated tune. Jennifer feels it’s important that I comment on this. She feels that my priorities are out of order for not recognizing this powerful song’s message and mentioning Will Smith in some way every ten minutes. Frankly, I think she’s nuts.
9:47 – They always do this weird thing when presenting the Best Animated Features. They put the animated characters in the audience in a way that makes it look like they are part of the audience…it freaks me out and I don’t like it. I find it terribly distracting. However, if those some animators could add a little life to Peter O’Toole’s face, that would be something.
10:07 – And here it is…Tom Cruise. The audience doesn’t know what to do and neither do I.
10:12 – Good moment between Ellen, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg. She asks Spielberg to take a picture of her and Clint…pretty great exchange.
10:16 – It looks like everyone involved in Pan’s Labyrinth is named “Guillermo.” Third golden doll of the night for P.L. as it picks up Achievement in Cinematography.
10:22 – Apparently they let Robert Downey Jr. out of the clinic to present for Visual Effects. Of course, he takes the obvious shot at himself and the crowd laughs uncomfortably. I just can’t take this guy seriously.
10:39 – Jennifer Hudson take the Best Supporting Actress. She “didn’t think she’d win”…That makes two of us, Jennifer.
10:51 – Al Gore gets to take home a statue. Global Warming – it’s a real issue, people. That’s all for my political speech this evening…man, how long have we gone without seeing the Fresh Prince?
11:02 – And ladies and gentlemen, Jennifer is out like a light. If you took the over, then you’re a winner. Quite frankly, I can’t believe that she made it this far.
11:09 – Hugh Jackman comes out to present with Penelope Cruz. Are you kidding me?! Hugh Jackman?! I’m honestly upset that he doesn’t wear his hair like Wolverine all the time.
11:11 – Ellen makes her first appearance on the screen in about a half hour…
11:14 – Kirsten and Tobey make a cameo…Spiderman III must be on its way.
This is going to send me off onto a bit of a rant – I hate how the “Great Ones of the Academy” pepper the performances and cameos in the show with popular actors, who will probably never win anything from them, simply because they are popular with today’s youth. Ferrell and Jack Black performed earlier, the Wilson Brothers (Owen and Luke) presented last year. Isn’t their something that can be said for just being entertaining. My friends and I quote Ferrell, Vaughn and the Wilson’s about every ten seconds. I’m not sure that this rant means anything but I felt it needed to be said.
11:17 – Little Miss Sunshine takes Best Original Screenplay…and with that, the cast of L.M.S. can take the rest of the night off. It’s time for Abigail Breslin to go start her drinking habits.
11:19 – Why does Chris Connelly keep reminding us that there have been so many “surprises” tonight? Do none of the winners deserve to be taking home their Oscars?
11:25 – Powerful performance by Beyonce…she’s just a great performer. Plus, I have to mention that Jennifer Hudson almost fell out of her dress four times.
11:31 – Speaking of Jennifer Hudson…here’s Queen Latifah and John Travolta presenting Best Song. Oscar goes to…Melissa Ethridge? Ghaa…buzz kill.
And some more praise for Al Gore. And Etheridge’s hair has never been so short.
11:38 – Will Smith!!! Finally!
11:46 – A teary-eyed Scorsese watches The Departed win for Film Editing. Scorsese is probably the only guy in the audience who is truly happy to see his friends win over him.
11:53 – Wow. We’re closing in on midnight. I’m starting to fade.
11:54 – Here comes our Best Actress. Penelope is definitely the hottest of the bunch...but she IS up against a bunch of senior citizens and Kate Winslet. That’s like saying that I am the best athlete among a group of four year olds.
Helen Mirren wins the gold. I have to be honest, I’m going to IMdB.com to find out if there is anything that I know her from.
Check that…nope. She did a little Shakespeare early in her career and seems to find herself in the role of “the Queen” in almost every movie she plays in. Maybe that’s why she won…she’s played this part about 40 times prior to this one.
