Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

I want Canada! You hear that , Old Man? You tell Canada to come here!

Friday Beer Post: Quick, Sink the Bismarck before zee Germans get here.

So today I checked in with one of my favorite worldwide breweries: Brew Dog. These Scottish brewing wizards are notorious for bringing strong, craft brewed beer to the British Isles. Until recently they had the distinction of brewing the strongest beer in the world. Called "Tactical Nuclear Penguin," it weighed in at an impressive 32% ABV. While some questioned weather or not it could actually be called "beer," most were just impressed with the gall and creativity of the brewers.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin from BrewDog on Vimeo.

As with all records, it was not to last, as German brewers from Schorschbraeu crated Schorschbock 40, conveniently containing approximately 40% ABV. With true Scottish pluck, BrewDog went back to the drawing board and came up with a whopper: A 41% quadruple IPA called "Sink the Bismarck!" (History geek aside: the Bismarck, as opposed to the 19th Century German Chancellor, was a gigantic German Battleship from WWII. It was the largest ship at time of construction. It was involved in one operation, sinking the HMS Hood, and provoking Winston Churchill to order the British Armed Forced to "Sink the Bismarck." When the British Navy caught up to the Bismarck, they fired near 3,000 shells at her before sending the beast to the bottom.) Quadruple IPA, eh? O.K., you have my undivided attention. Tell me more...

"Sink the Bismarck is a quadruple IPA that contains four times the hops, four times the bitterness and frozen four times to create at a staggering 41% ABV.

This is IPA amplified, the most evocative style of the craft beer resistance with the volume cranked off the scale. Kettle hopped, dry hopped then freeze hopped for a deep fruit, resinous and spicy aroma. A full out attack on your taste-buds ensues as the incredibly smooth liquid delivers a crescendo of malt, sweet honey, hop oils and a torpedo of hop bitterness which lasts and lasts." -link

After my post last week about my love of hops, and their use in my favorite style of beer: the IPA, you can see why I might be intrigued by such beer. I MUST HAVE THIS!

Sink the Bismarck! from BrewDog on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The sounds of spring: The inane chatter of reporters.

Watching hours of practice can be incredibly boring. I only go to one fall football practice a year because, quite frankly, attending practice is dumb. Considering this, I empathize with all of the sports beat writers across the world. For no particular reason, they are forced to attend practice, watch the same repetitious crap they saw yesterday, and then come up with something new to say about it. They are desperate for new angles, and anything that is even remotely newsworthy becomes 70pt font breaking news. I certainly don't envy them; writing about something when there is no story is brainrackingly difficult (See yesterday's post on 5 year old video games).

This is why you always hear random crap bantered about during spring training (Or Spring practice, or OTA's or Training Camp, or whatever the hell NASCAR has prior to the start of making left-hand turns). Minor incidents become the Yalta Talks. A tweaked thumb becomes career threatening. Fringe players, and the position "battles" that they partake in, suddenly become the next greatest player ever. (Example: The emergence of the "great" Rashied Davis in Bears camp a few years back) More than that, reporters are so desperate to actually "report" that they become mouthpieces for every "best shape of my career" story that's ever been written. It must suck their soul to write this crap, but if the Chicago Tribune or the Denver Post is going to pay your way to Arizona, then you better justify with with hard breaking new items like "Alex Rios looking to rebound from last year" (REALLY?!! .199 batting average was unacceptable in his eyes?!!) or "Jason Giambi shows up" (He Reported as scheduled, and wants to win? HOLY SHIT!) Seriously, the only value those two columns have is to remind me that those players are still with their respective teams.

All of that brings me to the kerfuffle over Ozzie Guillen's Twitter account, or, as the Trib decided to describe it as, "The White Sox Twitter Tiff: Guillen's new Tweets fuel followers and controversy." (Check him out here) What did Ozzie say on his Twitter account to bring about this controversy? Missives such as "3 day of Spring Training and im already boreddddddd" and "Iam tired from bad very bad golf." That's riveting stuff.

(Ozzie is not happy with his golf game, apparently. From: The bored Tribune)

I'm just... wow... just... wow. Even Mark Buehrle think this "controversy" is a load of horse-shit. "I could give two shits about it." (Thank you Mark. You just made my day.)

(Mark is too busy filling up his truck's gas tank to care about Ozzie Tweeting)

I know there is nothing going on right now, but lame stories like this are why I gave up on the "mysticism" that everyone insists Spring Training holds years ago. Yeesh, just get to the season already.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mississippi is cool?

HOLEEEESHIT! Quick, check this out.

If Ole Miss ends up being the Fightin' Admiral Ackbars, I may just have to re-think my whole attitude towards the south.


New Auto-Tune the News!

Watch and giggle...

Red Ring of Death, and the return of an old friend

Back at the beginning of this blog (has it really been 3 weeks?) I mentioned that I would be focusing on 3 things: sports, beer and video games. As of yet, I have made no mention of video games whatsoever. That ends today.

Tonight I'm expected to get my Xbox 360 back from Microsoft. 2 weeks ago I turned on my Xbox only to discover the dreaded 3 red lights signifying "General Hardware Failure." Basically the 3 red lights turn your Xbox into a giant off-white paperweight. This is my second experience with the 3 red lights.

(The Xbox will be in range in 5 minutes... link)

The vulnerability of the Xbox 360 hardware is a topic that has been beaten to death by gamer media. Many people have expressed outrage over the past 4 years that a major corporation shipped faulty product. In response, Microsoft has spent millions in providing free shipping and repairs for consoles that breakdown with the 3 flashing red lights. This is based on a 3-year warranty system extended from the purchase date of your console. Since my particular console was purchased roughly 2 1/2 years ago, I got my repairs and shipping provided free of charge.

Free is all well and good, but I've spent the past 2 weeks without my Xbox. So, in desperation, I turned to an old friend, my PS2. I found it collecting dust in a random desk drawer. In the quick turnover of the electronic world, we forget how awesome the PS2 was. The thing was a hoss: always turned on, rarely froze, never destroyed game/DVD discs (all 3 an issue with the Xbox). All-in-all a great piece of electronic design.

(Wow, it's an antique!)

Since I don't "game" in HD (I may be the last of my kind at this point) the transition to the previous generation of console wasn't as jarring as expected. PS2 was designed with standard definition in mind, so menus are clear and readable on my TV. The one thing I noticed right away is the lack of much depth to the visuals. Compared to current-gen machines, the PS2 seems 2D. Curve textures just weren't what they are on current game engines. Luckily I don't play much online, so the lack on online made no difference to me.

