Are the @Reds the most Twitter-friendly team in all of sports?

•February 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

All the evidence points to “Yes.” The team has hosted multiple “TweetUps” and has a great presence in social media, ranging from former players (and Hall of Famers) to current players to the front office and even to its community efforts. Brandon Phillips could easily claim the title of baseball’s best tweeter, and more and more of the Reds’ best are joining up. Sure, we may never get the team’s best player to start tweeting, but Jay Bruce has joined, Phillips is almost omnipresent in the Twittersphere, and a few of the lesser-known players are great follows, as well (I recommend following @mrLecure).
Then take a look at the front office presence. Jamie Ramsey is one of the best follows in the organization, and his blog is outstanding. Then you’ve got Lisa Braun and Michael Anderson, who, along with Ramsey, give fans a great inside look at the team. The Reds use Twitter to do more than build a fan base; they use Twitter to engage a fan base. That’s the beauty of the Cincinnati Reds organization and its social media presence.
Plenty of sports fans follow their favorite teams. Plenty of baseball fans follow their favorite teams. There are a lot of ways to do this, but no fans can follow a team quite like Reds fans can follow theirs.

Coaching Carousel

•March 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So Mike Anderson’s leaving Mizzou. Shocking? Not really. The Arkansas job had everything it needed to pull Anderson away from a pretty nice job here in Columbia: the money (even though MU offered him a $500K raise), the location (Anderson’s a Southern boy) and nostalgia (he was an assistant there for 17 years before moving on to UAB). Here’s Arkansas’ men’s basketball website:

On one hand, I completely get it. Arkansas is where it all started for MA. He built himself in Fayetteville, and the Razorbacks have the money and the appeal to bring him back. On the other, his departure surprises me a bit. All he’s losing this year is a mediocre role player in Justin Safford (who got a way worse rap than he deserved), which leaves a roster absolutely loaded with talent. The young guys who struggled on the road this season gained valuable experience. Even though this team underachieved immensely, they still had a ton of potential. The expectations would’ve been equally as high, if not higher. On top of that, he’s got the Pressey boys there. “Uncle Mike” is going to leave his friend’s kids high and dry in Columbia. That’s the one major reason I thought Mizzou had the upper hand (that, and $500,000).
At the end of the day, though, Arkansas was too much for Anderson to pass up. A lot of Missouri fans are upset. I get where they’re coming from. This whole deal was pretty similar to the Brian Kelly to Notre Dame situation a couple years back. A coach’s dream job is open, the dream job offers more money, the coach leaves. It’s as simple as that. The similarities don’t stop there, though. There are going to be plenty of people who will hate Anderson for this. There were a lot of people who hated (and still hate) Brian Kelly for what he did. Personally, I have no ill will or hard feelings. I wish each coach the best. At the same time, though, I think both could’ve handled the situation better. As I sat in the press room after Cincinnati ousted Anderson’s Missouri Tigers from the Big Dance less than a week ago, Anderson was asked about the Arkansas job. His response: “I’m excited about what’s going on at Missouri and I want to be at Missouri. That’s the bottom line.” Turns out the opportunity at Arkansas was more important than the exciting things going on here at Mizzou. Everyone’s saying he said he wanted to retire here. That was before the Arkansas job opened up, if I’m not mistaken. Who knows if he knew all along he’d go to AK, and really, who cares? Whether he led you on or not, he’s gone now. That’s that. Perhaps the expectations were too much for him. He might enjoy rebuilding programs and winning fans’ hearts by producing a winner. Once more is expected, he hasn’t been able to deliver. But, like I said, he’s gone. That’s that. Maybe the Tigers can beat A&M now. Regardless, the bottom line is that he deserves credit for putting Missouri basketball back on the map. An Elite 8 run a few years back, almost an entire season in the Top 25, national recognition. Missouri basketball thought it had its savior in Quin Snyder. Mike Anderson came in, picked up the pieces and put a winning product out on the hardwood. That’s what Missouri fans need to remember.
And kudos to Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Laurence Bowers. That presser had to be a pain in the ass, but they stepped up and answered the questions. Whether or not you’re impressed by all of their play, you can acknowledge and respect what they represented by sitting up there tonight.

Now on to another coach of one of my favorite teams. Mick Cronin is asking for more from Bearcat fans and the UC Athletic Department. I’m totally with Mick on this one. The guy has succeeded in the toughest conference in America with inferior talent and restrictions on his program thank to his predecessors. He has rebuilt the Cincinnati program the right way after it was in shambles when he took over. He improved every single year even though every team he put out on the court was thoroughly outmanned by the teams in his conference. He took that, and he improved every single year. He simply asked UC fans for patience and support — and he got little of either. He did things his way. He took a ton of criticism. He walked out on the floor and saw a half-empty arena. He looked up and saw lopsided scores in favor of his opponents. He fought NCAA sanctions because of the academic situation he took over. He did all of this and never once complained. I’m as guilty as anyone of doubting Cronin — there were plenty of times I thought he’d be out of Clifton and the program might be better for it. I’ve said on this very blog that I thought he was a great recruiter but I questioned his coaching abilities. Now that I look back, I realize what he was up against and how he really performed. A lot of Bearcat fans have come around, others haven’t. Now, I say it’s time to listen to him. Commit to him. He understands and accepts the limitations of the program as it stands right now. He wants the athletic department to do what it can, he wants the fans’ support. I honestly don’t feel Cronin sees this job as a stepping stone. How could a competitive team in the nation’s best conference be a stepping stone? This isn’t Big East football. The Bearcats were invited into this conference because of the basketball program. They need to commit to the program that got them here. To the program that has the best shot at consistent performance. Mick Cronin isn’t Brian Kelly. But Cincinnati should start treating him the same. Because the potential for success is higher with Mick than it ever was with BK.
That being said, this year’s seniors deserve a ton of credit, as well. The likes of Rashad Bishop, Larry Davis, Darnell Wilks and Biggie McClain stuck with this program in the worst of times. They came in knowing things would suck, but they stuck it out. They played their asses off to try and be competitive against a bunch of guys who were exponentially more talented than they were. They played gritty. They fought through the same lack of support and occasional derision from their “fans.” They believed in a coach and his program. They put their faith in him even when things looked the worst. They did that and they helped rebuild a storied program. When I asked Rashad to sum up the last four years, his answer was simple: “It was a great journey. We got Cincinnati built back up to where it used to be, so we should be proud of that.”
And that’s exactly what those guys did. Cincinnati basketball is back. And it’s due in large part to the seniors who have stuck it out to help rebuild this program. They deserve credit for their willingness to fight through the bad, keep on chugging and eventually go out on top. I saw Davis, Bishop and Wilks out at a bar in D.C. after their loss to UConn. I’m generally not one to go up to an athlete and say something to him — they’re normal people and they probably don’t want to be bothered — but I felt like I needed to approach those guys. I needed to go say, “As a life-long Cincinnati fan, thanks. You guys had a great season. It was a ton of fun to watch you.” And when I went over, they all smiled, shook my hand and thanked me. They weren’t bothered by it. It’s probably because they didn’t hear it enough for the past four years. But rather than dismissing me, they thanked me. They seemed genuinely appreciative that their work was noticed and appreciated. They won’t go down in any record books as all-time greats, but if this program sustains its success, they’re the guys I’ll look back to and remember as the ones who started it all.