12:00 – Let’s celebrate by letting Chris Connelly speak. I swear, Connelly has fallen a LONG way since his days with ESPN. Every time he starts to talk I want to rip my own arm off just so I have something to throw at him.
12:03 – Reese Witherspoon. She’s not looking good. She’s handing out for Best Actor in a Leading Role. This has to be Forest Whitaker…and it is. Whitaker was on Saturday Night Live the other night. He’s an entertaining cat. The fact that he did SNL peaks volumes about him. He knows he’s not bigger than the game.
12:09 – Coppola-Lucas-Spielberg to present for Best Director…here it comes…wait for it…wait for it…and…Scorsese! The place erupts. It’s like they hand-picked these presenters so that they could have four of the best of all-time on stage at the same time.
Quick Note: Lucas will be directing the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones saga – due out in 2008. This will be a day-it-comes-out viewing for me.
12:16 – Jack Nicholson is on stage for his annual duties presenting Best Picture…that means we’re almost done.
The Departed. Mr. Scorsese, it’s your night. Get out there and get yourself a drink in one hand and a 20-year-old wannabe actress in the other.
12:19 – Good night, everybody!!!
Saturday, February 24, 2007
With Oscar Night almost upon us, I’d like to officially announce my picks for the 15 categories that I find most intriguing (keep in mind that this includes most of the awards that will be given on Sunday evening).
Actor in a Leading Role: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
--I think that Forest Whitaker is great. The fact that he has a nice body of work behind him makes him the favorite in this category. Everyone else, minus Peter O’Toole, is fairly young as well…they’ll get their chance.
Actor in a Supporting Role: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
--Well, it looks like Axel Foley will finally get his Oscar nod. Plus, Murphy did exactly what a falling star should do – cling on to a decent supporting role and knock it out of the park.
Actress in a Leading Role: Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
--I’ll be honest, I actually DID see this movie. I don’t remember hating a character this much in along time. Plus, at the end she actually makes you rethink hating her. Her performance was so good that I might even dislike Streep in her next role by principle…even if she plays Mother Theresa.
Actress in a Supporting Role: Cate Blanchet, Notes On A Scandal
--I really like Cate. I think that she is a fine actress and I’m pulling for her. The only problem is that Jennifer Hudson of Dreamgirls might take it from her. But how awesome would it be to hear Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) give an acceptance speech
Animated Feature: Cars
--I‘m actually picking a movie that features Larry the Cable Guy to win an Oscar?! I understand it’s only his voice…but seriously! Someone please come punch me in the face when this category is being shown on TV.
Cinematography: Pan’s Labyrinth
--I haven’t seen this movie but everything that I hear is unbelievable. They say that if this movie had been made in the United States, it would be flirting with the Best Picture category.
Costume Design: The Devil Wears Prada
--This movie was based on clothing. The costumes were better than Anne Hathaway’s acting, that’s for sure. How could TDWP not win this category.
Directing: Martin Scorsese, The Departed
--Clint Eastwood is lurking over his shoulder…that being said, someone needs to tell the Academy that Martin Scorsese probably doesn’t have that many great films left in him. If he doesn’t win this year, they may have to chalk him up for that “honorary Oscar.” That would be a real shame.
Foreign Language Film: Pan’s Labyrinth
--Like I said before, this film should have been made in the States with a bigger budget. That does not negate the fact, though, that it is the best foreign language film.
Music (Score): The Queen
Essentially, I don’t like any of these and don’t know enough about this category so I am throwing The Queen a bone.
Music (Song): “Our Town” from Cars, Music and Lyircs by Randy Newman
--If you don’t like Randy Newman then you don’t like America. Plus, I am sick of the Dreamgirls songs.
Best Picture: Babel
--Babel is probably the favorite here and I think that this year may just be a “weaker” year for the Best Picture category. There just isn’t an overwhelming favorite out there. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Little Miss Sunshine win though?