The games I primarily stuck to in my trip down memory lane were: GTA San Andreas, FIFA 07, and Red Dead Revolver.
  1. San Andreas stands up very well. Character graphics are a little clumsy, and obviously GTA4 has superior overall graphics. Story, what I play adventure/action games for, is as good as I remember, and the game maintains a great pace and feel. I miss the expansive feel of the game world, and, looking back, I wish they had incorporated that sense of space into GTA4
  2. FIFA 07 is a little bit of a disaster. FIFA 10 puts it to shame, both in terms of computer AI and controls. Game-play elements, like a manager mode that actually works, saved my experience, but the frustrating inability for computer controlled defender to follow their marks almost got me to throw my controller. In addition, the new version of FIFA has 360 degree movement controls, thereby feeling much less arcadey (I just made that word up). One thing to note: 07 had a better soundtrack and crosses sometimes worked!
  3. Red Dead Revolver was probably the best of the 3 trips down memory lane. This 3rd Person Shooter homage to classic spaghetti westerns was still fun and engaging. In retrospect, 5 years of control innovation has greatly helped out the shooter experience, but, wonky controls aside, the game still kicks ass. The upcoming sequel will be more of a "sandbox game" than a shooter(See the early 360 game "Gun" for reference point on the genre). The original, however, still has some life left to it if you're looking to kill a few hours.
I'm glad I kept my old PS2. As a back-up DVD player, it performs admirably, and classic games are still playable (Hell, every once in a while I'll bust out my N64 (*cough* emulator *cough*) and play through Zelda one more time). When my Xbox comes home later this evening, I'm sure I'll cast aside my old PS2 again, but at least I'll know that it will be there if needed to stave off boredom.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A real victory is not a moral victory.

Yesterday I rather flippantly referred to this week as a "lost week" for the CU Men's Basketball team. Considering that Coach Bz rather tersely jumped on a reporter's comments that the team doesn't have "a lot to play for," I feel that I should clarify my comment.

(Both Coach McClain and Coach Bz find you lack of perspective disturbing)

Writers love the story of the lost cause; the team sailing into the wind, and eeking out competitive fire from situations where hope is lost. It gives them something to write about. To me it makes sense that a reporter would view the Buffs from afar through the lens of "nothing to play for." But that view is as ignorant as the question.

In response to the reporter, Bz had this to say “I resent that statement that we don't have a lot of play for. We're very blessed to play college basketball and to do the things that we are allowed to do. ... We still have a winning season within our grasp.” That response says everything about the place the Buffs envision themselves as they reach the final stretch of the season. They are living the plan. The goal, as stated at the beginning of the season, is to be .500 and reach the postseason, and they are within reasonable reach of that goal. Any implication that this season has been a disappointment because their postseason opportunities don't include the "big dance" is short-sighted. The Buffs still have plenty to play for simply because their stated goal is within reach. Any business model tempers it's expectations with reality, and the reality is championship level programs are not built over night.

I have always steadfastly believed that the concept of a "moral victory" is a load of soccer-mom hog-wash. But, make no mistakes, CU making the post-season, any post-season, is not a moral victory. It is a serious right-of-passage on the road to building a successful program.

To meet the goal, CU needs to win 3 of its remaining 4 games. From a realistic perspective, it would be very difficult for the Buffs to go into Columbia, MO and take a win tomorrow night from a tough Missouri team (I expect difficulties playing with Missouri as long as Coach Bz is in town, much the same way that we will cause major difficulties for OU as long as Coach Bz is in town). That perspective on the upcoming game coupled with the concept of a currently-sub .500 team going on the road to face the #1 team in the land lead me to have low expectations for the week. This is why I referred to this week as "lost." If CU is going to win 3 more games, it probably won't be coming against this weeks slate of competition.

The following weeks, however, offer greater opportunities. The Buffs will have 2 home games against weaker opponents (ISU and Texas Tech) and a road game against a very weak Nebraska team. It is very conceivable that those three games will be three wins, giving the Buffs their .500 season record and a very good shot at making some post-season play. In addition, winning 3 of the next four would seriously improve our conference standing, possibly getting CU as high as the #8 seed in the upcoming Big XII tournament. That #8 seed would allow the Buffs to play a team like Tech or OU (teams they match up very well against) giving CU a pretty darn good shot at a win in Kansas City.

(Yes Coach Bz, it is a tall order, but I have faith)

All of these milestones (getting to .500, the post season, and winning a game in KC) lead to some serious team pride and momentum heading into next year. The program has some seriously high hopes for next year, and, if they can take the steps that Coach Bz hopes that they will take over the next few weeks, they will be in a good position to live up to those hopes. Couple that with groundbreaking on the new practice facility, the arrival of Shannon Sharpe, and another year of basically the same team and CU is definitely moving in the right direction. The Buffs aren't just playing out season, they have some legitimate things to play for, and the normally patient Jeff Bzdelik is right for calling out anyone who can't see that.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Quick Post: What NBC's Leno promo should've been

I'm still bitter about this whole mess...

Monday Grab Bag: Part 2, the "bag" strikes back

For all those things that happened over the past weekend that didn't involve patriotism on ice...

Johnny Damon spurns Sox for Detroit: The sub-head is a little misleading. Not for a second did I think we'd actually get him. Check out Sox GM Kenny Williams quote on the matter:

"Well, I think you see he did very well for himself,'' Williams said. ''He gets to train in Florida, and that's where he wanted to be. Had we gotten into it a little bit earlier and had I known that was really an overriding factor, then maybe we could have considered moving camp out to Orlando and set up shop to accommodate him. It was a little too late for that. We had everyone here." (link)

When Kenny drops the sarcasm, and Scott Boras is involved, you know Kenny was either jerked or jerking around. Boras used him to get and extra $2 million guaranteed, no deferred money, and a no-trade clause out of Detroit. Good for Johnny. Now the real question is: did we want/need Johnny at this point? Not really. He would've been the 6th outfielder on the roster (thereby keeping an extra pitcher in the minors), and basically wasted all the off-season money spent on Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones. Thinking of Damon before throwing money at Jones and Kotsay would've been the ideal situation. The only really terrible part of the whole situation is that he's going to a division rival that we'll have to play all summer. The fact that it was Detroit, and not some non-AL Central team, negotiating with Johnny was probably the only reason we got involved in the first place.

Herm Schneider is the best trainer in baseball: Please take a look at this. Hard-core Sox fans have long known that Herm Schneider (I call him "Dutchie") is one of the best athletic trainers in all of baseball. Now we have stats to back this up. The Sox have lost just 6% of their payroll to injuries from 2002-2009. That's BEST IN BASE
BALL. In a purely baseball sense, colintj at SouthSideSox has figured that Herm, and his staff, are worth 2-4 wins per year because of their ability to keep the players on the field. Just incredible!

(Herm, Frank, and some guy. Lookin' good Dutchie!)

Buffs vs Sasnak: I'm betting the team had written off this week's road trip before it even began. As long as they end the season on a 3-game winning streak, they'll make the post-season (either NIT or CBI) and finish with a .500 record. My only problem with Saturday: why was KU whupping CU the 2nd story on SportsCenter? Saturday wasn't that slow of a sports day. Is the #1 team in the land laying the wood to a sub-.500 team at home really that big of a story? I had to watch my beloved CU Men's BBall team get killed all night long. That's a low blow ESPN.