Speaking of Cincinnati and Mizzou, that game was one of the most memorable of all time for me. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to call the game from courtside in the Verizon Center. I got to watch my two favorite basketball teams go head to head and play the role of Dan Hoard or Mike Kelly. It was an honor and a memory of a lifetime. Things I noticed from that game:
–Mizzou needs a big man who can hold his own down low. Yancy Gates dominated the middle against Bowers, Ratliffe and Moore. Looked like a man among boys. Even Ibrahima Thomas managed to push the Tigers around inside. The Tigers cannot legitimately compete on a national level without a strong inside presence. Anderson’s system didn’t lend itself to that. Maybe now Mizzou can find a big man.
–If Mizzou doesn’t turn you over, they lose. Cincinnati only turned the ball over 11 times. Mizzou’s pressure relies on turnovers. If they don’t force turnovers, everyone gets out of position. A smart, patient team beats the Tigers every time, even if they have less talent. Cincy proved that.
–Mizzou’s half-court offense is basically non-existent. They depend on wearing you down and scoring when you’re tired. Cincinnati was deep enough and slowed the game down enough to eliminate those possibilities. The “Fastest 40 Minutes of Basketball” depends on a lot of things happening. If a few of those things don’t happen, the system doesn’t work all that well.

Enough about that. But how about March Madness so far, eh? The George Mason stepback triple to top Villanova was my favorite moment so far. I enjoyed it mostly because I was in a restaurant full of people who reacted like I did. The fact that the Thursday and Friday of last week aren’t a holiday yet. We always hear about how much money businesses lose on those days. Here’s an idea: cancel work and school. Let people do what they actually want to do. Save the money you’re losing. It’s way more fun to watch the games with a bunch of people you don’t know than looking over your shoulder to make sure your boss doesn’t catch you.

Then there’s all the bracket pools. Mo Egger sums up my opinions about them pretty well:

I know it’s late, but I feel like I have to touch on the Pitt/Butler debacle. I watched it unfold live and could not believe what was happening. There were fouls on both plays. I thought that when I saw it live and I thought it after the replays. I was just surprised the officials call it. But I guess this stems back to my criticism of all sports after the Dustin Johnson thing at Whistling Straits: you call the game by the rules…the situation doesn’t matter. A foul is a foul, even if it’s within the last two seconds. As much flak as some people will give those officials, I give them credit for sacking up and making the calls.

And can we stop saying the Big East sucks because of its tourney performance? I am not one to root for a conference, but I have to stand up for the Big East here. The Big East’s performance in the NCAA Tourney doesn’t discredit an entire season’s worth of work. It doesn’t discredit a 29-16 record against other conferences. A one and done tournament doesn’t tell you which conference is the best. If the logic used to tear down the Big East is right, that means the Colonial Athletic Conference is just as good as the Big East. I’d take any middle-of-the-pack Big East team and put them in the CAA and they’d win it every year. The Big East is easily the best conference in America, whether the conference’s teams perform in March or not. And besides, if you have 11 teams in the tournament, you’re going to have more teams get knocked out. That’s just math.

Want to waste your money? Buy some NCAA Tournament stuff from UC’s return to the Big Dance that you can’t even prove is from UC’s return to the Big Dance.

You had to see this coming…they do everything with Legos nowadays.

Thank God someone finally compiled this: the box score from Space Jam.

Rebecca Black is getting torn down for her YouTube sensation “Friday.” I’m not crazy about the song, but people need to back off. As this article proves, there are at least four songs just as bad, if not worse (yes, I said four because “Baby” doesn’t belong on this list).

This is good journalism. Find the story behind the story.

Apparently some guy from Columbus was arrested for collecting other people’s urine and drinking it. Pretty messed up, I guess. But I don’t understand how you arrest him. Is he stealing? I feel like if I take a leak, that piss is no longer mine because I chose to dispose of it some place. Sure, it’s weird the guy drinks pee, but this is America. I think it’s weird girls think Uggs are cute, or guys wear skinny jeans, but they don’t get arrested for it. Land of the Free? Let him drink pee.

If there were more coaches like this guy, I’d bet players would study film a lot more.

I cannot wait to win The Masters…

Did everybody hear about this one-legged kid from Arizona State winning the national title in wrestling? A pretty cool story. Pretty neat to see a kid refuse to let his disabilities define him and do something. I give him a ton of credit for that. But it also makes me wonder: is his disadvantage actually kind of an advantage? Think about it: he’s in the 125-pound weight class, which means all the other kids weigh close to the same as him. But all the other kids have their weight distributed throughout their body. Anthony Robles weight is distributed throughout his body, too, but the weight that most people have in their second leg is actually in his upper body. That means he can have a stronger upper body than his opponents because his weight limit is technically different than theirs. The weight of his missing leg is redistributed as muscle throughout his upper body. I feel like there’s some sort of unfairness there. I still credit the kid for what he did, but I’m just sayin’.

A new restaurant opened in Waco, Texas, and people are upset about it. I’d kill for a chance to be the reporter on this story. I would have an absolute blast with a script about a place called “Fat Ho Burgers.” This guy wasn’t creative enough. Secondly, who cares what the place is called. If the burgers are good, the name doesn’t matter. It could be called “Poop on a Bun” for all I care. It’s all about burger quality for me. But if this lady knew how to run a business, she wouldn’t have run out of burgers at her grand opening. That’s not high demand hurting you; that’s poor preparation.

I don’t generally delve in to world issues or anything serious on this blog, but what happened in Japan is tragic. Bubba Watson, Ryuji Imada and Haruki Nakamura, as well as a lot of other people are doing some great things. A lot of athletes do stuff like this all the time, but it often goes unnoticed or unreported. For as egotistical and selfish as so many people like to think so many stars are, it’s not always the case.

I’ve been watching a lot of NBC’s Community lately and let me just say this: it’s outstanding. Just quality episode after quality episode. And Donald Glover and Danny Pudi are phenomenal together. I’ll send you off with two videos to prove it.

Carpe Diem.
Altiora.

Championship Week*

•March 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I hope you’re just as excited as I am. *And yes, I have used “Championship Week” as the title of a post before.*
I really think this week is a million times better than next week. Everyone makes a huge deal out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, but there are more games during Championship Week, there’s more desperation and excitement and it’s a chance to see some quality players that you’ll never hear about or watch at any point throughout the season or the Big Dance. Everyone wants to skip class or take off work next Thursday and Friday. I’d say take off Tuesday and Wednesday and watch a day’s worth of fun basketball this week.
Did you see that Villanova/USF game last night? The Bulls would never have a shot at making the NCAA Tourney, but what an opportunity for those kids. This is their NCAA Tournament. They can make it to the finals but, if they don’t win, they still aren’t dancing. You like the “Cinderellas” in the Big Dance? You should love championship week. More than half the teams playing are trying to play the role of Cinderella. And there’s still quality basketball being played (even though Villanova has been abysmal. Interesting fact: since 1985, no team has made the NCAA Tournament after losing their final five games — with its loss to USF, Villanova has lost its last five). Or how about the LaSalle/St. Bonaventure game today? Absolutely nuts. But you’d never get the chance to see either of those teams play while you’re flipping back and forth between 15 or so games throughout Thursday and Friday next week. Ever watch DePaul play? Of course not. But if you checked out their match-up with UConn today, you’d have gotten to see two of the Big East’s best players. Obviously, the Huskies have Kemba Walker. But you’ve probably never watched DePaul’s Cleveland Melvin. Check out DePaul for the next few years — Melvin is only a freshman and he’s the Big East Rookie of the Year. Did you see John Stockton’s kid carry his team to victory in the WCC title game? If you didn’t, you missed out. That Gonzaga/St. Mary’s tilt was a quality game. Championship Week is filled with great games. Championship Week is the bee’s knees.
And for the players, Championship Week doesn’t suck, either. All they have to do is show up and get showered with gifts. Here’s a list of what each conference is giving its athletes this week.

