Remember the Titans

•January 12, 2011 • 1 Comment

One of my all-time favorite movies was on TV last night and I watched it. So, I begin this post with some inspiration for all from that movie…

A few things I thought about while I was watching:
–That Ray guy is a real d-bag.
–If Coach Boone really makes those kids run all the way to Gettysburg during this scene, that’s a really long run. TC Williams is in Virginia. Gettysburg is in Pennsylvania. I’m not sure where they went for training camp, but I’d bet Gettysburg is still quite a hike. I mean, it worked. But it’s just a long run.
–I don’t know if they had a pre-season camp, too, but the TC Williams cheerleading squad has black girls and white girls, and they seem to get along just fine. But why, before the first game, are all the black girls in the front row and the white girls are in the back? If the cheerleaders were truly integrating, they’d have a mix in both rows.
–I love the scene when Gary’s mom gets the standing ovation from the TC Williams faithful before the state title game. Chills.
–The more I watch the movie, the more awesome lines I discover. You could read through the whole script here, but I’ll just give you a few gems I really like:
**When Coach Yost takes Alan out and his dad starts bitching**
Alan’s Dad: “Don’t you take my son out!”
Little Yost Girl: “He’s gettin’ beat like he stole somethin’, Mr. Bosley.”
Alan’s Dad: “You just stay out of it, girl.”
**TC Williams beats Groveton and, as a result, Coach Yost will no longer be inducted into the Virginia HS Football Hall of Fame**
Little Yost Girl: “Just plain old jealousy…as old as Cain and Abel.”
**That d-bag Ray doesn’t block for Rev. Gary steps up and says something about it after Julius told him off earlier.**
Gary: “What was that, Ray?! Whatever it is, it ain’t blocking.”
Ray: “Give me a break.”
Gary: “You want a break? I’ll give you a break. If we get to Rev one more time, I swear to God, I’m gonna hit you so hard, oooh, boy, by the time you come to, you’re gonna need a new haircut. You understand me?”

There are so many more. That’s why it never gets old watching this flick. You’ll find a new gem every time you do it.

Continuing with the theme of football, how about that national title game? I’m not crazy about the way college football crowns its champion — I think TCU should have had a chance to play for the title, and probably would’ve won it — but at least the game lived up to the hype. It wasn’t the high-scoring track meet everyone was expecting, but it was a great game to watch. Sloppy at times, sure, but entertaining all the way to the end.
Auburn’s defensive line was incredible. I thought Oregon would win the title pretty easily because of the team speed and the holes in Auburn’s secondary. Turns out if a team can get penetration up the middle, that team speed is completely nullified. That’s what happened last night. Pretty much everything Oregon does begins with that zone read option. It takes a little time. Nothing really got the chance to develop because Auburn’s defensive linemen — espcially Nick Fairley — were upfield before anything could happen. You’ve gotta give Auburn credit for that. The D-line won that game.
Still, I thought Oregon would try to stretch things out more. An option with Darron Thomas and LaMichael James could’ve made the middle of the line pretty much irrelevant, and it would’ve given the Ducks a chance to attack a mediocre secondary by getting to the next level on the outside. Instead, I think Oregon ran an option twice. And one time, it was the holder and kicker on a fake extra point — a call which I absolutely loved, by the way.

Cam Newton wasn’t overly impressive to me. He got a lot of time and found receivers with mismatches or just ran it himself. Overall, Oregon’s defense was really impressive. I got scoffed at by my roommate for defending Oregon’s D a few weeks back. They were outstanding the other night. Take away a fluke play and I think that game goes to OT. Granted, an overtime game probably goes to Auburn based on red zone offense all game long. But still…that one flukey little play decided the national championship. But, based on this play from the Sugar Bowl last week, Dyer was definitely down. I thought it when I saw it. The knee definitely wasn’t down, but the whole wrist/hand thing could have easily ruled him down. If Williams was down in the clip I linked to, Dyer was definitely down. Even though the stupid system college football uses had already tainted the crowning of a champion.
But congrats to Auburn. And Gene Chizik. Who’d have thought he’d ever win a national championship when he was coaching Iowa State to a combined 5-19 record a few years ago? And clearly some people at Auburn weren’t expecting much when he was hired two years ago. But he stepped up big. So congrats to him.

Still, I don’t like the BCS. This guy dislikes it a whole lot more than me. But I still don’t like it. I don’t like that only two teams get a chance to win the championship. I don’t like that I have to wait more than a month for those teams to play the championship game. I don’t like how important pre-season rankings are (don’t point to that stat about Auburn and Oregon starting the season outside the top ten…doesn’t justify anything). I don’t like how teams like Boise State, Nevada and (especially) TCU get screwed no matter what they do. I don’t like how hypocritical most every defense of the system is. But it is what it is and I don’t see it changing any time soon.
And that’s TCU’s opinion, too. The TCU athletic director said he embraces the ‘imperfect’ system. Through this whole thing, the Horned Frogs have been so classy. It makes me like them even more than I already did. As the season wore on, they knew they were going to get shafted. They get shafted. They win the Rose Bowl against a school that plays a “real” conference schedule, and never once do they bitch about not getting a fair shake or a shot at the national championship. I love TCU. It’s a shame they’ll be playing against the Bearcats in a few short years. But I’m pulling for them in every other game they play.

The season is barely over, but we obviously already have a couple 2011 pre-season Top 25s out. Mizzou is getting some love in both I found despite losing Blaine to the draft. Sports Illustrated’s poll has the Tigers at No. 13 and makes a completely unnecessary plug for Shakespeare’s Pizza. In ESPN’s early poll, Mizzou checks in at No. 16. So that’s exciting. ESPN has TCU at 18th and makes a great point: “We’re about to find out whether coach Gary Patterson built a great team or a great program at TCU.”

Speaking of rankings, The Daily Beast released its rankings of the Top 25 Smartest College Sports Programs, as well as the Top 25 Dumbest College Sports Programs. I have no idea how they calculate these rankings, but I don’t really care. Mizzou is ranked third, which is pretty cool. Especially considering that puts Mizzou in a top four with the likes of Northwestern, Notre Dame and Duke, as well as the first public university on the list. So, yeah…way to go Missouri!

Things I’m not proud of Missouri for: the loss to Colorado to kick off Big 12 play on the hardwood. CU isn’t as bad as a lot of people might think. If I recall correctly, I read somewhere that the Buffs could be a dark horse to make some noise in the Big 12 this season. The good news for the Tigers, they fought back, Phil Pressey is back in the line-up, and it’s only one loss. A win against Nebraska tonight gets them back to level. And the last time Mizzou lost to Colorado on the road, that team went to the Elite 8.
A few questions about Colorado, though. I cannot believe the basketball hoops’ supports are connected to the ceiling. Straight out of grade school. I cannot remember the last time a D-1 college basketball program didn’t have the collapsible hoops.
Second: does Ralphie lead the Colorado basketball team onto the floor? Because that would be awesome. But I guess his hooves might scratch up the nice hardwood floor.

In related Mizzou news, the Tigers are leading the way in the recruiting of a stud small forward out of Sikeston, Mo., named Otto Porter, Jr. He’s not a well-known prospect because his dad didn’t want him learning the bad habits players develop in AAU ball. Instead, Otto Sr. kept Junior at home in the summers, had him work a summer job, hone his game with his dad and play a few games with his high school squad. I absolutely love that philosophy. Too many good players can’t stay grounded. It seems like Otto Sr. is doing his best to make sure that doesn’t happen with his son. I really hope Coach Anderson and Mizzou can land this guy.

Cincinnati finally lost a game. I think we all knew that was coming at some point. And the fact that it happened on the road against the seventh-best team in the country isn’t all that bad. It was great to see very little overreaction (pretty much none) to the loss. And I think a few good things came out of it. They get the first tough Big East game out of the way. I think a lot of the frustration in the first half was a result of very little preparation for what lies ahead in the Big East during the first 15 games. Now they can get through games without that frustration…hopefully. Only time will tell, but I think it was good to get all that out of the way in the first half of the first legit game of the season. On top of that, they were within seven points after falling behind by 21 despite shooting 2-for-20 from behind the arc. Some of that can be credited to Villanova’s defense, but not all of it. They’ll hit those shots more often as the season wears on. Frustration played a big role.
Now, the Bearcats need to be sure they don’t let that one loss spiral in to more losses. Tonight they get USF in a game they should win. So far this season, they’ve taken care of business in the games they were supposed to handle easily. Hopefully that continues tonight. And, speaking of things that will hopefully continue, let’s hope they get a good crowd, too. When I was at the Crosstown Shootout last week, it was pretty crazy: it was like I was at a UC game. Hopefully a good amount of the 13+ thousand who made it to that game won’t forget that this team has six more home games left.

David Feherty is a great guy doing some great things. Gotta love a guy who endears himself to injured veterans by giving them crap. I love it. In my opinion, the best way to make people comfortable is to treat them just like you treat everyone else. That’s what I always do. It gets me some enemies, sure, but I like to think it gets me friends, too. Hats off to David Feherty for doing what he’s doing. Whether you think you have eight minutes to spare or not, you need to watch the video I linked to. It’s that good.

Another great story here on a tragic connection between three SEC basketball coaches. Again, worth your time to read.