LeBron to Bulls: The Bulls have positioned themselves to be one of the teams in the LeBron sweepstakes this offseason. The Bulls are in the bottom 5 in terms of salary commitments for next year (The Knicks have the lowest salary commitment), and are desperate to bring in one of the big-ticket free agents this off-season. Earlier this morning I heard someone postulating that LeBron to Chicago makes perfect sense. On the surface I would agree with this. Chicago is a major market, have a young superstar point guard (Derrick Rose), have a championship history, and have a rabid fan-base. LeBron is the best thing since Michael Jordan, so why not play in the house that MJ built? But that's just the problem. By going to the United Center, LeBron would put himself directly under MJ's shadow. If he were to go to New York or L.A. (Clippers), LeBron wouldn't be saddled with the direct MJ comparisons, and would have the franchise to himself. (I assume this is ultimately why Kobe to the Bulls was never going to happen a few years back) New York is probably the best bet for Bron Bron's final destination. Since when has anyone actually wanted to be Clipper?

Monday Grab Bag (Olympic edition): Ryan Miller slayed the fearsome Canadian Dragon

USA v Canada grab bag now, other grab bag later...

USA vs Canada (in hockey): I was absolutely enthralled by the hockey Sunday night. I'd been waiting for the USA v Canada game since the Olympics began. I'm not one for judged individual sports, so the Olympics can be a little boring for me. But the wait was paid off in a big way last night. Forget the fact that it wasn't an elimination game, or that this was basically an NHL All-Star game with different colored uniforms, that was an excellent exhibition of hockey last night. The scrappy Americans (if you can really call a team of millionaires "scrappy") defeated the hometown favorite super-powered Canadians in an extremely exciting and engaging game. In the aftermath, everyone has been focusing on the underdog story, and comparisons to the '80 team. While I find that angle painfully lazy, if that's what it takes to get the average sports fan in 'Murika to care about hockey, then so be it. I find hockey to be such a fantastic sport. Much like soccer (futbol), I feel like it gets placed on the back-burner of our collective sporting conciousness because of the alien nature of the game. Not only did we not invent the sport, but we are no where close to being the best in the world at it (although, unlike soccer (futbol), the best teams in the world compete in meaningful contests on American soil). While I am not naive enough to convince myself that one rather meaningless win will increase the profile of hockey in this country, it is good to see hockey dominating the headlines. Even the Stanley Cup winner isn't guaranteed to be the lead ESPN story anymore.

(A few of the "happy humans" from last night. From: ESPN)

Ryan Miller is awesome: How good was he last night? I believe the phrase is: "He was standing on his head." Sure he got a lot of help from his team-mates, and their aggressive defense, but he was absolutely huge. But huge was what he needed to be if the US was going to win. Everyone, in their comparisons of the game to the "Miracle on Ice," points to the fact that good goal-tending was the key to the victory. Of course it was. Have you ever heard of a hockey upset that didn't include good goal-tending? Ryan miller certainly lived up to the gargantuan task before him, only allowing 3 goals while the US was out shot 45-23 (!).

Crosby and Brodeur Fail: What a letdown from two of the best in the world at their respective positions. Crosby was -3 for the evening (remember my plus/minus rant from last week?), but, when you consider he scored a goal, was on the ice for 4 US goals. Especially considering the outstanding play Alex Ovechkin had just hours earlier on the same ice, Sid was a major letdown for Team Canada. Plus/minus is certainly not an absolute indicator of performance, but Sid the Kid look kerfuffled by the USA's active defense all game. At even strength, he seemed to be off his game. Marty Brodeur, the winningest NHL goalie ever, let in 4 goals in 22 shots. Excuse me? That's just pathetic. All across Canada this morning, people are questioning Marty's ability to compete at this level anymore. The absence of the Trapezoid certainly didn't help Marty, as he got caught out of net on a number of occasions. With home-town favorite Roberto Luongo waiting in the wings, I bet a switch may be in the near future.

MSNBC; the place where NBC dumps events it would rather you not watch: NBC somehow decided that its best ratings would come with bobsled and tape-delayed skiing on network television. Huh? The entire nation gets the Russia v Czech Republic game in HD on the main channel, but USA v Canada is relegated to the mostly non-HD MSNBC? USA v Canada on regular-NBC would've (should've) been huge. The IOC placed that game in prime-time on Sunday night for a reason, SHOW THE DAMN GAME! Instead the west coast only got the final minutes of the game, tape-delayed of course, on regular NBC. Are they trying to make people mad at them?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hunter S. Thompson is not happy with your wiring skills.

I post this particularly because Hunter S. Thompson was crazy awesome. Enjoy, and Happy Friday!

Friday Beer Post: I got an IPA jones.

For those of you who don't know, I love IPA's (India Pale Ale for those uninitiated). It's my style of choice. While, as I mentioned previously on this particular inter-tube, I don't like to pigeon-hole my beer love, I will confess that I favor IPA's over all others. (it's no coincidence that I chose to highlight the IPA championship last week) It's the hops! Mmmmm, I love hops! The more the better! At times bitter, fruity, floral, spicy, and earthy, hops bring the awesome to any beer party And no beer style shows off the fantastic character of the hop quite like the IPA.

(Probably my favorite IPA label. Comes from the Clay Pipe Brewing Company in Maryland)

Historically, the IPA was made famous through trade from England to India via the East India Company around the late 18th century. The length of the journey from England to India required the beer to have a certain "survivability" that the higher alcohol and large amount of hops provide. While the first true IPA is widely acknowledged to be the "October Beer" from George Hodgson's Bow Brewery in England, the style quickly gained in popularity. (There's a good write-up on the history of the style here.)

It's no wonder, because of the inherent high hop content, that the style became extremely popular amongst the brewers of the modern-day Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Northwest is known for growing hops (They even have a hop museum! Here.), and the region took to the style like no other. These varieties are ofter referred to as West-Coast IPA's, and tend to lay heavily on the more bitter and citrus-y flavors of the hops (which I like).

Personally, I enjoy the American take on the IPA over the more traditional styles. Varieties like Stone IPA, Avery IPA, Hop Devil from Victory, and Green Flash's West Coast IPA are typically what I gravitate toward if available. When I try out a new brewery, I more often than not judge them on their ability to create an enjoyable IPA. If you can't make the IPA work for you, I almost don't want to try anything else you have to offer.

While I realize that, for some, hops can be overpowering at first, I do encourage that everyone give the hop, and specifically the IPA style, a chance. The flavor really is like no other.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nate Tommlinson is better than the drunk guy who sits behind me thinks

It's common knowledge amongst casual CU basketball fans that Nate Tomlinson is terrible. I often hear complaints whenever he goes on the court, particulary from this one drunk dude who sits behind me. The thing is, this common knowledge is completely incorrect; Nate is the straw that stirs the CU basketball drink, and I've got stats to prove it!