Now on to some of my personal rooting interests this week.
Let’s start with the team that has the most to prove: Missouri. The Tigers have dropped their last three. Even though none of them were inexcusable (@K-State, @Nebraska, vs.Kansas), the way the Tigers are playing is troublesome. They shoot 50% in Lincoln, but they were completely out of the game for the last eight minutes of the half. Ricardo Ratliffe finally managed to stay out of foul trouble against the Huskers…and managed only six points and four boards. Pressey and Dixon combined for seven turnovers…and only managed to force six out of the Huskers. **I’m not big on the whole assist-to-turnover ratio. I prefer to look at how many turnovers a guard forces as opposed to how many he commits.** A team that prides itself on depth played ten guys (not surprising) — only four of them managed six points or more, and only three managed to get to double-digits. As a team, they only had 18 rebounds. That’s one game for Kevin Love. This team has a ton of talent, but they’ll be lucky to get out of the first round if the bigs don’t step up.
Then there was the kU game, which really made that obvious. The Jayhawks outrebounded Mizzou by more than 20. Mizzou shot 13% from deep and only 29% from the field. Again, ten guys played and only four managed six or more. Only three scored in double-digits (only one in the starting line-up). The lone bright spot was Laurence Bowers (22 points, 10 boards, five steals). Still, Bowers isn’t big time inside player. He spots up from mid-range and plays outside the lane almost constantly. He’s like Leo Lyons all over again. That’s not a bad thing, but it doesn’t help establish an inside presence that this team will need in order to go deep into March. Now comes the part where people reference Leo Lyons’ senior year when Mizzou got to the Elite 8. I counter with the fact that the 2008 team played great defense. This year’s squad can hold almost no one to less than 45% shooting. Look at any good team they’ve played this season: kU: 61% and 44%//G’Town: 57%//K-State: 52%//A&M: 48%//Vandy: 53%. Outside of Kansas, those numbers aren’t against the best of the best. In order to make a deep run in March, you’ll need to beat teams just as good as Vanderbilt or Texas A&M, and then beat teams even better. I don’t know that this team can do it.

Keeping with the basketball theme, here’s a pretty great shot:

But the ref can’t swallow his whistle there. I don’t care how old the kid is. He traveled. The guys in stripes have to man up and have the balls to tell this kid, “Nice shot, son, but you’ve gotta play by the rules.” The worst part is that I think this was some sort of championship. The guy that walks out and throws up his arms at the :48 mark has medals and a plaque. The white team got robbed.

Now on to the hometown squad. The Cincinnati Bearcats will be dancing. For the first time since the Huggins era, I will get to see my favorite team’s name pop up on the screen on Selection Sunday. For the first time since Mick Cronin took over, there was no late-season collapse. In fact, it was quite the opposite. This team is playing its best ball right now. And Mick Cronin is doing arguably the best coaching job in the country, IMO. I’ve been a critic of Mick just as much as the next guy, but I can’t deny he’s doing an amazing job with this Bearcats squad. This team doesn’t have a star player as its go-to guy. Most of the guys getting the big minutes are senior leaders. The talent level is far from great. But this team just went 11-7 in the toughest conference in the country. They’ve had some losses that seemed to put this team on the brink of imploding. But Mick rallied his guys after each one of those losses, and they’ve now won five of their last six, including wins over Louisville, Georgetown (twice) and at Marquette. That’s pretty impressive. And after that win at Marquette (the one that probably wrapped up their spot in the Big Dance), the Bearcats removed all doubt on Senior Day at Fifth Third Arena with a 22-point drubbing of Georgetown. And what a great send-off for guys like Biggie McClain, Darnell Wilks, Larry Davis and Rashad Bishop. They aren’t guys that will go down as the best Bearcats we’ve seen. They aren’t on any all-time lists in any statistical category. But these guys stuck with a program at its toughest times, saw a fan base completely ignore them in favor of a sweet-talking coach who was using their football buddies as a stepping stone, played in front of a half-empty gym more often than not. And now, after four long years, they get a scene like this:

And they deserve it. Every second of it.
But now it’s time to move forward and look to the Big East tournament. This team isn’t playing for their season right now. They’re playing for their seed in the NCAA Tournament. But, after USF upset a struggling Villanova team last night (thanks to a HUGE ‘Nova meltdown), the fact that there isn’t a ton of desperation makes this week scary. Obviously, Cincinnati will be favored (probably pretty heavily) against South Florida. And the Bearcats should beat the Bulls without much problem, but the fact that they’re favored puts a lot of pressure on UC. But if this team continues to defend like they have, it shouldn’t be a concern. They turned the Bulls over 18 times in their first meeting. USF isn’t tailored to handle UC’s pressure, so the ‘Cats need to get after them early and often. Defense has been this squad’s strong point. Defensive intensity is what will carry them through tourney time. In their last seven games, they’ve held Georgetown (one of the nation’s best shooting teams) to less than 50 points twice, St. John’s to 59, Louisville to 54, UConn to 67 and Marquette to 60. Not all of those defensive efforts translated into wins, but defensive efforts like those will keep this team dancing for longer than their talent would suggest.
As for the match-up tonight, I’d almost rather them play Villanova. The Wildcats are slumping bad, and Cincinnati would have the motivation they need after losing to them earlier this season. Instead, they get a USF team that has nothing to lose, gained confidence thanks to a great comeback last night, and has guys talented enough to give Cincy problems. They’ve also got some size to go with the talent. Augustus Gilchrist could give the Bearcat big men some problems.
That being said, I still think the Bearcats can win, but they need to come out with the intensity they do against the likes of Louisville or Georgetown. If they come out flat or let up at any point, USF could take advantage. But if the Bearcats can win, I’m excited to see them motivated and ready to go against a Notre Dame squad that beat them by eight in South Bend earlier this season. They’ll be up for that game, and it’ll be a good one…but the Bearcats need to take care of business tonight.
And, in honor of the ‘Cats going dancing again, here’s a look at a video from 2005, the last time they were playing in the Big Dance.

Now on to other things.
This whole Jim Tressel deal is really nothing to me. The guy screwed up and screwed up pretty bad. It really makes you wonder if there are any truly “clean” programs in college basketball. Tressel’s credibility and reputation takes a hit, but it doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. And I’m not going to sit here and crucify him for making a mistake. We all make mistakes, and I’m not going to act like I have any idea what I would’ve done in Tressel’s situation. That being said, when you’re a figure of Tressel’s stature and prestige, the last thing you want is for people to defend you by saying “He’s just like the rest of us.” When people start saying that, that means the head coach of one of the most successful and respected college football programs in the land really messed up. It’s not necessarily fair that we hold figures like Tressel to a higher standard, but, like it or not, that is the case. Tressel knows that. He knows that he’s constantly under a microscope. He screwed up. He deserves to be punished. I just don’t know why we can’t leave it at that.