Short (Animated): The Little Match Girl
--I watched all of these animated shorts. I watch the m all every year. After I whipped the tears from my eyes at the end of The Little Match Girl, I remember saying to myself, “well, there’s your winner”…and I hadn’t even seen the other nominees. Watch out for Maestro, however, I thought that this was very clever.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): The Departed
--If Scorsese loses out for the 34th time, I definitely see an Oscar here as a makeup call.
Writing (Original Screenplay): Little Miss Sunshine
--This will be where Little Miss Sunshine gets her do. Just like Matt and Ben got their Oscars here for Good Will Hunting.
Enjoy the night on the Red Carpet, everyone!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
I understand that stories of hardship and failure sell newspapers and intrigue readers but how about we give credit where credit is do? What’s wrong with saying that Kevin Harvick came back and ran a great race to take the checkered flag? What’s wrong with saying that Charles Howell III’s final-round 65 was a great round and that he deserved to take the title at the Nissan?
Martin, one of NASCAR’s elder statesman and resident “nice guy,” didn’t deserve to win the Great American Race. When you’re swinging into turn three and it’s you and another guy racing home for the win you don’t get out of the way and let him win. You trade paint and beat him. That’s what made Booby Allison, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt so great. If it came down to you and one of them at the end of the day, odds are, you would lose.
Harvick did what he had to do to win on Sunday. He wanted it more, he drove harder and to the victor go the spoils. Now don’t get me wrong. Martin is a great driver. He’ll go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame one day. However, at the end of the day, Harvick just flat-out beat him.
The same can be said for Mickelson. He’s a great player just like Martin is a great driver. He’s had wins, big wins and monumental wins. He’s also had some tough losses and some collapses. He didn’t collapse on Sunday though. He was beaten by a surging Charles Howell. Howell shot a final-round 65, caught up to Phil and then capitalized on the third playoff hole. Why should we automatically call it a “Classic Phil-collapse”?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
First of all, big thanks need to go out to my boy Micah over at the Hawks, who hooked us up and made us feel important for a couple hours. I’m actually really looking forward to this. It’s Monday night and I’m missing 24 and Heroes (Thank God I have a DV-R!), so that can tell you how stoked I am for this. I’ve had a tour of the facilities, a bunch of free food and drink and I’m in a private box at the top of Philips Arena (I’m actually closer to the rafters than I am to the floor right now). But Philips is a great place to watch a sporting event so I’m not upset at all.
This is my first Kobe Bryant-experience…he’ll probably go for 80 tonight. This is my first Hawks experience. I’m electric right now. The Hawks’ starters were just announced. Is the NBA the only place where a grown man can actually be announced to the public as “J-Smoove” and everyone in the room will take him completely seriously? Apparently so.
First Quarter Begins:
11:24 – Alley-oop dunk! This place really is The Highlight Factory! Thank goodness basketball games have announcers, though, because if I had been relying on the fans “roar” I would have never known that we scored.
6:13 – Another alley-up dunk. The fans liked it this time…and now we have six points! Whoo hoo! We’re scoring a point a minute.
5:31 – First official timeout…a sideline reporter? You know how I feel about them. Unfortunately, the in-arena sideline reporters are even worse than the TV sideline reporters. This is just painful to watch.
But hey, Bow Wow makes a cameo at tonight’s game. Other celebs in attendance include Martin Lawrence, Ludacris and…Tim Allen??? Every blogger in this box just looks terribly confused right now.
3:38 – Laker’s timeout…first A-Town Dancers sighting. If your hair doesn’t touch your lower back then you can’t be on the team. Bonus points go to those girls whose hair is more than one color.
Josh Childress hits his free-throws to post the Hawks’ 7th and 8th points. We’re nine minutes in.
2:27 – Hawks’ tie it at 10 on a ZaZa Pachulia lay-up. If you can’t get excited about routing for a guy named “Zaza” then you might as well go home.
End of 1st Q: Laker 16 – Hawks 14…this is “professional basketball,” right?