(He's better than you think! From; The BDC)

I may have overstated my case in the lead. Obviously production from Al Burks, Cory Higgins, and Marcus Relphorde is integral to any CU victory; it's just that without the emerging point-guard-awesome that Nate can bring to the table, those three guys would be stuck in neutral. It's evident to the eye that there is a definitive change in team tempo and attitude when Nate is on the court. He, as the point guard, conducts the train. Seriously, really sit and watch the next CU game. Notice any difference between the team when Nate is running the show and the team when, say, Dwight Thorne is running it? The unit is more cohesive, they have more direction, and a better performance comes out of it.

Eyesight, especially in today's stat-driven sport world, doesn't tell the whole story. One of my favorite stats in basketball is the plus-minus stat. It's a transfer from hockey that has made an impact on the stat world of NBA junkies. It basically says weather the team scores more or less than their opponents when a given player is on the court. It can be a time-intensive venture to compile this stat for college basketball. With over 300 teams, and hundreds of games every week, plus/minus can be a bear to compile. Luckily, for the purposes of this diatribe, someone went through all of that trouble for me. The Blog has a great rundown of this stat from the half-way point of the current season (Big hat tip to Jon Nichols for putting this together). Unfortunately, because the creator of this blog can no longer keep the stat sheet updated, the last update is from January 27th, but, for our purposes here, the final sheet will suffice. (This will take us up through the A&M Loss on the 23rd)
  1. Nate Tomlinson 8.4 4.5 -3.9 95 1675
  2. Alec Burks 8.4 4.3 -4.0 97 1907
  3. Marcus Relphorde 2.4 -5.1 -7.5 68 1654
  4. Austin Dufault -0.3 -2.6 -2.3 51 1512
  5. Cory Higgins -4.6 -2.4 2.2 61 2129
  6. Dwight Thorne -6.0 -2.5 3.5 16 1301
(First number is total +/-, then overall offensive +/-, overall defensive +/- (minus is good here), total real point value of +/-, and finally total possessions. I've left a few players out who, frankly, don't have the number of possessions necessary to have statistical relevance.)

As you can see, not only does Nate tie for the team lead, but Cory Higgins and Dwight Thorne, the others most frequently tasked with point-guard duties when Nate is on the bench, struggle mightily in the category. The point is, when Nate is on the court, CU does well.

Going further, the stat-geek paradise blog has some additional stats to support Nate. (These stats are updated as to last night.) He leads the team in assist rate (percentage of teammate field goals he assists on) and true field goal percentage (Interestingly, he is in the top 40 in the nation in this stat which basically measures how good of a shooter you are across all shooting disciplines (i.e. 3-point, field-goal, and free-throw)).

All of this leads me to last night. Nate was in fine form during CU's 77-67 victory over Oklahoma (A team weirdly picked to finish 3rd in the conference). Not only did he fill up the stat sheet (13 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists), Nate's effective game enabled CU to stick to a strategy of run-and-gun. CU had a 27-6 edge in fast break points, owing both to this strategy and the 8 rebounds Nate collected. Nate was able to both grab the rebound, and kick-start the fast-break by throwing some superb outlet passes. On some of them, he looked like the quarterback the football team has been missing the past 3 years. Looking deeper, the fact that CU assisted on 19 of 28 baskets shows the team was passing the ball around effectively, which goes back to Nate's efficient play-calling and game management. Offensively, Nate grabbed the team by the collar; directing traffic, and, when needed, hitting a clutch 3-pointer late in the game to kill off a late OU rally.

Sure, sometimes the Australian can lose his head a bit (especially late in games). He sends passes in odd directions and makes weird decisions. (Also, since he is the only true point-guard healthy at the moment, his success may just be a product of the fact that he's all we have at such an integral position.) But, currently, the team is better off when he is on the court. You only have to look deeper to see the truth.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Let them have court rushing.

This may be a little random (like anything else I focus on isn't?), but I've been sitting on this for a few weeks. ESPN, in all of its glory, annoys the shit out of me. My primary complaint is the schtick that all ESPN personalities feel they need to have in order to convey information. Mike and Mike are prime examples (One is fat and likes manly things, the other is skinny and metro-sexual! The only way to get laughs is to constantly refer to this!). Chris Berman is another (I make up funny nicknames and make loud noises! Aren't I the best broadcaster ever? Look! I caught a pass in a Buccaneers uniform! Also, get skinny with this weight-loss program, and then get fat again at Applebees!). Even my beloved Bobby Knight, he of the never-ending knowledge of basketball, sticks to his gimmick like a toddler and a blankey (I had disputes with refs during my career, therefore I hate them, and think they're stupid! Laugh along with Brent Musberger as I talk about this!) But of all the ESPN personalities with over-powering gimmick syndrome, Dickie V is, by far mind you, the worst. (LOL, he talks constantly about his baldness and poor eye-sight, is constantly energetic, loves Duke and the ACC, and is old! He's awesome baby! And don't forget to watch this clip of Jim Valvano talking about his cancer for the 20,000th time! Also, eat at Hooters!)

(Dick Vitale in his natural element, yucking it up with Duke fans)

I can't stand Dickie V. Maybe that's part of the appeal to some, but to me he is unimformative, and a distraction to the aesthetics of the game. His unending enthusiasm is his largest drawback in my eyes. He's too busy OOOOOOOOOing and moaning and playing his role to actually break down the game in any meaningful way. I've come to accept that I don't like Dickie V, and I avoid watching games he covers whenever possible. Which brings me to the Illinois v Michigan St. game from earlier this month.

I watched because my roommate is in to MSU, and I am an Illinois Basketball fan from way back. Unfortunately, Dickie V was the color analyst for the game. Dickie V was in fine form, let me tell you. Talking in his barely comprehensible horse croak, moaning after ever drive to the basket, nearly fainting after nearly basket, etc. When Illinois won, beating a top 5 Michigan St. team, the students (who, if you're unfamiliar with Assembly Hall in Champaign-Urbana, stand not 3-feet from the court) rushed the court. This was predictable in my eyes. I like it when a student section rushes after a big home win. It shows energy and engagement from the student body. It also adds to the atmosphere of a big game. More importantly, it's an opportunity for the kids to have good, clean fun. As long as the defeated opponent is significantly better (or higher-ranked) than you are, the students should rush, in my opinion. Dickie V, on the other hand, was not impressed.