Hines Ward is on Dancing With the Stars. When Chad Ochocinco did that, the sports world was up in arms about how he should focus on football. But I have yet to hear a peep about Ward doing it. And, for the record, no way Hines Ward wins. Being a dirty player doesn’t help you on DWTS.

Tiki Barber is unretiring. I don’t know why this is such a huge deal. He wasn’t all that great on TV and he, like a lot of NFL players, is probably damn near broke. I read somewhere he couldn’t pay his divorce expenses or something. But I don’t know why, if he’s stayed in good shape, any NFL team wouldn’t take a chance on him. He had 1,662 yards in his last season — the most ever by a running back in his final season in the league. I’m hearing rumblings of sending him to Tampy Bay to give the Bucs a veteran back to help mentor LaGarrette Blount. If Blount learns from Tiki and Josh Freeman continues to improve, Tampa Bay could be a really, really scary team in the coming seasons.

That is, of course, if we even play. But this is an interesting idea: maybe a lockout would be a good thing for the NFL and its players.

CBS and Sports Illustrated did a piece on athletes’ criminal records and programs’ lack of background research on their recruits. One of the guys they highlighted was UC freshman Antwan Darling. Turns out most of their research was faulty, and they basically lied about Darling’s criminal history. The blog about what Darling did is a good one. I don’t necessarily agree with the race card being played toward the end, but it’s very true. A lot of talented athletes, black or white, might now have the resources to hire a lawyer to defend them in a court of law. On top of that, the legal processes can wear on so long that they could lose their scholarship. If you’re a poor kid with sports being your only viable way to get to college, you’d plead guilty to some BS charge, too. It’s not fair, but it’s the way it is.

Remember those stupid “Never Miss a Super Bowl Club” ads for Visa? Well it turns out one of those guys actually did miss this last Super Bowl.
And Daniel Tosh has a similar club…

And because I mentioned him, here’s 16 things you didn’t know about Daniel Tosh.

Speaking of things you didn’t know, it seems like a lot of people in Cincinnati fail to recognize the fact that Dusty Baker is a great manager. And when I say great, I mean one of the best. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and read this, then get back to me. Dusty doesn’t get the amount of credit he deserves for the Reds success, IMO. At least in Cincinnati. But he deserves a ton of credit.
And I’m excited for the Reds this year. I’m cautiously optimistic as a Cincinnati sports fan, but incredibly excited for this team. They’ve got a talented core of young players, none of whom have really peaked yet. Nearly everyone on the Reds roster is young and will continue to improve. The window of opportunity for winning is pretty small. Cincinnati probably won’t have the money some of them will want as they get better and better. That’s why the Reds have to continue improving and win now. I think they can do it. Everything on paper suggests they should. Wainwright’s out for the season in St. Louis, and the Cardinals will have the Albert Pujols thing hanging over their entire season. Cincinnati sports has made me cynical in my 21 years. I have trouble buying in to a Cincinnati team that’s expected to succeed. But this team has me excited. This team has the ability to do something special. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, especially with the amount of things that can go wrong over the course of several months and 162 games. But I am really excited about the Reds.

Spring means baseball for a lot of people. For me, it means azaleas, majestic pine trees and Magnolia Lane. That’s because The Masters is just around the corner. Take it away, Harry Connick, Junior:

Everybody thinks Tiger is such a terrible person ever since the whole sex addiction scandal. He may have made a mistake or 200 with his marriage, but he still does some great things. Like flying a soldier from Afghanistan to Dubai to play in a Pro-Am with him. Most of these pro-ams are full of big-time CEOs trying to rub elbows with the best golfers in the world. Tiger takes the chance to spend his with a guy who’s risking his life for our country. He may be far from perfect, but these types of things show me he’s not such a bad dude.

If you grew up in the 90s like me, here are some things you realize now that you’re older.

Some members of the Miami Heat were allegedly crying after their tough loss to Chicago on Sunday. People rip this team because they show that they care? I don’t get it. And then Stan Van Gundy and Phil Jackson are taking shots at them. Phil Jackson has won all his championships with at least three All-Stars on his roster. While he can pretty much say whatever he wants thanks to his resume, it’s not like he’s done it all on his own. Van Gundy, on the other hand, hasn’t won anything. Yet he still runs his mouth more than anyone in the league. I love Phil Jackson, but don’t agree with his criticisms. I think Stan Van Gundy is a pompous jerk who thinks he’s done more than he actually has. Regardless, I don’t understand why you criticize a team for caring. I hope the Heat just roll through to an easy NBA title. Just shut up all their critics and never look back. Dominate the NBA and tell everyone else to shove it. I don’t think it’ll happen, but it’s what I want. And I’d want that even if I didn’t love LeBron and D-Wade.

The Clippers front office may need a lesson on Black History Month. Maybe just a quick one to let them know Black History Month is in February. Here’s a look at their ad:

Not sure exactly how they will determine the kids who are “underprivileged,” but, considering what they’re celebrating, I have an idea.

This school seems more exciting than mine.

But Elder is still way cooler.

That’s all I’ve got. Go Bearcats. Go Tigers.
Carpe Diem.
Altiora.

Broadening My Horizons

•February 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

That’s right, I’m trying to branch out. I recently applied to write for a blog called Korked Bats. It was started by a couple guys who graduated from Mizzou and my roommate’s brother recently started writing for them. He encouraged me to apply, so I decided to give it a go.
It’s a sports blog. Combines sports and humor. I love sports and I’ve got a great sense of humor, but it’ll be interesting to see if I can really blend the two together. My hard-hitting sports analysis and my stellar sense of humor need to work together. It’s a challenge.
Of course, I don’t need to worry about that if they read my application and hate it. They haven’t responded yet, so I can only assume they didn’t like it. But here’s what I sent in:

How will the Albert Pujols saga shake out?

So as of noon on February 16, the Albert Pujols “deadline” has passed. The Cardinals’ slugger will not sign a deal with St. Louis before they begin spring training, meaning he will become a free agent this fall. So now, the question that will hang over the Cardinals’ 2011 season will be this: how will the Albert Pujols saga shake out? Obviously there are 30 possibilities, if you assume any team in Major League Baseball could sign him. But I’ll give you a few different possibilities.

The Albert Pujols Decision Special
o Pujols will wait until the 2011 World Series wraps up, then will begin entertaining offers from other teams – he won’t go to them; he will wait for them to come to him. Then, after two or three straight days of different teams courting him, Pujols and Manny Ramirez will decide to team up with Andrew McCutcheon in Pittsburgh to form baseball’s own “Big Three.” At the end of his one-hour decision special, he will say, “I’m gonna take my talents where they haven’t had any in years.”
The Brett Favre Route
o Pujols starts by threatening retirement if the Cards don’t meet his demands. St. Louis thinks he’s bluffing and sticks to their guns. Pujols isn’t bluffing. He retires. St. Louis gets a stud first baseman in the draft who will eventually lead the organization to a championship and be the best in the game. But once he thinks he’ll have his chance, Pujols un-retires because of his “love of the game.” This happens two or three times, then the Cards tell Albert to shove it. He plays three more seasons – two with a hated division rival – and retires for real after a serious injury.
The Best Way to Get Money
o Pujols isn’t getting what he wants from St. Louis even after another stellar season. He never went to college, so he decides he’ll give D-1 baseball a try. Gene Chizik takes over the Auburn baseball program, does some great “recruiting” and Pujols heads down to Alabama for a year. He leads the Tigers to a national title amid swirling “pay for play” allegations. He knows the truth, so he bails on Auburn after a season and returns to the majors.
The Deion Sanders Way
o The Cardinals decide they can’t afford to keep Pujols, but they want to add another star to the line-up. They decide to swap athlete-for-athlete…they end the Carmelo Anthony saga. Melo heads to spring training and Albert leads the Nuggets to an eventual playoff series loss, leaving Nuggets fans everywhere thinking nothing has changed.