And one more sad story here about the tragedy that took place in Tuscon this weekend. Not a lot to say on that. It’s senseless, sad, terrible. There are a lot of words to describe it. But it’s tragic that a bright future was eliminated because of such a senseless act. But all we can really do is hope that the sign Billy Donovan saw in the story above is true: ‘God is Good All of the Time.’

For all my friends who were out at Tostado’s for Spanks’ 22nd, I think you’ll enjoy this song I came across.

Remember in my last post when I talked about how women are nuts? Well, if you didn’t believe me then, maybe reading about this chick who stabbed her boyfriend because he wouldn’t show her his Facebook page will help bring you around. More reason to never get in a relationship.

Now, back to my friends. To those friends who play wiffleball with me every summer: get ready, because I’m pitching like this guy come summer.

This new thing Kroger is using to check people out is pretty awesome. It’s almost like the self-checkout without the “self” part. I love it.

A Seattle “superhero” got punched in the face and threatened at gunpoint, proving yet again that idiots who dress up in stupid costumes and try to stop crime have no shot. Unless, of course, it’s The Coon, Mysterion or Mintberry Crunch.

Ever gone streaking? Or considered it? Well, if so, I recommend doing some recon before you make the run. Otherwise, you could wind up like this guy.
I literally laugh out loud every time I watch this video. The guy with the camera clearly knows what’s coming and just lets it happen. Comedy gold.

Ever seen the 100 Greatest Movie Insults of All-Time? Well, here are 100 other dandies. My favorite is probably at the :45 mark. Either that or a timeless classic at 3:26.

And clearly we need to wrap up this blog post (which has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster…sorry about that) with a music video about one of the better golf movies ever made (up there with Happy Gilmore and Tin Cup), Caddyshack.

But none of those movies even come close to The Legend of Bagger Vance. My favorite golf movie, and up there among my favorite movies of all time. If you haven’t seen it, you’re robbing yourself of a great experience.

Now, it’s time to pack a little bit and enjoy some good basketball this evening. Back to CoMo on Friday, so I doubt I’ll be updating again before then. But, while you’re waiting for updates from me, you can definitely check in with my big brother’s blog, Playing from the Wrong Fairway.
Because it’s a golf blog, let me just say I was super excited to see several Masters commercials during the end of the college football bowl season. I know I said I was ending the post with the Caddyshack song, but instead, I will end with this video of Augusta National (because I can’t find a YouTube clip of a Masters commercial anywhere. If you know where one is, leave it the comments section for me and I will love you forever).

Carpe Diem.
Altiora.

66-46

•January 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Well last night sure was nice. As my big brother so eloquently put it:

Watching the Bearcats shut down Xavier last night was one of the most satisfying things in recent memory for me. There is no game all season long I’m more passionate about. If all of my favorite teams could win only one game combined, I would want it to be the Crosstown Shootout. But instead, my two favorite teams are a combined 29-1 (and that one loss was a freaking choke job against Georgetown). Throw Duke in the mix (my third-favorite team to root for), and that record jumps to 33-1. So far, this basketball season has been nice.
UC just throttled Xavier last night. It was awesome. Sure, the Muskies are undermanned and probably only has one player on their bench that could get any significant playing time for the Bearcats, but, when you consider all that, Cincy did exactly what they should’ve done. They played a team that was overmatched and let the final score show that. They absolutely dominated the game aside from Xavier’s 10-4 run to start. After that, Yancy Gates took over and the Bearcats played some great team defense to shut down Xavier’s only real threat in Terrell (I refuse to call him ‘Tu’) Holloway.
I still don’t really know what to make of Yancy, though. He was outstanding last night–22 points and 14 boards. But I still don’t feel like he really cares. Last night he was into it because he was playing well. After Kenny Frease dominated the post for the first two or three minutes, Yancy got pissed. He wasn’t gonna let that oafy white guy beat him. But he didn’t do it by being stronger or more aggressive. No, he decided he’d do it by hitting fadeaway after fadeaway. It was great last night. But I’m worried he’s going to just keep settling for that fadeaway jumper for the rest of the season, hoping for a night like he had last night. I don’t want to take away from his performance…he’s the reason the Bearcats trounced XU the way they did. I just don’t want him to think everyone he plays in the Big East will be like Kenny Frease.
And let’s have a round of applause for Xavier last night, too. I don’t think I looked to the X bench one time and didn’t see Chris Mack bitching about something. I said it in yesterday’s post: I hate Chris Mack. I think he’s a classless douche. He didn’t do anything to disprove that last night. Then there was Terrell Holloway’s elbow to Ibrahima Thomas for absolutely no reason. Hey, Terrell: if you drive to the basket as if a whistle hasn’t been blown, don’t throw an elbow because a defender acted the same way. And lastly, Dante Jackson. I never liked him, but last night he may have become my least favorite Musketeer ever. Not only was he talking trash to Rashad Bishop non-stop while Rashad was shutting him down and his team was getting spanked, he decided with like three minutes to go that he’d just tackle Cashmere Wright in the backcourt. But Cashmere, having class–something these Muskies seem to lack–got up, dusted himself off and kept on keeping on. How ’bout them Bearcats!
And if you needed reason to hate Xavier…here you go:

Now comes the toughest part of the schedule. I said yesterday I hoped a win in the Shootout would mean a lot of momentum moving forward. That’s still my hope. If this team lacked any confidence because of its weak schedule up to this point, I think a thorough beating of its crosstown rival will help eliminate that. It starts Sunday in Philly. The ‘Cats need strong games out of the likes of Dion Dixon (who was great in the Shootout), Larry Davis (he was good, too) and Cashmere Wright (outstanding defensively, and 8-for-8 from the stripe). ‘Nova always has great guard play. Cincy needs to counter that with great guard play of its own. Then you’ve gotta go to Syracuse, Notre Dame and St. John’s. We learn a lot about the Bearcats this month.

Now for that link dump I began yesterday but didn’t finish:
–I already linked to it, but it’s worth linking again: Tiger Woods 2012 will include Augusta National. To say I’m excited would be a massive understatement.

(photo courtesy of GolfDigest.com)

A few billboards have popped up around Columbus, Ohio. They congratulate the TCU Horned Frogs on their Rose Bowl victory and take a nice little shot at Ohio State’s President Gee. He said teams like TCU and Boise State shouldn’t be able to play in the big games because they play “The Little Sisters of the Poor.” Well suck on this, Mr. Prez…

Bazinga.

–I’ve never been a big fantasy football guy. I feel like I know my football pretty well and everything, but I just never care enough to set a line-up each week, make trades, or do any of that stuff. And too many people take it way too seriously. Don’t believe me? Then take a look at this ad for fantasy football championship rings. Ridiculous. The only fantasy football rewards I acknowledge are The Shiva and The Sacko. If you don’t know what those are, watch “The League.” You won’t regret it.

–Kanye West tweets. Josh Groban sings it. Outstanding.

–Pontevedra is a Spanish soccer club experiencing some financial troubles. Apparently, the players haven’t been paid in months. So they protested in a pretty creative fashion.

Could you imagine how awkward that must’ve been for the other team? Or for the fans? I’m all for the players getting paid, but I’d be pissed if I paid for a ticket to that match and Pontevedra just knelt on the ground for more than like 30 seconds.

–Some chick is dumb enough to marry Ben Roethlisberger. I hope there’s no prenump. For her sake. And hopefully they won’t share a bathroom. Again, for her sake.

–Some other chick is dumb enough to call 911 to try and force her boyfriend to propose. Is this chick serious? Talk about psycho. That’s why I never want to get in to a serious relationship. Women are crazy. Not all of them act on the crazy, but I think it’s always somewhere in them. Kind of like evil. It’s in you. You know it. You just have to be better than the evil inside you. So, to women everywhere, please be better than the crazy inside you. On behalf of men everywhere, thanks.

–I’ve never rushed a sorority, but one of my favorites has always been Kappa Kappa Gamma. It’s just fun to say. And I’ve got two friends who are Kappas. (**Hey Marie! Hey Laura!**) And a few more at Mizzou, I think. But the point is, if I’m some 18-year-old freshman chick and I went to Baylor and the Kappas played this video during rush, I’d be sold. I’d watch this video and think that these chicks were just the coolest babes around. No questions asked, I’m in.

And hats off to whoever edited that video for Kappa Kappa Gamma. The way they got the video and audio aligned just right over so many different clips is flat out impressive.
But man am I just coming through on this New Year’s Resolution. Killing it with the blog posts. All you people made resolutions to go to the gym. I just sit in my room, watch SportsCenter, play xBox, read other people’s blogs then write my own. I win.
Carpe Diem.
Altiora.