He repeatedly slammed the Illinois student body for rushing the court, even calling the act disgraceful. Wow, is Dickie V stupid. I'm sick and tired of old white guys trying to rain on the fun of sports. Vitale repeatedly cited that kids could get hurt, and that it was a danger to the players and officials. Really? Kids rush the court/field at major victories every week. When's the last time you've heard of someone getting hurt during a court/field rush? I imagine, since there are many who share the sentiments of Dickie V (including the SEC who fine schools who allow their kids to rush the court/field), that any such incident would be trumpeted from the hilltops as proof that college-aged kids, properly lubed, are dangerous and deserve to be penned in. His stance is as full-of-it as his schtick is.

I guess my first mistake was watching the game with the volume up, I won't make that mistake with any Dickie V game I decide to watch again. But his presumption that the refs, or the players, should fear for their lives in the face of happy 20-somethings is naive, and reeks of typical "Turn that music down and get off my lawn" old-guy grousing.

It should also be noted that Vitale was later seen, after the ESPN cameras had been turned off, yucking it up on the court with those same Illini fans he found so dangerous moments prior. Yeesh, is that guy lame.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's sad 'cause it's true

I encourage you to follow the link below, then join me in drinking dangerously large amounts of booze...


(Updated) Monday Grab Bag (on a Tuesday): Olympic Edition or Oh, Canada: Olympic Facepalm

Update: The NY times has a good writeup of the difficulties that the Vancouver games have been having. Link.

Yesterday was a holiday, so the grab bag has been pushed back a day. Today's grab bag will have a more singular focus: the general suckitude of the Vancouver Winter Olympics up to this point. Granted, it's only been a weekend, but the level of facepalm and bad luck that transpired over the past 4 days needs to be noted.

Luge Accident: The games got off to a horrific and tragic start on Friday when Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili slid off the Olympic sliding track and collided with a series of support beams. Even before the games had opened, the entire Olympic Games had a shadow cast upon it. To compound the horror of the incident, the IOC went about blaming the athlete in an attempt to distance themselves from culpability. Whether the accident could be blamed on Kumaritashvili or not, to publicly denounce the man as a poor and inexperienced luger mere hours after his death, especially in an attempt to blame-shift, comes off as callous and downright mean spirited. To then go about changing the course to lower speeds and wall off previously exposed supports comes off as hypocritical. It may be that Nodar's inexperience was to blame for his untimely death, but that doesn't mean the IOC should go running to tell that to the world. They could've just as easily held an investigation after the games and announced their findings quietly.

Opening Ceremonies: Under the shadow of the luge tragedy, the show, as they say, went on. After hours of slam poetry (of all things), flags, and K.D. Lang (We couldn't have gotten Rush? Seriously the portion with the trees and interpretive dance could've been replaced by Rush rockin' "The Trees." Hey Canada, if you've got the club in your bag, you should be prepared to use it.) we got the the ubiquitous torch lighting ceremony. Problem is, it went off rather half-cocked. Only 3 of the planed 4 bases could be raised, and the malfunction proceeded to hold up the show for minutes while the 4 torchbearers held their positions. Forget for a second the fact that they were holding the ceremony indoors (WTF?!), the image of Wayne Gretzky standing there with a look that can best be described as "Facepalm without the ability to palm ones face" was absolutely priceless.

(Via Deadspin)
NBC then proceeded to yammer on over the next few hours about how the following truck ride to the "real" torch outside made up for the indoor torch failure. It didn't. There should've only been one torch to begin with, and a pick-up truck ride to a second torch, through the pouring rain, shouldn't have been necessary. Which brings me to my next point...

Poor weather: After a week of Fox News telling America that snowstorms in the Mid-Atlantic region prove that Global Warming is a lie (suck it Al Gore?), it's been interesting to note the relatively terrible weather in the general Whistler/Vancouver area. Obviously weather has little to do with climate change, but throughout the weekend Vancouver was socked with rain, relatively warm temperatures, and sunlight. It was colder in Dallas for Pete's sake! The snow on the downhill runs was so inconsistent that the organizers had to repeatedly push back the start of the down hill competition. Puddles were forming on the infamous luge track due to sunlight, but organizers couldn't turn down the temperature on the course for fear of frost forming (which apparently causes inconsistent sliding, as if slushy ice would be better). The mogul run was a slushy mess; Gold Medalist Hannah Kearney repeatedly referred to it as "wet" in her press conference. My guess is that inconsistent temperatures and snowfall was not what the organizers had hoped for. The IOC dodged a bullet in 1998 when snow finally started falling in Nagano in the weeks leading up the the games; not so lucky this time. Temperatures finally started falling over the past few days, however, and the hope is that consistent conditions may finally show themselves.

Faux-Zamboni failure: Last night the Men's 500m speed skating competition was held up for hours as 3 Olympia ice making machines failed to properly repair the surface. Ruts left all over the ice made skating near impossible. Organizers had gone with the all-electric Olympia machines over the traditional (and awesome) propane powered Zamboni machines in an attempt to "green-up" the Olympics. US skater Shani Davis even withdrew from the competition saying "bad ice is bad ice." Here's my point: where the fuck are the Zamboni's? Now's not the time to be experimenting with a new type of ice-making machine. It's the Olympics. Billions of Canadian Dollars have been sunk into this event, and you decide to go without the industry standard in ice-making machinery? No offense to Olympia, which I'm sure is a fine and capable company, but now's not the time to be calling somebody up from the minors. People have written songs about Zamboni's, I haven't heard any odes to the beloved Olympia. In addition, they're having to ship in Zamboni's from Calgary. Vancouver, in hockey-mad Canada, has no God's Honest Zamboni's? I'm calling BS.

Yet another Olympic judging controversy: It's widely known that coming into these Olympics, Canada had yet to win an Olympic Gold Medal on home turf. Which brings me to the goings on of the Men's Moguls Finals. Alex Bilodeau broke through for good ole Canada, even besting Australian Spam-mogul (no pun intended) Dale Begg-Smith (native born Canadian, who turned his back on his country to spend more of his time creating pop-ups to annoy people. When watching the event live, I thought for sure Begg-Smith (who was the defending gold-medalist) had won, even going as far as to say "That's a gold-medal run right there" when he hit the finish line, yet the gold went to Bilodeau. An Australian official suspected malfeasance, saying “My own opinion is that probably Alex is not capable of a 4.8 or a 4.9 [on his turns], because five is a perfect score." It's not unheard of for judges to get influenced by a crowd; to let emotions sway their scores. I wouldn't be surprised if that happened in this case. Bilodeau's run was good, I just felt Begg-Smith performed better. I generally dislike judged events, precisely for this reason. Canada gets their gold medal, but was he really the best on the day?