How do I really want it to shake out? I want the Reds to sign Pujols and have him ride the pine pony while Joey Votto rolls to another MVP. I guess we will have to wait and see.
And I will keep you posted on what Korked Bats thinks of me. But check them out even if I don’t write for them. Maybe if I plug them here, they’ll feel bad and decide to let me on.
Would you pick me to write for your blog? Leave comments of support. I’m sure the opinions of the ten people who read this blog will sway them. Thanks in advance.

Carpe Diem.
Altiora.

Jerry Buck

•February 7, 2011 • 1 Comment

Heck of a Super Bowl last night. But before we get to that, let’s talk Remember the Titans. If you recall, I expressed my love of the movie in a previous post. Well after Super Bowl XLV last night, I watched it again with four others who share my love of the film.
It’s a lot of fun to watch a movie you’ve seen a million times with other people who have seen it a bunch of times. That way there can be discussion of the little things in the movie and no one misses anything. But, in my case at least, the guys I watched it with respected the movie, so if you wanted to hear one of your favorite lines, you made the “shhhh” noise and everyone obliged. I have some quality friends. And we discovered a few more great lines last night.
–When Coach Boone makes all the players get off the buses before going to training camp, right after the sighs and moans, there’s one unseen voice that pipes up with, “Aw man, why we got to get off the bus?!”
–When Coach Boone lays in to Petey after he misses the block in the first game, where in the world is the kid going? Boone tells him to sit on the bench, and he starts walking over by the cheerleaders and the bleachers. How long is the bench? Is there another bench by the cheerleaders that he mistook for the football bench? Just a thought.
–When they start making momma jokes in the locker room after they’ve bonded at training camp, take note of the kid to Blue’s right. Jerry Buck. The skinny kid. The kid doesn’t even have a line. His role in this movie is just to sit there and let Blue talk about his momma’s hairy legs. Check it out…at the :57 mark. And then Louie Lastik comes up with the best momma joke of the scene. Just great stuff.

A few other observations about that scene…Blue messes up the lyrics when they’re singing. Is Sunshine gay or not? We never get an answer to that question. I’m like Petey…it doesn’t matter, but I need to know. And lastly, Ray is such a douche.

–When Coach Yost is announcing his retirement to all the white players and their parents, Mr. Bosley (Alan’s dad) steps up with his thoughts and just yells: “Boycott the school!” Then later, when an uproar starts again, he jumps in with “Boycott the school!”
–And lastly for today, I love the racist guy that runs the restaurant. Not him as a person. Not his values. But just the one line when he tells Sunshine he can deny service to anybody he wants, then gets close to him and looks him in the eye and goes, “That means you, too, hippie boy.” Great line. But, if you check out the deleted scenes, there’s one titled “Sunshine Strikes Back.” I recommend checking it out.

Now let’s talk Super Bowl. Great game. Pretty much everyone expected it to be a great game. I know there was a lot of talk about the defenses in this game, but I really thought Aaron Rodgers was going to torch the Steelers the whole way. Thought it’d be an offensive shootout. Went on the radio and told our enormous listening audience my prediction was a 31-27 Packers win. I was pretty darn close. I also said the game would come down to one quarterback’s mistakes. That’s exactly what happened. It wasn’t really a lot of the Packers defense forcing the mistakes, it was more about Roethlisberger making mistakes.
I’m not saying the Green Bay defense doesn’t deserve a lot of credit — especially considering they did it without Charles Woodson — but Roethlisberger just played a bad game. I had said this game was a match-up between the NFL’s two best QBs. I changed my mind after watching that game and doing some research.
Roethlisberger has been outplayed by the opposing QB in all three of his Super Bowl starts. It wouldn’t be out of the question to argue last night was his best performance. Roethlisberger knows how to win and do so at a high level. While that may make him a great QB, that doesn’t put him in the same conversation as quarterbacks like Brady, Manning or Rodgers. Away from the big stage, he does have a 92.3 career QB rating. That’s damn good. But Brady (95.2), Manning (94.9) or Rodgers (98.4) all have higher career ratings. A quarterback constantly compared to Tom Brady or Peyton Manning when people discuss whether or not he is elite. Aaron Rodgers stacks up statistically and in the wins column. I’d argue Roethlisberger only stacks up in the wins column. But he’s still a great QB. You can’t argue that.

Enough about the game. I’m about to start talking good about Ben Roethlisberger. So let’s get to the commercials, shall we?
I don’t know which is my favorite, because I can’t decide between the two that were obviously the best of the bunch. Here they are:

Just two high quality adverts there. The first one is great because it’s cute and clever. Everyone loves little kids. But the chest pump point from a beaver in the second one? That was outstanding. I still can’t pick. I love ’em both.
Other than those, none really jumped out at me as really funny. But there was one that I thought was way underrated…

The Seinfeld/Neumann exchange is great.
A few others I liked:

It was very predictable, but I thought they did a good job with it. I think my favorite part of it was how it kinda looks like the grandpa some Doritos out of his own urn when his grandson, Mikey walks through the door.

First off, I think this may be the first time I have ever seen Eminem in a commercial. Secondly, I like how he was only kind of in it. Like he wanted to get the money but didn’t want to have to do a bunch of acting. So he’s like, “Hey…just make a claymation version of me and I can call you or something to get the audio.

Playing to stereotypes is always funny, right? Girls go out to dinner with a guy and hope he’s a nice gentleman interested in conversation and a relationship. Dude just wants to get in the lady’s pants. But let’s be serious…you don’t take a girl out to a nice dinner and expect nothing in return. This guy’s buying you dinner, sweetie. If you don’t put out, at least let him have your Pepsi Max (which he probably bought).

This one wasn’t all that funny. Or clever (but I do like the “Grab some Buds” slogan). But I credit Budweiser for teasing this commercial for like two weeks prior to the Super Bowl. I was really curious about it. So for two weeks, their product was on my mind. That’s just some good advertising by the King of Beers.

Back to the Super Bowl itself now. The good news for the Packers players: they don’t need to worry about getting fitted for their rings after their win. That’s because Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy had his players get fitted for their Super Bowl rings on Saturday night. I never thought I’d be saying Mike McCarthy’s got swag, but Mike McCarthy’s got swag.