Crosstown Shootout

•January 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Tonight is the night when a lot of eyes turn to the Queen City to watch one of the best rivalries in college basketball: The Crosstown Shootout.
For me, there are a few important things to make rivalries really, really good. Proximity is big. Cincinnati and Xavier’s campuses are approximately 3.5 miles apart (according to MapQuest). So, proximity: check. Next is importance. In the grand scheme of things, this game means very little as far as either season is concerned–no conference implications and I don’t remember when both teams were ranked nationally coming into the match-up. But it means so much to the city of Cincinnati, so…importance: check. Third is passion. Did you watch last year’s Shootout? There’s passion in this game. The atmosphere surrounding UC/XU is unlike anything you’ll see. I’ve personally been to two Shootouts in my life (tonight will make three), and each of my previous experiences have been incredible. The fans want to win. The players want to win. When my XU fan friends start referencing the big Xavier upsets of the ’90s and early 2000s, I say it’s because UC didn’t care just to piss them off. But that’s not the case. This game matters so much to both teams. So, passion: check. This rivalry is, in my opinion, of the absolute best college basketball has to offer. This NBC Sports article has it as one of the four best in the nation.
And here are my top five, in no particular order:
–Duke vs. North Carolina
–Kentucky vs. Louisville
–Cincinnati vs. Xavier
–Kansas vs. Missouri
–Kansas vs. Kansas State
Three of those five have conference implications, which means the games’ importance is enormous and that the teams play twice each year. That’s awesome. Could you imagine if UC and Xavier were in the same league? With all the fire in this game already, that would just be incredible. TCU made it 17 teams in the Big East. Why not let XU make it 18? As that little kid in Angels in the Outfield always says: “Hey, it could happen.”

Now to break down tonight’s game. I’ve seen the Bearcats at eight- and nine-point favorites. That kinda bodes well for XU. The Muskies have pretty much played the underdog role for as long as I can remember, minus the last three seasons. Now, with Mick Cronin’s Bearcats at 14-0 and ranked 25/24 in the nation, Xavier is back to its usual spot. They’ve dealt with the underdog role extremely well in the past, upsetting the ‘Cats several times, including twice when Cincy was ranked #1 back in the ’90s. As I told a friend of mine, there couldn’t have been a worse time for UC to crack the Top 25.
That being said, almost everything about this game seems to work in Cincinnati’s favor. The Bearcats’ depth is the major advantage. XU has relied heavily on Terrell (I refuse to call him “Tu”) Holloway this season. They’ve really got no one outside of Holloway and Mark Lyons in the backcourt. If I remember correctly, Chris Mack had to go to a walk-on for almost 15 minutes of the Muskies’ loss to Florida. Even though Xavier will almost definitely have the best player on the floor in Holloway, Cincinnati’s ability to have more good players on the floor throughout the game could prove huge for Mick’s Bearcats.
But Cincinnati really hasn’t been challenged yet. This team has faced little to no adversity all season long. Sure, they had a mini-slump against a mediocre Oklahoma team and had to stay strong down the stretch to win that game…but Xavier has played the likes of Florida, Butler and Gonzaga. The Musketeers lost two of those three, but they were able to find out how they stack up against quality competition. Cincinnati hasn’t really gotten that chance yet. If this game’s tight down the stretch, I think Xavier has a slight edge. And if it comes down to it, UC needs to do a hell of a lot better from the line than they did in last year’s game.
The teams have two common opponents: Miami (OH) and Seton Hall. Both teams beat the Pirates, but Cincinnati beat them more convincingly than XU. And UC beat Miami–something X couldn’t do. I give Cincy the edge based on that fact, but there’s more to it than that. When Xavier took on Seton Hall, the team was still trying to figure out how to work without leading scorer Jeremy Hazell who had just gone down with an injury. Cincinnati played them after they had a chance to figure it out. As for Miami, both teams played the Redhawks at Millett Hall, but Cincy beat them by 16 as opposed to XU losing by 11. If that’s not enough for you to like the Bearcats, Charlie Coles (Miami’s head coach) gives UC the “slight edge” in tonight’s battle at Fifth-Third Arena.
Like I said, I think UC should win this game when you look at all the statistics, figures and facts. But in this game, as anyone from Kenyon Martin to Steve Logan to David West to Skip Prosser to Bob Huggins can tell you, it isn’t about who should win. It really comes down to who wants to win. The way this Bearcat team has played so far this season makes me think they will want it and want it pretty damn bad.
Mick Cronin really needs this win, too. He’s 0-3 against the Muskies during his time in Clifton. A lot of people (myself included) aren’t sold on Mick just yet. A win tonight could go a long way as far as converting the doubters. A loss could mean–even at 14-1–that he gets crucified by those people who don’t like him (I won’t be one of them).
UC needs this win. In their first game against a quality squad, the Bearcats need to prove themselves. With the toughest part of their schedule just around the corner, 15-0 with a ‘W’ tonight would go a long way as far as confidence. Mick played this soft schedule to help the team mesh and learn to play together before things got tough. Tonight we find out if that’s worked. A win tonight could translate to wins against the likes of Villanova, Notre Dame, St. John’s and West Virginia later on in January. I really believe that.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m rooting for the Bearcats. So, here are five Musketeers some guy loves to hate. I’m totally with him on Chris Mack. I hate that guy. Watching his classless antics at last year’s Shootout–you know, when he was helping to start a fight between all the players–it’s really easy for me to hate him. I really hope that Xavier is no longer a “stepping stone program” for coaches, solely based on the fact that I don’t want Chris Mack to get a job anywhere else.
In conclusion, enjoy the game tonight. You won’t find one like it anywhere else in the country. I love the Crosstown Shootout. Go Bearcats!

Now for a major link dump because I don’t have time to really think…I’ve got a basketball game to go to!
–I’m sure everyone has seen the video of the homeless guy with the great voice. And I’m sure you heard he got a job (which makes it seem that radio stations actually do just “hire people off the street). But, more importantly, this guy looks exactly like that Jobu thing Pedro Cerrano prays to in Major League.

–Here are the 13 “most talked-about” commercials of 2010.
Here’s my favorite of those 13:

But this one was my favorite of the year. “Y’all didn’t even know he was a virgin until he was 28. And now…Roll Tide.”

Tiger Woods 2012 will have August National. I am jacked.

–And to take you into the evening, the Blues mascot performing to some hits from the year that was. Enjoy…

A lot more to come later. I’ve gotta get down to Fifth Third. Go Bearcats!
Carpe Diem.
Altiora.

My New Year’s Resolution

•January 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I know it’s been a while, but my 2011 New Year’s Resolution is to get back to regularly updating TAC. So you’ve got that going for you, right? Hopefully. We’ll see. I’d prefer you not hold me to that, but I do promise I’ll try. So now the only thing left to worry about is where to start. A lot has happened since the last time I updated this blog. A whole lot. But, seeing as how it’s “bowl season” in college football, we’ll start with some football. Here we go.

Turkey Bowl 2010
Sure…it’s been more than a month. But I know after last year’s breakdown, everyone is dying to know if Team A could make it a three-peat.
After last year’s thrilling overtime victory, Team A was ready to go for a three-peat in the 2010 Turkey Bowl. Due to several conflicts and injuries, both teams were missing last year’s quarterbacks. That left each side with the difficult task of finding a quality replacement who could deal with the pressure of playing in a Turkey Bowl. For one team, the decision was a simple one. For another, there would be no one replacement.
Team A got off to a quick start. On a rainy morning at OLV, this side wasn’t afraid to go to the air to move the football. It turned out to be pretty simple, as we moved the ball down the field quickly, wrapping up the drive with a TD pass from yours truly to co-MVP Bryan–a connection that may haunt the dreams of Team B for the remainder of this year.
After that, Team A turned its attention to defense, forcing Team B into a 4-and-out on its first possession. Team A then did a repeat performance, with Bryan catching TD number two to make it 14-0. Team B then got their second chance on the offensive side of the ball…and the next possession ended with another score. Only problem for Team B was the TD made it 21-0. The QB issues came to light when The Other Nick couldn’t handle pressure from The Big Cat and lofted an interception back across the middle. Young Mr. Dulle took the INT the other way, getting tangled up by the Younger Schatzman just shy of the end zone. Lucky for Team A, yours truly ran down the field alongside Dulle and Dulle made the heads up, Ed Reed-esque move to pitch it back, and I rolled in for Team A’s third score.
From then on in, the game was relatively even, with Team A putting a little more distance between the two squads. In the end, Team A made it three in a row with a 56-35 victory. The Me-to-Bryan connection resulted in 5 TDs, as he and I earned co-MVP honors. At the end of the day, he made Spanks look like an average corner. And don’t worry…the CapriSun still tasted delicious the third time.
And this year, we’ve got a way to remember the Turkey Bowl. Mrs. G put together this outstanding photo collage of our epic battle on Thanksgiving morning:

Mrs. G is so creative. God love her.