NBC's tape-delay idiocy: While not necessarily a part of the string of Olympic bad luck, many are frustrated with NBC's persistence that American's don't want to watch live coverage of Olympic events. Deadspin gives a pretty comprehensive run-down of the displeasure here. The money quote:

"In the age of DVRs, Hulu, and mobile phone scoreboards, the pointlessness of NBC's broadcast strategy—Olympics and otherwise—has never been more obvious. People don't eat dinner during Nightly News then settle in for three hours of prime-time network programming anymore. They want things when they want them, not when NBC wants them. Even the network knows this. Another reader wrote to me saying that we should post the results of events as they happen to shame NBC and ruin their "secret" prime-time specials. And we totally would—if NBC didn't already do it for us. They aren't ignorant, just stubborn."

It's just plain idiotic the way NBC has handled their coverage the past few years. When ESPN uses their "pact with the devil" money to wrest coverage rights away from them in the upcoming years, maybe I'll finally get to see events live (OMG!). Every time Costas gives some leading innuendo about what we're about to watch, a little part of my sports-fan soul dies. It's no wonder their ratings are suffering, everyone already knows the outcomes. Sports are only fun because of the unpredictability; the illusion that anything can happen. Costas, with his knowing smirk and lead-in, kills that illusion, and it's painful to watch.

The Chicago Curse: I can't help but wonder, while watching these Olympics stumble out of the gate, could the epic snubbing of the Chicago bid for the 2016 Summer games be paying the IOC a karmic bitch-slap? Maybe the Rio bid, and its emotional pull of the first games to be held is South America, makes for a better story, but Chicago would've held a first rate Olympic party. Chi-town certainly didn't deserve to be the first bid voted out. I bring this up because there has to be some reason that the Vancouver games have had this massive of a stretch of bad luck. The good people of Canada are too hard-working, earnest, and friendly to have earned this on their own. So I'm going to choose to lay the blame at the feet of the evil IOC.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Beer Post: BRACKETS!

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: American's love brackets. We just get brackets. The egalitarian culling of the herd through merit; from many to one. We bracket everything. Playoffs, pop culture opinions; you name it, and we'll bracketize it. About the only thing we love more than brackets are lists, but that's a whole 'nother post...

With this in mind, I'd like to call your attention to The National IPA Championship. (A mighty hat-tip to my buddy Rick for bringing this to my attention. Rick writes for the Denver Examiner on all things craft brewing, and you can read more of his stuff here.) This is the most awesom-ist idea that ever awesomed. 128 IPA's are going head-to-head to determine the best in the Nation. I'm actually rather giddy over this. You want to talk beer variety: 128 IPA's! Thas a lotta variety!

So head on over, kill some time, and fill out your brackets. By filling out your brackets on-line, you can enter the contest, and, if you win, they'll send you a free case of beer!

While I'm rather partial to hometown hero Avery, and their ubiquitous "Avery IPA," I've also enjoyed Deschutes' "Inversion IPA," Lagunitas' "Maximus," Stone's "Stone IPA," and Great Divide's "Titan." I'm not even going to pretend that I've even heard of most of the 128, so I'll be taking a stab in the dark on most match-ups. It'll sure be fun though! Could you imagine tasting all of these?!

Have a great 3-day weekend!

There goes my hero, watch him as he goes.

Before I get to the "Friday Beer Post," I'd be remiss if I didn't comment on the announcement today by Frank Thomas that he is retiring from baseball.

It's extremely interesting to watch how players approach the end of their careers. Some bow out too early (Jim Brown or Barry Sanders come to mind), some bow out too late (Willie Mays is a prime example), while others make multiple attempts at quitting, as if they're trying to kick a bad habit (Michael Jordan, and almost every boxer in history are good examples of this type). It basically comes down to weather you're able to call it quits for yourself, or if other people call it quits for you. Frank has it both ways.

Since his last game in August of '08, there hasn't even been a whiff of playing time for "The Big Hurt." Basically the management in baseball had done the whole "retiring" business for Frank. But in typical Frank Thomas fashion, he was going to have the last word, hell or high water. So today Frank is "announcing" his retirement. In typical Ozzie Guillen fashion, after publicly praising Hurt, Ozzie decided to publicly poke Frank by saying "I never officially announced my retirement [as a player], either -- I never did. So I would like to announce my retirement tonight, too.'' (If that doesn't sum up the hilarious, some time contentions, relationship those two have had over the past 20 years, I don't know what will)

(Frank and Ozzie. Smiling wasn't necessarily typical of their relationship. From: the Trib)

I am focusing on this today because Frank Thomas, and his unbelievable ability to hit a baseball, was the hero of my youth. Growing up in the Chicago area, I fell in love with the way Frank approached hitting. I modeled my stance in little league off of his (start standing straight up, crouch on approach, weight on the front foot, back leg off, one hand finish), I bought Fleer baseball cards because he was sponsored by them. He was one of two athletes who ever got a poster up on my wall (Dan Marino was the other). I had Big Hurt Reebok cleats. I even chewed his brand of bubble-gum. If everyone has someone they want to be when they grow up, Frank Thomas was that person for me.

(You better believe I had this game. Works with Windows 95!)

It was the little things that I remember most about Frank. The 5-pound iron rebar pole he swung in the on deck circle, and. The omnipresent wad of chewing gum . The hitch in his throwing motion (which I, of course, picked up). The way he'd drop his ass, fling his bat out, and drop a single over the first baseman's head on a waste pitch. And, of course, his near perfect batting eye (he walked more times than he struck out over his career).

(His perch on-deck. Note the iron pole.)

The last time I saw him live was his fist game in Chicago wearing another teams jersey (Oakland). Before his first at bat, the crowd gave him a richly deserved standing ovation for his 16 years in a Sox uniform. He then proceeded to hit a bomb off of Jon Garland. The crowd, obligingly gave him another standing ovation as he trotted around the bags. During his next at-bat, the crowd again rises to its feet, he hits another bomb off of Garland, and, yet again, we gave him a standing-o. It couldn't have happened any better (and the Sox still won).

Towards the end of his career, Frank also became one of the leaders of the anti-steroids movement. In March of '05, while Mark McGwire wasn't willing to talk about the past, Rafael Palmeiro was wagging his finger at Congress, and Sammy Sosa was forgetting how to speak English, Frank was jumping through hoops to get his testimony in. He was the only active player to openly cooperate with the Mitchel Report. He consistently spoke out against his peers use of performance enhancing drugs, and, even though he was constantly plagued by injuries and forced to watch those same users pass him by on the field, he never gave in to the temptation to use. He played the game clean. This makes his un-enhanced performance all the more remarkable.

Frank will have to wait until 2014 to take his rightful place in Cooperstown. Let me assure you, as one of the only great players from the past era of baseball to play the game clean, his .300 average, back-to-back MVPs and 500+ home runs will get him in. After all, he may have been the closest we'll ever come to a right-handed Ted Williams. I hope to be there when he goes in, almost as a bow on the end of my childhood.

I'll end with this quote by his former hitting instructor Walt Hriniak. "He was the best of his era and he was clean,'' Hriniak said. "That means something.''