Missouri down four at the half on the road against kU. I don’t hate it. They are playing patient basketball on offense, rebounding well, shooting lights out and playing some quality team defense. But Kansas isn’t missing much either. Both teams are shooting better than 50%. A problem: the two most experienced players out there — Kim English and Justin Safford — are making terrible decisions. Luckily the rest of the team is playing smart. But if the guards (Dixon, Denmon, M. Pressey and P. Pressey) continue to play like they are, and Bowers keeps shooting and Ratliffe keeps reboudning, this game will come down to the wire. And maybe the Tigers can get their first win in Lawrence since the last millenium. That’d be a good start to the week.

I’m gonna finish this up before the start of the second half, so I only have two links to share with you this time. It’s another invention, and it’s pretty awesome. How the guy came up with it is beyond me, but we’ll send you off with The Shaving Helmet.

That would make shaving your head really easy. If you’re a millionaire, invest in that. I think it’s a good investment.

And lastly, check out CoCo coming up with a brilliant Super Bowl Sunday innovation.
“They’ve got me saying, ‘Woo, boy! I wish I were a chew toy!’ It’s puppies in lingerie!”

Let’s go Tigers!
Carpe Diem.
Altiora.

Snow Days are the Bee’s Knees.

•February 4, 2011 • 1 Comment

As of Monday, I hadn’t enjoyed a snow day since gradeschool. Sitting here today, I’ve now had three in the last three days. And it’s been wonderful. Sure, there was the near Natastrophe after enjoying some adult beverages during the evenings before snow days one and two, but the crisis was averted when I decided to walk 3.8 miles to the House of John, Dave, Pat and Kevin. Now, I’m just enjoying what is probably going to be the final snow day of my life. And I’m enjoying it by writing a little blog post for you. Now there’s need to thank me, but don’t ever say I didn’t do anything for you.

Let’s start off with the snow. We got quite a bit here in Columbia. I’m pretty sure the final number was like 17.8 inches. I must say I cannot stand snow. It’s such a pain in the ass. A total inconvenience. Rain isn’t fun, but at least it doesn’t do the type of crap snow does. I like that it gave me three off days this week, but I don’t like that I have to shovel it away. Or that it will still be sitting around for weeks because it won’t melt. I like snow days. I don’t like snow. But some people do like snow. This weatherman, for instance, seems excited about it…

Now on to sports, I guess.
I’ve got a bet with my roommate on this evening’s Heat/Magic game. He loves Kobe. I love LeBron. And he thinks Kobe’s better. I disagree (respectfully, of course). Here’s some evidence to support my side:
The Cavs are historically bad this season. Think about it: Cleveland had the best record in the NBA last season. They lose LeBron (and Big Z) and now there is talk that they are in the conversation of “worst in NBA history.” LeBron managed to win 60+ games with this team. They’ll be lucky to win 20 without him. Obviously we don’t know what would happen if Kobe were to leave the Lakers, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would say they’d be as bad as Cleveland is without LeBron. What I’m trying to say is this: for the Lakers, there could be life after Kobe; for the Cavs, there’s no life after LeBron.
I hear you all starting in right now…”But Nick, who would you rather have shooting the ball in crunch time?” “Talk to me when LeBron gets a ring.” “Kobe’s better when it actually matters.”
First off, if those are your arguments, thanks for the original thought. Second, those don’t have any legitimacy in this conversation.
First off, Kobe isn’t so clutch in crunch time. I’d go into more detail, but you can just read that story.
Second, championships have absolutely no place in this argument. We aren’t arguing legacy or Hall of Fame credentials. We are talking about who is the best basketball player in the game right now. I think it’s LBJ, no doubt. If you don’t think so, that’s completely fine. But don’t justify that by talking about the championships someone has or hasn’t won. That doesn’t affect which player is the best basketball player right now.
If you think LeBron isn’t good in the playoffs, the argument above still applies, but you also have to look at his history in the postseason. Remember Game 5 against the Pistons in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals? Or how about Game 7 against the Celtics in 2008? Point at Game 6 this season all you want, but that one game doesn’t mean doesn’t define his playoff career.
And, in case you were wondering, the Heat really pissed away a chance to make me more money tonight. The terrible end of that game cost me anywhere between eight and ten dollars. But LBJ drops 51. Standard.

In other basketball news, All-Star voting is a total sham. It’s a sham for every sport except for hockey, really. I’ll just give two quick examples of why that’s the case: Kevin Love is averaging more than 21 points and 15 boards per game. Those are All-Star numbers. He’s not even a reserve. Joey Votto was the National League MVP in 2010, but the fans didn’t vote him into the All-Star Game (initially). There is no reason the All-Star Game for any sport should be a popularity contest. Yao Ming hasn’t played a game all year and he’s the top vote-getter. What a joke.
It’s supposed to be the best players in the game out on the field, floor, ice, whatever. You don’t get that with fans voting for who plays. Most fans watch one team. Most fans really have no idea how good some players are. Leaving the decisions to the players or the coaches is the best way to go. Maybe give each team a fan’s choice or something. Let them pick one guy to play, but leave the decisions that matter to people who actually know something.

And before I move away from the NBA, there was this…

Could you imagine if Chuck said that? There’d be an uproar. He’s probably get fired. But because Tracy Morgan is a comedian, it’s OK? Because he’s not a TNT employee it’s OK? I mean, it was funny. I laughed. But I just don’t think it’s fair that I can’t hear somebody like Charles Barkley get to say hilarious stuff like that. It’s a stupid double standard that reduces my entertainment.

Moving now to college basketball, Missouri cannot win on the road. It’s unbelievable. I know there’s a certain comfort level playing at home, but at the end of the day, the difference between performance at home and on the road just shouldn’t be this significant. It’s like the scene in Hoosiers when Gene Hackman has the kids measure the height of the basket and the distance to the free throw line (that I tried really hard to find, but couldn’t). I love Mizzou Arena and the atmosphere, but I find it very hard to believe that the fans really make that much of a difference. It’s tough to win at OK State. Texas is extremely good. Colorado is better than most people think. Still, the road performances have been absolutely abysmal. Like watching two completely different teams. That needs to change quick, especially considering they go to Lawrence on Monday.

Cincinnati missed a chance for a quality win over West Virginia last weekend. Cashmere Wright turns in his best performance as a Bearcat and then gets repaid by getting to watch his teammates completely unravel. Even if they wind up with only seven or eight losses on the year, this team needs a quality win. The closest they’ve gotten to that is a ‘W’ at St. John’s (which looks a lot better after watching them destroy Duke). They’ve got chances to get huge wins, but that loss to WVU was probably the most manageable win. While you give credit to Huggs for coming in with a depleted roster and getting a win, you also have to acknowledge that this UC squad really missed a big opportunity.

The whole Carson Palmer saga in Cincinnati might be for the best. If Carson can really start throwing his weight around, maybe Mike Brown will actually start changing things. It’s definitely a stretch. This organization is so royally eff’d thanks to Mikey Boy that it’ll probably be years before anything really significant happens. But maybe Carson’s starting it.

But none of that will matter in 2011 if the NFL and its players can’t figure out something to get back on the field.

I’m getting a little lazy now (I guess the three days of nothing but video games, food and beer really took it out of me). But I have plenty of stuff I found while looking on the internet during my time off. So here we go…

Shane Bacon writes about how Bubba Watson is impossible to hate (which he is) and gives us a quick guess at where we might see him winning again. I’ll give you a hint: on April 10, Bubba should probably wear something that looks good with green.