2010 Insight Bowl
With all the suspensions and injuries, I thought Mizzou would be able to get past Iowa. If anyone has listened to my radio show (my five readers and probably the same as the five people who listen to that, so I assume you all know what I’m talking about), you’d know I’m not crazy about Mizzou’s offense. I think they’ve completely stifled Blaine Gabbert and that Tiger fans haven’t seen anything close to his full potential. All the little bubble screens and button hooks didn’t utilize all the skills everyone expected to see when he took over for Chase Daniel. Still, even with all that, I thought they’d handle the Hawkeyes. Boy, was I wrong.
The game really reminded me of the loss at Nebraska in a lot of ways. Inability to really stop the run. A few big plays hurting them in a game they otherwise controlled pretty well. The one thing that pleasantly surprised me was the offensive playcalling for Mizzou. Gabbert was reading defenses, throwing the ball downfield and showing off his arm strength and, in an unlikely turn of events, pocket presence. I had heard a few “experts” saying he was definitely one of the top NFL prospects at the quarterback position. He made a great case for himself in that game. Take away the absolutely absurdly bad decision on the game-winning pick six and he probably had the best performance of the season, and maybe even his career. I would not be even remotely surprised if that’s the last game of his Missouri career.
**UPDATE: prior to posting, but after I wrote it, Gabbert has declared his intent to enter the 2011 NFL Draft.**
Still, the thing that I most wanted to touch on was the atrocious call to overturn TJ Moe’s catch on Mizzou’s last play. I do not think TJ made the catch. It was probably incomplete. But on the field it was ruled a catch. In order to overturn the ruling on the field, you need “conclusive video evidence” that shows said call was incorrect. There’s absolutely no way any of those replays conclusively showed the pass was incomplete.
But that doesn’t matter without Blaine’s silly INT. So, in the end, you can’t really blame it on that one play. I just thought it was ridiculous. And I’ll also give Iowa credit. Undermanned and everything, they still get the win. Kudos to them for that.

Outback Bowl
The only reason I touch on this is because I really want to know how JoePa is actually coaching. He never wears a headset, he never seems to actually talk to his players, his facial expression is always the same. Does he even know what’s going on? Is the Penn State coaching staff like a puppet government? Is he really alive? Have the Nittany Lions just been pulling a “Weekend at Bernie’s” with him for a few years? Honestly. I don’t get it.
Urban Meyer, on the other hand, is very smart. The cupboard was bare–at least by Florida’s standards–this year. It probably will be again next year. Why suffer through another four or five loss season? He’s got plenty of money, he’s won a few national titles. Retiring in your 40s is a super idea. Even with modern medicine, your body and mind have to start going downhill soon after that, right? Good move, Urban.

Capital One Bowl
Alabama is really good. So is the SEC. And I really think this was the most embarrassing loss of the bowl season for the Big 10. Not only does your conference co-champion lose…they get absolutely demolished by a 9-3 SEC team. Obviously Alabama isn’t your typical three-loss squad, but for Michigan State and the Big 10, you expect far better from a conference co-champion. The Sugar Bowl is a big game for Ohio State and the conference. A 2-6 bowl record added onto the whole “Legends and Leaders” crap would be kind of embarrassing.

Rose Bowl
For all the loyal listeners I referenced above, you already know I thought TCU was the best non-AQ team in the country–not Boise. For those who don’t listen to me on the radio, I’ve long thought TCU was the best non-AQ team in the country–not Boise. The Horned Frogs went out and helped make me look right (even though I think Boise State probably could’ve given Wisconsin just as good of a game). Andy Dalton’s numbers weren’t overly impressive, but he led his team extremely well and never made any big mistakes. Both defenses looked extremely suspect, then just went in to lock down mode about midway through the second quarter.
I think, in the end, the better team won this game. And it was a huge win for non-AQs everywhere. TCU never really looked overmatched, never backed down, and held the lead for the majority of the game. When Boise knocked off Oklahoma in ’07, you could say it was luck and trick plays that did it. You can’t say that about this TCU team. I saw something on a halftime show where some guy said TCU was his pre-season #1 for 2011. I don’t hate the pick.
And TCU was so classy about everything, too. Sure, we all know the BCS is a load of crap, but they aren’t complaining. They took their Rose Bowl berth and took care of business. They never complained about the system screwing them over. I’m sure they thought it, but they’re not whining like Utah did a few years back. I like that about them.
And what I liked even more was their uniforms. Black on purple looks so badass. TCU’s football uniforms, in my opinion, are the best in the nation. (For the record, sticking with the purple and black theme, K-State’s road threads are the best basketball unis around.) On top of that, they had some wacky pattern inside the numbers that looked really cool. Then, to (literally) top it all off, they had the Horned Frog on the helmet…with a rose in its mouth. Well played, whoever came up with that idea. I loved it.
As I would say on Twitter, #awesome.

And lastly, can we all agree that Bret Bielema and Rob Riggle look a lot alike. Seriously, when Erin Andrews interviewed him at halftime, all I could picture in my head was him yelling, “In the FACE!”

That’s really all I’ve got on the college football front. But I have a couple things to say about college basketball. Plenty to talk about so far this season.
–Duke was hands-down my pre-season title favorite. They’ve done nothing thus far to make me think otherwise, but I think the loss of Kyrie Irving could definitely cost them in the long run. If he does somehow come back (I don’t recall ever hearing he’s 100% out for the season), this team is hands down the best in the nation. On the plus side for the Dukies, they’ve still got Kyle Singler on the team. And he gets buckets.

–Ohio State is very good. This Sullinger kid is better than Greg Oden…and he actually looks like he should be eligible to play NCAA basketball. I’m very surprised they haven’t managed to get at least one or two first-place votes in the polls from Duke.
–Kansas is good. A lot of people were all about K-State in the pre-season after their Elite 8 run last year. For the first time in years, kU was kind of overlooked in the Big 12 pre-season picture because of high expectations for teams like the Wildcats, Baylor and Mizzou. Since then, all Kansas has done is win every game its played, added a stud to its line-up in Josh Selby and shot better than 53% from the field so far this season. Even with the Big 12 the deepest its been in years, it’s still tough to see kU not winning this conference again.
–This was supposed to be a “down” year for the Big East. That’s clearly not the case. Kemba Walker has Connecticut in the top 10 after starting the season unranked. The kid’s good enough that he essentially single-handedly took the Huskies from unranked to the top 10 with his play in Maui. But, as we saw in the Pitt game, if he struggles, no one else on that team can step up. Speaking of Pitt, they’re in the top five despite what now seems like a pretty bad loss at Tennessee. But they’re still good. Syracuse has a group of studs putting them up in the top four. Then there’s Villanova, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Louisville (in one poll) and Cincinnati all in the top 25. Down year. Yeah.

Now I want to touch on my two teams: Mizzou and Cincinnati.
–First the Tigers. An absolute ton of talent on this year’s team. Between Laurence Bowers, Ricardo Ratliffe, Kim English, Phil Pressey, Michael Dixon and Marcus Denmon, there’s no shortage of offensive weapons. Then you’ve got other guys like Justin Safford or Matt Pressey or even Ricky Kreklow to provide some good minutes and points off the bench any given game.
A lot of people can step up for this team. That’s huge, especially in Mike Anderson’s system. When you’ve got six different guys that could lead your team in scoring on any night, that’s great, because you can always have a scorer in the game no matter how much your subbing in and out. And they’ve got their go-to guys in a tight game. That’s a must.
The only loss of the season came in OT against G’Town in Kansas City. And the Tigers absolutely gave that game away. Reminiscent of two years ago when they did the same against Xavier in Puerto Rico. After that loss, the 2008-09 team wound up making a run to the Elite 8 before Kemba Walker and the Huskies sent them packing. There’s no reason to think this team can’t at least duplicate that success. I think they can.

–Cincinnati is 14-0 and finally cracking in to the Top 25 polls this week. Not that I can really blame the voters. The Bearcats have essentially played a high school schedule up to this point. The games that were supposed to look good on the schedule (Oklahoma and Dayton) didn’t look all that great when the Cats played them, but the UD drubbing is looking more and more impressive with each Flyer win. OU lost the players that were supposed to huge pieces of the puzzle, so they’ve struggled in non-conference play and will probably continue to do so in the deep Big 12.
But still, the Bearcats are 14-0 and they actually look like they enjoy playing together and playing hard for the first time in the Mick Cronin era. I got the chance to talk to Tarrance Gibson–a guard on the 1992 Final Four team–and he said Mick told him this team added by subtraction. In losing Lance Stephenson and Deonta Vaughn, this year’s squad got infinitely better. I agree 100%. They still haven’t really proven anything, but for the first time with Mick at the helm, I’m excited about Cincinnati basketball.
That being said, we’ll learn a whole lot about this team in the coming weeks. The Crosstown Shootout on Thursday, then off to Philly to take on Villanova, then into Big East play. And their schedule is brutal: @Villanova, @Syracuse, @Notre Dame, @Pitt and @Georgetown, and they also get L’Ville, UConn and G’Town at home. I don’t even know if this team will make the NCAA Tourney for the first time since 2005, but I’m excited to see what happens.
And, for no real reason, I want to post a highlight from the glory days. And I could watch this clip for hours:

NFL Playoffs are set. I have no reason to watch because the Bengals suck, but I’ll give some predictions. The Falcons win the NFC. Probably over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. I don’t see how the Patriots don’t win the AFC. They’ve been incredible. I don’t know who they’ll beat, but I don’t think it matters. It’s a boring prediction, but I take both the top seeds playing for the Lombardi Trophy.
And for those of you sticking to that “Mike Vick for MVP” crap, take a look at this stat and try to tell me there’s any way Tom Brady doesn’t deserve it more…

The Heat will win the NBA Championship. Been saying it since this summer. The Lakers are imploding, and D-Wade and LBJ will find a way to beat the Celtics when the time comes. Mark my words: the Heat will be 2011 NBA Champs.

That’s all I’ve got for sports. For now.
–Penguins are awesome. This little guy proves it.