Second Quarter Begins:
11:22 – We open up with, what else? An alley-oop dunk. Six of our sixteen have come via alley-oops. HIGHLIGHT FACTORY!!!
7:31 – Sheldon Williams is at the line and he just doesn’t look the same when he’s not wearing the Duke blue. Plus, he’s got to get rid of the armor he’s wearing on his right arm. He looks ridiculous.
Okay, I just spotted Tim Allen down at courtside. Let me just jump out there and let you know how much I enjoyed Home Improvement back in its hay-day. The fact that you can catch reruns of this show during the mid-day TBS schedule speaks volumes.
Hawks’ scratch to within three after Childress hits his free-throws. Childress has spent more time at the line than Tim Allen…what?...too soon? Lakers 28-25.
2:42 – A Hawks’ time-out yields the classic montage of home-made videos of people getting cracked in the groin…it doesn’t get any better than this.
1:24 – The mega-tron suggests the crowd “scream,” “shout,” and “get loud.” The crowd responds with their overwhelming silence.
:43.3 – The 13 year-olds can’t understand how Childress misses a lay-up. They are astonished.
:00 HALFTIME; Lakers 40 – 31. Wow. We’re on pace to score 62. I don’t know what to say.
The Halftime show? None other than “Rubber Boy.” You know, the guy that can stuff himself into the 1-foot by 2-foot glass box...this is disturbing on so many levels. I think I need a break anyway.
Note: I’m taking the second half off from the diary to make some general observations and to just sit back and enjoy the game.
This city simply amazes me sometimes. Joe Johnson and Kobe Bryant just went back-and-forth exchanging three-pointers and the crowd roared each time the ball went through the basket. I have now decided that the average NBA fan simply routes for whoever is playing well at the time. That being said, the only thing that I hate about Atlanta (and I mean it, this is the ONLY thing that I hate) is that it seems like almost everyone is a fan of the “other team.” Maybe everyone is from another city originally or maybe it’s just “fashionable” to cheer for the Lakers. Either way, it disgusts me. We live in Atlanta, people!
Anyhow, the game just came to an end. Lakers take it, 90-83. I’ll tell you what – the people for Atlanta Spirit put on a darn good show. It’s a shame that the fans don’t appreciate it. I’d say at least (and I really don’t think that this is an exaggeration) 50% of the evening’s crowd showed up AFTER the tip. Maybe it’s because the Hawks aren’t finished putting together their product like the Thrashers are. Maybe in a few years the Hawks will be making a playoff run and the fans will show up to support the team. Until then…consider me an NBA fan now. I am going to have to start doing my homework and keeping up with the NBA.
The team may not have been able to handle Kobe and the boys but my Hawks’ Night was a winner.
People have been asking me this for two weeks. All I hear are variations on, “Who ya got?” So, what’s better to talk about on the day that Brett Favre announces that he will return for his 48th season of professional football than just that – professional football. Plus, it’s the Super Bowl. It’s a national holiday for crying out loud.
I don’t care what people say – in America, Super Bowl Sunday is probably one of the most celebrated days of the year. Besides Christmas, Thanksgiving and sometimes New Year’s Eve, there isn’t another day on my calendar that I look at and know exactly what I am doing. I spend my Super Sundays at my buddy Bodner’s house. He has been throwing his annual Super Bowl Party for 14 years (he’s only 30 years old) which just goes to show how serious people, kids included, take this day.
The game starts at 6:25 p.m. this year – which means that I will start stuffing myself with seven-layer dip and chicken wings sometime around five o’clock. I should be on my third cocktail by 6:00, out $20 on the game’s pool by 6:15 and ready for a nap by the end of the first quarter. If this doesn’t scream holiday fun, then I don’t know what does.