This new invention is pretty cool…

I didn’t really understand exactly how this worked initially. I just knew it worked. But then I read this story and had it explained to me. Now, it’s even cooler. The way that works is brilliant.

It’s not hard to find reasons to hate the Steelers. But I found another reason. I will not post this video on my blog because I have some self-respect. But I will link to it for you. If you thought a Lady Gaga song could never get worse, this little girl proves you wrong. And she has a lisp. Your song wouldn’t be good anyways, tuts, but that made it worse.

So I’m obviously rooting for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in this year’s Super Bowl. I hope their pre-game pep talk at least close to as awesome as this:

Have you ever seen Dazed and Confused? Whether your answer is yes or no, I have a video for you. If you answered ‘yes’ and you want to watch it again, look below. If your answer was ‘no’ and you want to see it for the first time, look below. Either way, I’m saving you a lot of time.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. For all my male readers, here are six mistakes men make on Valentine’s Day. Now I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Just another reason relationships are silly. But there was a line in here that really irritated me.

“If you’ve just started dating, a big gift can imply more depth to the relationship than is really there. It can also be awkward if the guy splurges on a big Valentine’s gift, but the woman doesn’t do the same.”

Of course you must assume the man will be the one to splurge. Because God knows women expect to get things bought for them. Meet a girl at a bar, you need to buy her a drink to get her attention. If you don’t someone else will. She will like that guy more, no matter how cool you are or how douchey he is. Take a girl out to dinner, everyone expects you to pay for it. People bitch about how chivalry is dead. Well, in its purest form, it is. But the societal expectation is that men be chivalrous because everyone assumes girls need to have stuff bought for them.
**SIDE NOTE: This is another reason “Ladies’ Night” at any bar anywhere is stupid. All these girls get in free and have drink specials for them, but they never have to buy anything. They just have to appear interested in a guy, bat those little eyelashes and they get that discounted drink paid for. The guys are the real customers. Bars should give them some sort of special discounts. But instead, society demands they cater to women. Ridiculous.**
Back to the Valentine’s Day thing. That quote (from a woman, by the way) shows why society’s expectations of love and relationships in general are, in my humble opinion, flat out silly.

Have you ever watched wrestling and thought it might be real? Or do you at least think they try to make it seem real? This will change your mind:

Kinda half-assed, especially considering I had three days of doing nothing to get a post together. Instead, I decided to just do nothing even remotely productive. It was a great success. And now, even though today feels like the weekend is finishing up, it’s just getting started. A nice little comedy show for free tomorrow night, then it’s time for A Dave and Alex Affair: The Squeakuel.

It's gonna be fun.

So I’m gonna enjoy all that. Then hopefully we can see BJ Raji flatten Ben Roethlisberger and watch Aaron Rodgers torch the Steelers defense. If that happens, it’ll be pretty close to a perfect weekend.
Hope you enjoy yours.

Carpe Diem.
Altiora.

Bracketology

•January 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve never put a ton of stock in the whole “Bracketology” business. But, as of right now, my favorite team is getting some love from the Bracketologists. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Bearcats set to be the 8-seed in the West Region in his latest projection. In that same region reside two of my least favorite teams ever: Kansas and Xavier. Assuming the Bearcats could get past a surprisingly pesky Georgia squad, they’d likely get kU. The chances they beat the Jayhawks aren’t good…but let’s say for argument’s sake they do. Then it’s likely Wisconsin or Washington in the Sweet 16. Get past that and they’re in the Elite 8. The 6-seed in that same region is the Xavier Musketeers. Assuming Chris Mack’s squad can get past the likes of Vandy, Florida State or St. John’s, Syracuse and San Diego State, that sets up a Crosstown Shootout rematch in the Elite 8. Which basically guarantees the ‘Cats will be heading to Houston in early April for the Final Four. Boom.
The projections from CBSSports.com think far more highly of the Bearcats than Mr. Lunardi. Cincinnati is projected as…get this…a freaking 5-seed. Can you believe that? I would be shocked to see this team get any higher than a 7-seed. (**And then they could wind up playing Mizzou in the second round. Boy, would I be in a bind then. I probably pull for Cincinnati, but everyone here at school gets pissy at me. But the chances of that happening aren’t all that great.**) Obviously, they could really earn that 5-seed (maybe even higher) if they get some quality Ws the rest of the way in Big East play. I’ll talk about that a little more as I go on, but for now, I’ll just say this: when Bracketology projects the Bearcats to be in the Big Dance, I like it. So, right now, I like Bracketology.

Cincy finally picked up a somewhat quality Big East win this past weekend on the road at St. John’s. Granted, the Red Storm isn’t a great team, by any means. An early loss at St. Mary’s isn’t bad, but two non-conference losses to St. Bonaventure and Fordham? That hurts a little. Other than that, though, three Big East losses to top 20 teams and a loss to UC. Not too shabby. That win for Cincy could go a long way. Now, it’s just a matter of getting a couple more quality Ws. The schedule breakdown from here on out gives the Bearcats a chance to get a few more conference wins. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be quality wins. You assume they can take care of Rutgers tonight, then St. John’s at home, then Providence and DePaul on the road. So, if St. John’s can continue to play pretty well, the only good win in there is probably against them. You figure there’s no chance they can play with Pitt anywhere, much less on the road. Then they get UConn in the Shoe — another game I don’t see them winning. That’d make it 8-5 in conference with a group of winnable games: home against West Virginia and Louisville, at G’Town and Marquette, then a rematch with the Hoyas at home. Give them two wins in the other five games, and you’ve got a team that’s 10-8 in the Big East and 23-8 on the season. It wouldn’t be a stretch for a Big East team with a .500 conference record to make the Tourney. Hard to see a Big East team at 10-8 with a 23-8 overall record not making it, even if they did play arguably the easiest non-conference schedule of all time. So, my projections show there’s almost no chance for this team to miss the Big Dance for the sixth straight year.
At the same time, this team hasn’t proven to me that they’ll meet my expectations yet. They’ve won the games they should (all their non-conference, DePaul, Seton Hall, etc.), but they haven’t proven they can play with the better teams in the country. They make a lot of mistakes that, to their credit, they overcome against the bad teams. But those mistakes can’t be made if you want to beat Villanova or Syracuse or Notre Dame. All three of those games, the Bearcats shot themselves in the foot, then did just enough the rest of the way to keep a small bit of hope alive. As I described it on Twitter:

Hopefully that changes soon. If this team can avoid silly mistakes, I believe they can play with the best teams in the Big East and even the country. It’s just a matter of avoiding those mistakes and playing like they do whenever they fight back after falling behind by 15-20 points. This team could make some noise come March, but they need to make a little noise before then in order to do it.