–Do you have weird sexual fantasies? Well, if you do, remember: safety first. One guy (allegedly) failed to do so, and shot his wife “by mistake” while they were doing it. Apparently, the dude’s Facebook interests include “the AK-47 assault rifle, the M-1 Carbine rifle, Jagermeister and Jesus Christ.” Outstanding.
–Me and my friends love FIFA. When I’m home, we spend so much time playing it’s uncanny. But it’s so great. Fortunately, none of us freak out quite like this guy.

First off, can I say that I absolutely love when people film their friends’ video game freakouts. It’s great because you know it’s happened before. I used to have a roommate like this. Would play Call of Duty online and just lose it at times (“I just took a bite of my f***ing sandwich!”). I kind of wish we’d filmed it at times, but I don’t know how it would have gone.
Second, hats off to the kids for egging him on. You know you’ve got him on camera, you’ve gotta get the most out of it. And they do. He just bails on the whole game and storms out of the house. Doesn’t just quit, but leaves the house entirely. Outstanding.
Third, I just don’t get it. I want to beat the computer more than anybody, but if I lose the game, I don’t flip out and leave. Sure, maybe I turn it off so it doesn’t save, but I at least keep my composure while doing it. And this kid kinda looks like a guy I had class with last semester. I can’t say for sure it’s him, but I’m going to tell myself it is.

–I hope you’re ready to just laugh your ass off. This is possibly the greatest 15 seconds in game show history.

Okay…the answer itself isn’t even that funny because you know it’s coming. Don’t try to act like you were taking the moral high road, because we all know you were thinking the exact same thing this little girl was. But then they ask Jerry and Mary if they’ve got the answer and…BOOM. Comedy gold. The kids are Asian. And everyone just plays it cool. As if this chick didn’t just call her Asian counterparts “yellow.” Absolutely hilarious.

–Those last few videos I found on Barstool Sports. If you don’t check this blog at least semi-regularly, you’re missing out. Even if you hate the teams they like, there’s just so much quality stuff. So much. Get it together and get it on your Google reader or whatever those things are called.

The Bachelor is back tonight. I don’t really care, but my mom and sister were bitching about the guy on this season because he was already on the show once and didn’t even wind up picking a girl. That’s awesome. Apparently that pissed off Nean and Melissa. I say more power to him. Get yours, buddy. Then, if you are sick of all 30 of those women, you tell them. No need to pick one and break up with her after the show. I hope he does it again.

–Lastly, can we all agree that NBC’s “The Sing-Off” is hands down the best show on TV, as far as talent goes. If you haven’t watched it, it’s just ten really good a capella groups competing for $100k and a contract with Sony. And these groups are incredible. If you think American Idol is a good show, a) you’re wrong, and b) this show blows it out of the water. You don’t have to watch a bunch of crappy people sing at the beginning, Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman are two of the better judges I’ve seen on any show, and Nicole Sherzinger, despite her terrible analysis, is at least good eye candy. But if you haven’t seen this show, do yourself a favor and be sure to tune in or watch YouTube clips of it some way. Off. The. Chain.
Even some cute gals, too. Barstool New York picks out the cream of the crop with this chick from Berklee College of Music and the group with the best name on the show: Pitch Slapped. And what more could you ask for? Beautiful and talented. Well, maybe you could ask for personality and all that stuff, but looks and talent ain’t a bad place to start.

Then there’s the actual music. This season was outstanding. Last season was really good, too. My favorite group so far was from the first season–Noteworthy. They just kill every chord they go for. The beatboxing is stellar. And I find the chick with the mohawk thing oddly sexy. Her voice is incredible, and you can’t disagree that she’s pretty. Here’s my favorite performance they had last season…with this one a close second.

And then this year’s winner (SPOILER ALERT) Committed killed it with an Usher medley. As one judge said after their first performance, the lead singer’s voice is just “butta.”

Wow. That was a lot of writing. But I guess that’s what happens after taking like half a year off. If you’re still reading, then thanks. I don’t know if I’d have been able to make it this far. But it’s syllabus week for anyone back at school or still break for everyone else, so did you really have anything better to do?
As for the New Year’s Resolution thing, so far I’ve updated once every three days. I am doing really well so far! Thanks for reading.
Carpe Diem.
Altiora.

Playoffs? Are you kidding me?

•October 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

No one is kidding you. This is real. This is surreal. This is awesome.

Absolutely unbelievable. It's real. It's surreal. It's awesome.

This is happening. The Cincinnati Reds are the 2010 NL Central Division Champions. Remember back in early August when everyone wrote this team off after they were swept by the Cards in Cincy? That seems like a long, long time ago now. I can honestly say the sweep at GABP didn’t put an end to my postseason hopes for this team. They were only down a game and they had the easiest schedule in the majors. On top of that, the Cardinals had the second easiest, and they were downright pathetic against bad teams.
But forget about the past. The Cincinnati Reds are in the playoffs. They will be playing meaningful October baseball at Great American Ballpark. Read those two sentences again. Now pinch yourself. See? It’s real. It’s surreal. It’s awesome.
But when did you realize this was going to happen? I’ll take a few moments from that great post by my man Mo.
I realized this was going to be an awesome year when I watched the Reds beat the Cardinals in the Civil Rights Game with one of the coolest finishes in GABP history.
I don’t know why this would’ve made you think this team was going to make the playoffs, but this is still one of Thom’s better home run calls. But, hey, maybe that Jonny Gomes homer changed your perception of this team.
Maybe you realized they could upend the Cards when Tony LaRussa admitted Dusty was getting more out of Scott Rolen than he ever could.
Maybe when Jay Bruce, in the middle of one of the most frustrating slumps I can remember, knocks a two-run bomb off the NL’s best team’s best pitcher to win the game. Maybe that’s when you finally came around. Right?
Could it have been when they responded to being swept by that same team right before the All-Star Break–a weekend manager Dusty Baker called the season’s “low point”–then, instead of imploding, they turned around and won 8 of 13 out of the gate after the break?
I can tell you when I knew this team was going to get here. It was fresh off that embarrassing sweep at home, when this team refused to fold again. Instead, they won seven straight and 13 of 17 to close out the month of August and retook control of the division.
Then they really sealed the deal when I attended the middle game of the three-game set with the Cards at Busch Stadium. Coming from the Mizzou/Illinois game a few blocks away, I got there a little late. The Reds were up 4-0 when I got there. It seemed like there’d be no excitement aside from the fun I had cheering every time B. Phillips came to the plate (and booing when Y. Molina did anything). Then, Travis Wood took Adam Wainwright deep to left for his first career long ball.

Boom. T. Wood has left the building.

But maybe you still weren’t 100% sure, even then.
But maybe you knew it when Joey Votto got his first walk-off homer against the Pirates.

If that didn’t do it for you, then I assume you were like most of the baseball “experts” and analysts. You refused to announce the NL Central race over until the Reds finally wrapped it up. But if it took you that long, at least Jay Bruce made it worth the wait…

And it all led to this:

(special thanks to Jamie Ramsey at Better Off Red for the photos)
Dusty Baker pulls this squad together, does an amazing job in the locker room, never lets them fold and brings playoff baseball back to Cincinnati. It seems like a dream. But it’s real. It’s surreal. It’s awesome.
Here’s a really great article on the Reds skipper who, by the way, has signed a well-deserved two-year extension with the club.
It’s so rare that being a sports fan really pays off. Especially in Cincinnati. Think about it. Bob Huggins has the team primed and ready for a run at a national title, and Kenyon Martin loses his footing and breaks his fibula. The Bengals finally get to the playoffs after 15 years of pathetic football, and on the first offensive play, Kimo Von Oelhoffen plays the role of dream (and knee) crusher. Brian Kelly resurrects the Cincinnati football program, then promptly leaves for Notre Dame before the finish of the greatest season in school history. Ask Cavaliers fans if their loyalty has paid off. Ask Cubs fans (haha). Ask any sports fan. How often does your loyalty, your passion, really pay off? Not very often. That’s why this is so awesome. That’s why I, while watching Bruce’s walk-off on an ESPN GameCast, went nuts while staring at a computer screen. That’s why I have Marty’s call of Bruce’s homer on my iPod and get chills every time I hear it. This is why we care so much. We are waiting for moments like this. This is real. This is surreal. This is awesome.

So, what else is going on? The Bengals look as mediocre as ever. Whenever Carson puts up halfway decent numbers, they lose. Their offense isn’t even average…it’s bad. The defense looked horrible in Week 1, strong in Week 2 and Week 3, then couldn’t stop the freaking Browns this past week. That worries me. Especially when this team will play the likes of the Saints, Colts, Steelers, Ravens (again) and Jets this season. I was exceptionally optimistic at the beginning of the year. I thought the offense had the weapons it needed. Heck, it probably does. Shipley, Gresham, T.O., Ochocinco, Ced. If Carson is even half the QB he was before his knee injury, this offense would be scary good. Instead, Carson looks like a completely different person. Maybe it’s his health, maybe it’s confidence. Regardless, he’s not the same. He has the tools he needs. I used to believe he’d turn it around at some point. That we’d see the Carson of old. I’ve stopped believing that. It’s sad. Even more surprising, I think this team could still make the playoffs. Surprisingly enough, I really do.