As far as the game goes: It might actually be a good one. Both teams are good. The Colts are a little better on offense but the Bears are little better on defense. If you look at the way they have been treated, the Bears really have nothing to lose. They are a seven-point underdog with Brian Urlacher, arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, suiting up for them at linebacker. However, the Colts have Peyton Manning – the prodigal son and golden boy of the NFL, as well as one of the most talented quarterbacks the league has ever seen. It’s like all these factors just cancel each other out.
As far as routing interest: I’m pulling for the Colts. I like Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy. I don’t have a problem with the Bears but I’d like to see the Colts hoist the Lombardi Trophy. I think that they are also a nice story. It’s refreshing to look at two stars in the league (in Manning and Harrison) and see two guys that work hard, stay out of trouble and genuinely respect their fellow competitors like they do.
As far as my pick: Colts 27 - Bears 21. I think that Manning puts together a nice outing. He’ll throw for 278 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Joseph Addai rushes for just under 100 yards but gets a score. Adam Vinatieri, the greatest clutch kicker in NFL history, will drive home a pair of field goals. The Bears will only have one offensive touchdown, the other two will come via a Devin Hester special teams moment and a return off of some sort of turnover (maybe that Peyton interception).
I think that there will be a light drizzle late in the game but that it won’t affect anything. I think that the blockbuster commercial of the day will be produced by Pepsi. I think that my buddy Billy will be able to fit eight pigs-in-blankets in his mouth at once and that half of the people who go to the Super Bowl in person will leave feeling like they just wasted a LOT of money. All in all, it should be a fine day.
Have a Happy Super Bowl everyone!
I think that my good friend, Joe Esposito, said it best in the classic film The Karate Kid, “You’re the best around…nothing’s ever going to keep you down!”
He may not have been writing the song about them but the sentiments ring true when you watch Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. These two athletes are going to be the players that I tell my kids about. If they ever come up to me and ask me who was the most dominate player of their sport during my lifetime I will have to say Federer and Woods.
Federer is 25 years old and has captured 10 grand slam titles (3 at the Australian Open, 3 U.S. Open titles, and 4 wins at Wimbledon). Pete Sampras, the best player of my childhood, captured 14 grand slams – including seven at Wimbledon. Federer is, without a doubt in my mind, going to shatter this record. He hasn’t won at the French Open but there is no reason to believe that he won’t. He is so much better than everyone else that steps on the court with him that it is ridiculous. I mean, Federer didn’t lose a single set in the Aussie Open. Not a single one. Plus, he dominated the only match that people thought might be half way decent when he destroyed Andy Roddick (6-4, 6-0, 6-2).
Woods dominates his sport the same way. This past weekend, Tiger entered the final round of the Buick Invitational two shots off the lead. My buddy O.C. and I were flipping between college hoops and Tiger’s attempt to win his seventh straight PGA Tour victory when we saw the leader board. When they mentioned who the third round leader was, Australian Andrew Buckle, we actually laughed out loud. This kid didn’t stand a chance. And then when Tiger closed to within a stroke at the turn we were betting on how much Tiger would win by.
That’s what is different about these guys. When they walk out onto the court and course, people don’t say to themselves, “You know? They could win today.” People say things like, “You know? I don’t think anyone else stands a chance today.”
I’m actually going out there and calling this right now so that we can all look back and know that I am the prognosticator of prognosticators. Woods will win TWO majors this year (I’m picking The Masters and the U.S. Open). I don’t think Tiger will win the PGA Championship this year. And he won’t win the British Open – mainly because he won’t be playing in it (his wife is due to give birth to their first child that week and with Tiger having his priorities so ridiculously IN order I can’t pick him to win there).
I am actually going to pick Federer to do the unheard of and sweep the Grand Slam of tennis. He’s already virtually unbeatable at Wimbledon and I think that he breaks through in the French this year. He’ll win the U.S. Open but that could be a good test because there are a lot of good hard court players out there. The only trouble he will run into is if he plays Rafael Nadal in the French. Nadal is a great clay player and has beaten Federer there already. But he’s just too good.
I feel pretty good hitching my wagon to these guys. They ARE the best around.