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Buffs and the Pac-10

The news that every serious buff fanatic had been hearing for months has finally hit the mainstream: There is a chance that the CU (along with Utah) could head to the Pac-10 as part of a re-alignment and expansion plan. A full write-up on the plan can be found here. I, for one, can't wait for this to happen, and I'll tell you why...

1) CU is a much better fit in the Pac-10 culturally and academically. Currently CU is in a conference where the other members hold a vastly different cultural mindset. As a collective, CU is seen as a bunch of weirdo hippie freaks by their BigXII compatriots. How could the members of the Pac-10 see CU as weird when 2 of their core member schools reside in the general San Francisco area. They don't call it the left coast for nothing. Hell, Berkley makes Boulder look like straight-laced conservatives by comparison. It also gets CU away from schools like K-State and Texas Tech who put far less emphasis on scholastic achievement (they fail English, which is unpossible).

2) It'll help out with the current athletic funding disparity. Let's be honest, the rest of the BigXII takes athletics far to seriously for CU to compete on an even playing field. The BigXII is slowly, but surely, turning into the SEC (or the new version of the Southwest Conference, however you want to look at it). Big money, little respect for the rules and a whole lot of hyper-competitive egos running around. CU will never, ever, be able to compete on an equal playing field financially with Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and even Kansas. The Buffs just can't raise that level of cash. Cal, Oregon St, UW, WSU, and Arizona are much more CU's speed. The fact is that money equals success in college athletics. A move to the Pac-10 moves the Buffs from the bottom of the BigXII financial basement to the middle of the pack out west.

3) Money. I imagine that the new television deal for the Pac-10 will be huge. With the inclusion of Salt Lake City and Denver, the Pac-10 would cover some huge media markets. Denver, SLC, Southern California, San Francisco, Portland, Phoenix, and Seattle. Any TV deal with this new "Pac-12" would be massive, and CU would get a sizable chunk of that new pie.

4) Recruiting and Alumni. Playing more games in California and all points west will help our recruiting, which in recent years has become primarily West coast focused (although Hawk has expanded current recruiting, such as it is, to Ohio and New Jersey). Playing games in areas where you recruit raises your, which in turn makes it easier for the Buffs to get their foot in the door. Also, a large chunk of CU's Alumni base resides in So-Cal, and they'd love to see their Buffs play more local games... maybe CU will finally be able to get the "poor traveling school" monkey off their backs.

5) Easier travel to games, better destinations. This is both for the teams and for spectators. It can be damn tough to get to some BigXII schools (As anyone who has tried to get to Ames, IA can attest). A flight from Denver to LA or Seattle is much easier and cheaper to get than one to whatever airport Lubbock uses. This could theoretically help out the athletic department budget. Also, no one will miss less-than-exciting destinations like Manhattan, KS and Waco, TX. Seriously, if you wouldn't trade visits to Lincoln, NE and Lubbock, TX for trips to Eugene, OR and Seattle, WA, then you need to have your head examined.

6) Ahem...

About the only drawback I can see is the loss of the rivalry with Nebraska. If only Mike Bohn hadn't signed that idiotic contract with CSU this past year, he could swap them for the nubs and have the best of both worlds. Oh, well.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ozzie Guillen is a baseball genius

In September of 2008 I took a vacation to Manhattan. I mostly went because my beloved White Sox were in town, and this would be my last opportunity to visit Yankee Stadium (version 1.2). The thing I most remember from my Yankee Stadium visit was the drunk dude sitting behind me. I was wearing my Ozzie Guillen Jersey (With the '05 world series patch - Best Gift Ever!), and, as drunken hecklers are wont to do, this drunken idiot had decided to use what was directly in front of him to heckle. The only thing is, he had no idea who my jersey was referencing.

Throughout the game all I heard was "Jose Guillen sucks! Who gets a Jose Guillen Jersey?! I didn't even know he played for the White Sox! Jose Guillen, Jose Guillen!" and so forth. Now, Jose Guillen, despite being payed quite a lot of money by various baseball teams over the past decade, does indeed suck. Ozzie Guillen, on the other hand, is a extremely good baseball manager with a championship on his resume.

(This is Jose Guillen presumably flying out softly to shallow left field)

(This is Ozzie Guillen, even he thinks Jose sucks)

Obviously I shouldn't take drunken ranting to heart, but it does bring to mind an interesting point: Ozzie Guillen, beyond being underrated, is simply forgotten in the conversation of the game's best managers. While I'm certainly biased, allow me a moment to delve into this.

Ozzie is constantly derided by the upper-echelons of baseball writing society. I imagine this is mostly due to his lack of native command of the English language. Also, he loves to swear, in both English, Spanish and his own Ozzie language (Seriously, he talks so fast it becomes its own language). I think its easy for baseball writers (many of them elitist and self-righteous) to sub-consciously discriminate against Ozzie because of this. It certainly doesn't help matters that Ozzie has had some public media battles, and is quick to use hyperbole and expletives to ad-hominously slur his detractors. (I find this hilarious)

The fact of the matter is that he guides his teams to success time and time again, and I'm not just talking about the '05 World Series or the '08 Central Division title. The Sox under Ozzie have routinely beaten expectations. PECOTA (a statistics based baseball prediction system devised by stat genius Nate Silver) is the modern statistical equivalent of the crystal ball. The system predicts the performance of every player and team for the upcoming season. Every year baseball fans wait breathlessly to see the PECOTA break-down of the upcoming season. It is often scarily accurate... except when it comes to the White Sox under Ozzie Guillen. Since the arrival of Ozzie in '04, The White Sox have beaten PECOTA in 5 out of 6 years. Check this out:
  • '04 - Beat PECOTA by 4 games
  • '05 - Beat PECOTA by 19 games (World Series Win)
  • '06 - Beat PECOTA by 8 games
  • '07 - Equaled PECOTA (Man did that team suck, I blame Jay Mariotti)
  • '08 - Beat PECOTA by 12 games (Division Title)
  • '09 - Beat PECOTA by 8 games
(67WMAQ at southsidesox provided the info and inspiration. Check it out.)

That's 51 games better than predicted over his tenure with the Sox. While I don't have a PECOTA subscription, and therefore can't delve into the numbers in greater detail, one would have to assume that this compares favorably to the rest of baseball.

Basically, Ozzie makes his teams better than expected. Success like this over one or two years could be considered an anomaly, but the better part of a decade? That's statistical relevance, my friends.

(Laughing Ozzie appears courtesy of ESPN)

I will always stick up for Ozzie. Not only did he finally bring a title to the South Side, but he was one of my favorite players growing up, so feel free to take my opinion with a grain of salt. If you look past all the bullshit, he is one of the best managers in baseball, and should be recognized as such.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Grab Bag

I'm sick at home with some random bug, so I'll hit on a bunch of quick topics.