In other news, the Ryder Cup wrapped up this weekend in Wales. And before you stop reading because you don’t like golf, let me try to convince you to read on in the same way I tried to convince viewers to tune in on KOMU this past Friday morning…

See? You like America, right? So you’ll keep reading.
What a weekend it turned out to be. It all began in the rain early, early on Friday morning. Then play is suspended and the entire format changed. Courtesy of my brother over at WrongFairway.com, here’s what the changes meant:

* All 28 points will still be available.
* There’s no hiding anyone from alternate shot, all 12 are playing.
* No one will be playing in five matches, four is the maximum.
* Rookies Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson will be playing in every session, something Pavin probably didn’t foresee.
* There’s the possibility of playing the same foursomes group twice if the captain’s so choose.
* There will be a lot more action on the course.
* American viewers will get to see everything live.

Now I don’t know who was really expected to benefit from this format, but it seemed to be the Americans early on. They took a 6-4 overall lead into the third session. Then, the Europeans came out on fire. They talk about a golfer being in “the zone.” Well, there were 12 golfers on the European side who seemed to be in that zone. The previously unbeatable pairing of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker were dominated by Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, losing 6&5. Only two American matches went to the final hole. They lost one and tied the other. They lost Session 3 5 1/2 to 1/2. It seemed the U.S., barring a Brookline repeat, would lose the Ryder Cup.
But the Americans, down 9 1/2 to 6 1/2 going into Monday, weren’t going to go away easily. Even though the Europeans jumped out to early leads in nearly every match, the Americans fought back. Steve Stricker, easily the top performer on the U.S. side, started things strong with a 2&1 win over Lee Westwood in the first match of the day. Stewart Cink, who had been one of the most consistent performers for Pavin’s boys all week, pissed down his leg on 16, 17 and 18 to allow young Rory McIlroy to salvage a half point for the Europeans. Jim Furyk fights to take his match with Luke Donald to the 18th, then dumps a simple pitching wedge into the greenside bunker, and Donald wins that one 1up.
So, through the first three matches, the United States left an entire point out there.
On to the next trio of matches, where two of the three were completely uncompetitive. Dustin Johnson finally showed up, absolutely dominating Martin Kaymer 6&4. Maybe a little redemption for the PGA Championship? Ian Poulter then rolled over Matt Kuchar–who had been one of the world’s hottest golfers this season–5&4. Then Ryder Cup rookie Jeff Overton, who probably had the coolest celebration of the weekend…

…he makes the turn 2down and storms back to victory, beating Ross Fisher 3&2. When Overton turned that one around, there was a lot of hope for the Americans. They trailed 12-10 halfway through the singles matches. And they had some big leads up on the board.
In matches 7-9, the U.S. had the chance to really put the pressure on the European side. Unfortunately, they didn’t do that. Bubba Watson struggled mightily against “The Mechanic”, as Miguel Angel Jimenez won his first Ryder Cup singles match, 4&3. Then, the Tiger of old makes an appearance at Celtic Manor, shooting 9-under on 15 holes en route to a 4&3 dismantling of Francesco Molinari, including a tidy little eagle on the twelfth…

I especially like how Stevie hands him the putter before either one of them realize what happened. Then, knowing he’s crushed Francesco’s dreams, he laughs. Fantastic. Then, the most exciting finish to a match all weekend, in my opinion. Captain’s pick and Ryder Cup rookie Rickie Fowler makes a run that will go down in Ryder Cup history. 4down through 12 holes to Edoardo Molinari, Rickie had to turn it on. He won the 13th, but didn’t do much else until he absolutely had to. But when he had to, he came up HUGE. Fowler birdied 16, 17 and 18 to halve his match. His birdie on 18 had me out of my seat, screaming encouragement at the TV. That was when I thought the US was going to make the unbelievable happen again. After this amazing finish, I really believed America would retain the Cup.

After Fowler’s finish, everything hinged on the anchor match between Hunter Mahan and Graeme McDowell. Matches 10 and 11 were wrapped up before Fowler even got the final green, as Phil Mickelson finally did something, easily disposing of Peter Hanson, 4&2, while former Masters champion Zach Johnson took care of business against a struggling Padraig Harrington, 3&2. So, with one match remaining, the U.S. was only a half point away from bringing the Ryder Cup back home with them.
At the time, Mahan was only 1down to the U.S. Open champ from Northern Ireland. Mahan hadn’t played even remotely well all day, but he was still within striking distance of winning the Ryder Cup. Mahan missed a chance to cut into a 2down deficit on the 14th after McDowell missed the green, Hunter left his approach shot short and halved the hole. But then Hunter stepped up on the 15th, chalking up his first birdie of the day to cut McDowell’s lead in half. But, even though the pressure was apparently ridiculous–McDowell said the U.S. Open was like a back nine with his dad back home–Europe’s anchor man didn’t fold. Instead, he stepped up and birdied the 16th to go dormie. That putt and the reaction to it was probably THE moment of the 2010 Ryder Cup.

It looks awkward here, but the reaction to this putt was cool.

Needing a Rickie Fowler-esque 17th and 18th, Mahan stepped to the tee at the par-3 17th with an inordinate amount of pressure on him, even after McDowell missed the green. With a chance to put his mark on Ryder Cup history, Mahan mishit his tee shot and left it short. Still, the chip was definitely makeable. Then Mahan stepped over that chip, and the pressure was (apparently) too much. He chili-dipped the chip to the front edge of the green, then missed a tough putt to keep the slightest bit of hope alive. After all the drama through the first 11 matches, it was upsetting to see it end like that. It was especially tough because, even though the U.S. missed countless opportunities all weekend to get the half point they needed to retain the Cup, everyone will remember Mahan. That wasn’t lost on him. His reaction during the post-match pressers told everyone a lot about this event. These guys want to win it as much as anyone else. If you ever questioned that, Hunter Mahan should have removed all doubt.

The emotion of the Ryder Cup is unlike any other in sports

Here’s Shane Bacon’s Ryder Cup Report Card for the American and European sides. I think most all of his grades are pretty spot on. Even Mahan’s D-. But still, you’ve gotta feel for the guy. He apparently volunteered to put himself in the position to have all the pressure on him. I give him credit for that. His play wasn’t even close to what he’s capable of, but he still managed to stay within striking distance of the unflappable McDowell. And, in the end, he succumbed to pressure you and I could never imagine. I feel pressure if I’m putting for 20 bucks on the 18th on a Sunday with my dad and his buddies. I don’t want to let the one or two guys on my team down. Mahan, on the other hand, had the hopes of a country on his shoulders, as well as the result of a tournament in which his 11 teammates, captain and vice-captains had given everything they had to get a win. Throw in the way McDowell played and the 40,000-plus people cheering your every mistake, and it’s really not all that surprising he fudged up. But that’s not the way this Ryder Cup should be remembered. If anything, credit McDowell for his putt on 16. Remember it for the “finest moment” of Colin Montgomerie’s storied golf career. But don’t remember it for one the world’s best golfer’s mishap. That ain’t fair.

Another thing I think is worth touching on about the Ryder Cup…tweeting. The Europeans did. The Americans didn’t. I get why Captain Corey Pavin wouldn’t want his guys tweeting the whole time, constantly checking their phones. But it provided such a neat insight on the European side, where Monty let his guys tweet, with only a few restrictions. Ian Poulter took full advantage, and he let all of his followers have a look inside the Ryder Cup. I’ve never been Poulter’s biggest fan, but he took a step up in my eyes this past week. He said he likes to tweet what’s going on because he feels like he owes it to the fans. He thinks they’d like a look inside his day-to-day, so he gives it to them. That’s cool. My favorite of his tweets came during the rain delay during Session 1. The Europeans were out signing autographs, so Bubba Watson (who, despite his average performance this week, has replaced Mike Weir as my favorite golfer in the world) decided to come out on the U.S. balcony and throw American badges into the crowd. Classic Bubba!

I’d like to give you an in-depth breakdown of the MLB Playoffs, but I’m no expert. I think the Reds can beat the Phils. They’ve beaten Halladay and Oswalt this season. They’ve got the best offense in the NL. Philly hasn’t had their Opening Day lineup intact much at all this season. The Reds took 2 of 3 from Philly at GABP, and lost four extremely close games in Philadelphia. Based on the seven games between the teams this year, this series could go either way. Seriously. I think Philly’s pitching is better than the Redlegs’ pitching, but it’s not going to be as easy as people think. I’d bet it goes five, but I think the Reds lose in some tight games to the team that winds up winning the World Series over the Yankees.
So, my picks go like this: Philly over Cincy//San Francisco over Atlanta//Texas over Tampa//New York over Minnesota
Then…Philly over San Francisco//New York over Texas
And finally: Philly over New York
But I won’t break it all down. Because I’m no expert.
But I can give you a breakdown of the Playoffs commercial on TBS, though. The Red Sox and Cardinals each make an appearance, but you don’t see the Reds once. That’s crap. Speaking of crap, in ESPN’s video review of the MLB season, we see the NL Central Champs only once, and we never even see the NL MVP. That’s a crock.
But at least they didn’t put the Cubs in it. Even though I did see this great commercial for Cubs fans looking to remember the 2010 season.

But seriously. Joey Votto had better win the NL MVP. The guy’s been consistently good. All season. At home. On the road. In the clutch. With runners in scoring position. On defense. In the locker room. He’s done everything you could ask of a guy. His season could be summed up in ten pitches…

MVPs have at-bats like that. Joey Votto is the NL MVP. Plain and simple.