My other favorite college squad has looked pretty good this season. 17-3 (two of the losses they pissed away with bad luck and bad mistakes), ranked 11/13 in the nation, 3-2 in conference with a chance to chalk up a HUGE win this weekend. After blowing a chance for a huge road win against Texas A&M a week and a half ago, beating Texas on the road — especially after they trounced A&M, knocked kU off at Phog Allen, then handled OK State in Stillwater tonight — would be enormous. This team probably won’t need a real marquee win to make the Big Dance, but a win over Texas would really prove this team is one of the best around. I’m kinda worried they’ll get thrashed with it being in Austin, especially given the way they’ve played on the road this season. I will believe this team is capable of bigger things than just a deep tourney run if they can get a W in Austin.
At the same time, this squad has been impressive. Ricardo Ratliffe has been as good as advertised. Phil Pressey has been a huge lift off the bench and runs the point extremely well for a freshman. Michael Dixon is a great court general off the bat. Marcus Denmon has made a legitimate case for Big 12 Player of the Year. You still get solid contributions from Kim English, Laurence Bowers and Justin Safford. Steve Moore is giving a significant number of quality minutes, and Ricky Kreklow and Matt Pressey provide lifts off the bench. This team is capable of doing some pretty special things. They’re fun to watch, they’ve got a ton of talent and the younger guys are still learning. As good as this squad is now, they could be even better as the season wears on.
By the way, Dana O’Neil wrotea great piece on potential Big 12 POY candidate Marcus Denmon.

As for the rest of the NCAA, I have only a few observations…
–Ohio State is scary good. Sullinger gets all the press, but this is a team in every sense of the word. They’ve got more than one guy who can play — they were up 20 on Purdue last night at the half…Sullinger had four points. Everyone on their team plays hard on every possession. Their fundamentals are outstanding and they look like they enjoy playing with one another. That means they’ll play for each other, too. When a team this good cares this much, they’re tough to beat.
–Texas’s win at kU said more about the Longhorns than it did about the Jayhawks. Both teams are really, really good. Kansas showed how good they can be in the early going against Texas. Then Texas showed even more by withstanding that onslaught, overcoming it and beating the Jayhawks on the road. I thought Kansas was the undisputed Big 12 favorite. Now it’s tougher for me to decide.
–The Big 12 was supposed to be one of the best conferences in the nation this year. Instead, it’s become a top-heavy league with a couple of teams that wilted under high expectations. K-State and Baylor were supposed to compete for a Big 12 title. Now, they’re fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The talent levels on these two teams aren’t much different than last year when both went to the Elite 8. Shows that talent doesn’t mean success. There’s more to it.
–Duke has looked shaky since Kyrie Irving went down. If, by some miracle, they get him back, I still take them against anyone. The Plumlees and Ryan Kelly are starting to play strong inside. Nolan Smith has become the National Player of the Year candidate instead of Kyle Singler. Kyle Singler’s still exceptionally good. This team has weapons. Kyrie Irving added another one and made the others better. If he comes back, Duke is hands down my national title favorite.
–HUGE game tonight between BYU and San Diego State. Jimmer Fredette is incredible. BYU is a complete team with a dominant scorer. San Diego State is very good, too. I have no idea who will win tonight’s game (though I give the Cougars the slight edge in Provo), but it should be a good one. Quite an exciting year for the Mountain West athletically. TCU with the Rose Bowl win, now two MWC basketball teams in the top 10 in late January, one of which is one of the two remaining NCAA Division I unbeatens. Not too bad. It’s just a shame the MWC sucks and has to air its games on channels no one gets. Boo.

Now for a major link dump…it has been a while.
–Weather has been really crappy in mid-MO lately. I’ve began using something to help warm me when the cold, snowy weather gets me down:

–I’m sure everyone has seen the video of that lady falling into the fountain in the mall while she was texting. I found that humorous. Apparently she didn’t, because now she’s suing the mall. Absolutely ridiculous.

–We’ve gotten a lot of snow recently in Missouri. It is always problematic when you get a lot of snow. You’ve gotta shovel it, drive through it, walk through it and just put up with it in general. Well, one guy didn’t want to deal with it. Instead of shoveling the snow, he decided he’d just blow it up instead. He got arrested for it (I guess because of the explosives) but I want to give this dude a high five. Just like, “Take this Mother Nature. You think your snow is pretty cool? Taste it. Boom. That’s the power of man, right in your face.” If I trusted myself at all with explosives, I might try this method.

–Have you ever gone to a party and been really gassy? Come on…we’ve all been there. I know I have. I usually try to be pretty discreet about it. It’d take a pretty observant person to catch me dropping a bomb at a party. Someone like Sidney Fife…

Well apparently some kid wasn’t too discreet about farting at a party and other partygoers called him out on it. He didn’t take too kindly to that. I mean, would you? These people just caught you farting all over their good time. It’s pretty embarrassing. But what do you do about it? Blame someone else? Just leave? Apologize? Not if you’re this guy, you don’t. This guy stabbed four people for giving him, ahem, crap about it. So, next time you call someone out for gassing your good time, be careful.

–Ever wanted one million dollars? Well, this kid did…

And apparently, some douche bag millionaire (billionaire, whatever) actually did give this kid a million bucks.

I mean, really…this can’t be real. This kid actually got a million bucks? Sure, he was kinda clever at times, but not a million dollars-worth clever. If this is true, I will be pissed. Just goes to show that hard work never pays off. Why am I in school? So I can get a mediocre job when I leave and make like $35k/year for most of my life? And this kid just makes like three YouTube videos and he gets a million bucks? Life sucks.

–Some guys at a college in up in the New England area were out boozing on their porch, called some passing girls “sluts” and laughed about it. Later on, they went out to the bars and had a good ol’ time, then returned home to a note telling them the girls they had yelled at stole all their beer and wanted them to respect women. Seriously? I’m not saying it’s OK to call girls sluts for no good reason. But those guys were 100% within their legal rights to do so. This is America. Freedom of speech. That’s one of the things this country prides itself on. These guys exercise their right to free speech, and these broads come back and STEAL from them for exercising that right. I get it, ladies. These guys were being pigs, chauvanists, whatever. I’m not condoning what they did. But it makes absolutely no sense to retaliate by doing something ILLEGAL. Another reason I prefer to avoid relationships. Even though these guys really did nothing wrong, these chicks justified their illegal actions in the name of “respect(ing) women.” I’m not supporting calling women sluts. But I am supporting free speech. And I never support illegal actions. So, regardless of how morally virtuous their mission may have been, these girls are wrong. It’s just sad to think they could justify this to themselves.

–Some donor at UConn was not happy with the way things are going in the athletic department in Storrs. So, he decided to demand $3 million in donations back
and have his name removed from whatever building the money was supposed to go to. And as much as I think it’s completely ridiculous for this guy to do this (there is NO reason, even if the guy gives a bazillion dollars, that donors should be involved in day to day decisions just because they have a lot of money), I blame the AD. This guy clearly has an ego. Most people with that much money do. It’s his job to stroke that ego and massage the relationship. You don’t have to let him control the athletics, but you have to at least make him feel like he has a big part in it. You’ve gotta cultivate and manage those relationships. Now, you’re out more than $3M. You cannot let that happen.

–My roommate’s big brother is getting married. He decided to have a contest between his three younger brothers to see who’d be his best man. While Bryce and Kyle went with some sentimental (and good) videos, I decided to help Little Guy come up with a brilliant video that not only highlighted why he should be Andy’s best man, but also provided entertainment for anyone who watched.

Somehow, he didn’t win. Andy, if you’re reading this: how? The video quality, editing and filming may not have been top of the line, but the video was.

–And continuing with the “What Should I Do?” theme…how great is this Brett Favre commercial?

**UPDATE: As I finish up this post, the Bearcats win it 72-56.**

But that’s all I’ve got. I’m gonna get to a restaurant or bar or whatever and try to catch some of this BYU/SDSU game. Be good, loyal readers.
Carpe Diem.
Altiora.