-Buffs v Missouri

Wow was that a crappy performance. In a situation where you know that a team is going to run you all day (fast break offense, dribble-drive and kick, full-court press, tight man-to-man defense for 40 minutes) you better show up ready to go. But all day, on inbound passes and passes into the block and to the point, the Buffs caught the ball flat-footed. Flat-footed isn't going to beat Missouri. CU also shot the ball like crap, which isn't the norm. I'll take this game with a grain of salt: there was bound to be a letdown after Kansas, and the team did put out a ton of effort to push KU as hard as they did.


I'm generally pleased the New Orleans Saints won. The game itself, however, was a little boring. No joke, people at my party were falling asleep, and I don't necessarily blame them. The commercials, such as they are, slow the game to a crawl. Normally, that would have been an extremely quick game. With the extended half time (I'll get to that in a second) and commercial breaks it was longer than a normal NFL game. Even Colts DE Dwight Freeney mentioned that the extreme length of the half-time show played into his disappearance in the second half. I just have to keep reminding myself that the Superbowl is not about football fans. Being a football fan watching the Superbowl is like being the groom at a wedding; no one gives a shit what you think.

-The Who at Halftime

Can a band with only 2 surviving members still go by the same name? At least led Zeppelin understands that they all need to be there for the name to go up in lights. Anyways, those guys were old (How old were they?). The show wasn't bad, but they've obviously lost their fastball. One thing I did notice was the resemblance of Roger Daltrey to the original "Dr. Who." Check this out:

(The Who picture from the AP via AM 1150 in Canada (no, I'm not kidding), Dr Who picture from the BBC)

The only difference is that "Dr. Who" isn't frickin' old. Is it too much to ask that someone who doesn't have an AARP card performs at halftime next year?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Beer and this modern man

My first taste of beer was of a lukewarm Coors Original... sigh. It's amazing, thinking back to that moment, that I ever sought out beer again. Boring, passion-less, dead, over carbonated and (eventually) vomit-enducing. I guess the only good thing I can say about it is, in the words of Dave Chappelle, "It'll get you drunk!"

( Mm-mmm, bitch!)

Thankfully I have moved beyond such things as staple pilsner lagers from the big 3 foreign-owned American breweries. (Slight digression.... of all of the things that could happen to the Jingoistic portion of America, could anything be more devastating than the big 3 being owned by foreigners? I imagine it would be a lot like finding out that Jimmy Johnson was actually a French foreign national. In the end, I guess its a good thing that the majority of America hasn't figured this out yet.)

Hey, if you like Bud or Miller, God bless you. It's your damn right to drink and pay for what you like. In my mind, I just view it as if one spent their entire life just eating red beans & rice. Delicious, sure, but after a while you would, invariably, start longing for something else. When I consider my beer choices I generally prefer to go for something I've never tried before. While I certainly have favorites, more often than not, I'll pass them up for the opportunity to try something new. I just love to experience new flavors, and new ideas.

Variety is, after all, the spice of life. I guess that's why there has been a massive proliferation of beer variety thrust upon the American market over the past 15 years. The free market being what it is ( the liquor market really free? The 3-tier distribution system seems to hold back diversity in many states) once there proved to be a demand for beer diversity companies began to spring up that were more than willing to oblige. While the big 3 still dominate the national market, micro-brews are becoming much more common-place. I fully expect that every bar or other type of watering hole (watering hole makes me giggle) that I go into will have at the very least Sam Adams and/or Fat Tire, and possibly something more local, available. It's not just the variety, but the development of such wide-spread access to craft brewing that is so incredible.

In all actuality, I don't consider myself to be that much a beer snob, I just know what I don't like. I certainly don't spend that much time considering the intricacies of that which I am drinking. The primary question I ask myself when I try a beer is "Is this awesome?" Usually the answer is "Of course, keep drinking!"

I love beer for the exploratory nature of the craft. People are always trying new things, be it in their home kitchens or in the multi-million dollar set-ups that the big 3 have designed to get in on all of the craft beer fun. Just as long as no one takes it too seriously, no one will get hurt, and we can all keep drinking!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


60-59.... That score has haunted me since January of 2003. It started out as a good thing... a win over nationally ranked Kansas that eventually lead to an NCAA tournament appearance (albeit a brief one). But, slowly over the past seven years, that score, or more precisely that game, has haunted my dreams.

It was almost deja vu all over again last night. Kansas was in the building, exhausted from the weight of a high (in this case #1) ranking on their shoulders, in a year that has seen a number of top teams stumble (including Kansas themselves earlier in the year). Through grit, determination, and some impressive coaching, the Buffs found themselves with a 60-59 lead with less than a minute left.

(For reference, that's what grit looks like. From: The Daily Camera)

60-59... in the seven years since Stephane Pelle drained his jumper, I never thought I'd see that score in a CU-KU game again... I had imagined that that game was some unicorn of an event that would elude me forever. But there it was again last night... staring me in the face. I tried to convince myself that in all reality that score couldn't last the 55 seconds remaining in the game, someone would have to score, but just the memory gave me the shakes.

It wasn't to last, Sherron Collins hit the second of his two free throws with 38 seconds on the clock to wipe away the possibility of 60-59 being the final. Cory Higgins would miss a pitiful look at a long 3 with 2 seconds left, and the Buffs would go on to fall in overtime.

I don't mean to get lost in the shuffle of my longing for moments past, it just tends to happen that way. More importantly, that's not what I take away from last nights game.

What I do take away from last night is the tremendous effort put forth by the Buffs. If you would've given me 500-1 odds on a $50 bet that the buffs would out-rebound the #1 Jayhawks through 40 minutes of play, I still wouldn't have taken it, yet Marcus Relphorde and a revolving door of big men, crashed the boards with tenacity.

But, there were even more bright spots. Casey Crawford and Austin Dufalt(!) made All-American KU center Cole Aldrich's time in Boulder a living hell. Levi Knutson actually hit multiple open shots in a game(!). And, outside of the final 4 minutes and overtime, Nate Tomlinson showed why he's one of the best point guards in the Big XII. It was a performance that I hadn't believed was possible.

But in the end, a loss is, as "they" say, a loss. Just another missed opportunity.

It does comfort a little to remember that Al Burks (for the record, I call him Al), and his near 17 points a game, was out. Perhaps the re-match 16 days from now in Lawrence will have a better outcome in store, or possibly next year will finally show as the year those single-digit losses become wins. Either way, being 70% good and constantly coming close to, but not actually, breaking through is starting the get old.

I rumble on...

I reserved this blog address about 2 years ago... since then nothing.

Originally, I promised myself that I would dive right in to the glamorous life of an amateur blogger, but life, as it often does, got in the way.

Now, however, the days of this space on the lost edges of the interwebs lying fallow are at an end! (FYI, this is probably not a good thing)

I intend to use this space to ruminate on the goings on as I see it. Mostly, I plan on focusing on my favorite topics of sports, beer and video games. I apologize in advance.