It’s good to be back.
ALTIORA.

Chris Sabo

•July 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Happy Tuesday, loyal readers. Thanks for sticking with me over yet another extended absence from the blogosphere. I won’t make you wait any longer. Let’s go!

-The culmination to a great story Saturday night at GABP. Chris Sabo was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame on Chris Sabo bobblehead night. I never had any idea what a cool story Sabo’s is, but I always loved him and his trademark goggles. I wish I could have been older to enjoy his play. And I wish I would’ve gone to GABP Saturday night to get my hands on one of these.

-And how about the modern-day Reds that night. They explode offensively with four long balls and E. Volquez comes back and pitches like a champ. 93 pitches in six innings, nine strikeouts and he was still hitting 95 mph at the end of it. Welcome back, Mr. Volquez. It is so great to see you again.
-Sunday was a struggle. That loss, along with the four-game sweep in Philly had a lot of people calling for Dusty’s head and considering the Reds done. Their fifth 1-0 loss of the season (the same total of 1-0 losses in the last six seasons), and their third one in five games. Travis Wood has been part of two of them. They need to get that kid some run support. But the fact that three of five of those 1-0 decisions came in the past five games leads me to think it’s a bit of a slump. Not a big one. One this team’s more than capable of fighting out of. They’ve got too many good bats that can show up at any time to really worry about them offensively. I prefer to take the more positive approach: the pitching has improved dramatically, and they can count on young arms. M. Leake, T. Wood and even that Maloney kid have shown they’re capable of playing at this level. Cueto is maturing and Volquez is back, and they’ve got the wiley veteran in Arroyo, too. Even if A. Harang’s injury lasts longer than expected and H. Bailey doesn’t come back, they’ve got a good six guys right there. I like the possibility of throwing one of those solid starting arms into the bullpen. That’s where the help is needed.
-Yesterday showed this team can come to play offensively. Jonny Gomes is a gamer. Maybe you’re expecting him to level off. Maybe you’re expecting this team to level off. But with the way different guys can step up on any given day gives me hope. Last night it was Gomes and Miguel Cairo. Hell, even Cueto contributed at the plate. D. Stubbs, in my humble opinion, has become this team’s version of Adam Dunn – big hit or a strikeout. The difference: he’s this team’s version, so he plays defense. Jay Bruce is as frustrating as anyone right now, but I still think he can come around. The kid’s pretty young and he’s got almost no ceiling. When I think Jay Bruce, I prefer to think of that two-run bomb of Halladay against the Phils a few weeks back. Remember Janish against the Cubs on the 4th? You’ve got some guys who can step in when O. Cabrera, S. Rolen, J. Votto or B. Phillips need a day off. That’s especially important with those first two guys, especially now. I’m still excited about and confident in this team. A few rough offensive outings aren’t shaking that confidence.

-A great piece on the best all-around second baseman in the game right now. B. Phillips plays the game with flair. I dig it, even though others don’t. I find it hard to have problems with Phillips. He occasionally admires assumed home runs too much, but wouldn’t you? Dude’s got swag. I love swag. Remember this? I’ll bet Wil Nieves does.

Dude's a gamer. Plain and simple. (photo, RedsZone.com)

-I know it’s been a while since the whole LBJ “Decision” debacle, but now that MJ is weighing in, talk about LeBron and the Heat has resurfaced, focusing mainly on the former. Michael Jordan was obsessed with being “The Man”. He wanted to be better than everyone else, whether he played with or for that person, or he was playing against them. If there was anyone that didn’t feel like MJ was the man, he remembered it. His Hall of Fame Induction speech was evidence of that. Jordan ended his brilliant career a bitter man, even toward the people with whom he won six championships.
Henry Abbott of ESPN’s TrueHoop Blog does a great job pointing out the flaws of Mike’s take on the whole situation.
Here’s my take, though: people always admired Jordan’s desire to (or obsession with) win(ning), how he always wanted the last shot, how he wanted to beat everyone else. I get it. That’s some of the reason I loved watching him play. But in a time where selfish athletes have become cancers to so many teams (see: Kobe pre-Pau or post-Shaq, Terrell Owens, Albert Haynesworth, etc.), why doesn’t anyone commend LeBron (or Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade) for their willingness to share the spotlight and take a team-first attitude? Everyone always talked about how team-oriented he was in Cleveland, but when he goes somewhere else to take a far less selfish role (minus the whole circus surrounding his “Decision”) on a team, he’s knocked for not being loyal. I think that’s crap.
Regardless, I’m excited to see my two favorite NBA players of all time playing on the same team. The D-Wad/LBJ combo is going to be awesome.

-Which brings me to my next point: I’m now a Heat fan. Something I’ve come to find about my generation is that kids today seem to be more loyal to players than they are to teams. At least that’s my feeling in the NBA. I don’t know that I was ever a Cavs fan as much as I was a fan of LeBron James. It really doesn’t matter for me where he is, as long as I get to watch him play. But once I reach the age of 30, I need to make a decision and root for teams, not players. At least according to these Eight Simple Rules for Being a 30 Year-Old Sports Fan.

-Do you skateboard? If you do, just hope this reporter isn’t coming to your local skate park to do any interviews:

-The Bengals are prepping for training camp. Football fans are getting excited. Some NFL scouts say this year’s squad is the best in the history of the franchise. Sure, that encompasses all the teams throughout the 90s, but I’m a “glass half full” kind of guy.
-The Bengals Blog on cincinnati.com took a look at the tight end situation. I’m very excited about this point made by Joe Reedy:

“What about Chase Coffman? This is the most healthy he has been in nearly two years, which showed in offseason workouts with some nice catches. A two tight end set in the red zone with Gresham and Coffman would present plenty of matchup problems.”

-Speaking of the Bengals, Jordan Shipley helped sing a song at Colt McCoy’s wedding (in case you didn’t watch any Texas Longhorn football the past three years, Shipley and McCoy were roommates and fishing buddies. And apparently broadcasters would’ve been fired had they failed to mention it during games). It’s pretty funny. I think you should give it a listen.

-TomTom is coming out with some new technology for its GPS systems. The newest update: you can have Yoda, Darth Vader, C-3PO or Han Solo tell you how to get to your location. As Mo Egger said, if you’re buying it, I doubt that location is a date’s house.

-Speaking of people working at Clear Channel, hats off to Nick Brunker. The former “jack of all trades” at Clear Channel is now the Director of PR, Broadcasting and New Media for the defending ECHL champion Cincinnati Cyclones. A big congratulations to him.

-Shocking that it’s taken me this long to get to the Open Championship this past weekend. The Masters is my probably the tournament I enjoy the most out of nearly every year on the Tour. But when the British Open is at St. Andrews, everything changes. Nothing beats golf’s oldest championship being played at The Home of Golf.
A good tournament overall, even though the weekend was relatively dull. Louis Oosthuizen just ran away with the tournament, playing solid golf while the rest of the field was tossed around by the wind. As Tommy Watson put it, “the old girl put her dukes up.” And what a moment for Tom Watson on the Swilcan Bridge. It absolutely gave me chills.

A great send-off for one of the Open Championship's most beloved players

A great win for Louis Oosthuizen. The guy had missed the cut in seven of his previous eight major appearances, then plays with the lead like he’s done it for years. I kept waiting for someone to make a move or for Louis to finally collapse under the pressure, but neither happened. It was an amazingly poised performance by a guy who had no experience in that situation. Downright impressive.
A great story here by Rick Reilly about Oosthuizen’s win and what it might mean for South Africa. A country torn apart by apartheid in the for much of the 20th century watched two countrymen – one black, one white – win the Open Championship side by side. That’s special.

-Speaking of special, I played the Old Course twice last summer – in one day. Anyone who’s friends with me on Facebook has seen my profile picture…

A majestic power fade unlike anything the Scots had ever seen.

While I watched Rory McIlroy shoot 80 on Friday, all I could think about was the fact that I’d never shot a round in the 80s at the Old Course. My final tallies of 77-75 were pretty exciting, especially the one-under 35 on the front side my second time around.
Our caddy the second time out was Gordon McIntire, who is taking part in the Senior Open Championship this week at Carnoustie (I shot 76 there, for the record). In fact, it was his idea for us to take this brilliant picture:

A classic shot of my brother, cousins and me in the infamous Hell Bunker on #14.

And, for good measure, here’s Gordon with the boys:

With the R&A in the background. A beautiful sight.

I’d recommend rooting for him this week.

-But one of the neatest holes I’ve ever played was the Road Hole. They moved the tee back quite a ways for the pros this week, but when you or I play it, that barn is all up in your grill. My brother opted to up and over the hotel to play his big, swooping draw. I opted for a well struck 3-wood out into the fairway. A three-putt bogey my first time and a two-putt par the second. But I never got the pleasure of trying a shot quite like the one we saw Miguel Angel Jimenez play on Saturday. That was awesome.

-Another thing I took away from my time in Scotland was a love for their lingo. The word ‘Cheers’ has become a mainstay in my vocabulary since I returned. A friend in London for the summer just blogged about 10 British Colloquialisms, a few I’ve heard and I’m pretty fond of, and a few that I just learned when I read it.
It reminds me of this epic scene from one of my favorite movies:

-Now it’s time to wrap this up so I can watch White Collar and Covert Affairs tonight. USA is on fire with their original series as of late. Royal Pains is good stuff, I’ve been a pretty regular fan of Psych, and I kick myself for not tuning in to Burn Notice from the beginning.
Luckily, though, I managed to catch up on White Collar last season. Neil Caffrey is one of the most lovable characters I’ve ever watched. I like to think he and I have a lot in common, but he’s smarter, better looking and far more charming. I recommend tuning in. Need more reason to do so? How about this:

That's right, Kelly Kapowski's in it! And she still looks great.

Then there’s Covert Affairs, which is Piper Perabo’s coming out party. Sure, she was great in Coyote Ugly, but this show is a million times better. It’s from the producer of the Bourne trilogy, so there’s no reason not to expect awesome things. Bill Simmons summed it up pretty well in a tweet last night.

So well put.

This series also has another awesome male character in Auggie, a blind genius who befriends Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) as soon as she gets to the CIA. On top of that, he uses his other heightened senses to check out women. And he’s so freaking good at it. Auggie is the man. And Piper Perabo is my newest celebrity crush. If you aren’t watching Covert Affairs, start now.

That’s all I’ve got for now, because my shows start in seven minutes.
Oh, and the Redlegs are up 5-1 in the fifth inning during a delay.
Altiora.

Hey! I’m back…again.

•June 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a while. 13 days, in fact. I figured I’d make my big return to the blogosphere before July rolled around, so here we go. We’ve got World Cup, Redlegs, Bengals, Harry Potter and other nonsense I’m sure I will get to. So get excited, loyal readers. TAC is back!

-So the U.S. is out of the World Cup again. Courtesy of Ghana. Again. Once they made their way out of the group stages, I must say I was worried about their second round match-up against the Germans or Ghana. Germany’s offensive firepower would have caused problems o’ plenty for the United States’ defense, and Ghana’s athleticism made it an extremely difficult match-up, as well. I was really hoping Serbia would make a better showing against the SoccerRoos of Australia in order to squeeze out of Group D to face the U.S. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and Ghana’s athleticism proved too much for the United States squad. I don’t think there’s really any other explanation. If you look at Ghana’s two goals, it came down to an exceptionally athletic striker outrunning the U.S. defensemen. It was especially evident when watching the goal in extra time. The United States was hands down the better tactical team for the vast majority of the 120 minutes on Saturday. Still, though, the athleticism of Ghana won out.
This guy thinks the United States find a way to get its best athletes to gravitate toward soccer instead of the other mainstream sports in order to compete at soccer’s highest level.
This guy agrees, and even gives us a sample roster for the 2014 squad:
2014 World Cup Roster
Rajon Rondo
Jacoby Ellsbury
Wes Welker
Chris Johnson
Adrian Peterson
Steve Smith
Larry Fitzgerald
Derell Revis
Lebron James
Carl Crawford
Jimmy Rollins
Grady Sizemore
Ty Lawson
Reggie Bush
Dwight Howard (goalie)

-It’s disappointing to see such a talented side with such high expectations go down early, but that’s what’ll happen when you play nearly 300 minutes of soccer and lead for only three minutes. You can’t expect to win at high level if you do that. I wish I could say I hate Ghana for knocking America out of two straight World Cups, but I can’t. They just have too much swag. I mean, seriously…

-Speaking of swag, the new Madden 2011 has a new stat on its player ratings. It’s abbreviated “SWG” and stands for “SWAGGER”. I’m willing to bet my boy Ocho has some serious swagger rating. You can see it here, the seventh column from the right. Brandon Marshalls SWG stands at 98. I’ll have to check on Chad’s.

-Old Spice announced its own NFL Swagger Rankings, as well. Not surprisingly, the WhoDeys made it in the top 10, checking in at #9.

-Speaking of football, a more serious finding arose this week. A research facility at WVU found that Chris Henry’s brain showed several signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE – a degenerative brain disorder brought on by multiple hits to the head. Brain trauma and head injuries have been a central concern of football officials at many different levels. Studies are ongoing to try and determine the links between behavior and CTE, but there was one quote in the story that really caught my eye:

But it doesn’t take a collision with another player for brain trauma to occur.
“The brain floats freely in your skull,” said Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist who is co-director of BIRI. “If you’re moving very quickly and suddenly stop, the brain bounces.”

So, essentially, Omalu is saying that being good at what you do could result in brain trauma. A wide receiver, running back or cornerback all need to be able to make quick cuts, go from sprinting to stopping in a split second. To find learn a good, crisp route could eventually lead to brain trauma is scary, as is the entire issue. It’s definitely one the NFL needs to keep a close eye on.

This guy played 612 holes of golf in one day to raise money for autism research. Apparently he can finish a par-4 in 90 seconds.

-According to sources “close to the situation,” LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh met over the weekend to discuss their futures and the possibility of the three of them teaming up on South Beach to play for the Miami Heat. That’d be scary to see those three in a starting line-up, but I still wonder how three MVP candidates would deal with less touches in each game.

-Party Mardy has signed with the Rams. His agents made the announcement on Twitter:

That four-year deal is reportedly worth $2.34 million. You’ve gotta feel great for a guy like Mardy, hands down my favorite Bearcat of all time. And any talk of Mardy gives me an excuse to post this video – and it is always worth it – so here’s his 99-yard kickoff return against Pitt last December.

-I know I already did my piece on the World Cup, but I don’t have any organization when it comes to this blog, so I’m going to touch on it again. How awesome was Lando’s goal in the 91st minute against Algeria? It was SO awesome. Some guy put together a montage of reaction videos from around the world. This is pretty freaking cool…and the music in the background makes it even more awesome.

It kind of makes me wish I had filmed my reaction when this happened:

-Looks like Lando might be making bank because of performances like that, too. He’s already getting a little more than $2 million from the LA Galaxy next season, but reports say Manchester City is willing to offer Donovan $4 million per year. Not a bad deal for America’s greatest footballer ever.

-While the best player in U.S. soccer history may be hitting paydirt, scored three goals in the World Cup and is heading home early, the best player in the world has yet to score a goal in South Africa. Still, as Joe Posnanski tells us, you can’t let that take away from the genius of Messi.

-Gordon Heyward hit it big in this past week’s NBA Draft. When he made it to Indy, who’d have honestly thought the lanky white kid from Butler would wind up a lottery pick? Now he’s gonna make bank in Utah. The kid looks like he’s barely graduated high school. Which brings me to my next point: his girlfriend actually did just graduate high school, making her one of, if not the youngest celebrity WAGs around. And make no mistake, this chick’s getting it done.

Well done, Gordon. Well done.

This guy‘s expecting big things from the Bengals’ linebackers this season.

-Some Australian guy proposed to his girlfriend. She said she’d marry him…but only if he completed an Iron Man competition first. Absolutely ridiculous. I’d tell her to shove it, take the ring back and go play golf somewhere with my buddies and a brew. This guy’s gonna do it, though. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, I guess.

-American John Isner tells David Letterman the Top 10 things that were going through his mind during his marathon tennis match last week.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

-And now, finally, let’s move on to the first place Redlegs. They should be 1.5 games up on the Cards in the Central, but the Dbacks imploded last night. Still, first place is first place. Got down to GABP last night to watch the ‘Legs chalk up a 7-3 win over the Phillies. Scott Rolen hit his 300th home run, Johnny Cueto was strong on the mound and the defense was outstanding (including two SportsCenter Top 10 plays) and, once they figured out Kyle Kendrick, the bats got going and went strong. This team hit a rough patch, but it seems like they know how to handle the adversity that comes with it. They fought through that and still managed to stay in first in the NL Central. They started off a tough stretch well with their win last night, and they need to continue to play well until the All-Star Break. Cincinnati has to take on the Phillies this week, then go to Chicago for a four-game set, then head to New York to face the Mets, followed by another series with Philadelphia in Philly. The Cardinals, on the other hand, get Arizona, Milwaukee, Colorado and Houston over that same stretch. Of those teams, only Colorado has a record above .500, and they’re in fourth in the NL West. The Reds get the second and third place teams in the loaded NL East during that same stretch. I don’t want to make too much about a few series in early July, but these are important for the Reds in the NL Central race, especially considering the relatively easy road St. Louis gets during the same time period.

-ESPN.com says Sir Arthur is one of 30 “under the radar” All-Stars. It’s just mind-boggling to me how a guy with a 0.28 ERA is considered “under the radar.”

-Several Reds are creeping up All-Star ballots. Scott Rolen’s moved up to fourth, and Brandon Philipps, Jonny Gomes, Joey Votto and Orlando Cabrera are all hanging on to the final spots at their respective positions. I vote that all my readers Vote Reds right now!

That’s all I’m going to do for today. I’m tired of writing and Spain and Portugal play in about thirty minutes. Should be a great one…I recommend you tune in.

Now, I leave you with two awesome movie things.
First, this trailer is apparently being shopped around Hollywood. It looks absolutely amazing. If someone doesn’t pick this up, they’re nuts.

And second, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trailer has been released. And it is going to be…wait for it…LEGENDARY.

Altiora.